A positive note in prison debate

December 5, 2017

By Sen. Cam Ward and Rep. Matt Fridy

The news surrounding the Alabama corrections system seems to be one negative story after another with much of the focus on the need for reform and consolidation in the system as well as higher quality of service and better outcomes.  Much of this is true and is a result of inadequate funding, not because of poor leadership or management.  In fact, we would argue that ADOC has some of the best leadership under Commissioner Jeff Dunn and his team that we have had in some time.  They are tackling the bigger problems and looking for ways to solve them in the face of many challenges.

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Great teachers make great students

September 14, 2017

By Sen. Cam Ward
Alabama State Senate

Over the past few years, I have made it a point to visit elementary and high school classrooms across Senate District 14. The passion of the teachers I meet never fails to inspire me. For many teachers, education is both a career and a calling to shape the lives of young people. Most educators work long hours, taking papers and tests home with them to grade after dinner with their own family.

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Time to Fight the Opioid Crisis in Alabama

August 22, 2017

By Senator Cam Ward
Alabama State Senate

In 2016, more Americans died from drug overdoses than were killed in the entire Vietnam War. Two-thirds of those overdoses were linked to opioids, a class of drugs that includes illegal substances like heroin, but which is primarily composed of legal painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone.

Unfortunately, Alabama is center stage in the opioid crisis: according to the Center for Public Integrity, in 2015 Alabama had the highest per capita number of opioid prescriptions of any state in the country, with a rate of 1.2 prescriptions for every resident. Not surprisingly, for the past several years the number of persons dying from overdoses in Alabama has been climbing, with 282 people dying from opioid overdoses in 2015, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the company’s own research, 6.5% of BlueCross and BlueShield of Alabama’s members were on a long-duration opioid regimen in 2015, compared to the 3.8% national average.

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Autism advocates, common sense prevail in Legislative victory

May 20, 2017

By Sen. Cam Ward
Alabama State Senate

Until 1998, women who battled breast cancer and had a mastectomy may not have received insurance coverage for reconstructive surgery. It’s hard to imagine an insurance company wouldn’t pay for making a woman whole after she stared death in the eye, lost a part of her body, and still survived. Congress passed the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) and fix this gross inequity with a common-sense mandate.

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Opioid & Fentanyl crises’ deserve Legislative action

April 3, 2017

By Senator Cam Ward & Representative April Weaver

As we enter the second half of the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature we have many big issues that still need to be addressed, however few are as important as addressing the growing opioid & fentanyl abuse issues in our state. Drug traffickers continue to prey on the addiction of others by selling these deadly drugs for huge profits.
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Prison fellowship changes lives

February 13, 2017

By Sen. Cam Ward

Life has its ups and downs. Sometimes only when we get outside of our own little bubble and experience something different can we truly appreciate all the challenges the world can offer. If we choose to hide our faces from uncomfortable subjects, it can lead to a much more narrow view of the world.

As a member of the National Faith and Justice Fellowship of the Prison Fellowship, I recently attended our Board of Directors meeting in Washington, D.C. This diverse group of United States Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and State Legislators gathered to discuss new ideas about how to help bring more Christian-based principles into our criminal justice system. The meeting was timely, as it coincided with the annual National Day of Prayer.
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Take a break from politics this Christmas season

December 5, 2016

By State Senator Cam Ward

Our nation has just finished one of the most contentious presidential elections I can remember. In many ways, the American people seem dangerously divided: hate-filled posts fill up social media, while the loudest voices dominate cable television. Active, informed debate about political issues is healthy, but it often seems our political and cultural discourse has more heat than light. However our community and nation will continue to move forward.
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Quick Fixes a Danger to State Employee and Teacher Pensions

July 18, 2016

By State Senator Cam Ward

There’s been a lot of chatter over the past year about pension reform in Alabama, both from legislators and outside groups. This chatter has been fueled by concerns about the size of the Retirement System of Alabama’s (RSA) unfunded liability and the total amount the state pays in every year.

There’s just one thing missing from these conversations. We’ve already enacted major pension reforms. In 2011 and 2012, the Alabama Legislature increased the employee contribution rate, reduced benefits for new employees, and eliminated a costly post-retirement incentive program. The reduction in benefits for new employees alone is estimated to save four billion dollars over the next thirty years and tied with Pennsylvania as some of the most extensive reforms in the nation.
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New Medicaid Law Could Save State Money

May 10, 2016

By Senator Cam Ward

Our prison population overwhelms our facilities and is currently at almost double capacity. It consumes nearly one third of the General Fund Budget, stressing all other state agencies that are funded from the same source.

One of the most difficult challenges in my political service has been trying to bring sanity back to the way we pay for and run our corrections system.

As a strong conservative, my most sacred obligations are to protect you from those who would harm you and to be a wise steward of your tax dollars. I have worked tirelessly to pass reform bills that will do just that. The news events in the past couple of months continue to highlight the violence and unrest within our prison population.
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Legislature Gives Autism Research and Treatment a Boost

April 25, 2016

By State Senator Cam Ward

Despite the political distractions, the Alabama Legislature has worked hard this session to enact policies to move our state forward.

This session, the Legislature unanimously passed a $6.3 billion Education Trust Fund for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), the largest education budget since the recession, and it gives a much-deserved pay raise to teachers and support personnel. As a conservative, I do not believe more money necessarily equals better outcomes. Yet there is no doubt Alabama must pay our teachers a high-enough salary to compete with neighboring states and private sector employment for bright college graduates entering the workforce.
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