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Last updateWed, 23 Apr 2014 7am

Private Judges Bill Passes Alabama House, Awaits Governor Bentley’s Signature

Staff Report

MONTGOMERY--Representative Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) and The Alabama House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 138, the so-called “Private Judges Bill” Sponsored by Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and Co-Sponsors Senators Whatley (R-Auburn) and Fielding (D-Sylacauga) which allow parties in a dispute to pay the costs of a judge to hear their dispute in a more timely fashion, provided the damages sought are less than or equal to $100,000.

“I want to thank my house colleagues for passing this bill, and the Governor for his signature when that happens,” Senator Ward said. “This bill will allow Alabama’s overcrowded court dockets relief, while speeding up the resolution process for parties with relatively minor damages. This is an example of fiscally conservative legislation and outside the box thinking that will help all branches of government get through our current budget crises.”

The House passed Senate Bill 138 by a vote of 78-7 it now awaits Governor Bentley’s signature. The Governor is expected to sign it, and other legislation at the end of the week.

“I am happy to help my colleague Senator Ward pass this important, and fiscally conservative legislation,” Rep. Jones said. “I second his sentiments about this being the type of legislation we will need more of in the future, and I thank my house colleagues for their research and attention to detail when dealing with this matter.”

In cases that elect to use private judges, the presiding judge will appoint a retired or supernumerary judge to hear the claim immediately. The private judges will have a minimum qualification of six years, and be current on their bar membership and continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. An administrative fee is also applied. 

 

Newman Technologies To Locate New Plant in Albertville

 

ALBERTVILLE-- The City of Albertville and Marshall County on Friday welcomed Newman Technology to the Albertville Industrial Park.

The new plant, a supplier to the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama plant in Lincoln, initially will employ 60 people and begin production in early 2013.

Newman, which manufactures door sashes and exhaust components for Honda, Acura and Subaru, has plans for continued expansion of the facility and the labor force. This will be the company’s first plant in Alabama.

Governor Robert Bentley thanked the company for its confidence in the state’s business climate and said he was glad that the State of Alabama played a role in attracting the company.

“It was a tremendous effort by both our state and local partners working together to bring a company here that will continue to lower the unemployment rate of the area and provide good jobs,” Governor Bentley said.

“We are pleased that Newman Technology will become the newest corporate citizen in Alabama’s thriving automotive supplier base as well as our newest international partner,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We are proud to be this company’s partner and promise to help encourage its future growth and prosperity here. Welcome to Alabama.”

Albertville officials said the City was engaged in the process from the beginning. "We received the call from ADO (now the Alabama Department of Commerce) late on a Friday afternoon last November. All they told us was to be ready to show multiple sites in Marshall County Monday morning at 10:00 a.m.," said Matt Arnold, president of the Marshall County Economic Development Council. 

Four sites in Marshall County were shown, including two site visits in Albertville shown by Mayor Lindsey Lyons.  Later, as the project came together, the company settled on the Bryant Tract, a 20 acre piece of property in the Albertville Industrial Park that was purchased by the Albertville Industrial Development Board in 2001.

After numerous visits from and to Aiken, S.C., Newman Technology of Alabama breaks ground today on a $15+ million facility. "This project is the culmination of a tremendous effort by the City of Albertville and the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation,” said Albertville Mayor Lyons.

Gray Construction, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., will be the general contractor on the project.  Gray has designed and built over 300 automotive facilities across the U.S., and has worked in Alabama for 17 years.  The company's Birmingham office will manage this project.

“In addition to the positive impact of jobs, the enthusiasm of Newman officials and Newman's history of being an outstanding corporate partner cannot be understated. We're proud and honored they have selected Albertville,” said Mayor Lyons. 

Arnold said this project is a good example of how economic development is all about relationships.  When company officials visited Alabama under the title "Project Newt" in November 2011, some had been to Marshall County before on another project.   “While that project did not materialize, it established relationships with Marshall County economic development officials that helped lead to the announcement we have today,” said Arnold. "You never write off a lead.  You never know where it might take you.”

 

Opposing Sides Come Together on Abortion Coverage

 

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter 

MONTGOMERY--Something that has come as a recent phenomena republicans and democrats agreeing on a particular bill but for very different reason, all couched under the notion of good policy makes change bedfellows. On Tuesday, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass a bill on the Senate Floor regarding healthcare coverage concerning abortions and abortion services.

States are preparing their customized healthcare exchanges in case the Affordable Healthcare Act has a positive outcome from the US Supreme Court.

Under what has come to be known as Obamacare, abortion and abortion services would be covered by federal mandate. After passing through the Congress, this portion was added as one of the options in which states could make their own decision.

Senate Bill 10 sponsored by Senator Greg Reed (R-Jasper) was given final passage with a bi-partisan vote of 30-2. Sen. Reed said, "We opt out. We don't want the federal funding to do that in particular."

Nationwide, 16 other states have opted out of mandated funding to be used specifically for abortions and abortion services.

"We don't want the federal government to tell us what to use our healthcare dollars for. We want to step away from this, and opt out of being forced to utilize those funds for abortion or abortion services," said Sen. Reed.

He continued to outline primary areas that are important as follows:

"First, I am pro-life, if we can reduce the number of abortions, if not having abortions being funded by the federal government under the AHA minimizes the number of abortions in Alabama then great. We already have 10,300 abortions performed in Alabama last year.

"Secondly,  we have an issue here with the AHA which is one of the small places that we have the opportunity to send a message back to the federal government [in saying] we do not want to participate in you mandating how dollars are used in our state.

"Thirdly,  I think it gives an issue overreaching related to the AHA that we want to let the federal government know that we are not exactly pro-AHA. In Alabama, the Attorney General was in Washington during the case that was heard by the federal courts on constitutionality and Alabama is one of those states that said, 'We don't believe that it is constitutional that you force our citizens to buy insurance. This is one other way that we can show a stand related to the AHA."

Senator Linda Coleman (D-Birmingham) added an amendment to the bill setting aside ectopic pregnancies from the abortion definition in the bill. The amendment passed 31-0.

Sen. Coleman said, "I look at this bill as not necessarily being about abortion per se. The bill includes those issues. As a female leader in this state work to represent all women. I think women are concerned about our health and choice. I am pro-life but I am pro-choice when it comes down to my body."

She said, on the Senate Floor, that she was concerned regarding incidents of rape, incest or endangerment of a women health. In this bill these would be covered by insurance in these instances.

Sen. Reed said, "Ectopic pregnancy related to as it would be added into this bill as the definition as the definition of abortion eliminating an ectopic pregnancy from being considered here is something that I would consider a friendly amendment."

In a personal note on the Floor, Sen. Reed said, "So I think it has several components that are very important. Not only are we standing for life and the sanctity of life, but we are also standing for the sovereignty of the state of Alabama and our ability to make decisions for our citizens."

Senator Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) and Sen. Coleman said that abortion, in specific, was not why the they voted for SB10.

Sen. Figures said, "I am a woman who believes that a woman should make her own choice about whether or not she wants to have an abortion. I would have never chosen to have an abortion but I think that every woman should be able to make that choice for herself. If she does then there should be safe ways for her to do that.

"On the other hand I do believe that females need to take on the responsibility for their actions. If they are going to engage in sexual activity then they need to accept the responsibility. Therefore, I do not feel that it is government's responsibility to give them an abortion if they should choose to have one. That is where I stabd on this. This bill did give the exclusions in the cases of rape, incest and now the ectopic pregnancies which an endangerment to women's health. It stipulated all of those things. And with that I think that those are good exceptions," said Sen. Figures.

Sen. Coleman said that this bill did not devalue the life and health of a woman that other bills have. She said that she would not consider any bill that did.She said, "I am pro-life but I am also pro-choice when it comes down to what happens to my body.

She said that she felt that Sen. Reed had considered these concerns when writing this bill and this a reason she could vote for it. "We talked about this in the committee, that was included. Right now, until we get this signed into law--Senator Waggoner's bill--we know that an ectopic pregnancy in Alabama is considered an abortion. A woman can not carry an ectopic pregnancy to term or she will die."

There are two bills removing ectopic pregnancy from the definition of abortion in Alabama. Coleman's amendment would bring SB10 in line with those bills.

"There are very few of us [in the Legislature]. We just wanted [the women of Alabama] to know that we are here to stand up for their rights because we are women and we understand," said Sen. Coleman.

Sen. Figures said, "I just wanted to make it clear that the women who voted for this [bill] did not vote for some of the reasons [pointed out by Sen. Reed]."

Both senators agreed that the government should not be required to pay for an abortion caused by recklessness lack of responsibility on the part of the female. Sen. Coleman said, "If you made that choice [to have unprotected sex] and said, "Oops." Then "oops" it is your choice to pay for that abortion.

Representative Ed Henry (R-Decatur) will be sponsoring the bill in the House.

 

President Obama Congratulates Alabama Crimson Tide on BCS Championship

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama and Rep. Terri Sewell (D) from Selma both released statements expressing their pride following the Alabama Bowl Championship Series (BCS) winning Alabama Crimson Tide football team’s visit to the White House.

Rep. Sewell said in her written statement, “Today I was delighted to join the Alabama Crimson Tide football team as we celebrated our 2011 BCS National Championship at the White House.  For the second time in three years, the crystal trophy calls the 7th Congressional District of Alabama home.  We are so proud of Coach Nick Saban, his coaching staff, and all of the players for their hard work and dedication that made this victory possible.”

Sen. Shelby said, “It’s an honor to see the Crimson Tide recognized at the White House as the undisputed college football national champion for the second time in three years.  This team’s dominance and class is a credit to the University of Alabama’s coaching staff and administration.  Their impressive achievement casts a proud reflection upon the State of Alabama.”  Senator Shelby is a Tuscaloosa resident and is a University of Alabama Alum who holds both an undergraduate and a law degree from the University.

President Barack H Obama congratulated the University of Alabama football team and Coach Nick Saban for their victory over the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) College Football National Championship Game at an official ceremony in the White House.  Alabama defeated LSU 21-0 in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana.  This is the second time that Nick Saban has won a national championship in his tenure at Alabama.  Coach Saban has also won a BCS Championship when he was the coach of LSU.

Following the victory in January, both U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) introduced a resolution commending the team for their achievement.

Sen. Shelby announced to the Senate at the time: “I congratulate the University of Alabama Crimson Tide for winning the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.  The University, the Crimson Tide faithful, and the entire State of Alabama can be proud of this team not only for winning, but for representing us on the national stage with integrity and class. Alabama was led by a suffocating defense as evidenced by the shutout win. However, under Coach Saban’s leadership, the Tide played extremely well in all phases of the game, demonstrating that this was truly a team victory. I am proud to represent a state whose esteemed universities have brought home the national title for three years in a row and counting.  I would also like to offer my congratulations to LSU on a great team and an outstanding season.”

Senator Sessions said, “I am proud to once again congratulate the University of Alabama for being crowned the number one team in college football. This year’s BCS National Championship game marks the second time in three years that the Crimson Tide has brought the crystal football to the Capstone. I commend Coach Nick Saban, Athletic Director Mal Moore, and President Robert D. Witt for their leadership, determination, and drive in guiding these stellar athletes to yet another championship season –the most of any team. Most importantly, I congratulate the truly outstanding collection of young men who won the trophy on the field of contest. No one can dispute the Tide’s amazing performance on defense that prevented the LSU Tigers from even crossing the 50-yard line until late in the fourth quarter. Nor will anyone soon forget the final score – 21 to 0—an unprecedented shutout in BCS National Championship history. Not only did these young men dominate the field, but that same tenacity translated off the field with Alabama leading all SEC schools with 38 football players on the fall SEC academic honor roll. Alabama’s national championship win reinforces the fact that the schools in our state have become the standard by which college football success is measured.”

To read Sen. Shelby’s Statement in its entirety:

http://shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2012/4/white-house-congratulates-crimson-tide-on-ncaa-victory

To read Rep. Sewell’s statement in its entirety:

http://sewell.house.gov/press-release/statement-congresswoman-terri-sewell-after-joining-university-alabama-football-team

 

 

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