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Economy

Ivey unveils infrastructure plan

Bill Britt

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On County Road 17 in rural Maplesville, Gov. Kay Ivey earlier today announced her bold new Rebuild Alabama Infrastructure Plan.

“By increasing our investment in infrastructure, we are not only investing in our roads and bridges,” said Ivey. “We are making important investments in economic development, the safety of our family and friends, our local communities and the future of Alabama.”

Not only did Ivey press the need to revamp the state’s aging roads and bridges, she also put forward a plan to deepen and widen the Port of Mobile, a project that is being championed by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, as well.

“The Port of Mobile is Alabama’s only deep-water port. It moves approximately 64 million tons of cargo each year and has a total economic impact of $22.4 billion,” said Ivey. “Addressing our Port is critical to our manufacturing, retail and agriculture businesses in every part of the state, particularly in North Alabama.”

Joining Ivey at the announcement were Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, House Budget Chair Rep. Bill Poole and Senator Clyde Chambliss. The four men standing with Ivey sends a powerful message that she has the majority of Republican leadership on her side.

Also present at the event were Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton and other members of the House Minority Caucus. Democrats will play a crucial part in bringing about the plan’s success.

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Last weekend, the state’s Republican Party executive committee members voted not to support a fuel tax to invest in the state’s infrastructure. However, the presence of McCutcheon and Marsh means the odds of passing some version of Ivey’s plan is likely.

Alabama’s roads are in such poor shape that they received a D+ grade, according to a report by American Society of Civil Engineers.

Nearly one-third of Alabama’s roads were rated poor or mediocre according to TRIP, a national transportation nonprofit research group.

Nearly half of Alabama’s bridges are over 50 years old, pushing them to the edge of the safe age limit, according to the administration’s findings. With 10 percent of the state’s bridges already structurally deficient, Ivey noted that without new investments, three-fourths of Alabama’s bridges would be more than 50 years old by 2040.

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During her remarks, Ivey emphasized that “27 years have gone by and Alabama has not made one change to our infrastructure funding.”

By law, all gas tax funds must go to roads and bridges and is excluded from other uses, a fact that has been distorted by some critics.

Quoting Federal Highway Administration statistics, Ivey said,” Every $500 million invested in transportation infrastructure supports 14,000 new jobs.”

“In Alabama, $436 billion in goods are shipped to and from businesses each year using the state’s road and bridge system,” Ivey said.

80 percent of the state transportation funding comes from state gas and diesel tax revenues.

Ivey noted that other states are making adjustments in their infrastructure investments, but in Alabama, investment has been stagnant for nearly three decades.

“I am proposing a reasonable 10 cent increase in Alabama’s fuel tax with an index designed to keep us aligned with rising costs of building roads,” Ivey said. “This reasonable increase will also be necessary to keep us competitive with our sister states in the southeast, who have all recently made changes to their infrastructure investments.”

The fuel tax will begin at 6 cents and increase to 10 cents over the next three years.

Poole will carry the governor’s infrastructure bill in the House, and Chambliss will do likewise in the Senate.

 

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Economy

NAALC to hold public union event in Madison

The event will allow a variety of labor union members and officials to meet and discuss pertinent issues and planning. 

Josh Moon

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The North Alabama Area Labor Council will hold a solidarity event on Saturday in Madison, with several area labor union members present to answer questions from the public. 

The event, which will start at 9 a.m. at the Steamfitters and Pipefitters Union Hall on Madison Blvd., also will allow a variety of labor union members and officials to meet and discuss pertinent issues and planning. 

According to a press release from the NAALC, a number of current representatives from area unions will be present, including members from the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1858, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 44, IAMAW Local 2766, Ironworkers Local 477, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stagehand Employees Local 900, American Postal Workers Union Local 259 and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Employees Local 27.

The union reps plan to discuss basic issues with anyone interested, such as the basic benefits of union membership and how to form a union at your local workplace. 

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Economy

New unemployment claims decreased last week

Fewer people joined the unemployment rolls last week compared to the week before.

Micah Danney

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There were 7,964 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, down from 8,581 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of the claims filed between Oct. 11 and Oct. 17, there were 4,032 related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s 51 percent, compared to 36 percent the previous week.

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Economy

Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

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This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”

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Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

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Courts

Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

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Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.

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