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Matt Sparkman takes a water break while helping frame a house on Appaloosa Lane in Southwest Decatur on Monday. The high Monday was 97, according to the National Weather Service. The temperature Tuesday could reach 100 degrees, with the heat index in the 100-degree range for much of the week.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Matt Sparkman takes a water break while helping frame a house on Appaloosa Lane in Southwest Decatur on Monday. The high Monday was 97, according to the National Weather Service. The temperature Tuesday could reach 100 degrees, with the heat index in the 100-degree range for much of the week.

Reaching for a little relief
Byrne eases policy on vacation-time work
Chancellor seeks authority to approve unpaid leave by employees serving in Legislature

By Desiree Hunter
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Two-year college system employees who prefer to use vacation time to make some extra money can rest easy — that is, if they don't also serve in the Legislature.

Employees who are also legislators might soon have to give Chancellor Bradley Byrne a really, really good reason why they should get unpaid personal leave to tend to legislative duties.

Byrne said Monday that he's revised a previous flextime policy that would have given all employees 10 unpaid leave days — or 80 hours — a year that they could use while doing paid work outside the system.

The policy would have allowed 13 legislators who are also Department of Post-Secondary education employees to juggle those 80 hours in such a way as to keep both jobs until their terms end in 2010.

Byrne's also proposing a policy against "double-dipping" that would prohibit system employees from also holding elected office.

Vote possible Aug. 23

The State Board of Education discussed both policies at a Monday work session and could vote to approve them at its Aug. 23 meeting.

Under Byrne's new flextime proposal, any employee who wants unpaid personal leave must have it approved by the chancellor, and it will be granted only "in extraordinary circumstances."

Byrne said he wouldn't necessarily consider serving in the Legislature an "extraordinary circumstance," but he wants legislators to talk to him about their specific situations.

"I think I'd just give them the opportunity to come in," he said. "If they want unpaid leave, they have to come to the chancellor."

Rep. Neal Morrison, D-Cullman, who has been in the Legislature for 13 years and has worked at Wallace State Community College for 17 years, said he was surprised at Byrne's "180 degree offset of what he came out with last week."

"I understand that the board wants to do something, but I don't know how you single out a certain group. Are they going to say if you're baldheaded you can't take off on Mondays?" he said.

"I think (Byrne) will do a good job as chancellor," Morrison said. "My problem is not that he's approaching it, but how he's approaching it."

Supporters say the policies are needed to help reform the troubled system, which has seen indictments of top administrators in an ongoing federal and state investigation.

There appeared to be majority support for the double dipping ban among the nine-member board at Monday's work session, but there was much discussion over the flextime policy.

System employees get two paid personal days a year and up to 24 paid vacation days annually after 20 years of employment.

Byrne's original policy would have restricted all employees from doing any paid work while using paid vacation or personal days, but he changed that Monday, saying "it seems to me that the better thing to do is to leave that up to the employee."

Employees can get unpaid leave for maternity, family and medical purposes and professional development such as sabbaticals. It is unpaid personal leave that requires the chancellor's approval, Byrne said.

2-year college employees in the Legislature

List of two-year college employees who also serve as legislators, according to the department of post-secondary education:

1. Rep. Pebblin W. Warren, D-Tuskegee. Alabama Industrial Development Training institute.

2. Rep. Thomas E. Jackson, D-Thomasville: Alabama Southern Community College.

3. Rep. Ken Guin, D-Carbon Hill. Bevill State Community College.

4. Rep. Michael J. Millican, D-Hamilton. Bevill State Community College.

5. Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville. Calhoun Community College.

6. Rep. Betty Carol Graham, D-Alexander City. Central Alabama Community College.

7. Rep. Randy Hinshaw, D-Madison. Central Alabama Skills Training Consortium.

8. Rep. Terry Spicer, D-Elba. Enterprise-Ozark Community College.

9. Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Gadsden. Gadsden State Community College.

10. Rep. Jack Page, D-Gadsden. Gadsden State Community College.

11. Rep. Todd Greeson, R-Ider. Northeast Alabama Community College.

12. Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery. Trenholm State Technical College.

13. Rep. Neal Morrison, D-Cullman. Wallace State Community College-Hanceville.

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

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