Ward sponsors bill to hold legislators accountable

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Republican Shelby County State Rep. Cam Ward has signed on to co-sponsor an Alabama House bill to ban pass-through pork by state legislators.

Ward is serving as a co-sponsor of House Bill 65, sponsored by Republican State Rep. Mark Gaines, which will make it a felony to hide wasteful pork projects in the state’s budget.

Ward said the legislature must pass a budget by Sept. 30.

And he believes this bill has a &uot;50-50&uot; chance of passage along with the budget.

&uot;One of the biggest things I heard from the tax vote is that people don’t trust the legislature to spend the money properly,&uot; Ward said, &uot;and we’ve got to earn that trust.

&uot;I think this could be one of the most important bills we deal with.

&uot;We’re pushing for this very hard. With all the stuff going on with certain legislators trying to keep pork projects, we think a lot of people will call up and say we want to see this bill passed,&uot; he said.

According to Ward, while previous plans have called for criminal penalties for state department heads when they facilitate pork projects through their

agency, this is the first bill to hold legislators criminally liable for abusive pork projects.

&uot;If we are ever to begin the process of restoring the public’s trust in state government, we must stop the wasteful spending of tax dollars through hidden pas through projects.&uot;