By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, July 18, US Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) spoke to the Republican Women of Shelby County. The first term Congressman is concerned about the Iran deal to lift the sanctions recently negotiated in multi-part talks. Rep. Palmers said the, “Truth is Iran may already have a bomb.”
Congressman Palmer said that a security analyst who briefed Congress testified that Iran could be two months or a year from having a bomb. Palmer said that the analyst testified that if the people in power in Iran gave the order to prepare a nuclear weapon from the materials they have already assembled it could take as little as two weeks.
Rep. Palmer told the ladies of the Republican Women of Shelby County, “I think this is a horrible deal.” Palmer said that the US can not send in inspectors. Only international inspectors can be used. It is no wonder that the President of Iran is saying that they got everything they wanted.
Palmer said that he is going to Israel in a couple of weeks will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is not a tax payer funded trip.
Palmer said that Iran wants to get out from under the sanctions and that both Europe and Asia want to buy oil from Iran. One thing we could do is to repeal the 1975 Oil Security Act which would allow the US to export more oil. “We are floating in oil.”
Palmer warned, “I think where we are headed is a military confrontation.”
There were an estimated 38 people at the picnic in Hoover’s Veterans Park despite the 95 degree temperature.
A member of the audience asked about the Jade Helm military maneuvers in the Texas desert.
Palmer said, I don’t know much about it but we have had those (military training exercises) before. “Under this administration people believe the absolute worst.” I know a lot of people in the military and if their commander came in and told them to attack Homewood and shoot to kill anybody who got in the way most of the officers would not follow that order. In the military if an order is un-constitutional you are not required to follow that order. “Unless he has built an army of illegal aliens I am not worried about it (Jade Helm).”
On his frustrations with current leadership Rep. Palmer said, “We don’t have a Republican majority. We have a government coalition.”
Congressman Palmer said that he is a member of the Freedom Caucus along with fellow conservative: Mo Brooks. They are presently the only two members from Alabama; but the group is growing. It started at 30 members and now we are up to 40 something.
The Freedom Caucus was founded in 2015 when it split from the Republican Study Committee. It is chaired by Rep. Jim Jordon (R-Ohio).
On the growing ideological divide in the country Palmer bluntly admitted, “There are radicals on both sides and there are nuts on both sides (right and left).” There are jerks on both the right and the left. Palmer said that he spoke recently at the traditional marriage rally in Montgomery and afterwards one atheist came up to him and said that they lived in the district and could not disagree more with Palmer’s words. Then don’t vote for me then. Go find another candidate. That is how this country works.
On the recent Medicare Doc fix, Palmer said that we should never legislate from a crisis point. We still haven’t passed the budget and the proposed Doc fix will cost us $140 billion over the next ten years. “I voted against it.” Palmer said that a lot of doctors live in his district and, “A lot of them are mad at me,” (for the no vote). “I told them you will be back in 4 or 5 years.” The payments do not grow at the rate of inflation so you will have to come back again.
Palmer warned that our debt to GDP to debt rate is what Greece’s was in 2008.
The conservative congressman said that they are trying to get appropriations bills passed. Some Democrat added a rider about the Confederate flag that has nothing to do with appropriations so leadership moved to block that and the whole appropriations process got side railed. “The last few weeks have been less than stellar,” Palmer admitted. “If you are smart you will learn from your mistakes. If you are brilliant you will learn from other people’s mistakes.” Congress is at best just smart, some of the time.
Rep. Palmer promised that they will bring up a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. This video has the Democrats on their heels.
Palmer is referring to Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Deborah Nucatola, who speaks at length in the video about what appears to be selling fetal body parts. Dr. Nucatola is the organization’s senior director of medical services.
The congressman said that he is for arming our soldiers in response to the terror attack in Chattanooga. We need to pass a bill to require that our guys in our military training and recruiting facilities be warned when there is an attack. In Chattanooga the attacked attacked one facility and then drove seven minutes away to attack a second facility and the guys at the second didn’t even know about the first attack yet. We need a nationwide warning system.
Palmer spoke about his bill to postpone full implementation of the new medical coding system: ICD-10. We are changing from a system with 16,300 codes to one with over 60,000 codes. It is enormously expensive for doctors to change all of their billing software and to retrain all of their staff. If they miss a code then CMS says they might not get paid by Medicare and Medicaid for up to six months and has encouraged doctors to take out a line of credit as a result of the change. A lot of doctors in rural areas have sold their practices or have gone out of business rather than spend the money necessary to switch to ISC-10. Palmer said that his bill to have a two year grace period already has 60 co-sponsors. The US Department of Health and Human Services have since implemented a one year grace period. Palmer said that his bill requires CMS to prepare an analysis of how much this will cost. They don’t want that.
Rep. Palmer admitted that the Supreme Court ruling in Kennedy versus Birdwell did not go as planned. The media said we had no plan on what to do if the court had ruled against Obamacare. That is not true we did have a plan. We would have allowed free market exchanges giving consumers more insurance choices than they have under Obamacare. The Court ruled in a different direction. “I don’t know what the leadership is going to do.” The Freedom Caucus is going to continue to talk about healthcare. The leadership needs to hear from the grassroots.
Palmer warned that there is a concern is that homosexual activists will interpret the recent ruling on gay marriage in such a way that Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, and Freedom of Religion could be limited. Palmer favors legislation to protect religious and speech liberties in the wake of the ruling.
Palmer says that he hears from many conservatives who want the Congress to stop President Obama. Palmer said that Congress is limited there because Obama is the commander in chief. “He has the title and he has the constitutional authority. I have cautioned people that we can’t violate the constitution because we don’t like him violating the constitution.” He is President because we either voted for him or because we didn’t vote. “If those 3 million people who normally vote in Presidential elections had voted (in 2012) he would not be President.”
One member of the audience said that they had read that Obama was just going to cancel the election and remain in power.
Rep. Palmer said, “I am certain we are going to have an election. That story is a distraction. If we didn’t, most of us in Congress would be dead or in jail.”
On conservative momentum, Palmer said that we are losing because our people sit on their butt and don’t get involved. You are the exceptions because you are sitting out there in 95 degree heat listening to your congressman. The primary is where we are losing. The problems with developing a cohesive agenda in Congress is that we wait to see who the Republicans come up with and then we vote for them in the fall. Conservatives need to do a better job of vetting candidates at the Primary level. Conservatives won’t do the hard work of raising money to support candidates.
On the trade deal, Palmer said that was Paul Ryan’s trade bill. He was personally involved. I see Paul every day in the gym. He is looking ahead to the next president not this president. Palmer warned that in the Trans Pacific Partnership all 12 nations have an equal vote. Malaysia (for one example) is a TPP nation and they are a tier 3 nation with Syria and North Korean and Iran. Up to 30 percent of their labor force is forced labor and yet they would be an equal member nation with the United States in the TPP structure.
Palmer said that cyber attacks are a huge problem. Wave after wave of attacks are coming from Russia and China. The Russians protect them. The Chinese hacked into the US Office of Personnel Management. The hackers got records on federal employees going all the way back to 1988. 22 million Americas are effected.
Palmer said that he is already working on raising money for his next campaign and is trying to raise most of it here in the district because, “I don’t want to be accountable to corporate interests in DC…It takes an enormous amount of money to run for office.”
Republican Women of Shelby County President Dawn Ray invited everyone to join Congressman Gary Palmer for a tele-townhall at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21. Call (877) 229-8493 toll-free, then enter the call number: 114449 to participate.
Ray said that Gary Palmer grew up in Hackleburg, Alabama. Went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where he received a degree in Operations Management. He worked for 12 years in the private sector before forming the Alabama Family Alliance, which later became the Alabama Policy Institute.
Congressman Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.
Tuberville calls for term limits, balanced budget and lobbying reform
Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.
Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville’s campaign began emphasizing key structural reforms that the Republican nominee hopes to advance if elected to the U.S. Senate including congressional term limits, withholding lawmakers’ paychecks unless a balanced budget is passed and a ban on former officials becoming lobbyists.
“Only an outsider like me can help President Trump drain the Swamp, and any of the proposals outlined in this ad will begin the process of pulling the plug,” Tuberville said in a statement. “Doug Jones has had his chance, and he failed our state, so now it’s time to elect a senator who will work to fundamentally change the way that Washington operates.”
Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.
“You know Washington politicians could learn a lot from the folks in small town Alabama, but Doug Jones … he’s too liberal to teach them,” Tuberville added.
Polls consistently show that term limits are popular with people across both political parties, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that imposing term limits would be adding a qualification to be a member of Congress and that can only be done by constitutional amendment.
It is an unspoken truth that when Americans send someone to Congress they never come back. They either keep getting re-elected like Alabama’s own Sen. Richard Shelby, who is in his sixth term in the Senate after four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. On the other hand, they may become lobbyists getting paid to influence their colleagues on behalf of corporations, foreign governments or some well funded non-government organization.
Tuberville said he would ban that practice.
A balanced budget amendment almost passed in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.
Since that failure, Congress has increasingly passed bigger and bigger budget deficits. The U.S. government borrowed more money during the eight years of President George W. Bush’s presidency than the government had borrowed in the first 224 years of the country combined.
President Barack Obama followed and the TARP program propped up the post-Great Recession economy. Rather than cutting the deficit, President Donald Trump invested billions in the military and a tax cut without cutting domestic spending. The 2020 coronavirus crisis has further grown the budget.
The government has borrowed trillions to prop up the economy and provide stimulus while investing billions into medical research and treating the virus victims. Congress is currently debating a fifth stimulus package that would add more to the deficit.
Both a balanced budget amendment and a term limits amendment would have to be ratified by the states if passed by Congress. Tuberville is challenging incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.
House passes General Fund Budget
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.
The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.
Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”
Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.
The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.
Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.
Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.
The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.
Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.
The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.
Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.
The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.
In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.
SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.
Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”
State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”
The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.
The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.
The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.
The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.
Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.
SB185 passed 101-0.
Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.
Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1 for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.
SB215 passed the House 87-0.
The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.
State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.
SB231 passed 87-2.
The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.
The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.
The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.
Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.
Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.
Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.
Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday
By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.
Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.
Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.
The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.
Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.
Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.
Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.
Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.
Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.
Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.
The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.
Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.
It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.
Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor
By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.
The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.
Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.
Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.
Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.
- Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)
Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.
Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.
The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.
Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.