The 2008 Legislature may be remembered as the least productive in memory, which around the Capitol means the memory of Senate Secretary McDowell Lee who has been in or around the Legislature for nearly 60 years. The House and Senate have passed only 12 bills in the first 13 working days of the 30-day legislative session. Legislators are on their spring break and don’t return until March 25. When they do there are 1,197 bills waiting for action. The House has introduced 727 bills and the Senate 482. But only 12 of the 1,209 bills have passed both houses, for just under 1 percent. A total of 144 House bills have passed the House but only eight have passed the Senate, which is in an extreme slowdown due to personality and political conflicts. The Senate has passed only 23 of its own bills but only four have passed the House. Last year the Legislature in a flurry toward the end of the session passed 236 House bills and 60 Senate bills.
SEC chairman visits Alabama official
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox was the guest at a luncheon hosted by Alabama Securities Commission Director Joe Borg last week, Borg’s office said. “It was an honor to have Chairman Cox visit the Alabama Securities Commission to highlight recent partnerships between federal and state securities regulators that protect and benefit citizens of Alabama,” Borg said. “Also, this was an opportunity to thank and commend ASC’s most active outreach partners here in Alabama who have received nationwide recognition for personal finance and investor education outreach initiatives throughout Alabama.” Cox later met with Gov. Bob Riley to discuss financial education and the protection of seniors who often fall victim to unscrupulous security schemes.
County commissions set government week
The Association of County Commissions of Alabama has scheduled County Government Week in Alabama from April 6-12. Gov. Bob Riley will hold a proclamation ceremony to help the ACCA officially announce this special week dedicated to county government. The signing will be 1 p.m. March 21 in the Old Archives Room of the Capitol. National County Government Week was created to raise public awareness and understanding about the roles and responsibilities of counties, the ACCA said. Attendance at the event is through the ACCA in Montgomery.
Democrats question delivery of subpoenas
The Alabama Democratic Party is questioning how subpoenas were delivered to legislators by U.S. marshals. State party Executive Director Jim Spearman said the subpoenas to more than a dozen legislators while they were in session smacks of the partisanship that erupted during the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman. “The drama surrounding these actions and the U.S. Department of Justice’s disruption of a legislative session for the routine serving of a summons to appear in court sends a poor signal to Alabama citizens who are already complaining about partisan political interference into the federal prosecution of former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman,” Spearman said. “These ladies and gentlemen have not been charged with a crime and could have been served by other means in their local communities, not in Montgomery during a legislative session in front of TV cameras and reporters.” Spearman said the summons may have been served illegally because of legislative immunity. “(The) action only strengthens our resolve to insist that the U.S. House and Senate as well as the U.S. Attorney General immediately launch an inquiry into Alabama’s federal justice system to assure Alabama citizens that politics and partisanship have not been used in prosecutions or in the serving of subpoenas,” Spearman said.
Study puts Alabama among tort ‘sinners’
The Pacific Research Institute that ranks tort legal climates in the 50 states said a study shows Florida ranked the worst in terms of tort costs and litigation risks. North Dakota was the best.
The U.S. Tort Liability Index: 2008 Report said Colorado had the best tort laws while Rhode Island had the worst. So what about Alabama that in the past has been called Tort Hell for its jury awards?
Alabama is still in the “sinner” category for its relatively high tort costs and high litigation risks and relatively weak tort rules, the study said. “Sinners” include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The Alabama Rural Action Commission has a Web site now to keep citizens informed on the commission’s progress, Gov. Bob Riley’s office said. It’s also a resource for citizens to volunteer in their regions. “The website is a tremendous asset that we hope will encourage more citizens to get involved and share their ideas on how to improve rural communities throughout the state,” Riley said. The website supports the work of the eight regional offices of the Alabama Rural Action Commission. On the Web at www.alabamaruralaction.com.
Alabama Exposure is compiled by Dana Beyerle in the Montgomery bureau of the New York Times Regional Media Group. He can be reached at 334-264-6605 or by e-mail at [email protected].