By Sen. Cam Ward
I will be the first to admit that this has been one of the hardest legislative sessions I have had. But meaningful reform can only be achieved with hard work. In the end, I am proud of my accomplishments for the people in my district during this session.
My agenda for Senate District 14, and as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, included laws defining Elder Abuse as a crime in our state, a law defining the fee schedules for attorneys contracted with the state which was recognized by The American Tort Reform Association and The Wall Street Journal as a big step forward for transparency, and The Alabama Commercial Aviation Business Improvement Act, designed to help create as many as 4,000 jobs in our state. All of these passed with wide bi-partisan support and were signed into law by the Governor.
We also passed a series of bills sponsored and written by The Alabama Law Institute that clarify and update outdated laws – laws written at the turn of last century can use tweaking to make them apply to the turn of this century. As Chairman of The Alabama Law Institute, I am proud to say that these bills were crafted with the help of 1000s of hours of volunteer, or pro bono, work by attorneys throughout the state. It is always heartening to see people working hard to give back to their profession and the state.
Another landmark piece of legislation to help get our state budgets under control and get more out of less created The Office of Fleet Management. Before this, state agencies had carte blanche to contract with whomever they saw fit to provide vehicles. Now there is oversight and economies of scale when purchasing automobiles for our state fleet. There is also life cycle costing – taking into account gas mileage and other factors instead of going with the cheapest base price, to ensure that we’re not penny-wise and pound-foolish.
There were hundreds of other bills sponsored and passed this session, including those to update our National Guard Armories, provide safety officers for schools, update school curriculum for a 21st Century workforce, repay The Alabama Trust Fund, and of course The Alabama Accountability Act which will ensure no child is stuck in a failing school with no options to transfer to get a better education.
While I will always believe that less government leads to more freedom, sometimes you have to deal with government to create these choices – and I believe every bill I sponsored and every bill I voted in favor of has that goal in mind. I work hard every day for the people of Senate District 14 and the people of our state as a whole. Even if we disagree on policy or funding priorities, my door is always open to speak to anyone who wants to help Alabama be the best we can be.