3 months ago

Alabama officials applaud Trump’s State of the Union

President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union Address Tuesday night, with elected officials across Alabama applauding the “inspiring” speech.

In addition to congressional Republicans praising the address, Governor Kay Ivey identified one bipartisan issue that especially relates to Alabama’s current needs and priorities.

Speaking of Trump’s “Initiative for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America,” Ivey added, “I, too, urge Congress to quickly fund this initiative to help, not just those of us in Alabama, but the entire United States.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) highlighted the unifying theme of Trump’s remarks, with a focus on reaching “common sense solutions to pressing policy issues.”

The senior senator from Alabama again praised the economy under the president’s leadership, too.

Shelby’s statement as follows:

Tonight President Trump outlined a policy agenda that both parties can work together to achieve. During his first two years in office, the President has delivered on many promises to the American people, including signing historic tax reform into law, creating one of the strongest economies I have seen in my lifetime, and focusing on vital infrastructure projects.

While huge strides were made to address our nation’s most critical issues last Congress, I applaud President Trump’s dedication to solve the challenges still facing us today. It is imperative that we work to put our political disagreements aside in order to secure our borders with a comprehensive solution. As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on this critical issue.

As President Trump highlighted, we must strive to reach common sense solutions to pressing policy issues in the days ahead. I plan to continue working to promote safe and legal immigration, protect American workers, rebuild our infrastructure, lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, and prioritize our national security. The President’s remarks this evening were inspiring, and I look forward to implementing policies that ensure the success and prosperity of the American people. As he said tonight, victory is not winning for our party, victory is winning for our country.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) was effusive in his praise for the speech, also drawing attention to Alabama-centric issues.

Byrne’s statement as follows:

Tonight, President Trump’s message was clear: if we stop with the political games and focus on solutions, American Greatness knows no bounds. By supporting the President’s clear and bold agenda, the American people will be stronger, safer, and more prosperous.

Most notably, President Trump again outlined a commonsense strategy to secure our border. After decades of inaction by both parties, it is time we finally fix our broken immigration system and keep the American people safe.

President Trump also outlined many issues important to Alabama. From strengthening our military to expanding rural broadband to lowering prescription drug costs, under President Trump’s agenda the people of Alabama stand to benefit and our state will become even stronger.

It is time to stop with the politics of resistance and act on these critically important issues. President Trump is right when he said that great bipartisan achievements in this Congress are possible, especially when we rally behind a commonsense agenda building American Greatness. Let’s get it done.

In a press release, Congresswoman Martha Roby (AL-2) listed infrastructure on her list of highlights as well.

“In his second State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted the economic success hardworking Americans are experiencing thanks to the implementation of pro-growth policies, including the historic tax reform overhaul,” Roby outlined. “I was also pleased to hear more about his plan to work with Congress to reinvigorate our badly aging infrastructure, strengthen our military, bolster our national security efforts, improve care for veterans, and defend the unborn.”

She continued, “In addition, President Trump laid out his vision for our country’s future as it relates to enhancing border security and finally addressing our serious illegal immigration problem. Now, with a divided Congress, I was encouraged by his remarks about the importance of bipartisanship and working together to get our job done. I am eager to continue working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to deliver the results that the American people and Alabama’s Second District deserve.”

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-3) embraced the president’s call for unity, saying this “will only make our nation stronger.”

“Tonight, President Trump reaffirmed in his speech what makes our country great,” Rogers said in a statement.

“His vision for America is attainable if we all work together and his eloquent call for unity will only make our nation stronger. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump to build an even stronger economy, ensure our national security remains a top priority and secure our Southwest border with Mexico,” he concluded.

In a press release, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) stressed that Democrats need to come to the table and reach a deal that will secure the border.

Aderholt’s statement as follows:

President Trump’s request for funding to build a wall along our southern border is not only reasonable, it is desperately needed. There is nothing “immoral” about a nation choosing to protect its borders and thereby protect its sovereignty.

What is immoral is to continue to allow a constant stream of drug traffickers, and human traffickers into the country. It is immoral to allow this unlawful door to remain open, because it encourages adults to put their children in grave danger – both from illness and from the strangers who transport them.

I fear that many of my Democrat colleagues are willing to set aside the laws of our land, and that is what we are talking about: immigration is governed by laws, to ensure fairness and safety. Many Democrats are willing to set aside these laws, and turn a blind eye to the dangers coming into our nation, for the prospect of future electoral gains.

I urge my colleagues in Congress to fund the border wall and to reopen our government.

Aderholt’s focus on border security was built on by his colleague from north Alabama.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) said, “President Trump did an excellent job of explaining why we must secure America’s porous southern border. Too many Americans have lost their lives and their jobs. Too many Americans have had their wages suppressed. Too many Americans are being forced to pay higher taxes to support welfare for illegal alien families. In short, President Trump laid bare for all to see the betrayal of American families by Democrats who care more about illegal aliens than Americans.”

“Whether the focus was on economic prosperity, free enterprise versus socialism, international relations, health care, national security, or the promise of America, President Trump hit the game-winning grand slam, shot the game-winning three point shot, and scored the game-winning touchdown. In sum, President Trump reminded us of how great America is and how proud we should be to be Americans,” he added.

Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-6) urged Democrats in Congress to return to a common sense, bipartisan approach.

“By cooperating together, we will surely preserve our country for future generations,” he said.

Palmer’s statement as follows:

The President’s theme tonight of choosing greatness was what I think the nation needed to hear. He made it clear that we have a choice—we can choose to continue to pursue agendas that will weaken us, or we can choose an agenda that will unite us and ensure a bright and secure future for America.

A strong economy, a strong value for life at all stages, and strong border security are all things that should unite us. We are certainly better off now than we were two years ago. Under this Administration, businesses have expanded, burdensome regulations have been eliminated, people are taking home bigger paychecks, and many businesses that had left the U.S. have returned. President Trump noted tonight: ‘The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast as when I took office, and we are considered by far and away the hottest economy in the world…More people are working now than ever before in our history – 157 million people at work.’

In terms of jobs, the economy, our relations with other nations, and our standing the world, the State of the Union is, as President Trump said, “strong.” But the President also made it clear that the greatest threat to the Union is the bitter partisan politics that divide us. He was right to challenge Democrats and Republicans to come together to ‘govern not as two parties, but as one nation.’

By cooperating together, we will surely preserve our country for future generations. I was glad to hear President Trump express value for those future generations by upholding the sanctity of life tonight. Recognition of the dignity of life at all stages and protection of the right to life are inherent to our nation’s ideals. We must continue defending this most basic right if we are to flourish as a country.

We also must defend our country where it is vulnerable to outside harm. For many weeks now, the need for strong border security has been apparent. Between the gang violence, human trafficking, and illegal drug trading, there is undoubtedly a crisis at the southern border. President Trump has now provided a window of opportunity for Congress to fund all of its agencies while also ensuring a secure border. In years past, there has been bipartisan support for border security that includes a physical barrier.

I hope my Democratic colleagues will heed President Trump’s words tonight and return to this bipartisan approach that he has encouraged. He summed it up well tonight when he said, ‘Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.’

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-7) did not release a statement or share their thoughts on social media after the State of the Union.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan lauded Trump’s call for unity, stating, “America is and will continue to be great, but we are stronger if we decide to come together and work to find solutions that better our nation.”

Lathan’s statement as follows:

President Trump showed true leadership through his incredible State of the Union Address. In calling for a renewal of bipartisanship and cooperation, our president was the picture of strength and resolve.

President Trump is right. America is and will continue to be great, but we are stronger if we decide to come together and work to find solutions that better our nation. To echo President Trump’s words, we must choose greatness. In putting aside our differences, we can make the seemingly impossible, possible.

We deeply appreciate President Trump’s strong determination to end
late-term abortions. All children are worthy of life. It is up to us to protect their innocence.

We were also reminded of President Trump’s accomplishments during the last two years. From historically low unemployment and tax rates to nearly eradicating ISIS, to rolling back burdensome federal regulations, one thing is crystal clear – our president is getting things done and improving life for Americans.

Alabama is proud to be a consistent and strong supporter of President Trump and his policies. His efforts to keep our nation safe, both internationally and at our borders are what America needs to remain secure. It is imperative that we build a wall to enforce our nation’s immigration laws and stop the flow of drugs, human traffickers and dangerous criminals from harming our citizens. It is American to embrace legal immigrants and the value they bring to America while simultaneously recognizing that our broken immigration system must be fixed.

While we witnessed the Democrats choosing to sit and not acknowledge the huge success of our American economy and the morality of stopping criminals crossing our borders who are harming our citizens, President Trump’s determination to protect all Americans is resolute for our nation’s safety.

The Alabama Republican Party will continue to support and partner with President Trump throughout his presidency. Now is the time to end divisiveness and act to ensure the future of our country remains on the right path.

You can read about Trump’s special guests at the State of the Union here.

You can read the transcript of Trump’s speech as prepared here.

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

1 min ago

Cindy Griner is a 2019 Woman of Impact

Huntsville’s high-tech explosion has done wonders for the state of Alabama.

While this continuing economic boon gets much fanfare when new project announcements, groundbreakings and ribbon ceremonies happen, the many individuals who serve as the backbone of north Alabama’s technology sector often get overlooked.

Cindy Griner, vice president of the Engineering Services and Solutions Division at Dynetics, is one of these people that garners little outside attention but is, in fact, a giant of the industry.

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A 36-year veteran of Dynetics, Griner also serves as the president of Dynetics’ wholly owned subsidiary, Aviation and Missile Solutions. Her division is responsible for electro-optical/infrared and acoustic sensor systems; lethal mechanisms; platform integration; Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) ground programming and trainers; and CMMI Level 3 computer applications.

She oversees major contract activities, with a primary focus on engineering services and development activities for the U.S. military and defense community. This is a big money business, where the stakes of getting it wrong are the highest – we are, after all, talking about modern, highly complicated national defense mechanisms here.

While Griner is now one of the most powerful and influential members of Huntsville’s high-tech industry, her journey to get there was not easy. As she explained, this was not an industry when she got started that was particularly friendly to women.

“In the 80’s when I began work, there were only two women on the technical staff of my company,” Griner told Yellowhammer News. “I was very young and admittedly ‘green.’ There was largely the perception that women are not technical, are too emotional, and don’t think strategically.”

“Women were sometimes overtly harassed,” she said, adding that sexual harassment training was not yet a norm.

However, joining Dynetics in 1982, she found a culture where she could strive on her merit – and a mentor that supported her along the way.

“I had the tremendous benefit of working for Tom Baumbach in an ethical company founded on excellence,” Griner explained. “Tom was very open-minded and encouraging. He never looked at my limitations, he looked at my potential. He mentored and believed in me and helped me to believe in myself.”

This is not to say there were not unique challenges of being a woman in a traditionally male field.

Griner outlined, “The ‘challenges’ of questioned credibility, men assuming I was hired because I was female, and the occasional overt harassment sparked a defiance and strength that fueled my desire to achieve. I worked harder, double checked my work, went above and beyond in my preparation largely to prove to both myself and those who would believe otherwise that I brought real value to my employer and my customers.”

She advised that with every challenge came an opportunity to overcome that obstacle.

Griner mentioned her educational attainment as a way to address some doubts, both internal and external. She earned her master’s in electrical engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1992.

“At the urging of my mentor, I became a life-long learner. I continued my technical education, obtaining my MSEE, which added to both my credibility and my confidence,” Griner said.

She also offered some wisdom, gleaned from personal experience, on being able to take a step back and gain perspective.

“Over time I learned self-awareness,” Griner noted. “I learned to use my strengths, but just as importantly, to rely on others for their strengths.”

She added, “I occasionally experienced setbacks, but over time I learned perspective and I learned perseverance. Better days will come. No one stays on the peak. We all experience peaks and valleys; the valleys give you the perspective to recognize the sweetness of the peaks. For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

And for Griner, the peaks have indeed been sweet. She has supported a number of huge customers and programs during her tenure with Dynetics, including most recently the U.S. Army Futures Command; Aviation and Missile Center in UAS interoperability; architectures; MBSE, prototyping and integration of emerging technologies; and AO/PO trainer development for Army Air Force programs such as Shadow, Gray Eagle, Hunter, Reaper and Global Hawk.

She named the the Javelin missile system and Army UAS program development as perhaps her crowning jewel, the projects she is most proud of.

In a true sign of leadership, Griner also explained how what makes her proud has evolved over time.

“Early in my career it was about what ‘I’ did… in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom… systems that I personally supported in development and training have been used to make our soldiers and airmen safer and more effective. In fact I have a GI Joe in my office that was one of the first 50 produced in honor of one of those programs,” she advised.

More recently, Griner’s duties and responsibilities have grown to become more about her Dynetics family.

This included her leading the 2011 Dynetics ESOP Transaction.

“I worked with a small employee committee to transition Dynetics to 100% Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) ensuring our employees reap the benefits of their dedication and excellence,” Griner highlighted.

“This was a huge undertaking that gave me the rare opportunity to work closely with outstanding female professionals from nationally recognized law and retirement firms on something that would make a huge impact on our company and our employees,” she added. “A few years later, I led the design and implementation of an internal market for our ESOP, creating increased investment opportunity for employees and underpinning the health of the ESOP.”

Just as she had the support of a key mentor, Griner now takes tremendous pride in being a mentor to others. That is one of the defining aspects of leadership, she said, as well as the most rewarding part of her career journey.

Griner shared, “On 1 January of 2017, I was named the president of a Dynetics wholly owned subsidiary and later that same year, I was named a Dynetics vice president. While the titles are very nice and sometimes help open doors for strategic conversations, at this point, my proudest and most humbling moments are witnessing the accomplishments of others, especially those I’ve mentored – in FY18, five employees in my organization won annual corporate awards for engineering and business excellence, product innovation, customer service, ethics or safety which are typically only given to one employee each year.”

A mentor through-and-through, Griner also offered some inspirational words of advice to all the girls who want to be a leader in their own right one day.

“Work hard on yourself FIRST; become credible, and always keep learning. Don’t be afraid. ASK QUESTIONS,” Griner emphasized.

She named finding “good mentors and role models” as a key to success.

“Great leaders are generally good communicators,” Griner said. “Girls have a natural advantage here. From birth, girl babies spend more time studying the people that are holding them, looking into their eyes and learning their emotions. Girls see things that boys don’t see.”

She named four core components of being a strong communicator.

I. Listen, not just for a pause to talk, but for true understanding (If you are “writing your speech” while someone else talks, you are not truly listening).

II. Realize when you’re talking to others, especially leaders, that they are listening for the point, not the experience.

III. Ask questions, don’t be afraid of looking uninformed/uneducated, sometimes asking questions shows what you really do know.

IV. Breathe….. Try to think about everything from an objective perspective, not from your emotional side. Give others the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s NOT PERSONAL when they disagree with your view. Perhaps they know things you don’t.

Even though she works in a sector focused on cutting-edge technology (literally robots), Griner concluded her thoughts by stressing how crucial it is to see and understand others as the individual human beings they all are.

“Look outside yourself, if you are going to LEAD, someone has to follow. If you want people to follow you, you have to care about them and appreciate them,” Griner said. “Not just whether they do something that serves you and your bottom line, but are they fulfilled, are they healthy, do they have obstacles that you can remove to help them succeed, how can you help them grow in their career and life.”

“Say THANK YOU to your subordinates, co-workers, bosses, customers and creator. None of us do this alone. If you think you do, you are delusional,” she continued.

And, through it all, “BE OPTIMISTIC,” she concluded.

That she has certainly been, and the results are there for all to see.

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Cindy Griner a 2019 Woman of Impact.

The 2nd Annual Women of Impact Awards will celebrate the honorees on April 29, 2019, in Birmingham. Event details can be found here.

15 mins ago

ALGOP chair Lathan: Doug Jones, Biden ‘two of a kind’

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan has commented on Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) announcing his support for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on Thursday, with Lathan saying, “Both support bigger government, ObamaCare and abortion.”

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In a statement, she said, “Senator Jones and Vice President Biden are ‘two of a kind’. Both support bigger government, ObamaCare and abortion – all issues the majority of Alabamians oppose.”

“The endorsement is really no surprise coming on the heels of the Senator’s interview yesterday with the liberal Mother Jones podcast,” Lathan added.

Read more about that interview here, which Lathan continued to discuss.

“Senator Jones clearly sidesteps the sexual harassment allegations against the former Vice President saying people should ‘not be so judgemental’. This coming from the man who refused to vote for Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Justice because of unproven allegations against him,” Lathan remarked.

She concluded, “As long as the Democrats embrace their liberal propaganda and platform, Alabama will continue to reject their candidates. It’s just not Alabama.”

Jones is up for re-election in 2020.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville are the only announced Republican candidates against Jones thus far.

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

2 hours ago

Watch live: Alabama Senate debates clean lottery bill

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate is set to debate and consider State Sen. Greg Albritton’s lottery bill, SB 220, on Thursday.

The bill was favorably recommended on a 6-5 vote by the Senate Tourism Committee on Tuesday.

Watch the debate live:

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Ahead of the Senate gaveling in for the day, Albritton spoke with reporters outside of the chamber.

He explained his bill would be alone on a one-bill special order calendar on the day, even though there is a back-up special order calendar if something unexpected occurs.

Albritton said he was unsure if he has enough votes to pass SB 220 on Thursday, saying, “I’m optimistic but it is certainly not in the bag.”

The sponsor expects “heated, open debate” on the floor.

Albritton also decried the “regionalism” that occurs when trying to make statewide gaming changes in Alabama, due to previous “piecemeal” approaches with certain counties and types of gaming.

“When you start getting into video gambling, there’s still a lot we don’t understand,” Albritton said. He added that sports gambling will become a part of that complication, too.

Albritton advised that video gaming “opens the wound.” His legislation would not legalize any video gaming or alter any existing parimutuel gaming in the state.

“This paper lottery is a simple matter that most of us understand, comprehend, and I believe it has the greatest opportunity for passing,” he remarked. “The people of Alabama want to make the decision on this principle … most of them I believe want to have a lottery.”

Albritton concluded that attempting passage of the lottery bill in the legislature should be tougher than getting it passed in by a referendum of the people, which would occur if the legislature advances it.

“We’ve been working it but so has everyone else,” Albritton said, speaking of the opponents of the bill.

He explained that the greatest challenge to the bill is “misunderstanding” fueled by misinformation efforts by the “opposite side.” Albritton further mentioned floor amendments as a challenge to passage and keeping the legislation clean.

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

2 hours ago

Poll: Ivey approval ratings unchanged by gas tax push in first quarter of 2019

According to newly released polling from Morning Consult, Gov. Kay Ivey’s approval ratings were completely unchanged from the final quarter of 2018 through the first quarter of this year.

The new survey polled registered voters from January 1 through March 31, 2019. The margin of error was one percent.

Ivey’s signature Rebuild Alabama Act was signed into law on March 12.

Morning Consult’s polling showed that 63 percent of Alabamians approve of her job performance, while 19 percent disapprove. This currently makes her the fourth most popular governor in the nation.

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The final quarter of 2018 showed Ivey holding the same topline polling numbers.

The most recent survey breaks down to Ivey having a positive net approval with all political subgroups: 73 percent with Republicans, 8 percent with Democrats and 36 percent with independents.

Another recent poll, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, showed that 60 percent of Alabamians approved versus 28 percent who disapproved of Ivey.

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

HB352 seeks to save the American Dream for Alabama small business owners

The American Dream.

It is woven into the fabric of our nation’s success and yet, at some point, for small business owners across Alabama, the dream of small business success that drives hardworking Alabama men and women to work 70 hour weeks, to pour their hearts and souls into building small businesses the vision of leaving something behind for their children, began to be threatened by large out of state corporate interests and under current Alabama law, there were no legal protections for those that saw their hard work, sweat, tears and dollars taken away.

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The Bush family spent nearly three decades building a successful small business in rural Elmore County. Twenty-six years ago, Darrel Bush’s parents purchased a Huddle House franchise and began the grueling task of opening a new restaurant. The restaurant grew into a success and, as they became ready, the next generation of the Bush family joined the business. Two generations of a single family were living the American Dream until the Huddle House corporation decided they wanted the profits that the Bush’s were making for themselves – cut out the small business owners that built the Huddle House name in Wetumpka.

Once the corporation had their eyes set on the Bush’s business, they used corporate bullying to drive the Bush’s out of business so that the corporation could build a company-owned Huddle House just a mile down the road. Alabama law had no protections for the Bush family and they lost the dream they had devoted their lives to achieving.

Unfortunately, the Bush family is not alone. Time after time, Alabama’s small business owners find themselves at the mercy of large out of state corporations due to our state’s weak franchisee protection laws.

Under current statute, the out of state franchisors hold all of the cards while Alabama small business owners are largely powerless to defend themselves. It is not uncommon for these franchisors to come back year after year and demand changes to franchise contracts. If the franchisees balk at agreeing to the changes, their businesses are threatened. They are often forced to purchase products at far above the fair market value, forced to make investments of their profits into systems and programs that benefit the corporation, not their small business. If a location gets too successful, they are at risk of being shut down so that a corporate owned store can open up down the street and usurp the profits for the corporation. Often, franchise owners are told that they can’t leave their businesses to their children.

Many Alabama franchisees lives in a constant state of fear.

Representative Connie Rowe (R-Walker County) is hoping to give Alabama’s small business men and women a fair playing field in the State of Alabama with HB352, the Alabama Small Business Act. The legislation, which will be heard in committee in the Alabama House of Representatives this week, will protect the rights of the state’s business owners and the 125,000 jobs they provide.

The bill gives franchisees the rights to have disputes heard in Alabama’s court system, rather than being forced to go to court in the franchisor’s home state. It would also require that franchisor corporations negotiate in good faith in their dealings with Alabama’s franchise owners.

This legislation is about more than protecting the rights of business owners. This legislation is about protecting the American Dream and that is something we should all be able to support.