The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

McCutcheon: Alabama House members answer the call to duty

(Representative Mac McCutcheon/Facebook)

When the legislature convened its 2020 regular session in February, Alabama enjoyed record low unemployment and record-high revenues in our state budgets.

Pay raises for educators and state employees were foregone conclusions, unprecedented improvements in mental health services offered to Alabamians were being passed, and new and expanded education programs were on the table.

But as legislators returned to Montgomery from the mandatory COVID-19 shutdown period — a little less than three months removed from the sessions’ start — an entirely new landscape greeted us.

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Our record-high employment numbers have turned into record-high applications for unemployment benefits, and our state revenues have been negatively impacted by an economy gone sour.

But Alabamians have always risen to meet a challenge, and I am confident that the historic economy that our state once enjoyed can be rebuilt and made even stronger.

All of us who serve in the House of Representatives have publicly offered ourselves as leaders in our communities and our state, and as Alabama continues its journey on the path back to normalcy, it is important us to lead the way. We cannot expect average Alabamians to feel safe and confident in returning to work and resuming their jobs if the men and women they elect to represent them in Montgomery are not willing to do the same.

So on May 4, we convened at the Alabama State House to resume the regular session and complete the tasks that remained before us.

Our members came from the Tennessee Valley, the Gulf Coast region and dozens of cities, towns and crossroads in between, and we took important steps to safeguard their health in a cramped and aged State House where proper social distancing is difficult at best.

House members were required to wear face masks in all public areas, and once they entered the building, they proceeded directly to their personal offices to await the gavel to fall each meeting day.

In order to accommodate the House members at safe distances, only a handful were able to sit at their desks in the House Chamber while the others were spread across the spectators’ gallery and an adjacent overflow room and cast voice votes by microphone.

With one exception, House Democrats boycotted the session and cited on-going concerns over the potential spread of COVID-19 as their reason, which was certainly their right.

I do want to commend State Rep. Rod Scott (D-Fairfield), the ranking minority member of the education budget-writing committee, for being the lone member of his party to attend the remainder of the session. His input was valuable, and his participation was much appreciated.

In addition, social distancing and health concerns prompted us to take the unusual step of closing access to the State House to the public, lobbyists and other visitors, but video streaming of every public meeting was made available on the Internet.

Drafting responsible and prudent General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets that accurately reflect the current economic climate is the Legislature’s only constitutional obligation and became our highest priority.

By approving Alabama’s spending plans now, rather than waiting until later in the year, many local systems avoided unnecessarily pink-slipping their non-tenured teachers, plans for the coming school year could take shape, and state agencies could begin implementing the adjustments in services that COVID-19 will likely demand.

We were also able to craft balanced budgets because budgeting and spending reforms enacted over the past decade have ensured that several hundred million dollars remain accessible and available in times of crisis, so Alabama is better prepared than many other states to weather this economy.

General Fund Chairman Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) and Education Trust Fund Chairman Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) worked hard to assemble budgets that are fiscally-responsible, conservative, and disciplined.

Because of federal mandates and rulings in on-going lawsuits over state prison conditions, General Fund spending increased by 7.5% under the budget that was signed by the governor, but the increase was dramatically less than originally expected when the legislature first convened in February.

The $7.2 billion Education Trust Fund budget that was approved included new funding for our award-winning “First Class” Pre-Kindergarten program and the reading and literacy initiatives. Additional dollars were also appropriated to help school systems absorb the loss of local revenues due to the Coronavirus.

Lawmakers also approved a $1.25 billion bond issue for school construction, which is the state’s largest capital improvement investment in history and the first in more than a decade. The bond issue will provide money to every city and county K-12 school system and to two-and four-year colleges and was made possible by retiring old debts and taking advantage of today’s historically low interest rates.

Public officials at all levels of government are often subject to criticism, and I will admit it is often well-deserved, but they should also be recognized for jobs well done.

The men and women who participated in the unusual, extraordinary and unforgettable final week of the 2020 regular session put their responsibilities ahead of their own health concerns and answered the call to duty. They stood tall when Alabama needed them most.

The members of the House of Representatives are some of the finest people I have ever known, and serving with them reinforces my confidence that Alabama’s best days still remain ahead of us.

Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) serves as Alabama’s Speaker of the House and represents District 25

McCutcheon: My Vision for the Alabama House

Rep. Mac McCutcheon, House Rules Chairman
Rep. Mac McCutcheon
Rep. Mac McCutcheon, House Rules Chairman

As the newly-elected Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, I thought it important to take a moment and let readers here know something about my background, my philosophy, and my vision for how the legislative chamber should operate during the upcoming regular session and thereafter.

Though unorthodox, I will begin by letting you know the things I am not.

I am not a career politician. After 25 years in law enforcement, I was elected to the House in 2006 during my first run for office, and I serve solely to give back to the state, community, and neighbors that have been so good to me. My only priority is the office I currently hold I am not guided by a desire for riches, power or the other temptations that elected office sometimes offers. As a retired police officer living on a monthly pension, my future resources are already determined, and my wife and I are quite thankful for all that life has already provided us.

I am not beholden to any special interests groups. As a lawmaker and public servant, I am beholden to the 45,000 citizens in House District 25, to the people of Alabama, to my family, and to my Lord and Savior.

Now let me tell you the things that I am.

I am a man who is humbled by the confidence and trust that my colleagues have offered by electing me as Speaker of the House, especially following such difficult and often controversial times in our government.

I am determined to utilize the talents, ideas, and input of every member of the House whether man or woman, Republican or Democrat, conservative, moderate, or liberal. A legislator’s worth as a member should not be solely determined by whether a D or an R follows their name on the roster, but rather by their work ethic, their commitment to understanding important issues, and the soundness of the ideas and initiatives they have to offer.

Moving Alabama forward is going to require us to adjust the way the House has operated over the past several decades.

I plan to create a system that opens and embraces the legislative process and allows bills to sink or swim based upon their own merits and the sponsors’ ability to convince their colleagues to offer support. Taking a turn from the politics of the past will not be simple or easy because old habits die hard, but we must begin the effort anyway.

The motto of the Alabama House is “Vox Populi” which means “Voice of the People.” This statement serves as my driving force and rulebook for how the body will operate moving forward. We consist of 105 members, with 105 districts, and 105 different constituencies. It is important to me that our Representatives have every opportunity to be the voice of their district, and this will be the defining feature of our House.

I have discussed the ideas outlined above with members of House and Senate leadership, the lieutenant governor, and Gov. Robert Bentley, and all have indicated some level of support for them.

As a result, I am confident that if we work together, lawmakers can improve Alabama’s future by helping to create jobs for the jobless, offering hope to the hopeless, and providing a quality education to the children who are our future and will one day take our places in this Alabama State House.

Evidence of this fact was on display during the September special session when House members of both parties joined together in passing landmark legislation that pays down a significant portion of our state’s debt, provides needed funding for road and bridge projects related to economic development on the Gulf Coast, and shores up funding needs in the Medicaid agency’s budget. And, best of all, we were able to do all of this with no new taxes.

On the day my colleagues elected me Speaker, I stood in the well of the House and asked God’s blessings on every action, every decision, and every vote that takes place in the chamber so that we may fulfill the calling in Peter 4:10, which reads, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

I believe that if we simply follow that biblical admonition, House members will succeed in doing our jobs well.


Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw) serves as Alabama’s Speaker of the House and represents District 25 which encompasses the communities of Madison City, Huntsville, Capshaw, Monrovia and East Limestone. Follow Speaker McCutcheon on Twitter via @MacDistrict25 and Facebook at www.facebook.com/speakermccutcheon.

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