We look forward to reversing the trend of walk on contracts that received limited, if any oversight.
Legislative Pay -I’ll address this ongoing issue in two parts. First, how we got here and second, my position on rescinding the 2007 raise.
First – Section 68 of the Alabama Constitution (View Section 68) prevents current office holders from enacting a pay raise during their current term. The pay raise enacted in 2007 was done through a loophole as the legislature did not raise the pay; instead an expense allowance was created via House Joint Resolution 29 (View HJR 29).
I submitted Senate Bill 156 today (View SB156) creating a Constitutional Amendment intended to close the loophole. This proposed constitutional amendment would provide
1. That the pay, travel allowance, expense allowance, and per diem, or other compensation paid to the members of the Legislature can not be increased during their current term of office.
2. Require a recorded vote by members of both houses of the Legislature on each proposed bill (the 2007 vote was done via “voice vote” rather than roll call).
3. Requires a 2/3 vote (super majority) of both legislative bodies.
In other words, the bar is set high for future pay raise request by the legislature and if passed, will not go into effect until the next term. Essentially, the legislature may vote in a pay raise but the public will decide, through re-election…or not, if the legislature receives the pay raise.
This bill has a long way to go, and even then requires a state wide vote of the people to be enacted because it is a constitutional amendment. However, this addresses the crux of the problem behind the controversial legislative pay raise.
Now, my position on repealing the pay raise is based on the following. This is old news to those that followed me in the campaign but as background for new readers; I willingly left my job as a government employee at NASA in the summer of 2009 to campaign for the state senate. I was forced to make that decision due to the Hatch Act which prohibits a government employee from participating in partisan politics. I was one of the very early candidates to announce. Prior to making that decision I carefully analyzed my personal financial situation. I knew approximately what a legislator made annually and determined that I could absorb the loss of over $20K annually to my household income. My decision would have been different had the loss been over $40K. I simply could not have afforded the loss and would not have been a candidate. For these reasons I do not support rescinding the 2007 legislative pay raise. Of note, this issue was not raised by me or my opponent during the 2010 campaign.
Compounding things somewhat, today, through reading a newspaper article on line, I discovered that I’m listed as a co-sponsor of Senator Dial’s Joint Resolution to repeal the pay raise…dang. Not sure how that happened. I’ll be clear, this is a mistake - I did not co-sponsor this legislation. I co-sponsored Senator Dial’s Electronic Overseas Voting Bill (SB39) for deployed military personnel on the same day and can only assume that is where the mix-up occurred.
On other news, today I was appointed to the reapportionment committee by Lt Gov Ivey. I’m honored to accept this additional appointment and realize the importance of our task. The committee is comprised of 11 Senators and 11 Representatives and will utilize the 2010 Census data to redraw the state's seven Congressional districts, 105 House districts and 35 Senate districts. Read the Press Release here.
I’ll resume the blog on Tuesday of next week. Hope to see you at one or more of the events I will be attending while I’m back in North Alabama. In addition to the events listed in yesterday’s blog I will be attending Senator Shelby’s Washington update on Monday morning.