Category: Legislation

Senator Calls For More Transparency in Campaign Finance

Senator Cam Ward has a great article at Doc’s Political Parlor describing legislation to bring more transparency to campaign finance in this state.  Currently campaign finance reports are filed by mail or in person and scanned copies are available online.  As Cam points out, this makes searching them impossible.

Under this legislation, once a campaign disclosure report is filed, the electronic report will become part of a database allowing citizens to search contributors by name which gives them a full picture of who gives and receives money in statewide elections. This system will be similar to the searchable databases that are used by the Federal Elections Commission which monitor congressional and presidential races.

We’re glad to see the legislature moving toward more transparency.  Voters should have access to information in an easily accessible, easy to understand format.

Second Federal Judge Rules Obamacare is Unconstitutional

You would think the Obama administration might get the message, but they still plan to appeal the decision.  This ruling was particularly significant because more than half of the states were plaintiffs in the matter.

A federal judge in Florida struck down President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul as unconstitutional on Monday in the biggest legal challenge yet to federal authority to enact the law.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the reform law’s so-called individual mandate went too far in requiring that Americans start buying health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty.

“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void,” he wrote, “This has been a difficult decision to reach and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications.”

Referring to a key provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Vinson sided with governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans, in declaring the Obama healthcare reform unconstitutional.  Read more

House Leaders Must Keep Their Promise To Repeal Obamacare

Wednesday, January 19th marks the one-year anniversary of the Special Election in which Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate, largely on the promise that he would cast the 41st vote against ObamaCare. As you recall, Harry Reid broke his promise and broke faith with the American people when he used reconciliation, a procedural tool, to skirt the rules and pass ObamaCare.

Liberals just aren’t getting it!  We need to keep reminding them of the message the people of Massachusetts sent last January 19th and that voters throughout America sent on Election Day last November: We want them to repeal ObamaCare and stop out-of-control government spending.

If passed, H.R. 2, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” would repeal P.L. 111-148, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA) and the crooked “reconciliation” vehicle Harry Reid used to pass it, P.L. 111-152, the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.”

We need to put an end to thousands-of pages-long spending bills.  H.R. 2 is barely three-pages long, consisting mostly of its lengthy list of co-sponsors, and it simply states that ObamaCare is repealed in its entirety.

This is a great opportunity to get to know your Congressman’s staff when you call and urge him or her to vote to Repeal ObamaCare on Wednesday!

2011 Legislative Agenda

We’ve been working hard over the past couple of months to put together a solid, conservative and realistic agenda for the coming legislative session.  These are the policy items we’re going to be working on come March.  During the special session in December, we distributed copies of our legislative agenda to the new legislature.

I’ve linked to the posted agenda and made it available for download so you can choose which format you prefer. If anyone has any questions or would like to work with us on any of the agenda items, you can reach me at Brooklyn@alabamaeagle.org

2011 Legislative Agenda–on the web
2011 Legislative Agenda–download

Governor-Elect Bentley and AG-Elect Strange Release Statement on Gambling

Today, Governor-Elect Robert Bentley and Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange released the following statement on Governor Riley’s Gambling Task Force:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
–Revised to correct a typographical error–
December 29, 2010
Contact: Jessica Garrison on behalf of Bentley and Strange, 205-568-4371

Governor-Elect Bentley to Assign Gambling Task Force to AG-Elect Strange
Bentley, Strange Issue Joint Statement

MONTGOMERY, Ala– Governor-Elect Robert Bentley today announced plans to assign the work of the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling to the Attorney General’s Office on January 17, 2011, when he and Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange take office.

“By assigning all pending cases and investigative authority to the Attorney General’s office, I have transferred the primary responsibility for ensuring that Alabama’s gambling laws are enforced statewide to Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange,” said Governor-Elect Bentley. “I will fully support Attorney General Luther Strange in his efforts to enforce the laws of Alabama, including laws against illegal gambling,” Governor-Elect Bentley said.  “Attorney General Strange will follow the law on gambling and  he will have my full support.”

Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange thanked Governor-Elect Bentley for his confidence and said the Attorney General’s office will not back down from enforcing Alabama’s gambling laws under his leadership.

“The people of Alabama have elected me to enforce the laws of this great state.  I intend to enforce the rule of law as it is written and in strict accordance with the decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court,” said Attorney General-Elect Strange.

Governor-Elect Bentley and Attorney General-Elect Strange said gambling establishments now closed under threat of raid by the Task Force should not mistake today’s announcement as a signal to open their casinos. It simply means the Attorney General will be the officer at the statewide level taking primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting those that own, operate or house illegal gambling machines.

Attorney General-Elect Strange stated, “I will work with the local District Attorneys who are willing to be a part of our team.”

The state’s legal position for the enforcement of Alabama’s prohibition of slot machines as it relates to so-called “electronic bingo” will continue to be as follows:

1.             Any machine that meets the definition of a slot machine or gambling device pursuant to Sections 13A-12-20 (5) and (10) of the Code of Alabama (1975) will be seized, gambling proceeds will be seized, forfeiture actions will be pursued; and any persons who are in the possession of illegal slot machines or who are promoting illegal gambling will be prosecuted, period.

2.             Absolutely no constitutional amendment in the State of Alabama authorizes the use of machines that accept cash or credit and then dispense cash value prizes based upon chance.  Machines with those features are slot machines and are not made legal by any bingo amendment. Likewise, no local bingo rule, regulation or ordinance can legally authorize slot machines.

3.             The six factors defining bingo laid out by the Alabama Supreme Court in the Cornerstone case will be applied strictly.  Those factors cannot be changed, diluted, waived, redefined or reinterpreted by local rule, local regulation, or local definitions, nor through purported certifications from a gaming laboratory.

4.             The Attorney General’s office will provide guidance to prosecutors after the transition, but the operators of gambling establishments throughout our state should clearly understand the legal position of the State of Alabama moving forward beginning on January 17, 2011.

###

Contact: Jessica Garrison on behalf of Bentley and Strange, 205-568-4371

Paid for by Attorney General Luther Strange Transition and Inaugural Committee, Inc., P.O. Box 3723, Montgomery, Alabama 36109

AL House Passes Check-Off Bill In The Wee Hours Of The Morning

The Alabama House of Representatives gaveled in at 10:00 am yesterday morning, and a Democrat filibuster of SB 2 almost automatically ensued.  15 hours later Republicans broke the filibuster, and passed SB 2 by a vote of 52-49.  Thirteen Republicans, including the three who recently switch parties, broke ranks and voted with the Democrats against the bill.

SB 2, also known as the “Check-Off Bill”, prevents the use of state resources on political activities.  In practice, this means that the state will no longer be allowed to collect dues for organizations like the Alabama Education Association (AEA) or the Alabama State Employees Association (ASEA), which they are currently collecting through automatic payroll deductions.

Democrats claimed the bill was politically motivated to diminish the power of AEA who is traditionally supportive of Democrat candidates.  Rep. Lynn Greer was asked repeatedly how much it cost the state to collect the dues.  Greer didn’t have a specific number, but insisted it cost the state something.  The debate over cost proves that Democrats continue to miss the point.  $1 is too much for the state to pay to collect political dues.  Taxpayers should not be forced to finance/facilitate the funding of AEA or ASEA’s political organizations.  There are a lot of worthy organizations in the state, and most of them don’t get to have dues taken out of their members’ paychecks automatically.

Members of these organizations are 100% free to speak their mind and can continue to donate to the organization.  The bill does not take anyone’s rights away.  It simply removes the burden from the state of collecting the money.

For more information on SB 2, click here.

Stop Taxpayer Funded Deduction of Political Dues

For many years, Democrat led legislatures have forced taxpayers to pick up the tab when state employees and education workers have dues automatically deducted from their paycheck and sent to their unions.  Those deductions go to union PACs and organizations to fund political activities.  The cost of providing this service is a whopping $2,500,000 a year–all of it paid for with your tax dollars.  THIS MUST BE STOPPED!!

Unions are targeting House Republicans claiming it’s  eliminating this political payroll deduction is going to take away their freedom of speech.  THIS IS NOT TRUE.  State employees and education workers will still be 100% free to contribute to these groups, and the groups will still be 100% free to lobby legislators.  But YOU wouldn’t be forced to pay for it.

The Senate has already passed SB 2, which will stop the state-funded payroll deductions for political activities.  It will be up for a vote in the House this week. Make sure your legislator knows you want an end to this abuse of taxpayer money.  Make sure House members know that you are watching!

We urge you to ask your legislator to vote for SB2 voice your concerns and hold them accountable.  Click here to find your legislator’s contact information.

Federal Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional

Today Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional, saying that it “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”  The suit was brought by VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who argued that the individual mandate was an unconstitutional expansion of the Commerce Clause.

The White House dismissed the ruling as having little effect on the implementation of Obamacare.  They continue to believe the bill will ultimately be ruled constitutional.  Hudson acknowledged that the final outcome will undoubtedly reside with a higher court, but said, “In this Court’s view, the award of declaratory judgment is sufficient to stay the hand of the executive branch pending appellate review.”

The Virginia suit is one of 15 nationwide against Obamacare, and it is the first to strike down part of the health care reform law.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46310.html#ixzz1814rIhlF

Eagle Forum of Alabama Statement on the Beason Substitute Bill

Eagle Forum is one of many organizations that have voiced the need for ethics reform in Alabama.  Recent accusations of government malfeasance and misconduct have underscored the need for reform.  Unfortunately for many years that has been a lost cause; but the events on November 2, 2010 gave the concept fresh legs when voters in Alabama elected a Republican majority in both the Alabama House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction.  We now have an opportunity to pass meaningful ethics legislation.

Legislation has been proposed that will:

  • Give subpoena power to the State Ethics Commission.
  • Ban all PAC to PAC transfers
  • Ban “double-dipping” by legislators
  • Prevent third party political organizations from using state resources, i.e.–the State Finance Department, to collect political dues.
  • Require disclosure of all money spent by lobbyists on legislators.
  • Put a $25 limit on gifts to legislators
  • Require mandatory ethics training for all legislators, constitutional officers, and  some state employees.
  • Require the Ethics Commission to broaden the scope of the filing data available online.
  • Require individuals lobbying the Executive Branch to register as lobbyists, just as those who lobby the Legislative branch are required to do.

Unfortunately, passing solid ethics reform sounds much less complicated than it actually is.  We all share the same goal to clean up Montgomery, and can agree that it’s important to make sure we get strong bills that are enforceable, will hold up in court, and get to the heart of the corruption–without discouraging citizens from lobbying their legislators.  The devil, as it is often said, is in the details.  The details on one of the bills under consideration became increasingly complicated and unclear.  As a matter of fact, of the forty-three pages of the final version of SB 14, forty-one contained numerous changes.

Eagle Forum of Alabama supports the efforts of the Senators who voted yesterday to slow down the process on this bill (SB 14) regarding lobbyist expenditures in order to ensure we get a strong, workable bill.  After speaking with legislators including Senator Beason, we have concluded that the Alabama Senate did the right thing in passing the more limited Beason substitute bill.  It is extremely important for legislators, lobbyists, and citizens to know and understand what is in every ethics bill.  From the reports we have received, that was not the case with SB 14.  Many legislators were unclear on what the effects of the legislation would be, and could not get clarification on key issues.  As a result, 33 of 35 voted for the clearer substitute bill.  The Beason substitute bill prohibits all lobbyist expenditures on public officials.  While it does leave corporate expenditures at the current level, it also requires the Ethics Commission to “report to the legislature by the 5th legislative day in the 2011 regular session what other states have done to strengthen their state ethics laws.”  We expect this issue to be addressed in the regular session after further research and consideration.

Taking time to vet legislation is not tantamount to refusing to pass it.  It can be the better part of wisdom.

Preparing For The Lame Duck Session

Last week was a historic conservative victory.  Conservatives took the U.S. House of Representatives, made significant gains in the U.S. Senate, and as a result, we will soon welcome one of the most pro-family, conservative Congresses in recent history.  However, the current Congress has one more opportunity to do damage when they return for the lame duck session that will begin this week.

We are watching several issues that could come up in the lame duck session.  We will issue more specific alerts about each once we know it will come to the floor.

In the meantime, please urge your Senators and Members of Congress not to pass any more jobs killing or spending legislation, but to use the lame duck session only to:

  • Stop the automatic tax increases set to go into effect when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year.
  • Permanently repeal the death tax.  If Congress does not take action, the federal death tax, currently at 0% will jump to 55%.

Other issues of concern include:

  • The so-called “Paycheck Fairness Act,” which is a job-killing payback to feminists scheduled to come to the Senate floor next Wednesday, November 17th.
  • Efforts to repeal the 1993 law prohibiting homosexuals from openly serving in the military, commonly referenced as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
  • The so-called “DREAM Act,” which would facilitate amnesty for illegal aliens and their extended families.
  • New START Treaty — One of Eagle Forum’s greatest concerns is that liberals in the Senate will set a dangerous precedent by attempting to ratify the new START Treaty during the lame duck session.  Eagle Forum was among 33 conservative groups who joined in a memo outlining the concerns with the new START treaty, and urged Congress to refrain from considering it during the lame duck session.  Also, thirteen former U.S. Senators sent a letter to Senate Leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell urging them not to consider the treaty during the lame duck session.

Please stay tuned for further information.