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Birmingham Airport Authority scores final win in court over Alabama’s ethics law

The Birmingham Airport Authority (BAA) notched one more win in what is likely the final chapter of a nearly two-year legal battle over the treatment of its employees under the state’s ethics law.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Brooke Reid issued an order on Wednesday saying that employees paid from “self-generated” funds are not considered public employees under the Alabama Ethics Act.

Joined by several of the state’s airports and nearly 40 utility boards from across Alabama, BAA had long sought a clarification on the status of its employees. BAA’s position, agreed to by Reid in her order, has been that its employees are not public employees because the funds used to pay them is generated from private sources, such as user and landing fees paid by airlines and rental and concession fees at the airport.

Alabama’s ethics law outlines that an entity’s employees are subject to the ethics laws if the funds used to pay their salaries come from “state, county or municipal funds.” Numerous requirements and restrictions accompany the designation as “public employees” for purposes of the ethics law, including the filing of annual statements of economic interest with the Ethics Commission.

It is estimated that the decision could affect thousands of people in Alabama who are employed by these entities in a wide variety of jobs.

Reid’s order is a rare second win in the same case for BAA and its attorney Mark White. The first-term judge had issued an order in favor of BAA in June. However, the Alabama Ethics Commission asked for her to change the order, soon thereafter.

White told Yellowhammer News that Reid’s most recent order provided the clarity his client was seeking.

“We are very pleased, again, with the result, and it is a very well-reasoned and considered opinion,” he said.

Tom Albritton, executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, expressed in a statement to Yellowhammer News that the commission also gained from the ruling.

“All the Commission ever wanted was for the Judge to clarify language which in the original order was unclear, confusing, and not supported by the case law the Order itself cited,” he stated. “She has provided that clarity through this amended order and we appreciate it.”

Read Judge Reid’s full order:

BAA Final Order Reid by Yellowhammer News on Scribd

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

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