House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, a driving force behind the Republican landslide in 2010, formally announced Wednesday that he will seek re-election in 2014.
In an e-mail sent out Thursday, Hubbard, first elected to the House in 1998, said “Alabama is moving in the right direction” thanks to conservative activists.
“Alabama has made great strides with a conservative House over the last four years,” the email said. ”Our state is getting stronger each and every day and our future has never been brighter.”
Hubbard also touted the state’s falling unemployment rate, the Alabama Accountability Act — allowing families of students in schools designated as failing to claim tax credits for use in private or non-failing public schools — and a series of measures passed in reaction to laws or initiatives supported by the Obama administration.
Hubbard will be a high-profile opponent for Democrats looking to reduce the Republican supermajority in the Legislature next year.
With Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, at the helm, a special session of the Legislature in 2010 introduced new ethics laws that gave the Alabama Ethics Commission subpoena power and banned PAC-to-PAC transfers. The following year, the Legislature passed the GOP’s “Handshake with Alabama” agenda, among other things, capped the level of spending in the Education Trust Fund, introduced new tax incentives for businesses and, most controversially, targeted undocumented immigrants with new powers for law enforcement and restrictions on some aspects of their lives in the state.
Two years later, its “Dare Defend Our Rights” agenda, aimed at the federal government, that expanded gun rights and imposed new regulations on abortion clinics.
Lawsuits over the immigration law were filed a few months after Gov. Robert Bentley signed it, and federal courts have struck down most of the law’s major provisions. A lawsuit has also been filed against the state’s new abortion law, which critics say is an attempt to shut down abortion clinics. A decision on that case is expected next year.
The state’s unemployment rate has fallen from 8.9 percent in July of 2011 to 6.2 percent last July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reflecting national trends. The state added 38,625 jobs during that time frame. In another reflection of national trends, the state’s labor force shrunk by 21,441 during that time period.
The Alabama Accountability Act, whose tax credit section was largely spearheaded by Marsh, brought sharp criticism from Democrats, both for the way the tax credits were introduced into a bill on school flexibility and for claims that they drain resources from failing schools, many of which serve poor students. Supporters have argued the credits will foster competition and give students in those schools a chance at a better education.
According to the Alabama State Department of Education, 52 students out of some 30,005 eligible statewide had transferred out of failing schools and into a private school as of Sept. 3. 719 students had transferred to schools within their system, which was an option under the federal No Child Left Behind act.
Hubbard in recent weeks has hired attorney Mark White and canceled a $12,000-a-month consulting contract his Auburn Network held with the Southeast Alabama Gas District. Hubbard and White have said the speaker has been the focus of “unfounded criticism being generated by politically-motivated liberal groups in Montgomery,” and White said earlier this month he had sent out letters to two individuals White said had made libelous statements about Hubbard.
The speaker became the focus of much political talk around Montgomery after reports surfaced of a grand jury being convened in Lee County. There has been no public confirmation that the grand jury is connected to Hubbard, and much of the information about it has come from anonymous sources.
Hubbard’s website Thursday said the speaker was not accepting donations “at this time.”
– posted by Brian Lyman