Ainsworth stresses impact of military-friendly bills — ‘I cannot overstate the importance’
MONTGOMERY — Spearheaded by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, the Alabama Senate last week passed a package of bills designed to enhance the state’s climate of military-friendliness.
However, on the Senate floor during consideration of some of the bills and in the aftermath of the votes, some have expressed confusion as to why the bills were offered.
Ainsworth this week responded by emphasizing that the bills are not hollow virtue signaling but rather critical steps to ensuring Alabama does not lose out come next Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
In a letter sent to legislators on Tuesday, he stated the bills represent “an effort to avoid any possibility of future Base Realignment discussions adversely impacting Alabama.”
“This package of bills was initiated by the Military Stability Commission, of which I chair,” Ainsworth explained, noting the membership of the commission features five military officers, including four generals.
“The impetus for addressing these issues was a letter from United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper urging all states to address quality of life issues impacting military families. Challenges such as education opportunities for military dependents and licensure reciprocity for military spouses were specifically cited by the Secretary,” he detailed in the letter.
Ainsworth then cited a recent article from Air Force Magazine, which was published after the Alabama Senate passed the military-friendly package.
In that article, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett addressed the following challenges:
Under the new criteria, the service will evaluate the public education systems on academic performance, school climate, and service offerings. This includes data on graduation rates, chronic absenteeism, suspension rate, availability of free pre-kindergarten, and student-to-teacher ratio, among others.
For licensure, the Air Force will evaluate how a state can accept licenses in accounting, cosmetology, emergency medical service, engineering, law, nursing, physical therapy, psychology, and teaching, among others that may arise. The impact is based on current laws, interstate compacts, military-specific rules, and executive impacts that are in place.
The bills still need to be passed by the House.
Ainsworth concluded, “With Alabama’s military presence having an economic impact of more than $20 billion and representing more than 210,000 jobs, I cannot overstate the importance of addressing these challenges to ensure Alabama remains the most military friendly state in the country. I appreciate your support of the Military Stability Commission’s legislation to address Secretary Esper’s concerns.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn