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Alabama Delegation Seeks Disaster Declaration for Tornado and Storm Damage

From the Office of U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks

 

 

 

 

Washington, D.C.  – Members of Alabama’s congressional delegation are supporting Governor Robert Bentley’s request for a federal disaster declaration in the wake of the last week’s tornadoes and storms.

The entire delegation today sent a letter to President Obama seeking an expedited disaster declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to permit the use of federal resources for response efforts.

“The Alabama Emergency Management Agency has provided us with the details of the extensive property damage, numerous injuries, and deaths. The Governor has also communicated to us that the severity and magnitude is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments. As you know, Alabama was struck by a series of tornadoes that were among the worst in the state’s history in April and these most recent storms have only caused further strain on state and local resources,” the letter stated.

Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) said, “Last April, our state faced a series of terrible tragedies and our citizens worked together to rebuild our homes and communities. Once again, the entire Alabama Delegation and many Alabamians are uniting to help people across the state who have been affected by these disasters.”

Senator Shelby Says New CFPB is “Operating Behind Façade of Accountability”

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

Senator Richard Shelby accuses Obama Administration of operating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without Congressional accountability.  At a Senate Committee Hearing on the new CFPB, Senator Shelby said the CFPB headed by Richard Cordray, “is inconsistent with our Constitutional values to have so much power vested in the hands of one bureaucrat without adequate supervision by the elected-representatives of the American people.”

Senator Shelby said that “the Dodd-Frank Act intentionally designed the Bureau to be free of even the most basic checks and balances.” “Unfortunately, the President has now circumvented one of the only remaining checks with his recess appointment of Mr. Cordray.  I suspect that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the Constitutionality of the President’s action.  Until then, Mr. Cordray has indicated that he will exercise the full authorities of the Bureau.” “Because of the structure of the Bureau, this means Mr. Cordray will have unfettered power over the operation of the Bureau.  His decisions alone will determine how the Bureau approaches its work.  If he so chooses, he does not have to answer to anyone.  This is not a choice any bureaucrat should have.” “Since his appointment, Mr. Cordray has indicated that he intends to proceed cautiously and prudently when he exercises his authority.  The real test, however, will be whether this caution finds its way into the Bureau’s actions. Unfortunately, the Bureau’s early history is not encouraging.”

Senator Shelby said, “The Bureau is budgeted to receive a total of $329 million in funds from the Federal Reserve Board this year.  This could grow to well over a half a billion dollars as early as next year.  By design, these payments are made directly to the Bureau without any oversight through the congressional appropriations process.” “It is also my understanding that the Bureau has already hired 800 people, and it has been reported that the Bureau hopes to hire as many as 1,000 people by the end of this year, some making more than $225,000 per year.  How have my Democrat colleagues in the Senate responded to this incredible bureaucratic expansion?  They have resisted every Republican effort to make the Bureau more accountable to the American people by changing its structure.  To make things worse, they have also cut this Committee’s funding by 25% making it even more difficult to oversee these massive bureaucracies that are growing in power and size under Dodd-Frank.”

Shelby also accused the CFPB of passing regulations without accountability to the public: “the Bureau has repeatedly evaded the intent of the APA by issuing “interim final rules” without asking for public comment before the rules become effective.  Consequently, the Bureau has been able to impose costly regulations on the American economy without providing the American people with any opportunity for comment.”

Sen. Shelby said that the CFPB’s recently implemented remittance transfers rule alone “will require more than 7.6 million hours.  That means more than 3,800 full-time employees will be required to work on compliance for this single rule.  Rather than conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine if this rule is justified, the Bureau has indicated that it will impose the rule and examine its impact after the fact.”

Senator Shelby said that federal bureaucracies were growing too large and too unaccountable. “As I have said many times, things are not getting better, just bigger and more unaccountable.  In fact, our financial regulators have become bureaucracies that are now too big to oversee and it is only getting worse under Democrat rule” Senator Shelby said. “The Consumer Bureau is only the most recent iteration of the same problem.” 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created by the passage of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 when the Democratic Party controlled both Houses of Congress.  The 2010 election gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives and increased the size of the Republican minority in the United States Senate.  Republicans led by Senator Shelby blocked the confirmation of President Barack H Obama’s appointee, Richard Cordray to be the first director of the new CFPB in attempt to get concessions from the administration on the powers of CFPB.  Defying the Congress, President Obama appointed Cordray over the holidays any way claiming it was a recess appointment.  Senate Republicans have called that appointment unconstitutional.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby is the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

To read Senator Shelby’s Statement

 

 

Lawyers, Hospitals, and Money

By Grant Hallmark
Alabama Political Reporter

“If they leave, several businesses around the area will simply shutdown,” state rep. Patricia Todd told Alabama Political Reporter. She continued, “The problem isn’t even profit, they make plenty. They just want to make more, and they’ll make more on the 280 corridor.”

Todd is talking about Trinity Hospital possibly moving from Montclair Road to the 280 “world class lifestyle-corridor.” Trinity’s parent company, Community Health Systems out of Franklin, TN, is attempting to move the hospital to the never-used HealthSouth building (the building was in construction during the HealthSouth scandal). While St. Vincent’s Hospital and Brookwood Medical Center have both opposed the move for obvious competitive reasons, there are many people are opposing the move for development reasons. According to Todd, the hole left by Trinity would not only be a blight on the Crestwood and Eastwood areas, but it would also kill several businesses that depend on the traffic Trinity (and previously Baptist Montclair) created. There are several pharmacies and grocery stores within a mile of Trinity that will undoubtedly suffer tremendously.

This opposition is to be expected. What one may miss, however, is the promise of development Trinity made to the city of Irondale, which is adjacent to Eastwood, by accepting $32 million dollars in bonds from the city government. The hospital had entered into a contractual agreement to build a clinic in Irondale near I-459, thereby investing further in the area. However, Trinity abandoned the plans and violated their contract with the city in 2009 after announcing the proposed move to the 280 corridor. Irondale subsequently sued the hospital and settled out of court with an undisclosed agreement and sum of cash.

Ernest Corey, the attorney representing Irondale, told the Birmingham News, “The city will not be out anything financially.” But where does that leave those who have invested in business and real estate in the upcoming neighborhoods of Crestwood and Eastwood if Trinity makes the move?

This area has attracted many young, new families with growing commercial areas and affordable housing. Quite a bit of the rapid, economic development over the past several years is due to presence of a major hospital. And the state representative representing the area, Patricia Todd, is speaking out against the move. “It would be terrible for the local economy,” she said. “And for what? For development on 280?”

The 280 “world class life-style” corridor, as dubbed by Charlie Tickle of the Daniel Corporation, is the epitome of fast-growth and sprawl. B-metro has an article about 280 called “The Road.” In it, the author spoke with an owner of a gas station that has been on the road for 55 years. Jamie Perrin, the owner, described the old days of 280: “You were in the country when you got out here. There was a barn across the road…” Now, the area is not only extremely developed, but also impossible to navigate. With the entire development focused on the corridor, the traffic going from Chelsea to Birmingham on the highway has become a nightmare and a civic problem. Several solutions have been proposed, including an elevated highway and rail transit. However, because the road runs through several suburbs, a solution will most likely not be agreed upon any time soon.

While it seems Trinity’s parent company is not concerned about overdevelopment or access to its services, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Brookwood Medical are. They are still fighting Trinity in the Alabama courts to prevent the move, arguing that it will isolate the populace served in Birmingham, de-incentivize surburbans from going downtown to receive medical care, and that Trinity has been deceiving regulators by seeking approval for the Irondale campus while secretly planning the move to 280.

The case is still in the Alabama Appeals Court. It is yet to be seen if the court will allow the move.

 

 

Rep. DeMarco Pushes “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” Legislation Bill Brings Fairness and Organization to Tax Appeal Process

From the Office of Representative Paul DeMarco

 

Birmingham – State Representative Paul DeMarco (R – Homewood) on Tuesday announced he has pre-filed an “Alabama Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights II” measure that streamlines the process for appealing tax assessments and ensures fairness throughout.

 

The Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights legislation is part of a three bill package DeMarco is sponsoring that will make Alabama more competitive by reducing business costs associated with unemployment, workers’ compensation and tax appeals.

 

“This bill will ensure that businesses and taxpayers choosing to appeal tax assessments are given a level playing field and referees who will remain neutral from the beginning of the process to the end,” DeMarco said.  “This bill can be summed up in two words that are at the core of its intent – simple fairness.”

 

Under the provisions of his legislation, the appeals process for tax assessments will be streamlined and made independent of the taxing governments, all of which have a vested interest in denying such appeals.  Instead, an independent Alabama Tax Appeals Commission would be created and tasked with hearing disputes over assessments involving income, sales, use, rental and lodging taxes issued by the State Department of Revenue, by cities or counties or by private auditing firms they employ.

 

To avoid costly duplication, the bill also abolishes the Administrative Law Division of the Department of Revenue and transfers its personnel, equipment and functions to the newly-formed Commission.  Doing so would bring Alabama into conformity with the vast majority of states that have created an independent tax appeals process for both businesses and individuals.

 

Passage of the legislation would save both administrative costs and legal fees for Alabama taxpayers pursuing the appeal process, although decisions made by the Commission could still be appealed to the circuit courts, as current law allows. The legislation also increases protections for “innocent spouses” and lengthens the appeal time for taxpayers from 30 days to 60 days.

 

Nearly two dozen business-affiliated associations have endorsed DeMarco’s bill including the Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama Retail Association, the Alabama Bankers Association and several more.  The Birmingham Business Alliance, the Alabama Bar Association and the Council On State Taxation have also embraced the legislation.

Republican Presidential Campaigns Spar in Mountain Brook

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

The Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina Republican Presidential primaries and caucuses are over and now the campaigns are beginning to gear up for states farther down the schedule.  Florida votes today (January 31) and the Alabama Presidential Primary is just six weeks away on March 13.  Already the four Republican presidential campaigns are mobilizing their forces within the state of Alabama in a battle for the hearts and minds of Alabama’s Republican Primary voters.

All four campaigns sent their representatives to the Red Mountain Republican Club meeting Monday at Salvatore’s Pizza and Pasta in Mountain Brook, AL.  The debate was moderated by Alabama State Representative Paul DeMarco of Homewood.

Alabama State Senator Jabo Waggoner, who is the Chairman of the Alabama Newt 2012 campaign, spoke on behalf of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s campaign.  Chairman Waggoner said, “the ultimate goal is to defeat Obama in November.” Chairman Waggoner said he has been friends with Speaker Gingrich for 28 years and was honored to be Speaker Gingrich’s Alabama campaign Chairman. Waggoner said that he had personal reasons for supporting Speaker Gingrich; but that he was also supporting him “because he is a real intellect,” is “the brightest person in the campaign,” and is “the best debater.”  Chairman Waggoner said that Gingrich “does not always win [every debate] but is always competitive and knowledgeable.”   Chairman Waggoner said that he believes the media is trying to prevent Gingrich from getting the nomination because, “as Sara Palin said, I think the main stream media knows that Obama would not clobber Newt Gingrich in a debate.”  Waggoner said, “At the end of the day you are going to know that he (Gingrich) is the true conservative in the race.”  Chairman Waggoner said that the campaign was going well and that they were trying to get Gingrich campaign chairmen in all 67 Alabama Counties.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s campaign was represented by Ms. Caryn Gleason.  Ms. Gleason said that Rep. Ron Paul was the best choice for the Republican Party because he had the greatest appeal with younger voters and independent voters.  Ms. Gleason said that there is a lot of misunderstanding about Rep. Paul’s campaign.  She said that Rep. Paul is “not an isolationist,” but instead believes in a “less interventionist foreign policy.”  Ms. Gleason said that Rep. Paul voted to send American troops to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, but opposed invading Iraq.  Ms. Gleason said that a less interventionist foreign policy is favored by younger voters and that most Republican voters favored Rep. Paul’s domestic policies.  Ms. Gleason said that Rep. Paul wants to eliminate five federal government departments, cut federal spending, and get control of our nation’s debt which is growing much faster than is the nation’s gross domestic product.

Former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors represented former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s Alabama Republican Presidential Primary campaign.  Chairman Connors said that we need a president that has actually gone out in the real world and made money and not somebody who has simply studied economic theory.  Chairman Connors said. “I would like a guy (as President) who intuitively gets it (economics)” and who has “private sector experience.”  Chairman Connors said that the federal government needs to be managed like Gov. Romney managed Bain Capital. Chairman Connors also said that he wanted a President with predictability.  We did not need somebody as President who pursues a new idea every day; but rather we needed somebody like former President Ronald Reagan who focused his presidency on two things: defeating communism and making government smaller.  Chairman Connors said that the third most important thing to look for in a Presidential Candidate is electability.  Connors said that the Republican Party needs a candidate who can win more than just Alabama.  The only question President Obama had in Alabama was whether he lost with 37% of the vote or with 39% of the vote.  Chairman Connors said that the party needed a presidential candidate who could win over voters in the swing states that could go toward either party.  Chairman Connors said that Gov. Romney has won more debates than Newt Gingrich has thus far in the campaign.  Chairman Connors said that the Mitt Romney campaign has already set up a large and extensive leadership team in place in Alabama.  Chairman Marty Connors said that both he and the Romney campaign “are in it to win it” in the Republican Primary and beyond. 

Jackie Curtiss spoke for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s campaign.  Ms. Curtiss said that Sen. Santorum “is a family guy”, is authentically pro-life and is the best candidate in the field for pro-life issues, and if elected Sen. Santorum will reinstate President Bill Clinton’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy for gays in the military.  Ms. Curtiss said that Sen. Santorum also had the best record on national security and of supporting the U.S. Military.   

In other business, several Republican candidates for office addressed the group and asked the Republicans for their support:

Al Mickle is running, in a crowded field, to represent Alabama’s Sixth District in the United States Congress.  

Judge Suzanne Childers is seeking reelection to Jefferson County’s Domestic Relations Court.  Judge Childers is running unopposed in the primary but faces a Democratic Party opponent in the general election.

David Faulkner is running for Jefferson County Circuit Judge Place 6.  Faulkner has opposition both in the Republican Primary and in the November general election.

Pat Thetford is running for Jefferson County Place 13.  Thetford is opposed in the Republican Primary and in the November general election on November 6th.

 

 

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