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Stop 'double dip' or lose majority, Democrat warns

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — A veteran Democratic lawmaker says he believes Democrats could jeopardize their majority status in the House and the Senate if they don't move to stop some lawmakers from "double dipping" by serving in the Legislature while at the same time working elsewhere in state government.

The comments by Rep. Lesley Vance, D-Phenix City, came a day after legislation pushed by Republican Gov. Bob Riley was introduced that would force dozens of lawmakers to resign from their state jobs or the Legislature. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, and Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale

Vance said he and some other conservative Democrats in the House are upset by recent reports that about one in four legislators also have other jobs in state government or in public education. He said he was particularly concerned that House Majority Leader, Rep. Ken Guin, D-Carbon Hill, has received $49,677 a year from Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa and $48,721 from Bevill State Community College in Sumiton.

Guin, a lawyer, has resigned from his position with Shelton State, but said he plans to continue to work for Bevill State.

"We are shooting ourselves in the foot unless something is done about this," Vance said. He said he believes voters are concerned about the issue and may take their anger out on Democrats who face re-election in 2010. Democrats currently hold a 62-43 majority in the House and and 23-12 in the Senate.

Vance would not say if he or other conservative Democrats are considering switching to the Republican Party.

"I don't want to discuss my options," Vance said.

Another veteran Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Jimmy Martin, D-Clanton, said he is also upset about the situation.

"If something is not done, I'm not saying I'm going to switch parties, but if I do anything I might go independent," Martin said late Wednesday. Martin is serving his third term in the House and previously served 36 years as coroner in Chilton County.

Vance is serving his fourth term in the Legislature and previously was coroner in Russell County for 27 years.

House Minority Leader Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said he has talked to some conservative Democrats about their concerns, but would not say if any Democrats are considering switching parties.

"I'm always talking to conservative Democrats. I have talked to a number who are upset about the way things are going and have told them we would love to have them on our team," Hubbard said.

The legislation introduced Tuesday would prohibit legislators from "double dipping" by holding other jobs in state government. The bills would also prohibit legislators from contracting for work with a state agency or public education institution.

Gov. Bob Riley said he supports the bills.

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

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