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State poll finds dislike for legislative pay raise

MOBILE (AP) — A statewide poll found widespread dislike for the Legislature’s 61 percent pay raise, but there are other legislative actions that the public likes.

The poll by the Press-Register and the University of South Alabama found that about half of those surveyed believe the Legislature will act in the state’s best interest in the current session and a majority like the Legislature moving up Alabama’s presidential preference primary.

The random telephone survey of 402 adults statewide was conducted March 12-15 and had a sampling error margin of plus or minus five percentage points.

In the poll, 80 percent disapproved of the Legislature raising its compensation 61 percent, while 16 percent approved and 4 percent didn’t know or didn’t answer.

A raise supporter, Rep. James Buskey, D-Mobile, said he was not surprised by the results because every time the pay issue comes up, “the media goes bananas.”

The raise is the first for the Legislature since 1991. Gov. Bob Riley has called it excessive and plans to veto it Tuesday. The Legislature can vote Tuesday afternoon to override the veto.

Opponents plan rally

Opponents of the pay raise plan a rally on the Statehouse steps at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

When asked about whether the Legislature would act in the best interest of the state in the current session, 6 percent were very confident the lawmakers would, 45 percent were somewhat confident, 25 percent were not very confident, and 20 percent were not confident at all, with the remainder undecided.

The poll found support for the Legislature’s decision to move up Alabama’s 2008 presidential primary by four months to Feb. 5, which puts Alabama early in the nomination process.

The move drew support from 56 percent and opposition from 19 percent, with 25 percent undecided.

Support for smoking ban

There was also support for legislation, proposed by Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile, that would ban smoking in all public places statewide, including restaurants and bars. The legislation was favored by 63 percent and opposed by 35 percent, with 2 percent undecided.

Figures said the feedback she has received about her bill has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The people who I have talked with who don’t smoke and a number of people who do smoke understand why we should have this law in place — that people that don’t smoke shouldn’t be exposed to second-hand smoke,” Figure said.

When asked what should be the Legislature’s top priority, 34 percent said education and 13 percent said economic growth and jobs.

The remaining answers were in single digits.

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

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