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MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2007
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Byrne seeks
probe of Hall

Records: Legislator claimed she was working at Calhoun while voting in Montgomery

MONTGOMERY — Two-year colleges Chancellor Bradley Byrne said the president of Calhoun Community College must investigate state Rep. Laura Hall’s workdays.

A report says Hall was present and casting votes in the Legislature on days she says she worked at the college and on days she claimed sick pay.

The official record of the Alabama House’s activities, the House Journal, states that Hall was present in Montgomery and casting votes in the Legislature on at least eight days she claimed sick pay or time worked at Calhoun, The Birmingham News reported Sunday.

Hall, D-Huntsville, said the House records are not an accurate report of a legislator’s attendance because lawmakers often cast votes for others when they are absent.

Hall said she likely was not present in the House on the days she claimed work at Calhoun or sick pay.

“On any day, that can happen,” she told The News. “That’s not an unusual thing for someone not be there (in the House) and a vote is cast in their name.

Byrne said he was surprised by the report.

"The president of the college (Marilyn Beck) just has to conduct a complete investigation. The president needs to make a decision as to whether there's an issue there that needs to be addressed under our employment policies," he said.

The two-year college system policy limits the use of sick pay for illness, caring for ill friends and family, or attending funerals.

Hall earns about $75,000 a year at the college, overseeing a program to serve at-risk students who may fail or drop out.

She is required to submit monthly reports documenting when she works at the college, how she makes up time missed for the Legislature, and when she takes paid and sick leave.

Hall said she has taken extended sick leave from Calhoun to care for her mother before she died, and for her husband and a grandson.

Byrne said he discussed Hall's situation briefly with Beck last week. He said he expected her to report back generally on Hall's work, but now will ask for a full review of discrepancies in her work logs and the House records.

Beck said, through college spokeswoman Janet Martin, that she would review Hall's records.

Hall said Byrne shouldn't single her out if he's going to review legislative work records at two-year colleges.

"If he does, then yes, I have a problem with that. If he's going to look at this, look across the board," she said.

The state school board approved policies last week aimed at removing lawmakers from college payrolls by 2010, and limiting when they can leave their college jobs to perform legislative duties.

The Alabama Education Association filed suit Friday challenging the rules.

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