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Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority joins quest for clarification of state ethics law

Nearly eight months of uncertainty for one group seeking guidance on the state’s ethics laws could finally come to an end on Wednesday. This action may come to a head as another one of the important parts of Alabama’s economic engine joins the quest to gain an understanding of how its employees and board members should handle certain aspects of state law.

The Birmingham Airport Authority (BAA) originally submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the Alabama Ethics Commission back in January. It has since been a roller coaster ride for the group, which originally sought guidance based on the advice of the agency itself.

At the commission’s April meeting, Mark White, attorney for BAA, told the panel exactly how his client came to formulate its request.

“In fact, part of the reason we are asking this is when the commission staff did the training for the Birmingham Airport Authority in December, they were told – three brand new board members, by the way – they were told the only way you could really be sure about something was to get a formal opinion,” White told the commission. “Frankly, I think that’s good advice.”

And, now, the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority (HMCAA) has joined in the effort to get answers from the agency charged with issuing opinions on Alabama’s ethics statute.

As governing bodies for two of Alabama’s largest airports, the authorities serve an important function in the state’s overall economic development strategy.

As a result, maintaining highly-qualified boards and workforces will always be priorities for the groups. Receiving clarity on several issues they have encountered under Alabama’s ethics laws will go a long way toward that effort.

In question, among several points of law, is whether individual board members of the organization must file quarterly reports and whether board members and employees of the groups are considered public employees.

Tom Albritton, executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, told Yellowhammer News, “We’ll address these issues at our meeting tomorrow (Wednesday).”

After filing its request at the start of the year, the commission granted an audience to BAA at its April meeting. The request was then carried over until June. The commission failed to act at its June meeting, as well, after considering whether to turn over some aspects of its interpreting authority to the attorney general.

Read the entirety of HMCAA and BAA’s requests:

Alabama Ethics Commission BHM Airport Authority by Yellowhammer News on Scribd

BAA Request for Opinion 7-31-2019 by Yellowhammer News on Scribd