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.

Roby: Celebrating 200 years of Alabama

(Martha Roby, Alabama 200/Facebook, YHN)

For many, December 14 will be just another day to cross off the calendar; it’s another day closer to the holidays and the new year. For Alabamians, it marks one of the greatest celebrations to date in the history of our state. On December 14, 1819, Alabama was incorporated into the Union as the nation’s 22nd state. From North Alabama all the way down to the Wiregrass, Alabamians join together to commemorate the 200th anniversary of statehood to honor the beloved place we call home.

There are many incredible stories to be told about the historical impact made by our fellow Alabamians. The state has deep roots in our nation’s history.

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Many Alabama natives, some temporary and some permanent, were involved in critical turning points in American history. Alabama emerged as the center of the American Civil Rights Movement half a century ago and was home to pivotal events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Ms. Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist and Montgomery native, is widely known as the “first lady of civil rights.” Montgomery leaders recently unveiled a statue in downtown Montgomery recognizing Rosa Parks for her bravery and to serve as a reminder for future generations to continue down a path of righteousness. Ms. Parks’ actions changed the course of history, and her legacy will be remembered forever. Atlanta native Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., served as a pastor at Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and led the fight for equal rights. Parks and Dr. King represent faces of courage, strength, and equality for all. History changed right on our very own Alabama soil.

Not only is our state widely known for central moments in history, but we are also globally recognized for our presence in industries that are vital components to the success of our country. The agriculture industry is the state’s largest industry and is the largest employer in the Second Congressional District. Our state is home to thousands of acres of fertile farmland. Approximately half of the peanuts grown in the United States are cultivated within a 100-mile radius of the city of Dothan, also known as the “Peanut Capital of the World.”

Additionally, Alabama plays an integral role in the aerospace and defense industries with these two industries contributing to over 60,000 jobs in the state. North Alabama is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal, and the Anniston Army Depot, while Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and Fort Rucker are located across the southern region of the state.

These are just a few examples of the incredible, rich history that our state has to offer, and I wish I could include them all. One initiative that does honor each of these milestones is ALABAMA 200 which was designed to celebrate the people, places, and history of the state over a three-year time span. Beginning in 2017 and culminating with the state’s 200th birthday in 2019, ALABAMA 200 curated events and activities across all 67 counties to engage with Alabamians far and wide. Teachers, students, organizations and local leaders are among those included in these exciting events bringing local community residents and even visitors together. On Saturday, December 14, the state will participate in a finale commemoration in the Capital City. It will be the largest birthday celebration the people of Alabama have seen, and it is a unique and special opportunity to gather and honor the history and people that make the state of Alabama great. I am extremely excited to join the people of Alabama to celebrate our state’s history.

If you are able, I highly encourage you and your family to attend the events of the ALABAMA 200 finale celebration. There is no better way to pay tribute to the state we each hold so close to our hearts than by gathering in the Capital City to praise our great state.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

Roby: A time to give thanks

(M. Roby for Congress/Facebook)

Each November, Americans gather with family members and friends to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. This special day serves as a time for us to pause as a nation and remember all that we are grateful for. It can be easy to lose sight of our blessings when our attention is focused on all that is happening across the country and around the world. As we congregate around tables full of delicious cooking and conversation with people we love, I hope that we all remember just how blessed we are.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity and responsibility to serve the people of Alabama in the United States Congress for the past nine years. It is my highest honor to come to work every day and be an advocate for those I represent. From assisting veterans with casework, setting up tours for families visiting Washington, or corresponding with my constituents, I am thankful to serve the people of the United States and fight for the greatness of our country.

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I am grateful for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. We owe much gratitude to the men and women in uniform who fight to defend and protect our freedom. Many who serve in our Armed Forces spend their Thanksgiving holiday away from loved ones. Let us remember the servicemembers and their families as they celebrate the holiday apart from those they love, and let us always remember their dedication to our great nation.

I am especially thankful for my family. My husband Riley and our two children Margaret and George bring me immense joy and happiness each day. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be their mom, and we are thankful for our parents, families and friends. I am appreciative to be able to spend Thanksgiving with them each year.

In the spirit of the holiday, I want to thank you for allowing me to represent Alabama’s Second Congressional District. We are fortunate to call the great state of Alabama our home. Alabama is experiencing extreme economic growth and development, especially with all the new business developments and expansions leading to increased job opportunities over the past year. In fact, our state has reached a record low unemployment rate of 2.8%. Additionally, we are approaching a time of celebration and commemoration of the bicentennial anniversary of Alabama’s statehood. As Alabamians, we have much to be thankful for.

My hope for all on this unique holiday is that we dedicate time to thank God for the ways in which He has blessed each of us. No matter where you are, who you are with, or what your plans are this Thanksgiving, remember that we have many blessings to count. I hope that you all enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday full of your favorite foods and traditions. From the Roby family to yours, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

3 weeks ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Encouraging the Second District’s creative youth

(Representative Martha Roby/Facebook)

Each year, the U.S. House of Representatives sponsors an art competition that is open to high school students across the nation. The Congressional Art Competition is a unique opportunity to recognize the artistic talents of students from all over the country, including those in Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

The winning artwork is displayed in the U.S. Capitol building for one year, and the exhibit includes the winning artwork from all participating congressional districts. High school students have been participating in this annual creative competition since 1982.

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My office partners with a local Alabama museum each year in order to professionally judge and select a winner to represent the Second District. This year, our partnering museum is the Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA).

The WMA holds the 2020 Youth Art Month every year to celebrate student artists throughout the Wiregrass area. Students of all ages are given the opportunity to have their artwork displayed at this local museum in order to highlight the value of art and art education. Although the 2020 Youth Art Month is a separate contest, artwork submitted will automatically be considered for the Congressional Art Competition if it meets the established criteria.

On November 7, I was proud to introduce the Artistic Recognition for Talented Students (ARTS) Act alongside Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

The ARTS Act directs the Register of Copyrights to waive the copyright registration fee for winners of the Congressional Art Competition. This piece of legislation encourages young artists to participate in the copyright system and helps them to learn the benefits of copyrighting their works.

We have an abundance of brilliant, young creators across the country who are the rising generation of America’s creative industry, and the ARTS Act is a great way to incentivize copyright registration within our youth.

Although the deadline for the Congressional Art Competition is in January 2020, I want to provide students with ample time to create and submit their artwork. I recently sent out a letter to all 117 high schools in the Second Congressional District, drawing attention to the competition for those who might be interested in participating. The letter outlines the concept and rules of the competition in order to ensure students and teachers fully understand the guidelines.

I highly encourage any student who wants to express their creativity to participate in this encouraging competition. It is a wonderful opportunity for students to showcase their talents and take part in an exciting nationwide contest.

For students or teachers who would like more information on the competition, please visit my website. My office will also continue to release updates on the competition as the deadline for entry approaches.

I am proud of the artistic abilities and talents of our students in Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

4 weeks ago

Roby: We will always stand by our American heroes

(M. Roby/Facebook)

Each year on Veterans Day, Americans pause to recognize those who have served our country in uniform. Originally known as Armistice Day, Congress later passed a resolution signed by President Dwight Eisenhower that officially designated November 11 as Veterans Day. It is important that we honor these heroic men and women not only on this holiday but every day. We are indebted to the selflessness of those who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. This special day of remembrance is not simply just a day off work. It is a day set aside to acknowledge the servicemembers who sacrificed for the freedoms we may sometimes take for granted.

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One way to show tribute to our heroes is by attending a local Veterans Day event. It is always an honor to be in the presence of those who fight to defend our nation, but it is especially humbling on this significant holiday. I highly encourage you and your family to attend a Veterans Day ceremony in your hometown. Many cities and towns throughout Central and South Alabama will hold special observances in which you and your family can attend. Not only is it a wonderful opportunity to express your gratitude, but it is also a great way for your children to meet servicemembers and better understand the endless sacrifices made on our behalf. If you cannot attend an event in person, please make sure you take time to thank the people you may know who have served our country in uniform.

It is my highest honor to represent the people of Alabama’s Second Congressional District and to fight for the men and women who serve us all. One of my top priorities since my first day in Congress is working on behalf of America’s service members and veterans, particularly because the Second District is home to a notable population of veterans and thousands of active duty and reserve personnel. My offices do the best we can to represent our veterans and provide them with adequate assistance every day because they deserve proper care and attention. If I can ever be helpful to you or someone you know, please do not hesitate to call my office or visit my website for more information on the assistance my office can supply.

It is imperative that we remain committed to honoring and caring for our veterans and military families more than just one day each year. We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to all members who have served in our Armed Forces. Thank you to every service member, young and old, across our nation. Your gracious devotion to our country and its people has never gone unnoticed, and it never will. America is great because of your willingness to make sacrifices on our behalf.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

1 month ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Continuing the fight against the opioid epidemic

(Rep. Roby/Twitter)

The opioid epidemic is one of our country’s most dire ongoing issues. The term is one that has become too familiar in our everyday lives. Unfortunately, this epidemic is tragically taking the precious lives of Americans across the country, including those of Alabamians in the Second Congressional District.

As an elected official, I believe that we must do all we can to help bring attention and awareness to this serious problem. I also believe it is our duty as leaders to educate the public on the proper resources that are available to help fight this battle, both on state and national levels.

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Governor Ivey recently announced that the Alabama Drug Enforcement Task Force (ADETF) under the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) has been awarded over $1.4 million by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat illegal drug use. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will administer these grants to ADETF’s seven regional offices across the state. Each regional office accounts for eight to 12 counties, which allows them the opportunity to focus their efforts closely on a designated area of the state. Federal grants are an important resource in which state and local governments, law enforcement agencies and related organizations can apply for funds that aid in the fight against the opioid crisis.

Additionally this week, the White House released an update to the website FindTreatment.gov to improve the resources it can provide to those battling drug abuse. The website outlines services to drug abusers who are interested in seeking help through treatment programs. The site can also set up search filters to make navigation more easily accessible for specific users such as veterans. Resources like this website are crucial tools for those who want help overcoming drug addiction.

It is imperative that leaders on all levels are dedicated to ending this crisis that is tearing apart homes and families across our nation. We cannot continue to let this devastating epidemic steal hundreds of thousands of American lives. My hope for all those suffering is to reach out and use the various resources put in place. However, we all must be knowledgeable about the care available, and not just those who are suffering from addiction and abuse, but also those who are willing to act against this epidemic. I remain committed to fighting against this plague to ensure it comes to an end.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

1 month ago

Roby: Staying alert against fraudulent scams

(Representative Martha Roby/Facebook, YHN)

Every day, we consume information in a variety of ways from our cell phone screens to our computers. With having several types of options available, the amount of content can be overwhelming and easily inundate even the most avid consumer. The ability to understand if information is fraudulent or real is becoming ever more difficult to immediately recognize. This month is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and there are so many fraudulent scams that we all must stay alert against.

Have you ever clicked on a suggested ad on Instagram, liked a normal looking product for sale on Facebook or clicked on a link from an unsolicited email? If so, you most likely have been viewing deceitful companies at least a few times. According to a recent Better Business Bureau’s report on those who documented a scam, 91% directly engaged with the fake company and 53% of those ended up losing money. These types of companies do all they can to appear legitimate from a professional website to consumer reviews and proper looking forms to enter in your credit card information. When scrolling down your own social media page or that of a friend’s you feel safe and secure, but it is the sense of regularity that can invite normal-looking fake products and websites to appear welcoming.

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I invite everyone to utilize the tools from the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org to review questionable product advertisements and websites. Additionally, if you do unfortunately fall victim to an online scam, you can easily report that information here as well. Everyone should practice the same amount, if not more, awareness online for products and companies as you would if you walked into a store to buy a product.

While scams and fraudulent activity online remain the most likely avenue of interaction with consumers, bad actors continue to use unsolicited calls to cell phones as well. In fact, just this past week, I received numerous calls to my cell phone from people who identified themselves as being from the Social Security Administration. These calls claimed criminal activity was pending against me, and I must call them back immediately with my Social Security number to rectify the situation. Most of these type of calls can easily be determined to be fake on the onset, however, every situation for each person is different. Think of the person who had recently interacted with the actual Social Security Administration or had indeed just participated in some sort of court case. With online fraudulent activity receiving the most oversight and awareness, I want to remind everyone that those claiming to be actual government agencies continue to exist over the phone.

While it can be alarming to get a call like this, it is important to protect yourself and your identity. First, it is very important to know that you should never give out any personal information on these types of calls. It is best to hang up and immediately report the phone call directly to the actual government agency. In the case of the Social Security Administration there are two ways you can report the call, by phone at 1-800-269-0271 or online at oig.ssa.gov.

There have been safeguards implemented on social media platforms and unsolicited phone calls have decreased over the years, but the ability to protect your identity and defend yourself from getting scammed continues to get more difficult as corrupt individuals adapt to the consumer. At the end of the day, you ultimately are in control by what ads you click on, websites to visit, or phone calls to call-back. Asking questions and always double-checking the legitimacy of any new online interaction or entity is the best practice to follow.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

2 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby: An update on progress for Afghan women

(M. Roby/Facebook)

Throughout my time in Congress, I have had the privilege to serve on several committees that directly influence our country’s defense and foreign policy initiatives, namely the House Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. Most recently, this Congress, I was asked to serve on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.

In this role, I have been part of many negotiations regarding funding levels for the many important programs we have overseas. Over the years, I have also used Congress’ constitutional oversight to question members of the Executive Branch about our country’s strategy abroad. I believe that this process is deeply important, and we must remain committed to upholding our country’s system of checks and balances when making critical military and foreign policy decisions.

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On top of my committee-specific duties related to foreign policy, for the past eight years, my colleague, Congresswoman Susan Davis, and I have led an all-female Mother’s Day trip to Afghanistan. During these trips, we have been given the opportunity to meet with our servicemen and women who are away from their families on Mother’s Day. I believe it is so incredibly important for members of Congress to see firsthand how our policy decisions impact the lives of Americans at home and abroad. I have been able to use what I’ve learned during these trips to make more informed decisions about military spending and defense policy.

Also, importantly, these trips have afforded me the opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to improving circumstances for those in Afghanistan, especially Afghan women. While gains have undoubtedly been made since 2001, it remains critical that American leaders stay engaged to ensure continued forward momentum for these women.

I recently addressed a group at the United States Institute of Peace, and I told them that it is my belief that a peace deal – a true, lasting peace in Afghanistan – will not be reached until all facets of the Afghan community have a seat at the negotiating table. This means Afghan society must continue to see an increased number of women serving in all societal roles – in the military, police force, as educators, and more.

During this time when the future of Afghanistan is uncertain, these conversations I have participated in are so vitally important, and I have been honored to be a part of them. We have made great strides towards improving life for Afghan women over the years, but we must keep moving the ball down the field. The country simply cannot truly move forward until all its citizens have a bettered quality of life, and I will remain engaged in this fight.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

2 months ago

Roby: U.S. service academies nomination deadline is quickly approaching

(M. Roby/Facebook)

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the month of October. November will be here before we know it, and with it comes Veterans Day. This is a uniquely special holiday, and as it approaches, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on the endless sacrifices made by those who have worn the uniform.

It is a tremendous honor to serve the Second District, which is home to two of our nation’s finest military installations, thousands of active duty and reserve personnel, and a large veteran population. Working on behalf of our service members and veterans has always been a top priority of mine in Congress, and it continues to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job. With Veterans Day on the horizon, I am personally reminded of the great debt of gratitude we owe the men and women of our military.

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As this important holiday nears, I believe now is an appropriate time to remind high school seniors in the Second District that the deadline to apply for nomination to the United States service academies through my office is less than one month away on November 8 at 5:00 p.m. Central Time. If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing this fantastic opportunity, please remember to submit all necessary materials to my Montgomery office by the deadline.

As a member of Congress, one of my distinct privileges each year is to nominate candidates for appointment to four of the five service academies: The United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The fifth service academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy, does not require a congressional nomination for appointment.

I can nominate up to 10 individuals for each vacant slot allotted to the Second District. If you are pursuing entry to one of our nation’s distinguished service academies and endeavor to serve our country, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude and wish you the very best. It is because of our veterans, active-duty personnel and young leaders with hearts for serving this nation that we enjoy our uniquely American freedoms.

In the spirit of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, I offer my sincerest thanks to all who have served our country in uniform. It is an honor to represent you in Congress, and I hope you will call on me if I can ever be of assistance to you. If you are a high school senior in the Second District and are interested in learning more about obtaining a nomination to the service academies from my office, please contact my staff in Montgomery by calling (334) 262-7718. Additional application information is also available on my website: www.roby.house.gov/student-resources/service-academy-nominations.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

2 months ago

Roby: Highlighting National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the second most common cancer in women, with the goal of someday ending it entirely. Although deaths from breast cancer continue to fall, they’re declining at a slower rate than in previous years, and the number of cases we’re seeing is rising. It is very important that we take this valuable opportunity to talk about this dreaded disease and increase our knowledge on the topic.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 271,000 new cases of breast cancer this year alone, 99% of which will be diagnosed in women. Of course, risk factors like age and genetics cannot be avoided, but there are steps you can take to lower your own breast cancer risk, and most of them are related to maintaining good health in general. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and getting regular screenings if you are older than 40.

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Unfortunately, most of us have either faced a cancer diagnosis personally or been close to a friend or family member who has. Until we eradicate this terrible disease altogether, it is important to know about the resources available to those in the fight. Throughout my time in Congress, I have considered it a privilege to play in the Congressional Women’s Softball Game, a charity event benefiting the Young Survival Coalition (YSC). YSC aims to improve the quality of life for young adults affected by breast cancer. My team didn’t quite pull off a win during this year’s game, but I could not be prouder of what we accomplished. We raised more than $365,000 – a new record – to benefit YSC and their important mission supporting individuals battling breast cancer.

A cancer diagnosis is certainly never easy, but organizations like YSC make it possible to navigate these challenging circumstances, and I am grateful for their work. During the month of October, I encourage you to increase your own awareness about breast cancer and the risks associated with the disease and tell your loved ones to do the same. As with many other forms of cancer, early detection is critical and saves lives. If you are currently battling breast cancer, please know that my prayers are with you. You can access valuable information by visiting www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

2 months ago

Roby: White House honors Army Aviation, Fort Rucker

(M. Roby/Facebook)

Every year since 1981, the White House Historical Association has designed the official White House Christmas ornament. It is always interesting to learn about the history of each year’s design, and this year’s ornament is particularly special for Alabamians – and especially for those of us who live in the Second District.

This year’s White House Christmas ornament features a helicopter to honor President Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, who was the first U.S. president to fly in a helicopter while in office. According to the White House Historical Association, the 2019 ornament is meant to symbolize Eisenhower’s commitment to innovation.

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After Eisenhower first traveled by helicopter in July of 1957, the helicopter became a feature of White House life. Through the years, the helicopter has often been used for short-distance commutes. As the first president to regularly use a helicopter, Eisenhower had two Executive Flight Detachments for his transport, which were provided by flight crews of the Army and the Marine Corps.

Since 1957, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company that also has an extensive operation in Pike County, has built the presidential helicopter. The 2019 White House ornament honors that special legacy, but it also pays tribute to Army Aviation and Fort Rucker, as Fort Rucker is the location site of the original Army One used by Eisenhower.

The White House Historical Society recently held an event at Fort Rucker to celebrate this historic honor, and I was glad to participate alongside Governor Kay Ivey and other leaders. As Alabamians, we know how special and critically important Fort Rucker and Army Aviation are – not only to the Wiregrass and our state – but to the safety and defense of our nation. It is wonderful and appropriate that the White House has chosen to honor Army Aviation and Fort Rucker in this way. I know my family will certainly display the ornament proudly and treasure it for years to come.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have considered it a privilege and responsibility to represent a district that is home to Fort Rucker, home of the United States Center of Aviation Excellence. I will continue to use the platform I have been given to ensure that Fort Rucker remains a strong component in our national defense infrastructure.

We all should be incredibly proud that President Eisenhower first began using Army helicopters as a mode of presidential transportation. This historic honor by the White House is a true testament to the legacy and continued success of Army Aviation in our country. You can read more about the White House Historical Association and year’s ornament by visiting www.shop.whitehousehistory.org/holidays/ornaments.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

3 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Supporting STEM education

U.S. Rep Martha Roby (R-AL2)

Did you know that four billion people on the planet use a mobile phone? Over the past two years alone, 90 percent of all the world’s data has been generated. NASA plans to put man on Mars within the next 20 years, and self-driving cars are being tested around the world.

Right now, we are living in the “future” we’ve talked about for generations, and our modern world requires a workforce educated in science, technology, engineering, and math, commonly known as STEM.

Between the years 2000 and 2010, STEM-related jobs grew at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs. But, at the end of 2018, nearly 2.4 million STEM jobs went unfilled, because STEM education is not readily available for many students, especially in rural areas of our country. This is a critical problem, and I will briefly share some numbers to demonstrate just how important it is that we fix it.

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The number of STEM jobs is projected to increase by 13 percent by 2027, compared to nine percent for non-STEM jobs. Opportunities in computing, engineering, and advanced manufacturing will lead. The average median hourly wage for STEM jobs is $38.85, while the median earning for all other types of jobs in the United States is $19.30. The national average for STEM job annual salaries is $87,570, whereas the national average for non-STEM occupations is $45,700 – roughly half.

The STEM fields provide fantastic career opportunities, but according to the National Math and Science Initiative, only 36 percent of all American high school graduates are ready to take a collegiate science course. According to the Department of Labor, universities in the United States are only expected to produce 29 percent of the number of graduates necessary to fill the 1.4 million vacant computer specialist job openings.

The demand isn’t going to disappear, so it is our responsibility to expose the next generation of workers to STEM education so they will be equipped to fill these important jobs that will lead us further into the future we envision.

I recently participated in a Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on STEM engagement, during which I had the opportunity to speak directly with experts from NASA and the National Science Foundation. Since we are experiencing such a severe workforce shortage, I brought up the issue of how we can generate increased interest in STEM-based jobs for the next generation. I also asked for an update about the programs currently in place to target underrepresented, rural areas across our country. I appreciated their time and thoughtful responses to my questions, and I was encouraged by what I learned.

In Congress, I have and will continue to support strong funding for STEM education opportunities. We must do all we can to expose more young people to these increasingly important fields so that today’s workforce is ready for tomorrow’s jobs.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

3 months ago

Roby: Never forget what they fight for

(M. Roby/Facebook, PIxabay)

On the fateful morning of September 11, 2001, our nation stood still as news came in of horrific attacks on American soil. Most all of us will never forget where we were that day when the world changed right before our eyes. Now, 18 years later, we mark this spot in history each year by remembering the more than 3,000 Americans who lost their lives that day in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. We also prayerfully honor the families who lost loved ones and give thanks for the many heroes who emerged that day and, in the months, and years that followed.

September 11, 2001, changed our country forever, but in the nearly two decades since that day, Americans have understandably pressed on. We have gone about our daily lives, working hard to provide for our families. Certainly, doing anything less would be a victory for those who committed these atrocious acts against our freedom. But, as we continue to move forward, may we never take for granted the heroic acts of the thousands of Americans that sacrifice to keep us safe and ensure this type of attack never happens again.

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Every day and every night, 365 days a year, there are men and women working to defend our country and everything it stands for. And, while each year, September 11 provides an important occasion for us to give thanks for our service members, we should be mindful of their sacrifices every single day. Perhaps the best way for us to honor the men and women who wear the uniform is to simply never forget what they fight for.

Our service members fight for the American ideals of freedom, liberty and justice. Let us all use this occasion each year to reaffirm our steadfast commitment to these ideals and remember how truly blessed we are to live in the greatest country in the world. May we feel overwhelming gratitude for the members of our Armed Forces every day, keeping September 11 a solemn day to reflect upon how much has been sacrificed by so many.

Around this anniversary each year, it is important for us all to remember the heinous acts of hatred committed against us by those who oppose our liberty and freedom, the unspeakable suffering of those who lost people they love, the personal effect it has had on so many of us, and the brave men and women who continue to stand guard each day to keep us safe. May God bless each and every family that suffered loss during this time 18 years ago. My prayers are with you, and your sacrifice has not been forgotten.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

3 months ago

Roby: We’re tackling the opioid crisis head-on

(M. Roby/Contributed)

There are countless important issues currently facing our state and country. From ongoing conversations about border security to the pressing need to come to an agreement on government funding, there is no shortage of topics that warrant serious discussion. Perhaps one of our most critical ongoing issues is the horrific opioid epidemic that continues to grip Alabama and communities throughout our country.

To understand the scale and the seriousness of this crisis, we must first have a clear grasp on its history and the numbers. In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe these drugs at increasing rates. This increased prescription led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications can, indeed, be highly addictive.

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In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency and announced their strategy to combat the crisis. In 2017, there were more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., and the sharpest increase occurred among deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic narcotics. It is estimated that more than 11.4 million people misused prescription opioids in 2017 alone.

In 2017, Alabama health care providers wrote 107.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons. This was the highest prescribing rate in the country and nearly double the national average. These numbers clearly show that we have a serious problem on our hands, and I am glad to report that the Administration has recently taken further action to continue to combat this crisis that takes American lives daily.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced more than $1.8 billion in funding to states to continue efforts to crack down on the opioid epidemic, and Alabama will receive $13 million. These funds will expand access to treatment and support the collection of real-time data related to drug overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced more than $900 million in new funding for a three-year cooperative agreement with states, territories, and localities to advance the understanding of this epidemic and strengthen prevention and response efforts. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded approximately $932 million to all 50 states as part of its State Opioid Response grant program.

By the end of this year, the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services will have awarded more than $9 billion in grant dollars to states and local communities to increase access to opioid addiction treatment and prevention services. For the first time in more than two decades, we are seeing a decrease in overdose deaths, more Americans are accessing treatment, and lives are being saved. Much work remains as we tackle this crisis head-on, but we are finally headed in the right direction, and I will continue this fight with my colleagues in Congress and the Trump administration.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

3 months ago

The Alabama Fusion Center is working to protect our students and schools

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

It’s hard to believe that the summer months are behind us and we will soon be welcoming Fall and cooler temperatures. Students across our state are working hard to make this new school year successful, and college football season is officially underway.

Since the school year is in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some important information about school and student safety I recently received during my visit to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Fusion Center a few weeks ago. For those who might not be aware, the Alabama Fusion Center exists to improve our state’s preparedness against terrorist attacks and to deter criminal activity in general. It is an information-sharing organization designed to combine – or “fuse” – information between federal, state and local governments, private sector entities, and the intelligence community.

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The Fusion Center has very dedicated personnel who cover several specific areas, including the issuing of AMBER Alerts, rural crime, cybercrime, terrorism, narcotics, gangs, and human trafficking. The center is also responsible for the Alabama Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Importantly for school children, teachers, and families, the Fusion Center has a system in place to help schools know whether threats made against them are real or not.

During the 2018-2019 school year, there were more than 1,600 threats across the United States, ranging from guns brought on campus to bomb threats to actual school shootings. During my recent visit to the Fusion Center, Director Jay Moseley explained to me that once notified of threats, the center can determine where threats are coming from and whether they pose immediate danger. The Fusion Center relies on law enforcement entities across the country as well as members of the public to alert them to suspicious activity on the Internet and social media. Director Moseley has asked the public to report anything suspicious. You can contact the Fusion Center by calling (334) 517-2660.

In addition to monitoring outside threats to schools, the Fusion Center helps train school resource officers to recognize the signs of a student who is being bullied, experiencing suicidal thoughts, and more. It is critically important for those who work with children daily to have the tools they need to identify at-risk students before the situation becomes life-threatening, and I really appreciate our Fusion Center’s work in this matter.

I always enjoy spending time with the hardworking, dedicated professionals at the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Fusion Center. I appreciated their time and the informative update about the critically important work they are doing each day to combat crimes, especially those against children. These men and women are on the front lines fighting some of the most serious problems that plague our state, and I am grateful for their work. In Congress, I will do all I can to support their efforts.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

3 months ago

Roby: Alabama’s Second District is open for business

(M. Roby/Facebook)

We don’t often hear about it on cable news, but we have a lot to be proud of in our country right now. In June, our economy added 224,000 jobs, and in July, we added 164,000. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) this month released a survey indicating that optimism among small business owners is strengthening, and I saw this trend firsthand during my time on the road in the Second District last week.

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During my recent district travel, I had the opportunity to participate in two NFIB roundtables, one in Headland and the other in Opp, where I heard directly from farmers, small business owners, and community leaders about what they’re experiencing on the ground. While the energy is largely positive, one major challenge they face is finding qualified workers to fill the jobs they’re creating.

In Alabama, we are fortunate to have a strong, vibrant community college system that offers countless educational and professional opportunities to students in our communities, ultimately creating the workforce that our small businesses rely on. In Congress, I have been a vocal advocate for properly supporting and funding our two-year schools, and I will continue to fight for their interests. We must always ensure that our community colleges have the tools they need to train today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs.

Of course, our state has many large manufacturers and chain stores that make significant contributions to our economy, and we should always be thankful for that. However, it’s the local small businesses that are the heartbeat of our cities and towns, passed down through generations, defining the culture of our communities. As the representative for countless small businesses here in the Second District, I consider it a tremendous responsibility to fight for their well-being by advancing policies that foster economic growth. I remain committed to continuing this important work on their behalf.

I cannot express enough how beneficial it is for me to hear directly from the people I represent, and I greatly appreciate all the hardworking people who took time out of their busy schedules to share their views with me this month.

The bottom line is that Americans are confident in our economy, and rightfully so. I will continue to work alongside my colleagues in Congress and the administration to hopefully deliver more policies that unleash our economy and create jobs here in our country.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

4 months ago

Roby: A recap from the road

(M. Roby/Facebook)

Each year, during the month of August, Congress is out of session for a month-long district work period. This is an excellent time for me to travel throughout the Second District to hear directly from many of the people I’m honored to represent. During my recent time on the road, I made several productive stops in Enterprise, Dothan, Headland, Montgomery, Troy, Opp, Andalusia and Red Level, and I would like to take this opportunity to share what I learned.

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In Enterprise, I visited Enterprise State Community College (ESCC) with several members of my staff, and we received a very warm welcome. I received updates from ESCC President Matt Rodgers, division chairs and directors, and State Representative Rhett Marques. It was exciting to learn more about the college’s many facility improvements, as well as new programs and opportunities ranging from academics to athletics. As I told ESCC leadership, I will continue to do all I can in Congress to support their critical role in workforce development. We are certainly fortunate to have this outstanding school in the Wiregrass.

In Dothan, I had the privilege of speaking to the Associated General Contractors (AGC) during their monthly lunch meeting. We had a fantastic discussion, and I appreciated the opportunity to update the group on my committee assignments for the 116th Congress and how I will continue to fight for their priorities in Washington. AGC has been a friend to me over the years, and I am thankful for their diligent efforts to keep me informed about what’s important to their organization.

On my second stop in Dothan, I visited Key Fire Hose Industries, Inc. (KFH) to talk with company leadership and greet employees. I was truly blown away by their impressive operation designing and manufacturing hoses for firefighting, forestry, the military, agriculture industry, and more. KFH has more than 300 distributors reaching more than 70 different countries worldwide, and the company has sold a fire hose to every continent. I was glad to see the work they perform firsthand.

In Headland, I participated in a roundtable discussion with local farmers and business owners. We had a very productive conversation about some of the challenges they’re facing and how I can be helpful. I sincerely appreciate all who took the time to speak with me.

In Montgomery, I was honored to offer the keynote address at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues event. I always appreciate the opportunity to speak with friends in my hometown, and I am glad the event was a success. My next stop in Montgomery was to the Alabama Fusion Center where I received an informative update from Secretary Hal Taylor, Fusion Center Director Jay Moseley, and others. I appreciated their presentation about the important work they’re doing each day to combat human trafficking and other heinous crimes against humanity. These men and women are on the front lines fighting the terrible crimes that plague communities throughout our state, and I am tremendously grateful for their work.

In Troy, I attended Rex Lumber’s open house and was given an awesome tour of their extensive operation. Rex is one of the most technologically-advanced sawmills in the South, and I am so grateful they’ve chosen to invest in the Second District. I am looking forward to partnering with their company and others as we work to strengthen our economy and create more jobs for Alabamians.

In Opp, I visited with local leaders and small business owners. I was glad to hear directly from these hardworking folks on the ground in Covington County, and it was especially great to see my good friend, Mayor Becky Bracke.

Down the road from Opp in Andalusia, I enjoyed lunch at the Buckboard Restaurant with my friends at PowerSouth, the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce, and many other constituents. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to speak one-on-one with some of the people I represent, and I appreciate all who attended.

My next stop in Andalusia was to the South Alabama Regional Airport (SARA) for a tour and an update from Executive Director Jed Blackwell. SARA is a major job creator for the area, and we are fortunate to have this economic activity in our district.

Last, but certainly not least, in Red Level, I stopped by the municipal complex where I sat down with Mayor Willie Hendrix, Water Clerk Sandy Williamson and Town Clerk Tonya Cook. We discussed some of the ways we can help each other improve the lives of our shared constituency.

My time on the road during the August district work period was very productive, and it would not have been possible without the many constituents and local leaders who took the time to share their thoughts with me. Spending this valuable time with the people who live and work in Alabama’s Second District enables me to better represent our shared priorities in Washington.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

4 months ago

Roby: A season of new beginnings

(M. Roby/Facebook)

This time of year represents a season of new beginnings for many of us. Students across the country have gone back to school and are preparing to tackle another year of learning and growing. Teachers in every community throughout the nation are welcoming new faces to guide and mentor this school year.

It’s also an important season for the agriculture community as these hardworking men and women are in the midst of a critical time for crops before harvest. If you are able, now is a great time to buy local and support our state’s farmers by purchasing Alabama-grown products. Fortunately, shoppers will soon have a new, easier way to identify Alabama products thanks to the newly-formed “Sweet Grown Alabama” non-profit foundation overseen by a group of leaders in the agriculture industry.

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Sweet Grown Alabama’s mission is to enhance marketing opportunities for our state’s farmers by connecting retailers and consumers to Alabama-grown foods and other agriculture products. Farmers will have the opportunity to join this program and brand their products with a special logo, so consumers have the option to buy local and support our state’s agriculture community. This is an exciting opportunity for both farmers and consumers throughout our state. You can learn more about the program here.

Here in Alabama’s Second District, our agriculture community is facing an especially challenging time since Hurricane Michael made landfall during harvest last October. Now, more than ever, our district’s farmers need our support, and I have continued my efforts to help on the federal level.

Earlier this month, I led my Alabama colleagues in sending a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging swift approval of the Alabama Agriculture Recovery Relief Program. This program will allow the State of Alabama to administer disaster aid to producers who were impacted by last year’s devastating hurricane.

The program makes available disaster aid block grants, which are separate from the individual payments to farmers, and will help our agriculture industry get back on its feet after the severe setbacks. I am hopeful that this program finally helps farmers get the assistance they need to continue to feed Alabama and our entire country.

During this time of year, as many people are going through different seasons of new beginnings, I offer my best wishes and strongest support. I will be praying for a productive and successful school year for our district’s students and educators, and I will always serve as a strong advocate for Alabama’s farmers and producers, especially as they work towards a new harvest season.

It is an honor to serve Alabama’s Second District in Congress. Do not hesitate to reach out to my offices if I can ever be of assistance to you.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

4 months ago

Roby: How my offices can help you

(M. Roby/Facebook)

As your representative in Congress, I have the privilege of offering numerous services and resources to the people who live and work in the Second District. My offices provide quite a few constituent services, and it is important that you’re aware of them so that you can take full advantage of the many ways my offices can help you.

My district offices in Montgomery, Dothan and Andalusia assist constituents with casework, meaning if you’ve placed an inquiry with a federal agency, like the VA or Social Security Administration, and haven’t received a timely response, or if you feel you have been treated unfairly, my district offices might be able to help resolve the problem. At the very least, they can provide the information you need. If you are currently experiencing issues with one of the federal agencies, I encourage you to contact one of my offices as soon as possible so we can do our best to help you resolve the issue.

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If you are planning a trip to our nation’s capital, my staff in Washington is available to help you obtain tickets for tours of the U.S. Capitol building and other attractions, including the White House, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and more. Please be advised that advanced notice is usually necessary, so if you are planning a visit to D.C., I encourage you to contact my office as soon as possible. Our goal is to help you have a wonderful experience.

Did you also know that you can purchase an American flag through my office? You can even request that your flag be flown over the Capitol building before it is sent to you. This is a really special way to commemorate important occasions for yourself or a loved one. If you are interested in taking advantage of this service, contact my office in Washington, and we will make it happen.

There are many, many other services available to you through my offices, including service academy nominations, congressional internships for college students, presidential greetings, assistance with federal grant applications, and more. I hope you will pass this information along to your friends and family, so they are aware of what is available, too.

Below you will find the contact information for all of my offices, and this information can also be found on my website: www.roby.house.gov/constituent-services. Always remember that my staff and I work for you, and we are eager to assist you.

Washington, D.C., office:

504 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20515

(202) 225-2901

Montgomery office:

401 Adams Avenue, Suite 160

Montgomery, AL 36104

(334) 262-7718

Dothan office:

217 Graceland Drive, Suite 5

Dothan, AL 36305

(334) 794-9680

Andalusia office:

City Hall

505 E. Three Notch Street, Suite 322

Andalusia, AL 36420

(334) 428-1129

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

4 months ago

Roby: Summer interns served the Second District with distinction

(M. Roby/Facebook)

As a member of Congress, each summer, I have the privilege of offering internship opportunities to college students. The internship program is a competitive experience ideal for students who are interested in learning more about our nation’s legislative process, constituent services, and the general day-to-day operations of a congressional office. Interns’ tasks vary, but they include conducting tours of the United States Capitol building, drafting and presenting a policy proposal on a legislative topic of their choosing, assisting constituents with their requests, attending committee hearings, and helping my staff with district-specific projects of importance.

This summer, I was fortunate to have some truly outstanding students serve as interns in my offices. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you more about these young men and women and the hard work they did for the people of the Second District.

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Katherine Albrecht, a Montgomery native, is a rising sophomore at Mississippi State University where she studies history.

Everett Bossard, a Huntsville native, is a rising senior at Troy University where he studies criminal justice and legal studies.

Melissa Carter, a Berryville, Virginia, native, is a rising senior at the University of Mississippi where she studies education.

Baylee Clark, a Montgomery native, is a rising senior at the University of Alabama where she studies public relations and political science.

Wyatt Davidson, a Montgomery native, is a rising sophomore at Samford University where he studies global and cultural studies and business.

Natalie Henry, a Selma native, is a rising senior at Louisiana State University where she studies political science and sociology.

Claudia Hubbard, a Montgomery native, is a rising sophomore at Auburn University where she studies law and justice and philanthropy and non-profit studies.

John Koo, a Montgomery native, is a rising junior at Auburn University where he studies business administration and political science.

Morgan Kull, a native of St. Charles, Illinois, is a rising senior at Auburn University where she studies political science.

Trent Mann, a Montgomery native, is a rising senior at Auburn University where he studies business management, political science, entrepreneurship, and family business.

Greyson Matthews, a Montgomery native, is a rising senior at the University of Alabama where she studies public relations and psychology.

Katie McIntyre, a Montgomery native, is a rising sophomore at Auburn University where she studies finance.

Will Merrill, a Montgomery native, is a rising sophomore at Auburn University where he studies biomedical sciences, law and justice, and the classics.

Murry Mothershed, a Prattville native, is a rising sophomore at Troy University where she studies criminal justice.

Alex Reynolds, a Dothan native, is a rising senior at Troy University where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN).

Annabel Roth, a Montgomery native, is a rising senior at the University of Alabama where she studies public relations and political science.

Hayden Sledge, a Mountain Brook native, is a rising sophomore at Wheaton College where she studies political science.

Caroline Smith, a Dothan native, is a rising senior at the University of Alabama where she studies English, Spanish, and creative writing.

Hannah Streitman, a Dothan native, is a rising sophomore at Auburn University where she studies finance and political science.

Bo Torbert, a Montgomery native, is a rising senior at Washington and Lee University where he studies global politics.

These students worked very hard for our district, and I really appreciate their dedication and eagerness to serve. I am confident they will be successful in their future endeavors. You can find out more about my internship program and the application process on my website: www.roby.house.gov/student-resources/internships. I encourage you to pass this information along to any college-aged students who might be interested. I truly believe a congressional internship is a valuable way to gain firsthand exposure to the inner-workings of our nation’s government.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

5 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Celebrating 50 years of Alabama’s role in Space exploration

(NASA/Contributed)

Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 became the first spaceflight to place humans on the Moon when Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin successfully landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle. Armstrong became the first person to ever step foot onto the lunar surface, and Aldrin joined him just minutes later. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the command module Columbia alone in orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin were outside the spacecraft for more than two hours collecting lunar material to bring back to Earth.

This 50th anniversary is a special milestone for Alabamians because Apollo 11 was launched by a Huntsville-built Saturn V rocket. For decades, many of us have heard stories from family members, friends, and neighbors who watched the launch in awe or played a role in executing this historic mission. To this day, traces of Alabama’s impact on American space exploration can be seen across our state and country.

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North Alabama is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and continues to be a world leader in the space industry. This NASA center in Huntsville is very important to our state’s economy, as it supports approximately 22,000 jobs and provides $3.8 billion in economic impact. On top of this, more than half of Marshall’s contracts are sourced in-state and yield an additional $1.4 billion in economic activity.

As Alabamians, we are rightfully proud of the role we play in American space exploration, and I’m confident we will accomplish even more in the near future. The Trump administration has made it clear they are committed to supporting NASA’s growth and once again sending humans to the Moon.

In mid-May of this year, NASA unveiled its Artemis program, which aims to put astronauts on the lunar surface in 2024 and give history the first female moonwalker. Preparations for Artemis have already begun, as NASA plans for the maiden flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as soon as next year.

During my time in Congress, I’ve had several opportunities to meet with the companies who work on the SLS program, which is managed at Marshall in Huntsville. Notably, of the many jobs supported by NASA in Alabama, the SLS program accounts for 13,000 and generates $2.4 billion in economic output.

The goals NASA hopes to accomplish with Artemis are significant, and NASA will need support from Congress to get the job done. For Fiscal Year 2020, NASA asked the Administration for an additional $1.6 billion in funding, and it is up to Congress to authorize the request.

In my role on the House Appropriations Committee, I am honored to serve on the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over funding for NASA. I’m proud to have this opportunity on behalf of our state, and I will continue to push for strong support for space exploration.

NASA has already achieved the unimaginable, and with continued support from Congress and the administration, and with the help of hardworking Alabamians, we will make history again.

In Congress, I will always fight for NASA’s legacy as we aim to build upon Alabama’s storied history and once again send man – and woman – to the Moon.

As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11, I encourage you to share your stories and memories from this historic event with younger generations as we look towards the promising future of American space exploration.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

5 months ago

Roby: Be prepared during hurricane season

(Rep. Roby/Facebook)

It’s hard to believe that July is halfway over, and summer will be ending soon. Temperatures here in Southeast Alabama continue to reach nearly 100 degrees on any given day, but fall and cooler weather will be here before we know it. In less than a month, students across our district and state will begin another school year, and shortly after that, college football season kicks off.

While this time of year brings a lot of excitement, be mindful that hurricane season lasts until the end of November, and it’s extremely important that we take the necessary precautions to protect our loved ones and property. Hurricanes are one of nature’s most powerful and destructive forces. On average, 12 tropical storms, six of which become hurricanes, form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico during this time each year.

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Unfortunately, many people who live in the Second District recently experienced the devastation this season can bring when Hurricane Michael made landfall last October. Last month, I shared that Congress approved and the President signed into law disaster relief legislation that will aid our farmers. It is my understanding that the process of making these funds available will soon be underway.

As we continue to rebuild together, and as we monitor the ongoing severe weather events happening in the Gulf of Mexico, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some safety tips from the National Weather Service (NWS) to prepare for storms that may impact us in the months ahead. Here’s a useful checklist to review prior to warnings of a hurricane:

  1. Know your zone. The Second District doesn’t have any hurricane evacuation zones, but our neighbors in Baldwin and Mobile Counties reside in hurricane evacuation areas. Keep this in mind if you’re vacationing nearby in the upcoming months or if you have friends and relatives who live further south in Alabama. A list of evacuation zone maps is available at www.flash.org/2017EvacuationZones.pdf.
  2. Assemble an emergency kit. Your kit items should be stored in airtight plastic bags, then placed in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as plastic bins or duffel bags. Your emergency kit should include the following items: one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a manual can opener, battery-powered radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, and local maps. You can download the rest of the recommended supplies list and read about additional suggested supplies by visiting www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
  3. Write or review your family emergency plan. Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family and close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in a weather emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency kit. You can start working on your plan by visiting www.ready.gov/hurricanes.
  4. Review your insurance policies. This is an important step to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property.
  5. Understand the NWS forecast language. There’s a difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning, and it’s important to have a strong understanding of the two. Read about this by visiting www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-ww.

Hurricanes can happen along any U.S. coast and can impact areas more than 100 miles inland. I hope you will share this information with loved ones during this time of year especially, remembering that hurricanes are typically most active during the month of September. In many cases, planning and preparation can make a huge difference, so I encourage you to prepare now and remind your friends and family to do the same. In the meantime, my family and I will be praying for an uneventful hurricane season in Southeast Alabama.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

5 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Why does it matter?

(M. Roby/Facebook)

I have always held a deep appreciation for the musicians, songwriters, television and film producers who work hard to create the music, songs, shows and movies people around the world know and love. At one point in my life, I even aspired to work in the Nashville music industry, which I ended up doing for a period of time, but God had a different plan for my life long-term.

Now, this dream has come full circle. With my role in Congress, I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, where I am in a unique position to advocate for the core copyright industries and related workforce that contribute so much to our economy and our culture.

Just recently, the Judiciary Committee held a Copyright Office oversight hearing to focus on this issue that is critical to our economy. According to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, core copyright industries, like music, television, and film, contribute more than $1 trillion to our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and make up almost 7% of the economy.

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In Alabama specifically, the music industry contributes $636.09 million to the GDP and supports more than 14,000 jobs. The motion picture and television industry is responsible for more than 10,200 jobs and $387 million total wages in our state. There are 958 music businesses in Alabama and nearly 720 motion picture and television businesses, including 381 production-related companies.

So, you see, these industries have a significant impact on the economy, both on a state level and on the national level, but unfortunately, these hardworking, creative professionals don’t always receive the recognition and compensation they deserve due to several factors that we’re tackling in the House Judiciary Committee.

First and foremost, we must work to ensure our copyright laws are up-to-date and address the needs of today’s hyper-connected, digital world. Many of these laws are decades old and no longer function as they were intended. This subject was covered in-depth in our recent committee hearing.

Still, even when copyright status is in place, and even with the rise of legal streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, creative industries face significant challenges with illegal piracy in this digital age. A quick Internet search of the word “piracy” yields the following definition: the unauthorized use or reproduction of another’s work. The definition also includes a handful of synonyms, like illegal reproduction, plagiarism, copyright infringement, stealing, and theft.

In our efforts to combat piracy and ensure the creative industry receives the compensation it deserves, we face several major hurdles:

1) It is shockingly easy to download, stream, and reproduce almost any movie, television show, song, etc. with a quick Internet search.
2) Since it is so easy and so common, some people don’t even realize they are doing anything wrong, much less committing a crime.
3) Sometimes, even when people know they’re doing something wrong, they don’t view it as being “that big of a deal.”

But, illegally downloading and streaming someone else’s creative content is a big deal, and I would like to take this opportunity to explain why it matters.

Many, many more people and entities besides just big-name celebrities are involved in creating music, television shows, and movies. In fact, these creative industries support thousands of indirect jobs that most of us probably wouldn’t even think of. Consider a movie set, for example. From a personnel standpoint, all types of professionals are necessary to make a movie happen, from camera crews and lighting specialists to scriptwriters, makeup and hair artists, florists, caterers, seamstresses, and the men and women who perform manual labor to build and take down sets. This doesn’t even account for the many dollars’ worth of materials required to put together any given movie set.

I say all this to make the point that when an individual illegally streams, downloads, or shares creative content, they are stealing from all the many hardworking people who offer their labor, skills, and products to make a song, movie, or show happen – and most of these people aren’t the lead actor or actress; most of them go unnoticed at the very end of the long credits list.

Of the more than 10,000 jobs in Alabama supported by the motion picture and television industry, the vast majority of them aren’t actors and actresses, but rather the many other professionals that don’t immediately come to mind.

As we continue to enjoy our favorite music, movies and television shows, I hope we all strive to be responsible and ethical consumers, being mindful and cautious when using the Internet to download and stream to make sure we are only obtaining these creative works legally.

Many Americans and Alabamians are severely and negatively impacted by illegal piracy, and I will remain engaged with this issue in my role on the House Judiciary Committee to ensure we are fiercely combatting these copyright infringements while improving the industry for its many hardworking individuals.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

6 months ago

Roby: Advocating for Alabama’s military installations

(M. Roby/Facebook)

In Congress, I consider it a tremendous privilege and responsibility to represent a district that is home to two of our country’s finest military installations – Fort Rucker down in the Wiregrass and Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery. Even beyond the Second District, Alabama as a whole has a significant military footprint, and we should all be very proud of our state’s role in defending our freedom.

I just recently had the opportunity to attend the Change of Command ceremony at Fort Rucker. Major General David Francis is now the Commanding General of USAACE and Fort Rucker, taking over the post from Major General William Gayler.

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I have enjoyed working with Gen. Gayler, and I appreciate his steadfast leadership. I wish him the very best as he moves forward with his impressive career. Of course, congratulations are also in order for Gen. Francis. I look forward to continuing to build a strong relationship with him as we work together to advocate for Fort Rucker. It was a really exciting time to be in the Wiregrass, and I was glad to be on-post again to visit with some of our district’s military leaders.

Shifting focus to another part of our state, I also recently had the opportunity to speak on the House floor during consideration of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill to raise awareness for the facility updates needed at Dannelly Field in Montgomery to support the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter mission.

In December of 2017, we received the exciting news that the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field was selected as a preferred location for the bed down of the coveted F-35 mission. The first aircraft is scheduled to arrive in the next few years, and Dannelly Field needs a correctly sized and properly configured maintenance facility to support and repair this next-generation fighter. The existing facilities that currently service the F-16 Red Tail’s squadron are inadequate. Aircraft maintenance is housed in three temporary trailer facilities, maintenance shops are 43 percent undersized, and the required tool storage is kept in aircraft parking spaces inside the hangar.

As we await the arrival of this cutting-edge aircraft, and as we continue through the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process, I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to address this pressing issue. We must provide our men and women in uniform adequate and acceptable working spaces so they can perform their jobs accurately and efficiently, and I will continue to advocate for these necessary facility updates at Dannelly.

The military installations in our district and across our great state perform vital work for the security of this nation, and I will always advocate for their proper support through my role in Congress. It is a true honor to have this platform to fight for the men and women who serve us all.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

6 months ago

Roby: Honoring our symbol of freedom

(M. Roby/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

On June 14th, 1777, our country’s flag was officially adopted by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Many years later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that established June 14th as Flag Day, and on August 3, 1949, this day of observance was officially established by an Act of Congress.

Now, every year on June 14th, our country has a special opportunity to celebrate our flag and reflect upon what it symbolizes. The American flag displays 13 horizontal stripes alternating red and white with a blue rectangle, specifically referred to as the “union,” that bears 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine horizontal rows. As you may know, the 50 stars on the American flag represent our 50 states. The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states in the United States.

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While the design of the American flag has been officially modified 26 times since its initial adoption in 1777, the symbolic meaning has remained the same. Whether flown on front lawns across Alabama, in front of schools, universities and businesses of all sizes, or proudly displayed at military installations across this great country, for centuries the American flag has been an inspiring emblem of pride, hope, and freedom for countless people throughout the world.

Whenever I see our flag, I am especially reminded of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have fought to defend it and all it represents. This year, Flag Day comes during an especially important time, as I recently was proud to announce my 2019 appointees to our United States service academies.

Each year, it is my distinct privilege and honor as a member of Congress to nominate students from the Second District to be considered for appointment to the United States Air Force, Naval, Military and Merchant Marine Academies.

This year, I am very pleased to announce that I nominated the following students who received official appointments to the service academies:

  • Daniel Brayden Banner is the son of Dan and Amanda Banner. He is a graduate of Providence Christian School in Dothan, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.Theodore Maxwell Dowd is the son of John and Donna Dowd. He is a graduate of Northview High School in Dothan, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Amore Jacarra Hardy is the daughter of Regina Hardy. She is a graduate of Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, and she received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Timothy Jurard McClendon is the son of Emma Lee McClendon. He is a graduate of Carroll High School in Ozark, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Johnny M. Montgomery, III, is the son of Johnny Montgomery. He is a graduate of Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Jackson Scott Parker is the son of Scott and Hannah Parker. He is a graduate of Abbeville High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Isaac Taylor Sherman is the son of Jeremy and Morgan Sherman. He is a graduate of Prattville High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Seth Cameron White is the son of Steve and Terri White. He is a graduate of Wicksburg High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

In the spirit of Flag Day, I believe these students from our communities are to be commended not only for their academic excellence, but more importantly, for their eagerness to serve our great country. I am incredibly proud to join their families, friends, teachers and hometowns in offering my sincerest congratulations and thanks. Our flag will continue to shine as a symbol of freedom because of young leaders like these men and women.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.