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State Lawmakers Prepare for Impeachment, Senate Passes Prison Construction Bill

Ed Henry
Albert Cesare
Montgomery Advertiser / AP
State Representative Ed Henry, R-Hartselle

An Alabama lawmaker is following through on his threat to file an impeachment resolution against Governor Robert Bentley. APR’s MacKenzie Bates reports this move is in the wake of a scandal involving one of the governor's top aides, who has since resigned.

Hartselle Republican Rep. Ed Henry introduced the resolution yesterday. The action comes after Bentley admitted that he made inappropriate remarks to the former aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. However, Bentley denied suggestions that the two had an affair.

Rep. Henry says Bentley has betrayed the trust of the people of Alabama.

“…through actions and lies that have caused us to have some doubt about his leadership. And, as such, the only course the people of Alabama have to address this issue is through the impeachment process.”

The Alabama Constitution has a loose procedure for impeachment for offenses including moral turpitude, willful neglect of duty and corruption, among other things. Bentley said on Twitter that the press conference was nothing more than political grandstanding intended to grab headlines and take the focus away from important issues.

The Alabama Senate has signed off on an $800 million prison construction bill, despite objections from both parties about a lack of debate on the issue.

The Senate voted 23 to 11 yesterday to pass the prison measure, after voting to end debate on the issue after just a half hour. The bill will go to the House.

The $800 million bond issue is a major initiative of Gov. Robert Bentley’s. It would fund the construction of four new large prisons and close most of the state’s existing prison facilities. Significant overcrowding, understaffing and violence have plagued the state's prison system.

Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross tried to get his colleagues to "slow down" to discuss the issues. He says the bill doesn't address the fundamental problem of overcrowding. The new prisons would still be at 125 percent capacity.

Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, said he was "disgusted" with the lack of debate.

North Alabama residents have the opportunity to clean up in more ways than one at the Elk River this weekend.

Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful is hosting their annual event that focuses on pulling trash and debris from the river. They are offering prizes ranging from $100- $250 to the team that collects the most trash. Today is the deadline to register a team in the event.

Lynne Hart is the executive coordinator of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful. She says the river benefits the community and the state in many ways.

“We do this because we know how important our river is to this community. It provides us with recreation, with natural resources and it also supplies our water for this area. So we feel it’s very important that we bring awareness to folks as to the importance of keeping it clean.”

The cleanup is this Saturday, April 9th from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, contact Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful. Individuals can sign up until the event begins.

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