State Sen. Ward: Not much legislature can do regarding Ivey prison proposal; Suggests critics of plan ‘introduce a bill’
Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey’s prison proposal made a splash with many behind the scenes breathing a sigh of relief that she will take a so-called go-it-alone approach to tackle part of the issue.
The proposal also has its critics, however, given the Alabama Legislature had seemingly been circumvented in the governor’s decision-making process. However, State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), the chairman of the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee, says there may not be much the legislature can do one way or another.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Ward explained those circumstances. He also acknowledged new prison construction could be done at a lower cost through a bond but said there could be reluctance from some members of the legislature to borrow.
“[W]e can’t come back into session — I’ve had colleagues ask, we come back into session in February, what can you vote on or not vote on?” he said. “So, one of the things — the train is going to be way out of the station in February. One of the things may be the budget issue, but they’re not asking for an increase in appropriations. They haven’t asked us for an increase. They didn’t ask us for a bond issue. They have kind of structured it in a way that, unfortunately, the legislature is irrelevant.”
“There are some who are — there are some folks who say, ‘Hey, we could have gotten, had the legislature done a bond issue, could have gotten it a lot cheaper,'” Ward continued. “And they’re not wrong on that with the bond rates being as low as they are. There’s also a large group of legislators who say, ‘Look, we don’t want to do a debt. We don’t want to take on another bond. If you do a bond, you do it for schools. If they’re going to do it, let them do it.'”
Ward also responded to criticism that newer members had not been allowed to vote on the issue. According to the Shelby County Republican lawmaker, his freshman colleagues had not offered any legislative proposals on which to vote.
“I have a lot of respect for Senator Elliott or anyone else who — any of my colleagues,” he said. “But I will say this: In the last two and a half years — two legislative sessions, as well as the opportunity to pre-file for the next session — they’ve had three opportunities, yet I haven’t seen a single other person offer a proposal on it. There are some gripes, ‘Hey, I wasn’t around, so I didn’t get a chance to vote on it. I want a chance to vote on it.’ Then introduce a bill. I did twice, and I failed. I’m first to admit it. Introduce your bill, then, and let’s vote on it.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.