By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, January 14, State Representative Danny Garrett addressed the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans (GBYR) about the upcoming 2016 Legislative Session.
Rep. Garrett said that he enjoys hanging out with younger people. “Your organization is one of the more important groups we have in the country.” “Your generation is on the verge of supporting a socialist (Sen. Bernie Sanders (I from Vermont)) for President of the United States.”
Rep. Garrett blamed his generation. “We raised a generation that feels they are entitled to everything that they want.” “We are becoming very European in a lot of ways. We do not want to become Europe.” “Guys like me want to help you cast that wide net.”
Garrett is in first term in Montgomery and serves on the GOP House Platform committee which is setting the legislative priorities for the next session. Garrett said that he can’t reveal details about the 2016 legislative agenda yet, but, “What you will see is something that the vast majority of conservative Republicans can get behind.”
Garrett said that his number one priority is workforce development. If the economy turns around suddenly and starts getting hot we do not have the work force to do that. Mercedes, Honda, ThyssenKrupp wont expand until they get a better work force.
Garrett said that his priorities are passing a bill to prohibit any executive branch agency from hiring a third party lobbyist. Using taxpayer money to do that is just not right.
Garrett said that he also want to see legislation passed to prevent gambling interests from being able to contribute to campaigns. I want to make it illegal for a gambling interest to donate. All the entities we have donating to campaigns: BCA, ALFA, etc. they can’t touch what the gambling lobby can do. We don’t need for the gambling lobby to control the state legislature.
Rep. Garrett said that the Golden Living Nursing Home in Trussville was shut down recently and the residents and their families only received a three weeks notice to find other living arrangement. For four years the home had progressively declining ratings but that information was not shared with the residents or their families. In a restaurant the health ratings are plastered by the front door. If a restaurant has a 62 rating you can turn around and go eat somewhere else. There is nothing like that in nursing homes. Garrett supports legislation that would require that nursing homes provide that information on state ratings and inspections to the public.
Garrett said that he is supporting legislation that would restrict predatory lending in Alabama. Garrett said that payday lenders and title loan companies charge up to 456 percent interest rates. Rep. Garrett called these businesses, “Debt traps.” “Most affluent areas have put a moratorium on these businesses.” I have known of college kids who were financing their drug habits with these loans.
Rep. Garrett said that he is working with Representatives Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), Rod Scott (D-Fairfield), and David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook) on this. The Republican Women, the Catholic Church, the Baptists, and a wide variety of groups feel the same conviction.
Garrett said, “I want to cap the interest rate at 36 percent.” I someone pawns their car title and loses the car, when the title company sells the car they keep all the profits. “We are the worst State in the nation with predatory lending.”
A member of the audience asked Garrett about the tenure reform bill that has been proposed by Sen. President Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Garrett said that he had some concerns that we are not doing enough to protect good teachers and that there are parts of it that, “Does not make sense to me.” I am concerned about the state micromanagement. “I am a business guy I don’t believe in the legislature micromanaging what local school boards do.” I am opposed to the part that does not pay teachers for getting advanced degrees. I have some concerns about the bill.
One of the Young Republicans asked if Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) should be forced to step down as Speaker of the House.
Garrett said, “I am a pragmatic guy. I can read. If I believed everything I read I would be for that. We will talk about that in the Caucus meeting on Monday. I will make a decision on my convictions based on what I believe.”
Speaker Mike Hubbard was indicted on 23 felony counts of public corruption in October 2014. In defiance of the courts and the Alabama Attorney General’s office the Alabama House of Representative voted 104 to 1 to re-elect Mike Hubbard as Speaker of the House.)
Another Young Republican questioned whether or not as Republicans we should be regulating consumer lending. Garrett said, “We regulate banking. We regulate a lot of other industries. Lowell Baron (former Senate Democrat from Fyffe) made a lot of money off of that. They loan money to people and expect them to pay it back with interest in two weeks. They can’t so they renew the loan. The model is based on them doing that (renewing the loan) at least six times. It doesn’t make sense.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Garrett: The Alabama Republican Executive Committee has twice overwhelmingly voted for resolutions asking the legislature to repeal Common Core: the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards. Is this the year that the Legislature finally takes some action on that legislation?
Rep. Garrett replied, “I will be honest with you. I hear very little from constituents about that.” We do not want federal intervention in our school systems, we agree with that part. Senator Beason used to run around with a book that was critical of the Industrial Revolution. We adopted our own curriculum in Trussville. We didn’t use that book in Trussville. Jefferson County did.
Garrett asked. What standards would we use? There is not an alternative. There is difference of opinion in the education community on this. BCA (the Business Council of Alabama) has put forward an initiative to deal with this disconnect.
Tim Smith, Laura Alvis, and Patrick Kennedy all spoke to the club about their qualification to serve as Circuit Judge in Shelby County.
Several state leaders attended the meeting including state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), State Representative Tim Wadsworth (R-Winston County), Minority GOP Chairman Brown, Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Sally Bryant, Constitutional Conservatives Director Deanna Frankowski, Young Republican Federation of Alabama (YRFA) Chair Jackie Curtiss, and Jefferson County Judicial Candidate Pat Tetford.
GBYR Vice Chair Haley Lucido said that the GBYRs would be attending the State YRFA convention in Tuscaloosa on Friday, January 22 and Saturday, January 23. US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) will be the featured speaker. Young Republicans are eligible for a special $109 a night rate at the Hotel Capstone.