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Interview with Bryan Peeples

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, July 12, 2017, The Alabama Political Reporter (APR) sat down for a long discussion with Republican US Senate Candidate Bryan Peeples about the issues likely to face the US Senate.

Peeples said, “I am a Rand Paul Republican. I think differently than some of the other candidates.  I support actually fighting for the individual rights of the citizens. I was described on the campaign trail, As a blend of John F Kennedy and Rand Paul. I take that as a great honor.  It is very humbling to hear that.”

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Peeples is a 37-year-old small business owner. “I help people who want to start a mom and pop business.  I also help existing businesses adjust to modern ways of doing things in areas like IT and technology.”

APR: Do you like President Trump’s plan to have a joint US/Russian cybersecurity effort?

Peeples: No, Russia is not our friend not our ally we should not be sharing anything with them…Trump is keeping the old adage of keeping your enemies close…the optics of the proposal are not good.

APR: Should the US go to a single payer healthcare care plan such as Medicare for all?

Peeples: No.

APR: Should individuals be able to opt out of any healthcare system we put in place?

Peeples: Yes, absolutely.  I believe that should be true of Social Security as well.

APR: Should there be a pathway for citizenship for illegal aliens?

Peeples: Yes, and I would refrain from using the term illegal alien. Undocumented immigrants. We need comprehensive immigration reform.  We have been talking about this for 50 years.  We should not however disenfranchise people going through the legal immigration process.  I take the same position on this as Presidents Reagan and Bush.

APR: Do you support President Trump’s plan to spend a $trillion in infrastructure spending?

Peeples: No. though we need to improve our infrastructure. Peeples said that we should do more privatization and get back to private companies providing more of our infrastructure needs. We can do so much better with what we have.

APR: Do you favor requiring that all states honor the other states concealed carry permits? Reciprocity?

Peeples: No, I believe in the 10th amendment.  Whether to allow that should be up to the voters in each State and should not be a Federal mandate.

APR: The US Navy has shrunk dramatically since the 600 ship navy of the 1980s. Do you favor plans to enlarge the Navy to 325 ships or more?

Peeples: We still have the largest standing navy nain the world. China has increased their naval presence in the Pacific. We should match their production in a smart way and a financial way.

APR: Should the United States get out of the United Nations?

Peeples: Absolutely. We should have limited involvement with the United Nations. Their peace keeping missions do not go as planned. We are the host nation and spend more money than any other nation in the world.  When you have one major player who will not condemn North Korea on their ICBM launch when all the other players have condemned it that poses a problems. The United Nations continues to recognize nations like Saudi Arabia on their human rights council.

APR: High speed rail advocates have proposed a Birmingham to Atlanta to Charlotte high speed rail line as one of the

first phases of a Los Angeles to Boston transcontinental high speed rail line, is this something you would support?

Peeples: It is a State issue.  It is not a Federal issue.  Countries like Germany and Japan where they have high speed mag rail lines infrastructure within their border can transport people quickly from place to place.  It  would increase job growth for rural areas. I believe government funds should not be used for that.

APR: Do you favor building President Trump’s border wall?

Peeples: No. I think it is a gross misappropriation of funds and will fall on tax payers shoulders. Peeples said that he favors hiring more border agents and using more technology to guard the border. That being said an increase in border security on the southern border needs to be accompanied with an increase in funding of our Coast Guard, because 98 percent of drugs come from our coasts rather than the southern border.

APR: Should Federal initiatives like No Child left Behind, Common Core and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) be repealed and the states and local school systems be given freedom to set their own standards on education?

Peeples: Those programs should be repealed. but there should be a national standard that all states be held to. Having grown up in different states, I experienced firsthand the problems of  not having a national standard in place. Too many teachers are teaching how to take the test; when the modern job market requires the ability to think critically. They are not teaching how to think critically.

APR: Would you support the use of nuclear weapons if North Korea were to hit the United States with a nuclear armed ICBM?

Peeples: Absolutely not.

APR: Farming and Forestry are Alabama’s largest industries do you support EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s effort to roll back the Obama Administration’s new interpretation of the Waters of the US rule which farmers and foresters say would have been detrimental to their occupations?

Peeples: I do. The farming and agriculture community are part of the small business community and they are the backbone of this country. We need to do anything possible to grow those industries.

Peeples said that he supports repealing. Over-burdensome regulation that put in jeopardy the future growth of our nation.

The Major Party Primaries will be on August 15, 2017.  If necessary the Special Primary Runoff Elections will be on September 28, and the Special General Election will be on December 12.

 

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House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

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Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.

 

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Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

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Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

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Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

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Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

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Interview with Bryan Peeples

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 5 min
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