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Last updated 11:21AM ET
March 6, 2021
Alabama Chancellor on Familiar Ground in Political Fight
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Two-year colleges Chancellor Bradley Byrne is fighting the Alabama Education Association in a partisan battle over regulation of the junior college system. And this fight is taking place on what used to be Byrne's home field - the Legislature.

But the former state senator may not have a home field advantage in a battle that is playing out alongside the ongoing federal probe of corruption in the two-year college system and the subpoenaing of legislators to testify in that probe.

The Senate Education Committee plans to vote after Easter, possibly on March 26th or April 2nd, on legislation that would authorize the Legislature to review - and reject - policies that the State Board of Education adopts for two-year colleges.

Byrne served as a Republican on the Senate Education Committee until he resigned from the Senate last May to become Alabama's postsecondary chancellor. Republican Gov. Bob Riley supported Byrne for the post when the state school board selected him.

Now, Byrne and Riley are portraying the Democrat-backed regulatory bill as an attempt to stymie changes in a system where a former chancellor and a former state representative who worked for the system agreed to plead guilty.

Byrne calls the proposed law "a power grab to stop us from further reforms and I can't stand by and let that happen."

AEA Executive Secretary Paul Hubbert rejects criticism of the bill, calling it "just another level of review."

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by the Democratic majority leader, Zeb Little of Cullman. Little said the legislation would bring more transparency to the operation of Alabama's two-year colleges and expose some of the politics.

An identical bill sponsored by Rep. Tammy Irons of Florence won approval in the House Education Policy Committee on Feb. 27th and awaits a vote in the House.

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