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Breaking Down the 2015 Legislative Organizational Session

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by Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed
Alabama Political Reporter

This week, the Alabama Legislature efficiently executed its constitutionally mandated Organizational Session, gaveling in on Tuesday and concluding on Wednesday afternoon.

Both the House and Senate elected leadership to serve for the next four years, also known as a quadrennium. Committee chairmanships and committee assignments were announced. The rules by which we will operate were adopted. And we are ready to start working for the people of Alabama during the first Regular Session, which starts in March.

Let me give you some historical context about the Organizational Session. The Alabama Constitution mandates that the newly elected and reelected members of the legislature convene the first Tuesday of January to organize, hence the name. It provides ten consecutive calendar days to complete this task, although we only took two this year. No bills are passed, and no debates occur about policy issues. The sole purpose of the Organizational Session is to elect officers, set rules of procedure, appoint members to committees, resolve contested elections – of which we had none, and canvass the results of the election.

My Republican Senate colleagues elected me their Majority Leader. This honor was previously that of veteran Senator Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills, who left very large shoes to fill. As Majority Leader, I am tasked with running the Republican caucus and assisting the President Pro Tempore (Pro Tem) of the Senate with his duties. The Democrats elected the well-respected Senator Quinton Ross to be the Minority Leader. The full Senate unanimously reelected Senator Del Marsh of Anniston as the Pro Tem for the next four years. His leadership the previous quadrennium helped us address many difficult but necessary issues. I look forward to tackling new challenges with Sen. Marsh as we help our state advance and grow.

One of the longest parts of the Organizational Session was debating and adopting over 80 rules of procedure that govern how the Senate operates. We also worked with the House to put in place more than 30 joint rules. The Senate rules cover everything from order and procedure, to committee operations, to how the Secretary of the Senate does his job. Only minor changes were made to the rules used by previous Senates, because we wanted to ensure that proper debate occurs. It is our goal to protect the deliberative nature of the upper chamber of the legislative branch of government, while still making sure we get the people’s work done during legislative sessions.

I can say confidently that your Alabama State Senate has an eager leadership team and dedicated members ready to tackle the tough issues and make our state a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Thank you Senators Albritton, Allen, Beasley, Blackwell, Brewbaker, Bussman, Chambliss, Coleman, Dial, Dunn, Figures, Glover, Hightower, Holley, Holtzclaw, Livingston, Marsh, McClendon, Melson, Orr, Pittman, Ross, Sanders, Sanford, Scofield, Shelnutt, Singleton, Smith, Smitherman, Stutts, Waggoner, Ward, Whatley, and Williams for offering yourselves up for public service. Thank you for making the commitment to improve our state and provide better opportunities for its people.

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As we prepare for the actual legislative session that begins in seven weeks, please take the time to contact your senator and let him or her know your concerns and ideas – (334) 242-7800. We can be better elected officials when we hear from those who elect us. But thank you – the citizen – most of all for the opportunity to make a difference for our great state.

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AlabamaWorks releases business survey to identify COVID-19 impact

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AlabamaWorks has announced a new tool for all businesses, large and small, related to the COVID-19 impact and future focus of the workforce in the state.

The Alabama COVID-19 Workforce Response Survey is designed to help the state fully understand the impact of this pandemic on the state’s workforce as well as provide a clear path forward for businesses, industry and state government.

“I am grateful to the Alabama Workforce Council for developing and deploying this much needed and user-friendly survey,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “As we work together to combat COVID-19’s impact, this tool will allow us to identify the needs of business and industry, resources that can help them and how we can best support Alabama’s businesses owners and hardworking Alabamians and their families.”

The official survey, which is critical for helping individual industry sectors recover from COVID-19, is available here: http://sm.aidt.edu/alabamaworks-survey.

“While these are challenging times, we fully understand that now, more than ever, business and industry leaders must continue to work together with Governor Ivey’s administration and various state agencies to move us all forward together,” noted Alabama Workforce Council Chairman Tim McCartney. “Rest assured there is an unwavering commitment to do everything we can to minimize the negative impact COVID-19 has on our businesses, our economy, the state and all of its citizens. Using the results from this survey, I know we can all make a difference in combating the challenges from this pandemic facing so many throughout Alabama.”

Responses to the survey will be accepted through Tuesday, April 21 at 5 p.m. All businesses are highly encouraged to participate as the responses will help to protect Alabama’s workforce, manage the impact of COVID-19 and guide the allocation of various resources.

Additionally, another tool was released earlier this week for hard-working Alabamians from Governor Ivey’s office to help connect people to resources and resources to people. ALtogetherAlabama.org is a one-stop-shop for all Alabamians meant to connect businesses, nonprofits, and people that need help with the available resources during this time.

For more information and resources on Alabama’s COVID-19 workforce recovery efforts please visithttps://alabamaworks.com/coronavirus/.

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Economy

Manufacture Alabama launches “Ask the Experts” webinar

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Ask the Experts: Employment Law Questions Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic is a new webinar being offered by Manufacture Alabama.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, disrupting the lives of everyone around our state, country, and the globe, employers are left with many questions and Manufacture Alabama wants to answer them.

Manufacture Alabama is the only trade association in the state dedicated exclusively to the competitive, legislative, regulatory, and operational interests and needs of manufacturers and their partner industries and businesses.

Manufacture Alabama has enlisted some of the top labor and employment attorneys in Alabama to bring you the first installment of a web series, ‘Ask the Experts.’ In the first installment, their experts will be answering your questions about implementing the new CARES Act Leave guidelines, and best practices for what to do if you have an employee test positive for COVID-19.

The attorneys will also be covering questions whether they are questions related to OSHA standards, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or the impact of the CARES Act, or anything else labor or employment-related.

Manufacture Alabama also wants to hear stories of the changes manufacturers have experienced in the workplace as a result of the pandemic, and how businesses have changed day to day operations.

Send your questions and responses regarding these topics to [email protected] and stay tuned.

The webinar will be published Tuesday, April 14.

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Governor awards grant to encourage entrepreneurship

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Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded a $580,000 to give a lift to innovation and entrepreneurship in Alabama.

The grant to the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama will help support the Alabama Launchpad, a program that encourages entrepreneurship in the state and nurtures new businesses.

“Innovation is alive and well in Alabama, and now more than ever as we work to rise above the coronavirus pandemic, we need every resource and program available to regain our footing,” Gov. Ivey said. “This program is a true representation of the American and the Alabama spirit to beat the odds at a time when we need it most.”

The Alabama Launchpad supports annual business plan competitions and provides contacts and guidance in the business, banking and academic areas to help participating upstart businesses succeed.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from the Alabama Research Alliance Trust Fund. Interest earned by the trust fund supports projects pertaining to new technology and innovation.

Gov. Ivey notified Steve Sowell, EDPA vice president, that the grant had been approved.

ADECA administers a wide range of programs that support law enforcement, victim programs, economic development, water resource management, energy conservation and recreation.

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Lt. Gov. Ainsworth calls on churches, citizens to ring bells on Easter Sunday

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Most churches in Alabama will not hold public services on Easter Sunday in compliance with the state’s stay-at-home order.

“Join us in ringing your church bell or a bell at home this Easter to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus,” Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth posted on social media.

In remembrance of the holy day, Ainsworth began a social media movement #RingForTheResurrection asking churches and citizens across Alabama to ring bells at noon on Easter Sunday.

“Social distancing guidelines require us to remain apart from our extended families, church members, and other individuals on a sacred religious holiday that normally encourages us to gather together,” Ainsworth said.  “But I realized that the simple act of ringing a bell can allow us to remain physically distant while being united in spirit.”

“We can stand together in unity – even as we’re staying apart,” he further wrote.

“Matthew 28:6 proclaims the hope that lives with the resurrection of Christ,” wrote Ainsworth. “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.”

Ainsworth’s message is trending under #RingForTheResurrection

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in Alabama, Ainsworth has been one of the state’s strongest and most active proponents of social distancing and self-isolation as a means to halt its spread, but he has also sought ways to bring the state’s citizens together even as they remain apart.

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“My wife, Kendall, our twin boys, Hunter and Hays, and our daughter, Addie, will be among those ringing a bell at noon on Sunday to celebrate the miracle of Easter,” Ainsworth said.  “While Gov. Ivey’s stay-at-home order, the public’s health and safety, and simple common sense prevent Christians from gathering in large groups even on the holiest of days, all of us can join together in spirit as we ring a bell to recognize that Christ has risen.”

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