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Gary Palmer holds town hall event in Vincent

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Palmer holds a separate town hall in Coosa County (via Gary Palmer for House).

Monday Congressman Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, was in Vincent for a town hall with city leaders and residents.

Vincent Mayor Ray McAllister said, “It is our pleasure to have Gary Palmer and his staff with us today. He does a great job for us in Washington. I know it is a zoo.”

Palmer was introduced as, among other things, a former football player at the University of Alabama under legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

“I practiced football at Alabama, I was a little short on the playing side,” Palmer said. “I grew up in Hackleburg so I have a heart for rural Alabama.”

“One of the big deals is broadband,” Palmer said. “We really need it statewide. We are getting some things done there. I am really focused on economic development. One of the most important things is to finish the northern beltway. That will take some of the pressure off of (Highway) 280.”

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Palmer said that we are a behand Nashville and Atlanta. The good part of that is that we can learn from their mistakes. “With broadband more people will be willing to settle in rural Alabama because of the quality of life.

Palmer said that development is going down Highway 280 to Vincent eventually. “It is all coming this way. The key is to manage that growth so that you don’t give up what you have.”

A veteran asked Palmer about the Veterans Health Care System.

“We have a very good veterans hospital in Birmingham,” Palmer said. “Birmingham is fortunate. Montgomery is not.”

“We have given the administrator the ability to fire people,” Palmer said that will help some. “We have a number of places where veterans have died on waiting lists and they (the VA) tried to cover it up.”

Vincent City Council Member Bridgette Jordan Smith said that seventy percent of the children in Vincent receive free and reduced lunch. Money is not something we have in abundance; but when we apply for grants we are often overlooked because we are in Shelby County. It is a challenge for us.

“The grant process is all we have because we no longer do earmarks, at least in the House,” Palmer said. “The senate still does because they hide them in the big omnibus bills. I don’t know if they will do that this year.”

Palmer said that for the Congress to pass a budget under regular order it has to pass out of both Houses, then it goes to a conference committee and what comes out of conference committee still has to pass both houses. If that does not happen there will be an omnibus. Committee chairmen can then slip earmarks into the omnibus as it goes through committee.

“I would recommend putting your grants in and then getting with Sen Shelby’s office,” Palmer said. “He is literally one of the most powerful people in Washington.”

Palmer said that he grew up skidding logs, looking at the back of a mule. I was in the Future Farmers of America. I learned a lot in ag class, carpentry, welding, electrical etc. “I am the first person in my family to go to college. We don’t have a lot of those things for young people now but that is about to change.” Congress is providing funding for craft training. Birmingham has a craft school. Graduates get a basic high school education, not college prep, but they learn carpentry, welding, masonry, etc. The mayor of Clay is an instructor there and teaches stonemasonry. “These kids that come out and weld are going to be making $50 to $60,000 a year.” I am talking in Washington about letting 18 year old drive semi trucks I am not for letting them drive a tandem truck. In the Navy kids who are barely 20 are driving nuclear aircraft carriers driving a truck I think they can handle it.

“Quit trying to put square peds in a round hole build an economy that works for everybody,” Palmer said. Hoover is building a craft school with the old Riverchase elementary and Leeds is looking at it.

Residents asked about improving school security.

“I have been meeting with superintendents in the district to talk about school safety,” Palmer said. Palmer said that he has been asked to help with a Congressional task force on school safety.

Palmer said that he asks school superintendents Do you have a school resource officer? And if you don’t what do you have if a shooter gets inside your school.

Palmer said that there is a developing profile on mass school shooters: They are White, males, they are adolescent to mid twenties, they are all on psychotropic drugs, they grow up in suburban households, only one shooter has been rural, often more affluent, and they are all either atheist, agnostic, or are hostile to religion.

Palmer said that he is not in favor of closing off schools with a wall or fencing. Palmer was on the field when the shooter attacked the baseball field. There was a fence around that and only one gate in or out. If the Capital Police had not been there to engage the shooter and keep him from entering the gate that would have become a killing zone.

Palmer says that he is for utilizing canines to form an outer layer of perimeter security. Technology like metal detectors can only tell you what went by the detector, dogs can track it down and find where it went up to thirty minutes after it went by there. Some people don’t want big German Shepherds in the schools but Beagles are being trained up in Anniston to do the same thing. “That gives you another layer of security. Palmer said that he has also been pushing for using dogs as an outer layer of security at airports.

“We are also looking at keep track of school buses.” Palmer said that psychotropic drugs are needed by some people; but they don’t work for everyone. Everyone is different. They have the ability to do genetic mapping to tell you what will work best for you and what will work best for me. Hudson Alpha is doing research so, “We are fast getting to the point where they can look at your genetic map and determine what drug works best for you.”

Arkansas is providing every school teacher with an ap for their phones where they can push a button and alerts the whole school system immediately for fire and another button for security threats. The NASA administrator said that they have developed a sensor that will tell you not only that a shot has been fired but what caliber bullet it is.

One resident asked Palmer if he could work with Democrats in Congress.

“I have got good friends on the Democratic side,” Palmer said. “If there is anything real significant their leadership will not let them vote for it. That is why there are 60 Democrats committed to voting against Nancy Pelosi. On my side of the aisle we are not as dependent on our leadership as they are we have more independence as a consequence we have factions.”

Palmer said that the Republican leadership wrote their Obamacare replacement bill and they were told that you either were for that bill or they were for the Affordable Care Act. Palmer opposed the bill and then contributed to developing replacement which did pass the House.

“I think I have a high level of respect on the other side of the aisle,” Palmer said. “I thought when we did the hearing on Peter Strzok and I though a bunch of people on the other side of the aisle and on my side were way out of line. I told him that I said a prayer for his family and his whole countenance changed.”

“Everything is a story,” Palmer said. “History is one huge narrative. There are no insignificant people. We are all part of the tapestry. If you take one thread out and it is not complete.”

“The millennials really struggle,” Palmer said. “They are just drawn here and drawn there they don’t have the purpose.”

“Don’t think about where you are, but where you want to be,” Palmer said. Think about what will be said at your funeral. They ae not going to talk about what kind of car you drive or how big a house you lived in.”

“What we are going through right now is so destructive,” Palmer warned. “This divisiveness will kill us as a nation.”

A resident asked if there was any money to get a medical clinic in Vincent.

Palmer suggested that they look at what they have done in Centerville in Bibb county. Centerville has a dentistry, optometry, chiropractor, doctor, office etc. in one clinic. The doctor have gone through a government program that pays for their medical education if they work in rural areas.

Palmer said that he liked doing town halls.

“When I was elected to this office, I made a commitment to not be an absentee representative. This is the part of the job,” Palmer said. There is no better place to live than small towns in Alabama.

Ray Melick, the District Director of Palmer’s office, said that in addition to the regular town halls Congressman Palmer tries to meet with the mayors of the district every quarter at a luncheon to hear the concerns of all the cities in the district.

Gary Palmer is seeking his third term representing the Sixth Congressional District. He faces Danner Kline (D) in the general election on November 6.

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More than $100,000 campaign finance penalties collected during 2018 election season

Chip Brownlee

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More than $100,000 in campaign finance fines and fees have been collected during the 2018 campaign season in Alabama.

The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office said Friday that $197,657.84 in Fair Campaign Practices Act penalties have been issued, and $102,249.05 of those fees have been paid by political action committees and principal campaign committees.

The Secretary of State is required to issue penalties to PACs and PCCs when they do not file their monthly, weekly or daily campaign finance reports on time or at all.

The office said money that hasn’t been paid of the $197,000 total have either been waived by the Alabama Ethics Commission or the Secretary of State’s Office is still waiting to collect the funds from the committees. There were a total 1,166 penalties or warnings this campaign season.

The requirements are part of act 2015-495, which was passed by the legislature in 2015, and went into effect with the start of the 2018 Election Cycle.

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Committees are required to file their campaign finance report by midnight on the date the report is due. Most reports are due by 12:00 p.m. on the second day of each month. Committees are required to report all contributions and expenditures incurred by their campaign during the previous month.

The first report a candidate files late — if it’s within 48 hours of the date the report is due — leads to a warning, which does not count against them or require a fine be paid. Further, the code specifically states that warnings are not violations of the law.

Penalties amounts increase as the number of late reports increases from the candidate.

Committees also have the ability to appeal their penalty to the Alabama Ethics Commission, which has been lenient in overturning violations for a number of reasons.

Of the 1,166 penalties and warnings, 166 have been overturned.

Fines paid by committees are deposited directly into the state general fund.

 

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Elections

Secretary Merrill orders election workers not to count write-in votes

Brandon Moseley

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The Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday that no county needs to count the write-in ballots for the general election.

In a statement the Secretary of State’s office wrote: “State law requires the Secretary of State’s Office to review county vote totals and compare those totals to the number of write-in votes cast in each statewide race involving a Federal or State office. Following the completion of that review, the Secretary of State’s Office is tasked with determining whether the total number of write in votes is less than the difference in votes between the candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for that office.”

“Secretary Merrill and his team have completed a review of the offices and it has been determined that no county is required by law to count and report write-in votes for any State or Federal office as provided in Alabama Code Section 17-6-28.”

County election officials must still make this determination for any county offices not included in the Secretary of State’s review.

The final vote totals as certified by the County Canvassing Board are due to the Secretary of State’s Office by Friday, November 16, 2018.

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Chad “Chig” Martin and Chris Countryman both ran write-in campaigns for governor.

Allowing write-in votes slows the process of counting the votes down considerably as those ballots would have to be pulled out and counted manually.

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Ivey launches inaugural committee

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey officially launched the Inaugural Committee and announced Cathy Randall and Jimmy Rane as the Co-Chairs who will oversee the festivities surrounding the inauguration along with committee staff.

“I am excited to officially launch the Inaugural Committee, which will be led by Dr. Cathy Randall and Jimmy Rane,” said Governor Ivey. “Cathy and Jimmy have embodied a spirit of service, in both their professional and personal life, and they have played a major role in the fight to keep Alabama working. I am proud to call them both longtime friends, and I am grateful for their willingness to lend their expertise and support as we prepare to usher in a new era for Alabama.”

Cathy Randall is the Chairman of the Board of Tuscaloosa-based Pettus Randall Holdings LLC and the former Chairman of the Board of Randall Publishing Company. Dr. Randall currently serves on the Alabama Power Board of Directors. She is a former director of the University Honors Programs at the University of Alabama, where she earned two Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Randall also served as director of Alabama Girls State, where she first met Governor Ivey.

Jimmy Rane is best known as “the Yella Fella” from his TV commercials. Rane is the Cofounder and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving and the wealthiest man in the state of Alabama. Since 1999, Rane has served as a Trustee at Auburn University, where he first met Governor Ivey while earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Rane also has a law degree from Samford Univesity’s Cumberland School of Law. Rane lives in Abbeville, Alabama and is well known for his charitable efforts to raise money to fund college scholarships through the Jimmy Rane Foundation.

Governor Ivey also announced several of her key campaign staffers will serve on the inaugural committee, including: Mike Lukach, Executive Director; Debbee Hancock, Communications Director; Anne-Allen Welden, Finance Director; Julia McNair, Deputy Finance Director; Julia Pickle, Director of Ticketing; Jonathan Hester, Director of Events and Production; Lenze Morris; Ryan Sanford; and Henry Thornton.

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The Governor added that more information about the inaugural theme and events will be announced in the coming weeks.

Kay Ivey became Governor in April 2017 when then Governor Robert Bentley (R) resigned. Ivey was easily elected as Alabama’s first Republican woman to serve as Governor. Lurleen Wallace (D) in 1966 was the only other female elected Alabama Governor. Ivey received more than a million votes, more than any governor since 1986.

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New Alabama House Republican Caucus meets to select leadership

Brandon Moseley

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The 77 members of the House Republican Caucus were sworn in by Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) during the group’s organizational meeting in Montgomery on Tuesday. This is the largest Republican supermajority in Alabama history.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the Caucus selected McCutcheon as its candidate for House Speaker for the next four years and state Representative Victor Gaston (R – Mobile) as its choice for Speaker Pro Tem. State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R – Rainsville) was elected as House Majority Leader, State Rep. Connie Rowe (R – Jasper) was chosen as the Caucus Vice Chair, and State Rep. Phillip Pettus (R – Killen) was elected to serve as secretary/treasurer.
The 77 members of the Caucus on Tuesday unanimously affirmed that McCutcheon will once again serve as the group’s nominee for Speaker of the House when lawmakers convene for the Legislature’s organizational session in January. Because Republicans currently hold such a commanding supermajority in the 105-member Alabama House, being selected as the GOP Caucus nominee means there is little likelihood of any other outcome when the full body meets in January.

“Serving as Speaker of the Alabama House has been the greatest professional honor of my life, and I’m humbled that my fellow Republicans have chosen me to continue serving in that role,” McCutcheon said. “If elected during the organizational session in January, I will continue presiding in a manner that gives all members of both parties a voice in the legislative process. Our state faces many challenges, and finding needed solutions will require all of us to work together.”

McCutcheon was first elected as House Speaker during an August 2016 special session after former Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was convicted of twelve counts of violating Alabama’s ethics law.

Prior to retiring after a 25-year career, McCutcheon was a law enforcement officer in the Huntsville Police Department and worked in areas like hostage negotiation, major crimes investigation, probation oversight and others. He has also worked as a farmer and as associate pastor at the College Park Church of God.

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This will be Victor Gaston’s third term as Speaker Pro Tem.

“My thanks go out to both the new and returning members of the House Republican Caucus for re-nominating me as the body’s second-in-command,” Gaston said. “I am excited for the opportunities that Alabama’s future holds and will continue working to make our state an even better place for all of its citizens.

Gaston was elected to the House in 1982 as one of only eight Republicans in the entire Alabama Legislature at the time. He served as Acting Speaker of the House for a period of months in 2016 following the Hubbard conviction.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R – Rainsville) will once again serve as House Majority Leader and State Rep. Connie Rowe (R – Jasper) as its vice chair. The two leaders will hold their positions throughout the 2018 – 2022 quadrennium.

“I am deeply grateful for the trust and confidence that my Republican colleagues have continued to place in me, and I look forward to continuing my service as their leader for the next four years,” Ledbetter said. “Republicans added to our already impressive supermajority in the general election cycle, and I will work to ensure that the bills, measures, and resolutions passed by the House reflect the same conservative beliefs and traditional values that Alabama’s voters share.”

Ledbetter is a former mayor and city council member in Rainsville, who was elected to the Alabama House in 2014. Ledbetter was elected as House Majority Leader in 2017. he was the first freshman member to serve in that post in modern times.

Ledbetter and his wife, Teresa, are the owners of a small business and have two children and four grandchildren.

Prior to her election to the Alabama House in 2014, Rowe served as the police chief in Jasper, Alabama and was previously employed as an investigator for the Walker County District Attorney’s Office for more than 20 years.

“I look forward to being a part of the Republican leadership team as we work to enact the conservative agenda that voters overwhelmingly endorsed at the polls,” Rowe said. “By sticking together and offering a unified front, House Republicans have a tremendous opportunity to move Alabama forward over the next four years.”

State Rep. Phillip Pettus (R – Killen) is a retired state trooper serving his second term in office. He was elected to serve as the secretary/treasurer for the Caucus.

Democrats will only have 28 seats in the Alabama House of Representatives, down from 33. Republicans will also have a 27 to 8 supermajority in the Alabama Senate.

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Gary Palmer holds town hall event in Vincent

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 8 min
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