We don’t often editorialize about matters outside Opelika and Lee County, but every man, woman and child in Alabama needs to be aware of this.
A bill, HB 257, co-sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, would establish a powerful joint legislative committee with the power to approve, modify or withhold funds budgeted to state agencies and other state government entities.
HB 257 proposes a “Star Chamber” of 16 elite legislators, all of whom would owe their membership to either the Speaker of the House or the President Pro Tem of the Senate, which would have the power to not only control the flow of money to and within all state-funded operations but hold the power to investigate these bodies as well.
The bill states that the committee can “authorize the Department of Finance to modify the planned expenditure of funds” by state agencies and other entities and also “direct the Chief Examiner of Public Accounts to conduct an audit, review or examination of any State agency or other entity.” This covers the spectrum of state government with central authority given to the committee to dictate where money flows and also investigate whatever entity they choose.
This committee, appointed by the House Speaker and the President Pro Tem, would have both the power to spend as well as the power to intimidate. The only similar body it compares to is the Central Committee of the old Soviet Union.
You wouldn’t think it would come out of a body giving at least lip service to a belief in democratic government, would you?
Well, maybe it’s the ultimate government streamlining ploy. We wouldn’t need a governor, as the Central Committee would render him powerless.
We wouldn’t need much of a judiciary, as the Central Committee could take away funding for any judicial proceeding they didn’t like.
Hey, maybe that’s it! This is the Speaker’s latest defense strategy. Cut off the funds the Attorney General is using to investigate public corruption. No prosecution, no case.
There’s one more possibility. A diversion. This bill just might, to some of us, be worse than a Speaker with a 23-count corruption  indictment. Maybe it is intended to divert attention away from the problems of the Speaker.
Whatever the intent, there is something rotten in Denmark, as the saying goes. We’ve got several things at the state level that need fixin’.