Governor Bentley Calls for Teacher Exemption from Ethics Law

MONTGOMERY—Governor Robert Bentley today called on the Legislature to amend the ethics law to make it clear that teachers may receive seasonal gifts. The current law restricts public officials from accepting certain types of gifts. Last week the Ethics Commission issued an opinion stating that the law covers public officials and public employees equally, including K-12 teachers.

“We appreciate our teachers. They work hard all year to provide our children with the best education possible,” said Governor Robert Bentley. “All year we ask them to do a lot with a little. And if parents or students want to show their gratitude by giving those teachers a gift during the holiday season, they ought to be allowed to do that. We need to make sure the law is clear.  Teachers shouldn’t be considered lawbreakers if they receive a gift from a student. ”

Senator Tom Whatley, Senator Cam Ward, Senator Gerald Dial, and Senator Slade Blackwell will co-sponsor a bill to be introduced in the upcoming legislative session that would further define how the law applies to teachers.

“We agree with Governor Bentley and the need to make sure the law is clear so teachers, parents, and students understand that Christmas gifts, seasonal gifts, and classroom donations to teachers and their classrooms from students, parents, and grandparents are perfectly acceptable,” said Senator Tom Whatley. 

"Ethics reform was designed to curtail corruption among elected officials, it was never intended to have government act as a nanny state for little children giving appreciation gifts to their teachers," said Senator Cam Ward.

"I agree with Governor Bentley and I appreciate Senator Whatley’s efforts to amend this law, and I join them in this effort,” said Senator Gerald Dial.

The Alabama Ethics Law was passed and signed in December 2010. It went into effect in March 2011.