Jones’ bill signed into law

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley Monday signed into law  a plan to protect the Alabama Ethics Commission from political retaliation by safeguarding its budget. Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) sponsored the bill in the House.

The law requires the annual appropriation to the Ethics Commission to be an amount no less than .1 percent of the total funds appropriated from the State General Fund. The law is needed to prevent the diversion of funds from the Ethics Commission’s budget as a way to punish or leash the watchdog entity.

Many “Handshake” bills are already law after passing in last December’s Special Session on anti-corruption reform, including measures banning money laundering between political organizations, setting strict limits on lobbyist gifts and ending the practice of “Double Dipping.” Additional “Handshake” bills passed in this session and signed into law so far are:

The Responsible Budgeting and Spending Act, which mandates state revenue estimates be based upon a 15-year rolling average, absorbing cyclical economic changes and enabling lawmakers to pass “proration-proof” budgets

The Health Care Tax Incentives for Small Businesses and their Employees Act, which would allow small business employers and employees to deduct 200% of the amounts they pay in health insurance premiums from their state income tax.