Do you know the frivolous programs your tax dollars fund?


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, last week, it was reported that the National Endowment for the Humanities spent nearly $13 million in just one month for 253 projects. Now, the National Endowment for Humanities gives away a lot of money for a lot of projects and a lot of these projects, Harry, I’d have to just say they’re nonsensical-like grants to investigate the bell and music and culture of Bulgaria.

Another grant for almost $100,000 was given to Texas Women’s University to investigate incorporating global perspectives into its college humanities courses. There’s been thousands of dollars spent on panel discussions concerning the LGBTQ history.

Harry, the list goes on and on and on and on and, most of these things, I think if people had to pay for them out of their pockets, the average American would say, “No way.”

DR. REEDER: And we need to make clear you are paying for it out of your pockets – that’s your tax money that’s going to these issues. And, by the way, the list is unbelievable. You’ve just picked a few little things that were in that report.

Some of the projects, you’ve got one called “Slouch: How to make people sit up better and why do they slouch?” Listen, just cut my mama loose on this one: “Stand up straight, boy.”

FRUGALITY AND STEWARDSHIP

I promised yesterday I would give the reason as to why my mama will be proud of this program. My dad and mom were not part of the Depression, but they were born in the Depression and, therefore, they were born to families that were addressing the Depression.

It carried over into habits to us. My dad and mom taught me and my three sisters a work ethic that is manifested in our life and they taught us frugality – “stewardship.” One of the things it’s allowed Cindy and I to do is to be able to give a lot for Christ out of what God is giving to us and one of the reasons why is because we’re able to live with frugality.

FRUGALITY IN GOVERNMENT

Well, if there’s any place frugality needs to be in place, it ought to be in the government, particularly if you have a view of limited government. What is the government there for? For the general welfare – that’s what the government is there for. It’s not there for special interests.

I believe there’s a place for us to fund medical research and I believe there’s a place even to fund some of the fine arts, but what we don’t fund are specialized agendas.

I was part of the debate in Charlotte over the funding of The Arts and Science Council. The Arts and Science Council had given grants to plays that supported the LGBTQ agenda and I challenged that. And they said, “Well, you just don’t want any support for the arts.” I said, “No, no, I benefitted from the arts.”

When I was a kid in elementary school, I remember them putting us in a bus, driving us down to Ovens Auditorium and that money that had been set aside was used to pay the Charlotte Symphony in order for us to come and hear something we would never have had the money to go and hear.

TRUMP SHOULD EXAMINE THE BUDGET

I’m all for that use of it, but what we don’t want are these specialized projects in place and so I have a recommendation, Tom, out of this program: I think this president is perfectly placed as a “populist president” businessman to go and do what he would do in his company, which is make sure you sharpen the pencil and you don’t have extraneous, nonsensical projects in which you’re spending money where you ought not to be spending money. And, if he could put together a Blue-Ribbon Committee to search and make recommendations of how to destroy all of these nonsensical projects and initiatives that are out there that are there only for special interests.

LITTLE CUTS CAN GO A LONG WAY

Now, people say, “Now, Harry, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of this and millions of dollars for that, we’ve got debt that’s unbelievable. That’s a drop in the bucket.” Well, you put enough drops in the bucket, you’ve got a pail full of water in a bucket.

And, by the way, knocking out 1 to 2 percent of a budget is not a bad idea, no matter what size the budget is. There are some congressmen and some senators I know who share this perspective who are very smart in this matter of looking at spreadsheets and looking at projects and understanding what is important.

Don’t take the money of the citizens of this United States through the tax system and waste this tax money on those initiatives. I don’t care if it doesn’t amount to 1 percent of the budget, go after it and get it done.

TIME TO CUT PET PROJECTS FOR GENERAL WELFARE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Indeed, is this not symptomatic of a bigger problem?

DR. REEDER: Which is the government is now existing and trying to be a player in the industry. Now, listen, I know there are necessary projects that need to be funded, particularly in the area of science and particularly in the area of medical research. I understand that – I am not talking about that.

I am talking about these inane programs that I think somebody almost proposes them as a joke on the government, but somebody takes it and funds it and now a whole class of people exist off of the dole of the government in carrying out these research projects that are meaningless, that are filed away, that have no impact on the general welfare.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT’S FISCAL ROLE?

Remember, the federal government is here for the general welfare of the people throughout the United States as it carries out the protection of the Bill of Rights and the execution of the law of the land and that is the Constitution.

The government provides defense, the government provides protection, the government provides law and order in a nation – that’s what the government does. It should not be here in order to fund meaningless and unnecessary projects that have nothing to do with the general welfare of the citizenship in this country.

FAMILY BUDGETS CAN SET A GENERATIONAL LEGACY

TOM LAMPRECT: Christian application, Harry, in terms of how we spend our money and in terms of how does the believer respond to the situation?

DR. REEDER: Tom, all I’m asking for is for the government to take a look at its purpose, create a budget according to its purpose and treat the money that you have taken from people through taxation with respect and with thoughtfulness. This isn’t Monopoly money for you to play around with. Be a leader of responsibility – and I know we have a number of elected officials that feel this way.

On a personal level, this is the way that we ought to live as believers. Our money isn’t our money – God has given us stewardship. We are stewards.

What does it mean to be a father and a mother and creating a budget for your family that is not superficial and that is not devoted to following the latest fads of society? Teach your children how to create a budget that is the meat and potatoes of life. Teach your children something about respecting the financial and material resources that God has entrusted to you.

SHOULD WEALTH BE HANDED DOWN?

One final thing that’s a little bit beyond our program for today: I believe one of the most non-productive things is second generation and third generation wealth. You want to hand off a business? You want to hand off property? You want to hand off a stipend to your children? That’s fine, but the No. 1 thing you ought to hand off to your children is a spiritual legacy of what it means to live for Christ, trust in Christ and be a follower of Christ. In the meantime, the money that God has given to you, measure it out and use it for the Lord.

And, when you get to the end of your life, yes, here’s a stipend for your children, here’s a business, maybe, for your children, here’s some real estate for your children, here’s a library for your children, here’s an education I’ve given to you but, everything else, God’s given to me, I’ve invested it according to Biblical principles and values in life and it’s been done in a way to honor the Lord. I’m not like the man that took the gift of God, and dug it, and put it the ground and saved it up. I used it for Him.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

33 mins ago

Marsh bill to repeal Common Core approved by Senate committee

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama was given a unanimous favorable recommendation by the Senate’s Education Policy Committee on Wednesday.

The bill, SB 119, is now set to be debated and considered on the Senate floor Thursday.

Marsh spoke about this bill during Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “News Shaper” event in Montgomery Tuesday evening after he filed the bill earlier that day.

He acknowledged that he has been a proponent of letting the state school board set education curriculum and standards policy in the past and even stopped an effort to repeal Common Core a few years ago. However, in Marsh’s view, Common Core has been given a chance now and it is time for the legislature to step in.

“It’s not working. I think we have to have some radical change with education policy in this state. And y’all know me, I’ve pushed a lot of things –  public charter schools, the Accountability Act. We’ve got to address this issue and it’s critical for this state,” Marsh said.

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He said eliminating Common Core would “clear the field” so the state could then move forward to better education outcomes.

Alabama would come up with its own high standards, premised on local control, under Marsh’s proposal.

He said his bill is cosponsored by all 27 of his Republican Senate colleagues and he expects SB 119 to pass the chamber and then receive similarly strong support in the House.

“I am committed to moving to a different standard that’s right for Alabama and moves us forward,” Marsh emphasized.

He also advised that there is a high level of politics involved in education decisions in the state but that sound policy must come first.

“[T]he education community, who I’ve asked to get this fixed, who have not addressed this, quite honestly I don’t think has put us in shape to move forward to address the problem at present. But I’m going to do all I can to see that it happens,” Marsh added.

Democrats on the Senate Education Policy Committee spoke in favor of keeping Common Core on Wednesday.

A career public school teacher from Lee County spoke in favor of eliminating Common Core at the hearing, while representatives from the state school superintendents association and the school boards association had concerns about the implementation of new standards.

Marsh said his bill will be amended before a vote by the full Senate to allow another national standard to be used if found to be best for Alabama, as the current language in his bill would ban any national standard from being adopted by the state school board.

Update, 11:35 a.m.:

State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) released a statement in support of Marsh’s bill.

“I strongly support Senator Marsh’s bill,” Givhan said. “The Common Core standards just haven’t worked for Alabama’s students, and the proof is evident in the data. In 2017, Alabama’s 8th grade math scores ranked 49th among the 50 states, and math scores for 4th grade students were 45th in the nation, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Common Core’s curriculum standards and guidelines have been in place for nine years, and they have failed Alabama’s students. It’s clear we need to look at alternative educational methods, with an emphasis on returning as much control as possible back to the local school districts.”

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

1 hour ago

Marsh, McCutcheon talk lottery, ethics clarifications at Yellowhammer ‘News Shaper’ event

MONTGOMERY — Speaking Tuesday evening at Yellowhammer Multimedia’s first “News Shaper” event of 2019, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) provided their insight on some of the hot-button topics expected to be debated during the legislature’s ongoing regular session.

Yellowhammer owner and editor Tim Howe, who moderated the discussion, outlined uncertainty in the state’s ethics laws brought on by recent court and ethics commission decisions. Howe then asked the two leaders how they think the legislature can provide certainty and codified clarification moving forward, especially when it comes to defining a “principal.”

“There is no doubt that there’s a lot of uncertainty in the ethics legislation,” Marsh said. “The [Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission] was set up to look over this, but in addition to that, both the Senate and the House – in the Senate you have Greg Albritton and in the House [you have] Mike Jones – working throughout the entire break on how we address this.”

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“And remember,” Marsh continued, “it’s not about 140 legislators, there are 50,000 people in the state of Alabama affected by the ethics law. I’m going to make a plea to my colleagues, some of whom are in this room tonight: If it’s going to be fixed, we’ve got to fix it.”

He emphasized, “[I]t’s not going to get any easier. You’ve got to face the issues. You’ve got to address it and realize this is about much [more] than the legislature. So, I’m hopeful.

Marsh also noted that the uncertainty in the ethics law has “affected economic development.”

“There’s a section there where the economic developers are having problems keeping the [confidentiality] in the process of recruiting industries. We’ve got to address this,” he advised. “And I’m hopeful that we will address it this year.”

Marsh added, “I know that both Senator Albritton and Representative Jones have been in conversation with the attorney general and the ethics commission, as well. So we’re going down a path to try and get everybody on the same page. But we have got to -trust me, ladies and gentleman – we have best fix this. It’s got to be done.”

Howe then asked Marsh to articulate why certainty in the ethics law for economic development professionals is important not just for them, but for the entire state and each of its residents.

“[I]t’s important for the state, because we’re competing with all of the other states,” Marsh said.

He used the example of a piece of legislation passed out of committee that very day largely dealing with Polaris vehicles built in north Alabama and explained that the site selection process requires confidentiality, with most economic development recruitment projects being given code names.

“Because we’re competing against other states. And if we’re not able to keep that degree of secrecy at that stage of the game, we’re at a disadvantage to our neighbors,” Marsh explained.

He concluded, “So this is something that we have got to address. But I’m going to say this: that’s [only] a piece of it. And there’s going to be an attempt by the business community and economic developers to pass the piece. But I think it’s [incumbent] upon us to pass the big picture, solve all the problems, because you want as many people with you, supporting you, to make the changes. Every time you carve off a little piece, you lose some support. So, as I said, I want to help everybody, but I’m committed to the big picture.”

Lottery

Howe later asked the speaker if the time has come for a lottery proposal to pass the legislature and reach a referendum of the people.

“I think so,” McCutcheon responded. “I think it’s been coming for several years. I know that the districts, House districts, that are [bordering other states], most of those districts have seen a significant shift over the last seven or eight years because they see Alabamians driving across the state line to buy lottery tickets.”

He continued, “And people are starting to talk about it, and they’re starting to make it part of their discussion around the dinner table. … At the end of the day, there’s a good push from the people.”

McCutcheon did emphasize what he viewed as key to a successful lottery discussion.

“If we’re going to put this to a vote of the people, and I think it has a good chance of passing, we need to make sure that people understand what they’re voting on,” he outlined. “That’s very, very important. We don’t want to cloud the issue with the definition of a ‘lottery’ and try to sneak something in the back door. Let’s make sure the people understand in their minds what a lottery is and we define it in such a way that they know what they’re voting on.”

“Then, I think the next big debate will be, ‘Where’s the money [lottery revenue] going to go?’ And that will be something that we’ll have to contend with,” McCutcheon concluded.

This came the same day that Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) filed a lottery proposal that was soon after called not “clean” by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who said McClendon’s legislation would legalize slot machines in a select few places in the state.

Watch the entire discussion:

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

After 133 launches, Alabama built rockets boast 100% mission success

Thank you to the United Launch Alliance team and the entire workforce surrounding another successful launch.  Alabama’s Decatur based facility brings the utmost precision, passion and purpose to one of the most technically complex, critical American needs: affordable, reliable access to space.

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2 hours ago

Bipartisan bill to regulate vaping set for House committee hearing

MONTGOMERY — Alabama is currently one of only three states to not regulate vaping, but that could soon change.

HB 41, sponsored by Republican Rep. Shane Stringer and Democrat Rep. Barbara Drummond, both of Mobile County, is on the House Judiciary Committee’s agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would regulate the sale, use and advertisement of vaping – or “alternative nicotine products” – in the state.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, both Drummond and Stringer emphasized that their bill is intended to protect the health and wellbeing of Alabama minors.

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“The motivation is simple,” Drummond emphasized. “We are trying to safeguard the teens in the state of Alabama.”

She outlined, “Vape shops, as it stands right now, are not regulated at all… And the bill came about because our drug education council locally brought it to our attention, but [Stringer and I] have both seen ourselves, as well as throughout the whole state, the rise of vape shops. They’re popping up everywhere in the state of Alabama.”

While it is too early to tell what vaping is directly doing to users’ health, Stringer and Drummond emphasized there is an objective gateway effect from vaping use and to smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Right now, there is no data that says what is the [direct] effect that these products are having on our young people. What we are seeing, and this is a national trend, is that you’re seeing smoking not going down, but increasing, among young people,” Drummond explained.

Stringer, a career law enforcement officer with stints as chief of multiple local police departments, said educators from every corner of Mobile County have voiced their concerns with the lack of state oversight on vape products and retailers “saying this is an epidemic and a problem what we need to address.”

“The products haven’t been out long enough to know the problems we could face in five, ten, 15 years from now,” he said. “It’s pretty similar to when smoking came out. There was basically no risk at that time, according to everyone. Now, look at all the data that we have to go with smoking… this is a new product we’re learning every day about.”

Stringer said statistics they were shown from the drug education council show an approximately 34 percent increase in children under 19-years-old that tried smoking after vaping.

“In Alabama, we don’t want to wake up one day and see the effects, negative effects on our kids,” Drummond added. “Right now, we’re trying to be responsible legislators to make sure that we look out for the welfare of our children.”

The two lawmakers also stressed that not only do vape shop operators have no restrictions on them, but the state has no way to even keep track of them currently.

Their bill would make it illegal to sell or give vape products to anyone under 19-years-old. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would regulate retail sales of the products, just as they do tobacco products. Retailers would have to obtain an annual permit, which includes an application fee of $300. Retailers would also have to comply with relevant FDA regulations and post signage warning of the dangers of nicotine usage.

Using vape products in certain places, including schools and child care facilities, would be prohibited.

‘This is something that is nonpartisan, it’s not anything that is about Republican or Democrat. This is something about our young people,” Drummond said. “Because if you look at the amount of nicotine that is showing up in these products, when they first hit the market, the nicotine levels were very low – like five percent. Now, it’s gone up to about ten percent. They’ve got other chemicals in there, like formaldehyde. What is the effect of that upon the brains of our kids? So, this is more of a public wellbeing bill for us.”

Stringer advised that he foresees widespread support in the legislature for the bill.

“Everyone agrees that there has to be some checks and balances [oversight] in place,” he concluded.

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

3 hours ago

House Majority Leader Ledbetter predicts Alabama to ‘move to number one’ nationally in automotive production after Port of Mobile expansion

Tuesday on Huntsville’s WVNN radio, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said he did not think it would be very long before Alabamians started to see tangible benefits of the Rebuild Alabama Act.

The legislation that was recently signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey after she called a special session will raise the gasoline tax six cents in September, then add an additional two cents in 2020 and 2021.

According to the DeKalb County Republican, road projects could start as early as the summer given the bill will allow for counties to bond half of the revenue the additional tax will generate that is distributed to the counties.

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“I really think it will be this summer,” Ledbetter said. “I think we’ll see it immediately, and the reason I say that is inside that bill there is a mechanism that the counties can use half of their money to bond with. So, I know there’s mine – I talked to the president of my county commission, and we’re looking at bonding half of that money. So if that happens, you’re going to see a lot of paving going down, and I think it will be significant, especially on those roads we can’t get buses across, or you know, the transportation has been limited due to the fact of the road conditions.”

Ledbetter also predicted one of the aspects of the law, which is to expand the Port of Mobile, will generate a positive impact statewide, especially with regards to the automotive industry.

“I don’t think there is any question about that,” he said. “The thing I think we’ll see – Alabama rank third as far as automotive manufacturing in the country. I think we’ll move to number one. I really do. I think this is that big of a game changer. I think aerospace engineering, and some of those jobs going to the port, building airplanes and building the ships – we’re going to move up the ladder because we got availability in the port to bring the ships in and out, the post-Panamax ships we hadn’t seen.”

“You know, the sad part about it is we build all these automobiles in Alabama – a lot of those were being shipped out of Savannah because we can’t get them out of our port,” Ledbetter added. “I think once this happens, we’ll see the roll off-roll on where we’ll be carrying cars to Mobile from Huntsville, from Lincoln, from here in Montgomery to see them delivered, or shipped out from Mobile.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.