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: 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.

2 weeks 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.

3 weeks 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 weeks 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.

1 month 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.

1 month 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.

2 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.

2 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.

2 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.

3 months ago

Roby: Help is on the way for farmers

(M. Roby/Facebook)

As those of us who live and work in the Second District remember well, last year on October 10, Hurricane Michael made landfall and ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. This storm was the third most powerful hurricane to ever descend upon the United States mainland. The destruction left in its wake was devastating, and many people are still trying desperately to recover.

After eight long months, I am glad to finally report that Congress approved and the president signed into law H.R. 2157, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, which includes more than $3 billion for agriculture disaster relief. I am very glad that we have at last delivered this long-overdue assistance for farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout the Southeast. Now, we can begin the process of helping the many Americans who have suffered extreme devastation. I believe it is important that the people I represent understand what this process looks like moving forward, so I would like to take this opportunity to briefly lay it out.

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Now that the bill has been passed by Congress and signed by the president, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin implementing the law and its programs. Farmers will have to sign up for relief assistance through USDA, and more information about USDA disaster assistance programs is available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/. Next in the process, USDA will determine who receives these disaster assistance funds. Once these decisions are made, USDA will begin the process of distributing these dollars.

While I am very glad that Congress at last delivered on our responsibility to make these funds available, there remains a road ahead for USDA’s actions before assistance is distributed. Still, I want the farmers I represent in southeast Alabama to know with confidence that help is on the way. I encourage you to share information about this process with the farmers you know who might benefit from hearing about it, and of course, if you are a farmer seeking assistance funds, make sure you sign up through USDA when the time comes. No sign-up deadline has been issued yet, but I will be sure to keep you updated as we move forward through the process.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Alabama and in the Second District, so it is vitally important that we quickly provide assistance to those who need it. When your farm, your family member’s farm, or your neighbor’s farm is flourishing, that is a good sign that our entire state’s economy is strong, too. A vibrant agriculture economy means we have a vibrant Alabama economy, and that is something we all want. I remain committed to ensuring that Alabama’s farmers get the help they need as we work to rebuild together.

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: A productive week of travel in the Second District

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

For the last week of May, Congress was out of session for a district work period, and I had the opportunity to travel around the Second District. Throughout the week, I visited with constituents and local leaders, toured businesses and industries and spent time with some of our servicemembers at Dannelly Field in Montgomery.

During my week of district travel, I made several stops in Brundidge, Ozark, Montgomery, Eufaula and Dothan. I cannot express enough how truly valuable it is for me to spend quality time with the people I represent here in Southeast Alabama. My candid conversations with constituents enable me to be a stronger representative for our shared views in Washington, and I am grateful for every opportunity I get to interact directly with you.

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In Brundidge, I paid a visit to City Hall where I talked with Mayor Isabell Boyd and a group of constituents. I really learned a lot during our time together, and I thank those who showed up to make our conversation productive.

In Ozark, I stopped by Bell Helicopter to visit with leadership and employees and toured their impressive facility. Bell currently employs 76 people, and they perform incredibly important work supporting our military. I was glad to see their work firsthand, and I am eager to see the company continue to thrive and grow right here in the Second District.

After visiting Bell Helicopter, I spoke to the Ozark Kiwanis Club during their weekly lunch meeting. I gave the group an update from Washington, perhaps most importantly about our efforts to deliver a disaster relief bill. Since the Senate recently passed their version of a bill, the House will act on this legislation very soon. I am optimistic we will send it to the President’s desk shortly. Farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout the country desperately need help recovering, and I remain committed to pushing this over the finish line.

Next, I visited Chris and Monica Carroll, fifth-generation owners of a beautiful farm in Dale County. The Carrolls produce cattle, poultry, soybeans, and wheat, and I toured their extensive operation and was able to see firsthand the very hard work they do. I appreciate the Carrolls for graciously hosting me and sharing their insight and experience. Since agriculture is the backbone of our district’s economy, it is vitally important for me to spend time on the ground with our farmers to hear directly from them.

I also spent a fantastic day in Eufaula. During my time there, I stopped by Humminbird Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics where I was given a very engaging and informative site tour. I enjoyed visiting with employees, and I was especially glad to learn more about the innovative work they perform. Johnson Outdoors currently employs 240 people in Eufaula, and we are fortunate to have these job opportunities in our district.

While in Eufaula, I also visited American Buildings Company for a meeting with company leadership to learn more about their legislative priorities. I enjoyed our time together and appreciated the conversation about ways we should improve our country’s infrastructure.

For my last visit in Eufaula, I stopped by the airport with Mayor Jack Tibbs for a briefing on tornado recovery efforts. That area of town was badly damaged earlier this year when a tornado made landfall, and my office remains engaged and ready to assist where we are able. I am grateful for my strong relationship with Mayor Tibbs and for his dedication to keeping me informed about all developments in Eufaula.

In Dothan, I attended a ceremony at Glasstream Powerboats celebrating their business’ expansion. I was glad to have the opportunity to give congratulatory remarks alongside local leaders, including Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba. I’m always thrilled any time I have the chance to celebrate the creation of new jobs here in our communities. Glasstream Powerboats’ hard work has delivered an additional 40 jobs for the Dothan area, and that is an accomplishment we should all be proud of.

Next in Dothan, I attended the grand opening of a new Five Star Credit Union location. It was wonderful to meet employees and tour their brand new facility. This was another fantastic opportunity to celebrate new jobs in the Wiregrass, and I was glad to be involved in the festivities.

Last, but certainly not least, in Montgomery, I spent time at the 187th Fighter Wing for Col. William Sparrow’s Change of Command ceremony. Col. Sparrow has led the 187th with distinction, and I am tremendously grateful for his service to our country and to the River Region. I congratulate the new commander, Col. Edward Casey, for his achievement and look forward to working with him as we strive to strengthen our district’s military footprint together.

I share all this information to let you know that the May district work period was informative and very productive. I welcome every opportunity to engage with the people who live and work in Alabama’s Second District, and I extend my thanks to each person who made these meetings meaningful. It is a tremendous honor to serve you in Congress.

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 owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all members of our Armed Forces

(M. Roby/Contributed)

Every year, on the last Monday in May, our country takes a collective pause to remember the men and women who gave their lives in service to this nation. Memorial Day isn’t simply a day off work, and it is much more significant than just marking the unofficial start of summer. This special holiday is intended to be a day set aside for us to stop and acknowledge those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy.

There are many ways to honor our fallen heroes, whether by visiting a national memorial to pay respects, attending a Memorial Day parade or another event in your community, or supporting organizations that aid our wounded soldiers. It is also very important to remember that this day is especially somber for the many families who lost loved ones in the line of duty.

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Another special way to pay tribute to fallen soldiers around Memorial Day is to acknowledge the active duty servicemembers and veterans all around us. Our district is home to two of our nation’s finest military installations, thousands of active duty and reserve personnel, and nearly 16,000 military retirees and veterans. It is because of their sacrifices, and those of the many men and women who gave their lives in service to this country, that we are free today. In the spirit of this important day of remembrance, I encourage you to make a point to thank a veteran, current servicemember, or a fallen soldier’s family members for their dedication and sacrifices.

While we set aside one day specifically to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, our veterans, servicemembers and military families are always at the forefront of my mind, and advocating for improved veterans’ services is one of my top priorities in Congress. If we are to truly honor and respect the sacrifice made by those who gave their lives for this country, it is imperative that we properly care for the veterans and military families right here in our communities. It is no secret that much work remains on this front here in Central Alabama, and I will remain actively engaged until we get this right by our veterans.

We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all members of our Armed Forces – those who gave their lives in service to our country, the veterans who are still with us today and those who have passed, and the brave men and women who are currently wearing the uniform. In Congress, I know that one of my most pressing responsibilities is to honor these sacrifices by fighting to improve veterans’ care, and I remain committed to that duty on your behalf.

In the spirit of Memorial Day, I extend my sincerest gratitude and condolences to all families who lost a loved one in the line of duty. My family and I mourn with you during this time especially. To all those who have served or who are currently serving, thank you. America shines as the Land of the Free because of you and the brave men and women who carried the torch before you. May we always remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.

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: A pro-life update from the federal level

(M. Roby for Congress/Facebook)

Throughout my time in Congress, I have been staunchly and unapologetically pro-life. I will continue to use this platform to fight for life at every stage because unborn babies cannot fight for themselves. Since much of the news in our state and throughout the country lately has focused on recent pro-life efforts, I would like to take this opportunity to share an update about my work on the federal level to defend the unborn.

In February of this year, the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule that would restrict Title X family planning grants from being steered to entities that are not physically and financially separate from abortion providers. A series of court injunctions have frozen these rule changes, and as a result, hundreds of abortion facilities, like Planned Parenthood, are still receiving federal tax dollars through Title X grants.

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While the rule is going through the judicial process, the Democrat majority on the House Appropriations Committee has elected to tie the hands of the Department of Health and Human Services through legislation stating that the Department may only act in accordance with regulations established prior to January 18, 2017, just two days before Donald Trump became President. This is unacceptable – we simply cannot handcuff the current administration to regulations of the past.

During the recent full Appropriations Committee markup of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill, I offered an amendment that would allow the courts, rather than the Democrat majority in the House, to decide the fate of the Trump administration’s proposed rule restricting Title X family planning grants from being awarded to facilities that provide abortions. Despite the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment, abortion providers have been able to get their hands on American tax dollars through these Title X funds. I am unapologetically pro-life, so I don’t want this to happen, and the majority of the people I represent don’t want this to happen.

The Trump administration’s proposed rule would draw a clear, bright line between family planning services and abortion providers. Unfortunately, my amendment did not pass, but to ensure that the rule has a fighting chance of becoming law, we must allow it to go through our judicial process – not block it legislatively as part of a political game.

In addition to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also taking measures to stand up for the unborn. Two foreign companies, Aid Access and Rablon, have been known to distribute chemical abortion drugs to customers in the United States by mail-order. This practice is already illegal, and the FDA has taken action against it, but it is still happening.

This abortion drug, called Mifeprex, is approved by the FDA, but it is only legally available to patients in the United States through health care providers. It is not available in retail pharmacies, and it is certainly not legally available on the Internet. However, these abortion-by-mail providers, primarily based in Europe, have widened their consumer base to include the U.S. They provide remote consultations, send prescriptions to be filled in India, then send the abortion drug to U.S. customers by mail.

By violating the FDA’s safety protocols, these companies are endangering the health of American women and their children. The FDA has been combating these practices, but I recently led a letter, signed by 117 of my colleagues, that was sent to Dr. Norman Sharpless, acting FDA commissioner, urging him to further crackdown. I was proud to join my fellow pro-life colleagues in sending the clear message that we will not tolerate these dangerous, illegal practices, and I applaud the steps the FDA has already taken to protect women and unborn children.

I share these updates to make the point that while we still face challenges, our pro-life momentum is strong, and I will keep pushing forward on the federal level. I want the people I represent in Alabama’s Second District to know that defending the unborn remains a top priority of mine, and I will continue to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

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: A report from my eighth Mother’s Day visit with troops overseas

(M. Roby/Facebook)

On May 7th, I returned from a bipartisan female congressional delegation (CODEL) to Afghanistan and Jordan, led by my good friend and colleague Congresswoman Susan Davis from California. This CODEL marked my eighth year traveling to visit with deployed U.S. soldiers and Afghan women around Mother’s Day. During the trip, I had the privilege of meeting with U.S. service members and top military commanders as well as Afghan and Jordanian leaders.

It is a tremendous honor to make this trip each year to spend time with our brave military personnel. The visit always serves as a reminder of our servicemembers’ sacrifices: They spend months at a time away from their families, often in harm’s way, defending our freedoms. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to thank some of our heroes in person for the difficult work they do to keep our nation secure.

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This annual trip is also important because it affords me the opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to improving circumstances for Afghan women. I am glad to report that Afghan women have recently experienced progress toward obtaining basic human rights, and they are also playing an increased role in the Afghan National Defense Security Forces. It is critical that American leaders remain engaged to ensure continued forward momentum for these women. The success of Afghan women is indicative of the entire country’s success, and I am optimistic about the process toward reaching peace.

Our time in Jordan was also very rewarding. I am grateful for our country’s important relationship with this ally and for the stability they bring to the region.

I am thankful for our servicemembers every single day, but as a mom myself, I am especially grateful for these women – and men – around holidays like Mother’s Day. If you are a parent, I think we can probably agree that parenting, while a precious blessing, is challenging in its own right. I am overcome with gratitude for the brave men and women who wake up each day striving to be the best parent they can be while also dedicating their own lives in service to this country so that we can be safe and so future generations can experience the freedom that is uniquely American.

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to all servicemembers, but especially to the moms and dads who wear the uniform. Many of us spend this special holiday with our families and loved ones, and we are only able to do this because of your sacrifices. Finally, I hope we will all keep in our thoughts and prayers the parents who are currently deployed, including those I was fortunate to spend time with in Afghanistan and Jordan, and the children here at home awaiting their safe return.

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

4 months ago

Rep. Roby: An Accurate 2020 Census is Vitally Important to Alabama

Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a count of every resident in the United States, as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of our Constitution. This action is critically important to understanding current facts and figures about our country’s people, places, and economy. It’s hard to believe that a decade has almost passed, and we are just eleven months away from next year’s April 1 Census.

It goes without saying that a lot has changed over the last ten years, especially on the technological front. As times and trends change, it is important that the method by which we conduct the Census also evolves to ensure we are reaching the most people possible. That said, it’s no surprise that in 2020, we will largely depend on an Internet system to count Americans, relying heavily on digital advertising and social media platforms to spread the word.

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As the Census Bureau works to modernize its various platforms ahead of the 2020 Census, I was glad to hear about these efforts directly from Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, during a recent Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. During this hearing, I had the opportunity to discuss with Director Dillingham how important it is that all Alabamians be accurately counted in 2020.

Back in 2010, our state did not do a great job accounting for all of our people, especially children below the age of six and those individuals in rural communities. As I told Director Dillingham, we must make sure that is not the case in next year’s count. You see, the Census doesn’t just decide the number of congressional seats Alabama has, it also decides our number of Electoral College votes. We currently have nine Electoral College votes, and if the 2020 Census is not accurate, that number will drop to eight. This is a very big deal, and it is something we Alabamians do not want to see happen.

The Census also determines the amount of federal dollars that come into Alabama, specifically to hospitals, job training centers, schools, infrastructure projects, and other emergency services. Inaccurate Census numbers force our state to do more with less, and that cannot happen again in 2020.

As we all know, Alabama’s Second District and the rest of the Southeastern corner of the state are made up of very rural communities. To achieve the most accurate count possible in next year’s Census, it is critical that we reach the men, women, and children living in the rural areas throughout the country.

During my conversation with Director Dillingham, I asked him how the Census Bureau plans to use its resources to partner with our state and community-based organizations to encourage participation in the Census, especially in hard-to-count, rural communities. I made sure Director Dillingham understands that a large part of our district, and many areas of our state, lack access to reliable broadband and thus may not utilize the Internet and social media enough to encounter online advertising about the upcoming Census. This will certainly be a challenge, but it is one we must address.

I also brought up another challenging reality that we must face: Over the last year, Alabama and other states in the Southeast have been beaten with hurricanes, tornadoes, and other powerful storms. There has been flooding throughout the Midwest and fires ravaging California. These disastrous events have caused thousands of Americans to be displaced from their homes, and we must ensure that they, too, are counted in next year’s Census.

To make sure the 2020 Census is as accurate as it can possibly be, it is important that leaders on all levels of federal, state, and local governments are communicating about ways we can spread the word and reach the most people. I believe the modernization of our Census process will lead to excellent results next year, but it is critical that we make every effort to reach those who have been displaced by severe weather as well as the people in rural communities who may not have reliable access to social media and online advertising.

The future of our state’s representation in Congress and the Electoral College are at stake, and we must ensure that Alabama receives its fair share of federal funding for numerous programs we all depend on. I encourage you to start spreading the word about the April 1, 2020, Census. It will be here before we know it, and Alabama needs an accurate count.

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: An April recap from the road

(M. Roby/Facebook)

While Congress was out of session for the April district work period, I had the opportunity to spend time on the road, traveling throughout Alabama’s Second District, meeting with constituents, businesses, industries and local leaders. As I always say, I appreciate every chance I get to hear directly from the people I represent, and I believe our interactions enable me to be a stronger advocate for our shared beliefs in Congress.

During the April district work period, I spent time in Prattville, Greenville, Evergreen, Castleberry, Tallassee, Montgomery and Dothan. Along the way, I had very productive conversations and am grateful to every person who took the time to share with me their thoughts, opinions and concerns.

In Prattville, I spoke to members of the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce about my committee assignments for the 116th Congress and my priorities on behalf of the Second District. During the visit, I was glad to catch up with friends from the Business Council of Alabama, and I was honored to receive the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise award recognizing my continued efforts to enact pro-business laws. In Congress, I will always push for an economic environment that enables companies of all sizes to flourish and succeed.

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In Greenville, I met with Mayor Dexter McClendon and other community leaders. We had a productive discussion about issues facing the Butler County area and ways my office can be helpful. In Evergreen, I spoke to a joint meeting of the Evergreen Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs and offered a legislative update from Washington.

In Castleberry, I stopped by the Weyerhaeuser lumber plant to visit with leadership and tour the impressive plant. Afterward, I paid a visit to Castleberry City Hall where I spoke with Mayor Henry Kirksey and others.

In Tallassee, I had the fantastic opportunity to speak to the Tallassee High School government class. I always enjoy any invitation to spend time with Alabama students and share with them the importance of service and leadership. This was a particularly impressive group of young people – they asked several thoughtful questions.

In Montgomery, I participated in a roundtable discussion with members of the Alabama Roadbuilders Association. I was grateful to hear their thoughts about ways we can reinvigorate our state and nation’s badly aging infrastructure. After this meeting, I visited MGMWERX for a tour. I was glad to learn more about their partnership with Air University and their ongoing projects to help our military remain on the cutting edge.

While in the Wiregrass, I joined Governor Kay Ivey, Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba, and other leaders to celebrate the Dothan Chamber of Commerce’s 100th anniversary. It was truly a privilege to honor this tremendous occasion alongside so many individuals who have worked tirelessly to make Houston County and great place to live and work. One hundred years ago, the Chamber started as a small office that helped establish the prices of produce and cotton. Today, the organization is comprised of more than 950 businesses, professionals, and individuals who are all focused on serving as a catalyst for business and community growth in Dothan. I am looking forward to many more years of continued success.

After the Chamber’s event, I stopped by Ready Mix USA in Dothan to tour the facility and catch up with leadership. This great company has plants in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. The Dothan Ready Mix facility employs 24 people, and I was glad to see their operation firsthand.

This April district work period was informative and productive thanks to the many individuals and businesses who hosted me and shared their thoughts about a wide range of issues facing our nation. I am looking forward to having many more of these interactions in the days and weeks to come. It is an honor to serve Alabama’s Second District in Congress, and I encourage you to reach out to my office if I can ever be of assistance.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

4 months ago

Roby: Sharing the joy of Easter

(M. Roby/Contributed)

For Christians, Easter is one of the most important and sacred days of the entire year because we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant resurrection from the dead. This special holiday gives us the time to gather with friends and family to spend time together, sharing the joy of Easter and the hope Jesus’ life, death and resurrection gives to all of mankind.

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Easter is also an important reminder of just how blessed we are to be Americans and call this nation home. While we enjoy the freedom to worship however we please without interference from the government, there are so many people around the world who don’t have the same experiences.

So, during the Easter holiday as you are gathered with loved ones, may we all take the opportunity to share the true joy of the season and give thanks for the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans. From my family to yours, Happy Easter! May God bless you, and may He continue to bless this great country.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

4 months ago

Roby: Enhancing Internet safety for all ages

(M. Roby for Congress/Facebook)

In today’s connected world, Internet safety is a growing concern for all age groups. From credit card fraud and identity theft to cyberstalking and child predators, there are countless dangers individuals can encounter online. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), over the last five years, there has been an average of more than 284,000 Internet crime complaints filed per year. The complaints address a wide range of online scams and crimes affecting victims across the world.

As a mother of a 13-year old and a 10-year-old, I face the reality that most American children now have Internet access. Of course, Internet technology affords children access to endless amounts of valuable information and great sources of entertainment. However, it also exposes children to terrible dangers, including demeaning or hateful speech, false information, SPAM containing obscene material, and inappropriate websites. Most troublesome, children may also encounter predators who use the Internet as a tool to identify, groom and lure victims through social media sites.

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Another worrisome reality is that in 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported seeing a striking increase in the average dollar amount that people aged 70 years and older say they lost to fraud. Most commonly, elders receive emails or some other form of online contact from individuals who pretend to be their grandchildren and request large amounts of cash. The average amount of cash sent by elders to family or friend impostors in these situations is $9,000. Over the last several years, financial losses to family and friend imposters have significantly increased. Last year, losses reached $41 million, compared to $26 million in 2017.

These statistics are troubling, to say the least. It goes without saying that as adults, we bear a lot of personal responsibility when it comes to safeguarding our personal information and our children and loved ones on the Internet. It is important that we educate ourselves, our children, our parents, and our grandparents about the risks that exist online, but I believe the federal government also has a crucial role to play in managing these dangers.

During a recent Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Attorney General William Barr testified regarding the Department of Justice’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request, and I had the opportunity to ask him specifically what the Department is doing to safeguard Americans from online predators. I appreciated his time and thoughtful response. It is imperative that Congress allocate adequate resources to combat Internet crimes and abuses, and I was glad to learn more about what steps the Justice Department is taking.

If you encounter a website that seems suspicious for children, you should immediately report that information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website at www.cybertipline.com, or by calling 1-800-843-5678. If you are a parent and come across offensive material or hear about online predators, you should quickly document the related online activities and report them directly to your local police department or the local FBI office.

Specific to our elders, in 2018, the Department of Justice established the Elder Justice Initiative to protect elderly Americans from financial threats. The Department provides elder-specific targeted training to local law enforcement, prosecutors, first responders, and others to enhance our abilities to respond to elder abuse effectively and bring criminals to justice. If you suspect an elder is being abused by a scammer or in other non-life-threatening manners, you should report the information to the Adult Protective Services Association by calling 1-800-458-7214.

At the end of the day, you are still the strongest, most reliable protection for your loved ones from the dangers of the Internet. It is our job to educate our children, parents, and other elderly relatives about the threats that exist online, but if it ever becomes necessary, I encourage you to utilize the resources listed above to combat online predators and protect those who fall prey to them. I am hopeful that Congress will put into place a strong Fiscal Year 2020 budget for the Department of Justice so that we can further crack down on these atrocious Internet crimes.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

5 months ago

Roby: Alabamians still need disaster recovery assistance – Congress must deliver

(M. Roby/Facebook)

The past few weeks in Washington have been even busier than usual. From votes and hearings to policy meetings and spending time with constituents in my office, the days seem to fly by.

During recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to participate in several incredibly important hearings, including speaking directly to Veterans Affairs Secretary Wilkie about making badly needed improvements at the Central Alabama VA and helping to lead my first hearing as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.

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In committee hearings, I have an important opportunity to make the case for the priorities important to those of us who live and work in Alabama’s Second District, such as proper treatment for veterans, strong funding for our military, support for our farmers, protection for the unborn and more. This is a large part of my job as your representative in Congress, and I take it very seriously.

An equally important part of my job is spending time with constituents when they travel to Washington to meet with me and tell me about their ideas and concerns. Over the last several weeks, I have had the privilege of meeting with dozens of constituents who visited my office in Washington to advocate for a wide variety of issues.

During a recent constituent meeting, I sat down with members of the Alabama Cattlemen Association. We discussed a number of issues impacting the cattle industry in Alabama, and they asked for an update on disaster relief for farmers in the Wiregrass who experienced extreme devastation last October when Hurricane Michael ripped through areas of Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

Unfortunately, I did not have good news to share. In the House, a disaster relief package passed back in January, but the Senate hasn’t made much progress on their own version. In fact, Senate Democrats recently blocked a disaster aid bill that would have provided relief to victims of hurricanes, wildfires, and floods because they claimed it did not contain enough additional funding aid for Puerto Rico. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby authored an amendment to this bill that would have allocated funds toward aiding recovery from last month’s tornadoes in Lee County. That amendment also failed.

I am deeply disappointed by this. I firmly believe it is Congress’ responsibility to make disaster recovery funds available for the people who have suffered tremendous loss. In Southeast Alabama, from the Wiregrass over to Lee County, so many people have experienced devastating loss of life, property and livelihood in the last year. I remain hopeful that a solution will be reached – many Alabamians are depending on it.

In the meantime, I encourage anyone who needs disaster-related assistance to contact my offices. We want to serve as a resource for you during this challenging period of recovery. Rest assured that I will continue to support efforts to bring recovery assistance to the Second District.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

5 months ago

Roby: Working to improve veterans’ care

(M. Roby/Contributed)

One of the most rewarding parts of my job as the representative for Alabama’s Second District is representing a large veteran population and advocating for their proper treatment and care. As a nation, it is critically important that we do all we can to care for our veterans and ensure the integrity of their service and sacrifice. When it comes to VA care, the very best is the only acceptable standard, and we have a very long way to go before this is achieved.

Improving services for Alabama veterans will always be a top priority of mine in Congress. As a member of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee for the 116th Congress, I am in a unique position to have consistent oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs and its health care systems. In this role, I will not stop pushing for badly needed improvements and higher standards at the VA facilities Alabama veterans should be able to count on.

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During a recent MilCon-VA hearing, we reviewed the VA’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget. In the last decade, the VA’s budget has grown significantly. Last year, President Trump signed into law the largest VA budget in history, and this year, the VA budget request is 9.5% higher than it was last year. I believe this increase over the last several years is a true and unfortunate testament to the fact that our country’s veteran population has been grossly underserved for many years. These additional resources and continued improvements are warranted.

At the hearing, I had the opportunity to speak directly to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. I told him that my only goal with the VA’s 2020 budget is that our veterans are finally cared for properly. The men and women who served our country should receive the level of care that was promised to them – no excuses.

During the hearing, I also discussed concerns related to the VA Choice Program’s reimbursement policy with hospitals that care for veterans who receive medical services outside the VA. Just last month, a rural hospital in our district called the VA invoice line and received an automated response stating that the VA was just now processing claims from April of last year. This situation is unacceptable and serves as another example of how the VA must be improved.

In the Second District, we know all too well that there are very real problems facing our small, rural hospitals. These hospitals should not have to worry about being reimbursed by the VA for veteran care, but unfortunately, this is a big problem. I know our rural hospitals hate to close their doors on the veteran community, but they simply cannot afford to continue providing care without being reimbursed by the VA in a timely manner. I was glad to have the opportunity to bring this serious issue to Secretary Wilkie’s attention, and I hope we will soon see the problem addressed.

The road to finally providing proper VA care to veterans is a long one, but our heroes deserve absolutely nothing less than the best we can give them. I am grateful to have a seat on the MilCon-VA Appropriations Subcommittee where I can interact directly with Secretary Wilkie and other top VA officials. I will continue to make the case to these leaders that veterans in Alabama and across the country face unacceptable challenges when it comes to receiving proper care through the VA. I am hopeful that, with hard work, consistent oversight and a healthy budget, we will finally accomplish meaningful improvements on behalf of our nation’s veterans.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

5 months ago

Roby: Congressional internships provide valuable opportunities

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

Each summer, I am glad to offer internship opportunities to college students from Alabama’s Second District who have completed at least their undergraduate freshman year. With opportunities in all three of my Alabama offices and my Washington, D.C., office, my summer internship program is a competitive experience designed for students who are interested in learning about the inner workings of our nation’s Legislative Branch and the day-to-day operations of a congressional office.

In my Washington office, interns’ responsibilities include a variety of tasks, such as drafting and presenting a policy proposal, answering constituent phone calls, researching legislation, attending hearings and briefings and more. Washington interns also lead tours of the United States Capitol building for constituents who are visiting our nation’s capital city.

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In my district offices located in Montgomery, Dothan and Andalusia, interns may also be asked to perform a variety of tasks, including day-to-day office work like answering constituent phone calls and responding to inquiries. In addition, district office interns assist with casework and district-based projects of importance.

A congressional internship, whether in Washington or the Second District, is a truly valuable experience that provides students an opportunity to observe the workings of Congress. The experience gained from these internships helps students develop knowledge of our government and our district as well as various policy issues. Congressional interns also develop numerous professional skills that will be valuable in future pursuits.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have been fortunate to host many students as interns in all four of my offices. Over the years, these bright, young people have worked very hard for the people of Alabama’s Second District, and I have greatly appreciated their efforts. College students who are willing to serve their communities while learning more about the legislative process are uniquely valuable to our future. I’m looking forward to hosting more accomplished students in my offices this summer.

For the summer of 2019, I will have three month-long internship opportunities available in all my offices. The first internship session will be from May 13 to June 7. The second is June 10 to July 5, and the third is July 8 to August 2. The deadline to apply for this year’s summer internship program is Friday, April 12, at 5:00 p.m. Central Time.

My office is always looking for talented, hardworking young people to help my staff and me better serve the people of Alabama’s Second District. If you know a college student who would be interested in this opportunity, please share this information with them, and encourage them to submit their application soon since the deadline is quickly approaching.

You can find my summer internship application by visiting www.roby.house.gov/student-resources/internships. If you’d like more information about the summer internship program, please contact my Washington, D.C., office by calling (202) 225-2901. We look forward to hearing from you, and we are excited to welcome new students in just a few short months!

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

5 months ago

Roby: Sharing agriculture community appreciation

(M. Roby/Facebook)

On Thursday, March 14, our country celebrated National Agriculture Day. Members of Congress from all corners of the nation took this opportunity to thank the farmers and producers in their respective states and districts, and President Trump issued a presidential proclamation acknowledging the immeasurable value farmers, ranchers, growers, producers and foresters contribute to our country and the world.

Agriculture has a significant impact on our economy. Our agriculture exports are valued at more than $141 billion and are critical to our country’s job market. It’s estimated that every $1 billion in agriculture exports supports roughly 8,400 American jobs. So, you see, agriculture and related industries are absolutely vital to this country’s economic success.

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Here in Alabama, agriculture continues to be our largest revenue-producing industry, contributing more than $70 billion in economic impact annually. With over 9 million acres of farmland and more than 48,500 farms, our state is a national leader in food production and a global competitor in many industries, including poultry, catfish, timber, cotton, peanuts, and livestock. In the Second District alone, agriculture is our largest employer, responsible for more than 93,000 jobs and $11 billion in economic impact.

At the end of last year, Congress passed and the President signed into law the new farm bill to provide certainty to the American families who work tirelessly to provide the food and fiber we all depend on. In Congress, my goal with agriculture policy is always to create a responsible framework of laws and programs that promote a sustainable and profitable agriculture industry in Alabama while enabling our farmers to do their important work. I was proud to vote in favor of this bill to accomplish just that.

During this time of celebrating our country’s agriculture industry, I feel it is also important to acknowledge the communities in the Wiregrass that are still trying to recover after Hurricane Michael devastated lands and crops during harvest last October. Earlier this month, our neighbors in Lee County experienced severe devastation when tornadoes ripped through the southern part of the county, taking innocent lives and destroying homes and property.

In the wake of this tragic devastation, I firmly believe Congress should make agriculture disaster recovery funds available for these people who were hit the hardest. I remain hopeful that we will get this done soon, and in the meantime, I encourage those who need assistance to contact my offices.

At the end of the day, life as we know it wouldn’t exist without the hard work of farmers and producers across this country. Our agriculture community provides the sustenance that feeds America and the world, and we owe it to these men and women to recognize the critical role they play in our daily lives.

So, to all the outstanding individuals in Alabama and across the country who work in agriculture, thank you. You feed us, clothe us, fuel our economy, and set a strong example of hard work and perseverance. I will always be a vocal advocate for you in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

6 months ago

Roby: Congress must continue to support the F-35 Program

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

In December of 2017, the U.S. Air Force announced that the Alabama National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery was selected for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter mission. I was honored to participate in the efforts to bring this coveted mission to the River Region, and I am incredibly proud of the men and women of the 187th who demonstrated the professionalism and capability that ultimately made this happen.

The F-35 is the military’s most cutting-edge war machine that will eventually replace many Cold War-era fighters like the F-16 Falcons currently flown by the 187th. This mission will provide a tremendous boost to the Montgomery area, and it will significantly enhance Alabama’s already large military footprint.

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Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked alongside my colleagues to rebuild and properly support our military and its critical national security programs after many years of devastating cuts under the Obama Administration. Most recently, I was proud to vote in favor of legislation for Fiscal Year 2019 that provides strong support for the important defense missions that happen in Alabama’s Second District at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and Fort Rucker. Specifically, this defense bill allocates funding for 93 additional F-35 aircraft as well as the largest pay raise for our troops in nine years.

This conversation about defense funding, especially for our missions in the Second District, is especially timely right now as discussions about Fiscal Year 2020 funding begin this month. Each year, the President maps out his Administration’s funding priorities and sends them over to the Legislative Branch for members of Congress to draft into legislation, debate, amend, and ultimately vote on. Throughout his presidency, President Trump has demonstrated a strong commitment to our military, and I expect we will see this dedication reflected in his Fiscal Year 2020 budget request as well.

In the House, I will continue to be a vocal advocate for proper defense funding, for the sake of our national security and the installations in our district. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, I recently joined some of my colleagues in cosponsoring H. Res. 177, which recognizes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as a critical component of our country’s national security efforts.

As we work to replace some of our military’s more antiquated, outdated aircraft, and as we move forward with negotiations for our Fiscal Year 2020 budget priorities, it is critical that President Trump and Congress continue to provide adequate support for the development and procurement of this next-generation fighter. The F-35 program is very important to our national security and maintaining our military’s position as tip of the spear. I will continue to strongly support this mission in Congress, and I look forward to soon having this innovative fighter jet in Montgomery.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

6 months ago

Roby: Fighting for those who fought for us

(Rep. Martha Roby/Facebook)

Here in Alabama’s Second District, we are fortunate to share our portion of the state with two of our nation’s finest military installations: Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery and Fort Rucker down in the Wiregrass. I’m honored to serve our district that is home to these installations, thousands of active duty and reserve personnel, and more than sixteen thousand military retirees.

In fact, according to last year’s federal statistics, our district has the thirteenth largest population of military retirees in the entire country, and many of these men and women were active duty servicemembers. We owe these individuals who have put on the uniform a great debt of gratitude, but unfortunately, our heroes often do not receive proper care.

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I’m sure you recall that just a few years ago, the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) was involved in a scandal of epic proportion. Some changes were made and new local leadership was installed, but CAVHCS still ranks as one of the nation’s worst VA medical centers.

To be clear, some veterans have told me that they have had positive experiences receiving care at CAVHCS, and I’m grateful for that, but isn’t this how the standard should be across the board, for every single veteran? Failure to properly treat even one veteran is still failure, and right now, the VA is failing far more than succeeding.

With my position on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, I recently had the opportunity to speak to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie during a hearing. I was grateful to have a direct conversation with him about my concerns with failing VA medical facilities, including our system in Central Alabama.

During the hearing, I introduced myself to Secretary Wilkie and explained the severity of the problems our veterans face in Southeast Alabama. According to the VA’s own data, CAVHCS continues to be a terrible VA health care system, and I am sick and tired of getting status quo answers as to why. The VA’s goal should be for every single system in this country to be the very best it can be for our veterans. But, at CAVHCS, we’re seemingly unable to get even the simple things right, like just saying “hello” and greeting a veteran when they come in for their appointment so they feel valued and like someone cares.

As I told Secretary Wilkie, I am eager to cultivate a strong relationship with him and with his Department so that we can work together to make badly needed improvements at CAVHCS and other health care systems across the country. I also invited him to Southeast Alabama to visit our VA so he can see firsthand what is happening. It’s not working, and it is not the way it should be, so I hope to host him in the Second District soon so that he can see the state of affairs for himself and work with us to make changes.

At the end of the day, my priority is simple. I want to be in public places at home in our district, like church, the grocery store, or restaurants, and have veterans approach me and tell me how wonderful their experiences at the VA are. Instead, I usually speak with men and women, sometimes with tears in their eyes, who have flat out given up hope of ever receiving proper treatment, or in some cases, receiving care at all.

We should be giving veterans the absolute best care available in a timely fashion, and it just is not happening. This is a huge disservice to the men and women who have served us all, and I will not stop making the case to Secretary Wilkie until we get this right. In the meantime, if you are a veteran who needs any kind of assistance with the Department of Veterans Affairs, please contact one of my offices immediately. My staff and I work for you, we are grateful for your service, and we will fight for you.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.