North Alabama lawmakers to Bentley: “It’s time to put aside selfishness and step down”

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Today is the first day back for the state legislature after a break, and some lawmakers from north Alabama say it's their priority to impeach Governor Robert Bentley.

Rep. Ed Henry and three other state representatives spoke at the State House prior to the start of the session. Their focus: articles of impeachment against Bentley.

Henry, a Republican who represents Cullman, Marshall and Morgan Counties, was joined by Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison County), Rep. Craig Ford (D-Etowah County) and Rep. David Standridge (R-Blount & Marshall Counties).

"Bentley says time and time again how he loves the people of Alabama. I believe that's true," said Rep. Henry.  "If he does, it's time to put aside his selfishness and step down... and relieve us of this pressure and this burden he has put on us."

Rep. Henry said he does not believe he needs to prove Governor Robert Bentley acted criminally to begin the impeachment process. He said he is basing his articles of impeachment on the governor's "incompetence to fulfill his position." He already has the papers drawn.

Rep. Craig Ford, a Democrat and House Minority Leader, is also part of the effort.  He made it clear party labels aren't part of this.

"This is not about Democrats and Republicans. This is about right and wrong," said Rep. Ford.  "The only thing we know for sure today is nothing the governor has said is true.  This is not about the governor's personal conduct. This is about the allegations against him, including that he obstructed justice within the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency.  We believe there is enough probable cause to warrant asking the State Senate to try this case, and if guilty, remove the governor from office."

Rep. Mike Ball said the legislature must start the process.  "We will carefully weigh out the issues. This is really about the checks and balances of government that the founding fathers had put in place," said Rep. Ball.  "The impeachment process -- it's fortunate that it hasn't been used very often. This is a process where circumstances rise to a certain level, it can hold a constitutional officer accountable. It's very important that we look at this as objectively as possible, consider the ramifications, and how this will affect the people of Alabama going forward. There's a crisis of confidence and this needs to be resolved."

Not everyone is for the impeachment proposal. Some say the governor needs due process, and deserves that, before impeachment can move forward.

What happens next?

This is a resolution, not a bill.  Since it's a resolution, it goes to the rules committee.  If the rules committee approves it, it can go to the House floor for a full vote under normal procedures.

If the House passes it, the resolution would then go to the Senate, which would be asked to conduct a trial concerning the allegations against Governor Bentley.

Does it have support? We'll have to see. Rep. Ball said a lot of what happens next will depend on what the public thinks.

WHNT News 19 has several teams working on more angles of this issue. We'll continue to update with more information throughout the afternoon.