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Holtzclaw Lists Highlights of 2013 Session

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Republican Super-Majority functioned with much more party discipline than it has in the previous two sessions and that allowed them to dictate terms on the budgets and numerous pieces of legislation, some of them like the Alabama Accountability Act were controversial. Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R) from Madison commented on the historic session which ended a week ago.

Sen. Holtzclaw said in his blog, “This was a rough and tumble legislative session. For a rookie legislator, it is refreshing to hear from the veterans – fellow legislators, staff members and lobbyist with decades of experience and service – who call this one of the most difficult sessions they remember.”

Sen. Holtzclaw said, “I was the Senate sponsor of the Flex Bill and had championed the bill with others for two years. Early opposition to the flex bill had nothing to do with the proposed flexibility that would be afforded to schools across the state. The real back story here was that the AEA had blocked efforts to establish charter schools in the 2012 session and they wanted another “win” for 2013. They attempted to broadly paint the flex bill as a back door to charter schools and were successful in dividing the Senate Republicans supporting the bill. Thus was born the tax credit section – championed by Pro Temp Senator Marsh to win over the holdouts, and the scholarship section – championed by Governor Bentley. In a matter of days the Flex Bill became the Alabama Accountability Act.”

On the education budget and the teacher pay raise, Sen. Holtzclaw said, “Education Trust Fund Budget – The $5.7 billion dollar budget included a 2 percent pay raise for Alabama teachers and support personnel and protects funding for K-12 education programs – no increase in class sizes – and increases funding for the state’s Pre-K program. This conservative budget also includes a $35 million payment toward money borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund under the previous majority, along with a conditional appropriation that would send an additional $65 million toward repayment if revenues exceed expectations.”

On the General Fund Budget Sen. Holtzclaw said, “The $1.7 billion dollar budget provides level funding for most state agencies and includes the first installment toward repaying money borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund last September. Leading by example, this fiscally-responsible budget also reduces funding for the Legislature and Senate leadership office by roughly $1.7 million from last year.”

Sen Holtzclaw continued, “As promised, the Alabama Trust Fund Repayment legislation was the first bill passed and signed into law by Governor Bentley, guaranteeing automatic annual payment toward paying off money borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund through the September 18th referendum.”

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Sen. Holtzclaw also praised the 21st Century Workforce Act: “I served as the Senate sponsor of this legislation strengthening the state’s investment in career technical education. We worked on this bill throughout the off season, making sure high school students across the state have access to updated technology and equipment.” “The 21st Century Workforce Act will help prepare tomorrow’s workforce with the skills needed for a successful career in whatever field they choose. This also ensures that Alabama businesses have the tools, and employees, they need to succeed in the 21st century.”

On the Omnibus Gun Bill Holtzclaw said, “The omnibus gun bill was contentious to a point but after a majority of the stakeholders came to the table a pretty good bill emerged. I’ll put it this way – there were a lot of cooks in kitchen, some adding sugar and some adding salt. I would’ve preferred a saltier version but support what was accomplished.”

Sen, Holtzclaw also praised the Elder Abuse Law. Sen. Holtzclaw said, “We passed an elder abuse law last year dealing with abuse in a nursing home of other facility but this bill address elder abuse from a financial perspective. Whether it is a family member or someone from the financial industry, exploitation of someone’s finances is now against the law in Alabama.”

Sen. Holtzclaw said of the passage of the Veterans Hunting License, “Most readers know of my involvement with several veterans organizations. I’m proud to have been able to sponsor this law, working with the Department of Conservation and fellow legislators. This law provides for a special, physically disabled military veteran’s appreciation three-day event hunting license for groups to purchase one hunting license allowing up to 10 Wounded Warriors to hunt on that license. I’ve seen firsthand the sheer joy of a physically disabled veteran who is able to once again do something they once enjoyed before sustaining their injury in service to our nation – enjoy the great outdoors and hunt! A special thanks to everyone who is helped make this legislation possible and to the many volunteers that work to take these Wounded Warriors back into the great outdoors!”

On Governor Robert Bentley’s (R) surprise executive amendment to the controversial Alabama Accountability Act the Senator said, “I think Governor Bentley was ill-advised in submitting his Executive Amendment, he thinks the legislature was ill-advised – time will tell.”

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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