Timeline, cost for Special Election to let the people vote for US Senator

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In February, former Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, to fill the seat left vacant by Senator Jeff Sessions when he assumed the role of US Attorney General. Bentley also set the date of the Special Election to allow the people to vote on Sessions’ replacement some two years later, during the 2018 General Election. Bentley, calling for a Special Election two years hence, has received harsh criticism because it violates the will and intent of the State’s 1901 Constitution, according to Constitutional experts who have weighed in on the case.
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Bill to break up ALEA gets favorable report

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, April 12, 2017, the Alabama House State Government Committee gave a favorable report to House bill 425, which would undo a key Bentley Administration policy and break up the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). This on the same day that ALEA Secretary Stan Stabler retired under pressure from new Governor Kay Ivey (R).

HB425 was sponsored by Representative Phillip Pettus (R-Killen). Rep. Pettus said that ALEA was created in 2013. This bill would undo those changes and would bring everything back to where it was before ALEA.
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Bill to limit Disability exemptions for expensive homes gets favorable report

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, February 8, 2017, the Senate General Fund Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would prevent owners of homes worth over $200,000 from being able to get an ad valorem tax exemption if they become disabled. Senate Bill 226 is sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), who chairs the Senate General Fund Committee.

Senator Pittman said, “I had a mayor call me and he had a constituent that was complaining about city services. The mayor got to looking and found that that constituent was exempt from paying property taxes. He looked further and 7 or 8 of the houses in that community were exempt from paying ad valorem taxes. He asked me to bring this bill. What this does is put an assessed value of $200,000 limit on that. I think this is a reasonable. You need to pay for the cost of your governor.”
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Finance, Revenue officials suggest reforms for budget process

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Legislators are attempting to find a long-term fix for Alabama’s seemingly endless General Fund budgeting woes. But that long-term fix seems far in the distance.

Today, officials from the executive branch offered their input to the Legislative Task Force on Budget Reform, a joint committee of the Alabama Legislature tasked with finding that solution.

Newly appointed State Finance Director Clinton Carter posed several ideas to the joint committee, including reforming agency budget rollovers and implementing a “race to the bottom” budgeting concept.

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Groundbreaking Study Shows Enormous Financial Impact of Alabama’s Energy Industry

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

A first of its kind study found that Alabama’s energy industry contributes more than $13 billion to the State’s economy each year, and that at least 124,000 jobs depend on the energy sector.

This groundbreaking study released by the Energy Institute of Alabama showed that Alabama’s General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets are enriched by at least $385 million directly from the energy sector.
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Regional Care Organizations Collapsing

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The promised dream of Regional Care Organizations (RCOs) saving the State’s underfunded and overburdened Medicaid system continues to unravel.

Just recently, the University of Birmingham Medical Systems and Viva Heath Inc., abandoned their programs indefinitely, citing the instability of State funding.

Last month, The Alabama Political Reporter obtained a letter from Mike Warren, President and CEO of Children of Alabama, to Medicaid Agency Commissioner Stephanie Azar in which he detailed the failure of the RCO plan adopted by Gov. Robert Bentley (which was approved by the State Legislature). In it, Warren offers a withering critique of the programs including the false promise of cost savings under the RCO model. “The numbers are frightening,” Warren writes. “RCOs will actually cost the State’s General Fund a substantial amount more than keeping the current program funded.”
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Amid Investigations, Lawsuits, Bentley Appoints New Finance Director

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—After a Federal audit of the State’s Finance Department, which has yet to be made public, Governor Robert Bentley announced, on Friday, that Clinton Carter, the State’s Deputy Finance Director, will step up to serve as the new State Finance Director.

After serving for nearly three years as the Acting Finance Director under Bentley, Bill Newton will not longer be heading Bentley’s Finance Department. Bentley gave no reason for the shake-up but said he was proud to have Clinton back to assume this role.
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Bentley Doing The Right Thing

By Steve Flowers

Folks, I have been observing and participating in the legislative process for over 50 years. Lest you think I am real old, I started paging in the legislature when I was 12, served in the House of Representatives close to two decades, and have been reporting on the legislative process for now close to two decades and I am here to tell you I have not seen a more up and down roller coaster ride than the recently completed special session to deal with the lottery issue.
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Budget Task Force Leaders Committed to Reform, But Can It Be Achieved?

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Tackling budget reform is priority one, according to Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia). Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) called for reforms and voiced his commitment during the recent Special Legislative Session.

During this Session, McCutcheon sponsored and passed JHR62, which establishes a task force with a five-point mandate that will culminate with recommendations for budget reforms to be presented at the beginning of the 2017 Regular Session.
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