Baldwin legislators take on key roles in Alabama House

By Allison Marlow
Managing Editor
Posted 1/6/23

MONTGOMERY — State representatives from Alabama's coast will serve in several key positions during the 2023 legislative session.Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, was named chairman of the Ethics and …

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Baldwin legislators take on key roles in Alabama House


MONTGOMERY — State representatives from Alabama's coast will serve in several key positions during the 2023 legislative session.

Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, was named chairman of the Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee for the Alabama House of Representatives.

The group is responsible for dealing with conflict of interest issues or the use of office for personal gain on the part of public officials and public employees in Alabama. The committee can be one of the most difficult to serve on, particularly, Simpson said, in Alabama where ethics laws are often unclear.

"I think we have a severe problem with our ethics laws as they are," said Simpson, who prosecuted ethics cases when he served in the Mobile District Attorney's office. "I know what it looks like when someone is trying to skirt the limits and avoid ethics laws and do bad things. It's our responsibility to provide some clarity.

"There is too much gray area. Generally, people want to follow the rules as long as they know what the rules are."

Simpson, who has served in the House since 2018, said many laws have no clear right or wrong answers but rather leave district attorneys to decide case by case.

He said the committee hopes to overhaul Alabama ethics laws in 2024.

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant," Simpson said. "Let everyone see what's going on."

He said he is looking forward to the challenge.

"I'm excited about the work and all the effort that is going to go into it," he said. "I didn't come to Montgomery to sit on the sidelines."

The most senior member of Baldwin County's state legislative delegation, Rep. Alan Baker, will serve again as chair of the Local Legislation Committee, a key stop for bills written to address laws in individual cities and counties across the state. Baker has represented State House District 66, which includes portions of Loxley and Elberta as well as unincorporated communities in Perdido, Phillipsville, Pine Grove, Gateswood, Clear Springs, Loxley, Stapleton, Robertsdale, Summerdale and Foley, since 2006.

His committee is one of the most unique of the hundreds of standing committees on which Alabama legislators serve.

Due to the way Alabama's constitution was crafted, certain local laws that pertain only to one county or even one municipality must pass through the entire state legislature. Baker's committee addresses each of those issues.

"Every county is very unique in its framework and dynamics," Baker said. "We look at all sorts of things, everything from Sunday alcohol sales to using golf carts on the roads. It's really a wide variety of legislation that comes through the committee."

Baldwin County is exempt from submitting new laws to the committee because the county has five house members representing it in the statehouse. Eight other counties also have large legislative delegations that bring that county's proposed laws through the legislative process rather than submitting them to the Local Legislation Committee.

First-time Rep. Donna Givens, of District 64, which stretches from Loxley to Bay Minette, was voted as the vice chair of the Baldwin House Delegation, the first woman ever to serve in that role. She is also one of three women elected in November to be the first females to serve Baldwin County at the state level.

Several members of Mobile County's delegation will represent residents in other roles essential to coastal interests.

Rep. Chip Brown will chair the newly created Ports, Waterways and Intermodal Transit Committee, Rep. Margie Wilcox was named chair of the Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee, and Rep. Chris Pringle from the Mobile County Delegation was selected as Speaker Pro Tem, the second-highest position in the House.

The Alabama Legislature's general session is scheduled to convene on March 7.

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