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Governor says working toward smaller government

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) together with the Republican super majority continued to work to make Alabama state government smaller, leaner, and more efficient.  The Governor signed three measures on Thursdays that continue to strive toward the goal of efficiency.

Governor Bentley said, “Our goal since taking office has been to make government more efficient while saving taxpayer dollars.   We are working closely with members of the Alabama Legislature to accomplish this goal.  The measures I am signing today will all help us achieve greater efficiency.”

Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said, “While President Obama and the federal government continue to bloat and expand, Alabama is taking the necessary steps to ensure that our state is operating in the most efficient manner possible,” said Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn).  “Republicans are the party of smaller government, and we owe it to our state’s taxpayers to streamline our efforts to the best of our ability.  The bills signed by Governor Bentley today will make good on our commitment to the people of Alabama.”
Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston said, “When it comes to cutting costs and working toward a more efficient government, no one has been more committed to this effort than Governor Bentley and my colleagues in the Legislature.”

Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey said, “I applaud this Legislature for making right-sizing government a priority.  Continuing economic challenges have taught us to tighten our belts and look for efficiencies in government where possible.  I am confident these measures will result in saving the state millions of dollars and will help serve the people of Alabama more efficiently and effectively.”

Senate Bill 108 merges and consolidates multiple Alabama law enforcement agencies eliminating duplication of services and administrative expenses while freeing more resources for the actual law enforcement services.  Alabama has 23 different state agencies and departments with law enforcement functions.  This will consolidate most of that into one uniformed service and one investigative service.

Gov. Bentley said, “We appreciate the service and dedication of all of our state law enforcement officers.  As we improve coordination between their departments, we’ll be able to better protect our citizens while also saving taxpayers money.”

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This effort was spearheaded by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh who sponsored the legislation and who has been studying this for over a year.  Sen. Marsh said, “After more than two years of work involving countless hours from representatives from the law enforcement community, we have a model that will result in better, more cost-effective services to the people of Alabama.”

Rep. Mike Ball (R) from Madison said, “As a retired state trooper, oftentimes my colleagues and I would see ways that our agency and partnering agencies could be run more efficiently and effectively.  After much study and thorough investigation, this legislation will finally streamline Alabama’s law enforcement efforts while conserving taxpayer dollars and maximizing efficiency.”

Senate Bill 117 streamlines the state’s information technology (I.T.) functions.  Currently, each state agency has its own I.T. department and there is little coordination among state-level, non-education agencies. The bill creates a Secretary of Information Technology who will identify ways to save money and improve coordination within the state’s I.T. networks.  The Secretary will be responsible for developing and implementing a responsible plan to coordinate the purchasing, management and use of I.T. across state agencies.  The Secretary’s office will be overseen by a legislative oversight committee.

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Gov. Bentley said, “Our Secretary of Information Technology will help us organize I.T. to make it more efficient, to save taxpayer dollars and to make it more secure.  By improving coordination, we can make sure we’re spending money wisely and saving money where we can.”

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Phil Williams (R) from Rainbow City said, “As state operations become more and more dependent upon technology, it’s imperative that we have someone to hold accountable for making sure we’re operating in the most efficient and responsible manner. The signing of this bill marks a positive step toward significant cost savings for state I.T. functions, and I’m proud to have been a part of this effort.”

State Representative Ken Johnson (R) from Moulton sponsored the legislation in the House.  Rep. Johnson said, “As a businessman, I know that in order to keep the doors open, it’s important to maximize your efficiencies and results while minimizing your overhead.  It is imperative to have someone to hold accountable for making sure I.T. is managed in the most efficient way possible, particularly at a time when we are becoming increasingly dependent on technology to operate.”

In addition to the two efficiency bills that the Governor signed he also signed an executive order establishing an Office of Fleet Management and a Fleet Manager within the Alabama Department of Transportation.  The Fleet Manager will work with state agencies to assess the state’s current fleet of vehicles and then develop a uniform, statewide program to ensure the most efficient methods of managing those vehicles.  Bentley has instructed that the plan focus on issues like fuel efficiency and cost-effective maintenance in order to have the lowest possible cost per mile driven.

Governor Bentley said, “The Department of Transportation has done an excellent job in fleet management, and we are choosing ALDOT to oversee management of the entire state’s fleet program.  The Fleet Manager will work closely with all agencies to make this transition as efficient and seamless as possible.”

Companion legislation will soon be introduced by Senator Cam Ward (R) from Alabaster and Representative Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery to  also help support more efficient fleet management.

Sen. Ward said, “This efficiency reform to our state fleet policies will help bring Alabama’s vehicle management into the 21st century. I’ve worked on these issues since I was first elected, and I’m proud of our Governor for his forward-thinking leadership.  This not only cuts down on energy use, it will also save the state millions of tax dollars and allow us to upgrade public safety vehicles at the same time.  This reform will be an enormous savings for state government, which is a win-win for everyone.”

Rep. Wren said, “I’d like to commend Governor Bentley for working with the Legislature to create a state fleet management program within the Department of Transportation.”  “This Executive Order to create a Fleet Manager within ALDOT is consistent with Governor Bentley’s efforts to save taxpayer dollars.  I applaud the Governor and ALDOT Director John Cooper for their ongoing working relationship with the Legislature.”

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Elections

Alabama GOP chair Terry Lathan congratulates Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

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GOP Senate candidates Jeff Sessions (left) and Tommy Tuberville (right).

Former Auburn football head coach Tommy Tuberville soundly defeated former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, on Tuesday in the Republican primary runoff. Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan issued a statement congratulating Tuberville on the victory.

“It’s great to be an Alabama Republican! Our voters have spoken and they have chosen an outstanding U.S. Senate nominee for the November 3rd General Election, Coach Tommy Tuberville,” Lathan said. “Even under difficult circumstances with the COVID-19 situation, Alabamians were deeply engaged and determined to participate in our voting process.”

With 100 percent of the boxes reporting, Tuberville won 60.74 percent compared to Sessions with 39.26 percent. Tuberville won 64 of Alabama’s 67 counties.

“Tommy Tuberville is a true Washington outsider and has gained the trust of Alabama Republican Party voters to represent them and help President Trump ‘Drain the Swamp’” Lathan continued. “He will fight for the will of the majority who have been ignored since 2017. His conservative positions on the issues and support of our president will be welcomed when he defeats Doug Jones in November. Alabama is the highest approval rated state for President Trump. The combination of Coach Tuberville and President Trump’s popularity in our state puts us in a very strong position to flip this seat back to the GOP.”

Tuberville’s win effectively ended the 27-year political career of former Attorney General Sessions. Sessions left this Senate seat in 2017 to become U.S. attorney general. Sessions was fired from that post by the man who appointed him to it, President Donald Trump, over strong disagreement with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russian collusion scandal investigation in the 2016 election.

A still angry Trump denounced Sessions as “the biggest mistake” of his presidency and endorsed Tuberville. Sessions could never overcome the president’s disapproval with Alabama Republican voters. As recently as Saturday, Trump said of Sessions: “Washington doesn’t want him back.”

Sessions is also a former Alabama attorney general and chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.

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“We are greatly appreciative of Jeff Sessions and his lifetime of commitment to conservative policy and service – not just to Alabamians but to all Americans,” Lathan said. “He is a true patriot in every sense of the word and our nation is stronger because of his willingness to take a stand on the issues and fight for the will of Alabamians. Senator Sessions has earned his place in history as a true conservative warrior.”

“We would also like to thank Secretary of State John Merrill and the election teams around the state who worked so diligently in providing heath care protection to the voters in today’s elections,” Lathan added. “Together, we are unstoppable on November 3rd. Alabamians have that date circled in red and plan to end the tenure of liberal Doug Jones. While we know a battle is ahead, his voting record will be in the spotlight – voting to impeach our president and not to seat Justice Kavanaugh, voting against building our nation’s security walls and tax cuts just to name a few. We look forward to doing to Doug Jones what he and his left wing buddies failed to do to President Trump – end his time in office.”

Tuberville in his speech came out swinging against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, blasting him for voting to impeach Trump and for voting against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

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“Democrat Doug Jones is running for reelection with the slogan of One Alabama,” Tuberville said. “Well, you can make no mistake about it: what Doug really means is, One Liberal Alabama.”

Tuberville accused Jones of taking “marching orders from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and bartender AOC.”

Tuberville thanked Trump for his support and called him: “The greatest President of my life.”

Tuberville said he will vote to defend Alabama’s Second Amendment rights: “By God, they’re not taking our guns.”

Tuberville faces stiff competition from Jones, who has raised close to $10 million to spend by Nov. 3 and was not bloodied in a primary contest.

Tuberville is an Arkansas native and a career football coach; best remembered for his tenure at Auburn University. He was also the head coach at the University of Mississippi, Cincinnati, and Texas Tech. He won a national championship as a defensive coordinator at the University of Miami.

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Elections

Barry Moore wins 2nd Congressional District GOP primary runoff

With 100 percent of boxes reporting, Moore received 60 percent to Coleman’s 40 percent.

Brandon Moseley

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Republican nominee Barry Moore. (MOORE CAMPAIGN)

Alabama Republican voters went to the polls Tuesday and selected former State Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, as the Republican nominee for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore defeated Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman.

“With God all things are possible,” Moore said, quoting scripture. “This was a prayerful campaign it was a grassroots campaign.

“We just wanted to run a clean race and give God the glory,” Moore continued. “At the end of the day there is a God and we are not him.”

“We spent $300 or $400,000 on our race and they spent $2 or $3 million,” Moore said. “Winning this is the easy and campaign is the part. Going to Washington and facing this issues that we face is the hard part. It is a spiritual battle for the future of America.”

Moore thanked campaign consultant Jonathan Barbee. “Jonathan I love you. You were my armor bearer in this. … This guy did not charge me hardly anything, but he and his wife were incredible,” Moore said. “It did not matter whether it was social media or driving a truck through the night to a campaign event.”

With 100 percent of boxes reporting, Moore received 60 percent to Coleman’s 40 percent.

“Barry Moore worked extremely hard and ran an outstanding campaign,” Republican Executive Committee Member Perry O. Hooper Jr. told APR. “He deserved this victory! I am mightily proud of Barry and his sweet family.”

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Moore had to overcome a Republican primary field with seven other candidates, the fact that Coleman is one of the wealthiest people in Alabama and a 2014 criminal case where he was indicted for perjury but was found not guilty by a jury. He also dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, which made campaigning these past four months almost impossible, and the fact that he ran for this seat two years ago and failed to even make the Republican primary runoff.

Coleman had the support of the powerful Business Council of Alabama, of which he is a past chairman. He also was supported by the Alabama Farmers Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Moore had the support of two powerful D.C. super PACs, which blunted Coleman’s personal wealth advantage. Moore was supported by the House Freedom Caucus and Club for Growth.

Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh issued a statement congratulating Barry Moore the win.

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“We send our congratulations to Barry Moore for running a great campaign and look forward to supporting him through victory in the General Election so he can bring his vision for lower taxes and fewer regulations to Washington,” said Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh.

Club for Growth Action spent $706,068 on the race, and Club for Growth members contributed $95,708 directly to Moore’s campaign through the Club for Growth PAC the group announced.

“The voters of Congressional District 2 had outstanding candidates for their open House seat,” said Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan. “I am confident their choice for nominee – Barry Moore – will go to Washington and do an exceptional job representing his district. Barry Moore has a proven conservative track record in the Alabama House of Representatives, one he will take to Washington and use to pass the Trump agenda. His love for the Second Congressional District, combined with his pattern of hard work, will be a great asset in Washington for our state.”

“We are grateful for businessman Jeff Coleman who wanted to serve in this district,” Lathan added. “Jeff’s willingness to join in this public servant position is greatly appreciated by many. His desire to help Alabama is highly commendable.”

Incumbent Republican Congresswoman Martha Roby endorsed Coleman just days before the election, but it was not enough to sway 2nd Congressional District voters.

Moore will face Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Education

After awkward meeting, Ivey demands a new reopening plan from ALSDE

Frustrated lawmakers, including Gov. Kay Ivey, asked Alabama State Department of Education officials and board members to settle on a comprehensive plan to reopen Alabama’s public schools this fall.

Josh Moon

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Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at a press conference. (GOVERNOR'S OFFICE)

Do you want the money or not? That seemed to be the big question — a question that, oddly, summed up the feelings and the frustrations of many — at Tuesday’s meeting and work session of the Alabama State School Board. 

Frustrated lawmakers, including Gov. Kay Ivey, asked Alabama State Department of Education officials and board members to settle on a comprehensive plan to reopen Alabama’s public schools this fall so they could accept the millions in federal funds that Ivey is trying to dole out. 

“I’ve never encountered such a situation,” said state Sen. Jim McClendon, who was in Montgomery on Tuesday to present the Safely Opening Schools Program that he supports. “It’s $150 million. Do you want it or not?”

The SOS program, which is backed by the Alabama School Nurses Association and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers, would hire 300 more nurses and provide testing units, testing materials, thermal imaging temperature scanners and stand-alone first aid rooms for every school. 

Under the plan, students would be scanned prior to entering a school bus or entering the school by the scanners. Students with high temps would be quarantined and taken to the first aid room where a test would be administered. The testing units have the capability of returning results in 15 minutes and can be used to test for flu types A and B and coronavirus. 

It has a price tag of $150 million — with almost all the funding coming out of the state’s $1.8 billion of CARES Act dollars. 

Ivey, who is the president of the school board, invited McClendon, and Sens. Jabo Waggoner and Bobby Singleton to talk about the SOS plan. Singleton pleaded with the board to implement the plan and treat all schools and students equally. 

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Some board members seemed unmoved and raised curious questions. Cynthia McCarty said she heard from nurses who were concerned that the added duties of testing students would be too much. And McCarty said she was concerned that the extra nurses might not be enough to adequately test the students. 

Mackey, for the first time, talked about his new plan, which includes $50,000 for every school to use for COVID-related expenses. The request for funds related to Mackey’s plan was first made late last week — a new development after Mackey originally resisted including funding in ALSDE’s “roadmap” plan released late last month. 

His new plan, he said, “overlaps” with the SOS plan in terms of hiring more school nurses. But it stops short of mandating testing or requiring that local districts spend allocated money on specific items. 

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From the start on Tuesday, it seemed Ivey was unhappy with Mackey’s plan — which has also been heavily criticized by teachers and principals for its lack of specific actions and guidelines — and demanded that he provide reasons for why he was resisting the SOS plan.

Although, she did agree with Mackey’s resistance to testing — a surprising pivot for Ivey, who had been in favor of widespread testing in schools as late as Monday. 

Following his presentation, Ivey told Mackey to have a new proposal to her by Friday, and indicated that she wanted him to work with McClendon, Singleton and Waggoner.

It’s unclear to all involved at this point if that new proposal will include widespread testing, although it’s hard to imagine why it wouldn’t. The ability to quickly test students provides a level of security that likely will be favored by teachers and parents. 

And there’s another factor: Sports. 

A testing device that can spit out results in 15 minutes could be used to screen athletes, coaches and officials prior to games, dramatically reducing safety concerns. 

Alabama High School Athletic Association executive director Steve Savarese told lawmakers, and confirmed again later on Tuesday, that he supports the SOS program and any plan “that enhances the safety and well-being of our students.”  

Where that leaves things is quite unclear. McClendon said he was baffled by the entire meeting and why Mackey and ALSDE is resisting the SOS program. But he said he was willing to work with Mackey and Ivey to move things forward and “do what’s in the best interest of the students and teachers.”

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Elections

Carl defeats Hightower in 1st Congressional District GOP primary

Brandon Moseley

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Republican voters Tuesday went to the polls and elected Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl as the Republican nominee in the Nov. 3 general election.

“I’m am honored and humbled to represent south Alabama as the Republican candidate this November,” Carl said in a statement. “Thank you to my friends, family, volunteers, and team who worked tirelessly on this campaign. Our work is not over yet. I will fight hard to represent you in Congress. I will work with President Trump to put America first!”

Carl received roughly 52 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results. His opponent, former State Sen. Bill Hightower, finished with 48 percent. Hightower issued a statement conceding the race to Carl.

“The first word that came to my mind this morning was thankful,” Hightower said. “I am thankful for my family’s support during this difficult year on the campaign trail. I am thankful for the tireless work of my campaign team as we navigated the uncertain public health circumstances. And I am thankful for the many supporters I knew before this campaign and the even more who I met along the way. While today’s results did not turn out as we all had hoped, it was your voices that kept me going during these long days. I congratulate my opponent, Commissioner Carl, on a hard won contest and I look forward to working to ensure President Trump is re-elected this November.”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan issued a statement following Carl’s win in District 1.

“The voters of Congressional District 1 had two exceptional candidates to choose from in this runoff,” Lathan said. “Jerry Carl has worked hard for the people of Mobile County as a county commissioner. That background, combined with his business experience, will be a major asset to his constituents as he takes on Capitol Hill. Jerry has a strong reputation for listening to his constituents. His willingness to hear the voices of the people in his district will be a great asset for himself and south Alabama.”

“We are grateful for the service of Senator Bill Hightower,” Lathan said. “His strong conservative voting record has helped our state. We honor his service and recognize his dedication to Alabama. He is to be highly commended for running for this position.”

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Carl will face Democrat James Averhart, who defeated Kiani Gardner in the Democratic primary runoff Tuesday. Averhart had 57 percent to Gardner’s 43 percent.

Incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne endorsed Carl. Carl also had the most votes in the Republican primary on March 3.

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