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FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007

State House votes to make lawmakers take ethics training

MONTGOMERY (AP)— Alabama legislators will be going back to class if a bill passed by the Alabama House on Thursday becomes law.

The bill would require legislators, the governor and other state officials to attend
ethics training classes taught by the Alabama Ethics Commission.

It passed the House 99-0 and goes to the Senate for debate.

The sponsor, Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, said the purpose of the classes is to make sure legislators know what's in the state ethics law and what financial information they have to report to the Ethics Commission.

"Hopefully it will instill some confidence in the public by requiring this training," DeMarco said.

No naming names

The bill passed after DeMarco removed a controversial provision that would have required the Legislature to provide to the news media the names of lawmakers who do not attend the classes.

"Don't try to intimidate me by saying you're going to give my name to the press," said Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham.

Several legislators also expressed concern that lawmakers would be required to attend the class once every four years.

"All of us are intelligent enough to decide whether we want to know more about the ethics law or not," said Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham.

'If I'm a crook, I'm a crook'

Rogers said he doesn't understand why he should be required to attend the class.

"I can't see why in Sam Hill you're going to make this mandatory. If I'm a crook, I'm a crook," Rogers said.

Alabama Ethics Commission executive director Jim Sumner said the class would last for about an hour and a half and would be the same training that is currently given to cabinet members and other state employees.

"We'll cover the ethics law for them," Sumner said. He said the training includes explaining "what constitutes a conflict of interest" and what lobbyists are legally allowed to give lawmakers.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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