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SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2007
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CAPITOL LETTER
Politicians to debate school hiring policies, ethics of Senate fight

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Even in a non-election year, a lot of government policy involves politics.

And in the state capital, politics can be as hot as the summer heat.

College policy debate

The state Board of Education will likely vote Aug. 23 on proposed policies to restrict two-year college system employees' service in the Legislature.

While most board members seemed to accept the policy proposals at last week's work session, a lot can happen in the next two weeks.

Some members wondered about how the policy would affect service on other government bodies besides the Legislature.

Some people point to the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from running for elective office, as a model Alabama should follow.

Others point out that the Hatch Act specifically excludes educators from that restriction.

Workshop on grants

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, will host an Aug. 21 workshop where area government officials and leaders of nonprofit organizations will learn about grants available through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

The free workshop will be on the seventh floor of Decatur City Hall from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Orr said ADECA Director Bill Johnson will explain the grants. The senator said he learned from officials, particularly those in smaller towns without their own grant writers, that the workshop is needed.

The workshop is open to nonprofit leaders and local government officials who live in Senate District 3 (areas of Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties).

Interested people should call Jennifer Monk in Orr's Senate office in Montgomery at (334) 242-7891.

Highway hearings

Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, said it is a good sign that the Alabama Department of Transportation plans public hearings on Veterans Parkway in the next few weeks.

That means traffic relief for Decatur may be on DOT's priority list for the near future.

Fight follow-up

The Senate Ethics and Conduct Committee will meet Tuesday to talk some more about how to handle complaints after the Senate floor altercation between Sens. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, and Charles Bishop, R-Jasper.

Sen. Zeb Little, D-Cullman, chairs the committee, appointed after Bishop socked Barron and sent him sprawling over a desk in the Senate chamber on the last day of the 2007 regular session.

There is curiosity about how the Senate will handle the complaints, but according to the Senate rules, the public might never know.

While the committee holds discussions about rules and procedures in public, discussions about the specific complaints or any action are not public.

If the committee censured one or more members, for instance, it could do so privately with no public announcement.

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