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Okay, campers, rise and shine! And don’t forget your booties because it’s cold out there today!

By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter

It’s rare that a Groundhog Day really feels like Groundhog Day, but Thursday as I slapped my alarm clock and picked up my phone, I felt like I was trapped in a Bill Murray movie.

Babe. I got you, babe. I got you, babe.

The House Republican Caucus released their 2017 Legislative agenda, which looked remarkably like every Legislative agenda they’ve released since 2011.

Immigration. Abortion. Confederate monuments. Roll tide.

It’s Groundhog Day! Get up and check that hog out! 

Now for the past six years, I didn’t expect anything different. Goat Hill was like House of Cards and the Legislative agenda was really just red meat for the base to keep them distracted while Hubbard and his cronies shoved as much cash in their pockets as possible.

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But this year, under the leadership of Speaker Mac McCutcheon, I had hopes the blizzard would subside and our legislators would get to work doing the job they were elected to do.

Do you think Phil is going to come out and see his shadow? Punxsutawney Phil! That’s right, woodchuck chuckers! 

Our prisons are on the brink of federal control because of overcrowding and rampant (alleged) constitutional violations. Our General Fund is in a sink hole, staring down the barrel of a $47 million budget shortfall. Our Medicaid system is anemic, our schools are underfunded, our Governor is a joke, and the best answer the Republican Caucus has is to print off another copy of last year’s agenda.

Okay, campers, rise and shine! And don’t forget your booties because it’s cold out there today!

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but what the heck- it’s Groundhog Day! Roe v. Wade and its progeny are still law of the land. Last summer, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt expanded on the standard for laws regulating abortion providers. It’s called stare decisis: it’s been decided. Let it go.

Quit spending tax dollars defending undue burdens so you can pat yourselves on the back, all the while refusing to fully fund programs that give expectant mothers and new babies the resources they need to be healthy.

Babe. I got you babe.

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If we’re going to talk about pride in our government, we should acknowledge that the Republican Party has failed at carrying the banner of ethics and good government. Coming off one of the biggest public corruption trials in our State’s history, there isn’t a word in the agenda about clarifying the grey areas in our ethics laws, strengthening the budget for the Attorney General, or giving the Ethics Commission the power to do anything but use a rubber stamp.

We have grand juries empaneled across the State, but the same ol’ good government agenda items will do just fine.

Babe. I got you, babe.

The Republican Caucus would be remiss if they didn’t include economic development in their agenda, but the only policy proposal they’ve put forth isn’t a policy proposal at all. They’re simply asking the Governor to revive an old program. That’s it.

We still have double-digit unemployment across rural Alabama, but the best plan the Republicans can offer is to try, try again. They haven’t put forth a single proposal to bring new jobs to Alabama or to recruit and train a sustainable workforce. We’re putting all our eggs in one basket–an office under the Governor. Hopefully he’ll grab hold of this responsibility just like, well…

Babe. I got you babe.

For the past six years, the Republicans have had supermajorities in both chambers of our legislature. They’ve held every statewide constitutional office from the Governor on down. They’ve controlled the courts at our highest levels.

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Ask yourself: why is it taking so long to pass the same agenda they propose every year? Why do we keep seeing the same bad policies dressed up under a new slogan year in and year out?

Okay, campers, rise and shine! And don’t forget your booties because it’s cold out there today!

We can do better than this. We didn’t elect our legislators so they could get reelected. We elected them to do the job that needs to be done. Leadership is hard, but the people of Alabama need leaders who will stand up for what’s best for our State- and we all know that has nothing to do with Confederate monuments.

So Speaker McCutcheon, will you stand in the shadow of failed policies and avoided problems, leaving us with six more weeks of winter? Or will you emerge from the Speaker’s office confident in an early Spring for Alabama?


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