2 months ago

Alabama Senate committee assignments announced

MONTGOMERY – Wednesday, the Alabama Senate Committee on Assignments announced the composition of the chamber’s standing committees for the 2019-2022 quadrennium.

In a press release, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) thanked the committee for their diligent work.

“I want to thank the Committee on Assignments for their work on these committees, they did a fantastic job of matching Senators with the committee that best takes advantage of their strengths and abilities,” Marsh said.

Committees will be composed as follows:

Committee on Rules

1. Jabo Waggoner (Chair)
2. Clay Scofield (Vice Chair)
3. Gerald Allen
4. Linda Coleman-Madison
5. Vivian Figures
6. Jimmy Holley
7. Steve Livingston
8. Jim McClendon
9. Tim Melson
10. Arthur Orr
11. Greg Reed
12. Rodger Smitherman

Committee on Finance & Taxation Education

1. Arthur Orr (Chair)
2. Tim Melson (Vice Chair)
3. Greg Albritton
4. Gerald Allen
5. Donnie Chesteen
6. Priscilla Dunn
7. Vivian Figures
8. Garlan Gudger
9. Jim McClendon
10. Clay Scofield
11. David Sessions
12. Bobby Singleton
13. Rodger Smitherman
14. Jabo Waggoner
15. Tom Whatley

Committee on Finance & Taxation General Fund

1. Greg Albritton (Chair)
2. Gerald Allen (Vice Chair)
3. Billy Beasley
4. Tom Butler
5. Clyde Chambliss
6. Linda Coleman-Madison
7. Jimmy Holley
8. Steve Livingston
9. Jim McClendon
10. Arthur Orr
11. Malika Sanders-Fortier
12. Larry Stutts
13. Jabo Waggoner
14. Cam Ward

Committee on Confirmations

1. Clay Scofield (Chair)
2. Jabo Waggoner (Vice Chair)
3. Gerald Allen
4. Will Barfoot
5. David Burkette
6. Vivian Figures
7. Sam Givhan
8. Andrew Jones
9. Greg Reed
10. David Sessions
11. Rodger Smitherman
12. Larry Stutts
13. Cam Ward
14. Tom Whatley
15. Jack Williams

Committee on Judiciary

1. Cam Ward (Chair)
2. Will Barfoot (Vice Chair)
3. Greg Albritton
4. Linda Coleman-Madison
5. Vivian Figures
6. Sam Givhan
7. Arthur Orr
8. Malika Sanders-Fortier
9. Bobby Singleton
10. Rodger Smitherman
11. Larry Stutts
12. Tom Whatley

Committee on Government Affairs

1. Jimmy Holley (Chair)
2. Chris Elliott (Vice Chair)
3. Greg Albritton
4. Clyde Chambliss
5. Linda Coleman-Madison
6. Sam Givhan
7. Garlan Gudger
8. Arthur Orr
9. Dan Roberts
10. Malika Sanders-Fortier
11. Shay Shelnutt

Committee on Education Policy

1. Tim Melson (Chair)
2. Donnie Chesteen (Vice Chair)
3. David Burkette
4. Tom Butler
5. Priscilla Dunn
6. Chris Elliott
7. Vivian Figures
8. Jim McClendon
9. Randy Price
10. Shay Shelnutt

Committee on Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

1. Tom Whatley (Chair)
2. David Sessions (Vice Chair)
3. Billy Beasley
4. Chris Elliott
5. Garlan Gudger
6. Andrew Jones
7. Steve Livingston
8. Tim Melson
9. Randy Price
10. Clay Scofield
11. Bobby Singleton
12. Larry Stutts
13. Jack Williams

Committee on Banking & Insurance

1. Shay Shelnutt (Chair)
2. Jack Williams (Vice Chair)
3. Will Barfoot
4. David Burkette
5. Donnie Chesteen
6. Chris Elliott
7. Andrew Jones
8. Steve Livingston
9. Randy Price
10. Dan Roberts
11. Clay Scofield
12. Bobby Singleton
13. Rodger Smitherman
14. Jabo Waggoner
15. Tom Whatley

Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development

1. Steve Livingston (Chair)
2. Garlan Gudger (Vice Chair)
3. Will Barfoot
4. Tom Butler
5. Clyde Chambliss
6. Priscilla Dunn
7. Arthur Orr
8. Dan Roberts
9. Malika Sanders-Fortier
10. Clay Scofield
11. Shay Shelnutt
12. Cam Ward

Committee on Transportation & Energy

1. Gerald Allen (Chair)
2. Dan Roberts (Vice Chair)
3. David Burkette
4. Tom Butler
5. Donnie Chesteen
6. Priscilla Dunn
7. Chris Elliott
8. Sam Givhan
9. Andrew Jones
10. Steve Livingston
11. Randy Price
12. Greg Reed
13. David Sessions

Committee on Healthcare

1. Jim McClendon (Chair)
2. Larry Stutts (Vice Chair)
3. Billy Beasley
4. Tom Butler
5. Donnie Chesteen
6. Linda Coleman-Madison
7. Tim Melson
8. Greg Reed
9. Dan Roberts
10. Cam Ward
11. Tom Whatley
12. Jack Williams

Committee on Children, Youth & Human Services

1. Larry Stutts (Chair)
2. Andrew Jones (Vice Chair)
3. Greg Albritton
4. Will Barfoot
5. Billy Beasley
6. Clyde Chambliss
7. Linda Coleman-Madison
8. Sam Givhan
9. Jimmy Holley
10. Dan Roberts
11. Malika Sanders-Fortier
12. Shay Shelnutt
13. Jack Williams

Committee on Tourism

1. Del Marsh (Chair)
2. Randy Price (Vice Chair)
3. Billy Beasley
4. Priscilla Dunn
5. Chris Elliott
6. Garlan Gudger
7. Andrew Jones
8. Tim Melson
9. David Sessions
10. Bobby Singleton
11. Rodger Smitherman

Committee on Veterans & Military Affairs

1. Tom Butler (Chair)
2. Sam Givhan (Vice Chair)
3. Will Barfoot
4. Billy Beasley
5. David Burkette
6. Donnie Chesteen
7. Jimmy Holley
8. Malika Sanders-Fortier

Committee on Local Legislation (LL1)

1. Clyde Chambliss (Chair)
2. Del Marsh
3. Greg Reed

“I look forward to working with these members in the upcoming session. There are some tough issues facing the state and I believe these committees and their members are best equipped to address these issues in a way that benefits the people of Alabama,” Marsh added in the press release.

Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) emphasized that he was excited to see these new committees in action.

“Committees are the backbone of the legislative process, a place where bills are refined and improved and ideas are vigorously debated,” Reed explained.

“Like the entire Senate, the committee chairmen come from all walks of life and include small business owners, doctors, farmers, former teachers, and attorneys from every region of our state,” Reed said. “The 4.8 million citizens of Alabama deserve the best leadership possible, and I am confident that these citizen-lawmakers will ably lead the Senate’s fifteen committees during the new legislative term.”

Highlighting the chamber’s bipartisanship, Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) applauded the way committee assignments were handled.

“Because we are in the minority we’re only going to get so many seats on committees. However, I think what has been done was fair based on the percentage of people that we have,” Singleton said. “There were only two committees that we didn’t get seats, the Committee on Assignment and the Local Legislation Committee, but I would have liked to have representation on those as well, and of course we would love some chairmanships.”

‘Happy people’

The optimism and collegiality purveyed in the three leaders’ respective statements echo the sentiments Marsh and Reed relayed to Yellowhammer News in a recent interview.

“Senator Reed, who was in charge of trying to put the puzzle together with the organization and committee assignments and everything else, he and some other members that were involved did a masterful job,” Marsh told Yellowhammer News.

While committee assignments were announced Wednesday, the second and likely final day of the legislature’s 2019 organizational session, all of the senators knew of their committee assignments well before their orientation meetings in December. In fact, Reed personally called each member to inform them of their pending assignments before Thanksgiving.

Marsh advised, “We’ve got truly 27, in my opinion, happy people [in the Senate Republican Caucus] and all the Democrats – let me tell you, we work with them, we’ve always made an effort to make sure that everybody is treated with respect in the Senate.”

“All is good,” he concluded. “And Senator Reed, I have to give him credit on that. He’s the one who worked day in and day out with that.”

Reed added, “Well, and I appreciate Senator Marsh and his engagement in the process as well. And certainly his wisdom and advice as Pro Tem, in regards to things that worked well [in the past] and how we could put it together.”

“I think that as we wound up understanding who our members [in the Republican Caucus] were going to be, and also who were going to be the members of the minority caucus, trying to look at all these different backgrounds, with all the different elements of their experiences and what they were bringing to the table, to try and look at the big, giant puzzle of the organization of the Senate – who functions best in different roles – was something that we looked at with a keen eye and tried to understand where people could best serve,” Reed explained.

The majority leader said, “Being able to work on it together with a good quality group of men and women, we’ve been able to have a good outcome.”

The state legislature’s regular session kicks off on March 5.

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

15 mins ago

Bipartisan bill to regulate vaping set for House committee hearing

MONTGOMERY — Alabama is currently one of only three states to not regulate vaping, but that could soon change.

HB 41, sponsored by Republican Rep. Shane Stringer and Democrat Rep. Barbara Drummond, both of Mobile County, is on the House Judiciary Committee’s agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would regulate the sale, use and advertisement of vaping – or “alternative nicotine products” – in the state.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, both Drummond and Stringer emphasized that their bill is intended to protect the health and wellbeing of Alabama minors.

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“The motivation is simple,” Drummond emphasized. “We are trying to safeguard the teens in the state of Alabama.”

She outlined, “Vape shops, as it stands right now, are not regulated at all… And the bill came about because our drug education council locally brought it to our attention, but [Stringer and I] have both seen ourselves, as well as throughout the whole state, the rise of vape shops. They’re popping up everywhere in the state of Alabama.”

While it is too early to tell what vaping is directly doing to users’ health, Stringer and Drummond emphasized there is an objective gateway effect from vaping use and to smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Right now, there is no data that says what is the [direct] effect that these products are having on our young people. What we are seeing, and this is a national trend, is that you’re seeing smoking not going down, but increasing, among young people,” Drummond explained.

Stringer, a career law enforcement officer with stints as chief of multiple local police departments, said educators from every corner of Mobile County have voiced their concerns with the lack of state oversight on vape products and retailers “saying this is an epidemic and a problem what we need to address.”

“The products haven’t been out long enough to know the problems we could face in five, ten, 15 years from now,” he said. “It’s pretty similar to when smoking came out. There was basically no risk at that time, according to everyone. Now, look at all the data that we have to go with smoking… this is a new product we’re learning every day about.”

Stringer said statistics they were shown from the drug education council show an approximately 34 percent increase in children under 19-years-old that tried smoking after vaping.

“In Alabama, we don’t want to wake up one day and see the effects, negative effects on our kids,” Drummond added. “Right now, we’re trying to be responsible legislators to make sure that we look out for the welfare of our children.”

The two lawmakers also stressed that not only do vape shop operators have no restrictions on them, but the state has no way to even keep track of them currently.

Their bill would make it illegal to sell or give vape products to anyone under 19-years-old. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would regulate retail sales of the products, just as they do tobacco products. Retailers would have to obtain an annual permit, which includes an application fee of $300. Retailers would also have to comply with relevant FDA regulations and post signage warning of the dangers of nicotine usage.

Using vape products in certain places, including schools and child care facilities, would be prohibited.

‘This is something that is nonpartisan, it’s not anything that is about Republican or Democrat. This is something about our young people,” Drummond said. “Because if you look at the amount of nicotine that is showing up in these products, when they first hit the market, the nicotine levels were very low – like five percent. Now, it’s gone up to about ten percent. They’ve got other chemicals in there, like formaldehyde. What is the effect of that upon the brains of our kids? So, this is more of a public wellbeing bill for us.”

Stringer advised that he foresees widespread support in the legislature for the bill.

“Everyone agrees that there has to be some checks and balances [oversight] in place,” he concluded.

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

48 mins ago

House Majority Leader Ledbetter predicts Alabama to ‘move to number one’ nationally in automotive production after Port of Mobile expansion

Tuesday on Huntsville’s WVNN radio, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said he did not think it would be very long before Alabamians started to see tangible benefits of the Rebuild Alabama Act.

The legislation that was recently signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey after she called a special session will raise the gasoline tax six cents in September, then add an additional two cents in 2020 and 2021.

According to the DeKalb County Republican, road projects could start as early as the summer given the bill will allow for counties to bond half of the revenue the additional tax will generate that is distributed to the counties.

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“I really think it will be this summer,” Ledbetter said. “I think we’ll see it immediately, and the reason I say that is inside that bill there is a mechanism that the counties can use half of their money to bond with. So, I know there’s mine – I talked to the president of my county commission, and we’re looking at bonding half of that money. So if that happens, you’re going to see a lot of paving going down, and I think it will be significant, especially on those roads we can’t get buses across, or you know, the transportation has been limited due to the fact of the road conditions.”

Ledbetter also predicted one of the aspects of the law, which is to expand the Port of Mobile, will generate a positive impact statewide, especially with regards to the automotive industry.

“I don’t think there is any question about that,” he said. “The thing I think we’ll see – Alabama rank third as far as automotive manufacturing in the country. I think we’ll move to number one. I really do. I think this is that big of a game changer. I think aerospace engineering, and some of those jobs going to the port, building airplanes and building the ships – we’re going to move up the ladder because we got availability in the port to bring the ships in and out, the post-Panamax ships we hadn’t seen.”

“You know, the sad part about it is we build all these automobiles in Alabama – a lot of those were being shipped out of Savannah because we can’t get them out of our port,” Ledbetter added. “I think once this happens, we’ll see the roll off-roll on where we’ll be carrying cars to Mobile from Huntsville, from Lincoln, from here in Montgomery to see them delivered, or shipped out from Mobile.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 hour ago

7 Things: ‘Clean lottery’ bill may not be clean, Trump says Democrats can’t ‘pack the court’ which they are saying they want to do, bills to ‘Build the Wall’ and end Common Core are introduced and more …

7. President Donald Trump and conservatives vs. social media giants

— Earlier this week, Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) sued Twitter and some users over harassment, shadow-banning, censorship and facilitating defamation. Part of his claim is that their content-based moderation makes them responsible for what is on their platform. President Trump has also jumped into the fray, saying Twitter and Facebook are targeting Republicans for censorship and Congress needs to get to the “bottom” of it.

6. A new potential candidate emerges in GOP primary race — She’s a former Miss America

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— The race to face Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in the 2020 general election is on and former Miss Alabama, and Miss America, Heather Whitestone McCallum is reportedly polling the race, which most see as a potential prelude to entering the contest. The weak incumbent is already attracting big names like Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), who is in the race. Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and failed 2017 candidate Roy Moore are possible candidates as well.

5. The U.S. Supreme Court says crime-breaking illegal aliens can be held after their sentences are complete

— The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could detain non-citizens who have committed crimes that would make them deportable. The law says the government must arrest these illegal immigrants when they are released from custody and then process them through an immigration court. The problem arose when the individuals were not held instantly and instead were picked up years later. Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority that “neither the statute’s text nor its structure” spoke in favor of the ACLU or illegal immigrants’ positions.

4. Information that led to the raid on Michael Cohen’s office was part of a long-term investigation

— The unsealed warrants and documents that have been released give everybody something to hang their hat on. We already know Cohen pleaded guilty to tax crimes, campaign finance violations, false statements to a bank and lying to Congress, but the search warrants show federal prosecutors also suspected that Cohen could have violated foreign lobbying laws and committed money laundering. He was not charged with those crimes. Nothing released shows any collusion, which is really what everyone really wants to hear about, yay or nay.

3. Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is offering two pieces of  legislation conservatives will love 

— You may be able to help “Build the Wall” by checking a box on your tax return after the Senate leader proposed a bill that would allow a taxpayer to voluntarily send a portion to of their state income tax refund to an organization called We Build the Wall, Inc. Marsh is also offering a bill to repeal Common Core in Alabama. More interestingly, the bill would forbid the state board from taking on any national standards in any subject. As Senate pro tem, Marsh is in a good position to get his bills on the floor of the Alabama State Senate.

2. Democrats are advocating to expand the Supreme Court; President Donald Trump says it is not going to happen

— Multiple Democratic candidates for the presidency and one “conservative” talk show host have made it clear that they would like to fracture some of the norms that our society has held dear for centuries. They want to undo the Electoral College and “pack the Supreme Court.” The president has made it clear he is not interested in the game, saying, “I wouldn’t entertain that.” Trump added, “I can guarantee it won’t happen for six years. We have no interest in that whatsoever.” While the media pretends this isn’t what Democrats are saying, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg have all suggested some form of it.

1. Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) has officially filed a lottery bill that he called a “clean bill”; The Poarch Band of Creek Indians don’t agree

— The next controversial bill for the Alabama legislature has finally been filed, and a lottery is going to get its day in the legislative body. There are two bills that really do one thing: One bill allocates the revenue from any lottery into a clean split with 50 percent for both budgets, and the other bill creates a constitutional amendment that would legalize a lottery that would put the amendment up for a vote of the people in the 2020 primary elections. McClendon says this is a “clean bill” that would keep casino card and table games illegal in Alabama. It would also protect facilities that are running questionable electronic bingo and allow them to run virtual lottery terminals, which is essentially a slot machine with extra steps.

 

5 hours ago

Del Marsh files bill to give immunity for saving animals from hot car deaths

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) announced Tuesday that he has filed a bill that would give immunity to any person in Alabama who rescues an animal from a car if they believe that the life of that animal is at risk.

“This is a simple bill, but one that is critical especially as the weather begins to warm up here in Alabama,” Marsh said in a statement. “As I travel around my district and even across the state, I have heard from many people that this is an issue that is very important to them.”

If enacted, this bill, SB61, would only allow for immunity from prosecution if a person believes the life of the animal in a hot car is in danger and breaks into the car to rescue them. Before attempting the rescue, a person must contact police or animal control to inform them of the situation and remain at the scene until authorities arrive to investigate.

“This bill is to protect people who are doing the right thing and trying to rescue an animal whose life is in danger,” Marsh added.

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The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

RELATED: Marsh’s bill to help build Trump’s wall receives committee approval

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

18 hours ago

Del Marsh moves to end Common Core in Alabama

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) filed a bill Tuesday that would repeal Common Core in the Yellowhammer State.

In a video, Marsh explained his bold move, which had not been anticipated by state political observers.

He said the bill would “eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama.”

Marsh said, “In the past, I have let our [state] school board, who dictates education policy, have Common Core in place. But after ten years, the state of Alabama is 49th in math and 46th in reading. We can’t keep going in that direction. So today, I will introduce this bill and ask my colleagues to support it so we can eliminate Common Core and start a new direction for education in the state of Alabama.”

Watch:

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