Governor Bob Riley signed his last piece of legislation before leaving office next month. The seven new ethics laws represent something he has attempted to get passed for eight years.
Riley told abc 3340 this morning that "for the first time in the history of the state of Alabama, every individual person on a board knows who they are accountable to now. It's not the lobbyist or special interests; it's the people of the state."
Riley called the special session earlier this month with the hope of seeing at least some of his proposed seven ethics bills passed. Within a week, the Republican-controlled state legislature approved all of the bills and sent them on for his signature.
The Governor says the people of the state were fed up, especially after the indictments of 11 people in a vote-buying scheme for a bingo bill. One of the lobbyists indicted, Jarrod Massey, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and six counts of aiding and abetting Monday afternoon in federal court in Montgomery. Riley says he is not too sure the legislature would have passed the bills before the indictments, but after, "republicans and democrats alike said enough is enough and we've got to get it done."
Under the new laws, what is acceptable at meetings between lawmakers and other local elected groups could change. The governor says it will take a month or two for everyone to be comfortable with the new laws, but now everyone knows the lawmakers and those who would influence them no longer have carte blanche.
The governor says he is still working on four or five smaller issues he is trying to wrap up before leaving office January 17. He says he talks with Governor-elect Robert Bentley weekly and expects this to be a seamless transition.