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2017 POWER & INFLUENCE 50: Alabama’s most powerful & influential business leaders

Today we introduce the first segment of the 2017 Power & Influence 50 on Yellowhammer News. Our team has spent weeks talking with key operatives and analyzing recent developments in public policy and politics. The intersection between business and politics in our state is undeniable, and our list is meant to provide you with an inside look at who wields the most power and influence in Alabama state politics.

Thank you for being a loyal reader of Yellowhammer News.

Joshua Jones
Owner, Yellowhammer Multimedia

 

 

 


The list is being released in three segments: Government officials and politicians, lobbyists and consultants, and today’s segment, business leaders.

Don’t miss Yellowhammer’s 3rd Annual Power of Service reception honoring the men and women on the Power & Influence 50 list who leverage their stature to make a positive impact on the state. The event is set to take place Thursday, September 14th at Ross Bridge Resort in Birmingham. Past events attracted a who’s who of Alabama politics and business, including the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, Pro Tem of the Senate, members of Congress, dozens of state legislators and many of the state’s top executives, lobbyists, opinion leaders and political activists. For more information on the event click here and to purchase tickets click here.


Paul Bryant, Jr.

If there is one name in the state of Alabama that by itself connotes power and influence, it is that of Paul Bryant, Jr. However, his name is simply the starting point when it comes to gauging the amount of power and influence that Bryant enjoys.

He is one of the state’s most successful businessmen. His holdings include, or have included, banking, insurance, construction, and agriculture. Bryant also possesses the type of influence one might expect – and then some – at his alma mater, the University of Alabama. Essential to all of his activity has been a vigorous engagement in the political process.

Critics and supporters, alike, recognize the size of the shadow Bryant casts. And that’s why elected officials from every corner of the state covet his support.


Rick Burgess and Bubba Bussey

The lone media personalities on our list, Rick Burgess and Bubba Bussey occupy a unique space in the culture of Alabama. Burgess and Bussey incorporate their faith and their politics as part of their everyday broadcasts. And they do so in such a way that few, if any, can personify conservative, Alabama values like the two of them.

The resulting effect is that Burgess and Bussey have come to serve as something of a bridge between politicians and normal, hard-working families in Alabama. If you are a politician, you listen to Rick and Bubba because they have an innate ability to convey what normal folks are thinking.

And then there is the elusive prospect of an endorsement. Broadcasting a show that airs on thirteen stations across the state will, by itself, make an endorsement by its hosts the apple of every politician’s eye. But Burgess and Bussey have built up such a level of trust with their listeners, that a joint endorsement by them brings instant credibility to its recipient.

Keenly aware of this effect, Burgess and Bussey are discerning and infrequent when it comes to their on-air endorsements, which in turn only strengthens their power and influence. Call it the principle of political supply and demand.


Mark Crosswhite, Chairman, President and CEO, Alabama Power Company

Mark Crosswhite is in his third year as Chairman, President and CEO of Alabama Power Company. In each of those three years, he has earned a position on this list. In 2015, we began our description of Crosswhite’s tenure with the following line: “Crosswhite is the most powerful CEO in Alabama, and it’s not even close.”

Nothing has changed.

Crosswhite runs a company that serves 1.4 million customers across Alabama and employs nearly 7,000 people. Every major economic development project in the state comes across his desk. His team weighs in on every piece of legislation, executive action, state agency initiative, committee report and local ordinance which may impact the delivery of reliable electricity service to those 1.4 million customers.

After seventeen years with the prestigious law firm Balch & Bingham, Crosswhite joined Alabama Power in 2006 as Senior Vice President and General Counsel. From there, his ascent to the top was rapid. In 2008, he was named Executive Vice President for External Affairs. Then in 2011 Crosswhite became President and CEO of Gulf Power, a Southern Company subsidiary. He was elected to his current position at the helm of Alabama Power in March 2014.

Tremendous civic responsibility comes with being the leader of the state’s largest utility and most prominent company, and Crosswhite has excelled in that role. He is chairman of the United Way of Central Alabama board. He serves on several civic and non-profit boards including Southern Research, the University of Alabama Law School Foundation, and Leadership Birmingham. He also serves on the president’s advisory council of the Freshwater Land Trust. He is a member of the President’s Cabinet of the University of Alabama and a graduate of Leadership Alabama.

Every single politician in Alabama covets a meeting with Crosswhite. And if he calls, everything else stops. It is because of this that Crosswhite occupies a level of power and influence in such rarified air that it is too difficult for most to breathe.


Grayson Hall, Chairman, President and CEO, Regions Financial Corporation

There was a time when Alabama could lay claim to being the banking hub for the entire southeast United States. As a result of a series of mergers and acquisitions in recent years, that is no longer the case. However, one large, multi-state bank remains headquartered in downtown Birmingham: Regions. Regions is currently the only Fortune 500 company based out of Alabama. And standing at the top of Regions Financial Corporation as Chairman, President and CEO is Grayson Hall.

Hall is a banker through and through. He began working at Regions all the way back in 1980 as part of the management training program. After having served in nearly every area of the bank’s business, Hall was named president and CEO in 2010 and then chairman in 2013. He also serves on the Federal Advisory Council of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Under Hall’s leadership, American Banker magazine recognized Regions as having the best overall reputation among U.S. banks in 2016.

Hall is a heavy-hitter in the world of banking, and with 226 branches throughout Alabama, he also retains significant political clout. Hall is a “must-call” for anyone seeking higher office in this state.


Ray Hayes, Chancellor, University of Alabama System

Ray Hayes has served as Chancellor of the University of Alabama System for just under a year. He has quickly established himself as an able leader of one of the state’s most important economic engines. The University of Alabama System has an annual economic impact of nearly $9 billion with its $5.9 billion budget, 65,000 students, and 37,000 employees.

Having that much of an impact on the economy of the state brings with it a sizable seat at the table of politics and policy debate. The UA System has become increasingly politically proactive in recent years, and Hayes has led an effort to ratchet up the activity even further.

With three campuses in three major cities, as well as the renowned UAB Health System, the UA System has an unrivaled footprint in the state which does not go unnoticed by elected officials throughout Alabama. Hayes and his team have effectively leveraged this to position the system as one of the strongest voices in the political process.


Johnny Johns, Executive Chairman, Protective Life Corporation

Alabama is fortunate to have a talented roster of business leaders throughout the state. Johnny Johns is not only included in that group, he resides at the top of that list. Johns is an icon in the Alabama business community. He currently serves as Executive Chairman of Protective Life Corporation.

Johns first joined Protective as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 1993, when the company’s value was $580 million. By the conclusion of his tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer, Johns had led the company through its $5.7 billion sale to Dai-ichi Life of Tokyo, Japan. The company continues to operate in Birmingham as the world’s 13th largest insurance company and has pledged more than $23 million in donations to Alabama institutions through 2020.

Johns has reached such a level of power and influence that he is not only on every must-meet list for the state’s aspiring leaders, but he is also at a point where his name comes up regularly as a potential occupant of Alabama’s highest elected offices.


Terry Kellogg, CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

If you have healthcare in Alabama, there is a 93% chance you have a Blue Cross Blue Shield card in your wallet. Because of this overwhelming share of the market and the 2.1 million Alabamians it represents, Terry Kellogg doesn’t just hold a seat at the table – he is the table when it comes to all things related to health and patient care in the Yellowhammer State.

In a sector that has had sweeping changes in regulation, Kellogg has not only been able to adapt to the new market but maintained the largest market share of any health insurer in the country. Few CEOs can say that their business operates in every one of Alabama’s 67 counties.

Similarly, BCBS’s position of strength at the State House has been solid amidst the shifting political landscape that has frequented Goat Hill. When Blue Cross weighs in on business issues in Alabama, everyone listens.


John McMahon, Chairman, Ligon Industries

Sometimes the most fascinating power players are those who maneuver outside of the normal channels and avoid the spotlight. John McMahon is one of those power players. His name rarely comes up, if at all, in the conversations of rank and file political operatives. Among those who really know, they understand the position of power and influence that McMahon holds.

It is not often in politics that the exertion of influence in one area leaves a lasting effect such as that which McMahon has had in the Alabama civil justice system. Nearly two decades ago, McMahon quietly led the effort to bring about conservative reform to the state’s high courts and pull them away from the philosophy that had led to the “tort hell” label. There still remain numerous jurists elected under the campaign structure set up by McMahon and like-minded members of the business community, and unpredictability in civil courts is no longer a concern for Alabama industry recruiters.

McMahon serves as a director on several notable boards, including Protective Life Insurance Corporation, ProAssurance Corporation, National Bank of Commerce, Cooper T. Smith Corporation, UAB Health Systems, the University of Alabama and Birmingham-Southern College. He garners such respect among his peers that a McMahon phone call has been known to pull large scale investment into targeted businesses sight unseen.

Meetings with John McMahon are difficult to come by. When a politician is fortunate enough to get one, it is worth bragging about.


Jimmy Parnell, Chairman, President and CEO, ALFA Insurance Companies and Alabama Farmers Federation

Whether you realize it or not, over the past several years ALFA has likely handpicked most of your elected officials for you. At every level of politics, no organization can match the grassroots impact this association can levy from everything to local ordinance change to overhauling statewide policy reform. At the helm of this dominance is Jimmy Parnell.

To say Parnell’s roots in Alabama’s agriculture industry run deep (although cliché) is an understatement. As a fifth-generation Chilton County farmer with a degree in agricultural business and economics, he is a partner in his family’s beef cattle and timber business and his long history within the Federation spans more than 20 years. These are his people, and he is a tireless advocate when it comes to the interests of those he serves.


Jimmy Rane, Chairman and CEO, Great Southern Wood Preserving

When it comes to name recognition in the state, not many Alabamians have more than the “Yella Fella” himself, Jimmy Rane. Even before Forbes named him as the wealthiest person in the state, Rane’s notoriety and impact have been a force in both the political and business arenas.

Congruently, Rane has focused that force on prospering all his great loves, including his alma mater Auburn University where he serves as president pro-tem of the Board of Trustees; the Jimmy Rane Foundation which has given over 250 college scholarships; and perhaps most impactfully, his hometown. As the Sam Walton of Abbeville, AL, the man known as Mr. Jimmy is single handedly responsible for sustaining the small town in Alabama’s wiregrass.

Possibly it’s the traits he learned during his journey growing a small family business to a global industry leader that paved the way to his insurmountable political influence. Many speculated he would exert that tenacity into Alabama’s most recent U.S. Senate race against the appointed incumbent. Maybe he is bidding his time until the runoff election, but one thing is assured, wherever he directs his efforts, great paths are laid.


Quentin Riggins, Senior Vice President for Governmental and Corporate Affairs, Alabama Power Company

In politics, relationships matter more than anything else. And in Alabama politics, no one has developed more relationships than Quentin Riggins. He has twenty four years of experience in Alabama state government, during which time he served under three governors and the Speaker of the House. Riggins later served as Senior Vice President of the Business Council of Alabama.

Riggins currently serves as Senior Vice President for Governmental and Corporate Affairs for Alabama Power Company. As if being a senior officer at the state’s flagship utility were not enough, he is also a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. Holding elevated status in two of Alabama’s heavyweight institutions affords Riggins the opportunity to exercise an uncommonly large measure of power and influence.

And, yet, the former All-American linebacker and SEC Legend has unmatched relationships with elected officials and business leaders from every corner of the state. Riggins is known, and held in high esteem, by so many decision-makers in Alabama that power and influence come naturally.


Britt Sexton, CEO Sexton, Inc., CEO of FS Financial, Inc., Managing Member of Sexton Investments, LLC

If you have sought statewide office in the last 15 years, chances are you’ve likely made a stop along the Tennessee River to visit Britt Sexton. From his office in Decatur, Sexton has not only built a significant business empire but has held a behind-the-scenes position as one of the most influential contributors to Alabama’s political environment.

Sexton serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of University of Alabama system and has been influential in crafting their ascent within the power vacuum left bare by the AEA. However, his power and influence have been wielded in a far greater degree toward his philanthropic contributions. Sexton is a definitive example of someone who has parlayed his accomplishment to do more than his part to better our state.


Zeke Smith, Executive Vice President of External Affairs, Alabama Power Company

If Alabama Power Company seems to have a presence in all things related to the political or economic growth of our state, that is a direct result of the vision and foresight of Zeke Smith. With over 30 years inside the organization, Smith’s influence has infiltrated just about every political, community affairs or economic development entity in the state.

A few of those who reside on this list exercise their power and influence behind-the-scenes. Some you may see or hear on a daily basis. Smith has incorporated the perfect balance to his approach on behalf of Alabama Power. If you look closely at major economic development announcements or philanthropic endeavors, you will see Smith. On the other hand, when important initiatives move their way through the machinery of state government, his input and guidance is often part of the process unbeknownst to policy-makers.

The depth and breadth of his impact is unique in that it traverses everything from environmental regulations to economic development to public relations. For a company of this size, that leaves Smith with a massive budget, an impressive team and a whole lot of power. Smith also possesses an unparalleled mastery of every layer and detail of Alabama Power’s business. Even more impressively, anyone who encounters him will tell you he such a sincerely nice guy, you’d never know the weight of the punch he is packing.


Gary Smith, President, and CEO, PowerSouth

Gary Smith made his debut on the Power and Influence list last year, and his spot still holds true for one simple reason: Smith has created and maintained a relevant seat at the table in Montgomery. PowerSouth’s expanded footprint across south Alabama has only strengthened their contribution to the political and economic development landscape. In 2017, the cooperative brought lower service costs to its members, while having higher customer service scores. Happy members solidify the presence Smith and his team have created.

Additionally, PowerSouth has made a commitment to grass roots education concerning the perception of fossil fuel sourced energy. The creation of the Energy Institute of Alabama focuses on strengthening the energy industry in their territory and beyond. Smith’s already notable trajectory in the industry should continue to impress.


Lee Styslinger, III, Chairman and CEO Altec, Inc.

Styslinger makes his second appearance on the Power and Influence list and for good reason. This year Altec hit the White House as Alabama’s hallmark in President Trump’s Made in America event and Styslinger himself joined discussions with the President directly via his position on a commission for American manufacturing. When you are asked to weigh in on everything from tax reform to deregulation by the national decision makers themselves, influence reaches a level unknown to most in Alabama.

Altec, started by Styslinger’s grandfather in 1929, has become a leading equipment and service provider for the electric utility, telecommunications, contractor, lights and signs, and tree care markets. Their products and services can be found in more than 100 countries. His membership in such exclusive groups such as the Business Roundtable and Augusta National certify that the country’s top leaders in the business world see Styslinger as an elite player.


Mike Thompson, CEO, Thompson Tractor

Mike Thompson has been getting Republicans elected in Alabama for decades, and nothing about that has changed. His recent post as the chairman of the financial leadership committee to elect Luther Strange to U.S. Senate will be critical as the campaign enters the runoff election.

But Thompson’s focus on policy issues can move the needle just as heavily as his ability to back election winners. The anti-tax political climate of recent years should’ve stopped any discussion of increased infrastructure funding dead in its tracks. Many would attribute the continued backing of this issue by the pro-business community heavily to Thompson’s influence. And with vocal support from the current administrative and legislative leaders, perhaps improvements to Alabama’s deteriorating infrastructure system may come to fruition in the not too distant future.

34 mins ago

Stray dog finds love and comfort at Alabama Power plant

When a stray dog wandered onto the property at Alabama Power’s Plant Greene County a dozen years ago, workers there had no idea how she would end up touching them all.

They also had no idea the dog was pregnant.

The latter became apparent when she had five puppies a few days later. The former has been firmly established by those who have come to love the dog they call Pup-Pup.

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Initially, they cared for the dog expecting she would find her way back home. It was soon apparent that Pup-Pup was home.

“Little did she know she went from hell to heaven when she showed up here,” said Christopher “Critter” Glass, mechanic-welder at the plant, who gave Pup-Pup her name.

Stray dog Pup-Pup finds loving family at Alabama Power plant from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Pup-Pup’s five puppies were given to contractors and employees. Employees donated to have her fixed and she has been a fixture at the plant ever since.

“An all call will go out and everyone here pitches in for anything she needs, whether it’s food, medicine or a new bed,” said Elaine Fetzer, financial specialist at Plant Greene County.

Recently, Pup-Pup was diagnosed with kidney failure and is no longer able to stay at the plant overnight. Fetzer, who once wanted to be a veterinarian, has tapped into that calling in caring for Pup-Pup away from the plant. She takes Pup-Pup home at the end of the workday and dispenses her medicine twice a day.

“Pup-Pup’s never missed a day until all of this went down (kidney failure), so she’s taking a few vacation days, but she has earned it,” Fetzer said. “Now she is getting her weekends and holidays.”

Even before Pup-Pup’s current health problems, she has had challenges. A vet visit after she was hit by a car revealed she had been shot before her days at the plant. She has always been skittish around flashlights and flashes, possibly because she may have been shot at night when someone shined a light on her.

But at Plant Greene County, Pup-Pup gives and receives love.

The outpouring of love is tinged with sadness as her plant family fears Pup-Pup is facing her final days.

As Plant Greene County Mechanic Chris Cameron put it: “Pup-Pup’s been a great dog, never seen a dog as mighty as her.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Birmingham Iron football team finishes first week of training camp, holds joint practice

The Birmingham Iron has finished its first week of training camp in San Antonio, ending with a joint practice with the Salt Lake Stallions.

Birmingham’s Alliance of American Football team is using the camp to whittle its roster down from the 85 original players to the 52 that will take the field against the Memphis Express at 1 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Legion Field to kick off the inaugural season for the team and the new league.

The Iron released interviews with two players expected to make the final roster – running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Luis Perez.

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Update from Birmingham Iron training camp from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Richardson said the practice with the Stallions showed the progress the Iron is making as a team.

“It shows that we got something special,” the former University of Alabama and NFL running back said. “It shows that both sides still need a lot of work. But we did a lot of great things out there. We showed that team chemistry, too.”

Perez agreed that they are building something with this team.

“As a team, I think we’re doing a very good job,” he said. “We’re stacking those blocks, getting better every single day. Not making the same mistake twice is the end goal. Just getting better, installing all these plays and studying them. Right now we’re all in a learning phase, and I think we’re doing a good job.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

Alabama WFF Ramps Up CWD Sampling Effort

With positive tests for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Tennessee and additional positives in Mississippi, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division has ramped up testing in north Alabama.

WFF officials set up manned sampling stations in Hackleburg the first weekend of the new year and followed with sampling last weekend in Waterloo.

Self-service sampling stations were recently set up by WFF in north Alabama to accommodate drop-offs 24 hours a day.

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WFF Director Chuck Sykes said testing for the always-fatal disease, which is caused by a rogue protein called a prion, has been ongoing since 2002, but the positive tests in neighboring states caused WFF to increase its sampling effort.

“The Mississippi positives made us test more in the areas that joined Mississippi,” Sykes said. “When the deer in Tennessee tested positive, it prompted an increased level of testing where it fell within the response zone. Those positives just prompted us to increase our surveillance in those areas.”

Sixteen deer were brought in for sampling at the Hackleburg station, but Sykes said the interaction with hunters who didn’t harvest deer may have been the most productive aspect of the manned sampling station.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but I consider it a success for a volunteer check station,” Sykes said. “More important than the 16 deer brought in, we had two times that many hunters stop by and ask questions. It was a really good way for our staff to get in front of the public, and the public to be able to ask questions one-on-one.”

Sykes and the WFF staff discovered that, although the Division has been immersed in the CWD Response Plan, it has yet to be widely discussed in the public.

“We (WFF) are up to our eyeballs in CWD,” Sykes said. “Even though we’ve offered seminars, done articles and put up billboards, a lot of people don’t pay attention until it hits close to home. A lot of the questions were just basic CWD knowledge that the average hunter in Alabama doesn’t understand. What is it? Why is it a problem? What makes it different from other diseases? These were very positive interactions. There was nothing negative about it.”

Sykes said the self-service sampling stations are part of the standard protocols of the CWD Response Plan (https://www.outdooralabama.com/deer-hunting-alabama/chronic-wasting-disease-what-you-should-know).

“With the positives in Mississippi and Tennessee within 50 miles of our border, that prompts us to do more testing in those areas,” he said. “It’s been shown time and time again that hunter-harvested deer and road-kills are the best ways to achieve samples and to get the most out of those samples. Just going in and randomly shooting deer is okay, but in areas that have had CWD for a long time, there is a higher predominance in road-kill deer and hunter-harvested deer because they lose their sense of wariness. The most effective way to sample is by hunter-harvested deer and working with ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) to identify road-kills.”

Above all, Sykes said he wants hunters to continue to pursue deer just like they always have.

“Again, this is not something to cause people to quit hunting,” he said. “We need them to become educated on what CWD is. Don’t rely on what they’ve heard at hunting camp or what they saw on Facebook. Talk to us to try to understand the disease and what we’re doing to try to prevent it.”

Sykes reiterated how hunting, especially deer hunting, is a cornerstone in Alabama’s culture and economy. Hunting has an almost $2 billion impact annually on Alabama’s economy.

“This is not a hunter issue,” he said. “This is not even a deer hunting issue. This is a State of Alabama economic issue and a way of life issue. We need people to understand what’s going on, and we need their assistance to gather these samples in the most efficient way so we can stay on top of it. Heaven forbid, if it does get here, we will be prepared to mitigate the risks as much as possible.”

Previously, tissue samples had to be sent out of state to be tested for CWD. In 2018, WFF provided funds for the Alabama Department of Agriculture to purchase CWD testing equipment, which was set up at Auburn University. The equipment and technician have been certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and can test up to 90 samples per day.

Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship said the new CWD testing equipment speeds up the state’s response time considerably.

“We don’t have to wait on anybody,” Blankenship said. “We take our samples to the Department of Agriculture lab at Auburn University. We will get those test results quickly and be able to respond as soon as possible.”

The freezers for the self-service sample stations are located in Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Franklin, Lauderdale, and Colbert counties and are available to receive deer head samples 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At the self-service locations, hunters must first remove the deer’s head with 4-6 inches of neck attached. For bucks, antlers can be removed at the base of each antler or by removing the skull plate before bagging the head. Hunters will then place the head in the provided plastic bag and tie it closed. They will need to complete all sections of the Biological Sample Tag, and attach the tag to the bag with a zip tie. Hunters will take the bottom receipt portion of the Biological Sample Tag before placing the bagged head in the freezer. All materials needed to drop off a sample are provided at each freezer location.

Locations of the self-service CWD drop-off sampling sites are:

Fayette County, Fayette County Extension Office, 650 McConnell Loop, Fayette, Ala., 35555

Lamar County, Hunter’s Gold Processing, 11634 County Rd. 9, Millport, Ala., 35576

Marion County, Watson’s Grocery, 5658 State Highway 19, Detroit, Ala., 35552

Franklin County, Fancher’s Taxidermy, 715 Newell Rd., Red Bay, Ala., 35582

Lauderdale County, Florence Frozen Meats, 1050 South Court St., Florence, Ala., 35630

Colbert County, Yogi’s Texaco, 17750 US Highway 72, Tuscumbia, Ala., 35674

Hunters can also have deer sampled at any WFF District Office (www.outdooralabama.com/wildlife-section) or at the WFF office in Marengo County at 1105 Bailey Dr., Demopolis, Ala., 36732, phone number 334-289-8030. WFF offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Before dropping off the sample, hunters should call ahead to make sure a biologist is available.

Sykes said the test results will be emailed to the hunter within three to four weeks.

Currently, self-service freezers are located throughout northwest Alabama only because of the increased surveillance samples needed in the response zones of the CWD-positive locations in Mississippi and Tennessee.

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

19 hours ago

Mo Brooks to continue key service for Tennessee Valley on House Armed Services Committee

Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) announced he will again serve on the highly influential House Armed Services Committee in the 116th Congress, with increased seniority this time around.

Brooks has served on the important committee for the Huntsville area since taking office in 2011. He will also receive a second committee assignment to be revealed by the House Republican Steering Committee next week.

Among Republican members of the Armed Services committee, Brooks’ seniority has improved to 16th out of 26. His seniority among the full committee membership has officially yet to be determined, but it is expected to improve as well.

In a statement, Brooks emphasized the committee assignment’s importance to his district.

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“The military side of Redstone Arsenal employs roughly 30,000 Tennessee Valley residents,” Brooks said. “In light of the dramatic cut in Republicans on the Armed Services Committee (as we moved from majority to minority status), I am pleased my Republican colleagues chose me to continue serving on Armed Services, where my growing seniority empowers me to better protect America’s national security and promote Redstone Arsenal’s role in providing that security.”

Brooks concluded, “The Tennessee Valley is experiencing rapid economic growth in large part because of Redstone Arsenal’s reputation as a center of excellence. Quite frankly, we often do what no one else in the world can do. Recognizing this, I again successfully competed for a position on Armed Service, which annually produces the National Defense Authorization Act, the primary mechanism whereby Congress authorizes Department of Defense programs.”

Subcommittee assignments for the House Armed Service Committee will be announced in the coming weeks.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

19 hours ago

Aderholt: ‘Abortion ends a human life, plain and simple’ – ‘Not a matter of religion vs. science’

With the March for Life in full swing in Washington, D.C on Friday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) released a statement mourning “the loss of more than 60 million unborn children” since Roe v. Wade became law of the land.

Wednesday, January 22 is the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on abortion.

“Today, thousands of Americans joined together to mark the 46th anniversary of a terrible moment in American history – the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade,” Aderholt said. “Since that court ruling, we have mourned the loss of more than 60 million unborn children. We must continue to fight for these children who do not have a voice of their own.”

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The congressman added, “This is not a matter of religion vs. science. Science itself shows us that these are not just masses of tissue. I feel calling these unborn children a fetus instead of what they are, an unborn child, is simply a measure to ease guilty consciences. Science has proved that an unborn child’s heart begins beating just 18-21 days after fertilization, that an unborn child’s brainwaves can be detected just 6 weeks after fertilization, and that at 10-11 weeks after fertilization, every organ system is in place.”

“These facts add up to one conclusion, abortion ends a human life, plain and simple,” Aderholt concluded.

In the 116th Congress, Aderholt serves as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, and Related Agencies for the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

He is also a member of that committee’s Defense Subcommittee and its Agriculture Subcommittee, as well as the Helsinki Commission.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn