By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Recently, State Representative Matt Fridy (R-Shelby County) addressed the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans (GBYRs) at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
Rep. Fridy said at this point in the session, “A lot of things have been proposed and not a lot has passed.” Fridy said that the process, “Needs to be slow so that we are sure what is passed is good legislation.”
Rep. Fridy said, “One of the things I am very excited about is Charter Schools.” Charters have the potential to really change education in Alabama. Charters are public schools that can experiments. They can be open to five and not do homework or they could focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) or fine arts or be open year round.
Rep. Fridy said that the legislation allows district with public schools to convert those to charter schools. There is a limit to ten new charter per year for the first five years. A district could convert ALL of their schools to charter schools if they wanted to. Friday said that in some states they are not working because they are not set up well, but that they are doing remarkable things in other states where they were set up better.
Rep. Fridy, who is in his first term as a State Representative, said, “I have not passed a bill yet. I have introduced four bills. Two I dropped today. They are not exciting things.”
Fridy said, “The biggest issue we are dealing with is our budget.” The school budget (ETF) will be fine. The general fund (non-education government services is where there is an issue. “The Governor has introduced a series of revenue bills. It will be interesting to see how far they go”
Rep. Fridy said, “I ran on no new taxes.” “The governor ran on no new taxes.” Passage of new taxes, “Will be difficult.”
Representative Fridy said that there is, “Just not room to cut in places like the DA’s office…Other agencies can be cut.” Fridy said that legislature is bringing agencies together to be more efficient.
Fridy said that prison reform likely will be addressed by the House Judiciary Committee in the coming week. “It passed overwhelmingly in the Senate.”
Fridy said that the prison are at 192 percent capacity if we don’t pass something to address the overcrowding the federal government will step in next year and do it for us and tell us how much it is going to cost us. We are federalists we don’t like the federal government telling us what to do but we have got to get our house in order. The Alabama prisons are more overcrowded than those in Peru, Ecuador, or Nicaragua. Nobody is going to be 100 percent happy with the prison reform plan that passes.
Fridy said that he is sponsoring a bill to increase probate judge pay. Some probate judge have not gotten raises since 2002. His bill would bring politics out of probate judge pay and make them roughly level to that of district judges.
On the failure of legislation in the Senate for privatization of liquor sales Fridy said, “As a conservative I would like to see the government out of the sale of alcohol.” Fridy said that the state would save money over time by taking those 682 ABC store jobs out of the state retirement plan and off state health insurance benefits.
Fridy said that the Governor’s tax bill with the best chance of passing is the tobacco tax, because smoking causes health issues that the state later pays for in the Medicaid budget.