Alabama Ethics Law Angers Teachers Union

 
The ethics overhaul approved by the Alabama legislature in a special session includes provisions that have infuriated the state's powerful teachers union, the Gadsden Times reports . The measure forbids unions and public agencies from deducting money from employee paychecks for political activity. That provision could greatly complicate the work of the Alabama Education Association, the state's leading teachers' union, which has long been a political force in the state. The AEA generally supports Democrats, though it did aid Republican Governor-elect Robert Bentley in his runoff Republican primary win. The anti-paycheck deduction move occured in a brief window of time that was ideally suited for lawmakers to take on the AEA. Republicans won control of both houses of the legislature, and the new legislators already have taken over. But outgoing Governor Bob Riley, not Bentley, is still in office and Riley is regarded as an AEA antagonist. Assuming Riley signs the measure, the AEA appears poised to mount a court fight against it.  

Wisconsin Democrats thought they could score one last victory before giving up power by approving public employee contracts in a lame duck session. They've ended up with a nasty internal feud instead, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports . After most of the contracts passed the House on 48-47 votes, they failed in the Senate on 16-16 votes. One of the Democratic defectors was the party's leader in the body, Russ Decker. He was promptly stripped of his majority leader title (he'd only have held it for two more weeks anyway) and condemned by his Democratic colleagues. Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and the governorship before the election, but will lose all three next month. Governor-elect Scott Walker and many other Republicans had asked them not to act on the contracts. Unions supported the contracts, even though they included a pay cut.

Indiana is the latest state that's talking about reducing the services that Medicaid provides, the Associated Press reports . The discussion comes after a report that, if no cuts are made, the state's Medicaid budget could increase by a combined 25 percent this fiscal year and next. Possible cuts include podiatry and adult dental care. Republicans won control of the Indiana House of Representatives in the election and already held the Senate and governorship. They prefer spending cuts, even in popular programs, over moves to boost revenue. "I think we're beginning to see a path where Indiana can continue to be a fiscally solvent state without raising taxes," said state Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue is asking the legislature to create an independent bipartisan commission to handle redistricting. House Speaker-elect Thom Tillis responded that he's willing to consider the idea — for 2020. The political context is clear, the Charlotte Observer reports . Perdue is a Democrat. Republicans have just won control of both houses of the North Carolina legislature. That gives the G.O.P. a strong hand in reshaping the state's political lines, especially because North Carolina is one of a few states where the governor has no veto power over political maps. Prior to the election, many North Carolina Republicans favored an independent redistricting commission, but Perdue hadn't promoted the idea then. 

Georgia Governor-elect Nathan Deal says his state's 104,000-member workforce needs to shrink, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports . Deal, a Republican, didn't explicitly call for layoffs, but he said some jobs will disappear. "We're going to have to downsize in that department as well and that's tough, because sometimes there are people who are doing very good jobs," he said. "But because of the change in circumstances, we may not be able to justify those in the public sector any longer." Georgia is facing a shortfall of up to $2 billion in the coming fiscal year. 
 
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