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Ivey reschedules Toll Authority meeting to October 7

Evan Mealins

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On Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced in a letter to the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority that the group’s next public meeting has been rescheduled to October 7th at 1:30 p.m.

Ivey had earlier this week scheduled the meeting for September 17th at 1:30 p.m. before it came to the attention of Ivey’s office that holding the meeting on this day posed a potential conflict for some who wished to attend.

The Coastal Alabama Partnership is holding a “Washington, D.C. Fly In” on September 17th to discuss with White House staff and senior U.S. Department of Transportation staff the proposed I-10 bridge project. Some 20 local officials from Mobile and Baldwin counties have signed up to attend the D.C. meeting, the Coastal Alabama Partnership said. Ivey also mentioned in a separate letter to State Auditor Jim Zeigler that a local referendum to be held in Baldwin County on September 17th was another possible conflict.

The new October 7th date is expected to allow more officials to attend the meeting and, being a Monday, will be more convenient for any federal officials who may wish to participate, Ivey said. 

The purpose of the meeting of Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority is to discuss plans and alternatives for the proposed Mobile River Bridge project. It will be held in the auditorium of the Alabama State Capitol.

 

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Evan Mealins is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter and student at Auburn University working toward a B.A. in media studies. You can follow him on Twitter @EvanMealins or email him at [email protected]

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State Rep. Will Dismukes says mask order is “a ridiculous crock”

Brandon Moseley

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State Rep. Will Dismukes.

Several Republican lawmakers have not taken kindly to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision to issue a statewide mask order. This is being done to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which is ravaging the state, but State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, dismissed the idea as “the dumbest thing that could be done.”

“The statewide mask implementation is the dumbest thing that could be done besides shutting the state down,” Dismukes claimed. “Here is just a couple reasons why,” Dismukes wrote on social media. “As I have been watching people wear their mask, a vast majority do not wear them correctly. So that makes it pointless.”

“One of the main things we are told is, wash your hands and don’t touch your face,” Dismukes continued. “The majority of people who wear a mask are touching their face far more than if they didn’t wear one at all.”

Dismukes said the mask requirement is a “ridiculous crock.”

Former State Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, also questioned whether the governor has the legal authority to even issue the order.

“While it may be a smart move, in my opinion anything not passed by the legislature is only a suggestion and does not have the weight of law,” Butler said. “You can not force healthy people to wear a mask, and in my opinion if this were passed by the legislature, they can really only control state property and not private property.”

“Also the government cannot decide what goods, services, venues etc. are essential,” Butler added. “Only we the people can do such and we have had that right since 1776.”

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“I’m always against overreach of any kind even when it’s a good idea,” Butler said. “Government is supposed to protect your rights. Private property owners (businesses) are well within their rights to require you to wear a mask while on their property. I would have no issue had she stood up there and strongly requested everyone to wear a mask but to invent a law is never right. I predict a judge would quickly drop any charges. We have 3 branches of government for a reason.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth similarly expressed reservations with the statewide mask order.

“Issuing a statewide face mask mandate, however, is an overstep that infringes upon the property rights of business owners and the ability of individuals to make their own health decisions,” Ainsworth said. “In addition, it imposes a one-size-fits-all, big government requirement on counties that currently have low to moderate infection rates and little need for such a mandate.”

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“Masks should be worn to combat further outbreaks, and while I admire Gov. Ivey’s leadership and her on-going efforts, I also believe a statewide order is the wrong way to go about encouraging their use,” Ainsworth said.

In March, the Governor shut down the Alabama economy to slow the spread of the coronavirus. By April 30, a growing number of people were panicked about the economic impact of the shutdowns, so the governor ordered the gradual reopening of the economy.

Since Memorial Day weekend, the number of coronavirus cases has grown tremendously. From March 20 to May 10, the state of Alabama had diagnosed a total of 9,889 COVID-19 cases (52 days). The next ten thousand cases were diagnosed between May 9 and June 7 (28 days).

The state broke 30,000 cases on June 22 (15 days), 40,000 cases on July 1 (9 days) and 50,000 cases on July 11 (10 days). On Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced that the state had reached 58,225 cases. 32,073 of those cases are still active.

ADPH reports that 1,183 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 already and the department is investigating another 28 probable COVID-19 deaths. More than half of Alabama’s COVID-19 deaths have come since that Memorial Day weekend and the reopening of the Alabama economy.

Despite the risk, the state plans on reopening schools next month.

The state remains under a statewide “safer-at-home” order. Citizens are advised to please stay home whenever possible, wash hands frequently, wear a mask or a cloth face covering when out in public, avoid situations where you might be in crowds or within six feet of other people not in your immediate household, and to be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19.

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Governor announces final report on campaign for grade-level reading

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Governor Kay Ivey on Friday announced the final report and recommendations of the Alabama Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The final report provides recommendations to enhance Birth to Age Eight Systems; Family Engagement; Health and Well-Being; Learning Outside the Classroom; and Special Education, English Language Learners and Struggling Readers.

Governor Ivey and campaign leaders have developed an introductory video with a call to action for the Alabama Children’s Policy Councils as they begin their work together of establishing a local, county-level Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to continue this important work in each of Alabama’s 67 counties. The local campaigns represent a grassroots effort organized around the common goal of supporting Alabama students in achieving reading proficiency.

“Today I am joined by officers and leaders of the campaign, and we are honored to address all Alabama Children Policy Councils,” said Governor Ivey. “Reaching this goal will require the collective effort of every individual in all 67 of Alabama’s counties. Your local grassroot efforts to reach our most challenged students in Alabama’s classrooms will directly, positively impact literacy proficiency. We are all made whole when the least among us are provided equitable educational opportunities allowing us to thrive academically.”

In February 2018, Governor Ivey appointed a diverse, 100-member Executive Team to form the Alabama Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (ACGLR) as a critical component of her Strong Start, Strong Finish education initiative and to assist in establishing local campaigns for grade-level reading. The Executive Team organized a collective framework for success to guide Alabama’s efforts in ensuring every single student reads proficiently by the fourth grade, entitled “Alabama Campaign for Grade Level Reading Recommendations to the Governor.” The Campaign integrates Alabama’s early learning and care, K-12 and higher education, and workforce development efforts into a seamless education continuum for all citizens. This vision becomes accessible for all when every Alabama student enters the fourth grade as a proficient reader.

The FY2021 Education Trust Fund budget approved by the Alabama Legislature provides an additional $26.9 million to improve early literacy and support the implementation of the Alabama Literacy Act, and will focus quality literacy initiatives on the early grades of pre-k through the 3rd grade, reinforcing the achievement gains produced by the nationally recognized high quality Alabama First Class Pre-K program. This includes funding for additional reading specialists and summer and after-school programs. The FY2021 budget also provides $9.8 million to continue supporting early educator training in the science of reading for pre-k through 3rd grade teachers, administrators, and coaches.

The “Alabama Campaign for Grade Level Reading Recommendations to the Governor” are designed to kickstart local campaigns for grade-level reading in each of Alabama’s 67 counties. Under the leadership of the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation in partnership with the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, the Campaign will morph into 67 local campaigns through the statewide network of Children’s Policy Councils. This approach will allow the Children’s Policy Councils to address external issues outside of the classroom, such as childhood health, access to nutritious food, and quality after-school and summer programs that directly affect a child’s ability to perform academically.

The Children’s Policy Council (designated as the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council in 2015) is an effective organization to spread awareness, build upon community partnerships, and utilize the annual CPC needs assessment surveys to determine priorities, needs, gaps, and areas of strength at the county-level. Alabama’s county Children’s Policy Councils understand their local challenges and opportunities and will be instrumental in growing local campaigns to include best practices and strategies for supporting literacy efforts at the local level.

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 Attached is a copy of the final report.

The final report can also be found on the governor’s website:https://governor.alabama.gov/assets/2020/07/Longleaf_GLR_Final_Web.pdf

 

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Alabama DHR announces grants providing temporary assistance for stabilizing child care

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Human Resources announced on Friday a new grant program to provide assistance to licensed child care providers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Temporary Assistance for Stabilizing Child Care, or TASCC, grant program’s purpose is to stabilize the number of child care providers that are open and providing services, as well as encourage providers to reopen.

DHR is now accepting applications for TASCC grants. The deadline to apply is August 7, 2020. The total grant amounts will be based on each provider’s daytime licensed capacity with a base rate of $300 per child.

To be eligible for a grant, licensed providers must be open or plan to reopen no later than August 17, 2020, and continue to remain open for a period of one year from the date of receiving the grant award. As of this week, 1,306 of Alabama’s 2,448 child care facilities were open in the state.

“We are proud to offer this program as a support and an incentive to an important sector of our economy. These grants will give the support many providers need to reopen and assist those already open,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “This program is going to be vital for our child care numbers to reach the level required to provide adequate services as parents return to work. We have already made significant strides in reopening facilities over the past several months; in April only 14 percent were open while now 53 percent are open.”

These grants will provide support for paying employees, purchasing classroom materials, providing meals, purchasing cleaning supplies, providing tuition relief for families, as well as other facility expenses.

DHR recommends child care providers read all guidance prior to submitting a TASCC application. Child care providers need to complete the application to determine the estimated grant amount. Grant applications will be processed as they are received and grants awarded once approved.

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An online fillable application is available for the TASCC grant at www.dhr.alabama.gov/child-care/. The application must include an Alabama STAARS Vendor Code in order to be processed. For questions regarding the application, please email DHR at [email protected].

 

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Gov. Ivey awards grant for new system to aid child abuse victims

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Gov. Kay Ivey delivers the 2019 state of the state address. (CHIP BROWNLEE/APR)

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded a $375,000 grant to establish a statewide network that will ensure that victims of child abuse receive immediate and professional medical care and other assistance.

The grant will enable the Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pediatrics to collaborate with the Alabama Network of Children Advocacy Centers in creating the Child Abuse Medical System.

 “Child abuse is a horrendous crime that robs children of their youth and can negatively affect their future if victims do not receive the proper professional assistance,” Ivey said. “I am thankful for this network that will ensure children get the professional attention they need and deserve.”

The medical system will be a coordinated statewide resource that includes pediatric physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and other medical professionals along with specialized sexual assault nurse examiners.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant.

“ADECA is pleased to join with Gov. Ivey and those dedicated people who are part of the Child Abuse Medical System to support these children at a time they need it most,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.

Ivey notified Tom Shufflebarger, CEO of Children’s of Alabama, that the grant had been approved.

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ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.

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