Alabama House to consider bill giving legislature more oversight over how executive branch spends money
The Alabama House will consider a bill on Tuesday, backed by the chamber’s leaders, that would create a joint legislative committee with the authority to approve contracts, leases and agreements made by the executive branch.
Sponsored by Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia), chair of the powerful Rules Committee, HB392 comes in the wake of Governor Kay Ivey’s plan to build three massive new prisons for men. Legislators from both parties have complained about their branch of government’s lack of input in the massive deal.
“Whenever an administration enters into agreements involving millions of taxpayer dollars, the Legislature deserves to have its questions answered and any concerns addressed,” said House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) in a statement.
McCutcheon is a cosponsor of the legislation alongside Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), Majority Whip Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston (R-Mobile).
The bill creates the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Obligation Transparency and invests it with the power to approve or disapprove of any state agency’s proposed financial arrangement worth $10 million or 5% of its annual appropriation, whichever is less.
Making up the committee would be the chair, vice chair and ranking minority members of the committees in each legislative chamber that oversee taxation.
Meetings would occur at the call of the chair of the new joint committee, a position which would be elected from among its members at its first meeting. The responsibility of chairing the committee would switch between a member of the House and a member of the Senate each year.
A majority of committee members would also have the authority to call a meeting.
The proposed oversight committee would be able to meet when the legislation is in or out of session. It would have to issue approval or disapproval within 45 days of a state agency submitting a proposed contract.
If the committee were not to issue a decision on a contract within 45 days, it would be considered approved.
Disapproval by the committee would delay a contract from going into effect until after the end of the current or next regular session, giving lawmakers a chance to legislate on the issue.
Only future financial agreements would be subject to examination by the committee, meaning passage of Jones’ bill would not affect Ivey’s prison construction plan.
“Rep. Jones’s legislation offers a commonsense method of protecting taxpayers and reassuring lawmakers when large sums of dollars are being obligated,” remarked McCutcheon.