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Alabama House refuses to praise reporter for winning Pulitzer

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The Alabama House balked at passing a resolution Tuesday that would have praised Birmingham News reporter Brett Blackledge, who won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative stories that exposed corruption in the state's two-year college system.

The stories included details on legislators who work for community colleges or have contracts with the system.

Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, sponsored the resolution praising Blackledge, which has been sitting in the House Rules Committee without coming up for a vote since May 2. On Tuesday, Williams tried to get the House to force the Rules Committee to vote, but the House tabled his effort 49-20, with several lawmakers criticizing Blackledge's reporting.

Blackledge said later Tuesday that he did not seek any kind of praise from the Legislature.

"It's not why we do what we do," Blackledge said. He declined to comment on specific criticisms by lawmakers.

"I think the stories speak for themselves. If they have an issue they can contact my editors," Blackledge said.

Williams said his resolution was not intended as an endorsement of everything in The Birmingham News stories, but to recognize Blackledge for winning a national award. But he said the resolution touched a nerve in the House.

"He's upset some folks," Williams said.

In contrast, the House earlier this session routinely passed a resolution praising Monroeville native Cynthia Tucker for winning The Pulitzer Prize for her commentaries in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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