Alabama House Republicans preparing for caucus meeting where Hubbard may be discussed

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT)-- There are many things to prepare for as the coming legislative session looms.

It starts on February 2 - but not without drama beforehand.

Friday, House Speaker Mike Hubbard asked a judge to delay his trial on ethics charges until the fall of this year.  Hubbard's attorneys, in the request filed Friday morning, said a delay is needed after Hubbard's lead lawyer left the case last week and because of the number of outstanding motions remaining to be decided.

Defense lawyer Lance Bell wrote that that the case is complicated and involves a large amount of documents.

Prosecutors indicated last week that they would oppose a trial delay. Hubbard is now scheduled to go to trial March 28, during the 2016 legislative session.

He faces 23 felony ethics charges and is accused of using his public positions to benefit his clients and businesses. He has pleaded not guilty and maintained the transactions were legal.

In the middle of this is a recent resolution by the AL GOP Executive Committee asking Hubbard to step aside while the charges remain. The fear is the legal process may become a distraction while the party works.

Meanwhile, an important meeting for AL House Republicans is coming Monday. The House GOP Caucus will meet in Prattville for a standard meeting, as they do before every legislative session, to make a game plan. And Hubbard could come up for discussion.

"I would be shocked if that's not part of the issue," said Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison.) "I mean, the speaker will be there too. And I'm sure there will be some dialogue, probably some frank dialogue."

He said there are other pressing matters sure to be on the agenda, too, including the budget. Meanwhile, he's not so sure there's enough support from the caucus to actually remove Hubbard. He pointed out there are still motions on the table in Hubbard's case and also allegations of prosecutor misconduct.

"A lot of the information is under seal because it happened in the grand jury," he added. "And in the absence of information, you don't want to make drastic changes."

We reached out to Speaker Hubbard's office for comment about the upcoming caucus meeting. A spokeswoman responded by email:

"Caucus meetings are for planning and discussions among caucus members. Speaker Hubbard is focused on the legislative session and ensuring Alabama continues in the right direction as it has under Republican leadership for the past 5 years."

Representative Ball, along with other representatives we spoke with, is waiting to see if the Caucus makes any decisions.

"The legislative process is a team process," he explained, emphasizing that they cannot act on any one person's desires but as a unit, prayerfully considering their options.

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