By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Since 1923 the motto of the state of Alabama has been “We Dare Defend Our Rights” and Republicans in the Alabama House of Representatives have embraced that mentality to the fullest when they set their 2013 legislative agenda.
Speaker of the Alabama House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said in a written statement, “It is no secret that President Obama, who will be sworn in for a second term next week, and his liberal cronies in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate are pushing a left-leaning agenda that the 2012 election results indicate a vast majority of Alabamians abhor.”
The 2013 legislative agenda is designed to challenge President Obama’s authority and limit the damage that his administration inflicts on the people of Alabama. The Caucus addressed a wide range of issues from abortion to guns to Obamacare to Medicaid reform to downsizing state government.
The Alabama House GOP Caucus wrote, “Questionable Supreme Court rulings have eliminated the state’s ability to prohibit abortions altogether. However, states may enact meaningful abortion-related reforms.” While the Republicans very reluctantly admit they can’t allow abortion they want to make it as difficult as legally possible to operate an abortion clinic in the state of Alabama and make the procedure as safe as it can possibly be and the Women’s Health and Safety Act is designed to do that.
Speaker Hubbard wrote, “Republicans in the Alabama House of Representatives understand that the rights of Alabamians are under constant threat from Obama’s ever-expanding and encroaching federal government, and we are ready to repel these attacks on our fundamental liberties. For that reason, House Republicans today proposed the “We Dare Defend Our Rights” agenda for the 2013 legislative session, and will prioritize our work to ensure that each of these items become law. “
President Barack H. Obama has declared war on American gun owners and the House GOP wants to push back. The Alabama Firearms Protection Amendment would protect the right of every Alabamian to keep and bear arms. The House GOP says that, “With this amendment, Alabama’s 1901 Constitution will contain the strongest gun protection provisions in the country.” If ratified it is very questionable whether this amendment would be sufficient to protect Alabamians gun rights from federal gun grabbers given recent court rulings affirming the supremacy of federal law over state law. The amendment would limit the ability of future state and local governments to infringe on Alabama citizens gun rights.
Speaker Hubbard said, “Skyrocketing taxes, out-of-control federal spending, unconstitutional gun control and the stifling mandates of Obamacare are already being forced upon us, and with the president unfettered from the worries of reelection, I fear what liberal policies he will attempt to bludgeon us with next.”
The Obama Administration has attempted to limit the religious freedoms guaranteed to employers by the U.S. and Alabama Constitutions. The House Agenda says, “House Republicans will not stand idly by and watch this President trample on provisions that our founding fathers viewed as sacred. The Religious Liberty Act would allow certain employers to opt out of specific overreaching ObamaCare mandates requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortion-inducing agents.” Currently the State of Alabama and Hanceville based Catholic broadcasting network EWTN are suing the administration for the freedom not to provide contraceptives and abortificients to its employees. If that lawsuit fails, it is questionable if this act would trump the supremacy of federal law.
The Local Control School Flexibility Act is designed to provide local school systems the ability to request more flexibility from certain state statutes, policies and regulations in order to make decisions that improve education within their districts. The GOP Caucus wrote, “The rules and regulations passed down by the State Department of Education come in a one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter form. Yet, since school officials in the urban centers, suburbs, and Black Belt region of Alabama face different issues, schools should have the freedom to address them in a manner that makes sense for their unique situation.” How exactly would this work and would it take authority from the state school board and the state superintendent is unclear as of press time.
Medicaid has been a fiscal disaster for the budget of the state of Alabama and the House Republican Caucus addresses that in their agenda. They wrote, “Expenses for Alabama’s Medicaid program choke up almost 35% of our State General Fund. Even though the Legislature appropriates money to the program, the state has little influence in who qualifies for Medicaid or what benefits they are provided. What’s worse, ObamaCare regulations stand to make Medicaid even more unaffordable for our state.” The GOP Caucus proposes to solve this ongoing dilemma with a Medicaid Block Grant Compact that places the authority and responsibility for healthcare regulation to the states. They hope that somehow they can cut a deal with President Obama and the Congress for the feds to give Alabama the money and the freedom to run Medicaid like the Alabama Legislature wants to run it.
In the 2012 legislative session the state legislature voted to raid the Alabama Trust Fund of $437 million to prop up the state’s battered general fund. In 2013 the People’s Trust Act promises to pay the money back…….by the end of fiscal year 2026. The House Republican Caucus is vowing not to let any other bill to come to the floor of the House.
The Government Reduction and Taxpayer Savings focuses on streamlining initiatives in the areas of law enforcement, information technology, and legislative services. By merging and downsizing state government agencies they hope to save Alabama taxpayers money and show that House Republicans are serious about cutting spending.
The Red Tape Reduction Act would require each state agency to prepare an economic impact analysis before adopting any new proposed regulation which might have an adverse impact on small businesses.
The Medicaid Fraud Reduction is designed to improve the ability of the Attorney General’s Office and the Alabama Medicaid Agency to pinpoint, investigate, and prosecute instances of Medicaid fraud and abuse.