Alabama Republicans want Arizona-style law

Published 10:36 pm Monday, August 16, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Republican candidates hoping to end Democratic dominance of the Alabama Legislature unveiled an agenda Monday that includes passing an Arizona-style immigration law and prohibiting the federal government from compelling any Alabamian to participate in a health care system.

House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard, who’s also chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, said all Republican candidates for the Legislature are supporting the “2010 Republican Handshake with Alabama,” and its passage depends on Republicans taking control of the Legislature for the first time in 136 years.

To try to accomplish that, GOP candidates are doing more than saying what they will do. Hubbard said they are tying Alabama Democrats to Washington to capitalize on voters’ uneasiness with the national economy and dislike of some new federal policies, particularly health care.

“The Democrats in Alabama are no different than the Democrats in Washington. They have the same philosophy,” said state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston. Marsh, the GOP’s state finance chairman, was one of 17 legislative candidates who joined Hubbard to unveil the legislative agenda.

The agenda calls for passing a state constitutional prohibition against “any person, employer or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.”

The plan also advocates passing an Arizona-style immigration law that creates a new criminal trespass statute allowing local law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants for setting foot in Alabama. The law would also make it a crime to transport illegal immigrants anywhere in the state, even to the corner store, Hubbard said.

Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little, D-Cullman, called the proposals “grandstanding.” He said Senate Democrats tried to pass three immigration bills last spring, including one barring companies from getting state contracts if they employed illegal immigrants, but couldn’t get the cooperation of Republicans.

He said Democrats’ focus for the November elections will be job-creation measures, such as the Democrat-sponsored road-building plan on the Nov. 2 ballot. If approved by voters, it will build roads and bridges and create construction jobs by taking $100 million each year for 10 years from a state savings account.

The Senate currently has 20 Democrats, 14 Republicans and one independent. The House has 60 Democrats, 44 Republicans and one vacancy. Democrats have controlled both houses since 1874.

The “2010 Republican Handshake with Alabama” addresses more than immigration and heatlh issues. It also calls for:

— Expanding tax incentives for businesses to create jobs.

— Increasing the tax credit that small businesses get for providing health insurance to their employees.

— Requiring lobbyists to report everything they spend entertaining public officials.

— Banning state employees and teachers from serving in the Legislature.

— Requiring the Legislature to set aside part of the state tax collections in good economic times to provide a cushion for public education during lean times.

— Giving subpoena power to the State Ethics Commission to make it easier to investigate public officials.