2 months ago

Del Marsh, Greg Reed discuss infrastructure, composition of the Alabama Senate

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) recently sat down for a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Yellowhammer News, discussing the 2018 election cycle, the new composition of the Alabama Senate, the upcoming legislative session and everything in between.

In case you missed it, read the first part here. It examines the impressive electoral success that the Senate Republican Caucus experienced in 2018. Marsh and Reed outlined how their strategy was formulated, as well as how it was executed with precision.

The second part of this interview series begins to preview the upcoming session, which will be the first of the new quadrennium.  The organizational session begins on Tuesday, with the regular session kicking off on March 5.

‘A lot of energy’

With the winds squarely at their backs coming off of historic election successes, Marsh and Reed are excited to continue advancing a conservative, pro-growth legislative agenda that will move Alabama forward.

The two Senate leaders believe that the composition of the chamber is impressive – and not just purely talking about party lines, even though a 27-8 supermajority certainly gives them a blank canvas to work with.

“A lot of great people chose to run, and they’re here and they’re excited and ready to go and do the state’s work. So, Greg and I are pretty excited,” Marsh said.

Reed responded, “We are excited. One statistical topic that I think is interesting for my caucus: We’ve got 27 Republican senators, and of those 27, there’s only four men that have served in this chamber more than eight years.”

Reed advised that with the large amount of newcomers and relative newcomers in the Senate comes “a lot of new ideas” and “a lot of energy.”

And, very importantly as well, there are enough veterans to provide institutional knowledge.

Marsh added, “It also goes to the point that generally every year you see term limit legislation offered, [but] you need to ask yourself, ‘Do you really need term limit legislation when you have this kind of turnover?'”

He continued to say that they had “a good healthy mix” of veteran legislators and fresh faces – Republicans and Democrats alike.

“There’s no two ways about it, you’ve got to have some veterans still there. I think we’ve got a good healthy mix of people based on their time of service. And I think it’s better for the state to have that mix we’ve got, like we have today,” Marsh outlined.

Quality vs. quantity

It is not just the people in the chamber that have Marsh and Reed excited. The state of Alabama has pressing issues that need to be addressed this legislative session, and the Senate leaders are eager to tackle them head on.

When it comes to setting the top of the Senate’s agenda, Marsh explained that prioritizing is key.

“We’re more interested in quality than quantity,” he summarized. “We have some big issues in the state that need to be addressed.”

Marsh added, “We’re going to be very focused on the key, big issues that affect the state in so many ways. I make it very clear [to the members of the Senate] – your issues are important, they’re going to be in the system, but we’re really going to focus and get these things done first.”

Infrastructure

First comes infrastructure when speaking about the “key, big issues.” It is the 2019 legislative session topic talked about most amongst the public right now, and the Senate leaders embrace this.

“We have been studying the infrastructure of the state for months – Senate and House members have been involved, stakeholders from cities, counties, schools – [and] we want to make sure at the end of the day that our roads are as safe as possible for citizens. We want to make sure that we have an advantage in economic development through what we can offer in infrastructure,” Marsh explained.

He continued, “We acknowledge – nobody can argue this – that it has been 26 years since there’s been an increase in revenue for our roads and bridges. 26 years. There was a flat number of a tax created 26 years ago in ’92, it’s not moved. You can’t argue [with the fact] that you have more people on the roads today, getting more miles to the gallon for what they pay into that tax. All of that, the simplest way I can put it, is if you took a job 26 years ago and haven’t had a pay raise, you’d be saying it’s time that something’s got to give.”

Marsh said they were looking at “all the pieces” involved in the infrastructure issue, including the funding formula involved and the revenue challenges brought on by ever-increasing automotive technology.

“At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure we have safe, adequate infrastructure. And we’ve got to ask ourselves, ‘What is it going to take to get there?’ We’ve got to make sure the citizens of this state understand all the facts. And from there, we’ve got to make some decisions,” Marsh summarized.

Reed built on that, saying that infrastructure falls into what he also considers a “holdover” issue – or something that they have been talking about addressing through legislation since at least last session without a solution becoming law. In his view, Governor Kay Ivey being supportive of specific issues will be a big boon to their respective chances of passing, because of her tremendous popularity and electoral mandate.

Reed considers infrastructure one of these issues that Ivey is strongly behind, which only gives him increased confidence of its passage when all is said and done.

“I think her leadership is going to be well respected by the state based on the overwhelming vote that she received from the citizens,” Reed advised. “And I know from having talked to her personally that the infrastructure topic is very important to her. And she recognizes from a safety perspective and an economic growth perspective, just a multitude of reasons, that that’s an issue we’ve got to look at.”

He continued, “How will that solve itself? How will it look? What are all the parts and pieces?”

Those answers, according to Reed, can only be determined through “the legislative process” playing out in March.

What next?

Infrastructure is certainly not the only major issue of 2019, with Marsh singling out education reform as being on par with its scope and importance. He also named sentencing reform as something he expects to be talked about seriously, while not necessarily saying that legislation would be spearheaded by the Senate leadership like infrastructure and education.

Additionally, Reed mentioned the state prison system, ethics reform, healthcare reform and workforce development as other pressing issues that will likely be discussed starting in March. And, of course, the legislature is likely to see a lottery debate.

Education reform will be the focus of the next installment in this interview series. Be on the lookout for Yellowhammer News’ follow-up article on exactly what this will entail.

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

6 hours ago

GE Aviation to expand 3-D printing facility in Auburn

Governor Kay Ivey announced Wednesday that GE Aviation has plans to invest $50 million into expanding the additive manufacturing operation at its facility in Auburn, which is the first site to mass produce a jet component using 3-D printing technology for the aerospace industry.

“GE Aviation is at the leading edge of advanced aerospace additive manufacturing, and the company’s expansion plans at the Auburn facility will strengthen its technology leadership position,” Ivey stated, via Made in Alabama. “We look forward to seeing where the great partnership between Alabama and GE Aviation will take us both in an exciting future.”

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As a part of the project, GE Aviation will reportedly create 60 jobs and place new additive production machines in Auburn, which will allow the factory to begin greater production of a second engine part by implementing the additive process.

The expansion will allow the Auburn facility to mass produce a 3-D printed bracket for the GEnx-2B engine program.

“We’re very excited for this new investment in our additive manufacturing operation here in Auburn,” said GE Aviation’s Auburn plant leader, Ricardo Acevedo.

He added, “Our success thus far is a testament to all the hard-working folks at this facility who are leading the way in advanced manufacturing. The future here is bright, and we’re glad to have such great support from the Auburn community and the state of Alabama.”

Instead of taking the more traditional route to produce a part, additive manufacturing uses a CAD file to grow parts by using layers of metal powder and an electron beam. It is a much quicker process and allows for more product with less waste.

“Additive manufacturing technologies are revolutionizing how products are being made in many industries, and GE Aviation is helping to drive that revolution in aerospace,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

He added, “We welcome GE’s decision to expand AM activities in Auburn because this will solidify the Alabama facility’s position as a hub for next-generation manufacturing techniques.”

Before today’s expansion announcement, the Auburn facility was set to employ an estimated 300 people in 2019.

“We’re grateful for GE’s continued investment in our community, and we are proud to be the home of GE Aviation’s leading additive manufacturing facility,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. “For years, Auburn has sought after technology-based industries, and this expansion is evidence of the value in that.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

6 hours ago

Marsh’s bill to help build Trump’s wall filibustered by Dem Senate minority leader

MONTGOMERY — A bill authored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) that would voluntarily allow a taxpayer to divert a portion or all of their own state income tax refund to We Build the Wall, Inc. was filibustered by Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, SB 22, has been carried over to a later legislative date yet to be decided.

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Singleton conducted several “small” filibusters, as he called them, leading up to debate on SB 22 when the chamber was confirming some of the governor’s various nominations.

Singleton said he wanted to slow down the bill’s passage and has managed to do so by at least one day.

When SB 22 came up as the first item on Wednesday’s special order calendar, Singleton launched into a mini-filibuster of just a few minutes before the Senate adopted a budget isolation resolution (BIR) on the bill, but in doing so, he threatened to filibuster for four hours on consideration of passage of the bill itself. He then began to appear to do just that after the BIR was adopted.

During his speech, Singleton claimed more “drugs and crime” come into the United States from Canada than Mexico. He also proposed that the federal government simply print more money to build the wall if it is needed and that walls should be built on both the southern and northern borders, rather than just the southern one.

After about 20 minutes of Singleton speaking passionately against SB 22, Marsh offered to carry the bill over to a later date so the rest of Wednesday’s legislation would not be adversely affected.

He emphasized that his bill does not divert tax money to help build the wall, but instead deals with money that taxpayers would be getting back anyway from the state. Individuals would voluntarily be able to send money already owed back to them by the state to a nonprofit named We Build The Wall, Inc.

Marsh also said SB 22 allows Alabamians to easily and directly send a message (through their monetary contribution) to the federal government and people around the nation – and world – that they support border security and President Donald Trump’s efforts. Marsh himself has made such a contribution previously, but his bill would make it easier for citizens to do the same.

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

8 hours ago

Ivey on Common Core: ‘We should be deliberate in determining a course of study for our state’

Governor Kay Ivey has released a statement on Senator Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama, saying, “I support Senator Marsh’s efforts to ensure that headlines about Alabama ranking last or close to last in education become things of the past.”

Marsh’s bill, SB 119, was advanced unanimously from committee Wednesday and will come before the full Senate on Thursday, with passage in that chamber expected. All 28 Republican state senators support the bill.

The legislature’s spring break is next week, and substantial discussion from the education community is expected to occur with Marsh over the break and heading into the House committee process.

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“Alabama has some of the greatest teachers anywhere, they do a fantastic job each and every day laying a strong educational foundation for the children of Alabama,” Ivey said. “I have supported our teachers by proposing pay raises each of the last two years and expanding programs that have proven successful. As a former educator and president of the Alabama State Board of Education, I know how important it is to have good course materials to teach.”

The governor concluded, “Efforts like this should not be taken lightly, and I believe we should be deliberate in determining a course of study for our state. I support Senator Marsh’s efforts to ensure that headlines about Alabama ranking last or close to last in education become things of the past.”

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

8 hours ago

Dale Jackson: The ‘clean lottery bill’ is not clean, nor a lottery bill

There was hope that the Alabama legislature would be dealing with a simple and non-complex lottery bill this legislative session. This was false hope.

Alabama Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) touted his lottery bill as a bill that would simply give Alabama voters an opportunity to vote on a lottery. He wasn’t trying to solve the state’s economic ailments. He wasn’t hoping to appease every group in the state with some piece of the pie. He wasn’t creating a new spending obligation. All he allegedly wanted to do was give the average Alabamian an opportunity to buy lottery tickets in their home state and send the benefits to the state’s coffers.

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Simple. Easy. “Clean.”

But it was not to actually be. Instead, this clean bill provides a quasi-monopoly for certain individuals who already have gambling interests in place. McClendon says this is to protect the jobs at these facilities by giving them the ability to have new “Virtual Lottery Terminals.” The terminals are really just slot machines with extra steps, and some of these folks already have experience running this type of business because they have been running these quasi-legal machines for years.

These entities want this legalized and they want to stop any competition from springing up. This is a completely reasonable position for them.

Guess who has a problem with this? The Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians released the following statement:

We appreciate Sen. McClendon’s efforts to bring the question of whether the state should have a lottery to the forefront of this legislative session. However, the bill introduced today does not fit the definition of a “clean bill.” It does not give citizens an opportunity to cast one vote on one issue — whether we should have a traditional lottery in our State. Instead, the bill is cluttered with provisions that will expand private gaming operations in a few parts of the state owned by a handful of individuals. It also demands that any vote on a lottery include a vote on video lottery terminals, which are also commonly known as “slot machines.”

They are not wrong, but no one should be sympathetic to this argument. They want their own monopoly on slot machines. This is a completely reasonable position for them.

Neither position is reasonable for the state of Alabama to take. The state of Alabama should either offer a legit clean bill with no expansion/codification of existing gambling or open the door for others to enter the free market.

If the legislature thinks these types of gambling are good for the state, then it needs to regulate it, limit it and give other parts of the state and other operators an opportunity to take part in the benefits. Let Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile enter a developer bidding for gambling facilities.

Alabama legislators clearly want to address this in this legislative session. McClendon’s bill is not the way to do it.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

 

8 hours ago

Ainsworth looks forward to Common Core repeal – ‘Damaging legacy of the disastrous Obama administration’

Count Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth as an adamant supporter of eliminating Common Core in the state of Alabama.

After Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) filed a bill to do just that, Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News that he “look[s] forward to dropping the gavel when the repeal of Common Core passes the State Senate.”

This is expected to occur Thursday after the bill unanimously was advanced from committee on Wednesday.

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Ainsworth said in a statement, “I believe Alabamians should determine the curriculum and standards for our schoolchildren based upon our available resources, our needs, and our first-hand knowledge of what makes Alabama great. We should not rely upon some out-of-state entity or liberal, Washington, D.C. bureaucrats to determine our standards, and we certainly should not continue embracing this most damaging legacy of the disastrous Obama administration.”

“Sen. Marsh and the co-sponsors of his bill should be commended for working to end this unnecessary Obama-era relic, and I look forward to dropping the gavel when the repeal of Common Core passes the State Senate,” he concluded.

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