State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), one of the two Republican candidates for Alabama Speaker of the House, first came to the state legislature in 1994, which was a time when Republicans were making inroads for local elected offices in Alabama.
The Dale County legislator saw the GOP's effort through, which led to his party's control of both chambers of the Alabama State House.
During an appearance on APTV's "Capitol Journal," Clouse argued that having served through that era and as the House of Representative general fund budget chairman made him the best candidate for the House Speaker's role, which will be voted on by legislators headed into the next quadrennium.
"Well, of course, this is my 28th year," Clouse said. "I've served seven terms. Myself and Jim Carns will be the longest-serving legislators starting in this new quadrennium. So, I feel like I have the experience, particularly over the last 10 years dealing with the general fund budget and dealing with the budgets. Also, I feel like I have the experience from the standpoint of when the Republicans gained the majority – I was in the minority for 16 years –of taking on some very big tasks back in '11, '12, '13, when we had so much pent-up demand on changes we had been advocating for years – stuff like the rolling reserve fund, which has probably been the best piece of legislation that we've passed since I've been in the legislature. We were averaging proration once out of every three years in the education budget before we put this rolling reserve in place. It was a heavy lift. It's not easy to do. People want to spend, or some folks want to spend all that you've got instead of putting some aside for the next year. And when we did that, it was some bad economic times. It's better to do it during good economic times. But anyway, we bit the bullet and did it. And we haven't had proration since.
"Other issues like the checkoff bills, the banning of double-dipping and some other issues. They were very controversial. The Accountability Act – very controversial. It about led to some fisticuffs among some lawmakers. So, you know, I've got the experience from dealing with those issues, and I think one of the main things for a speaker to do is to be able to help the membership achieve their goals within their districts. And I think I have the knowledge of some past issues that they may not realize at first. Might be some hot spots they might not be able to navigate, and to help them be able to navigate some of those issues or priorities that they may have. So, I just think I have that experience to be able to do that."
Clouse also said that those he is lobbying for the position seemed concerned about "fairness" with the legislative process.
"I think the main thing — they want fairness," Clouse said. "Of course, they're looking after their districts. We all have districts of 47,851 constituents, give or take 5%. That's their main concern there that they'll be given a fair shake. And so, I try to reassure them that they'll have that with me."
The Speaker's race is expected to come down to a race between Clouse and House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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