5 months ago

McCutcheon: Expect strong results for GOP in Alabama Tuesday — Lottery, gas tax and health care addressed next session

In a wide-ranging interview that aired on Mobile’s FM Talk 106.5 on Thursday, Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) addressed Tuesday’s upcoming election and what his expectations were for next year’s legislative session.

On Tuesday’s general election, he said statewide there were a few races that he considered to be “active” on both sides of the fence.

“Most of the polling numbers we are getting are favorable,” he said. “Our candidates out there are doing a good job. Of course, some of these are incumbents. And then some of them are in the new and open seats. Overall, we are pleased with where we are.”

The lottery proposal has been one in this election season that has gotten a lot of attention, especially given the enormous jackpots for some of the lottery drawings nationally.

McCutcheon noted the push for a lottery had been an annual occurrence up on Goat Hill. In this upcoming legislative session, however, he said he expected it to get more attention given the public’s interest in the issue.

“We’ve dealt with the lottery bill for the last several years,” he said. “We deal with one every session. I think the upcoming session will be no different. What’s going to be the difference in this next upcoming session is the public is more educated with the lottery issue now. There’s been more talk about it in our communities around the state.”

The specifics of any lottery proposal will have a lot to do with whether or not that proposal moves forward, including how the proceeds from a lottery would be spent.

“I think the key issue is members in the House that want to support a lottery – they want to make sure that the definition is clear and understandable by the people to make sure it is not trying to be a massive gambling bill that is dealing with the statewide lottery issue, and it’ll be a vote of the people. I think that is one thing that will help move the bill forward,” stated McCutcheon.

“In the debate, if we get to the point where we have a debate on the floor for the lottery, I think the next question is going to be is where are the proceeds going to go?” he added. “Is it going to be something to shore up the general fund, or is it going to be an education lottery? Those are some questions that we still have to answer.”

The possibility of raising the state’s gas tax has also been mentioned in political circles given that roads and bridges have been a hot-button issue during this election cycle. McCutcheon predicted the gas tax would be on next year’s legislative agenda.

“I think we are,” he said. “I’ve been a supporter of our transportation since day one of being elected. I see the value of the transportation system to the economic growth of our state. The two go hand and hand.”

“We cannot continue to borrow enough money to fix our transportation issues,” McCutcheon added. “Our traffic congestion is growing. Our interconnecting systems that we need to have connectional four-lane systems in areas of our state connecting to the Interstate system is so vital to our recruitment of companies coming into the state, and we’ve got to address this issue. I think to have a tax, revenue stream at the pump is going to be a part of that package. But there’s other things we need to be looking at as well. This is a comprehensive bill that we really need to pay close attention to, such as the funding formula for the counties. How do we distribute the money out? Is the legislative body going to have a voice in the projects? Do we grade the projects out and try to take some of the politics out of which projects get done and which ones sit back on a 10-to-15-year plan. All these things are going to be a part of this, and we need to work hard on moving these things forward.”

One of the issues raised on the gubernatorial campaign trail, particularly by Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, the Democratic nominee for governor, has been the expansion of Medicaid, especially with the recent string of rural hospital closures.

“This isn’t something that hasn’t just come up,” McCutcheon said. “We’ve been working with this, with the Medicaid issue and the funding that we are paying into the Medicaid system. It continues to grow. Last year was the first year in several years we were able to actually save a little money and level out our Medicaid funding. But that’s just a one-year thing. The Medicare and Medicaid payments coming into our facilities – that is also an important component of our rural hospitals and hospital network.”

McCutcheon said creating a regional network of hospitals as part of a possible solution. However, he seemed to be skeptical of how the expansion of Medicaid as a solution would be financed.

“At the end of the day, it is easy for somebody to get out here and talk about the expansion of Medicaid, but when you really dig down into the weeds, and you look at the numbers and the increase in numbers, the question that’s out there – how are you going to pay for it? Where is the money coming from?” he questioned.

He went on to add that given the number of dollars the state has received from Washington, D.C., Alabama has done well.

“But we’ve got to move forward with some innovative plans, especially when it comes to rural health care,” he said. “We’re still working on that. I couldn’t give you an answer today of what that would be, but we’ve got some people that are looking at all the options to see where we stand.”

McCutcheon also spoke about his recent Power of Service award he received at a reception hosted by Yellowhammer News last week.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

12 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.

12 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

13 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

14 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

 

14 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