Author: Lee Hedgepeth

Alabama lawmakers meet and mull state’s biggest problems

Alabama lawmakers began their annual legislative session Feb. 7, and they’re wasting no time pushing bills through both the House and the Senate. While no bill has had time to pass the full Legislature just yet, just over a half dozen bills of the hundreds filed have made their way out of committee and are one step closer to being sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. Following are descriptions of these pieces of legislation. Senate Bill 60, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen, would prevent the removal of historical memorials that are at least 50 years old. This legislation is a reaction to calls for the removal of Confederacy-related memorials across the state. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, would end the practice of judicial override, taking from judges the authority to throw out the recommendation of a jury for a life or for a death sentence in a capital case. House Bill 100, sponsored by Rep. Phil Williams, would prevent state funding of institutions found to be in violation of immigration law. The bill is likely a reaction to universities across the state expressing concern over President Trump’s Executive Order regarding immigration. House Bill 24, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo, would prevent the state from punishing adoption placement agencies that refuse to place children in settings that violate the agency’s beliefs. The bill...

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Bentley appoints Luther Strange to U.S. Senate

Gov. Robert Bentley announced his appointment of state Attorney General Luther Strange as Alabama’s next United States senator last Thursday. Strange, a Republican, replaces Jeff Sessions, who was recently confirmed as U.S. Attorney General. Strange had already announced his intention to run for the seat in a special election, even if he had not been chosen to serve by the governor in the interim. “I am greatly honored and humbled to accept the appointment to Alabama’s Senate seat vacated by Sen. Jeff Sessions,” Strange said. “Sen. Sessions’ commitment to public service is nearly unparalleled in Alabama history and his departure from the Senate leaves tremendous shoes to fill. I pledge to the people of Alabama to continue the same level of leadership as Jeff Sessions in consistently fighting to protect and advance the conservative values we all care about.” Strange was only one of about 20 candidates considered by the governor as a potential replacement for Sessions, but he had long been seen as the frontrunner. The appointment of Strange to replace Sessions brings up questions of a potential conflict of interest on the part of Gov. Bentley, as impeachment proceedings against Bentley were halted when then-Attorney General Strange asked that they be delayed because of his office’s “active investigations” about “related work.” “I respectfully request that the committee cease active interviews and investigation until I am able to...

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What the forthwith and other Strange questions

Gov. Robert Bentley’s appointment of former state Attorney General Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate is raising many questions, including not only whether the choice of Strange is ethical, but also whether the special election timeline laid out by the governor is even legal. The latter, more imminent question is when Alabama law says Bentley must hold an election. The answer? Well, it’s not entirely clear. The relevant statute has odd wording that leads to another even stickier question: what the forthwith? “Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of senator of and from the state of Alabama in...

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Luther Strange appointed to Sessions’ Senate seat (updated)

Bentley appoints Luther Strange U.S. senator By: Lee Hedgepeth Gov. Robert Bentley has announced his appointment of state Attorney General Luther Strange as Alabama’s next U.S. senator. Strange, a Republican, will replace Jeff Sessions, who has just been confirmed as U.S. Attorney General. Strange had already announced his intention to run for the seat in a special election, even if he had not been chosen to serve by the governor in the interim. “I am greatly honored and humbled to accept the appointment to Alabama’s Senate seat vacated by Senator Jeff Sessions,” Strange said. “Sen. Sessions’ commitment to public...

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Bentley’s ‘Stink of the State’

(Below is a draft of the State of the State address Gov. Robert Bentley should have delivered to the Alabama Legislature, had he been realistic. It’s the 2017 “Stink of the State” Address.) Lt Gov. Ivey, Speaker McCutcheon, convicted felon Mike Hubbard, President Marsh, suspended Chief Justice Moore, members of the Alabama Legislature, my special guest, and my fellow Alabamians, After more than six years in office, it’s an honor and a surprise to still be the governor of Alabama. I know that during my time in Alabama’s top job, I’ve hurt quite a few people, including the most...

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About The Author

Lee Hedgepeth

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Lee Hedgepeth writes Montgomery Minute, our state politics column. Lee graduates in May with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of South Alabama, where he served as a 2016 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow. He has previously worked for various statewide political news organizations, including Inside Alabama Politics and Alabama Political Reporter, for which he covered the state legislature full-time in 2013. In addition to completing his degree this year, Lee also works part-time as a consultant for USA’s Writing Center, where he helps students, faculty, and alumni hone their composition skills.

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