Daily Home – St. Clair, Talladega lawmakers review past legislative week for local paper.
Decatur Daily – Presidential hopeful Giuliani plans fund raising trip to Montgomery next month.
Gadsden Times – Gadsden couple say they won’t appeal dismissal of case attempting to void election of Sen. Larry Means (D-Attala).
Associated Press – Divided State Supreme Court upholds death sentence.
Anniston Star – The Anniston Star comments on the impact of this weeks N.Y. Times‘ article about Alabama’s lack of adequate counsel for death-row inmates.
Tuscaloosa News – Siegelman asks supporters to send messages detailing his good deeds to sentencing judge in corruption case.
Tuscaloosa News – State’s unemployment rate holds steady at 3.3%.
FROM TODAY’S ANNISTON STAR:
Marsh refuses legislative pay raise
Star Capitol Correspondent
MONTGOMERY — State Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, has turned in paperwork refusing the legislative pay raise approved March 20.
“I think people’s perception is if you’re serious about it, don’t take the money,” Marsh said Friday. “And I didn’t.”
The three-term senator and owner of Industrial Plating Company Inc. in Anniston voted against the pay raise, citing concerns over the lack of a roll call vote and the fact that it went into effect immediately. Marsh said he would prefer to see any raise take effect when the next Legislature takes office, after the 2010 elections.
As of Friday, six senators — all Republicans — had filed paperwork declining the raise. The other five are Ben Brooks of Mobile; Bradley Byrne of Fairhope; Larry Dixon of Montgomery; Hank Erwin of Montevallo and Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb.
“No one’s put pressure on anybody,” Marsh said. “We talked about it in general. We talked about doing what you feel is right.”
Byrne said he weighed options, including putting the money in his district, but decided the “cleaner, better thing” was not taking it at all. He had not decided if he would ever take the raise.
“One problem is that it’s going to increase between now and then,” he said. “If it’s $55,000 a year, which is what it could be (in 2010), it’s outrageously high. But $30,000 is too low.
“The quandary for me is a reasonable pay raise could have been done and should have been done.”
McDowell Lee, the Secretary of the Senate, said Friday that other senators had indicated they would refuse the raise, though he did not know how many or when they would do so.
A secretary in the state House of Representatives clerk’s office said that office had not received any refusals of the pay raise from House members as of Thursday.
The raise increases legislators’ monthly expense accounts — their major source of compensation — from $2,280 to $3,850, bumping their total compensation from $30,410 a year to $49,250. The legislation also ties the expense account to the consumer price index.
Opponents of the raise, mostly Republicans, criticized the size of the increase and the voice-vote method by which it was passed. Gov. Bob Riley vetoed the measure, but the House and Senate both overrode the veto. Supporters of the raise — mainly Democrats — argued that the adjustment, the first since 1991, was needed to meet costs and attract a bigger pool of talent for the Legislature.
Democrats shrugged off the refusals Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little, D-Cullman, said it was “appropriate” for those who voted against the measure to return the raise, a sentiment echoed by House Speaker Pro Tempore Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, an advocate of the pay raise.
“Some have told me they’ll accept it and give it to charity,” he said. “That doesn’t mean much to me. I hope they give it to charity anyhow.”
Marsh said he might take the raise if he runs for re-election in 2010, but would not do so “midstream.”
“(Voters) know what it pays at that point in time,” he said. “I think it would be appropriate to take it at that point in time.”