Legislative oversight bill advances

Legislative oversight bill advances

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A bill that would create a joint legislative oversight committee to review any large expenditures from state agencies passed the Senate General Fund committee on Wednesday.

House Bill 392 from Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, was substituted in committee and passed on a voice vote with very little discussion.

The bill would require any non-education state agency or department planning to spend more than $10 million of its annual appropriation in a future fiscal year or years to first be approved by a newly-formed Oversight Committee on Obligation Transparency.

The oversight committee would include the chairs of the House and Senate General Fund committees, the chairs of the House and Senate Education fund committees, or appointees those individuals chose to serve in their place.

The committee would have 30 days to review the submissions and hold public hearings. If the committee disapproves of any proposed expenditure, the contract or agreement won’t be able to move forward until the “adjournment of the next regular session of the legislature that commences after the obligation or agreement is submitted.” Currently, the Joint Legislative Contract Review Committee can delay executive branch contracts by only 45 days.

Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, told Alabama Daily News that he voted against the bill but couldn’t point to any specific concerns he had.

“I just have issues with the bill and the ramifications of it,” McClendon said.

The bill that is now headed to the Senate specifically excludes the Department of Transportation from being subject to review by the committee.

Supporters of the bill, including House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said this was in reaction to the multi-million dollar leases Gov. Kay Ivey has signed onto recently for building new state prisons.

The governor’s office has said they have worked with legislators for months as the prison lease agreements have been negotiated.

An email to the Governor’s office seeking comment on the legislation was not returned as of Wednesday afternoon.