MONTGOMERY, Ala. – State Senator Phil Williams (R-Gadsden) plans to introduce legislation tomorrow that would give a future House Judiciary Committee the power to subpoena witnesses in an impeachment investigation.
Sen. Williams says this is directly related to some of the frustrations experienced in the process of investigating former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
Monday morning, when impeachment proceedings began, several committee members questioned the state’s Special Counsel, Jack Sharman, why former Governor Bentley and other important witnesses weren’t forced to testify under oath.
The new impeachment guidelines would make that possible.
Bentley was the first Governor to face impeachment proceedings in state history, so there was no precedent for the legislature to work from.
“We were literally at the point where we had nothing to work with. We literally had to start from scratch,” said Sen. Williams.
With the exception of a few constitutional provisions, the Alabama Legislature had to come up with the guidelines of impeachment from scratch.
“We spent the last two months. We had a subcommittee, bipartisan — two Democrats, two Republicans — all attorneys who were on the judiciary committee and we were tasked with developing the sentence procedures of how to move forward,” said Williams.
Even though the impeachment proceedings were stalled by the Governor’s voluntary departure from office, Sen. Williams says the hard work on the guidelines won’t go to waste.
Williams will introduce the legislation Wednesday afternoon in the larger body of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We had to look outside of state lines and see where other states have had this in the past, in recent history at least. The most common being the state of Illinois,” said Williams.
He says while he’s worked hard on these guidelines, just like car insurance, he’s hopeful the state will have it, but never need to use it again.
“We have a clause where future generations can amend these as required so it’s not like we’re casting something in stone here that can never be changed,” said Williams.
Sen. Williams expects these provisions will be passed and made into law.