Support subpoena power

Alabaster resident and new state Sen. Cam Ward has only been a member of the Alabama Senate a matter of weeks, but he already knows his No. 1 priority: ethics and campaign finance reform.

Ward, who has been a state representative since 2002, has spent much of his time in state government working to give the ethics committee the power to issue subpoenas.

Finally, this year, he feels he has a chance with Gov. Bob Riley’s special session. On Dec. 9, the state Senate and House will separately begin committee debates on four ethics bills — eight bills total.

For Ward, the most important bill is the one he’s sponsoring to give the ethics committee subpoena power.

“If we don’t pass that, none of the rest matters,” Ward said.

We completely agree. If our state government is truly committed to transparency, there is no better way to start than by giving the ethics committee the ability to do its job well. Right now, the ethics committee cannot fully investigate complaints, so there’s no watchdog to make sure state legislators aren’t taking advantage of their positions.

Ward also said the system has checks and balances to ensure subpoena power won’t be abused. For example, four out of the five ethics commissioners would have to vote to issue the subpoena.

This is some of the most important legislation to come up before the House and Senate in Alabama history. Take time to contact your legislator right now, today, and let them know how important it is for this to pass.

Cam Ward knows how important this is. As he said, “This is the biggest bill of my career, bigger than anything I’ve worked on before. This subpoena bill is my baby.”

Good luck, Sen. Ward. We hope your Christmas gift comes early this year.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.