U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, today conducted a subcommittee hearing to review the Fiscal Year 2019 budget request for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.
Senator Shelby’s remarks, as prepared, are below.
“I am pleased to welcome Secretary Spencer, Admiral Richardson and General Neller to the committee for an update of U.S. Naval operations, and to review the fiscal year 2019 budget request for the Navy and Marine Corps.
“For fiscal year 2019, the Navy and Marine Corps are requesting $194.1 billion, which is an increase of about $4.5 billion over amounts appropriated for fiscal year 2018, and is consistent with the two-year budget deal passed earlier this year. However, the funding level in this request is still below what the Navy had projected for the upcoming year before the Budget Control Act was passed in 2011.
“Secretary Mattis has warned that ‘failure to modernize our military risks leaving us with a force that could dominate the last war, but be irrelevant to tomorrow’s security.’
“This increase is a necessary first step to reverse the harm to our military by five years of sequestration budgets.
Gambling exists in every state, even Hawaii and Utah, where gambling is prohibited by law. But all gamblers are different. “Recreational” or “social” gamblers, for instance, buy the occasional lottery ticket, take the rare casino trip or bet small stakes in fantasy sports. But they also are mentally able to quit at any point and prevent catastrophic financial loss.
But when the business or pleasure gets out of control, gambling becomes a real medical condition. Gambling disorder, as it’s known, affects about 1-3 percent of all U.S. adults. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs such as alcohol can, leading to addiction.”
The gambling problem, however, is much bigger in some states than in others. WalletHub therefore compared the 50 states to determine where excessive gambling is most prevalent.
Gambling Addiction in Alabama (1=Most Addicted, 25=Avg.):
36th – Casinos per Capita
34th – Gaming Machines per Capita
45th – Lottery Sales per Capita
39th – Gambling-Related Arrests per Capita
37th – Legality of Daily Fantasy Sports
Most state economies are pretty diverse, with state governments tending to be the largest employers with more than 22 million workers across the country. But for some, just one or two employers play a significantly larger role in the health of the local economy and job force than any other.
In Alabama, Walmart is the single largest employer, according to a new report by the financial news and opinion site 24/7 Wall St.
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
Alabama’s attorney general walked homeless woman safely to Montgomery shelter – Heard in the Hallway
AG Steve Marshall walks an unidentified woman to a homeless shelter in downtown Birmingham, February 2018 (Anonymous)
Yellowhammer News just heard in the hallway that as Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and a group of colleagues were walking back from the Alabama Republican Party’s dinner last Friday night in Montgomery, an apparently homeless woman asked the group for money.
Instead of dismissing her, Marshall spoke with the woman and then walked with her several blocks to a nearby homeless shelter.
A bystander snapped a smartphone picture of the incident and sent it to Yellowhammer News.
VIDEO: ‘Conservatism is strong in Alabama and America’ — Yellowhammer News editor during speech for think tank
Earlier this month Yellowhammer News Editor J. Pepper Bryars spoke at the annual board retreat of the Alabama Policy Institute in Birmingham, discussing his thoughts with the think tank’s trustees and advisors, about how the state of conservatism was strong both in our home state and across the nation.
The speech covered various definitions of conservatism and some of its principles before detailing the movement’s gains in Alabama and nationally.
Bryars also mentioned some of conservatism’s current challenges, including reckless spending, declining support for the First Amendment, internal divisions, and a lack of understanding of conservatism.
Watch the video of Pepper’s remarks and the question and answer session here:
(Below you’ll find a copy of his speech, as prepared)
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for the opportunity to speak about the state of conservatism, and I am especially grateful to share my thoughts with such an audience.
The Alabama Policy Institute is a vital part of our state’s conservative community, and our movement owes you a debt of gratitude.
I hope to save a few minutes at the end for any comments or questions – especially if you disagree with something I’m about to say. In that case, you get to go first.
Before a group of people can have a conversation about a subject, they should at least agree upon the definition of that subject.
But if I asked everyone here for their definition of conservatism, no two would be identical.
That’s because conservatism, as a word, doesn’t fully describe the many aspects of our political philosophy.
Some of its principles, like a preference for variety, and some of its processes, like the free market, aren’t “conservative” at all, just as modern liberalism hasn’t been liberal in decades.
Conservatism is complex and full of contradictions
So much so that when William F. Buckley was asked to define the term he produced an essay titled “Notes toward an Empirical Definition of Conservatism; Reluctantly and Apologetically Given by William F. Buckley.”
If William F. Buckley couldn’t define conservatism, then nobody can … yet others have tried.
This, from Abraham Lincoln: “What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried.”
Yes, but as I mentioned a moment ago, conservatism also seeks variety, preferring creativity to centralization, and there’s nothing old and tried about what happens within a vibrant free market.
Back to William F. Buckley. He wrote that conservatives “believe that millenniums of intellection have served an objective purpose. Certain problems have been disposed of. Certain questions are closed.”
In other words, conservatives believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
True, but conservatism isn’t stagnant.
Russell Kirk: “The thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.”
Once upon a time the traditions we now value were new, untried, and often radical ideas.
It stands to reason that there may be other undiscovered ideas that will, in time, and if tested, become traditions valued by generations to come.
So, no, the standard definition of a conservative as someone who doesn’t accept change … doesn’t work.
Most modern conservatives would likely define the term by focusing on some of the ideas we champion:
Both the broad – limited government, free markets, strong families …
And the narrow – overturning Roe v. Wade, defending the Second Amendment, balancing the budget.
President Trump. He’s no movement conservative, but he actually gave a pretty good answer when asked to define a conservative.
He said: “Well, I think it’s a person that doesn’t want to take risks.”
Yes. Again, Russell Kirk: “conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.”
A fundamental component of prudence is avoiding risk.
But then again, isn’t risk a fundamental component of capitalism?
Yet another contradiction.
So … now that we have established that we cannot define the term, let’s press ahead anyway and ask … what’s the state of this indefinable term in America?
Well, if you believed everything you read in the mainstream media you’d be convinced that conservatism is dead in the ditch and progressivism is on the march.
The morning after the election of Sen. Doug Jones, Al.com’s editorial board declared that the “voice of justice” had spoken for a “burning movement” of “black voters, LGBT activists, women and young voters” who represent the future of our state.
In their world, the progressive agenda had finally penetrated the Heart of Dixie.
They went on: “Doug Jones’s election is a moment of change, not only in Alabama, but for an America yearning for signs that these values matter.”
This style of fiction from the liberal media is nothing new.
We’re not hearing it so much right now, but let’s remember what was being written about our movement exactly one year ago this month.
President Trump had been in office for a few weeks. Some of his cabinet appointments were great … Mattis, Kelly, Sessions … but some were suspect.
We knew nothing of our new Treasury Secretary other than he had been a major donor to Democrat politicians.
And then we had Steve Bannon running around promoting a trillion dollar stimulus boondoggle and saying populism, populism, populism.
The American Thinker declared, “RIP, movement conservatism,”
The website Truthout carried a post titled, “How Donald Trump killed movement conservatism.”
And the Washington Post wrote that, “Trump’s takeover of conservatism is complete.”
This continued throughout the year … despite the growing body of evidence showing that conservatism is not only being implemented, but with great effect.
These types of eulogies for conservatism are nothing new.
Similar headlines ran when Goldwater lost in ‘64, when Reagan lost his primary fight in ‘76, and also in ‘92 and 2006.
Five years ago Reuters even asked “Is conservatism going extinct?” and in 2008 The New Republic happily confirmed that, yes, “Conservatism is dead.”
Ding-dong, the liberals cheered … then their party went on to lose more than 1,000 elected offices during the next eight years.
Who won those seats? For the most part, conservatives.
Truth is, our movement was far from dead in 1964 and it’s far from dead now. Quite the opposite.
Let’s look at Alabama.
When the Alabama Policy Institute was founded in the late 1980s:
— Democrats controlled all but one of our statewide constitutional offices – Gov. Guy Hunt was elected on a fluke.
— Both of our U.S. Senators were members of the Democratic Party, along with 5 of our 7 U.S. House members.
— And the State Legislature was 86% Democrat.
— 6 of 7 of our U.S. House seats are held by Republicans. Both of our Senators were Republicans until that fiasco last year. But we’ll correct that soon enough.
— The Republicans hold every statewide constitutional office in Montgomery, and the State Legislature is now 70% Republican.
And although some of that could be attributed to switching brands – a conservative Democrat becomes a moderate Republican – there has been an undeniable, seismic change in policy.
Republicans took complete control a few years ago and began trimming government, cutting waste, rolling back regulations, making hard choices, balancing priorities.
Now, the results: major businesses relocating to Alabama, near record low unemployment, tax cuts, defending unborn life, vouchers for kids stuck in failing schools, and other conservative reforms.
Alabama is an overwhelmingly conservative state, ranked fifth most conservative by Gallup earlier this year. Republican candidates enjoy a 30-point advantage here
Alabama is an overwhelmingly pro-life state, with nearly 60 percent of its citizens saying abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
It’s not just social issues, either.
Consider this from a poll commissioned by … the Alabama Policy Institute: “64 percent of those surveyed would be more likely to vote for a candidate that campaigned on reducing or rejecting federal dollars in order to limit the federal government’s influence over Alabama.”
So, that’s Alabama. Let’s have a look nationwide.
A survey from Gallup found that the United States remains a conservative country, with conservatives outnumbering liberals in 44 states, tied in just two, and lagging in only four.
You could walk from the Florida Keys to northern Minnesota without touching a single “blue” county.
And President Trump … who didn’t campaign as a movement conservative … has governed as a movement conservative, at least partially.
Rolling back harmful regulations. Cutting taxes. Opening up areas for oil and gas exploration. Getting out of that Paris Climate Accord scheme. Moving our embassy to Jerusalem. Challenging the Democrats … and some Republicans … on illegal immigration.
Experts say his judicial appointments have been conservative, as well.
One website that assigns an ideological grade to politicians found that, in 2016, President Trump took the conservative position about 42 percent of the time. By this month, that grade has jumped to 60 percent.
Like you, I think 60 percent isn’t enough – that’s a failing grade where I come from.
But when you consider that puts Trump only one point behind President Reagan on that scale, then even the most ardent Never Trumper must concede … if they are honest with themselves … that this White House is on the right track.
So, it was premature to have pronounced conservatism dead because the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump.
Actually, I think that the fact that President Trump has governed as a conservative, even though he isn’t a movement conservative, is evidence that our movement is actually stronger right now than we think.
And it’s downright silly to think that progressivism is on the rise simply because the reddest state in the union elected a Democrat.
One must consider the extraordinary circumstances in both races, look at the evidence, and draw an honest conclusion.
And when one does, they will see that conservatism remains popular in Alabama, and in the United States.
Meanwhile, our opposition remains disoriented and in denial, staggering from one angry group to another, and further alienating a majority of the country.
But … is all truly well and good?
No, it isn’t. We have many challenges, but in the interest of time, I’ll just mention four.
First, consider the debt. Last week we learned that the federal government must borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year … almost double of what it borrowed in fiscal year 2017.
We cut taxes. Conservatives cheered.
We didn’t cut spending. Conservatives … were silent.
Not only were they silent … they went on to increase spending.
This isn’t consistent. This isn’t conservative. And this isn’t sustainable.
Second, consider our most treasured rights – freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
We’re becoming a nation of censors and snowflakes.
Americans now need to worry less about the government abridging their freedom of religion and their freedom of speech than they need to seriously worry about the Twitter mob having them fired for their religious beliefs, or for how they may express themselves.
— A lady riding a bike down the road raises her middle finger as the president’s motorcade passes. She loses her job.
— The founder of a tech company is blacklisted because he donated to a campaign to defend traditional marriage.
Every week brings new examples of people saying something … believing something … and it generating penalties once reserved for actions that actually broke the law.
These may be penalties imposed by the private sector rather than the government, but they can have the same impact upon someone’s life, and more importantly, they have the same ability to chill speech or to bully someone into the closet for their faith.
At least with government censorship or religious persecution, a citizen has due process.
But now. Think incorrectly. Speak incorrectly. And the mob will come for you.
You will be punished for your … thought crime.
Every year, George Orwell looks less a writer and more a prophet.
Third, consider the division within our movement.
Just as it is impossible to define conservatism, it is impractical to expect everyone to be the same type of conservative.
It’s not even conservative to think that way.
It’s the other side that demands conformity. It’s the other side that cannot tolerate true diversity. Not us.
We need everyone. We need a big tent.
But if we look at the Mitch McConnells and say, no, we cannot have them. They’re out.
If we look at the Steve Bannons and say, no, we cannot have them. They’re out.
If we push out the supporters of Roy Moore.
If we push out the NeverTrumpers or the ForeverTrumpers.
If we push out the supporters of Mitt Romney.
If we push out the supporters of Ron Paul.
Then the winner might be left with 10% of the electorate.
And what does that get us?
In a parliamentary form of government, maybe a minister or two.
In the United States of America, it gets you nothing.
But if you go too far in the other direction, unity becomes tribalism.
The fourth challenge we should be aware of … consider the cause of that division – a misunderstanding of conservatism.
For decades, we built a movement on organic American conservatism … the common sense that told us our beliefs were true.
Many of us are cradle conservatives. To us … these values … this way we think … it’s less of a political movement than a way of life that was passed from generation to generation.
Sure. Behind the scenes there were thinkers and institutions building an intellectual framework to make sense of it all.
But our parents didn’t need to read Kirk to value our traditions or study Hayek to not believe promises made in some far away capital.
Fair enough. This approach worked … until now.
Now, our unprecedented ability to share information and form even smaller networks of like-minded people has atomized the conservative movement.
Many now see conservatism in those fleeting policies we personally support, not the principles those policies are based upon.
Because of these factions, and a misunderstanding of our shared principles, where we should be seeing allies … we’re seeing enemies.
We must counter this problem … and we can start by taking the conversation straight to the people, right down to the grassroots.
Instead of talking about the political implications of a thing … we should talk about its impact on our culture, on our way of life.
That is how we can hold our movement together, and keep it from staggering too far off course.
Still … some say it’s pointless to talk about political philosophy, or even to discuss principles. Focus on the issues, they say. The bread and butter.
One friend in the conservative media told during the last presidential primary, “This isn’t about liberal versus conservative.”
But it’s always been about that – the struggle between those who believe in the perfectibility of society through plans and controls and those who believe in the prosperity of man through liberty and order.
We’ve been having this fight under one label or another since antiquity, and like the devil, its impact doesn’t depend upon whether anyone believes the fight is happening.
The Democrats, the liberals, the progressives know this.
They’re teaching it all of the time. What they think. How they think. Why they think.
They have goals, objectives. To them, theirs is a political movement with a clear trajectory and a destination.
We’d be fools to rest on all of the achievements I mentioned a moment ago.
They were gained over centuries, but our way of life can be lost in a generation if we fail to pass along our way of thinking.
We must teach conservatism. Early and often.
From the conservative perspective, not only our future, but the present … and even the past … depend upon our ability to do so.
So with that … I say “Thank you.”
(What do you think about the state of American conservatism? Post this to your Facebook page and tell your friends what you think.)
‘Confederate memorials to regular soldiers shouldn’t be removed’ – Yellowhammer News editor at Huntsville forum
Yellowhammer News editor J. Pepper Bryars argued against removing statues and monuments memorializing “regular” Confederate soldiers during a discussion about historical symbolism held this week at the Randolph School in Huntsville.
“There’s a difference between honoring the politicians and generals who led our state into the Civil War and remembering the young men who fought and died in the war,” Bryars told the assembly of several hundred high school students.
“Many of these statues aren’t of Jefferson Davis and weren’t erected in response to the Civil Rights Movement,” he said. “They are of nameless soldiers or are simple markers that were erected 100-years ago by the sons and daughters – the orphans – of regular soldiers who went off to war but who never came home, and whose lives would have gone unrecognized and unremembered if not for these monuments.”
Bryars recounted the infamous destruction of one such memorial last year in North Carolina that was erected in the 1920s by the daughters of soldiers who died in the war, saying such behavior was “disgraceful, contemptible, and has no place in the United States of America.”
Other panelists included David Person, a radio personality and civil rights activist, and Dr. LeeAnna Keith, a published historian of the Reconstruction era who teaches at the Collegiate School in New York City.
Person spoke in favor of removing the monuments, especially those installed on property owned and maintained by the taxpayers. He wrote about the issue in an article titled “Truth Behind Confederate Symbolism” published in Message Magazine.
The panel discussion was part of Randolph’s annual series where its upperclassmen discuss and grapple with current events. Previous year’s topics included the 2016 presidential election, intervention in the Syrian civil war, and free speech issues.
(Sign-up for our daily newsletterhere and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.)
Bryars and the hosts discussed the nation’s reaction to the school shooting in Florida, and how he believes the underlying cause of such violence isn’t access to firearms but a devaluing of life in our culture and a generational desensitization to cruelty.
Listen to the interview here:
Bryars recently posted two opinion pieces on guns,onetitled “4 things gun control advocates don’t understand about ‘gun nuts’ like me” andanotherheadlined “Is it better to #DoNothing on gun control than #DoSomething that weakens our rights?”
(Agree with what you heard in the radio interview? Share this post with your friends on Facebook.)
Will Ainsworth and Alice Martin nab coveted ALFA endorsements, Cavanaugh responds with strong poll numbers
Alabama’s annual peanut production is valued at more than $200 million. (Image: Alfa)
The political action arm of the powerful Alabama Farmers Federation announced a slew of statewide and congressional district endorsements late Tuesday for the upcoming primary elections.
Two endorsements in an otherwise predictable slate drew attention.
First, former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin nabbed the coveted endorsement for the Alabama Attorney Generals Race, beating out the current attorney general Steve Marshall, the former AG Troy King, and well-funded Mobile lawyer Chess Bedsole.
Campaign experts expect this to be one of the most contentious races this primary season.
The second endorsement of note was in the lieutenant governor’s race.
Guntersville State Rep. Will Ainsworth received ALFA’s endorsement over Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, the president of the Alabama Public Service Commission, and State Sen. Rusty Glover of Semmes.
Shortly after the endorsement was made public, Cavanaugh’s campaign issued an internal memo from a polling firm showing her strong position in the race, garnering 33% while Glover is at 11% and Ainsworth 7%. The poll, conducted for Cavanaugh by Public Opinion Strategies earlier this month, also showed her at 40% to Ainsworth’s 15% in a two-way match.
The endorsements come after candidates met with dozens of ALFA county leaders from across the state during a marathon session on Tuesday in Montgomery. Candidates were given 10 minutes apiece to make their case and answer questions from the federation.
“This meeting is one of the most important we hold,” said federation president Jimmy Parnellin a statementissued after the slate was finalized. “I’ve been told by candidates the auditorium where FarmPAC meets is one of the most intimidating rooms in Alabama — not because of our leaders’ attitudes, but because they represent some of the most influential and active people in the state.”
Endorsements for the State Legislature and Alabama State Board of Education were also discussed and will be announced locally, according to ALFA.
Here are all of the ALFA endorsements made Tuesday.
Governor — Kay Ivey (R)
Lieutenant Governor — Will Ainsworth (R)
Attorney General — Alice Martin (R)
Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries — Rick Pate (R)
Secretary of State — John Merrill (R)
State Treasurer — John McMillan (R)
State Auditor — Jim Zeigler (R)
Alabama Supreme Court, Chief Justice — Lyn Stuart (R)
Alabama Supreme Court, Place 1 — Brad Mendheim (R)
Alabama Supreme Court, Place 2 — Tommy Bryan (R)
Alabama Supreme Court, Place 3 — Will Sellers (R)
Alabama Supreme Court, Place 4 — Jay Mitchell (R)
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, Place 1 — Christy Edwards (R)
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, Place 2 — Terri Thomas (R)
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, Place 3 — Terry Moore (R)
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 1 — Richard Minor (R)
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2 — Chris McCool (R)
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3 — Bill Cole (R)
Alabama Public Service Commission, Place 1 — Jeremy Oden (R)
Alabama Public Service Commission, Place 2 — Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. (R)
United States House of Representatives, District 1 — Bradley Byrne (R)
United States House of Representatives, District 2 — Martha Roby (R)
United States House of Representatives, District 3 — Mike Rogers (R)
United States House of Representatives, District 4 — Robert Aderholt (R)
United States House of Representatives, District 5 — Mo Brooks (R)
United States House of Representatives, District 6 — Gary Palmer (R)
United States House of Representatives, District 7 — Terri Sewell (D)
(Sign-up for our daily newsletter here and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.)
ALFA endorses Kay Ivey, Will Ainsworth, John Merrill (Update: Alice Martin, too) – Heard in the Hallway
Yellowhammer News just heard in the hallway that the political action arm of the Alabama Farmers Federation has endorsed Gov. Kay Ivey in the governor’s race, State Rep. Will Ainsworth for lieutenant governor, and Secretary of State John Merrill in his reelection campaign.
The coveted endorsements are a boost for their campaigns.
Ivey has drawn primary challenges from Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Birmingham evangelist Scott Dawson, Sen. Bill Hightower of Mobile, and Sen. Slade Blackwell of Mountain Brook
Ainsworth is running in the GOP primary against Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, the president of the Alabama Public Service Commission, and State Sen. Rusty Glover of Semmes.
Merrill will face Michael Johnson in his campaign for a second term.
The Republican Primary will be held June 5.
UPDATE: After this article was posted, we also learned that ALFA endorsed former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin for Alabama Attorney General. She’s running in the GOP primary againts the current AG, Steve Marshall, the former AG, Troy King, and Mobile lawyer Chess Bedsole.
Polling looks good for Gov. Kay Ivey, President Donald Trump – Heard in the Hallway
Yellowhammer News just heard in the hallway that an internal poll shows Gov. Kay Ivey leading with 52% in a four-way GOP gubernatorial primary race against Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, evangelist Scott Dawson, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Moore was likely included in the poll because some of his supporters had been urging the judge to enter the governor’s race.
He did not, but left out of the poll were Sen. Bill Hightower, R-Mobile, and the surprise late entrant Sen. Slade Blackwell, R-Mountain Brook, according to a source with knowledge of the poll.
The results may indicate two trends:
— First, that Ivey has begun to grow and consolidate her support among voters.
— And second, that Moore’s support has cratered since his loss to Sen. Doug Jones, D-Mountain Brook.
The poll also measured President Donald Trump’s approval rating among conservatives in Alabama – it’s at 88-percent.
Alabama Rep. Martha Roby to be challenged in the Republican primary … by her former Democrat opponent?
Bobby Bright represented Alabama’s 2nd congressional district from 2009-2011 as a member of the Democratic Party.
But he’s now seeking the Republican Party’s nomination to regain the seat from U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, who has already drawn three other primary challengers in her bid for reelection.
“I tried to be a Democrat, and I didn’t do the job as a Democrat that I wanted to do,” Bright told reporters as he filed qualifying papers at the Alabama Republican Party Headquarters in Birmingham Thursday morning. “There’s a lot of good people in Alabama. They don’t really support people because of the labels. What they do is they support you because of your hard work.”
— Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District includes most of the Montgomery metropolitan area and stretches into the state’s southeastern wiregrass region.
— In 2008, Bright defeated Republican nominee Jay Love, 50.23% to 49.61%, and became the first Democrat to represent the conservative district since the mid 1960s.
— But byone measurement, Bright voted with the Democrat leadership in Congress about 73% of the time.
— Roby defeated Bright in the 2010 general election, 50.87% to 48.79%.
— Roby has won reelection ever since, and in 2016 her margin was 49% to the Democrat candidate’s 41%.
— Other candidates for the GOP nomination include State Rep. Barry Moore, former Roy Moore campaign manager Rich Hobson, and Tommy Amason, a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army Reserves.
(Enjoyed this post? Sign-up for our daily newsletterhere and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.)
You may have heard that Facebook is making big changes and will soon show fewer news articles in your feed, regardless of whether you want to see them there.
What this means for Yellowhammer News readers:
There are still ways to stay plugged into Yellowhammer News’ smart conservative analysis, commentary, and need-to-know news updates about Alabama issues, and we hope you will take a few minutes to take these steps!
— Bookmark our site and check in with us every day. We are committed to principles and promises that we believe separate us from other sources of Alabama news. We value our loyal readers and believe that together, we are creating a community where voices in our great state are being heard in a media environment that tends to push conservatism out of the discussion.
— Subscribe to our newsletter and receive Yellowhammer News in your inbox. We’ll send you the best posts from the day in a user-friendly format. You’ll also receive Dale Jackson’s “7 Thing You Should Be Talking About” post each morning. It’s a super-quick way to stay in-the-know about the day’s most important topics.
WATCH: Alabama student told he’d never walk again, sinks free throw shot
Nick Walls (Crossville High School / Facebook)
A Crossville High School student was told he would never walk again after an ATV accident, but Nick Walls defied those grim projections in a game against Douglas High School this week.
Nick Walls was told he would never walk again after a tragic ATV accident. Here he is proving that hard work pays off. After a technical foul was called on Douglas HS, Coach Peek gets Nick in the game to shoot the two free throws. Let’s make this go viral!!!
“I can’t explain how truly blessed I am for what All God has done with my son (Nick) Nick and I both knew that day when the Drs told us they didn’t think he’d walk again that our God had a different plan. We all can see that Nick is one determined Awesome young man But God truly has done a miracle with this son of mine. Thank y’all for the video! Great shot son! Super proud of you ????“
Crossville High School is in Dekalb County.
FB video courtesy of Crossville High School and sent to Yellowhammer News by Jason Bouldin.
Alabama GOP chairman blasts Sen. Jones, promises to hold him accountable for pro-abortion vote
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan (Mid Alabama Republican Club)
Terry Lathan, the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, blasted Sen. Doug Jones for voting ‘no’ Monday on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would have outlawed abortions after 20 weeks when babieshave been provento feel pain.
“After today’s vote, we now see Senator Doug Jones’ true colors,” Lathan said in a statement issued Monday evening. “We will not forget his vote to block this bill banning late-term abortions. It is disgraceful that Senator Jones, who claims to want to ‘give voice to the challenges that face so many of our most vulnerable Americans’ would refuse to be a voice for the most vulnerable of them all: innocent lives in the womb.”
Lathan noted how far out of sync Jones is with his constituents – nearly 60 percent of Alabamians believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a surveyby the Pew Research Center.
“As one of the strongest pro-life states in the nation, Alabamians will hold Senator Jones accountable for this vote and every move he makes in the future regarding legislation that supports life at all stages,” she said.
(Agree with the chairman? Take this post over to social media and start a conversation with your family and friends.)
Heard in the Hallway: Internal poll shows Troy King leading in AG race, but Steve Marshall a strong second
Yellowhammer News just heard in the hallway that insiders are talking about an internal poll in the Alabama Attorney Generals race that shows former AG Troy King is leading the pack seeking the GOP nomination.
Current AG Steve Marshall is just a few points behind King, according to a source with knowledge of the poll.
That’s actually great news for Marshall. He was appointed to the office after Luther Strange left for the U.S. Senate early last year, so he hasn’t run a statewide campaign and has yet to go up on the air.
Sources said the poll also showed that Chess Bedsole and Alice Martin are statistically tied for third.
Bedsole made news a few weeks ago for having the largest campaign war chest, but that came only after he loaned money to the campaign.
Observers expect the AG race to be the most contentious of statewide elections this year, and perhaps headed to a run-off.
(Have a tip for Heard in the Hallway? Send it directly to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Yellowhammer News to host Q&A event with top lawmakers tonight in Montgomery
Speaker Mac McCutcheon and President Pro Tem Del Marsh
Yellowhammer News will host its inaugural “Yellowhammer News Shapers” reception with Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon at 5 p.m. today at the Alabama Association of Realtors, 522 Washington Ave. in Montgomery.
Topics discussed will include issues surrounding this year’s legislative session.
Huntsville talk show host and Yellowhammer News contributor Dale Jackson will also moderate a lively question and answer session and audience members will have an opportunity to submit their own questions.
House passes bill to bring ‘much-needed certainty’ to Poarch Band of Creek Indians
(Courtesy Poarch Band of Creek Indians)
Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, successfully shepherded a bill through the House of Representatives last week that resolves any potential legal confusion about the land governed by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians after an unrelated Supreme Court ruling in 2009.
Key quotes from Byrne’s speech on the House floor:
— “This legislation is necessary due to the legal uncertainty caused by the Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. This decision has unnecessarily created legal ambiguity about whether the Poarch Creek land is actually in trust or not.”
— “To be clear: This legislation would not have any change over the way the Poarch or their land are currently being treated in Alabama. In fact, this legislation simply provides legal certainty to help prevent future challenges regarding the status of the Tribe’s land.”
— “The Poarch Creek Indians are a valued and trusted part of our community in Southwest Alabama. Their economic impact in Escambia County, Alabama, speaks for itself. From their help with funding for community projects to their business enterprises that employ thousands of Alabamians, the Poarch help make life better for so many people in our area.”
Watch the congressman’s speech here:
(Take this post over to social media and start a conversaiton with your family and friends).
Yellowhammer News to host Q&A event with Alabama State House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem
Speaker Mac McCutcheon and President Pro Tem Del Marsh
Yellowhammer News will host a reception with Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the Alabama Association of Realtors, 522 Washington Ave. in Montgomery.
Topics discussed will include issues surrounding this year’s legislative session.
Huntsville talk show host and Yellowhammer News contributor Dale Jackson will also moderate a lively question and answer session and audience members will have an opportunity to submit their own questions.
Watch: Man gives coat off of his back to ‘homeless man’ in freezing Birmingham
An unidentified man gives his coat to another man on January 13, 2017, near The Summit, Birmingham, Ala., (Briana Rose DiGiorgio/Facebook)
A man jumped out of his car in below-freezing weather yesterday to give his coat to a man who appeared to be homeless near The Summit shopping center in Birmingham.
“Witnessed this man giving a homeless man the shirt off of his back, literally,” wrote Briana Rose DiGiorgio on her Facebook feed.
“Y’all, it is freezing cold in Alabama,” she added. “This poor man was standing at a red light desperately trying to stay warm. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the guy proceeding to tell him that he was going to get him something to eat and that he’d be right back. I was in tears. This is the kind of people we need more of in this world. This is absolutely beautiful.”
Witnessed this man giving a homeless man the shirt off of his back, literally. Y’all, it is freezing cold in Alabama. This poor man was standing at a red light desperately trying to stay warm. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the guy proceeding to tell him that he was going to get him something to eat and that he’d be right back. I was in tears. This is the kind of people we need more of in this world. This is absolutely beautiful… #PleaseShare
Read it for yourself: Gov. Kay Ivey’s flu proclamation declaring a Public Health Emergency in Alabama
(Editor’s note: The following proclaimation was issued Thursday evening by Gov. Kay Ivey.)
WHEREAS the State Health Officer has reported that an outbreak of the influenza virus has occurred in the State of Alabama; and
WHEREAS this outbreak poses a high probability of widespread exposure to an infectious agent that poses significant risk of substantial harm to a large number of people in the affected population; and
WHEREAS the health care facilities and personnel of the State are overwhelmed by the number of ill patients and taxed to such an extent that care of patients may now no longer be provided in the traditional, normal, and customary manner nor is the utilization of traditional, normal, and customary standards of care possible.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kay Ivey, Governor of the State of Alabama, pursuant to relevant provisions of the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955, section 31-9-1 et seq., Code of Alabama (1975), on the recommendation of the State Health Officer, do hereby declare that a State Public Health Emergency exists in the State of Alabama. I direct the appropriate state agencies to exercise their statutory and regulatory authority to assist the communities and entities affected. I also direct the Alabama Department of Public Health and Alabama Emergency Management Agency to seek federal assistance as may be available.
FURTHER, I direct the following:
1. Health care facilities that have invoked their emergency operation plans in response to this public health emergency may implement the “alternative standards of care” plans provided therein, and such are declared to be the state approved standard of care in health care facilities to be executed by health care professionals and allied professions and occupations providing services in response to this outbreak.
2. These “alternative standards of care” shall serve as the “standard of care” as defined in section 6-5-542(2), Code of Alabama for the purposes of section 6-5-540 et seq. The “degree of care” owed to patients by licensed, registered or certified health care professionals for the purposes of section 6-5-484 shall be the same degree of care set forth in the “alternative standards of care.” To the extent that the provisions of section 6-5-540 et seq. are inconsistent with this order, the said provisions are hereby suspended.
3. All health care professionals and assisting personnel executing in good faith under the “alternative standards of care” are hereby declared to be “Emergency Management Workers” of the State of Alabama for the purposes of title 31 of the Code of Alabama.
4. The State Health Officer shall inform members of the public on how to protect themselves and actions being taken in response to this public health emergency.
FURTHER, I declare that this Proclamation and all subsequent orders, laws, rules or regulations issued pursuant hereto shall remain in full force and effect for the duration of the State Public Health Emergency unless rescinded or extended by Proclamation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal to be affixed by the Secretary of State at the State Capitol in the City of Montgomery on this 11th day of January, 2018.
Read it for yourself — Gov. Kay Ivey’s state of the state address
Gov. Kay Ivey (Office of the Governor)
(The following is the text of Gov. Kay Ivey’s state of the state address, as prepared and provided by her office, delivered on Jan. 9, 2018, in Montgomery.)
President Marsh, Speaker McCutcheon, members of the Alabama Legislature, Chief Justice Stuart, justices of the Alabama Supreme Court, distinguished guests – and my fellow Alabamians:
As we begin the 2018 legislative session, we recognize Alabama has experienced a significant transformation in government since the first day of the 2017 legislative session.
On this occasion last year, I sat where my friend President Del Marsh sits tonight. And now, due to a successful transition in state government, I humbly stand before you as the 54th Governor of Alabama.
I’ve been called upon to report on the state of the state. When I became governor on April 10th, the ship of state government was adrift. We needed thoughtful and straightforward leadership.
Over the past nine months, together, we have proven Alabamians seek progress, not stagnation.
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to report, we have successfully steadied the ship of state; I declare that the state of the state is strong and our future is as bright as the sun over the Gulf.
Tonight, let’s take a brief journey to consider where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going.
Most governors have 3 months to prepare. I had three hours. Yet, after being sworn in as governor on April 10, 2017, in the Old Senate Chamber, just across the hall from where we are gathered this evening, I promised the people of Alabama there would be no disruption in the ongoing functions of the state. That’s a promise kept.
I promised the people of Alabama, even though challenges lay ahead, we would seize the opportunity to make Alabama even better and our government more effective. That’s a promise kept.
My immediate pledge was to steady the ship of state, navigate Alabama through the storm we found ourselves in, and seek a calmer path for this state we dearly love and proudly call home. That, too, is a promise kept.
When I was sworn in, there were many decisions to be made. I was focused, committed and prepared. My first full day was the 16thlegislative day in the 2017 legislative session – exactly half way through a session that I began as president of the Senate. As governor, last session, working closely with the Legislature, I signed 333 bills and resolutions into law.
Together, we’ve made significant progress with our budgets. We avoided proration and practiced fiscal responsibility. We renewed the Alabama Jobs Act, ensuring economic development continues, and we provided the tools and flexibility needed to attract new investments, creating more jobs for Alabama families.
Many bills I signed as governor also bore my signature from my time as president of the Senate. The smooth transition of government, brought me full circle – from the legislative to the executive – and I am better able to lead and govern because of it.
I support having a lieutenant governor who presides over the Senate. Our current order of succession serves the state well. I know this firsthand, having experienced it. I strongly support our current order of succession.
My first major effort in leading the state was to evaluate the cabinet and staff of the new administration. With this evaluation, I made changes resulting in nearly half of the 22 cabinet members being replaced.
My cabinet and staff are capable, honest and dedicated. They take their charge to serve the people of Alabama seriously. They provide the people of Alabama with the open, honest and transparent government that they deserve. My administration includes public servants who are subject matter experts and who work tirelessly to make Alabama a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
My second major effort was to connect with and hear directly from Alabamians, so that together we would restore confidence in state government.
An effective leader does four things: listen, learn, help, and lead.
To help and lead the people of Alabama, it was essential that I first listen to and learn from the people of Alabama.
Throughout July, August and September, I embarked on my Listen, Learn, Help and Lead tour where I visited communities across the state. I spent an entire day in these communities, meeting with local leaders and visiting their businesses and schools. I wanted to learn about their successes and their challenges. I wanted to hear from everyday people, not just from the politicians and lobbyists in Montgomery.
These meetings were beneficial and well received. People were excited about reconnecting with their governor.
I wanted to restore our state’s image. To do this, government must be efficient and transparent. With executive orders, we’ve streamlined state government, dissolved unneeded task forces, and banned lobbyists from appointments by the executive branch, ensuring more citizens have an opportunity to serve and contribute. I also established the Opioid Overdose & Addiction Council to address the urgent opioid epidemic that is impacting Alabama families.
Administratively, I’ve appointed more than 350 qualified and diverse individuals to boards and other groups which affect the day-to-day lives of Alabamians.
One of the most important duties of government is providing safety and protection. I have worked closely with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and local officials across our state during six weather related States of Emergency. Through coordinated efforts, we have improved our communication and our response to natural disasters.
The people of Alabama desire leadership that is willing to get things done. As a result of our team approach, I am proud to report, Alabama’s economy is performing well – revenues are up, unemployment is down, economic development is on the rise and improved educational opportunities abound.
Since I became governor, over $3.5 billion dollars in new direct investments have been committed in the state. These investments will create nearly 8,000 new jobs for Alabama workers. The unemployment rate has fallen every month since I became governor. Our most recent unemployment numbers put the unemployment rate at 3.5 percent – the lowest rate ever recorded in Alabama! My friends, Alabama’s economy is supporting more jobs than ever before!
News of our economic successes seem to be a daily occurrence. In fact, I am proud to announce this evening that Kimber Firearms will build a $38 million dollar production facility in Troy, bringing with it 366 new jobs! These are good, high-paying jobs, and will enable more of our citizens to provide for their families while taking part in the rich history of the Second Amendment. We are proud and honored to welcome Kimber to Alabama!
This announcement and countless others like it make one thing clear: what we are doing is working, and as a result, the people of Alabama are working and providing for their families.
When I meet with global CEOs of companies considering Alabama, or who already have companies here, they tell me their Alabama facility operates at a level that cannot be rivaled. My fellow Alabamians, that is because of you, — the hard-working people of Alabama. Companies choose Alabama because of your dedication and our skilled workforce. When a company invests in Alabama, it is investing not just in our state, but in you, our people.
We should do everything we can to help every Alabamian find work.
One of the most meaningful experiences I have had as governor was to participate in the first ever Governor’s Disability Job Fair with Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington, Commissioner of Mental Health Lynn Beshear, Dr. Graham Sisson, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office on Disability, and Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw of the Department of Rehabilitation Services. The fair consisted of more than 95 employers looking to fill over 3,100 positions. 1,100 people attended the Disability Job Fair.
One of those job-seekers is with us tonight – Caryn McDade. Caryn walked into the Governor’s Disability Job Fair, on Oct. 30th, looking for an opportunity. As a teenager, Caryn’s learning disabilities plagued her until she saw no alternative other than dropping out of school. She took GED classes at the Birmingham Career Center and was referred to the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services to work on resumé writing, job development, interviewing and placement. Rehabilitation Services paired her with Harold Reynolds, an employment specialist with Easter Seals of Birmingham, to prepare her for job interviews at the job fair. During the fair, Caryn met and interviewed with staff from Southern Hospitality Home Health Care of Fultondale. Within 48 hours, she had completed a second follow-up interview. By the end of the week, she was employed full-time as a home health care aide.
Caryn, thank you for being with us tonight. You are a perfect example of the intrinsic value we all have, and a reminder that what we do as public officials affects the lives of real Alabamians.
For Alabamians to have career opportunities, they must be prepared when the right job comes along. My education initiative, Strong Start, Strong Finish, does just that. Under Strong Start, Strong Finish, we will coordinate our efforts and bring all stakeholders to the table in order to improve education all the way from Pre-K to the workforce.
I instituted Strong Start, Strong Finish, because we must prepare our people for the jobs of today and for the jobs of tomorrow. By 2020, 62 percent of all jobs available in Alabama will require some form of postsecondary education. However, today, only 37 percent of our workforce has achieved such an education. We must ensure that our students graduate high school and then earn a postsecondary certificate or degree.
Effective education requires a strong foundation in a child’s early years. In 2017, under the leadership of Secretary Jeana Ross, Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program increased the number of classrooms to 938 statewide. Research shows us that students who participate in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program are more likely, than other students, to be proficient in reading and math at every grade level.
For the 11th year in a row, our First-Class Pre-K program was recognized for being the highest-quality Pre-K in the nation. In fact, Harvard University is currently developing a full-length documentary on Alabama’s Pre-K program to share across the country with those interested in following our lead. Our First-Class Pre-K is certainly a bright spot for Alabama.
I’m proud to have quickly become known as a governor focused on education. Over the past nine months, I have devoted a great deal of my time to my role as president of the State Board of Education. In less than two years, Alabama has had four different K-12 superintendents. That is nothing to be proud of. The members of the State Board of Education must ensure continuity to see progress. Board members must set goals and adopt strategies to achieve student learning at high standards. Our central focus must be on our students, not on personal agendas or political maneuvering.
Tomorrow marks nine full months since I unexpectedly became governor. A lot has happened since then. We have lifted the dark cloud, wounds have started healing, and the people’s faith in a government “for and by the people” is being restored.
Though it is important to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are – we must place most of our focus on where we are going.
Former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “What lies ahead of us, or what lies behind us, is of little importance when compared to what lies within us.”
In that spirit, I say to you, instead of dwelling on what adversity we have previously faced or what mountains we may soon climb, we must focus on being who we are – a resilient people, a people dedicated to doing what’s right and to making a difference in the world.
Like always, our budgets are at the forefront of state government. However, this year, we find ourselves in an unfamiliar position related to our budgets. We are clearly in the midst of our recovery from the great recession. Unemployment is at an all-time low, housing prices have increased for the 3rd consecutive year and Alabama is rated 12th nationwide for financial health.
When I came into office, the relationship between the executive and legislative branches was strained – but that too has been corrected. I have worked closely with legislative leadership, and the Senate and House budget chairs, to draft fiscally responsible budgets. We’ve righted the ship of state; now, my proposed budgets will move Alabama in the right direction.
Just as Alabama families work on their budgets around their kitchen tables to get them just right, we too must get the state’s budgets right. I am proposing strong, manageable budgets that responsibly fund state government without raising taxes on the people of Alabama.
Our improved economy, allows us to not just fund state programs, but to expand the ones making a positive difference. It is tempting, when times aren’t as tight as before, to spend generously. We must resist that temptation.
As a lifelong conservative, I believe in being fiscally responsible and in being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Not a single appropriated dollar belongs to government; rather, it belongs to the hard-working men and women of Alabama who have earned it. In that vein, my General Fund Budget restores fiscal responsibility by paying down Alabama’s debt earlier than required. We will fund government appropriately, but with prudence and care.
As a positive sign of progress, there are fewer people eligible for Medicaid today than one year ago. Good news on the jobs front means more Alabamians are working and less dependent on government services. Accordingly, Medicaid will require less General Fund appropriations than expected.
We are proving conservative government creates economic growth, lessens government overreach and moves people toward self-sufficiency.
Our strong economy, with ample employment opportunities, positions us not just to cover the basics, as we have in past years, but to ensure we fulfill our duty to the citizens of Alabama. We will pursue efficient government, which makes good use of our resources, while appropriately funding state services. Government is called on to serve and protect the people. My General Fund Budget does just that. We will put more state troopers on our roads and add more corrections officers, all in an effort to serve and protect Alabama families.
Perhaps our state’s biggest challenge is found in our prison system. For far too long, we have neglected the state’s prison system. This neglect has created an environment that is overcrowded and understaffed. Our facilities are worn and old. Correctional professionals work diligently to provide security, medical, mental health and rehabilitative services in a challenging environment. They deserve our attention and support. We must also work diligently to provide appropriate, constitutional care to those placed in the custody of the Department of Corrections.
Immediately after taking office, I instructed Commissioner Jeff Dunn and his staff, working closely with my staff, to develop a viable plan to address correctional staffing, which will improve the delivery of inmate healthcare and make capital investments in our infrastructure.
We have commissioned comprehensive reviews to determine the compensation levels necessary to recruit and retain corrections staff. We have entered contract negotiations with a new healthcare provider to expand and improve inmate healthcare at a reasonable cost. I have instructed the Commissioner to hire a project management team to help us develop a master plan, so we will be able to make smart, cost-effective decisions when addressing our outdated prison infrastructure.
We will no longer guess about possible fixes. Instead, I will present to the people a workable solution to this generational problem. I am committed to meeting this challenge head-on. Together, with the support of the legislature, we will solve this problem for generations to come. This is an Alabama problem that must have an Alabama solution. Now is the time to act.
As many of you know, I am from Camden, in rural Wilcox County. Rural communities, like Camden, have a very special place in my heart. I understand the challenges rural areas face and it is my intention to do all I can to help make a difference in the lives of people in rural areas. Supporting rural Alabama is central to my legislative agenda.
Though we are almost two decades into the 21st Century, many of our rural communities do not have adequate access to broadband. Adequate broadband enhances educational opportunities, increases economic development prospects and develops critical communication systems. I strongly support legislation to encourage new broadband investments, and I ask the legislature to join me in assessing our state’s broadband needs, to ensure resources are placed where they are most needed.
I am also proposing funding for loan repayment programs for dentists and physician’s assistants who agree to work in underserved areas of Alabama. Many of Alabama’s citizens live in rural areas, and we must be attentive to their needs and ensure they have the same access to quality healthcare as those in urban areas.
Just as we address the needs of our rural citizens, we must also take care of those who have taken care of us: our veterans. My father served in World War II; thus, I understand the sacrifices our military men and women make, and I am proud that more than 1 in 10 Alabamians have worn our nation’s uniform. Sometimes, when veterans finish their service, they struggle to find work; that is why I support extending tax credits to small businesses that hire veterans. For those veterans who own their own businesses, they need our support as well. I am proposing legislation that will give preference to veteran-owned businesses that bid on state contracts. Our veterans have given much to protect our state and nation. As a state, we must step up and repay them for their sacrifice.
Tonight, I am proposing a pay raise for all teachers and state employees. Every day, we depend on state employees. Whether it’s a state trooper patrolling our highways, a teacher staying late to help a struggling student, or a social worker rescuing an abused child, quality state employees are essential to good government. It is long-past time for us to honor their service with better pay.
Like the General Fund Budget, my education budget is conservative, practical and wisely funds state services, while guaranteeing every Alabamian an opportunity to achieve a Strong Start and a Strong Finish to their educational journey.
Education is the key to a better life for all. I am focused on ensuring all Alabama children get a good start and have the resources they need to complete school, be prepared for the workplace, and ultimately succeed.
I am very proud that the education budget I am submitting to the Legislature is the largest investment in education in a decade.
In addition to raises for all teachers and support personnel, my proposed budget fully funds the K-12 request of $144 million dollars, and provides an additional $50 million dollars for higher education.
We will continue to implement Strong Start, Strong Finish, by increasing funding for our First-Class Pre-K program by an additional $23 million dollars. I am also proposing funding for our Pre-through-3 initiative, the Jobs for Alabama’s Graduates Program, and for education scholarships for math and science teachers. These additional dollars are investments in our children and young people, and thus are investments in our future.
Education is especially effective when there is a concentration on particular subjects or skills. The Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, and the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science in Mobile, are special-focus schools which effectively prepare their students for rewarding careers. As workforce needs evolve, we must create educational opportunities that prepare our people to meet those needs.
Tonight, I am announcing, the formation of the Alabama School of Cyber and Engineering, which will be based in Huntsville. This school will prepare some of our state’s highest-achieving students to enter the growing fields of cyber technology and engineering. Just as Huntsville has always been on the leading edge of the rocket and aerospace industries, the Alabama School of Cyber and Engineering will ensure that Alabama students are at the forefront of today’s emerging technologies.
With this budget, we will improve educational opportunities for all Alabamians.
We are now in year two of a three year celebration culminating in Alabama’s Bicentennial in 2019. Our 200th anniversary as a state, gives us an opportunity to reflect on who we are as a people.
Our Legislature has adopted an official state creed, which I would like to share with you:
I believe in Alabama, a state dedicated to a faith in God and the enlightenment of mankind; to a democracy that safeguards the liberties of each citizen and to the conservation of her youth, her ideals, and her soil. I believe it is my duty to obey her laws, to respect her flag and to be alert to her needs and generous in my efforts to foster her advancement within the statehood of the world.
As we ponder this past year, and indeed the past 200 years, and as we contemplate where we are going, we should embrace this creed. We should look to it as a guiding light for action, in hopes that it may one day be a testament to the courageous leadership which brought this state from some of its toughest times into some of its greatest.
Despite our differences, despite our varying viewpoints, despite party labels, I sincerely believe we all have one common goal – to each play our part in making Alabama a better place to live, raise and educate our children; own a home and create jobs and business opportunities.
As I look across this historic chamber filled with men and women who have made a commitment to public service, I propose a question to each of you.
Why do we serve – why have we chosen this path of public service?
These questions are not new ones. In fact, they have been around for centuries.
Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the world’s greatest composers. You probably already know this and likely agree. However, something you may not know about Bach is that he also had 20 children – can you imagine?
To say the least, Bach was a very busy man.
He was once asked, “why do you write music?”
He could have said, because he had a large family to provide for. Or, because music came naturally. He could have said these things, but he didn’t.
He simply replied that he wrote music “for the Glory of God and the good of mankind.”
Consider his response. It was concise, honest, and revealed the character of his heart and the driving force behind his actions. He wasn’t driven by himself or even his family. His motivation was much deeper, much more significant.
How would you respond when asked the same question?
Why do you serve? Why did you swear an oath to support this nation and our great state at all costs?
You may have been motivated by certain issues, causes, philosophies or individuals to seek office – and those are good reasons to serve.
But when our efforts, actions and accomplishments are evaluated, will we leave a legacy like Bach? Are we motivated by pride, power, or greed? Or are we moved by an innate desire to make a difference in our state and world?
I say we can make our state better, if our purpose is the same – to serve for the Glory of God and the good of mankind.
I challenge you to reflect on Bach’s response as you enter the legislative chamber each day.
From the moment our country declared its independence, we embraced the truth that to be an American is to seek the impossible, to dare to dream despite opposition. Together, let us dream of a brighter Alabama that, in keeping with Bach’s example, brings glory to God and brings about a greater good in the lives of our people.
The ship of state has been steadied. Together, let’s move it in a new direction toward progress and sustainability.
I am honored to be at the helm of this magnificent ship we call Alabama, which benefits from a strong and committed crew, the good people of Alabama.
May God bless each of you and the great State of Alabama.