Alabama state Rep. Jeremy Gray, D-Opelika, has been selected to join a cadre of 19 new members for the NewDEAL group, a selective national network of progressive state and local elected officials.
Previously selected members include 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and current U.S Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, voting rights activist and former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams, and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.
“Gray joins the group at a time when state and local leaders are on the frontlines of responding to the pandemic and as they take on a critical role in implementing the American Rescue Plan recently signed by President Biden,” NewDEAL wrote in a statement. ” NewDEALers are supporting each other in addressing the many challenges created and exacerbated by COVID-19 by innovating, convening virtually, and sharing good ideas.”
Gray, elected to the House in 2018, was selected based on his “dedication to making Alabama a state inclusive of everyone through his work on education reform, criminal justice reform, and equitable and accessible transit,” according to NewDEAL.
The group highlighted Gray’s House Bill 441, a bill to expand the expungement of criminal records for certain non-violent misdemeanors, and allow an individual the right to refuse to divulge a misdemeanor conviction that has been expunged. Gray also sponsored legislation to lift the yoga ban in K-12 schools, require schools to install water filling stations, and a ban on straight-party voting in Alabama.
“We are in a unique moment for state and local leaders as we must find solutions for the urgent challenges created by COVID-19 while not losing focus on longer-term issues that will also affect Alabama’s economic security for decades to come,” Gray said. “I look forward to sharing lessons with and learning from other leaders who are setting the standard for effective governance, and I am excited to be part of NewDEAL’s efforts to expand opportunities for Americans in communities nationwide.”
Recently, Gray aided a bipartisan effort to pass House Bill 609, which would establish the Innovate Alabama Matching Grant Program allowing for matching funds to entities receiving the Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology grants.
The bill passed the House Wednesday.
“This legislation will help incentivize and encourage high-risk, high-reward technology businesses and startups to seek federal SBIR & STTR funding awards, and foster more innovative research and development activity that stays in Alabama,” Gray said.