(a) The State Textbook Committee is created. The committee shall consider the merit of textbooks offered for use in the public elementary and high schools of the state and make recommendations for approval or rejection, or both, to the State Board of Education as hereinafter provided. In making recommendations to the State Board of Education, the State Textbook Committee shall also consider any recommendations made by the State Courses of Study Committee or by the State Superintendent of Education.
(b) The State Textbook Committee shall be composed of 23 members. Four of the members shall be secondary school classroom teachers and four elementary school classroom teachers. One of these eight members shall be appointed from each of the seven United States Congressional Districts, as such districts are constituted on July 1, 1998, and one shall be appointed statewide. Four members shall be appointed from the state at large, and these four members may be either classroom teachers or persons actively engaged in the supervisory or administrative capacity in the field of education. Two members of the committee shall be employees of state institutions of higher learning. These 14 members of the State Textbook Committee shall each be appointed by the State Board of Education, upon nominations made by the State Superintendent of Education. Nine members shall be appointed by the Governor, subject to the confirmation of the Senate by April 1 of each year, one from each of the seven congressional districts, as such districts are constituted on July 1, 1998, and two appointed statewide and, these two shall be members of local boards of education at the time of their appointment. Two of the members appointed from the congressional districts shall be recommended by the State Superintendent of Education. These nine additional members shall have general knowledge of the subject area to be considered for textbook adoption and shall have a demonstrated ability to read and write at a post high school level and shall not be employed in education.
Membership of the State Textbook Committee shall be inclusive and shall reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state.
(c) All members of the State Textbook Committee shall be appointed for terms of one year, beginning at the call of the State Superintendent of Education. The committee shall be subject to recall by the State Superintendent of Education, thereby extending the length of the member's term, until a new committee is appointed for consideration of the same subject area or areas or grade or grades or any combination thereof. Vacancies in the office of any of the committee members shall be filled by the original appointing authority, and the appointee shall hold office for the unexpired term and until his or her successor is appointed and qualified.
(d) In order to qualify as a member of the State Textbook Committee, each person appointed shall prepare an affidavit to be filed with the State Board of Education within 10 days after notice of the member's appointment stating each of the following:
(1) The member agrees to discharge faithfully all the duties imposed upon him or her as a member of the State Textbook Committee.
(2) The member has no interest, directly or indirectly, in any contract that may be made under this article.
(3) The member has no interest as author, as associate author, as publisher, or as a representative of the author or publisher of any textbook.
(4) The member has no pecuniary interest, directly or indirectly, in the business or profits of any person, firm or corporation engaged in manufacturing, publishing, or selling textbooks.
(5) The member agrees not to accept any emolument or promise of future reward of any kind from any publisher of textbooks, the publisher's agents or anyone interested in or intending to bias the member's judgment in any way in the selection of any textbook up for adoption.
(6) The member agrees not to reveal to anyone, except to the State Board of Education or the State Superintendent of Education, or both, the findings, ratings, or grading of the State Textbook Committee.
(e) It shall be a misdemeanor for any member of the State Textbook Committee or the secretary of the committee, or for any other person, to disclose ratings and gradings of the committee to anyone except to the State Board of Education or the State Superintendent of Education, or both, until after the contracts are made. Anyone found guilty of doing so shall be fined not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500) and also may be imprisoned or sentenced to hard labor for a term not exceeding six months.
(f) The organizational meeting of each State Textbook Committee shall be called by the State Superintendent of Education and the committee shall meet thereafter on call of the chairperson of the committee or of the State Superintendent of Education. At the organizational meeting, the State Textbook Committee shall elect one of its members to act as chairperson of the committee and one of its members as secretary of the committee. Other necessary meetings shall be held as determined by the State Textbook Committee or upon the call of the chairperson or the State Superintendent of Education. The State Superintendent of Education shall notify the members of the committee of each meeting by registered or certified mail prior to the time of the meeting.
(g) The members of the State Textbook Committee shall be paid per diem expenses at the rate provided by state law during the time they are engaged in such work and in addition shall receive travel expenses at the rate provided by state law for each mile traveled from home to the place of meeting and return, to be paid out of appropriations made to the State Department of Education. Each member of the committee, before receiving per diem for expenses, shall submit to the State Superintendent of Education a notarized statement of the number of miles traveled and the number of days engaged in such work. No member shall be paid for more than 25 days in any school year.
(h) The State Textbook Committee shall make textbook recommendations to the State Board of Education in writing, and both recommendations for approval or rejection, or both, and any dissents therefrom shall be filed with the State Board of Education and shall be made available for public inspection upon filing. The State Textbook Committee may recommend any new material which has been properly bid pursuant to this article, which supports the Alabama course of study for the specific subject, and which is defined as a textbook as prescribed in the rules and regulations of the State Board of Education. New material is defined as material published within three years from the date the State Board of Education begins advertisement for bids for textbooks which shall be considered for adoption by the State Board of Education.