(a) There is continued as previously established the Alabama Surface Mining Reclamation Commission under the name of the Alabama Surface Mining Commission for the purpose of transition in implementing and enforcing this article and carrying out the intent and policy stated in Section 9-16-71. All members of the commission appointed under authority of Section 9-16-33, shall continue their terms as created under that section until all reappointments and filling of vacancies have been filled in the manner as provided in this section. At the expiration of any term, that member shall continue in office until an appointment occurs as provided in this section. After February 25, 1994, no member shall serve more than two full consecutive terms of office.
(b) The commission shall be composed of seven members, who are fair and reasonable citizens of the state and who shall reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state, appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor shall initially appoint two members of the commission for a term of five years, two members for four years, two members for three years, and one member for two years. All members appointed subsequently shall be appointed for terms of five years.
(1) One commission member shall be appointed from one of the three counties in Alabama which produce the greatest number of tons of surface mined coal, as indicated by the records of the State of Alabama in the complete fiscal year immediately preceding that appointment; and two commission members shall be appointed from any of the coal-producing counties in Alabama, as indicated by the records of the State of Alabama in the complete fiscal year immediately preceding that appointment. One commission member shall be appointed state at large.
(2) One of the appointees to the commission shall be a professional forester duly registered pursuant to the laws of the State of Alabama with not less than 10 years' experience in professional forestry. One of the appointees to the commission shall be a professional civil or mining engineer duly registered pursuant to the laws of the State of Alabama with not less than 10 years' experience in professional engineering in surface mining or technologically related fields. One appointee to the commission shall be an attorney duly licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama having not less than 10 years' experience in the active practice of law, the majority of whose years in practice shall have been in one of the three counties in Alabama which produced the greatest number of tons of surface mined coal as indicated by the records of the State of Alabama in the complete fiscal year immediately preceding that appointment.
(c) Within 10 days of nomination by the Governor, each nominee shall file with the Secretary of the Senate a verified statement setting forth the following information: The names of all coal companies from whom such nominee has received any income of any sort during the 10 years immediately preceding such nomination, the name or names of all coal companies in which the nominee is or in the 10 years immediately preceding such nomination has been an officer, director, stockholder, or partner; and all the names of all organizations, clubs, and associations of which the nominee is or in the 10 years immediately preceding such nomination has been a member. No commission member may have a direct or indirect financial interest in underground or surface coal mining operations, and may not participate in any proceeding conducted pursuant to Section 9-16-79 in which the commission member is an employee, officer, director, shareholder, or partner or where any organization, club, or association of which the commission member is a member, officer, agent, director, or employee instigated the proceeding, is a defendant, or has any other direct interest in the outcome of the proceeding, other than as a member of the commission.
(d) The commission shall annually elect from among its members a chair, a vice chair, and such other officers as necessary to fulfill its duties. In the event of a vacancy among the commissioners, the Governor, within 90 days of being notified of such vacancy, shall make an appointment to such vacancy, which appointment shall be subject to the advice and consent of the Senate at the next regular or special session of the Legislature. In the event such appointee is confirmed, his or her term shall be for the balance of the vacancy so filled.
(e) The commission shall appoint a Director of the Alabama Surface Mining Commission, who must have a working knowledge of the federal and state surface mining statutes, rules, and regulations, and shall fix his or her compensation. The commission may appoint a deputy director as an unclassified position and the compensation of such deputy director shall be fixed by the commission subject to the state Merit System. The director shall be the chief operating officer of the commission and shall be charged with exercising such powers, duties, and functions as may be conferred upon him or her by the commission or this article, except the director shall not have the power to promulgate, modify, suspend, or repeal any standards, rules, or regulations provided for or authorized under this article. The director, subject to the approval of the commission, may create such divisions of his or her office as may be necessary to carry out its functions and may employ professional, technical, legal, or clerical personnel as may be necessary to carry out the duties and functions of the commission. The director, with the approval of the commission, may also contract with private persons, firms, or corporations to provide professional or technical assistance or consultant services to assist his or her office in carrying out the purposes of this article.
(f) The members of the commission shall receive as compensation seventy-five dollars ($75) per day for each day of official business as approved and validated by the chair. The chair shall receive one hundred dollars ($100) per day for each full day he or she is occupied with business of the commission. The chair may approve and certify expenses of every member of the commission for reimbursement pursuant to Article 2, commencing with Section 36-7-20, Chapter 7 of Title 36.
(g) Five members of the commission shall constitute a quorum, and recusal of a member shall not affect the quorum. The commission shall keep a complete and accurate record of all its meetings, a copy of which shall be kept on file in the office of the commission and open to public inspection. The commission shall meet at least once every month, or at such more frequent occasions as the Governor, the chair, or director determines is necessary to fulfill its duties and obligations.
(h) The commission shall establish and maintain its principal office in Jasper, Alabama, and establish and maintain such field offices in other coal producing counties as it may consider necessary for the proper discharge of its duties.
(i) Funds which are or may become available from any source, appropriations, or otherwise, to accomplish the purposes of this article shall be disbursed by the commission or by the director in accordance with rules prescribed by the commission.
(j) The Governor may remove any member of the commission from office for neglect of duty, malfeasance, or misfeasance, after unanimous consent and agreement by the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Attorney General of Alabama, by delivering to the member the charges against him or her in writing with at least 10 days' written notice of the time and place at which the Governor will publicly hear the member, who may appear either in person or by counsel, in defense of the charges against him or her. If the member is removed from office, the Governor shall file with the Secretary of State a complete statement of the charges made against the member and a complete report of the proceedings. The action of the Governor removing a member from office is final.