Questions hang over massive prison bill

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The push to build four new correctional facilities at the cost of $800 million will soon begin in earnest. Still, many questions are left unanswered by legislations known as the Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative (APTI). The plan at present says the estimated $1.5 billion bond issuance will be paid by savings in the ADOC budget over the next 30 years. It also assumes proper medical and mental health care will result by consolidating facilities, and that the new high-tech prisons will reduce prison staffing needs. Governor Robert Bentley and Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) Commissioner Jeff Dunn are warning lawmakers of an imminent threat of Federal intervention if actions are not taken immediately.
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What to do about Bentley?

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Vice, vainer and corruption has left Alabama a leaderless State, but there is hope that some with integrity will step forward to fill the void.

Governor Robert Bentley has long ago forfeited any claim of moral leadership and to list his many failings would be as tedious as it is long.

However, calls for his impeachment may be premature.

How can those who defended former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard chanting “innocent until proven guilty” in the face of his indictment on 23 felony counts of public corruption now feign such righteous anger at this scoundrel Bentley? Hubbard was convicted of 12 of those charges and today, many of those same individuals who blithely ignored Hubbard’s malfeasance want to hang the fool on Goat Hill.
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Legislative Watchdogs Propose Ethics Reform Agenda

By Brandon Moseley

In 2010 then Republican Party Chairman State Representative Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn) led a historic campaign for the Republican Party to take over the Alabama Legislature from 135 years of Democratic Party domination and clean up the corrupt Montgomery cesspool. Voters agreed and gave the Alabama Republican Party everything it asked for then and every election that has followed.

No Democrat has won a statewide race in this state since 2008 and the GOP super majorities in both Houses of the legislature can cloture the outmanned Democratic caucuses at will. Ending corruption as we know it however has proven elusive for the GOP dominated state government.
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The 21st Century Workforce

Bradley Byrne

By Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1)

A lot has changed since the 1930s. For example, in 1938, Franklin Roosevelt was President, and you could buy a loaf of bread for ten cents. Since then, the Internet was invented, more jobs are based in technology, and almost every American has a cell phone.

Sadly, some of our nation’s most important labor laws, like the Fair Labor Standards Act, date back to the 1930s. One could argue that the needs of the workforce have changed a lot in just the last decade, but they have most certainly changed over the last eighty years.
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Trump Signs Bill Repealing Obama Era Coal Regulations

By Brandon Moseley

Thursday, February 16, 2017 President Donald J. Trump (R) signed a resolution of disapproval rolling back a series of Obama-era regulations passed by administrative rule in the last hours of the Obama Administration. The bill was passed by the Senate and House of Representative using special powers under the Congressional Review Act to reverse regulations.

U.S. Senator Luther Strange (R from Alabama) said on social media, “This is such great news for our Alabama coal miners. Thank you President Trump for keeping your promises.”
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Strange and Shelby Vote for Pruitt to Head EPA

By Brandon Moseley

Friday, February 17, 2017 Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) was confirmed by the Senate as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R from Alabama) and Luther Strange (R from Alabama) both voted for Pruitt.

Senator Shelby said, “Throughout the past eight years, the EPA became an out-of-control bureaucracy focused on advancing the political priorities of the Obama Administration instead of its intended purpose. After reviewing his credentials and meeting with him personally, I am confident that Scott Pruitt will put the agency on a new path. I look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt in my role on the EPW Committee to ensure that we protect our environment responsibly, but in a manner that will not unnecessarily stifle job creation and our economy.”
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Alabama Legislature week 2: Careful with those eyeglasses

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Week No. 2 has come and gone in the Alabama Legislature’s 2017 Regular Session, and we’re left with only the memories.

And the awful legislation.

Let’s get to the recap….

 

Rough Start

If the first real day of debate on the House floor sets the tone for the rest of the session, we’re in trouble. Because Tuesday’s opening was as bad as it gets without a fire involved.
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Alabama’s failed redistricting plan could bring back preclearance

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Preclearance could be making a return to Alabama.

Three years after the US Supreme Court struck down sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required several states, including Alabama, to receive preclearance from the Department of Justice before making changes to State voting laws, Alabama Republicans might have inadvertently revived the requirement through their 2012 redistricting efforts.

Because a federal court (following directives from the US Supreme Court) ruled those newly drawn voting districts to be unconstitutional, several attorneys believe a clause in Section 3 of the VRA has been triggered. That clause states that when a “voting subdivision,” such as a state, city or county, commits one or more constitutional violations of voting laws, the Federal court “shall” subject that entity to having future voting laws preapproved by the court and the DOJ.
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State of the workforce

Fitzgerald Washington
Secretary, Alabama Department of Labor

We’re at the beginning of another year, and ready to see continued improvement in our economy. At the Alabama Department of Labor, we are busy wrapping up the facts and figures for 2016. There were many improvements last year, and I’d like to let people know about them.

We ended the year with our wage and salary employment only 17,000 jobs away from reaching two million. I can’t emphasize how great this news is! The last time our economy supported two million jobs was back in 2007, before the recession, before tens of thousands of Alabamians were relying on unemployment compensation to help support their families, and before our unemployment levels reached record highs. A wage and salary employment level of two million is considered to be a benchmark employment figure. I’m hopeful that we’ll reach that milestone in 2017.
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Fake news, alternative facts

Education Matters
By Larry Lee

Just to prove they understand “alternative facts,” the Alabama Federation for Children sent out a news release and a study proclaiming that the Alabama Accountability Act is saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

The report, done by Auburn University Montgomery, contends that every time we divert money from the Education Trust Fund and give it to a scholarship granting organization to give a voucher to a private school student we save money. As best I can tell, their “logic” is that private schools educate students at less expense than public schools, so paying for scholarships in less expensive that paying for that child to go to a public school.
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