Riley expresses concerns

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 17, 2004

With the clock winding down on the 2004 State Legislative Session, Gov. Bob Riley expressed increased concern during a conference call Tuesday that, so far, the legislature has not passed anything of substance in the area of reform and accountability.

"They are killing bills as fast as we put them over there," Riley said, alluding to health care and insurance. "We need to change the ones that are driving this. No one wants to tackle the problems."

Riley said he felt like the defeat of his tax bill in the fall was a message from Alabama's voters that they wanted the "financial mess" in Montgomery cleaned up.

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"We know where the people stand on reform," he said. "They want a transparent government in Montgomery. One that they can trust. Reform could change the culture of Montgomery."

However, the governor said he is not sure the legislature heard what the people said.

"A lot of people in the legislature will say we haven't worked the bills very hard, but that's ridiculous," Riley said.

The legislature has a unique opportunity to define government by passing reform measures, Riley said. "If we are successful in getting reform measures passed, we will have a more efficient state."

If not, there is the possibility that Riley could call a special session of the legislature.

"That's dependent on what happens in the next few weeks," he said. "We will keep dialogue with members of the legislature and groups in Montgomery."

If reform measures are not passed, Riley said the consequences could be catastrophic.

The governor was asked his opinion on the proposed name change from Troy State University to Troy University.

"I've had an opportunity to talk with the chancellor (Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr.) and I think it's a good thing," Riley said. "It shows that the university has grown. It is almost universal. I haven't heard a negative comment."

Riley was also asked about the resolution recently passed in the legislature that will make the Troy-based Conecuh Ridge Whiskey the State Spirit of Alabama.

"I'm not sure that it would be the only distillery in Alabama," he said, evidently with thoughts of founder Kenny May's plans to open a distillery to produce the fine whiskey made from his daddy's recipe. "I'm not sure that there's not more than one."