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Bentley Addresses Alabama Cattlemen

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) addressed the 70th Alabama Cattlemen’s Association (ACA) Convention in Birmingham on Saturday.  ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ was present to cover the speech as it happened.

Bentley said, “This is the third time I have had the pleasure of coming to speak to you.”  Bentley said that he was giving, “A state of the state in a very abbreviated style.”

Bentley said one of the things he did as he first came into office was to get some organizational structure to Alabama’s efforts to recruit new industries.  Bentley said that Accelerate Alabama is our strategic plan for recruiting new jobs to the state.

Bentley told the Cattlemen that Agriculture and forestry is one of the eleven areas identified in the Accelerate Alabama plan where he is trying to recruit more jobs.  Bentley said 580,000 people in Alabama somehow work in agriculture or forestry.  Bentley said that we have made some good progress.  Alabama has the right environment to recruit new industries. “Alabama is a right to work state.  Asian industries won’t even look at a state that is not a right to work” and European companies would prefer to deal only right to work states.  The state has low energy costs and a low cost of doing business.  Bentley also said, “We have the best workers in the world.”

Bentley said that when he was at the Stutgart Germany he asked Mercedes executive about what percentage of European workers are absent from plants there.  They told him 7% don’t show up to work every day, then he asked them what percentage of Alabama workers are absent.  They looked it up and only .6% are absent on the average day in Tuscaloosa.  “That is a difference.”  Bentley said that when he visited the Airbus plant in Europe, the plant was idle and everybody was outside smoking and eating.  He asked executives what is going on and they said that the workers are on break.  Bentley he told them that At the Airbus A320 plant we are going to produce in Mobile, “You won’t have any of this in Mobile.”  Alabama workers may take breaks but you will have a continuous operation.  “They (Alabama workers) will smile at you but they will keep on working. The people of Alabama have the right attitude.”

Bentley said, “When I came in as Governor I recognized early on that we had nothing in the state of Alabama.  The money I was supposed to have for incentive packages was all gone.” Bentley said that he went to work with the legislature and began cutting government.  Bentley said that we have saved $750 million annually already.  By the end of 2014 we will have saved a $billion annually using simple common sense methods. “We got rid of something called the DROP program which cost $58 million a year.”  Bentley said he refinanced 5% state bonds at 2.5%.  When he was elected the state had 37,000 employees.  Under his leadership we have gone to just 31,000 employees today.  Bentley has also changed the way that people contribute toward their retirement saving taxpayers even more money.  Bentley also said that he had just signed legislation to consolidate state law enforcement functions and state information technology efforts which will save more money.  He also signed an executive order to guarantee that the state gets the lowest cost per mile out of the state’s fleet of 8,500 state vehicles.

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Gov. Bentley said, “Government will always expand to meet the amount of money that you give it.”  The Governor said that he has worked to find ways to consolidate make state government to make it more efficient.  Bentley warned however that “At some point we will have to stop cutting.”  “We don’t want to cut state government to the point that we can not carry out state government.”

Bentley said, “Many of you in local area have probably heard about is our ATRIP Program.  Our ATRIP program is the largest program for repairing roads and bridges in the history of Alabama.  We have already issued $614 million in permits.”  Bentley said that ATRIP utilizes federal money through GARVEE bonds.  By moving when he did the state was able to finance that work at 2.5%.  Bentley said, if we waited it could have cost 6%.  Bentley said, “ATRIP has been very important to you in rural Alabama.  Everybody in Alabama wants a four lane highway but that isn’t going to happen.”  Instead Bentley said that his administration has focused on repairing the roads and bridges the state already has.

Bentley said that some counties can’t come up with the 20% match to apply for ATRIP dollars so he came up with the Rural Assistance Matching program which will give the poorest of the poor Alabama counties up to $5 million.  Bentley said that they would get millions more through ATRIP if they can come up with the 20% match in their budgets.

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Bentley said that on Thursday he signed legislation which would consolidate Alabama law enforcement functions.  “John McMillan has done a great job as Commissioner of Agriculture.”  Bentley said that as part of his law enforcement consolidation plan, “We are going to create some agents that are specially trained to deal with agriculture and forestry crimes.”  They need to stay and be continually trained in this field of fighting cattle rustling, the theft of farm machinery, and cutting people’s timber without paying for it.

Bentley said that he is committed to having specially trained agents to take care of our farmers and forestry people in this state.  On the future of Garret Coliseum, Bentley said he hasn’t made any promises yet but if we are going to keep that facility he would see if we can come up with some money to do what we have to renovate the aging facility which is used for agriculture shows and events like SLE Rodeo.

Bentley credited Emily Schultz for her role as education advisor.  Bentley said that the flexibility is the best part is of the Alabama Accountability Act.  “Our goal is to have no failing schools in this state.”  The flexibility provisions of the bill give school administrators no excuse.  “They can come up with a plan,” to turn around poor performing schools.  Bentley said, “We are going to tighten that (the Alabama Accountability Act) so that it does not hurt education.”  But said it is not fair for children to be trapped in a failing school and not be able to anything about it.

Bentley said, “I am one of 30 governors who have stood up and said you need to make changes,” in the Affordable Care Act.  Bentley said that Alabama already has 938,000 people on Medicaid.  “I am concerned about the poor in this state.”  Bentley said that the Medicaid program is a broken system and that legislation he supports will divide the state into 8 different regions and will let the local doctors and hospitals determine how to administer care in their regions.  Bentley said Alabama is changing the way we do Medicaid.  “We are not going to expand it under its current structure.”  Bentley acknowledged that, “Only ten governors did what I did (refused to expand Medicaid),” but because of that stance the federal government has been forced to negotiate the terms of the Medicaid expansion and it is likely that the federal government will give those states Medicaid in the form of a block grant.  “The federal government won’t admit it, but they have already backed down.”  Bentley said that Alabama needed to stand strong and give Bentley time to negotiate.  “I don’t make decisions on a spur of the moment.”  He said that is trying to make the Affordable Care Act a workable piece of legislation.

Bentley said, “I work for y’all.”  “I get to work with the greatest people in the world and this is the people of Alabama.  There is no greater job than being governor.”  Guys that were governors that go on to be Senators hate it.  “Governors have power.  They can get things done.  Senators can’t.”

The Executive Vice President of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Dr. Billy Powell said that Gov. Bentley did not mention his reelection, but said that the Cattlemen need to raise some money for the Alabama Beef PAC in order to help Bentley be reelected.

The outgoing President of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Donna Jo Curtis said that so far Bentley has created 38,000 new jobs for the state of Alabama and has made real strides in consolidating state agencies saving taxpayers money.

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Economy

Likely Republican primary voters reject Poarch Creeks “winning” plan

Bill Britt

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A survey of likely Republican primary voters obtained by APR shows that a majority do not support giving the Poarch Band of Creek Indians a monopoly over gaming in the state despite the tribe’s promise of a billion dollars.

Over the last several months, PCI has orchestrated a massive media blitz to convince Alabamians that they have a winning plan for the state’s future in exchange for a Tribal-State compact and exclusive rights to Vegas-style casino gaming.

The survey commissioned by the Republican House and Senate caucuses and conducted by CYGNAL, a highly respected Republican polling firm, found that only 34.1 percent of likely Republican primary voters are buying what the tribe is selling. On the contrary, nearly 50 percent of Republicans oppose the plan, with almost 40 percent voicing strong opposition.

Of those surveyed, females are against the plan by nearly 50 percent, with men weighing-in at almost 60 percent unfavorable to PCI’s proposal.

Perhaps most significant is that PCI’s monopoly plan was widely rejected in areas where the tribe already operates casinos. In the Mobile area, nearest Windcreek Atmore, over half of Republicans see a monopoly unfavorably. The same is true in the Montgomery area, where PCI has two gaming facilities.

Not a single big city surveyed in the state held a favorable view of PCI’s plan with Birmingham and Huntsville rejecting the tribal monopoly by almost 50 percent.

Very conservative, somewhat conservative and moderate voters didn’t view the plan as positive.

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Ninety-one percent of respondents said they defiantly would be voting in the upcoming Republican primary on March 3.

PCI has lavished money on media outlets throughout the state, garnering favorable coverage, especially on talk radio and internet outlets. The tribe has also spent freely on Republican lawmakers.

Perhaps some good news for PCI is that Republican primary voters believe that state legislators are more likely to represent special interests above the interests of their constituents.

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PCI lobbyists continue to push the tribe’s agenda at the State House in defiance of Gov. Kay Ivey’s call for no action on gaming until her study group returns its findings.

The survey found that Ivey enjoys a 76.3 percent favorability rating among likely Republican primary voters.

 

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Elections

Opinion | It’s time for Alabama Democrats to learn from Alabama Republicans

Josh Moon

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Democrats never seem to learn from Republicans. 

All around the country, and all around the state of Alabama, Democrats are still playing by the rules. Still listening to the cries and outrage from the other side. Still entertaining the idea that compromise and diplomacy are important to Republicans on some level. 

Still watching Lucy jerk that football away at the last moment. 

It’s time that stopped. 

It is time — actually, well past time — for Democrats to adopt the attitudes of their GOP colleagues, and just do whatever the hell you want to do. 

Whatever goal you set, go achieve it. Whatever policy is important, implement it. Whatever action you believe is right, take it. 

This is how Republicans have governed now for years. It is how they have wrestled control of the U.S. Supreme Court — just don’t hold a hearing for a duly appointed candidate — and how they have stolen elections — keep blocking attempts to secure elections. It is how they control half of Congress — thanks, gerrymandering! — despite representing nearly 20 million fewer people and how they have managed to offset a growing minority vote — put up every roadblock short of a poll tax. 

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In Alabama, it has how they adopted the AAA act to funnel tax money to private schools — just completely rewrite the bill in the dead of night — and how they passed the most restrictive abortion ban — just ignore promises and public opinion. It is how they have stopped attempts to pass gambling legislation — by straight up lying about the law — and how they have steadily cut into ethics laws — pretend that no one can understand the laws they wrote themselves — and how a House Speaker convicted on 12 felonies still isn’t in prison three years later — just don’t send him. 

They don’t care. 

About rules. About the law. About public perception. About basic decency. 

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And it’s time for Democrats, especially in Alabama, to adopt the same attitudes. 

Because if Republicans can behave this way to implement racist bills and roll back ethics laws and protect the income of the elites, then Democrats shouldn’t think twice about doing it to protect rural hospitals or new mothers’ health or workers’ rights or decent public schools. 

Now, this will be a big change for Democrats, so let me explain how this would look in practice, using the ongoing saga of Confederate monuments. 

Republicans shoved through an absurd bill last year that protects the state’s monuments to those who fought to enslave other human beings, and they’re shocked — shocked and outraged — that African Americans in Alabama might find it offensive to honor the men who enslaved their ancestors. 

The bill they passed last year was a dumb bill, right down to the portion which levied a fine on cities if those cities removed or damaged a monument. The bill completely screwed up the fines portion, failing to penalize cities for moving or damaging monuments over 40 years old and failing to place a per-day fine on those cities. Instead, the Alabama Supreme Court said the cities would be subject to one $25,000 fine. 

Birmingham has a monument that it desperately wants to move. It has already boarded up the monument in Linn Park, and the ALSC, in the same ruling, ordered the boards to come down. 

And this is the first opportunity for Mayor Randall Woodfin to approach this with a new attitude. 

Tear it down. 

Write out one of those big “Price is Right” checks for $25,000, hold a press conference and award that money to Steve Marshall like he just won at Plinko. 

At the same time, workers should be taking that monument apart piece by piece and moving it to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where it can be viewed for its historical significance instead of serving to honor traitors and racists. 

No apologies. No shame. Don’t even entertain their complaints. 

A similar approach should be taken by the city of Montgomery in regards to its occupational tax, which Republicans are attempting to stop through legislative action. 

Montgomery is going broke, and it can’t put enough cops on the streets. Part of that is because every day about 70,000 people flood into the city to go to work, and then they leave each afternoon and spend their money in — and give their tax dollars to — surrounding cities and counties. 

Montgomery has to do something to offset the costs, so an occupational tax has been proposed. But just as quickly as it was, the ALGOP — the kings of handouts to people who don’t need them — passed a bill to block it. 

So, some creativity is required.

Instead of an occupational tax, pass a public safety tax. 

If you work within the city limits of Montgomery, but live outside of those city limits, your paycheck will now be taxed an extra 1 percent to offset the cost of the police and fire services that you might use while in the city every day. 

No apologies. No shame. Don’t listen to GOP complaints. 

It’s a shame that things have to be like this, but they do. Democrats have tried for decades to force rational debate and to promote the value of compromise. Those pleas have fallen on deaf ears, which have been attached to toddler-like brains that have justified atrociously selfish behaviors and awful governance. 

At this point, it has gone on so long and been so successful for Republicans, the only thing that might break through is a taste of their own medicine. 

Give it to them.

 

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House

McCutcheon not optimistic about passage of “constitutional carry” legislation

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, discussed gun legislation that could appear before the House of Representatives this year.

In past sessions, constitutional carry legislation has made it out of the Alabama Senate, but stalls in the House. This year, Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals, is carrying the bill in the House. APR asked McCutcheon whether he anticipates it passing this time.

“The mood would tend to be the same that it was in the past,” McCutcheon said. “There is a bill out there now for a lifetime carry permit and a procedural check for a permit.”

McCutcheon said that under that bill a state database would be used for granting concealed carry permits instead of a local database. Each sheriff of each county would be doing things the same way by ALEA (the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency) being involved in this.

McCutcheon said that the House is “taking a very serious look at that bill.”

State Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, and State Representative Proncey Robertson, R-Mt. Hope, pre-filed the lifetime permit bill that would establish a cohesive and statewide management level process for administering and managing concealed weapons permits in the state of Alabama. The National Rifle Association has endorsed this legislation.

Robertson’s House version is HB39. It has been assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee where it is awaiting action. Price’s Senate version is SB47. It has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it is also awaiting action in committee.

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Currently, the application process and managing of applicants is different county by county. Some rural county sheriffs have issued concealed carry permits, sometimes called pistol permits, without doing background checks. This resulted last year in federal authorities revoking Alabama concealed carry permit holders from being able to buy firearms without having to go through the background check system.

The sponsors promise that this legislation would create a streamlined process of standards for Sheriff Departments to implement and will be monitored by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). This bill creates a cohesive standard for background checks and will bring 21st century technology to Sheriff’s departments and all other law enforcement agencies across the state. Sheriff departments will now have access to electronic information of which all levels of law enforcement will have access to. It will also require municipalities to start reporting those that are convicted of domestic violence as well as Probate Judges to begin reporting individuals that have been involuntarily committed. Applicants will also now have the option to apply for a concealed weapons permit for one year, five years or a lifetime permit.

Sorrell told APR on Saturday that he opposes HB39/SB47 because it creates a statewide database with all of Alabama’s concealed carry holders.

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In the State of Alabama, it is a Class A Misdemeanor to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Sorrell’s legislation, Constitutional Carry, would eliminate that crime altogether and give every Alabamian the constitutional right to carry a firearm concealed if they so choose.

State Senator Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, has introduced Constitutional Carry legislation in the State Senate; SB1. That bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it awaits committee action.

SB1 would allow all Alabama citizens who have not had their gun rights revoked to carry firearms concealed without having to have a concealed carry permit. That legislation could not get out of committee in the Senate last year.

Sorrell told APR that there is momentum in the Alabama House of Representatives for Constitutional Carry and that he hoped to have as many as twenty cosponsors when he introduces his bill.

It is currently legal in Alabama to openly carry firearms without a permit, if your gun rights have not been taken away. A citizen can lose their gun rights due to a felony conviction, being declared mentally unfit by a probate judge, or a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. While every citizen, who still has gun rights, may openly carry without a concealed carry permit; it is against the law to have a loaded handgun in a vehicle without a concealed carry permit.

Handguns must be unloaded and locked in a box or trunk out of reach. Similarly, if a person is openly carrying a handgun on their side, were to put a jacket on so that the gun was no longer visible that would also be a misdemeanor as they are now carrying concealed, unless they have a valid concealed carry permit allowing them to conceal their handgun. Persons with a concealed carry permit are allowed to have their gun on their person while riding in a motor vehicle or within reach like in the glove box, loaded or not. This does not apply to long guns (rifles and shotguns). All Alabama citizens, who still have their gun rights, may carry their shotgun or rifle with them in their vehicle, without having to obtain a concealed carry permit to exercise that right.

To get your concealed carry permit you must go to the sheriff’s department in your home county. The fee varies from county to county.

Twenty percent of adult Alabamians have a concealed carry permit, the highest rate in the country. The Alabama Sheriff’s Association have steadfastly opposed Constitutional Carry legislation. According to the National Association for Gun Rights, fifteen states, including Mississippi, have Constitutional Carry already.

 

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Elections

Maggie’s List endorses Jessica Taylor in 2nd Congressional District

Brandon Moseley

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Maggie’s List, a national political action committee dedicated to electing conservative women to federal office, endorsed Jessica Taylor in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.

Sandra B. Mortham is the Chairman of Maggie’s List and the former Florida secretary of state.

“Jessica Taylor is a proven leader who brings dedication and heart to Alabama,” Mortham said. “We know Jessica is the right person to represent Alabama’s Second congressional district in Washington because she respects the need for increased personal responsibility, fiscal conservatism, and will help move Alabama forward.”

“As the Alabama Chairwoman of Maggie List, I am proud that the organization has officially endorsed Jessica Taylor for Congressional District 2 here in Alabama,” said Alabama Chairwoman Claire H. Austin. “Jessica holds the conservative policy values as a fiscal conservative, less government spending, and more personal responsibility, and a strong national defense. Jessica will stand strong in Washington for our conservative Alabama values.”

Jessica Taylor thanked Maggie’s List for the endorsement.

“I am humbled to be chosen as one of the 12 conservatives women endorsed by Maggie’s List,” Taylor said. “I entered this race because I am sick and tired of far-left radicals like AOC, Ilhan Omar, and the rest of “The Squad”, thinking that Democrats can have a monopoly of the women’s vote. I put together the Conservative Squad to challenge that narrative and fight back. It’s an honor to have the support of Maggie’s List. I look forward to working with them and conservative women around the country to take back the house in 2020!”

The criteria for an endorsement from Maggie’s List includes electoral viability as well as a commitment to promoting fiscal conservatism, less government, more personal responsibility, and strong national security.

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To date, Jessica Taylor has been endorsed by Maggie’s List, Empower America Project, Susan B. Anthony List, former Arkansas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Winning for Women, VIEW PAC, Empower America Project, and former Second Congressional candidate Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville).

Jessica Taylor is married to former State Senator Bryan Taylor. The Taylors live in Prattville with their four children. She has her own business which helps small businesses and nonprofits apply for government grants.

Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby is not seeking another term representing the Second Congressional District.

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