Senate committee approves bill to allow display of Ten Commandments on public property

February 9, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

An Alabama Senate committee approved a bill Thursday that will allow for the public display of the Ten Commandments on public property including government building grounds and public schools.

The bill, by Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, received a unanimous vote from the Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections committee after Democrats pushed for an amendment to allow for the placement of other religious displays that express faith or religious belief.

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State Rep. Corley Ellis to join education budget-writing committee

December 28, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, has appointed State Rep. Corley Ellis, R-Columbiana, to the influential committee responsible for writing the Education Trust Fund budget, which appropriates more than $6 billion in funding for Alabama’s public schools and colleges.

Ellis will serve as the House Ways and Means Education Committee’s newest Republican member.

“Rep. Ellis possesses a deep commitment to public education and a keen businessman’s eye to the financial bottom line, the combination of which make him well-qualified to serve on the budget committee,” McCutcheon said in a statement.  “I am confident he will render valuable service to the parents, students, educators, and administrators across the spectrum of Alabama’s public education system.”

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Are Our Schools Really Failing?

January 30, 2017

House Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford

A lot has been said about the state of Alabama’s public school system. And for the last six years, State leaders have been obsessed with defining public schools as failing, even going so far as to require by law that at least 6 percent of all schools must be labeled as failing.

Making the situation worse is that students and schools have seemingly been set up to fail. Read More

Zeigler promotes 2017 New Year’s Resolution agenda

December 27, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

State Auditor Jim Zeigler has put forward a series of 2017 policy positions for state government that he believes Alabama should adopt.

Zeigler stated, “2017 is considered a political ‘off year,’ with no state or national elections. But State Auditor Jim Zeigler says 2017 can be a turning point for Alabama, or at least a prelude to a 2018 turning point.”

Zeigler has been a staunch critic of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s controversial plan to issue $800 million in bonds to build four super-prisons at sites the Governor will select, closing 14 existing prisons. Zeigler claims the move, “would indebt the state for the next 30 years.” Zeigler has presented an alternative he claims would fix prison overcrowding and safety problems, which he calls Plan Z. Zeigler has stated his plan would cost 75 percent less than the Bentley plan.
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Ethics ruling risks charity fundraising

December 7, 2016

INSIDE THE STATEHOUSE
By Steve Flowers

In a political season…giver beware!!!

It is Christmas time, and since Alabama is one of the most charitable states in the nation, I would expect that many of us are in the giving mood and plan to help many worthy causes across our great state. Unfortunately, it appears that some recent rulings by the Alabama Ethics Commission are going to make it more difficult for charities across the state to raise the funds that they need to serve our communities.
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Alabama’s public schools do not “suck”

December 1, 2016

By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford

Gov. Bentley made headlines a few weeks ago when he told an audience at a public forum that our public school system “sucks.”

But Gov. Bentley is wrong about our public school system.

Alabama’s high school graduation rate rose 18 percent between 2011 and 2015. Today, 89.3 percent of students graduate high school in Alabama: the third highest graduation rate in the country!

Our increase in the number of graduating students who take an AP exam in high school also outpaces the national rate, and our statewide math proficiency on the ACT Aspire test is up across all grades.
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Strange Says Injunction of Obama’s Bathroom Policy is a Victory 

August 23, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Monday, July 22, a Federal Judge has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction requested by Alabama and twelve other states staying the Obama Administration controversial transgender school bathroom access order.

AG Luther Strange (R) said on social media, that this, “Decision is a victory for parents and families all across Alabama. I was proud to join this multi-state lawsuit in May to prevent Alabama schools from being forced to surrender their restroom access policies to social experimenters in Washington.”
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Alabama Leaders Object to Obama’s Transgender Bathroom Edict

May 16, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Friday, May 13, US Representatives Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose), Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R), all issued statements blasting the Obama Administration for its threat that public schools who do not comply with the President’s pro-transgender agenda will lose federal funding.

Congresswoman Martha Roby said, “They have lost their minds. This is a great example of an issue in which we need a lot less government and a lot more common sense. These are children. Eighth grade boys don’t need government-guaranteed access to the sixth grade girls’ bathroom, or vice versa.”
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Bill to Prevent School Boards from Spending Tax Dollars to Win Tax Referendums Passes Out of Committee

February 16, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, February 10, the Senate Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Development Committee gave a favorable report to Senate Bill 86 to prevent school boards from using the people’s tax dollars to promote voters for ballot initiatives to raise taxes.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) was pleased with the passage of the bill.  Zeigler said, “Good news. The State Senate committee favorably reported SB86 to stop school systems from using taxpayer funds in campaigns for tax increases. This was the first step to righting this wrong.” 
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Baldwin County School System Defends Actions

June 11, 2015

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Wednesday, June 10, officials with the Baldwin County Board of Education responded to allegations that they acted inappropriately in the recent school property tax referendum.

Director of Communications with the Baldwin County Schools System Terry Wilhite said, “The state requires that a school district have a minimum tax of 10 mills to participate in the foundation program.  Baldwin only collects two mills above the state minimum.”

Director Wilhite said that, “Info from the state department of education shows our rate is equal to Conecuh and Monroe counties, less than Escambia (17) and far less than Mobile (29.5). Probably the only county we compare to in terms of size and growth is Shelby where the rate is 30 mils.  In fact, had we been successful in getting the increases we asked for, we would still be less than Bullock. Mobile/Pritchard would even be more than Baldwin.”   “When you look at all funding sources for Baldwin schools you see that we rank no. 98 in the state.”

Wilhite wrote, “The Baldwin County Public School System has more students than it has classrooms to put them – this is the simple driver behind a campaign for revenue to build school houses.”  “The school system is simply seeking a revenue stream to build school houses to handle the massive growth.”

Wilhite denied charges by State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) that the Baldwin County School Board misappropriated funds by using school resources to promote its tax referendum.  Regarding the lawsuit filed by Zeigler, Wilhite said, “It is a free country.  If the state auditor wants to spend taxpayer money on frivolous law suits, that’s his prerogative.” 

Wilhite said that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) gave an opinion on the referendum, “In response to a request by the Baldwin County Board of Education, not at the request of Ziegler.” 

Wilhite denied that the failed referendum or the allegations that school personnel and resources were used to promote a yes vote had anything to do with Robbie Owen’s decision to step down as superintendent of the Baldwin County Public Schools.  Wilhite said that Owen, “Stepped forward from his role of principal of Rockwell Elementary to lead the school system when Dr. Alan Lee resigned. Recently Mr. Owen announced he would like to return to his principalship at Rockwell. He is a very honorable man and he personally has the trust and backing of those for and those against a tax hike. He said his heart was working directly with students, and that is what he has chosen to do.”

Wilhite strongly objected to the reporting on this story by the Alabama Political Reporter on Wednesday.  “We receive regular news coverage from the Mobile Press-Register, AL.com, three TV stations and four community newspapers. None of them have reported on this “scandal” you refer to.  Strange to me that you can uncover something from Montgomery when media who cover this area regularly cannot.”

The Alabama Political Reporter does not claim to have uncovered anything in Baldwin County and is only vaguely aware of what Al.com and Mobile TV are reporting on every issue.  Our resources would be stretched much too thin to adequately cover county governance in all 67 counties of Alabama and the over 172 public school systems in the state in addition to our unmatched laser focus on state governance and reporting on elections as well as the coverage of the Alabama Congressional Delegation. 

But as Jim Zeigler said in an earlier statement, “This is now a statewide issue.  Three other counties have held tax votes since the Baldwin referendum.  Unless we win this suit, taxpayer funds can be used for campaigning.  There may later be a statewide vote on tax increases or gambling, and we need to stop the political use of taxpayer money before those referendums.”

Much of the money was spent on television advertising.  “We did not want taxpayer money, and we are talking about a lot of taxpayers’ money, that is supposed to run the educational system to go instead to a political campaign,” said Zeigler.

WKRG-TV News 5 and Strategy Research conducted a poll showing that 81 percent of voters in Baldwin County oppose using tax dollars for political referendums  92 percent of voters who voted against the tax increase package reported to pollsters that they opposed the use of taxpayer money by the Baldwin County Board of Education in the campaign.

Wilhite said, “Baldwin is a place that young families come by the droves to raise and educate their children and it is also a destination for folks to come and retire; the board has to reach audiences beyond parents and it invested the dollars in communication that reached them. It was a good faith effort to communicate that we need school buildings to accommodate the growth. Plain and simple. The entire county – old and young alike – has a stake in the future of community schools.”

 

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