Opinion | Shelby’s leadership demands recognition

February 21, 2018

By George Clark
President, Manufacture Alabama

Alabama is experiencing an unprecedented era of growth and progress as major industrial and manufacturing interests recognize the value of locating in our beautiful state. Recent announcements from the automotive, aerospace, and other industries herald a new day for Alabama.

In the past year alone, about $5 billion in new investments in the state and 12,000 new jobs have been announced by international firms on their way to Alabama. While this is fantastic news for the industrial and business communities, it is also great news for the working families of Alabama. The state unemployment rate in December was 3.5%, matching the record low set this past November.

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Senate passes $2 billion General Fund but skips over employee pay raises for now

February 21, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Senators approved a $2 billion General Fund Budget, the largest in about a decade, but delayed voting Tuesday on the 3 percent pay raise for state employees Gov. Kay Ivey proposed earlier this year.

The Senate voted 26 to 2 to pass the budget that will fund all of Alabama’s non-education agencies, fulfilling one of the chamber’s only constitutional requirements weeks before the scheduled end of the session.

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Committee OKs bill to block state funds from being used in sexual harassment, assault cases

February 21, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

A bill passed unanimously out of an Alabama Senate committee Tuesday would block state funding from being used to pay for sexual harassment or assault claims against state employees and public officials.

If the bill passes, those officials would have to pay out of their own wallets to settle any sexual harassment, misconduct or assault claims.

The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs approved Sen. Bill Hightower’s bill Tuesday 8 to 0. Hightower’s bill would prohibit the Alabama Board of Adjustment from using state funds to cover such settlements or payments involving any state official — from agency and department employees to legislators and on up to the governor.

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Openly gay Marine Corps veteran hopes to fill Patricia Todd’s Alabama House seat

February 21, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Neil Rafferty spent years in the U.S. Marine Corps supporting the Global War on Terrorism. He describes himself as dedicated to public service and community health. And the Birmingham native — who also happens to be openly gay — is hoping to bring that dedication to Montgomery next year.

Rafferty, a research and development director at Birmingham AIDs Outreach, is mounting a campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for Alabama’s 54th Legislative District.

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Ainsworth files legislation to train, arm school teachers

February 21, 2018

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, state Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, introduced legislation to allow trained and certified teachers and school administrators to carry guns in school as the last line of defense against the growing school shooters problem.

“As a parent of three kids that attend this school I think I can share the same concerns that a lot of parents, teachers, educators felt across our nation when the situation that happened in Florida,” Ainsworth said. “We want to solve a problem and we are committed to doing that. Let me tell you how this started out: teachers reached out and said, Will we need your help to solve this problem.”

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Elections: More than two dozen legislators will vacate their seats later this year

February 21, 2018

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Now that party qualifications are over, 29 lawmakers in the Legislature announced they will vacate their seats.

The Alabama House of Representatives is seeing some of its longest serving members depart as newcomers run for the vacated seats.

Particularly of note, is state Rep. James Buskey, D-Mobile, who served in the lower house since 1976. Buskey, who is the second longest serving representative in the chamber, announced his retirement last August.

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What to expect Wednesday in the Legislature

February 21, 2018

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Here’s what to expect during Wednesday’s committee meetings at the Alabama Legislature:

Licensed Day Care bill debuts in the Senate

Melanie Bridgeforth, executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children, speaks about the day care bill at a press conference in May 2017. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

The long-awaited day care bill will appear in a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday where it will be acted on by committee members.
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Wayne Reynolds launches campaign for State Board of Education

February 21, 2018

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wayne Reynolds, an Athens, Alabama, resident, officially launched his campaign for the Republican nomination for Alabama State Board of Education District 8.

“I am excited to announce that I am running for the District 8 seat on the Alabama State Board of Education,” Reynolds said. “I have served nearly 30 years of my work in public education including over ten years as a school superintendent. I am honored to have this opportunity to serve the children of Alabama again.”

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Legislature makes it a crime for non-veterans to take parking spaces reserved for military veterans

February 21, 2018

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, the Alabama Legislature awarded final approval to a bill that makes it a crime for those who do not qualify to park in spaces specifically reserved for Purple Heart and medal of valor recipients, former prisoners of war or other military veterans.

House Bill 92 was sponsored by State Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, who chairs the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

“More and more businesses are setting aside special parking spaces reserved for military veterans who were wounded, taken prisoner, or presented a medal for valor in defense of our country,” Moore said. “It is unconscionable to think that someone who does not fall under these categories would park in a space reserved for our nation’s heroes, but it happens quite often. This new law will ensure that those who display such blatant disrespect will be punished appropriately.”

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Bill allowing county school superintendents to take second jobs passes House

February 21, 2018

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow county school superintendents to take second or third jobs. It also removes that $600 cap on a county superintendent’s travel expenses.

House Bill 31 is sponsored by state Rep. Danny Crawford, R-Athens.

Crawford said that, “Current law limits travel expenses to $600 for a county education superintendent. This limit was set in 1947.

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