Rules drafted for Alabama House impeachment investigation, vote could come next week

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) -- The Alabama House is closer to deciding if it will pursue the impeachment of Gov. Robert Bentley.

A resolution submitted Wednesday night to the House Clerk’s office by Rep. Matt Fridy (R-Hartselle) lays out how the House would go about investigating whether articles of impeachment justify a House vote impeaching a top state official.

The measure is essentially an amendment to House rules.

It would first require at least ten House members co-sponsor the impeachment articles. In the move against Bentley, stemming from his relationship from former top advisor Rebekah Mason, 11 House members, including Mike Ball (R-Huntsville) and Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) are sponsoring the measure.

The measure could be voted on early next week, House members said today.

It would:
- Set up a 15-member investigation committee. The committee would be appointed by the House Majority and House Minority leaders. The membership would be designed to reflect the House member’s party affiliation, race and gender, and geography – including rural and urban districts;
- The committee chair and co-chair would be from the majority and minority parties. The committee would select the chairs and also set up its investigation rules, aimed at ensuring due process and a thorough investigation;
- The committee can hire an investigator – who must be in good standing with the Alabama Bar Association. It can also draw on legislative resources including experts in the law, legislation and finance;
- The committee can take testimony anywhere in the state;
- Its meetings are to be open to the public;
- The committee would have a year – unless it’s extended -- from the introduction of articles of impeachment, to complete a report. The report would include the committee’s recommendation on impeachment. If it’s not unanimous, a dissenting report must also be filed with the House;
- The committee can amend the impeachment resolution that started the investigation;
- If the House is in session it has three days to take up the report. A special session can also be called to address the report;
- If the House votes on impeachment, it requires a majority of House members for the resolution to pass.

Gov. Robert Bentley said today there are no grounds for impeachment. But, he added, it is clear the House needs to set up rules to establishing an impeachment process.

“I have no problem with the House, even if they do set up a committee,” Bentley said. “Because I really have no problem with that. Simply because they do need a way to look at this for everybody. I mean, it’s not me. They’re looking at it for everybody. It’s unclear, it really is.”

The new House impeachment rules could be voted on as early as Tuesday, legislators told WHNT News 19.

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