By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Sunday, February 2 U.S. Representative Martha Roby joined colleagues: Rep. Susan Brooks (R) from Indiana, Rep. Gregg Harper (R) from Mississippi, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R) from Michigan in delivering this week’s Republican Address to the Nation.
Rep. Roby and her colleagues discussed specific areas where they believe that common ground can be found between Republicans and Democrats in Washington despite their significant differences on fundamental issues. Each member highlighted an issue that was raised by President Barack H. Obama (D) in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday.
Congresswoman Roby said in her portion of the address, “We also want to do all we can to help hardworking Americans balance the demands of family and work. Whether it’s for taking a child to the doctor or taking care of aging parents, many Americans need more flexibility in their jobs.”
Roby continued, “The president talked some about this, saying we need to fix workplace rules from the “Mad Men” era. I’m glad he raised this issue. The Working Families Flexibility Act allows workers in the private sector the option of using their overtime toward paid time off – or comp time – if that’s what they’d rather have.”
Rep. Roby said, “Government employees already have this option, so why not give private sector workers the same choices? Our bill would finally replace restrictions that, believe it or not, have been in place since 1938, long before Don Draper’s time.”
Last May, the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. Roby’s “Working Families Flexibility Act,” which allows the commonly-used government employee benefit of “comp time” to be utilized in the private sector.
The Working Families Flexibility Act, H.R. 1406, amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow private sector employers to offer their employees the choice of paid time off, or “comp time,” in lieu of cash wages for overtime. In 1985 Congress amended the law to allow “comp time” for government workers, but the benefit is still illegal in the private sector. Under current law, non-farm employers have to pay time and a half for overtime.
Rep. Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. The popular Alabama Congresswoman is seeking a third term in the U.S. Congress.
State is cleaning up after Hurricane Zeta
Thursday, the state of Alabama began working on recovering from Hurricane Zeta.
“Zeta gave us a real pounding, and many areas are just beginning the clean up process,” said Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose). “The storm had an especially serious impact in north Mobile County, Washington County, and Clarke County. My staff and I stand ready to assist our city, county, and state partners to ensure folks get the help they need to clean up and rebuild.”
Almost 500,000 Alabama Power customers were without power immediately following the storm, including 163,000 in Mobile County alone.
“Our storm team is working into the evening replacing downed lines and poles to restore service for our customers,” Alabama Power announced on Twitter. “At 9:30 p.m., 258,000 customers remain without service across the state.” “As of 6 a.m. there are 243,000 outages across the state.”
There was damage across much of the state. As Hurricane Zeta moved through Alabama, it left behind many problems. Thousands of trees are down. There are trees down on homes, businesses, cars, power lines, fences, barns, and blocking roadways.
Some school systems are closed or are conducting classes remotely on Friday due to ongoing cleanup efforts and the widespread power outages. The schools plan to reopen Monday.
Flooding from the higher than expected storm surge hit downtown Mobile according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The National Weather Service said that water in parts of Mobile Bay rose to “major flooding” levels overnight on October 28 to 29.
Rep. Byrne warned constituents to be careful using chainsaws in the cleanup and using generators to power their homes and businesses.
The Alabama Department of Public Health warned that, “It might take longer than normal to get power and water back up after #HurricaneZeta. Take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if you’re using a generator.”
Portable generators should be kept OUTSIDE of the home. Carbon monoxide can build up rapidly if you are using a generator inside of a building. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and it kills hundreds of Americans each year.
Because the storm was moving so rapidly, it was not just the coastal counties that were hit hard by Hurricane Zeta. Elmore, Butler, Shelby, and Calhoun Counties are among the many counties with extensive damage.
The state was already recovering from Hurricane Sally in September.
Aderholt receives prestigious Guardian of Small Business Award
Thursday, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) was awarded the prestigious Guardian of Small Business Award by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Aderholt said that, “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy.”
The NFIB is the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization and the Guardian of Small Business Award is its most prestigious legislative recognition.
NFIB State Director Rosemary Elebash presented the award to Representative Aderholt at a ceremony at NorthRidge Fitness. NorthRidge Fitness is an NFIB member business in Northport owned by Mary Cartee.
“NFIB presents its Guardian of Small Business Award to lawmakers who small businesses can depend on,” Elebash said. “Congressman Aderholt has supported Alabama’s job creators on the issues that our members are concerned about and have proven themselves to be real champions for small business.”
NFIB Vice President of Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman said, “Our policy positions are driven by our members, and we report NFIB Key Votes back to our membership. We are proud to recognize the elected officials from the 116th Congress who earned this distinction by taking pro-small business votes supporting financial assistance programs and tax relief and opposing increased labor costs.”
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy,” Aderholt said. “It’s where new innovations and ideas are developed and nurtured. In fact, almost every large business in America started out as a small business. It’s both my pleasure and my duty to work in Congress to protect small businesses. We depend on these entrepreneurs and that’s why I will always fight for them.”
The National Federation of Independent Business’s Guardian of Small Business Award is reserved for only those lawmakers who vote consistently with small business on the key issues identified by small business owners. Those who voted with small business on key issues 70 percent or more of the time during the 116th Congress earned the NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award.
Alabama Congress members Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, Gary Palmer, Mo Brooks, and Senator Richard Shelby were also NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award recipients from the 116th Congress.
NFIB informs lawmakers in advance which votes will be considered NFIB Key Votes and asks lawmakers to support the consensus views of our members. Congress members are also reminded that the results of how they vote will be reported back to the NFIB membership.
Congressman Robert Aderholt is serving in his twelfth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. He faces a challenge in Tuesday’s general election from Democrat Rick Neighbors.
The polls will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m.
Governor announces $219,000 in grants for ALEA
A $168,975 grant will be used toward a federally mandated sexual offender registration and residency program, according to Gov. Kay Ivey’s office.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday announced $219,764 in grants to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to bolster the state’s oversight of those convicted of sex offenses.
A $168,975 grant will be used toward a federally mandated sexual offender registration and residency program, according to Ivey’s office. Sexual offenders must register and report where they live after being convicted, and the funds will aid law enforcement officers in verifying those placed on the registry are meeting those requirements.
An additional $50,789 grant is to be used to transition to a more comprehensive crime reporting system by a federally mandated 2021 deadline, according to Ivey’s office.
The new system will provide more detail about crimes, including the type of weapons used and characteristics about the location of crime, such as if it occurred in a rural or urban area.
“Protecting communities from sexual predators and reporting accurate records of crime statistics are high priorities for all law enforcement in Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement. “I commend ALEA for its commitment to making sure it stays in compliance with federal laws and working to close cases on known offenders.”
The U.S. Department of Justice grants will be administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).
“ADECA joins Gov. Ivey in supporting ALEA’s efforts to protect our communities from sexual predators and to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to share vital information with each other,” the director of ADECA, Kenneth Boswell, said in a statement.
Opinion | Clorox, anyone?
There is no comprehensive plan on how to hold the upcoming legislative session safely — not even a rudimentary one.
In less than 100 days, the state Legislature will return to Montgomery for the 2021 Legislative Session. As of now, there is no comprehensive plan on how to hold the session safely — not even a rudimentary one.
But perhaps there is a reason to keep the statehouse shuttered as the Legislature seems to have forgotten the governing principles that the nation was built upon, and (hint, hint) it was never a slogan.
One individual at the Statehouse said that there would be a vaccine by February, so why worry about holding Session as usual. Perhaps this individual also believes that a disinfectant cure or a UV light remedy is right around the corner. News flash, as of press time, intravenous Clorox and lightbulb suppositories are still in phase one trials.
Pandemic humor aside, the surprising thing would be if the Legislature actually had a plan at all.
There have been rumors of a plan, even mentions of one, too, but nothing that would allow lawmakers, lobbyists and the public to realistically gather to conduct the peoples’ business in a relatively COVID-free environment.
We all want a miracle, but miracles are outside legislative purview, and while prayer is needed at the Statehouse, so is commonsense and a plan.
One plan in consideration is to limit the number of people who can enter the building. That’s a bad idea because the public has a right to witness government action and advocate for causes.
At the end of the truncated 2020 session, the Legislature curtailed the number of people in the Statehouse, which violates the law and good government spirit.
Lawmakers come to Montgomery to do the peoples’ business — at least that’s what they say at campaign events and pancake breakfasts. Of course, they don’t really conduct the people’s business in Montgomery. That’s just a figure of speech.
Legislators represent the people when they are running for office or giving chats at Rotary, but when most — not all — enter the Statehouse, they work for special interests.
Yes, some do care, and all are convinced they are doing a great job, but just like the plan to open the Statehouse safely on Feb. 3, it’s sadly an absurd pretense.
The majority of the Legislature consists of Republicans, who used to have a firm sense of what the party represented. While I hate to offend my many friends, the current party couldn’t find the most defining principles of traditional governance in our nation if you gave them a GPS and a flashlight.
Let me humbly run down a short list of things that should matter in no particular order.
For the list, I will turn to the 2006 book American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia: “Classical liberalism is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and the press, and international peace based on free trade.”
Classical liberalism has nothing to do with modern liberalism and everything to do with our Republic’s founding. Classical liberalism underpins the Constitution’s foundation, Federalist Papers and the vast majority of the founding generation’s ideology, which created our nation’s governing structure.
Private property rights are fundamental to what Jefferson called the pursuit of happiness.
And guess what is an individual’s most precious piece of property? Their person. Yes, a person’s body and mind are an individual’s greatest possession. A person’s right to live freely with only a minimum amount of government intrusion is essential to happiness. The government’s job is not to tell us how to live, rather keep others from harming us, killing us or taking our stuff.
Every year Montgomery seems intent on an ever-expanding agenda to meddle in people’s private lives.
Real estate and other property is significant but can’t be thoroughly enjoyed if we are dead or in chains designed by the good intentions of the Legislature. Lawmakers are not to be the central planning committee for the soul.
The government should promote a relatively unhampered market economy. Tariffs anyone? Trade wars? No one wins a trade war. Everyone loses. Winning simply means the other side lost more or gives up. It’s like a bar fight. Nobody wins it because everyone gets beaten up — but one got it worse.
How about the rule of law? I hear it talked about a lot, but the law must be just for everyone. If the law is applied unequally, is it really the law?
We hear a lot about Second Amendment rights as if that’s the big one. But what about freedom of the press? Is that less important? As the nation’s second president John Adams said, “Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.”
The press is not the enemy of the people. Is there bias? Sometimes. Is there poor reporting? On occasion. But the real enemy are the politicians who defame or attempt to delegitimize the media for not supporting their political agenda. An AR-15 can be coercive but have a free county without a free press in impossible.
Freedom of religion is also paramount to our nation’s principles as free people have a right to worship without government interference or mandate. But believe me, some religious leaders would see a government-imposed religion as long as it’s the one they like. I often wonder, does religion require a strong man or strong faith? Today it’s hard to tell. Like all rights, if you take away the freedom to worship or not, and the whole system of liberty fails.
Last but not least, international peace based on free trade: If a nation is making money by trading with another country, it doesn’t have a good reason to bomb it. Likewise, the bounds of capital are generally stronger than political ideology. Money may not make the world go ’round, but a lack of it sure can unleash terrible conflict.
After this exercise in futility, I’ve decided I’m glad the Legislature doesn’t have a plan to open the 2021 session. Why bother? Because the very ideals that genuinely make life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness a reality are the ones at greatest risk of being trampled upon by the Legislature.