The Wire

  • ‘Opioid abuse is an epidemic that ignores cultural and political boundaries’ — AG Steve Marshall

    Attorney General Steve Marshall issued the following statement today praising President Donald Trump for introducing his Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand:

    “I want to thank President Trump for his dedication to fight the terrible blight of opioid abuse in America. Opioid abuse is an epidemic that ignores cultural and political boundaries; it affects all of us—and thus demands a response that includes all of us.”

    “While I am still reviewing the specifics of President Trump’s initiative, I am heartened to see that his outline includes many of the recommendations of Alabama’s Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council; recommendations such as improved prescription monitoring, increased access to treatment and recovery support for persons suffering from opioid addiction, and legislation targeting low-dosage, super-lethal drugs like fentanyl.”

    “My hope is that, in the coming months, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions will work side-by-side with state and local officials to turn these ideas into reality. Together, we can conquer what the President has rightly called the ‘Crisis Next Door.’”

  • Trump’s border wall prototype visit ‘a ridiculous waste of time’ — Ann Coulter

    Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter appeared on a Los Angeles radio program and ridiculed the president’s recent inspection of border wall prototypes, calling the photo-op “a ridiculous waste of time.”

  • VIDEO: FBI search for $55 million in lost Civil War gold buried in Pennsylvania — NBC Nightly News

    A story that $55 million in Union gold was lost during the Civil War has long been dismissed as a myth — but this week, a team of FBI agents joined the search in rural Pennsylvania.

6 months ago

Alabama Candidate Defends Trump’s Response to Puerto Rico Disaster

Barry Moore, a Republican challenger to Martha Roby’s District 2 Congressional seat in 2018, took to Facebook in support of President Trump’s response to the disaster in Puerto Rico. On Tuesday, the candidate from Enterprise posted a description of the aid that has been dispatched to Puerto Rico so far saying, “so tired of the fake news we must tell the truth about or nation’s generosity and Donald J. Trump.”

In the post, Moore revealed “the truth of Puerto Rico.” He explained that President Trump has dispatched 140 helicopters, 28 ships, 6 Army field hospitals, 3 Navy Seabee Battalions, 5 US Army Combat Engineer Battalions, 3 Civil Affairs battalions, 2 Nuclear Submarines capable of generating 2.8 Gigawatts of Power, and released 300,000 tons of food, medical supplies, and water from military stocks to Puerto Rico.

The post recalled that Governor Ricardo Rossello has praised the president for the aide received so far and thanked the president and federal government for having a comprehensive relief plan in place before the storm hit. Puerto Rico’s non-voting Congressional Representative Jennifer Gonzalez expressed a welcome change from previous administrations saying, “This is the first time we get this type of federal coordination.”

The post then explains the difficulty that response teams have faced even accessing the island. The various ports along the coast were in such disarray that relief ships could not dock. Contrary to what the media has been reporting, no response was delayed, it was simply unable to reach its destination. Once damage was cleared as quickly as possible, 23,000 cots and 1.6 millions of gallons of water were brought into the island.  Over the next few days, FEMA officials were able to ensure that each town and city had access satellite phones.

Moore then pointed out that this report is a stark contrast to the berating that the president has received from the media over the past few days. Moore insists that the president did not delay any relief effort because he hates hispanics. He concludes the post by saying, “How long are people going to keep falling for the same old lies? When are you going to realize you are being manipulated (willingly) so as to purposely divide the country?”

10 months ago

Sen. Bill Holtzclaw and Rep. Barry Moore Usher Pro-Military Bills Through Alabama Legislature

Left to right: Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, Governor Kay Ivey, and Rep. Barry Moore.

This week, Governor Ivey went to Maxwell Airforce Base last week to sign a package of eight pro-military bills into law, one of which may bring new state-of-the-art fighter jets to Alabama.

Most of these bills were sponsored by Senator Bill Holtzclaw, which he ushered through the Senate as Chairman of the Military and Veterans Affairs. When the bills reached the House, Representative Barry Moore, who chairs the same committee there, shepherded their passage through the lower chamber. Senator Holtzclaw is a former U.S. Marine and Rep. Moore served in the Army National Guard and was a member of the Ranger Challenge team at Auburn.

The bills passed both chambers with broad support, prompting Governor Ivey to say that Alabama and the U.S. Military are like “butter and molasses on a warm biscuit.” On a more serious note, the Governor continued, “I’m proud of the strong bond and mutual relationship that all branches of the armed forces share with the great state of Alabama.”

The package of eight bills was headlined by measures that could pave the way to bring the impressive new F-35 Lightning II jets to at the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field Air Guard Station.

Gov. Ivey and Rep. Moore with Air Force Officers at Maxwell AFB

As Rep. Barry Moore noted, “As a former member of the Army Guard, I know how much it would mean for Alabama Air Guard to be home to these amazing fighter jets. We’re just grateful for all the support in the House and Senate and from Governor Ivey that helped us put our state in the best position possible to be selected as the home of the F-35.”

 The other pieces of legislation signed by Governor Ivey at Maxwell included incentives for in-state education opportunities for the military, new jobs for service members, and military infrastructure enhancements.

10 months ago

Recapping the 2017 legislative session: What passed in Alabama, what failed to make the cut

Alabama State House (Photo: Creative Commons/Jay Williams)

State lawmakers tackled a number of challenging issues amid a turbulent year in Alabama politics. Following last week’s conclusion of the legislature’s 2017 Regular Session, following are the bills that passed as well as those that fell short.


The General Fund Budget: The G.F. Budget was sent to the Governor two weeks ago along to fund all state services.

The Education Trust Fund Budget: This approved budget was sent to the Governor late last week. In this year’s version, several programs were K-12 programs were cut, but Higher Education budgets cuts were minimal.

Veterans scholarship changes: The bill will continue the Alabama G.I. Dependent’s Scholarship Program that allows dependents of disabled veterans to receive free in-state tuition, within certain limits.  With increasing costs of higher education, however, lawmakers were forced to raise the qualifying thresholds, but this change does not affect students currently covered under the scholarship program.

Autism therapy requirement for insurance: Following a contentious battle in the Senate, lawmakers ultimately passed a measure that forces insurers to cover autism therapies for employees of companies with 51 or more employees. The benefit will apply to individuals 18 and younger. Governor Ivey has already signed the bill, making Alabama the 46th state to enact a law requiring some degree of autism coverage for minors.

Protection of historic monuments: On the final day of the 2017 session, lawmakers passed a bill protecting historic monuments from removal. The bill creates a standing committee to hear waiver requests from cities and counties, though historic artifacts under the care of museums, archives, libraries, and universities are specifically exempt from the prohibition against removal or alteration.

Legalization of midwives: On the final day of the legislative session, lawmakers also gave final approval to making it legal for certified midwives to deliver babies in the state.



Increased School Choice: Senator Marsh passed his increase to the Alabama Accountability Act, designed make sure students who receive scholarships don’t lose them, but the House voted against the increase in the school choice plan, thanks to intense lobbying efforts by the Alabama Education Association.

Prison reform: Overcrowding in Alabama prisons has long remained as a costly problem, but the bill to build new prisons is on ice for now. Reports indicate that Governor Ivey is considering calling for a special session to specifically address the issue.

Permit-less carry of concealed weapons: A bill that would have allowed citizens to carry guns without a concealed carry permit won approval in the Senate, but failed to pass in the House.

Repeal of Common Core: A bill that sought to return Alabama curriculum requirements to pre-Common Core standards stalled in the House Education Committee. Since introducing the bill, House Rep. Barry Moore (R- Enterprise) said that he plans to address the matter again in the 2018 session.


1 year ago

Ahead of pres. election, Alabama first to implement electronic voting for deployed military

An instructor approaches a Black Hawk helicopter on Fort Rucker (Photo: Fort Rucker Flickr photostream)
An instructor approaches a Black Hawk helicopter on Fort Rucker (Photo: Fort Rucker Flickr photostream)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama is the first state in the country to implement fully electronic voting for service members stationed overseas, a system that will be used for the first time in a Presidential election this year after being previously rolled out in limited use in late 2015.

Alabama National Guard Maj. Chris Theilacker told WSFA he and other Alabamians deployed around the globe are excited about the more streamlined process to vote.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot of trouble, but taking the time out to request that ballot, wait for it to get there, mail may or may not ever get to you when you are in an overseas environment,” Theilacker said. “I go out everyday to make sure our citizens have the right to vote, so by the state and the city providing access to voting no matter where in the world we are, that says a lot about their commitment.”

Alabama Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), a military veteran who was instrumental in passing a bill setting up the new system, told Yellowhammer he hopes it will make life easier for Alabamians who are deployed serving their country.

“As chairman of the House Committee on Military and Veterans, I am proud Alabama is leading the way on this important issue,” he said. “Americans’ voting rights are sacred. Nothing could be more important than ensuring that the men and women who are protecting our freedoms abroad have a voice in our political process. That is what this law does.”

Secretary of State John Merrill concurred.

“Every military serviceman or woman who is interested in voting now has the opportunity to receive their ballot electronically, to vote electronically, and have their ballot returned electronically,” he concluded. “They’ll have their vote cast and counted the same way they would if they were at their home with their family.”

So who will they be voting for?

A recent NBC/Survey Monkey poll shows Republican Donald J. Trump leading Democrat Hillary Clinton by double-digits among active military and veterans. Fifty-five percent say they favor Trump, while 36 percent back Clinton.

The election is set to take place Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

2 years ago

What they didn’t tell you: Alabama lawmakers were only presented with half a lottery plan

Signs advertise the lottery outside of a convenience store (Photo: Sivi Steys)
Signs advertise the lottery outside of a convenience store (Photo: Sivi Steys)

When Gov. Robert Bentley summoned lawmakers for a special session to consider the creation of a state lottery, I traveled to Montgomery with apprehension as what the Governor was up to. Soon after the debate began, however, it quickly became obvious that the real fiscal and systemic problems problems facing Alabama’s state government cannot be solved by a state lottery, and certainly not by the one that was presented to us.

As a result, I voted against placing the lottery on a referendum ballot and would like to outline just a few of the facts that led to my decision.

Creating a lottery requires two pieces of legislation, a constitutional amendment that allows that particular form of gambling to exist, and “enabling legislation” that spells out in vivid detail exactly how it would operate. The Legislature was provided only the constitutional amendment for consideration, and we were told that enabling legislation would be introduced sometime next year, after the referendum vote.

Passing an open-ended, blank-check constitutional amendment is dangerous and demands a level of trust that I, quite frankly, do not believe Montgomery has earned. Once the amendment is passed, the enabling legislation that followed could open the door to corruption, cronyism, and broken promises with absolutely no accountability to the citizens of our state.

You cannot bake a cake with just one ingredient – you must have all of them – and I do not believe that we can create a fair, honest, and well-run lottery with just one piece of the necessary legislation, we must have all of them, as well. The amendment and the enabling legislation must travel together.

The legislation submitted to us did not even have an accompanying fiscal note, which is usually required on measures we consider, so there is no way to determine how much it would cost to set up the lottery, the amount of the annual operating costs, or even a good barometer of how much it would add to state coffers each year. You cannot open any successful business without a detailed financial plan, and a lottery is no different.

But the few details that were provided to us cause even greater concern.

While most states dedicate most, if not all, of their lottery revenues to public education needs and programs, the Alabama lottery would send only 10% of its profit into our children’s classrooms. Instead, the dollars would be earmarked directly toward the state Medicaid program and other non-education agencies. The costs of providing Medicaid services in Alabama are already spiraling out-of-control, and funneling a dedicated stream of lottery revenues to the agency removes any incentive for spending to be reduced or efficiencies to be implemented.

In addition, this magic elixir for our financial problems that is being peddled to us like a bottle of snake oil will not have any effect for the next several years. Not one dime of revenue will be realized until 2018, and even then, the undetermined start up costs that I mentioned earlier could swallow any expected profits.

The experiences of other states provide even more evidence that the lottery is not a panacea for fiscal ills. Nine of the 10 states with the most insolvent budgets in the nation, for example, have lotteries. In Illinois, state lawmakers even had to borrow money in order to pay the winners of its lottery their promised awards.

Other questions about how the lottery would affect the overall economy and whether this amendment, as written, would allow forms of Las Vegas-style gambling to operate in Alabama remain unanswered.

I believe more than ever that Alabama can solve its financial problems only by implementing conservative principles, like un-earmarking the tax dollars we currently collect and reforming the way we draft the budget.

It is disappointing that we were summoned into special session with a desperate, eleventh hour deadline and presented with only half of a lottery plan that raised more questions than answers. Given time, I think the Legislature would be able to craft a lottery amendment worthy of consideration, but this one certainly did not meet that standard.
A constitutional amendment is difficult, if not impossible, to adjust once it is ratified, so we must be extremely careful before placing it on your ballot.

For these and other reasons, I voted against the lottery amendment, and I felt it important to let you know why.

Republican Barry Moore represents District 91 in the Alabama House of Representatives

2 years ago

Alabama House member: Lawmakers are already spending lottery money before it passes

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama House members are already angling to earmark lottery funds for certain projects although the lottery has multiple hurdles left to clear before it even exists in the Yellowhammer State.

The Secretary of State’s office confirmed Thursday that the legislature had missed the deadline to pass a lottery bill that would put it up for a vote on the General Election ballot in November. Lawmakers continued to debate the issue, though, possibly setting up a Special Election ballot that would include a Constitutional Amendment bringing the lottery to Alabama for the first time. Secretary of State John Merrill estimated such an election would cost the state $6-8 million.

The current lottery bill being debated in the House would send the first $100 million of lottery revenue to Medicaid, then it gets a little murky after that. Members seemed to be operating under the assumption that 90 percent would go toward the General Fund Budget and 10 percent to the Education Budget. But an avalanche of amendments have been proposed, and one was approved to send to rural fire departments 1 percent of the 90 percent General Fund allocation.

The process sparked familiar criticism from conservative lawmakers who have characterized the lottery as little more than a way to grow the size of state government.

“We’re spending money we haven’t raised from a lottery we haven’t passed,” State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), who opposes the lottery, said at the mic on the House floor.

Earmarks have been a longtime problem with Alabama’s budgeting process.

The state earmarks over 90 percent of its tax revenue, far more than any other state in the country, meaning that budgeters have very little flexibility when shortfalls emerge, as they have recently in the state’s exploding Medicaid program.

If the House passes a lottery bill that the Senate agrees to and the governor signs, a statewide vote of the people in a Special Election would determine whether Alabama would have a state sponsored lottery. If it clears all of those hurdles, it appears that whatever revenue it brings in will be spent long before it even enters state coffers.

2 years ago

Meet the Alabama woman who is the youngest delegate at the RNC

Trump delegate Kathleen Moore (Photo: Contributed)
Trump delegate Kathleen Moore (Photo: Contributed)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — One Alabama woman is making history at the Republican National Convention this week as the youngest delegate in attendance. Kathleen Moore, 18, is a student at Auburn University and the daughter of State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise).

Despite her young age, Kathleen wanted to make a difference in this historic election.

“I really wanted to become a delegate because of my age,” she told Yellowhammer in an interview. “I think it set me apart and I think it shows the older generation that writes my generation off that we’re not useless and we do have a voice.”

The Auburn student turned 18 last August and decided to run to be a Trump delegate for Lee County. After having been involved with the Trump campaign on campus for about a year, she was elected to represent him in the convention without opposition.

So far at the convention, she has enjoyed “having a say in something that’s bigger than me.” She has participated in votes, roll calls, and floor action. She has even seen some of her biggest conservative heroes.

Among those she was excited to see speak were former New York Mayor Rudy Guilliani and Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson. She said that Guilliani “rocked the house” and that she “fangirled” when she saw that big beard of Robertson walk onto the stage.

As for the mood of the convention, Moore says that she feels that overall the delegates seem united. In her opinion the appearance of disunity is a creation of the media to make Republicans look weak and vulnerable. “I hate that,” she said. “I don’t feel divided, I feel like we’re together [behind Trump].”

Not only has the 18 year-old felt the delegates are united, but she has also expressed the overwhelming feeling of safety. “Cleveland has done an excellent job. they have gone above and beyond everyone’s expectations,” she said. Going in, Moore indicated that she and her father were both very nervous about their safety given the current tone in the country. But once they arrived, she made clear that the security is top notch.

As a rising sophomore, Kathleen is motivated by her desire to “encourage people my age to stand up for what they believe in.” But this is not just a one time thing; she definitely sees a future in convention politics.

“I would absolutely do it again. 100 percent.”

The GOP convention continues tonight and will last until Thursday, when nominee Donald J. Trump will give his acceptance speech.

2 years ago

DEVELOPING: Alabama’s most conservative lawmaker is running for Speaker of the House

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)

ENTERPRISE, Ala. — The state representative Yellowhammer ranked as “Alabama’s most conservative legislator” has thrown his hat in the ring to become the next Speaker of the House. Former Speaker Mike Hubbard was removed from office last month after being convicted on 12 felony counts of public corruption.

In a letter sent to his colleagues Wednesday evening, Moore said under his leadership the House would deliver on Republicans’ 2010 campaign promise to give the people of Alabama “the conservative representation they have so long deserved.”

Moore specifically mentioned tax cuts, legislation to push back against federal regulations, and pro-gun and pro-life bills among the issues that would be included in his legislative priorities.

My ideas for caucus priorities include tax cuts for small businesses and working families, a constitutional amendment to protect Alabama gun owners from being placed into the FBI database, a program to incentivize state agency leadership to cut wasteful spending from their departments, and legislation and compacts to protect our industries and resources such as farming and coal mining from the punitive effects of federal regulation. And every caucus agenda should include legislation to protect our state’s unborn children.

I believe we need leadership who will embrace and advance a conservative agenda that unapologetically puts working Alabamians first. That can be done by unleashing the untapped potential of this caucus, every member of which is intimately familiar with the challenges of their Districts and the issues that resonate with their constituents. I also believe we need leadership whose motives are entirely above reproach. And we need a steady spokesman who can sell our collective ideas to the people of this state.

One of the most frequently expressed complaints against the former House Speaker was that he centralized power in his office, an issue Moore said he would address by “unleashing the untapped potential” of the full GOP caucus, “every member of which is intimately familiar with the challenges of their Districts and the issues that resonate with their constituents.”

“I also believe we need leadership whose motives are entirely above reproach,” he continued. “And we need a steady spokesman who can sell our collective ideas to the people of this state.”

Yellowhammer’s brief profile of Moore for the “most conservative Alabama legislators” feature outlined his private sector and legislative experience:

Representative Barry Moore is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. He’s a founder or investor in multiple successful businesses, most notably Barry Moore Industries, a commercial waste management company based in Enterprise. Every vote he casts in the legislature is informed by his extensive private sector experience.
If it’s about smaller government, lower taxes, less spending or decreased government regulation, Moore’s going to be with you 100 percent of the time.

With Ft. Rucker located in his district, Moore has also been a leading advocate for military families. He shepherded a bill that made it easier for active duty military personnel to get in-state tuition, and a similar bill making it easier for military spouses to get business licenses. He also sponsored a bill that would’ve reduced unemployment benefits for certain persons receiving pension payments.

The vote that most illustrates Moore’s rock-ribbed conservatism occurred during the 2011 session. A bill to extend unemployment benefits was passed overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of 94-1. The one “no” vote? Barry Moore.

The American Conservative Union also ranked him the third most conservative House member during the 2015 legislative sessions.

The Speaker’s race could ultimately become a battle over the fiscal and ideological direction of the House.

Other leading contenders, Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) and Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw), are both well liked among their colleagues but vocally pushed tax hikes during recent legislative sessions. Conservative State Reps. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville) and Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) have also expressed their desire to become Speaker, creating a crowded field that may take some time to whittle itself down before House Republicans tap a new leader.

“In recent weeks I have seen some good men step up and express their desire to fill the leadership void at the top of the People’s House,” Moore wrote in his letter to his colleagues. “I have heard a lot of talk about who will be the most fair and even-handed, or who will maintain the status quo or shake things up, and I have listened to discussions about where we have been and what brought us to this point — with low morale, a damaged brand, and no leader.

“What I have not heard, however, is a clear vision for where we are going to go from here. It is my belief that we must establish a vision to move forward, and the clarity of that vision depends upon our unwavering commitment to conservative principles and values.”

A handful of past Yellowhammer articles on Moore can be found below, along with a campaign ad that shows him speaking at a Tea Party rally in Enterprise during the 2010 election cycle.

1. Moore: Abolish state income tax, move to consumption tax — ‘It’s the only tax illegals pay’
2. Alabama lawmaker will introduce bill to incentivize govt. bureaucrats to make cuts
3. Top 7 most conservative Alabama legislators

2 years ago

Alabama just took the lead on ensuring military voting rights, here’s how

An instructor approaches a Black Hawk helicopter on Fort Rucker (Photo: Fort Rucker Flickr photostream)
An instructor approaches a Black Hawk helicopter on Fort Rucker (Photo: Fort Rucker Flickr photostream)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — For the first time ever this week, a member of the U.S. armed services — an Alabamian — voted electronically while deployed abroad.

Alabama is the first state in the country to implement fully electronic voting for service members stationed overseas. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says the system is rolling out at the county level, and he hopes all 67 Alabama counties will be up and running by the presidential primary March 1, 2016.

Alabama National Guard Maj. Chris Theilacker told WSFA he and other Alabamians deployed around the globe are excited about the more streamlined process to vote.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot of trouble, but taking the time out to request that ballot, wait for it to get there, mail may or may not ever get to you when you are in an overseas environment,” Theilacker said. “I go out everyday to make sure our citizens have the right to vote, so by the state and the city providing access to voting no matter where in the world we are, that says a lot about their commitment.”

Alabama Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), a military veteran who was instrumental in passing a bill setting up the new system, told Yellowhammer he hopes it will make life easier for Alabamians who are deployed serving their country.

“As chairman of the House Committee on Military and Veterans, I am proud Alabama is leading the way on this important issue,” he said. “Americans’ voting rights are sacred. Nothing could be more important than ensuring that the men and women who are protecting our freedoms abroad have a voice in our political process. That is what this law does.”

Secretary Merrill concurred.

“Every military serviceman or woman who is interested in voting now has the opportunity to receive their ballot electronically, to vote electronically, and have their ballot returned electronically,” he concluded. “They’ll have their vote cast and counted the same way they would if they were at their home with their family.”

3 years ago

Alabama Department of Transportation bans firearms at rest stops. Is it legal? (Analysis)

Rest Stop Gun Ban
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has banned firearms at rest stops along the state’s highways and many are questioning its legal authority to do so. Despite being an open-carry and concealed-carry state, Alabama now has signs at every rest station that read “no weapons beyond this point”.

ALDOT cites Section 25-1-59(c) of the Alabama Code that gives it them power to “prescribe any reasonable rules and regulations so as to prevent unnecessary trespassing upon or injury to any of the public roads, bridges, or highways of the state upon which state money may be expended or appropriated or upon any part of the right-of-way of any of the public roads or highways in the state upon which state money may be expended or appropriated.”

In their own administrative rule 450-3-1-.08(3), ALDOT created a regulation under the authority of Ala. Code 25-1-59 which reads “No person other than a duly authorized law enforcement officer shall enter any Alabama Department of Transportation building with a firearm as defined in Section 13A-8-1(4), Code of Ala. 1975, without the written permission of the Director.”

This ALDOT enactment seemingly contradicts state statute. Ala. Code Section 13A-11-61.3, which is specifically titled “Regulation of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories”, gives “the Legislature complete control over regulation and policy pertaining to firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories in order to ensure that such regulation and policy is applied uniformly throughout this state to each person subject to the state’s jurisdiction and to ensure protection of the right to keep and bear arms recognized by the Constitutions of the State of Alabama and the United States.”

The department’s interpretation, according to their own legal citations, indicates that it views all gun-owners as trespassers or those would cause “injury to public roads”, as it is the only construable way to ban firearms from the public property rest stops.

Yellowhammer reached out to ALDOT multiple times for comment, but had not received a response by press time.

In an interview with Yellowhammer, Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) said “I think that’s certainly an overstep. The Second Amendment is pretty clear: [government] SHALL not infringe. It seems like more and more, government tends to infringe on our right to bear arms. If anything I think we need to be getting rid of gun-free zones, not creating more of them.”

In light of the tragic shooting of four Marines and a Navy sailor in a Chattanooga, Tennessee gun-free zone last Thursday, the concept of weapons bans has once again come under public scrutiny.

Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) told Yellowhammer after the Chattanooga shooting last week, “I believe that, nationwide, we’ve created these gun-free zones and cowards that want to be a martyr for their cause are attracted to them because they know that they’re going to be more successful in whatever form of terrorism or activism that they are trying to accomplish.” He continued, “So when we label a gun-free zone, we actually create a killing field for those people who obviously aren’t going to follow a law like that.”

3 years ago

Alabama lawmaker will introduce bill to incentivize govt. bureaucrats to make cuts

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — With Alabama’s General Fund Budget facing an estimated $270 million shortfall, one Republican lawmaker wants to incentivize state government employees to find ways to slash spending.

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) plans to introduce a bill next week that would give the department heads of government agencies a bonus tied to what percentage of their department’s budget they cut.

“If they cut 10 percent from the previous year, they get a 10 percent bonus on their base salary,” Moore told Yellowhammer in a phone interview Thursday evening. “We’ve got to incentivize these department heads to do what they can to help us solve this budgeting crisis and shrink the government bureaucracy.”

Moore said that he and his colleagues have noticed a trend during this session that made him realize how important it is for agencies to be pushed to trim the fat.

“Everyone knows we’ve got a budget crunch right now, and yet department head after department head comes in to talk to legislators about their budget needs and says, ‘I know things are tough, so we’ll be fine with level funding this year.’ Level funding? We need them proactively looking for ways to make cuts. The problem is, they aren’t incentivized to do that under the current system. In fact, they’re often incentivized to grow their department because the ‘success’ of government programs is often judged by how big they get. It should be the exact opposite.”

Moore said that lawmakers have to rely on executive branch agency leaders to tell them how much funding they need, because there’s no way for legislators to gain a complete understanding of each agency’s day-to-day operations. He said that makes it even more important for them to be incentivized to make their operations as lean and efficient as possible.

“Just being away from my business for two or three days during the week when the legislature is in session, I immediately see waste when I get back,” Moore explained. “And that’s at a small business. Imagine what it must be like with the number of employees some of these agencies have. I immediately make corrections when I see those opportunities in my business. I’d like to see our department heads take the same approach.”

As of Thursday, Moore said he has already rounded up more than two dozen of his colleagues to be co-sponsors, and has even garnered interest from legislators on the other side of the aisle.

“There’s no interest in raising taxes. Our constituents want us to make cuts,” Moore concluded. “My bill will be a common sense way to continue to process of streamlining and right-sizing government that we started when Republicans were first given elected to a majority in 2010.”

3 years ago

Alabama Rep: Abolish state income tax, move to consumption tax — ‘It’s the only tax illegals pay’

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)

ENTERPRISE, Ala. — Alabama State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) on Sunday added his opinions to the growing debate over what the state should do to address the shortfall in its General Fund Budget, which Senate General Fund Budget Chairman Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) predicts could be in the neighborhood of $260 million.

But unlike Gov. Bentley, who has suggested revoking some of the tax deductions Alabamians currently enjoy in an effort to bring in more revenue, Moore said he’d prefer doing away with the state income tax all together and moving entirely to a consumption tax.

Many conservatives have long advocated for a consumption tax, even on the federal level. The Fair Tax is the most widely known proposal. It would “replace all federal income taxes, payroll taxes, gift taxes, and estate taxes with a single broad national consumption tax” on new goods and services.

A host of free market economists have predicted that moving to a consumption tax would significantly boost economic growth. But in a tweet on Sunday, Moore pointed out another benefit many conservatives see in the consumption tax as it relates to one of the hottest debates currently raging at the national level, illegal immigration.

“Instead of illegal immigrants just getting a free ride, we could at least collect from them when they buy goods and services,” Moore said. “Right now, they’re driving on roads and taking advantage of government services and Alabama taxpayers are the ones who have to foot the bill.”

But Moore also sees added benefits for Alabama families.

“Alabamians would get to bring home more of their paychecks, since the state would no longer be withholding income taxes,” he said. “That gives middle class families more control over their budget.”

He does acknowledge, however, that there would be some challenges to crafting a system that could work for Alabama.

“We would have to look at big ticket items and adjust accordingly to keep consumers from going across state lines to buy them,” he said by way of example. “I know it would take a great deal of work, but it would not penalize working families the way the tax system does now. And I think it could ultimately be part of a larger solution to our General Fund Budget problems, as well.”

In Moore’s tweet, he also became the second legislator in as many weeks to advocate for combining Alabama’s budgets.

RELATED: GOP lawmaker says if Bentley wants to be ‘courageous,’ he should lead massive budget reform

Alabama is one of only three states in the country that operates out of two separate budgets — the Education Trust Fund (ETF), which funds the state’s education system, and the General Fund (GF) that funds everything else. As a result of the control the Alabama Education Association (AEA) had over Alabama’s state government for decades, the vast majority of the growth taxes are funneled into the ETF, often leaving the GF incapable of meeting its obligations.

Since combining the budgets would amend the Alabama Constitution, it would require a vote of the people, in addition to a bill passed by the Legislature. It would be a politically difficult move that would likely require the full-throated support of Gov. Bentley to pull off.

“The Governor has always supported the idea of combining the state budgets,” said Jennifer Ardis, Bentley’s communications director. But the Administration has not yet gotten into the specifics of the governor’s highly anticipated budget proposal.

Yellowhammer spoke to House Educated Budget Chairman Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) on Sunday about the possibility of combining the budgets. Poole said that it could potentially be helpful, but only in the context of a much larger overhaul of the state’s current budget structure.

“I would only support merging the budgets as part of a comprehensive structural budget reform,” Poole said. “Siphoning off education dollars in order to prop up prisons and Medicaid in a vacuum doesn’t address any of the problems, but rather perpetuates the problem.”

In order for a push to combine the budgets to garner widespread support among legislative leaders, it would probably have to piggy-back on other major reforms. Potential ideas could including further government cuts; readdressing tax credits that create marketplace advantages; getting a better handle on the growing costs of Medicaid and prisons; and — perhaps most notably — un-earmarking.

88 percent of Alabama’s tax revenue is earmarked. That’s by far the highest percentage of any state in the country, and it leaves very little flexibility for lawmakers to increase government efficiency or to move money around to patch holes.

There will be many different ideas floated by lawmakers over the next several months before the 2015 legislation sessions begins in March. The Governor is expected to be the first out of the gate with a concrete proposal. But judging by the recent comments from Republican legislators, they’re hoping Bentley produces something bold that addresses the structural issues with the state’s budgets without sacrificing conservative principles.

3 years ago

NOT GUILTY: An inside look at what happened in the jury room during the Barry Moore trial


“If Pipkin and Tullos are going home to their families tonight after what they did,” the juror said, “then Barry Moore should definitely be going home to his family.”

OPELIKA, Ala. — Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) was able to breath a sigh of relief Thursday as a twelve-member jury of his peers found him not guilty on two counts of first-degree perjury and two counts of providing false statements during testimony he gave to a special grand jury earlier this year.

While testifying before the grand jury in January, Moore was asked to recall the details of a conversation he had with his soon-to-be primary opponent Josh Pipkin approximately seven months before. Unbeknownst to Moore, Pipkin had recorded the conversation, and prosecutors felt he was not sufficiently accurate in his recollection of the call during his testimony.

Moore’s legal team maintained throughout the trial that the statements made during his testimony were materially true and that any discrepancies were the result of Moore having not remembered the details of a conversation that had taken place over a half-year prior.

The jury ultimately agreed with the defense and found Moore not guilty on all counts.

“We’re just relieved and glad it’s over for our family,” he said.

But leading up to the moment when the jury decided his fate, there were plenty of tense moments.

It was a case that was heavily dependent on the testimony of two key witnesses, Pipkin and Jonathan Tullos, both of whom had secretly recorded phone conversations they had with Moore.

Pipkin is an Enterprise city attorney who unsuccessfully ran against Moore in this year’s Republican primary. Tullos is the executive director of the Wiregrass Economic Development Corporation and a close personal friend of Pipkin’s.

During the trial, the jury heard the recordings Pipkin and Tullos had made of Moore in June of 2013. During the conversations, both men alleged that Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard would stall an economic development project unless Pipkin did not run against Moore for his State House seat. Moore conceded during the conversations that Hubbard was “furious” about Pipkin potentially running against him, but never said that Hubbard would indeed stop the project. Moore contended during the trial that the two men were attempting to trick him into implicating Hubbard in that way, and text messages between Pipkin and Tullos did indicate that they had worked in coordination with each other.

And the poorly received testimony of the two men during the trial proved to be the downfall of the prosecution’s case once the jury went into deliberations.

Yellowhammer spoke to a source who interviewed several jurors after the trial and gave some interesting insight into what brought them to their decision after lengthy deliberations that took place over a two-day span.

According to the source, who spoke freely on condition of anonymity, the jury elected a foreman and immediately voted 10-2 to acquit Moore on all counts. The two holdouts were a gentleman and a lady who had differing concerns.

The gentleman needed legal clarification on the terms “knowingly and willfully.” In order to convict someone of perjury, it has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they purposefully lied under oath, knowing full well that the statements they were giving were untrue.

At that point, the jury requested clarification from the judge, which he provided. With the law now clarified, the gentleman changed his vote to not guilty, leaving the lady as the only holdout.

She seemed to be dug in and the jury rehashed aspects of the case at length working to win her over. Finally, it was a simple statement by another gentleman on the jury that broke the stalemate.

“If Pipkin and Tullos are going home to their families tonight after what they did,” the man said, “then Barry Moore should definitely be going home to his family.”

The lady agreed, and changed her vote to not guilty on all counts, giving the jury the unanimity it needed to deliver a verdict on case.

Moore was asked after the verdict if he agreed with the jury’s assessment of what Pipkin and Tullos had done.

“I think the evidence shows that they had planned to record me and extort me,” Moore told the press. “Time and time again I think that’s what the evidence indicated. I’m grateful that the jury understood what was going on.”

Moore’s legal issues are now behind him, but questions were brought up during the trial about the fact that Pipkin had recorded him while Moore was in Florida. That’s important because, although conversations can be recorded in Alabama as long as only one person on the call knows, in Florida, the consent of both parties is required. It is unclear at this point if legal action will be pursued against Pipkin in that regard.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

3 years ago

Alabama Rep. Barry Moore not guilty on all counts

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)

OPELIKA, Ala. — Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) was found not guilty on all counts after being charged with two counts of first-degree perjury and two counts of providing false statements during testimony he gave to a special grand jury in January.

While testifying before the grand jury, Moore was asked to recall the details of a conversation he had with his soon-to-be primary opponent Josh Pipkin approximately seven months before. Unbeknownst to Moore, Pipkin had recorded the conversation, and prosecutors felt he was not sufficiently accurate in his recollection of the call during his testimony.

He was indicted prior to primary election day, but still handily defeated Pipkin at the ballot box.

Moore’s legal team maintained throughout the trial that the statements made during his testimony were materially true and that any discrepancies were the result of Moore having not remembered the details of a conversation that had taken place over a half-year prior.

The prosecution gave Moore the opportunity during the trial to recant the testimony he’d given the grand jury, saying it was a defense against perjury, but Moore declined, saying he had done nothing wrong.

“There is nothing on Earth worth going through this,” Moore said during his testimony.

Moore told Yellowhammer shortly after the verdict that he was just relieved it was over.

“We’re just relieved and glad it’s over for our family,” he said. “The Lord has been good throughout this whole process. We’ve had a peace about it.”

Moore posted on his Facebook page a passage from Psalms in which he said he’d taken solace in recent days.

Psalms 37:5-7:

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

With the conclusion of the Moore trial, attention now turns to House Speaker Mike Hubbard, the original target of the Lee County grand jury, who was indicted on 23 felony counts of public corruption last week.

“Today, the justice system worked when 12 men and women in Lee County saw through the political agenda of rogue prosecutors and cleared Barry Moore’s name,” Hubbard said in a statement released to the press after the verdict. “Having this trial only days before the election was part of a concerted effort to affect my re-election. The jury has spoken, and the people of Lee County weren’t fooled by prosecutors perpetrating politics under the guise of justice… Barry Moore is one of the finest legislators and finest individuals I know, and it is a shame that he and his family have been subjected to this harassment. Susan and I know better than anyone what his family has gone through. Prayers have been answered, and thank God, justice has been done.”

(This story will be updated as more information comes in.)

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

3 years ago

Alabama House Speaker indicted on corruption charges

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn)
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn)

AUBURN, Ala. — Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has been indicted on corruption charges stemming from a Lee County Grand Jury investigation that has been ongoing since at least January of 2013.

Hubbard was indicted on 23 counts total, according to a release from the Alabama Attorney General’s office:

• Four counts of using of his office as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party for personal gain
• One count of voting for legislation with a conflict of interest
• Eleven counts of soliciting or receiving a thing of value from a lobbyist or principal
• Two counts of using his office as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for personal gain
• Four Counts of lobbying an executive department or agency for a fee
• One count of using state equipment, materials, etc. for private gain

If convicted, Hubbard faces a maximum penalty of two to twenty years imprisonment and fines of up to $30,000.00 for each count, all of which are Class B Felonies.

“If there was any doubt by any body that this is a political witch hunt it became crystal clear today when these allegations were brought two weeks before an election,” Hubbard said in a statement through his attorney. “The fact is that we have made big changes in cleaning up the way things are done in Montgomery. The fact is we have been very successful at getting big things done in Lee County including 3000 new jobs over he past four years. I’m sleeping well at night because I know the people of Lee County can see this for what it is and that’s politics at its worst.”

Hubbard’s indictment ends months of intense speculation and begins what will undoubtedly be the most high profile trial the state has seen since the gambling corruption trial ended in 2012.

In April of this year, the Lee County Grand Jury investigation led to Rep. Greg Wren (R-Montgomery) resigning from the House of Representatives and pleading guilty to a Class A Misdemeanor charge of using his official office for personal gain.

Court documents revealed that Wren had directed, or at least attempted to direct, funds from Medicaid to a company with which he had financial ties.

According to multiple reports, Wren had language inserted into the General Fund budget that would have made American Pharmaceutical Cooperative, Inc. (APCI) Alabama’s primary, if not only, drug supplier for Medicaid patients. APCI was a part owner of an advocacy organization called RxAlly, which was paying Wren’s consulting firm $8,000 per month. The budget language was ultimately stripped out before it was passed, but only after state Medicaid officials voiced their concerns.

APCI was also at one time a client of a company owned by Speaker Hubbard.

“They are a client of Auburn Network Incorporated which means it’s not solely me doing work for them but I do get involved in it,” Hubbard told last year. “We help to build and market their brand and business development. In that one, we don’t do any work in the state of Alabama. It’s only in states other than Alabama.”

An attorney for Hubbard released a statement after Wren’s resignation saying, “The matters related to Representative Wren’s actions… do not involve or affect Speaker Hubbard.”

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) was also indicted by the Lee County Grand Jury in April on charges that he gave false testimony.

While testifying, Moore was asked to recall the details of a conversation he had with Josh Pipkin, who was running against Moore in the GOP primary, approximately seven months before. Unbeknownst to Moore, Pipkin had recorded the conversation, and prosecutors felt he was not sufficiently accurate in his recollection of the call during his testimony.

Moore has maintained that the indictment was politically motivated and the trial is set to begin in a little over a week. Moore handily defeated Pipkin in the Republican primary in June in spite of the indictment, ensuring his re-election since he does not have a General Election opponent.

“Confidential details (of the AG’s investigation) have been freely used in his campaign,” Moore’s attorney said of Pipkin at the time of the indictment. “The timing of today’s charges, and the facts and circumstances surrounding this case are a clear indication of the political undertones of this prosecution.”

Alleged leaks have become a major point of tension throughout the grand jury proceedings, which fall under strict secrecy laws.

With election day just over two weeks away, the timing of Hubbard’s indictment will likely continue to fuel claims that the Grand Jury proceedings have been irreparably tainted by politics.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange recused himself from the Grand Jury proceedings in January of 2013, but has refused to public state his reasoning, although he seemed to indicate in an interview with talk radio personality Dale Jackson that he did not want to get involved in an intra-Republican Party squabble. Since then, the investigation has been led by Pell City attorney Van Davis, who is supervising the AG’s Special Prosecution Division and its lead prosecutor Matt Hart.

The most recent dustup in the investigation took place when Acting AG Davis and chief prosecutor Hart accused Deputy Attorney General Henry “Sonny” Reagan of trying to interfere with the Grand Jury’s proceedings, prompting Attorney General Strange to place Mr. Reagan on leave, but not before Mr. Hart called Mr. Reagan to testify before the Lee County Grand Jury himself.

Reagan responded with a detailed letter alleging that forcing him to testify at the Grand Jury was retribution for an internal office dispute between the two men and that Mr. Hart had engaged in “harassment, threats of physical violence, and prosecutorial misconduct.”

Yellowhammer will dig into the details of Hubbard’s indictment in the coming hours and update this story with pertinent information.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Alabama Supreme Court sends state legislator’s perjury case to trial

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)

Alabama state representative Barry Moore’s effort to have his perjury case dismissed came up short Friday in a final ruling by the state supreme court.

Moore pleaded not guilty to a charge of giving false testimony to a grand jury in January.

However, his attorneys also attempted to have the case dismissed. They claimed that Attorney General Luther Strange did not follow the proper procedures after recusing himself and appointing former St. Clair County District Attorney Van Davis to handle the investigation.

A letter from Strange to Davis in early 2013 indicated that Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was the target of the investigation. Strange has not given an official reason for why he recused himself from the case, although he seemed to indicate on Dale Jackson’s north Alabama talk radio program that he did not want to get in the middle of an intra-Party squabble between two GOP factions.

Both Moore and Hubbard have said they believe the investigation is a coordinated political attack.

The trial judge in Moore’s case initially declined the dismissal request, at which point Moore’s team appealed to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. In a somewhat unusual move, the Alabama Supreme Court intervened and took the case before the Criminal Appeals court had even ruled.

On Friday, the nine-member panel ruled 8-0 that the case should go to trial. Justice Greg Shaw recused himself from the ruling.

Moore’s trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 15 in Lee County.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Moore case going to trial, court docs place Hubbard in scope of investigation for first time

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise)

A judge in Lee County today denied a request made by attorneys of Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) for his case to be dismissed without proceeding to trial. Moore was indicted in April for allegedly perjuring himself during grand jury testimony, but his attorneys had filed a motion asking for the charges to be dismissed because of procedural issues related to the indictment. That request was denied.

While testifying before the grand jury, Moore was asked to recall the details of a conversation he had with his attorney Josh Pipkin approximately seven months before. Unbeknownst to Moore, Pipkin had recorded the conversation, and prosecutors felt he was not sufficiently accurate in his recollection of the call during his testimony.

Moore has maintained that the indictment was politically motivated. Pipkin went on to unsuccessfully run against Moore in this year’s Republican primary.

“Confidential details (of the AG’s investigation) have been freely used in his campaign,” Moore’s attorney said of Pipkin at the time of the indictment. “The timing of today’s charges, and the facts and circumstances surrounding this case are a clear indication of the political undertones of this prosecution.”

Leaks have become a major point of tension throughout the grand jury proceedings, which fall under strict secrecy laws. The reason Moore and other elected officials were even in Lee County to testify has been the source of speculation over much of the last year.

Some of the speculation may have been put to rest today in the judge’s ruling in the Moore case. For the first time, House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s name was listed in court documents as the focus of the grand jury investigation.

Included in the judge’s ruling was a letter from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to Pell City attorney Van Davis.

In the letter, Strange gives Davis the authority to supervise the AG’s Special Prosecution Division “in current investigative matters relating to State Representative Mike Hubbard, to include all criminal matters arising from that investigation,” because Strange had recused himself from the case.

“By this letter, you are hereby authorized to exercise the full powers vested in me in those matters,” Strange wrote.

The exact reason for Strange’s decision to recuse himself from the case is unknown, but he indicated in an interview with Huntsville talk radio host Dale Jackson in May that he was apprehensive about getting in the middle of a spat between two factions inside the Alabama Republican Party.

The letter was dated January 31, 2013, meaning the investigation has been ongoing now for over 16 months and almost two entire Legislative sessions.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Alabama’s Republican primary was an unmitigated disaster for the AEA

Alabama Education Association Executive Secretary Henry Mabry
Alabama Education Association Executive Secretary Henry Mabry

The months leading up to last night’s Alabama Republican primary elections were engulfed by a tsunami of negative advertising. The ads, which were delivered to voters via television, direct mail, radio, the Internet and over the phone, were designed to drown Republican incumbents with wave after wave of attacks. Many of them were paid for directly by the Alabama Education Association (AEA), others were funded by a couple of groups widely believed to be fronts for the AEA created to hide their involvement from voters.

In all, the AEA spent roughly $7 million this primary season. $7 million worth of teachers’ dues was spent with the sole purpose of eroding the current Republican supermajority.

So what did $7 million buy them?

Zero statewide races. Zero state senate races. And only a handful of state house races.

AEA successfully took down incumbent Republican House members Richard Baughn (HD14), Wayne Johnson (HD22), Charles Newton (HD90), Bill Roberts (HD13) and Kurt Wallace (HD42).

But those AEA wins were in many ways offset by defeats in races they thought they had in the bag going into election day, but ultimately couldn’t push over the finish line.

For instance, AEA consultants were confident that incumbent Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) was going down, but he ended up winning comfortably by 6 points.

They also thought they were in good shape in east Alabama where long-time Democrat-turned-Republican senator Gerald Dial was struggling to beat back challenger Tim Sprayberry. The race was so close that many outlets, including Yellowhammer, believed at one point during the night that Dial had lost. But when all the votes were counted he had won by about 400 votes.

RELATED: ALGOP Chairman: AEA is ‘invading’ Republican primaries

Up in north Alabama, AEA believed they had a sure-fire victory with Republican state representative Todd Greeson, an AEA ally, stepping up to run for the open senate seat in District 8. They pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Greeson’s campaign, only to see him fall to conservative businessman Steve Livingston by 12 points.

In the Wiregrass, the AEA was 0 for 2. They sent hundreds of thousands of dollars down to challenger Garreth Moore, only to watch him lose by 16 points to incumbent senator Jimmy Holley. And they spent a half-million dollars to drag state representative Barry Moore through the mud, but didn’t even come close to beating him at the ballot box.

In statewide races, they supported Stan Cooke’s ill-fated challenge of Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, and Jim Perdue’s third-place finish in the race for secretary of state.

The list could go on and on.

But the highest profile races of the primary were the AEA’s challenges to Republican House and Senate leaders Mike Hubbard and Del Marsh. They spent an unprecedented amount of money to take down the GOP’s top two legislators, but lost both races by 20 points. In Hubbard’s race, the AEA spent somewhere in the neighborhood of a whopping $500 per vote.

So, again, what did $7 million in teachers’ hard-earned money buy the AEA’s political operation?

Not much.

4 years ago

Ala. State Rep. indicted, points to evidence of coordinated political attack

Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise
Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise

Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, was indicted this morning at the Lee County Courthouse for allegedly perjuring himself during grand jury testimony.

Moore’s attorney released the following statement in response to the charges:

Regrettably, Rep. Barry Moore has been made the subject of a grand jury indictment alleging that he perjured himself by failing to recall a telephone call which occurred seven months before he was asked about this alleged conversation. Rep. Moore strenuously denies that he is guilty of any wrongdoing, or that he has perjured himself in any way, and he looks forward to being afforded a day in court to defend himself against these baseless charges.

With only six weeks left to go before the election, what happened today can only be characterized as an attempt to deny the voters of Coffee County the opportunity to choose their own state representative. Barry Moore’s campaign opponent has stated repeatedly that he was provided with confidential details of the Attorney General’s investigation, and these confidential details have been freely used in his campaign against Rep. Moore. Despite the unfair and untrue nature of these attacks, Mr. Moore has not been free to defend himself in the court of public opinion due to the constraints of the investigate process. The timing of today’s charges, and the facts and circumstances surrounding this case are a clear indication of the political undertones of this prosecution.

To this point, Barry Moore has not been allowed to defend himself in any way against these baseless allegations. However, he does want the people of Coffee County and the State of Alabama to know that he is, in every respect, innocent of the charges that have been levied against him, and looks forward to having the opportunity to prove his innocence emphatically in a court of law.

The Moore camp’s claims that he is being attacked politically stem from growing evidence that information has been leaked excessively throughout the ongoing investigation into public corruption in Lee County.

Grand jury testimony is sealed by law and it is a criminal offense to discuss it outside of the grand jury proceedings.

But a recent article in The Dothan Eagle / Enterprise Ledger noted that Moore’s opponent, Josh Pipkin, claims “he received permission from the attorney general’s office to publicly address the issue (grand jury proceedings) at the Coffee County Republican Club.”

In a Facebook post by Pipkin’s wife that was reposted by Pipkin’s campaign Facebook page, she said her husband “would love to comment now but he can’t because of Grand Jury Secrecy Laws.” But in the very next sentence she appears to inadvertently reveal that secrecy laws were broken by saying “the AG played the conversation for you,” referencing something that could only be known by people inside the grand jury.

(UPDATE: The Pipkin campaign has now removed the post.)

The attorney general’s office said that “no additional comment will be available at this time,” with regard to the charges against Moore or allegations that the Special Prosecutions Division has acted improperly.

Full disclosure: Mr. Moore and Mr. Sims co-owned a company together in the past. Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims.

4 years ago

These are the Alabama House and Senate races to watch in 2014

Alabama State Capitol
Alabama State Capitol

Yellowhammer has already given you the big picture lay of the land for this year’s legislative races, now let’s take a look at some of the most hotly contested House and Senate districts to watch in 2014.

Remember, with Alabama having become a bright red state in 2010, it is fairly rare for there to be a general election fight between Republicans and Democrats. The battle is almost exclusively in the Republican primary, with a few notable exceptions.

That means that traditionally Democrat-aligned powerhouses like the Alabama Education Association (AEA) are planning to spend millions of dollars in Republican primaries this year, so hang on to your hats.

Here’s our take on what to look out for:

Republican primary fight in Senate District 30

Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville
Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville

When Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, announced in late October of last year that he would not seek re-election in 2014, candidates quickly began lining up for this safe GOP seat.

Suzelle Josey of Deatsville, a former spokesperson for Chief Justice Roy Moore, had already announced plans to challenge Taylor, and Millbrook’s Harris Garner, owner of Garner Electric Company, wasn’t far behind her. They have since been joined in the Republican primary by insurance agent Bill Harris and Prattville City Councilman Clyde Chambliss, Jr.

As with any open seat, this one’s going to be hotly contested, and a prime opportunity for the AEA to infiltrate the Republican primary. AEA-aligned operatives are running Harris Garner’s campaign, which should be a huge red flag to any Republican primary voters.

Chambliss is the early favorite. He has already been endorsed by The American Council of Engineering Companies and The Homebuilders’ Association of Alabama. Early polling shows he has strong positive name ID, and he’s a strong fundraiser. Expect AEA to dump a ton of money in this race, either through direct candidate contributions to Garner or through ads running under the name “Alabama Values Education” — or both.

Key potential pickups for Republicans in the Senate

Yellowhammer has focused a lot on the battle between Republicans trying to maintain their supermajority in the Senate and the AEA trying to chip away at it, either in the general election or Republican primary, but there are also a few opportunities for Republicans to take out some sitting Democrats.

Sen. Tammy Irons, D-Florence, announced last week that she’s not seeking re-election. That makes Senate District 1 a likely pickup for the GOP. Three Republicans have already qualified for the seat, including small businessman Jonathan Berryhill, Dr. Tim Melson, and early favorite Chris Seibert, an Athens City Councilman and former Univ. of Alabama football player.

Sen. Marc Keahey, D-Grove Hill, qualified for re-election at the last minute in his south Alabama senate district, but rumor has it that he may just be a placeholder while Democrats search for a candidate to take his place. Since the senate districts were redrawn after the 2010 elections, Keahey’s district has become significantly more Republican-leaning. Five Republicans are vying for the seat.

Melinda McClendon, R-Dothan
Melinda McClendon, R-Dothan

Independent Sen. Harri Ann Smith of Dothan might as well have a “D” beside her name, as she sides with the Democratic minority on most tough votes. The former Republican, who was denied ballot access by Republicans after she endorsed a Democrat for Congress, has done a masterful job over the years of portraying herself as the victim. She was the victim of Gov. Bob Riley and the anti-gambling crowd; she was the victim after former Rep. Jay Love bested her when she ran for Congress; and she was the victim when the Republican Party disowned her. She’s going to have a much harder time playing the victim when her opponent is another woman, Houston County Commissioner Melinda McClendon. Republicans are excited about McClendon’s candidacy, and will spend heavily to pick up this seat. But the AEA won’t make it easy. Expect them to pump big bucks into protecting one of their biggest allies in the senate.

House District 91

Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise
Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise
Another wiregrass-area race to watch is House District 91. Yellowhammer named incumbent Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, the most conservative member of the legislature last year, but an impeccable voting record (e.g. only legislator to vote “no” on extending unemployment benefits) doesn’t matter when AEA-aligned political operatives find a young, politically ambitious challenger they can co-opt.

Enterprise attorney Josh Pipkin has already gone hard negative against Moore. This will likely end up being one of the nastiest Republican primaries in the House.

General election battle in Senate District 10

Yellowhammer last year named incumbent Republican Sen. Phil Williams, R-Gadsden, one of the “Top 7 most conservative Alabama legislators.” But he represents one of the few legislative districts in the state that could actually have a competitive general election race. Williams is being challenged by former Democratic Senator Larry Means, who represented the 10th District from 1998 until 2010. Means was arrested on corruption charges only about a month before the 2010 general elections, but was ultimately acquitted and is now trying to return to the Senate at the age of 66.

The 10th District will be one of the Alabama Education Association’s (AEA) top targets. There is a pretty sizable union population in the district, a constituency that tends to favor Democrats. But Williams is well liked among conservatives, who appreciate his no-nonsense approach. His early polling numbers are strong as well. This race is shaping up to be a real battle.

AEA taking aim at Republican leadership

The word around Montgomery is that the AEA will spend $500k against each of the top Republicans in the Alabama legislature — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn.

Rainy Day Patriots Tea Party member Steven Guede is challenging Marsh, who has come under fire from some grassroots conservatives for his support of Common Core. Fred “Sandy” Toomer, founder Toomers Coffee Roasters Company, is challenging Hubbard.

These races are extremely personal for AEA Head Henry Mabry, who plans to spend big bucks in these races, whether it makes tactical sense or not.

Senate District 8

Sen. Shad McGill opted not to run for re-election, opening up a two-man race for the Republican nomination in this safe GOP district.

State Rep. Todd Greeson, R-Ider, is running for the seat and starts with a name-ID advantage after being in the legislature for over 15 years. His campaign has already received tens of thousands of dollars from the AEA.

Businessman Steve Livingston is the other Republican in the race. He is the owner and manager of Dicus Oil Company, has served as president of Jackson-Scottsboro Chamber of Commerce, Scottsboro Rotary and is a founding member of Leadership Jackson County.

Senate District 17

Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale
Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale
It didn’t take long for Republicans to start coming out of the woodwork to run in this safe GOP district after Tea Party favorite Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, announced he would not seek re-election.

Here’s the list of candidates who qualified for the Republican primary in SD11:

Shay Shelnutt
Jim Murphree
Gayle H. Gear
Brett King
Adam Ritch
Joe Cochran
Jim Roberts

Murphree and Gear are the two candidates with AEA ties, but this race is so crowded it’s tough to say who should be the early favorite to survive the free for all.

Senate District 11

Democrat-turned Republican Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, was hoping to avoid a primary challenger after he switched parties in 2012. But State Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, decided in June of last year that he was going to jump in the primary against Fielding, who is still serving in his first term in the senate.

There are three big keys to look at in this race. First of all, the new district lines make St. Clair County the majority of the district. That is a huge advantage for McClendon. Secondly, McClendon holds a fairly substantial fundraising advantage over Fielding at this point. But finally, the real albatross around Fielding’s neck may be his vote against an anti-ObamaCare bill in 2012. It is tough to justify that in any Republican primary at this point.

That said, Fielding has been an extremely reliable vote for Republicans since he switched parties. We’ll see if that proves to be enough.

Independent candidates still have time to qualify

Although major party qualifying closed Feb. 7, Independent candidates have until June 3 to round up enough signatures to get on the ballot.

In order to gain ballot access, an Independent candidate must get the signatures of 3% of the total votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial race in the district in which they want to run. For example, if 30,000 votes were cast in your district during the 2010 general election for governor, you would have to get 1,000 signatures in order to get your name on the ballot. An influx of Independent candidates could put a strain on the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, which is charged with verifying signatures. With limited manpower, that could be a daunting task.

Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison
Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison

Two races that could potentially end up with Independent candidates are Senate District 27, where former Democratic Sen. Ted Little may try to challenge incumbent Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, and Senate District 2, where former Republican Sen. Tom Butler may challenge incumbent Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Huntsville.

The AEA’s candidate recruitment efforts were somewhat of a flop in the GOP primaries, but with almost four months until June 3, there is a good chance they will round up some Independents to jump in and shake things up.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Two top Ala. Senators propose bills laying out guidelines for Convention of States

From Left: Sen. Trip Pittman, Sen. Arthur Orr, Rep. Ken Johnson, Rep. Barry Moore
From Left: Sen. Trip Pittman, Sen. Arthur Orr, Rep. Ken Johnson, Rep. Barry Moore

Two top-ranking Alabama State Senators today held a press conference to stress the importance of establishing guidelines for amending the U.S. Constitution through a Convention of the States, as outlined in Article V of the Constitution.

Working with lawmakers from 31 other states through the Mt. Vernon Assembly, Senators Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, are sponsoring two bills that would set parameters on delegates to an amendment convention in the event one is called to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Under Article V of the nation’s governing document, an amendment convention can be convened if two-thirds of state legislatures, or 34 states, approve an application for the convention to occur. Proposed amendments would then have to be ratified by three-fourths, or 38 states.

The proposed bills in the Alabama legislature designate a process by which delegates are selected to represent Alabama at the convention and establish guidelines for delegates to follow.

Senate Bill 199, sponsored by Pittman, is designed to hold potential delegates accountable by requiring the Legislature to adopt instructions for delegates, in addition to providing that a vote by a delegate outside the scope of the Legislature’s instructions is void.

“From out-of-control spending to seemingly endless gridlock, it’s easy to see why so many Americans think Washington is broken,” Pittman said. “Fortunately our nation’s Founding Fathers had the foresight to provide states with a mechanism to hold the federal government accountable. Article V of the U.S. Constitution is an important protection tool for states to use against a runaway federal government. It’s equally important, however, that the states have checks in place to ensure delegates honestly represent the views and beliefs of Alabamians, not special interests. These two bills will ensure that Alabama’s delegates are accountable to the people if and when a convention of states is convened.”

[RELATED: Alabama legislator introduces resolution calling for Convention of the States]

Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Orr, establishes qualifications for delegates and gives the Legislature the authority to appoint and recall delegates.

“Nearly three out of four Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction,” Orr explained. “The national debt is skyrocketing, only to be compounded by trillions of dollars in unfunded entitlement programs. By many accounts, the federal government has far overstepped its bounds with unprecedented regulations into numerous areas of our economy and everyday lives. Given the dire outlook, many are realizing that a state-led amendment convention is our best hope for a positive change of direction. If nothing else, this movement of states is a sharp reminder to Congress that we mean business.”

Orr and Pittman also pointed out that while all amendments to the U.S. Constitution to date have been proposed by Congress, 20 states, including Alabama, have petitioned Congress to call a state-led convention on a balanced budget amendment to control unchecked federal spending. This coalition, they said, shows a positive trend of states that are ready and willing to take on a crucial problem Congress has long ignored.

In 2011, the Alabama House and Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 100, sponsored by Orr, formally petitioning Congress to call a convention under Article V for the specific purpose of passing a federal balanced budget amendment, requiring that, in the absence of a national emergency, federal spending for any fiscal year not exceed total federal revenue.

Both SB199 and SB200 have received their first reading and are pending action by the Senate Committee on Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Rep. Barry Moore introduces bill to render ObamaCare ‘null and void’ in Alabama

Barry Moore

Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, has introduced a bill that would render null and void certain provisions of ObamaCare and prevent Alabama state employees and agencies from implementing portions of the law that exceed the powers granted to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution.

“I refuse to sit idly by and watch Obamacare destroy our healthcare system and hurt working families all over this state,” Rep. Moore said. “I want Alabama to have the strongest possible protections against this destructive law. The states have an obligation to check the federal government when it exceeds the boundaries set forth in the Constitution. That’s exactly what this bill does. People throughout my district have expressed to me the harmful effects of Obamacare on their families and small businesses. We’re not going to have state employees doing the dirty work of the federal government when it comes to infringing on our liberties.”

The Alabama Freedom of Health Care Act cites the Tenth Amendment to the Constitutes, which provides that the federal government is authorized to exercise only those powers delegated to it in the Constitution.

The bill states that ObamaCare “grossly exceeds” those powers and therefore cannot and should not be considered the supreme law of the land.

The bill goes on to state that “no agency, officer, or employee of the state, or any political subdivision thereof, may engage in an activity that aids any agency in the enforcement of those provisions of (ObamaCare)… that exceed the authority of the United States Constitution.”

The bill empowers the Alabama state legislature to take “all necessary actions to ensure that all agencies, departments and political subdivisions of the state” do not aid in the law’s implementation in the state.

The Alabama Attorney General is also empowered to bring court action in the name of the state if he has “reasonable cause to believe that a person or business is being harmed by the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.”

Such action could be taken against “the person or entity causing the harm to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction the use of such method, act, or practice.”

Moore said that constituents in his wiregrass-area district have grown frustrated with the rising costs of health insurance brought on by ObamaCare and have expressed their desire for him to act.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

What to expect as Alabama’s legislature goes into its election year Session

Mark Twain

Agenda Bills Coming First Out of the Gate

Republicans are going to come right out of the gate this week with bills from their “Commonsense Conservative” agenda specifically related to tax relief. Rep. Barry Moore’s Tax Relief Act and Rep. Jim Patterson’s Tax Elimination Act will likely move very early in the session, as will Rep. Paul DeMarco’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

If history is any guide, House Republicans will plow through their entire agenda in the first couple of weeks of the session. Last year they quickly passed all ten of the bills on their agenda, but only six of them went on to pass the Senate and only five were ultimately signed into law by the Governor.

RELATED: House Republicans: 2014 will be year of ‘taxpayer relief’ in Alabama

Common Core Fight Rages On

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, has publicly stated that he hopes to avoid contentious issues because legislators are anxious to get back to their districts to campaign.

But while it’s unlikely that any piece of legislation will spark the kind of fights we saw last year with the Alabama Accountability Act, Sen. Scott Beason’s continued push to repeal Alabama’s version of Common Core Standards promises to keep the halls of the State House buzzing with conservative activists. Marsh says he won’t bring the bill up for a vote because Republicans are so divided over it. Common Core is by far the most emotionally charged current political issue in the state. That alone is plenty of reason to keep an eye on it during the 2014 session.

Too Early to Tell on Teacher Pay Raise

Another education-related issue that will be in play this year is a potential pay raise for school teachers. In 2013, the legislature passed a budget that gave teachers a 2 percent raise, the first they’d seen in six years. Governor Bentley says he will include another pay raise in his budget this year. House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, is calling for a 6 percent raise. Bentley says that won’t be possible because of budget constraints. When it comes to budgeting, both Bentley and Ford have the luxury of floating spending proposals without the pressure of executing them. Legislative Republicans will ultimately craft the state’s budgets, and the budget chairmen seem uncertain right now on whether the state will have enough money to hand out any raises. Tight budgets are squeezed further this year due to skyrocketing healthcare costs brought on by ObamaCare. Democrats love this issue politically because it gives them an opportunity to paint Republicans trying to balance the budget as anti-education.

Related: ObamaCare could keep teachers from getting a raise

Modernizing Economic Incentives

The most significant legislation related to jobs this session could end up being a proposal to overhaul the way Alabama offers economic incentives to major industries considering locating in the state. Although landing Airbus was a major coup, economic developers have privately expressed frustration with the way the state currently has to structure its incentive packages. Numerous sources have told Yellowhammer that legislation is quietly being worked on to put Alabama on a level playing field with other states.

Asphalt vs. Concrete

A little known issue that’s been bubbling below the surface since last year is a so-called lifecycle budgeting bill being pushed by out-of-state — and some out-of-country — concrete companies. Opponents of the bill say it’s a government mandate that picks winners and losers in the pavement industry and flies in the face of free market principles. Proponents say it’s a way to save the state money over the long haul. One thing that’s indisputable though is that there are no concrete companies in Alabama, while numerous asphalt companies located in the state would take a hit. Both sides are bringing the big guns into the fight. Former Gov. Bob Riley and his lobbying outfit are representing the cement industry. They are pitted against the asphalt industry’s lobbying firm of Swatek, Azbell, Howe & Ross, which includes longtime Riley adviser Dax Swatek. This is set up to be one of the more interesting behind-the-scenes battles of the session.

Calls for Medicaid Expansion Fall on Deaf Ears

Democrats have indicated that they will continue their push for the state to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, said it will be her caucus’s top priority. The PR campaign will continue over the next 6 months, but insiders say expansion advocates are simply holding out hope that Gov. Bentley will reconsidering his opposition to the expansion after he wins re-election. The Governor has ratcheted up his rhetoric against the expansion in recent months, especially after leftwing public officials and members of the media started attacking him. It’s hard to imagine him changing directions at this point.

Revolving Door Comes to a Stop

In response to numerous legislators leaving office mid-term to take jobs as lobbyists, Sen. Del Marsh is sponsoring a bill to close the “revolving door” between elected office and the governmental affairs world. “The Revolving Door Act” bans former legislators from lobbying either house of the legislature for two years after leaving office. House Republicans have also included the bill in their legislative agenda. It’s being sponsored on the House side by Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton,


Finally, the top issue this session — as it should be every session — is the state’s budgets.

The state is constitutionally required this year to pay back the rest of the money owed to the state’s Rainy Day Fund out of the education budget. It’s too early to tell what that amount will be because we don’t yet know how much money the state will bring in this year, but it could be as much as $128 million. That, combined with the spike in state employees’ healthcare costs brought on by ObamaCare, means the education budget will be as tight as ever.

The General Fund budget is unfortunately in even worse shape. The rising costs of Medicaid are swallowing a greater chunk of the General Fund each year. After level-funding most agencies last year, it’s very likely that some will receive a cut in this year’s budget.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Rep. says Alabama House GOP’s 2014 agenda ‘focuses on taxpayer relief’

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

Alabama’s 2014 legislative session begins next week. Most insiders are predicting a fairly noncontroversial session. Legislators are anxious to avoid contentious issues in an election year and would like to get back to their districts as soon as possible.

House Republicans last year plowed through their aptly named “We Dare Defend Our Rights” agenda, which included several hot button issues like the Alabama Accountability Act (school choice), the Women’s Health and Safety Act (pro-life), The Religious Liberty Act (anti-ObamaCare), and the Alabama Firearms Protection Amendment (pro-2nd Amendment).

The tone is decidedly less confrontational this year.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard and his GOP caucus in early December rolled out their “Commonsense Conservative” agenda for the 2014 session. House Majority Leader Micky Hammon declared 2014 the “year of taxpayer relief” in Alabama. Six of the nine bills on the agenda deal with reducing the tax burden for Alabamians in one way or another.

Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne
Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne

Yellowhammer caught up with Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne, who headed up the GOP’s platform committee that crafted the agenda, to hear how the final product came together.

“We had three different days of roundtable discussions with legislators from around the state,” Davis said. “We’ve made a significant effort to transform state government since we took over the majority in 2010. We passed unprecedented school choice legislation. We’ve kept the state out of proration and made the government live within its means through the Rolling Reserve Act. There are a lot of bills I could point to. But when we started looking ahead to 2014, we wanted to keep the focus on addressing the needs of the state in commonsense, conservative ways. Naming it the ‘Commonsense Conservative Agenda’ was a perfect fit.”

While a lot of the focus in recent months has been on recruiting major industries to the state — efforts that Davis said have been extremely fruitful — Republicans in the House decided they wanted to specifically dial in on small, hometown businesses during the 2014 session.

RELATED: House Republicans: 2014 will be year of ‘taxpayer relief’ in Alabama

“We started brainstorming on what we could do to help mom and pop shops, family owned businesses, small businesses that are in our communities,” Davis recalled. “Every legislator has these folks in their community. We felt it was important to roll back government red tape and simplify reporting to revenue systems, give them tax breaks, and ultimately free up these small business to grow and have a greater impact on our local communities than they already do.”

With that in mind, House Republicans added the Small Business Tax Relief Act and Business Tax Streamlining Act to their agenda.

The Small Business Tax Relief Act is being sponsored by Rep. Barry Moore of Enterprise.

“Currently, businesses are required to pay in advance if their average monthly estimated sales tax payment is more than $1,000,” Moore explained when Republicans rolled out the agenda. “The Small Business Tax Relief Act will raise the threshold for making these payments from $1,000 to $2,500 per month. This could provide approximately 6,000 Alabama small business owners with an immediate, one-time tax cut of up to $2,500 and will inject approximately $4.6 million into the Alabama economy. With ObamaCare raising everyone’s healthcare costs and the federal government trying to regulate us to death, our small businesses need all the relief we can give them.”

The Business Tax Streamlining Act is being sponsored by Greg Wren of Montgomery. It seeks to simplify the process for filing business personal property taxes by creating a new online tax filing system that Republicans say will be a “one-stop-shop” for filing these taxes. It will also “allow businesses claiming $10,000 or less in business personal property tax to file a short form that does not require them to itemize their property.”

Alabama House Republicans announcing their 2014 legislative agenda
Alabama House Republicans announcing their 2014 legislative agenda

“A tremendous group of freshmen were elected in 2010 — Barry Moore, Ken Johnson, Jim Patterson, Mike Jones, Paul Lee, Becky Nordgren, Wayne Johnson, so many others — I can’t say enough good things about them,” Davis said. “The ones I just mentioned are carrying bills that are included in the agenda. Of the nine bills, seven of them are being carried by freshman. That says a lot about the respect they’ve earned in their short time here.”

In addition to the freshmen who are carrying bills, first-term representatives Ed Henry, Paul Lee and April Weaver joined Davis and House Rules Chairman Mac McCutcheon on the platform committee tasked with executing the process of putting together the agenda.

Davis said they discussed ideas with the House committee chairmen, then the whole caucus spent a half-day going through it all. The nine bill package went on to be unanimously approved by the House caucus.

One issue missing from the agenda that will likely make an otherwise placid session a bit more contentious is Common Core. Grassroots conservative groups have made the national education standards their top issue over the last year. Tea party groups have consistently called on the legislature to overrule the state school board and repeal them.

Davis said there are Republicans inside their caucus on both sides of the issue, which would make it difficult to find a consensus on including it in the agenda.

“It’s been back and forth,” Davis said. “We’ve worked closely with the state superintendent on a lot of education issues, but the bottom line is, there’s already an elected board in place that makes those policy decisions, that provides leadership there. It’s a tough issue and I know people on both sides are really passionate about it.”

“We’re proud of our agenda and we really looked to craft bills that could have an impact on communities all across the state,” Davis concluded. “We’ve got some legislation that’s going to really help the taxpayers. This is a year to focus on taxpayer relief and on small businesses to make their life easier.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims