7 months ago

Ivey ceremonially signs four key education bills

MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey this week held a bill signing ceremony for four major pieces of education legislation that were passed during the Alabama legislature’s 2019 regular session, with Friday marking two years since the governor unveiled her signature ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ education initiative.

The governor’s office in a statement emphasized that these four bills are major parts of implementing the policies espoused in the “Strong Start, Strong Finish” plan.

Ivey outlined that the two-year anniversary of the initiative’s roll-out sees education steadily heading in the right direction in the Yellowhammer State.

“For too long, our state has not seen the education results we want, and that should not be the case. Over the last two years, Alabama rallied behind ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ so that instead of being complacent, our state could take the lead in education,” Ivey said. “I am certainly proud of the groundwork that we have laid and look forward to our educators, students and workforce reaping the benefits of these labors.”

“Strong Start, Strong Finish” is comprised of three core components: Pre through Three; Computer Science for Alabama (CS4AL); and Advanced Training, Better Jobs.

The four education bills ceremonially signed this week, which make up this year’s “Strong Start, Strong Finish” legislative package, focus on those three phases of a student’s learning journey. The bills are House Bill 388, House Bill 216, House Bill 570 and Senate Bill 295 and all become effective September 1.

The governor’s office said that this is the most substantial education package a governor has signed into law since then-Governor Albert Brewer fifty years ago.

Pre through Three

The initial phase focuses on building a child’s foundation for their educational journey and beyond. To further this effort, Ivey this year signed into law HB 388, sponsored by State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur). Known as the Alabama Literacy Act, HB 388 will ensure that all students enter the fourth grade reading proficiently.

“This legislation will focus on helping students improve their reading skills and will enable them to achieve better opportunities in all areas of life,” Collins said in a statement.

This law also refocuses the Alabama Reading Initiative by providing support for educator professional learning in reading and strengthens support for struggling readers.

Computer Science for Alabama (CS4AL)

Computer science education is critical in preparing Alabama’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, and is recognized as such through Ivey’s initiative. To put a greater emphasis on this subject matter, HB 216, known as the Computer Science for Alabama Act, was sponsored by State Rep. David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook). The bill phases in requirements for public schools to offer courses in computer science.

“Every student in Alabama deserves the opportunity to take a computer science course that better prepares them to have success in a world that is constantly becoming more technology dependent,” Faulkner commented.

In addition to HB 216 providing funds for evidence-based computer science professional learning for K-12 computer science teachers, it also carves a better pathway for public school teachers to be properly trained and certified in computer science.

Advanced Training, Better Jobs

Finally, the governor has made it a priority of her administration to create world-class workforce development programs for Alabamians across the state.

“It is imperative that we continue to find ways to streamline the process for students who are entering the workforce in Alabama,” State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) emphasized.

Scofield added that both SB 295 and HB 570 represent “a great step in that direction.”

Sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), SB 295 expands the Apprenticeship Alabama Tax Credit by providing an additional $500 for hiring in-school youth apprentices. Additionally, this bill modifies the Apprenticeship Alabama Tax Credit to increase the base tax credit from $1,000 to $1,250. SB 295 also increases the number of apprentices one employer may claim from 5 to 10, as well as the tax credit cap from $3 million to $7.5 million. Additionally, the legislation establishes the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship.

Regarding HB 570, State Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton) advised, “The AIRRAP Act will allow multiple state and local entities, as well as the private sector, to come together with a common goal of training our citizens to be productive participants in our state’s economy.”

SB 295 and HB 570 had strong bipartisan support.

“With the constantly changing economy, workforce development must continue to be a focus of the Legislature and our state agencies,” Rep. Rod Scott (D-Fairfield) said. “These bills, without a doubt, advance our efforts to have a 21st Century workforce that is not only equipped for the jobs that exist today, but is also prepared for the new jobs that will be created in the future.”

What’s next?

In addition to these four bills, Ivey supported SB 397 and SB 398 during the 2019 regular session.

Now, SB 397 is up for a referendum of the people on the March 2020 primary ballot.

Read more about the ongoing effort to raise support for that referendum here.

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

55 mins ago

Mooney for Senate endorsed by 10 state legislators

State Rep. Arnold Mooney’s (R-Indian Springs) campaign for the U.S. Senate has received an endorsement from 10 of his colleagues in the state legislature with less than two weeks to go before the primary election.

The endorsers include many of the most conservative members in the Alabama statehouse, like State Rep. Mike Holmes from the Montgomery area and State Rep. Tommy Hanes from Northeast Alabama.

The state-level endorsements fall in line with the prominent national conservatives who have endorsed Mooney previously. Conservative Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY), along with conservative television host Mark Levin, and Alabama’s own Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) are among those who have thrown their support behind Mooney.

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The full list of state legislators, as follows:

  • Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals)
  • Rep. Danny Crawford (R-Athens)
  • Rep. Ritchie Whorton (R-Owens Cross Roads)
  • Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant)
  • Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka)
  • Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa)
  • Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville)
  • Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Florence)
  • Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Birmingham)
  • Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road)

In addition to those legislators, Mooney has gotten the personal endorsement of Eunie Smith, the president of the Eagle Forum. The Eagle Forum is a deeply conservative group with a strong presence in Alabama.

Many of Mooney’s coworkers in the state legislature called him a “friend” in their statements. They praised Mooney’s passion for conservative values, his commitment to pro-life policies and Christian values. The group of legislators that endorsed Mooney on Friday is viewed by many as having similarities to members of the Freedom Caucus in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Dan Roberts said in a statement, “Arnold Mooney is a true conservative and has the record to prove it. Over the years, I have witnessed Arnold stand up to the establishment in Montgomery, fight for the life of the unborn, and ensure that the voice of the people he represents are heard. Arnold is a family man, a true conservative, and a strong Christian. Alabama needs him in Washington.”

“Representative Arnold Mooney is a tremendous friend and colleague who is well suited and very capable of representing Alabama as a United States Senator. He is the true conservative in the race and has the record to prove it,” Rep. Andrew Sorrell advised.

Mooney’s supporters will be hoping the endorsements generate enthusiasm for a campaign that has lagged in recent polls.

Yellowhammer reported earlier Friday that Mooney has $350,626 cash on hand for the remainder of the election. Fundraising is one area where the Mooney campaign’s success has surprised many political observers. The candidate has consistently been able to pull in funds at a level that outpaces his relative standing in public polls, seemingly from small grassroots donations.

(FEC) Totals from the entire race up to Feb 12, 2020.

Mooney will compete at the ballot box on March 3 with former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 hours ago

Dale Jackson: Sessions is punching in all directions — that shows the status of the U.S. Senate race

The race for the United States Senate seat from Alabama has gotten pretty contentious this past week. The knives are out, and it’s about time.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made his presence felt by going after both Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Sessions joined WVNN on Thursday to highlight his concerns with the other major contenders for his old Senate seat.

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Sessions hit Byrne for abandoning the president only weeks before the general election against Hillary Clinton.

Sessions explained on “The Dale Jackson Show,” “Well it’s a huge mistake. It would have guaranteed the election to Hillary Clinton.”

Sessions wants voters to know that he was on stage with now-President Donald Trump wearing a red MAGA hat while “my own Congressman was saying he was unfit to be president and should resign.”

“That would have split the party and been a disaster of monumental proportions, so it is a big deal, I just have to say,” he added.

The attacks pointed towards Tuberville are far more pointed.

Sessions hammered him on his Florida residency, pointing out that Tuberville claimed his homestead exemption in Florida and has never voted in Alabama. He also pointed out that Tuberville did not donate a cent to the Trump campaign, while millions of average Americans did.

“He filed for homestead in Florida in 2018, and he hasn’t voted in Alabama. He voted in Florida in 2018, it appears. I’m not sure he even voted for President Trump, I’m not sure, he certainly didn’t give a contribution to the Trump campaign, he never once spoke out in favor of the Trump campaign. So, now he waltzes in tourist-like, I think it’s a fair word, to say now I want to be Alabama’s senator, and go up there and defend Alabama’s values.”

Sessions in the interview also hit Tuberville on immigration, vets and trade.

My takeaway:

These are all fair arguments. Tuberville filed his homestead exemption, which you file on your primary residence in Florida in 2018. He paid his taxes there. He lived there and admitted to me that he moved here to run for U.S. Senate because he knew his name ID in the state would work.

Tuberville did talk about amnesty for illegals.

Tuberville did say he was blaming Trump for veterans’ health care.

Tuberville did say Trump was putting a noose around the neck of farmers.

The attacks show that Sessions knows he is in a dogfight for his former seat. He is not walking away with this like many thought he would. Polls indicate he is in first or second, so as this race continues to heat up, look for more attacks on his opponents’ records from Jeff Sessions.

Listen:

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

3 hours ago

Mo Brooks, colleagues introduce bill to protect travelers with firearms

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), along with 13 original cosponsors, introduced the Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act on Friday.

According to a press release, the Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act would “expand the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) ‘transport’ definition to include ‘staying in temporary lodging, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, or any other activity incidental to the transport.'”

In addition, the bill clarifies that the ability to transport a firearm also applies to  ammunition and  detachable magazines, which are essential to the function and purpose of a firearm.

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“‘The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’ means that Americans do not relinquish their Second Amendment Rights by simply traveling across state lines,” Brooks said. “All Americans have the constitutional right to self-defense whether they are at home or traveling.”

He added, “My bill, the Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act, would bar freedom-hating, anti-Second Amendment states and localities from prosecuting firearm-transporting travelers who are passing through on the way to their destination who engage in travel-related activities.”

The press release also noted that FOPA currently prohibits state prosecution of “persons traveling from one place to another for any state firearms offense if the traveler is merely passing through on the way to their destination as long as the firearm is transported in a locked container other than the vehicle glove compartment or console.”

“Despite FOPA protections, a disturbing trend has emerged wherein anti-Second Amendment states and localities increasingly seek to criminalize the possession of a firearm or ammunition,” the release stated. ” These freedom-hating jurisdictions continue to seek ways to prosecute travelers merely for the possession of an otherwise lawful firearm. This bill seeks to safeguard otherwise law-abiding gun owners traveling the country from overcriminalization by anti-Second Amendment states and localities.”

“Malicious state laws  unconstitutionally  criminalize  what would otherwise be considered  law-abiding activity  for the explicit purposes of making gun ownership, possession, and transportation more difficult,” said Aidan Johnston, GOA’s director of Federal Affairs. “The Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act complements the Second Amendment in its mission to protect Americans from governmental infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.”

Johnston added, “I hope every member of Congress supports this simple legislation that protects gun owners while they travel.”

Original cosponsors of the bill include Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36), Congressman Steve Watkins (KS-02), Congressman Steve King (IA-04), Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Congressman Greg Gianforte (MT-AL), Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Congressman Ted Yoho (FL-03), Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Congressman Jody Hice (GA-10), Congressman Ralph Norman (SC-05) and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA-01).

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 hours ago

Auburn University announces A-Day kickoff time, ticket sales

Auburn University announced Thursday that its popular A-Day game, presented by Golden Flake, will kick-off at 1:00 p.m. CST at Jordan-Hare Stadium on April 11.

Tickets for the annual spring football game are on sale now through the Auburn Ticket Office for $5 to the general public and free for AU students who have an Auburn Ignited Card.

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Tickets for the event can be purchased here or in-person at the Auburn Ticket Office located at Auburn Arena from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

A press release for the event said a pre-game “Auburn Legends” flag football game will be held in Jordan-Hare Stadium with participating players being announced at a later date. A post-game autograph session will also be held after A-Day. Fans will be limited to one item per person.

A-Day Weekend will also feature the softball and men’s tennis teams competing at home. The softball team will host Ole Miss at Jane B. Moore Field on Friday, April 10 at 5:00 p.m. and on Saturday, April 11 at 4:00 p.m. In addition to the other events occurring, the Auburn men’s tennis team will host Arkansas on Friday, April 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.

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

4 hours ago

Alabama legislator files bill to ban transgender meds, surgeries for minors — ‘It is irresponsible to permanently mutilate them’

MONTGOMERY — State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy) on Thursday filed the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, HB 303.

The legislation would make it illegal for doctors to prescribe puberty blocking medications or opposite gender hormones to minors. Allen’s HB 303 would also ban hysterectomy, mastectomy or castration surgeries from being performed on minors. Violations would constitute a Class C felony.

In a findings section of the legislation, the act states, “The long-term effects and safety of the administration of puberty-blocking medications and cross sex hormones to gender incongruent children have not been rigorously studied. Absent rigorous studies showing their long-term safety and positive benefits, their continued administration to children constitutes dangerous and uncontrolled human medical experimentation that may result in grave and irreversible consequences to their physical and mental health.”

The bill has been referred to the House Health Committee.

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“I was shocked when I found out doctors in Alabama were prescribing these types of drugs to children,” Allen said in a statement. “This is something you hear about happening in California or New York but it is happening right here in Alabama and it’s time we put a stop to that practice.”

Allen noted that he recognizes that there are children who are struggling with psychological disorders, such as gender dysphoria. A release added that “he believes that we should help those children with therapeutic treatment from qualified mental health professionals, not allow these children’s bodies to be permanently mutilated.”

“Gender dysphoria is a real disorder. It’s listed in the DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association, which lists all recognized mental disorders,” Allen remarked. “These children are suffering from a psychological disorder, just as someone who is suffering with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia but we treat those patients and try to help them. We should treat these psychological disorders as well.”

Allen’s release further stated that many of the puberty blocking medications and opposite gender hormones being prescribed to Alabama children “have irreversible consequences including sterilization, liver disease and increased risk for cancer.” Allen advised that the FDA has never approved the use of puberty blocking medications for the treatment of gender dysphoria.

“These patients are children who have not reached physical or mental maturity. It is irresponsible to permanently mutilate them at their request or at the request of their parents. We don’t allow minors to enter into contracts, buy alcohol or get a credit card because they aren’t capable of making those decisions and we should not allow them to do this either,” he concluded.

The introduction of this legislation came the day after the House State Government Committee gave a favorable report to the “Gender is Real Legislative” (GIRL) Act.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn