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Remembering State Rep. Dimitri Polizos

Brandon Moseley

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State Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery, passed away Wednesday in a Montgomery hospital the day after suffering a devastating heart attack. He was 68.

“Rep. Polizos was a man of honor and distinction,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “He was first and foremost a proud family man and member of his community. He was a successful small business owner who believed in hard work and treating people the right way. Each day when he went to work in the State House he took that viewpoint with him and served the people of his district with their best interests in mind. His presence will be missed. My prayers for peace and comfort are with his wife Dorothy and their family during this difficult time.”

“Dimitri Polizos was a man with a true servant’s heart, which was on full display whenever he was filling the needs of his constituents in House District 74, the residents of the Montgomery County Commission district he once represented, or the customers in the many landmark restaurants he owned and operated,” Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said. “Quick with a smile and an encouraging word to all he met, Rep. Polizos was a unifying and positive force in the Alabama House, and his presence and big personality will be deeply missed.”

“Memories of Rep. Polizos bring to mind the words in Matthew 23:11–12, which read, ‘The greatest among you shall be your servant,’” McCutcheon continued. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to his family and his scores of friends who can all rest assured in the knowledge that Rep. Polizos leaves behind a lasting legacy of public service that others would do well to emulate.”

Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth said he first came to know Dimtri Polizos when they served together in the Alabama House of Representatives, and it was an honor to claim him as both a friend and colleague.

“Dimitri was a humble man who believed that serving others — whether as an elected official or as a beloved and well-known restaurateur — was his true life’s calling,” Ainsworth said. “He always showed kindness to others, he always stood loyally with his friends and he always followed the simple, biblical admonition that all of us were taught in childhood: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“While all of us who knew him will miss, I know that the angels in Heaven are now enjoying a Greek/Italian feast, and Dimtri is happily serving the tables with a smile, a wink and a joke.” Ainsworth said. “His family, friends and constituents have our heartfelt condolences.”

“The members of the House Republican Caucus are profoundly saddened by the loss of our friend, our colleague and our fellow lawmaker, State Rep. Dimitri Polizos,” said House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville.

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“Throughout his legislative service, Rep. Polizos demonstrated his commitment to the conservative principles and ideals that remain at the core of our Alabama Republican Party, and he worked each day to ensure that the needs of his legislative district were met,” Ledbetter continued. “A tireless worker for both his constituents and his customers, Rep. Polizos would often spend all day representing his district in the Alabama State House and devote all night to serving the patrons of his famous Mr. G’s restaurant.”

“In the sometimes partisan and rancorous atmosphere of the Alabama State House, Rep. Polizos was universally respected, liked and appreciated by members on both sides of the political aisle, which offers true testament to his innate kindness and easygoing nature,” Ledbetter added. “House District 74 is better for having had Dimitri Polizos as its state representative, and all of us who served with him are better for having had the privilege of calling him our friend. The thoughts and prayers of all of the members of the House Republican Caucus remain with his family at this time of great loss.”

“Shocked and saddened at the sudden passing of my friend and colleague Rep. Dimitri Polizos,” said State Rep. Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo. “Dimitri was a great man with a huge heart and a quick wit. He will be sorely missed.”

State Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road, served with Ingram in both the House and on the Montgomery County Commission.

“I am saddened this morning at the news that my colleague and dear friend, Rep. Dimitri Polizos, has passed away,” Ingram said. “My prayers are for comfort for his family and friends during this time.”

“I got up this morning to the sad news that my friend and former colleague Dimitri Polizos had a heart attack yesterday and passed away early this morning,” said former state Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia. “Dimitri served as Vice Chairman of the Commerce and Small Business Committee that I chaired for several years. I always enjoyed visiting with him at his restaurant, Mr. Gus’. He would always stop by the table and visit briefly, some nights it looked like he stopped at every table. He always wanted to make certain his customers were happy with their food and service. Dimitri was a good friend, I’m sorry for the loss his family is suffering right now.”

Polizos was a well-known restaurant owner specializing in Greek and Italian food, as well as “home cooking.”

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, three children and five grandchildren.

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House

Alabama Legislature plans to return to work briefly March 31

Eddie Burkhalter

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The Alabama Senate is planning to get to only a few big, constitutionally mandated items before calling an end to the year’s legislative session amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but whether they’ll get those tasks accomplished remains to be seen. 

Senate leadership is advising lawmakers who fall into “at-risk” categories because of their age or pre-existing medical conditions to not attend the Senate’s meeting when it resumes.

Among the items legislators tentatively plan to tackle before gaveling the session closed sometime in the future are the passage of the Education Trust Fund budget and the General Fund budget, which is the Legislature’s only constitutionally mandated duty.

And “other bills deemed necessary.” 

The state Senate’s Plan of Action, obtained by APR Friday, states that the Senate will meet at 2 p.m. on March 31 for its 14th legislative day. 

“The intent for this legislative day is to advance only essential attendance items and then to adjourn to a date certain for the 15th Legislative Day. April 28 has been discussed with the House,” the plan reads. 

The State Senate’s plan: 

“As leaders, it is imperative that we demonstrate that the business of this state carries on in an orderly and systematic fashion while adhering to the recommendations of our public health officials.

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The Alabama Senate will meet on Tuesday, March 31 at 2:00 pm at the Statehouse in the Senate Chamber as scheduled. This will be the 14th Legislative Day.

The intent for this legislative day is to advance only essential attendance items and then to adjourn to a date certain for the 15th Legislative Day. April 28 has been discussed with the House.

Below is a draft agenda for Tuesday, March 31.

  • Gavel In
  • Pledge and Prayer
  • Roll Call
  • Excuse all Senators
  • Points of Personal Privilege
  • President Pro Tem Marsh
  • Majority Leader Reed
  • Minority Leader Singleton
  • Adjourn to date certain for 15th Legislative Day.

“It is highly recommended that any Senator that falls into any of the at-risk categories stay away from the March 31 Legislative Day,” the plan advises. “However, each Senator’s personal wish will be accommodated.”

Any Senator or staff member that is ill, has been ill, or has been in the same room of anyone that has had any symptom of illness in the 72 hours preceding the March 31 Legislative Day must stay away from the March 31 Legislative Day, according to the Senate’s leadership.

A disinfecting station will be provided under the canopy of the second-floor rear entrance for each senator to disinfect hands and cell phones as they enter the State House and as they leave the Statehouse.

“We must ensure that we practice all Health Department recommendations while at the Statehouse,” the plan reads.

Social distancing will be accomplished by having senators report to their offices by 1:45 p.m. They will then walk into the chamber as the roll is called and then go back to their offices.

“As much separation as possible is required therefore greetings must be verbal only from a distance of 6 feet or greater,” the plan reads.

The remainder of the session will be held possibly Tuesday, April 28 through Monday, May 18.

This timeframe includes three weeks of the session plus the last day of May 18.

A specific plan for meeting more days than normal will be developed and provided prior to the next legislative meeting date.

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House

$200,000 in campaign finance penalties deposited into State General Fund

Staff

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Act 2015-495, which went into effect beginning with the 2018 Election Cycle, allows the Secretary of State’s Office to issue penalties to Political Action Committees (PACs) and Principal Campaign Committees (PCCs) that fail to timely file campaign finance reports.

As of today, the Office of the Secretary of State has collected $202,504.20 which has been deposited into the State General Fund to benefit the people of Alabama.

Conversations with the Senate and House General Fund Chairmen are currently underway to determine the best way to allocate these resources to counties.

Anyone who receives a campaign finance penalty is able to appeal their penalty to the Alabama Ethics Commission who has the authority to overturn a penalty.

“When I campaigned for this office in 2014, I made a promise to the people of Alabama that I would work to see that it is easy to vote and hard to cheat in this state. Since then, we have worked to make the electoral process more fair and transparent through requiring the honest reporting of all PACs and PCCs,” stated Secretary of State John H. Merrill.

Anyone who suspects an individual may be in violation of the Alabama Election Fairness Project is encouraged to report suspicious activity to StopVoterFraudNow.com.

 

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Economy

Daniels: We have to get help to those who need it most

Josh Moon

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There is not enough help coming fast enough to the people struggling the most. 

That was the message from Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, who was asked on the “Alabama Politics This Week” podcast about the efforts of Alabama’s state government to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“If you’ve never been poor, you don’t fully comprehend how things like this affect the poor and the unique problems the poor people face,” Daniels said. “I commend Gov. (Kay) Ivey and her staff for working to try and address this crisis the best they can, but I just think there’s a lack of understanding among all of us in some cases of how people need help.” 

To address those issues, at least in part, Daniels is writing a series of letters to different entities, including Ivey, to explain how they can best help the state’s most vulnerable. 

Daniels plans to ask the Alabama Supreme Court to order lower courts to halt foreclosure proceedings and evictions for those affected by coronavirus job losses and illnesses. He also will ask Ivey to intervene with banks on behalf of customers who are falling hopelessly behind on mortgage, car loans and other installment loans. And he will seek additional assistance from the state for borrowers with overwhelming student loan debt. 

“I want people to understand that I’m not criticizing what’s being done or trying to take control, I just hear from these folks on a daily basis and believe there are some better ways to help people,” Daniels said. “President Trump has addressed student loan debt by knocking the interest of those loans, but what does that really do for a person who just lost a job? Or someone who’s had hours and pay cut? We need to pause those payments and give people substantial forgiveness. 

“Otherwise, it’s going to be ugly.”

Democrats in the House also have been putting together potential legislation that could be passed to help the state’s poorest citizens and those who have been laid off from jobs. The specifics of those pieces of legislation weren’t available, but Daniels said they would have the same focus — providing real help for those who need it most. 

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If those bills are anything like the measures taken during the last economic downturn, you can expect a relaxing of rules on social programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and unemployment assistance programs. 

One of the first moves could be overturning a measure passed during the last legislative session that cut the number of weeks of unemployment pay in the state from 26 to 14. State Sen. Arthur Orr sponsored that legislation, and critics argued at the time that a downturn, such as the one that occurred in 2008, could suddenly leave thousands in the state without jobs and job prospects. It passed anyway.

 

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House

Alabama House cancels March 25 committee meetings due to coronavirus

Jessa Reid Bolling

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The Alabama House of Representatives announced on Monday that committee meetings scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 will be cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The legislative day on March 26 has not technically been cancelled but the House is not expected to have a quorum for that day.

A “quorum” is the minimum number of House members that must be present at any meeting to make the proceedings of that meeting valid. If there are not enough members present, then the meeting cannot proceed and House rules state that the speaker of the House is allowed to set a new date for the meeting. 

The Legislature is currently on an annual spring break. The House and Senate are both expected to reconvene on March 31. According to the statement from the House, a joint decision will be made regarding the future legislative meeting days.

The full statement reads:

“The leadership of the Alabama House of Representatives has made several changes to the upcoming meeting calendar because of the coronavirus crisis in the state.

House committees that were scheduled to meet on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 have been cancelled.

The House is scheduled to meet on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. but no quorum is expected that day.

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Under House Rule 5(b), if there’s no quorum to conduct business during a state of emergency declared by the governor, the speaker of the House is allowed to set the date and time of the next meeting day. 

Both the House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 and at that time a joint decision will be made as to future legislative meeting days.”

 

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