Connect with us

News

“Save the Alabama Trust Fund”

Mary Scott Hunter

Published

on

By Mary Scott Hunter

Special Interests in Alabama are urging their employees to vote “Yes” for an amendment to the Alabama Constitution this September 18, 2012.  A “yes” vote will draw down the Alabama Trust Fund (an investment fund of proceeds from state oil and gas leases) by $435 million over three years.  The measure is proposed in order to cover a large shortfall in the state’s general fund obligations.  Those in favor point to the dire consequences for Medicaid, our penal system, and other general fund obligations and they cite the need to use the corpus of the trust fund to buy time to reform government and for the economy and tax receipts to improve.

Those opposed cite the Alabama Trust Fund’s original intentions and origins.  I spoke with former State Senator and Congressman Sonny Callahan of Mobile and former Congressman and Conservation Commissioner Jim Martin of Gadsden about those origins. They were integrally involved in the original setup of the Alabama Trust Fund.  Congressmen Callahan and Martin both explained to me that the fund was set up to yield interest in perpetuity for the benefit of the General Fund and Forever Wild which receives a portion of the interest.  If the Constitutional Amendment passes, the fund will lose a significant portion of its principal and difficult but necessary budget decisions will be forestalled until after the 2014 elections.  The bill for Medicaid and other general fund items will still come due in 2015, and we will be less able to cover our losses having drawn down the corpus of our investment.  If we do this, we have to hope that our reform efforts that are underway work and that the economy is better and that inflation does not catch up to us.  What if reform takes longer than three years?  What if the economy is not better?  What about inflation expanding our obligations as it inevitably does?

I am a “no” vote.

As our ‘National Debt’ and the ‘Economy’ is THE discussion in national politics, so should the focus be in Alabama.  With my experience serving on the State Board of Education I am convinced that we are on the right track in many areas.  We are poised to surge in Education.  I commend Governor Bentley’s appointment of Greg Canfield first to ADECA then as Secretary of Commerce.  Under his leadership, “Accelerate Alabama” has been born which marries the efforts of Education and Business.  Because we have one State Board of Education with oversight of all Education from Kindergarten through Community College we are able to very effectively respond to the needs of Business and Work Force Development in Alabama.

In the future, our prosperity will totally depend on how well we use our limited resources, and I certainly understand this as a member of the State Board of Education.  I also understand that this vote is a close call, and I do not question the members of my party who have decided to support the plan.  I, however, cannot find enough positives in the plan to overcome my concerns that this plan is a provisional not a permanent solution.  This initiative will, I predict, pass if the voter turnout is low.  Low voter turnout will mean organized special interests will turn out their voters and will sway the vote.

When will we live within our means in Alabama if not now?  I recognize that there will be a lessening of services, but we have options that have not been properly explored – Medicaid Reform, Sentencing Reform, Cigarette Tax, Gaming Compacts with our Indian Casinos all come to mind. I respectfully disagree with my colleagues in state government who believe that borrowing from our state’s oil and gas trust fund is the best option.  The Alabama Trust fund is an interest-bearing investment fund, not a rainy-day or a savings account to be drawn down even in the tough times.  Some may think of it that way, but if that were correct, we would not need a Constitutional Amendment to write the check.

Advertisement

Should the measure pass, I commend the Governor’s intent to use the Oil Spill Settlement funds (Restore Act) to repay the Alabama Trust Fund.  I urge our Legislature to pass a pay-back provision and commend those who have committed to do this already.  I caution the Legislature not to be tempted to enter into the practice of “Diversion.”  Diversion refers to diverting proper General Fund obligations to the lean but relatively healthy Education Trust Fund.

Let’s work together to solve the problems in our General Fund and the agencies it supports.  Let’s find a solution that may be painful but realistic in the short term but preserves the Alabama Trust Fund for the future benefit of all Alabamians.

Mary Scott Hunter is a Republican serving on the Alabama Board of Education, District 8 including Limestone, Madison , Jackson , DeKalb and Etowah Counties.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

Aerospace and Defense

Jones criticized for voting to limit Trump’s war powers authority

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Thursday, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) voted in favor of S.J.Res.68, a resolution which directs the removal of United States military from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have not been authorized by Congress. Jones has been criticized by Republicans for voting to limit President Donald J. Trump’s war powers on Iran.

“Before a President can lead us into war, he or she must first earn the support of the American people and also fulfill their solemn constitutional obligation to seek approval from Congress,” Sen. Jones said in a statement. “While the President has the power to protect Americans in the case of an imminent attack, that authority does not extend to committing our service members to long-term hostilities unilaterally. This resolution sends a strong message that we will follow the Constitution and we will not send our troops into harm’s way without the serious consideration and consent of the Congress.”

Trump Victory National Finance Committee member Perry O. Hooper Jr. released a statement in response.

“Senator Jones once again turned his back on Alabama and voted as the leftwing Democrats commanded. He has no regard for the values, opinions or views of Alabamians,” Hooper said. “He sees us as deplorables just like the elites of the Democratic party who have funded 80 percent of his doomed campaign for re-election.:

Hooper stated, “I whole heartily support the President who stated ‘We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness… If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal. The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party.’”

“The Commander-in-chief must be free to work with his staff and his military leaders to conduct covert operations like the one that eliminated Iran’s terrorist-in-chief General Soleimani,” Hooper added. “You can’t micromanage the war on terrorism. The Democrats in Congress are so filled with Trump Derangement Syndrome that no matter how much it would benefit our country and the world; they would never give Trump a “victory”. If it came down to it, they would leak everything to the media no matter what the consequences.”

Senator Jones is a cosponsor of the legislation and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Eight moderate Republicans voted with the Democrats on the resolution.

Advertisement

Senator Jones has also been criticized by Republicans for his comments that he was “appalled” by Pres. Trump’s actions following his acquittal on both Articles of Impeachment.

“Newsflash for Senator Doug Jones: Most Alabamians have been appalled by his actions his entire time in office,” former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “It’s about time we send Doug home, and replace him with someone who understands our values. Alabamians deserve a Senator they can be proud of again.”

Sessions is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Jones’ Senate seat.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Republican primary will be on March 3.

Continue Reading

News

Moore says the Constitution is under God’s laws

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Saturday, Senate candidate former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) presented his views on the Constitution and the sovereignty of God to attendees of the Conservative Leadership Conference in Florence.

“The form of government is both the Declaration and the Constitution,” Judge Moore said.

Moore argued that the rights granted to the citizens in the Bill of Rights do not come from the Constitution itself; but rather from God and the Constitution is there to protect those rights that God has ordained.

“The Constitution is the supreme law of the land; but the Constitution is under the rule of God,” Moore stated. “We as Americans, as Republicans as Democrats should go back to the Constitution.”

“Democrats are trying to move us toward a socialist government,” Moore warned. “The same people who want to take our guns away want to take prayer out of schools.”

“Most Christians do not understand the Ten Commandments,” Moore said. The first four are the duties that we owe to God and the last six are the duties that we owe to each other.

Moore quoted from Washington, Blackstone, and the 1954 legislation that inserted “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance.

Advertisement

Moore said that Project Birmingham used Russian style tactics to undermine the support for Roy Moore and build up support for Doug Jones. Moore also blamed Richard Shelby for his defeat.

Moore said that Democrats have used similar smears liked the ones used against him in 2017 against Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas.

“When you vote is stolen from you by tactics that is wrong,” Moore said/

Advertisement
Advertisement

Moore warned that the greatest threat to this nation is the decline in morality. “We are at a critical point in our history.”

Moore warned that no nation could take us down from without; but that we could fall from within and warned of the growing agenda of the LGBTQ community.

“We are starting to recognize transgender rights above the right of your rights,” Moore warned.

“We are five votes (in the Senate) away from overturning everything our country is founded upon,” Moore warned if the Equality Act is passed. The Equality Act, “Which sounds good is about to take away the most precious thing our country is founded upon: our freedom of conscious.”

Moore warned that the legislation would lead to men in girls’ bathrooms and in girls’ sports.

Moore said that when man invents rights that are not from God it leads to problems. The right to privacy was invented and from that came the right to abortion, which has resulted in the deaths of millions, the right to sodomy, and the right to gay marriage. Now we are about to create a right of transgenderism.

Moore said that marriage was ordained by God as between one man and one woman. “If you can make it between two men you could make it between five men and between a man and a horse.”

“How do you correct it?” Moore asked rhetorically. “You recognize the sovereignty of God.”

“I have been mocked and removed from office twice,” Moore said.

“I am sick of seeing politicians carrying Bibles and doing nothing,” Moore said. The national debt was $5 trillion in 2005 now it is $23 trillion. They say they are Pro-Life and yet Planned Parenthood continues to get taxpayer dollars.

“We keep quiet because we are afraid it is going to offend anybody,” Moore said. “I couldn’t keep quiet about Obergefell. I wrote an opinion in API.”

Moore is a candidate for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary on March 3.

Continue Reading

House

McCutcheon is in “wait and see mode” on medical marijuana bill

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) last Thursday was asked by reporters where he stood on pending medical marijuana legislation.

“I am in a wait and see mode,” McCutcheon told reporters. “The sponsor of the bill has done a lot of work.”

On Tuesday, State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) introduced a bill to legalize tightly controlled medical cannabis. The Medical cannabis bill introduced on Tuesday is Senate Bill 165.

“We have a letter from the Attorney General,” recommending that the legislature reject the bill.

Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) is arguing that while marijuana remains a federally controlled substance the legislature should not pass a state law that would be noncompliant with federal law. Marshall believes that if medical marijuana has any medical benefit then the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be the appropriate authority to approve such legislation and the state should wait for FDA to act.

33 states already have legalized medical marijuana.

“It brings up a legal question when you get a legal opinion from the attorney general office,” McCutcheon explained. “It answers some of my questions and also on the pro and the con there were some questions raised in the legal community.”

Advertisement

McCutcheon said, “That is why we are in the mode that we are in.”

Melson introduced a medical marijuana bill last year during the 2019 regular session. That bill passed the Senate; but had difficulty getting out of committee in the Alabama House of Representatives. Instead of passing medical marijuana legislation the legislature passed a bill extending Leni’s Law and Carly’s law and establishing the Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission tasked with making a recommendation to the legislature.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission was chaired by Sen. Melson and met monthly from August to November. In December, the commission voted in favor of a draft proposal recommending that the state allow licensed medical providers to prescribe marijuana based medications to patients with a demonstrated need. The state would create the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate medical cannabis in the state. Farmers, processors, transporters, and dispensaries would have to get a license from the Commission and product would be strictly regulated.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Despite the Commission’s recommendation, SB165 remains highly controversial in the legislature and there is expected to be considerable opposition to the bill. SB165 is 82 pages long.

SB165 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) told the Alabama Political Reporter that there will be a public hearing on SB165 on Wednesday, at 8:30 a.m. in the Alabama Statehouse room 825. Opponents and proponents will both be given the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Thursday was the fourth day of the 2020 legislative session.

Continue Reading

Elections

Congressional candidates call on Sessions, Byrne to stand up for South Alabama

Staff

Published

on

By

At a rare joint press conference, the Democratic Candidates for the First Congressional District called on Rep. Bradley Byrne and former Sen. Jeff Sessions to stand up for South Alabama following the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut nearly $300 million slated for projects awarded to Austal.

“The current administration’s decision to divert that funding from Austal to build the border wall is harmful to our community and will potentially put good jobs at risk,” said Dr. James Averhart, CW05, USMC retired. “This is nothing more than a political stunt on the backs of the hard-working men and women of South Alabama.”

Over the years, South Alabama has become a hub for shipbuilding and defense projects developing ships and planes for the United States military.

“While the President may be comfortable playing political games with our communities, our representatives must stand strong against this disastrous decision,” said Dr. Kiani Gardner, a scientist and professor. “We are grateful Senator Jones is speaking out against it and the devastating impacts it could have on our communities.”

This matter transcends partisan politics, our Republican representatives must stand with Senator Jones and tell President Trump to find a better way to protect our Southern border,” said Rick Collins, a longtime Mobile businessman.

This is only the latest Trump Administration proposals that could have devastating impacts for the local economy. Recently, the administration proposed new tariffs that would have a significant impact on Airbus’ local operation.

 

Advertisement

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.