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Gov Bentley Signs Bill to Crack Down on Financial Fraud

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA (April 9, 2014) House Bill 325 was signed by Governor Bentley yesterday. This new law will strengthen the State's ability to prosecute serious crimes like financial fraud.

Alabama State Representative Paul DeMarco (R), 46th District, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sponsored the bill with the support of Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard (R), 79th District. This important bill passed the House in February and will enhance the ability to prosecute securities and financial fraud and other serious crimes by increasing the statute of limitations.

Securities Commission Director Borg commended State Senator Cam Ward (R), 14th District, for successfully carrying this bill through the Senate in April; and also thanked Senate Majority Leader, J. T. "Jabo" Waggoner (R), 16th District, and Senate President Pro Tem, Del Marsh (R), 12th District, for their invaluable support of this important bill strengthening the State of Alabama's ability to prosecute crimes against our citizens.

Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph Borg said, "This new law will have a positive impact on law enforcement's ability to prosecute serious crimes that are categorized as felonies in Alabama. The Commission appreciates the strong leadership and backing of this bill from Representative DeMarco as it will positively impact the ability to successfully prosecute the perpetrators of financial and property crimes against Alabamians and especially on behalf of our senior citizens who are particularly targeted by scamsters and con artists."

Previously the enforcement community only had three years to investigate and prosecute most felony offenses. Most states and the federal government provide for longer periods of time. The additional time will significantly aid law enforcement in gathering evidence that could lead to charges. Complex economic and financial crimes are difficult to detect and are often not reported to law enforcement until after the present statute of limitations has already lapsed. This new law allows for the prosecution of crimes involving securities fraud and other thefts involving deception for a period of five years following the discovery of the deception or fraud, instead of the date of the transaction, thereby limiting a criminal's ability to immunize himself from prosecution by employing schemes which prevent timely discovery.

One example pertains to a fraudster selling an investor a fraudulent Five-Year promissory note, purporting to pay 10% per year, for the purpose of furthering a fictitious enterprise. At the due date, the investor attempts to collect on the note but discovers that the deal was a scam. Under the past statute of limitations, the State couldn't prosecute the fraudster for theft by deception, and could only prosecute under the Securities Act if the fraudster committed some act in furtherance of the fraud within five years of such event, even if the deception giving rise to the fraud was not discovered until much later.

ASC Director Joseph Borg also said, "We are grateful for Representative DeMarco's strong support, sponsorship and understanding of the importance of this new law to protect Alabamians. Also, we thank Senator Cam Ward for promoting this law in the Senate, giving law enforcement stronger tools. This new law will be a great asset to enhance the prosecution of criminals who victimize Alabama citizens."


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Our View: Secrecy Makes a Strong Showing in Legislature

Opelika-Auburn News Editorial | Posted: Saturday, March 22, 2014 9:22 pm

Secrecy in government breeds corruption. Like so much dung spread across an already-fertile field to nourish a valued money crop, secrecy brings life to all manner of lucrative wrongdoing, encouraging it to grow, take root and flourish.

Efforts to promote secrecy seem to be on the rise in Alabama – especially in our Legislature. That’s sad, considering how, at the beginning of the current legislative session, a number of lawmakers expressed enthusiasm for a bill sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, and designed to strengthen the state’s Open Meetings Act.

As Sen. Ward pointed out, a series of Alabama Supreme Court decisions had rendered the original Open Meetings Act largely ineffectual. One ruling allowed governing bodies to get around the law by holding so-called “serial meetings.” In other words, they could break down into smaller groups and meet in secret because each group did not constitute a quorum of the whole.

If enacted, Ward’s measure would eliminate serial meetings. It would impose penalties on violators and allow private citizens more power to challenge violations of the law.

We have the greatest respect and admiration for Sen. Ward and his efforts to promote transparency and serve the public’s interests.

However, that bill, which passed the Senate, now lies stalled in the House. We can only hope our lawmakers do the right thing. We will see.

Perhaps more disturbing is the speed with which another bill – one promoting secrecy -- raced through our Legislature and now appears on the verge of winning approval.

Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, has sponsored legislation that would keep secret the names of companies that supply the state with lethal injection drugs for executions. Greer said Alabama and other states are having trouble obtaining the drugs because pharmacies now fear lawsuits from death penalty opponents.

“The Senate Health Committee approved the confidentiality bill (March 19) in a 7-0 vote,” the Associated Press reported. “However, the committee added an amendment that said the names would be confidential unless a judge ordered their release. Sen. Cam Ward, who offered the amendment, said he supported keeping the names confidential, but had concerns about giving blanket confidentiality to any company.”

Once again, Sen. Ward demonstrated a noble wariness of secrecy.

But we wish he had gone further. We wish he and his fellow senators had rejected the bill. We wish more lawmakers would embrace this simple principle: Democratic governments do not spend taxpayers’ dollars without letting taxpayers know who is receiving their money and what exactly they are getting in return for their money.

Failing to follow this principle allows for all kinds of wrongdoing.

We are convinced Rep. Greer has nothing but the best of intentions. We believe he wants to preserve the state’s ability to carry out justice. We are certain he desires only to spare the state’s suppliers of lethal injection drugs from lawsuit abuse, but pursuing other avenues toward tort reform surely would be better for the public’s interest than ensuring nearly unlimited secrecy in the state’s dealings with a few select companies.

Secret dealings with private businesses and secret meetings among public officials make poor governance. They are not needed -- if serving the public’s interest is the goal of governance. They are, in fact, hazardous to the public good.

If the lethal injection drug bill passes and the strengthened Open Meetings Act measure fails, someone in state government will smell the opportunities. You can bet that same pungent aroma will draw like flies any business or lobbying interests eager to enrich both themselves and any “public servants” willing to do their bidding for a price.

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What Less Government Regulation Means for Us Locally

Editorial By Senator Cam Ward

We hear catchphrases and feel good maxims like “We need less government,” and “Government needs to get out of the way of business,” and “let the private sector create jobs” all the time.

But as small government conservatives and Republicans, what does that really mean?

Obviously we agree that government has some basic functions in a civilized society – defense, public safety, transportation and infrastructure chief among them.

So how do we balance between the free market and fairness?

One the greatest Republican presidents in our history, Teddy Roosevelt, was known as The Trust Buster – he broke up monopolies that were stifling innovation and running roughshod over our rights as men, and the rights of The Constitution.

In short: we need a government for order and for society to function, but collectively was must all debate on when “order” becomes “control” and “function” becomes “compulsory adherence.”

This is a pretty esoteric debate, and that is why I want to point out a few functional properties of less government, and getting government out of the way of business, based on two bills I have recently introduced in the Alabama Senate.

The first piece of legislation has to do with the Department of Labor and Worker’s Compensation Insurance.

In the past, insurance companies had to file a form with the state every time they wrote new coverage, or dropped coverage for a company.

It was cumbersome, labor intensive, and in our interconnected, modern world, not needed on either end.

This one little change will save man hours, save tedious form filings, and get government out of the way, so these companies can more efficiently use their resources.

The second bill falling under this category has to do with storm water system regulation.

Currently, the EPA and ADEM set standards for our cities and counties. In the past, some cities have decided to write their own, harsher, standards to include large fines.

This bill simply says that municipalities and counties cannot write their own regulations – allowing companies and workers to know they are operating under one uniform standard.

They don’t have to waste time looking up codes for each county, city or town before going about their normal business operations.

Again, this makes that one piece of their job less cumbersome, and less susceptible to government and regulatory overreach.

These bills are not necessarily headline grabbers, but they allow businesses to function better and more efficiently without needless government regulations and oversight.

That is what less government and getting government out of the way of business mean to me: Doing the little things to create better opportunities for us all.

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Ward's ABA Therapy Bill Gets Final Passage in House

Montgomery—The Alabama House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 13, sponsored by Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) today. 

“Two years ago, my colleagues honored me by passing The Riley Ward Act which mandated that certain types of care for children on the Autism Spectrum were covered by insurance companies,” Ward said. “This legislation adds to that effectiveness by licensing the behavioral analysts – giving them the imprimatur of the state, and allowing the people to be confident in the care they receive.”

SB 13 was sponsored by Ward in the Senate, and carried by Reps. Farley and McCutcheon in the House at the request of both the behavioral analysts, and insurance companies asking for oversight and licensing to insure quality, licensed care through their services, and to make sure Alabama insurance providers could cover these much needed services. 

“The creation of the Behavioral Analyst Licensure Board will make sure that children on the autism spectrum get care from an accredited and licensed behavioral analyst,” Paige McKerchar Executive Director of Alabama Association for Behavior Analysis said. “And more importantly to their parents – that this vital therapeutic treatment will be covered by their insurance.”

Senate Bill 13 now goes to Governor Bentley for his signature.

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Gadsden Times- House Should Pass Senate's Open Meetings Act

Published: Friday, February 28, 2014 at 6:22 p.m.



A battle was waged in the Legislature this week on behalf of the public and, for once, the public won. We’re often skeptical when legislators say their bills protect the public in one way or another, but that’s not the case with Sen. Cam Ward’s legislation on government transparency.

In 2005, Alabama’s Open Meetings Act got a long overdue update, but a series of rulings by the Alabama Supreme Court stripped several key provisions out of the legislation, rendering it close to toothless.

Ward, R-Alabaster, proposed new legislation to plug the loopholes and it took a concerted effort by him and Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, President Pro Tem of the Senate, to usher the bill through. Ward’s initial proposal drew opposition but he, the Alabama Press Association and a collection of groups such as the Alabama League of Municipalities, the Alabama Association of School Boards, the Association of County Commissions and others worked together to craft legislation that was practical for the affected governmental bodies while protecting the public as well.

One provision the bill restores allows the public to sue over closed meetings. The court had made that more difficult, but Ward says civil actions can be brought by any Alabama resident and provides for penalties ranging from $1 to $1,000 for violations of the open meeting requirements.

The bill also makes it clear that the Open Meetings Act applies to committees and subcommittees, something the court said the 2005 law didn’t outline.

The third provision prohibits serial meetings in which less than a quorum of a board deliberates privately an issue that will come before the board for a vote within seven days. Serial meetings have long been used to circumvent open meeting laws and the bill should help stop the practice.

Open meeting laws are often portrayed as being to the benefit of newspapers and other media, but we see them differently. City councils, county commissions and other governmental bodies are charged with being stewards of public money — your hard-earned tax dollars. If they do business out of the public eye, accountability suffers. We’d like to think that all “public servants” have the public’s best interests at heart, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes their interests get put first. Open meeting laws help prevent that.

Ward’s bill should receive a warm welcome in the House, where approval was unanimous for the 2005 legislation. The bill has the support of Gov. Robert Bentley, so the first hurdle was the biggest. We hope it doesn’t hit a snag before Bentley signs it into law. It is in the public’s best interest.

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Open Meetings Act Passes the Senate

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — A bill passed by the Alabama Senate on Thursday would restore the public's ability to sue because of closed meetings, the sponsor said.

The Senate voted 26-1 for the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster and backed by the Alabama Press Association and Gov. Robert Bentley. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Ward said three recent decisions by the Alabama Supreme Court gutted Alabama's open meetings law and this legislation restores many of its provisions.

One court ruling made suing because of a secret meeting difficult, but Ward's bill says civil actions can be brought by any Alabama resident. The bill provides for penalties ranging from $1 to $1,000 for violating open meeting requirements.

In response to another court ruling, the bill makes clear that the open meetings requirements apply to committees and subcommittees created by government boards.

Ward's bill also prohibits two or more serial meetings in which less than a quorum of a board gets together privately to deliberate an issue the board will vote on within seven days.

It does not prohibit members of a board from exchanging background and educational information before a vote, but they can't deliberate. It also does not change the way the Legislature conducts its business, and it does not apply to trustees of the University of Alabama and Auburn University when they have gatherings to fill top academic and coaching positions.

The bill is a compromise worked out with associations representing county commissions, city councils, and school and college officials.

Ward said he's optimistic the bill will become law because the public needs transparency in government.

"It is absolutely necessary for confidence in government," he said.

Felecia Mason, executive director of the Alabama Press Association, thanked the Senate leadership for making the bill a priority.

"It restores key provisions of our open meetings law that are important to Alabama citizens," she said.


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Could Teachers See A Pay Raise?

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Alabama Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, is working with Gov. Robert Bentley to pass a raise for public education employees in a “middle of the road” plan between two opposing views on the matter.


Senate Bill 232, which was pending action in the state Senate’s Committee on Finance and Taxation Education as of Feb. 25, would provide for a 2-percent across-the-board raise for public education employees.

If passed during the current legislative session, the raise would go into effect beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

In a Feb. 25 phone interview, Ward said he would “like to do more” for public education employees, but said the state’s education budget would not support it.

“Two percent, I think that’s doable for our teachers,” Ward said

Ward said his 2-percent proposal represents the “middle ground” between a group of legislators pushing for no raise and a group pushing for a 6-percent raise.

“We only had $123 million in growth in the education fund last year, and it would cost $150 million to do a 6 percent raise,” Ward said. “There is another group that wants a zero percent raise to help pay back the rainy day fund. Mine is in the middle of those two areas.”

If the 2-percent raise passes the Alabama Legislature this year, Ward said he likely would support a “2 or 3-percent” teacher raise next year.Ward said he expected the Committee on Finance and Taxation Education to discuss the bill the week of Feb. 24. If approved by the committee, the bill would move on to be considered by the full Senate.

- See more at:

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Jemison Soccer Team Off to Good Start

The first home game of the season for Jemison High School’s soccer team was a 4-1 loss to Chelsea, but the players and coaches involved with the team still think they’re off to a good start.

This year’s team marks the first for the school, and the program was helped on its way by a $1,000 grant presented by state Sen. Cam Ward on Tuesday, the same day as the game against Chelsea.

And the Panthers won their first game, 2-1 over Marbury on Feb. 10.

“This is very exciting, their first year,” Ward said after presenting the grant, which came from the state’s Education Trust Fund budget. “Obviously, they have a lot of enthusiasm for the program.”

There seems to be support for the program beyond the players. JHS juniors Carlos Paz and David Vazquez said they presented a petition with 160 signatures to Principal Allen Wilson, who agreed to allow the formation of the team.

Paz and Vazquez said they and others tried to get the program started last year, but there was no one available to coach.

Liz Odom has taken on that responsibility. Odom is in her first year at JHS after previously teaching and coaching the soccer team at Fultondale.

“I’m learning as I go because it’s a lot of stuff,” Odom said about starting a program. “I’m excited, and I love all my players.”

Local businessman Martine Maciel expressed interest in helping, so he conducts practices, allowing Odom to focus on organization and paperwork. And Nikki Henley has helped attain sponsorships from local business, such as Jack’s.

There are 21 players on the team, including one girl. The players range from eighth grade to high school seniors.

Some of them grew up playing soccer together at a local park, while others have never played before.

Paz and Vazquez said they’re excited to be playing for the school, despite the hard work it has taken to get to this point.

“Even trying to get the team started was fun,” Paz said.

Vazquez stressed the importance of the players keeping a positive attitude during an inaugural season that will surely have its ups and downs. If the team can do that, Paz said he thinks success will follow.

“We’ve got a good-looking team,” he said.

- See more at:

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Open Meetings Act Protects Your Rights

The Alabama Open Meetings Act’s purpose is straightforward: to provide citizens with “greater access to your state and local government,” according to its website.

“This law guarantees that Alabama’s citizens have open access to agencies, boards, commissions, and other governmental bodies which conduct the people’s business,” the website states.

The intent of the law is clear and admirable. Since it was passed in 2005, however, the act has been watered down by three Alabama Supreme Court rulings.

Now, a bill aimed at strengthening the act is before the Alabama Legislature. The bill has the support of Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Press Association. We are proud to say two Shelby County congressmen sponsored the bill: State Sen. Cam Ward and State Rep. Mike Hill.

The bill proposes three amendments to the current law:

1. It would forbid “serial meetings,” in which members of government entities meet in small groups without proper public notice in an effort to avoid establishing a quorum.

2. It would provide a basis for Alabama citizens to sue a government body for violations to the Open Meeting Act, something Ward said currently is “almost impossible.”

3. The new act also would forbid the Alabama Legislature from holding closed meetings without holding a public vote declaring secrecy is required for the situation at hand.

The bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary on Feb. 12, and will now move on to full Senate consideration. The corresponding state House of Representatives bill currently is pending action by the House Committee on Ethics and Finance.

Transparent government is essential to democracy, and this legislation will create a more robust Open Meetings Act, one that will better protect citizens’ right to participate fully in our government.

We urge the Alabama Senate and House to protect this right by passing this bill.

The editorial is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.

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Judicial Reallocation Bill Passes Senate Committee

Feb 5, 2014 – Montgomery, AL  – A high profile bill in the 2014 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature was voted out of committee today. The legislation is being championed by Sen. Cam Ward and has been worked on over the last three years by members of the Alabama Bar Association and Circuit Judges throughout the state.

Judicial Reallocation will completely reform the manner in which court resources are allocated in the state. There has not been an attempt to realign Circuit judgeships since the 1970’s.  “It will most likely see vigorous debate, with so many people, jobs and judicial resources on the line but the bill aims to make historic shifts in circuits to meet the changing court docket loads in Alabama,” said Ward

Sen. Ward went to say, “real reform is never non-controversial and I look forward to debating this issue on the floor of the Senate.”

“We haven’t looked at the make up of our circuits, and the number of judges since Howell Heflin was Chief Justice,” Ward said. “There are parts of the state that are growing, and parts that are shrinking, and we need to make sure we have the right number of judges per circuit.”

The proposed legislation does not throw any off the Judicial Bench, rather it moves certain judgeships between circuits through attrition and retirement.

“We’re not looking to toss judges out, and we’re not looking to do this in one fell swoop,” Ward said. “If we can have comity and some trust amongst the parties involved, I am confident we can work this process so everyone involved is satisfied.”

The bill is expected to come up for a full vote in the Senate soon.

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