Well, they did not actually create a physical office. Rather, they took money from the tobacco-tax fund that usually goes to the Randolph County Water Authority and put it in a grant fund they could use to help county organizations.
No sooner did the bill see the light of day than the leadership of the Randolph County Republican Party and the Randolph County Democratic Party teamed up to oppose the bill. Local opposition grew. A protest meeting was held in a packed town hall. It looked for a while like the will of the people might carry the day.
But the will of the state Legislature carried it instead: the bill passed.
(It was not clear why, but there was speculation that supporting legislators were looking to the time when they could create a “district community service office” fund of their own.)
So the bill was sent to Gov. Robert Bentley, and he vetoed it.
Although the governor’s reasoning — that there were “discrepancies between what was publicly advertised” and what the bill actually contained — is sufficient to justify his action, it would have been better if he had just said it was a bad bill and let it go at that.
Undeterred, the supporters of the vetoed bill have introduced another bill that opponents say is worse than the first. Why? Because in addition to taking tobacco-tax money from the Water Authority, it also takes tobacco-tax funds from the local Industrial Development Board.
Opponents call the second bill “punitive,” and it certainly seems to be. In Alabama, it only takes a majority of both houses to override a veto, and since the bill passed, the same vote that approved it could also make it law without the governor’s signature.
Why didn’t Dial, Bridges and Laird do that rather than propose a bill that punishes those who opposed them?
Legislators who supported the first bill, and who are being called on to support the second, need to seriously consider what they are doing. The new Republican majority vowed to end practices such as this. It is time it did.
And Democrats should help them.