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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bert Nettles, July 13, 1974. Interview A-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Political and legislative situations in Alabama in the 1970s

Nettles explains the political situation in the state for Jere Locke Beasley, lieutenant governor under Wallace. In the process, he reveals the ways that the legislative and political process works in Alabama during the mid-1970s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bert Nettles, July 13, 1974. Interview A-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
But the lieutenant governor really gets no salary.
BERT NETTLES:
No, no salary. It's not intended to be a full time job. It's a legislative position.
WALTER DE VRIES:
He has no executive branch responsibility?
BERT NETTLES:
No.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Just a presiding officer.
BERT NETTLES:
That's one of the problems, and one of the reasons he was unsuccessful in getting his full time resolution through the legislature. Because he wanted to continue to be the presiding officer in the senate, continue to name the committees in the senate and the committee chairmen in the senate-that's the power of the lieutenant governor-plus having the gavel plus also being a full time executive branch member. The number two man in the executive. And that's, you know, the conflict. The fellow who names the committees and who wields the gavel, who recognizes the people seeking recognition and who routes the bills to various committees. As in every legislature, we have grave yard committees and favored committees. And there was one bill, Commerce and Transportation, that got I would say over 50% of the hotly contested bills, last year. Before this last session, it was a nothing committee. But it just happened to be one that was completely dominated by state senators who were loyal to Beasley.
JACK BASS:
His authority to appoint committees, is that by tradition or is it statutory or is it in the constitution?
BERT NETTLES:
It's either statutory or in the rules of the senate. It might be in the rules of the senate that the committees are appointed by the presiding officer . . . by the lieutenant governor and by the chairman designate. Now they have threatened . . . and there's been some talk if a Republican were elected to lieutenant governor . . . that the senators would then change the rules and would come up with a committee on committees and also designate the chairmen of various committees themselves. Now . . . but that's never been done.
WALTER DE VRIES:
But by tradition-
BERT NETTLES:
By tradition, certainly, the lieutenant governor has always named the committees, usually in consulting with the governor.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Doesn't the governor usually pick the people?
BERT NETTLES:
Yes.
JACK BASS:
On the key committees.
BERT NETTLES:
On the key committees. See, this is what happened. The governor had picked most of the people on the key committees in the senate. But then when Beasley split a little bit from the governor, he had one committee completely dominated by his own people, Commerce and Transportation. So that becameFoushee, state senator who is chairman of that committee . . . his alter ego for Beasley. And so that suddenly became the hot committee.