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Tuesday, March 9, 2004
Immunity Bill Before Alabama Legislature

By Steven Taylor @ 8:02 am

Of course, to put the Holmes/ASU story into some context, is this piece: Immunity bill goes to House. Like most states, in Alabama

State law provides lawmakers with immunity from an arrest in all cases except treason, felony, violation of their oath of office and breach of the peace when the Legislature is in session.

Well, I say most states, I know that that was the case in Texas and I have seen similar provisions elsewhere.

However, this may change in Alabama:

If an Alabama legislator fails to pay child support or gets stopped by police for drunken driving, he or she should be treated just like any other state resident, according to lawmakers pushing a bill to revamp immunity provisions in the state constitution that protect legislators.

A bill to change the law was approved Wednesday by a House committee.

[…]

One exception in Love’s bill states that a legislator could not be held liable for anything he or she says while speaking on the House or Senate floor.

The Holmes connection? He is essentially the inspiration for the bill:

Holmes was stopped Feb. 4, shortly before midnight when an off-duty county deputy spotted him weaving in and out of his lane on I-65 South near the Fairview Avenue exit.

The deputy, Gil Robinson, reported that he used his patrol lights to pull Holmes to the side of the road. He said that when he approached Holmes, he noticed that the representative’s speech was slurred and that there was smell of alcohol on his breath.

Holmes said he was having car trouble and was not drunk.

The representative was not arrested that night, and Montgomery County Sheriff D.T. Marshall said Holmes did not receive a ticket because of the state’s immunity law.

Holmes has since claimed he was the victim of racial profiling that night. He also claims that current attempts to change state law regarding legislative immunity are a racist stab at him.

“They are doing this strictly because of racism,” Holmes said. “The legislative immunity bill has been on the law since 1901. It is now 2004, and white folks hadn’t said nothing about it until a black man used it.”

Love, along with Rep. Jack Venable, D-Tallassee, spoke before the committee Wednesday and urged passage of the bills.

Venable said the he didn’t want “any of our law enforcement” to be under the impression that they couldn’t issue a ticket or arrest a legislator who is breaking the law.

Love said no legislator should be immune from arrest or receiving a ticket.

No joke.

Holmes says he will support the bill, with some changes:

Holmes said he would vote for Love’s bill when it comes before the full House, but there would have to be a compromise
althought it is unclear to me what that compromise would be
“I would be for repealing legislative immunity for lawmakers if they repeal discretionary immunity for law enforcement people,” Holmes said. “As of now, law enforcement don’t have to have any proof of anything. They can just walk up to you and say, ‘It appears that he is on some drugs.’”

I suppose that that is technically true of law enforcement vis-a-vis any citizen. There is, of course, that whole thing about proof being needed for a conviction and all that…

Filed under: Alabama Politics

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1 Comment»

  1. Isn’t Vitamin C supposed to boost immunity?

    Comment by John Lemon — Tuesday, March 9, 2004 @ 1:54 pm

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