Author: Lee Hedgepeth

Booze battles on tap in Montgomery

By 1915, Alabama was gripped by the same anti-alcohol sentiment as the rest of the country: The temperance movement was afoot, and there was little even established politicians could do to prevent it. That year, the Alabama Legislature overrode the veto of then-Gov. Charles Henderson to ban outright the sale of alcohol in the state. “Alabama has beaten her public bars into soda fountains and quick-lunch rooms,” writer Julian Street explained that year in his travel log, “American Adventures: A Second Trip Abroad at Home.” “And though her club bars still look like real ones, the drinks served are...

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Impeachment, criminal probe of Bentley moving forward

The Alabama House of Representatives committee considering the impeachment of Gov. Robert Bentley voted unanimously last week to move forward with its investigation of the state’s embattled chief executive. Bentley has been under fire since his extramarital relationship with a former staffer was revealed in early 2016. The 9-0 decision by the House Judiciary Committee was a reversal of the the body’s previous course of action, which — pursuant to a letter from former state Attorney General Luther Strange — had been to halt the legislative investigation into the governor until related work was completed by law enforcement. Just over two months after that letter effectively put the impeachment process on hold, Bentley appointed Strange to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions’ ascent to the position of U.S. Attorney General, a move some politicos said “stinks.” “By the attorney general vacating the office, the governor gets to single-handedly choose a lawyer to investigate him and his girlfriend,” Jim Zeigler, Alabama’s Republican state auditor, said of the appointment. “The whole thing stinks … We’ve had real problems in state government in Alabama over the past year. It’s got the potential to get much worse.” That sentiment — that Bentley would replace his own investigator — clearly held some weight, as Steven Marshall, Strange’s replacement as state AG, recused himself from the investigation of the governor soon after taking...

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The end of marriage and other capital happenings

The sixth week of Alabama’s regular legislative session is over, and state lawmakers already have a dozen of their 30 permitted workdays under their belt without much to show for it. The Senate, for example, has passed legislation ending marriage as we know it and protecting historic memorials from roving leftists, but neither of the state’s budgets — the general fund or the education trust fund — has passed either chamber. Other important efforts — such as passing pro-consumer measures and holding the governor accountable for his own misdeeds — haven’t yet gained real momentum. The clock is ticking...

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Political pros and capital cons

With Alabama lawmakers on Goat Hill meeting for this year’s regular legislative session, the state’s political priorities for 2017 are becoming clear. The result? A mixed bag: for every good piece of legislation filed in the State House, there are another two terrible bills competing for votes and for passage. This year in Montgomery, it’s a mixture of political pros and capital cons. A governor’s grave and good legislation One of the biggest political pros of the legislative session thus far is the inching forward of the effort to impeach Gov. Robert Bentley. The governor — whose troubles began...

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Senate doubles down on unproven education program

The Alabama Senate has passed a bill that would set up a second siphon of taxpayer dollars to fund private school education in the state, a move that doubles down on an educational program unproven in Alabama and proven to worsen outcomes in other states. Senate Bill 123, sponsored by Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, expands various provisions of the so-called Alabama Accountability Act. That law, passed in 2013, labels the bottom 5 percent of public schools as “failing,” and provides tax credits to individuals and businesses that donate to Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) that fund students’ departures from...

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About The Author

Lee Hedgepeth

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Lee Hedgepeth writes Montgomery Minute, our state politics column. Lee graduates in May with a B.A. in political science from the University of South Alabama, where he served as a 2016 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow. He has previously worked for various statewide political news organizations, including Inside Alabama Politics and Alabama Political Reporter, for which he covered the state legislature full time in 2013. In addition to completing his degree this year, Lee also works part time as a consultant for USA’s Writing Center, where he helps students, faculty, and alumni hone their composition skills.

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