Trip Pittman: Reflecting on 11 years of representing Baldwin County in the Alabama Legislature

For the past 11 years, I have served the citizens of Alabama, representing Baldwin County and the Gulf Coast area in the Alabama State Senate.

As a firm believer in the value of term limits and the idea of citizen-legislators, I have decided to not seek re-election and to allow others to step forward and serve. If the father of our country, George Washington, could return to Mount Vernon after two terms as president, surely no office holder is irreplaceable. And Baldwin County is a nice place to come home to.

As a departing member of the Baldwin County legislative team, I want to say a few words about all that has been accomplished for the citizens of south Alabama.

First, thanks to Representative (and delegation Chairman) Randy Davis from Daphne, Representative Joe Faust of Fairhope, and Representative Steve McMillan of south Baldwin County, it is now easier for coastal homeowners to claim insurance discounts for construction that fortifies a home against wind damage. Following hurricanes Ivan and
Katrina in 2004 and 2005, home insurance premiums skyrocketed on the coast.

If coastal homeowners made repairs or improvements to prevent wind damage, they were required to present detailed construction records before they could receive an insurance discount. Thanks to Representative Davis’s 2018 bill, homeowners now need only present a builder’s certificate to get a break on their insurance.

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a crisis for the Coast, and the Baldwin County delegation worked hard to make sure that coastal residents were fairly reimbursed for damages. In addition to settlements with Mobile, Fairhope and Baldwin County, BP in 2016 agreed to pay the state of Alabama approximately $1 billion for economic damages to the entire state.

As you may recall, this set off an intense battle in the State Legislature. Some northern Alabama lawmakers argued that the Coast shouldn’t receive any of the state’s settlement with BP, and that all of the funds should go to Medicaid and debt repayments. Even though we were out-numbered six-to-one, coastal lawmakers held our ground, worked the process, and garnered support from other thoughtful legislators to secure $120 million for infrastructure projects in Baldwin and Mobile counties.

Funded with other BP monies, the new Lodge at Gulf State Park is set to open in November, fourteen years after the previous facility was torn down after damage from Hurricane Ivan.

The lodge will include 350 guest rooms and 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. For years, the Baldwin County delegation worked hard to pass enabling legislation sponsored by Representative McMillan, and we worked closely with former Governors Bob Riley and Robert Bentley and Governor Kay Ivey to finance and facilitate the rebuilding of the lodge and meeting place.

Since 2010, I have served as chairman of either the Education Trust Fund or the state general fund budgets. Sometimes, that has felt a little like swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and getting caught in a rip current, but I am deeply proud of the work conservative Republicans have done to put Alabama’s finances on a stable footing. From 1980-2011, the education budget was prorated 11 times, but since the Republican majority passed the Rolling Reserve Act in 2011, which I sponsored in the Senate, proration has not occurred a single time. That fiscal discipline allowed the legislature to give teachers a 4 percent pay raise in 2016 and a 2.5 percent pay raise this year, pay back $437 million in debt, and put aside over $200 million dollars in the Education Budget Stabilization Account.

It has been an honor to serve with Baldwin County’s capable legislative team, which includes Greg Albritton, a fellow state senator, and Harry Shiver, Alan Baker, Thomas Jackson, Joe Faust, Steve McMillan and Randy Davis in the House of Representatives. I want to personally thank each of you for your service to our constituents in south Alabama, and for putting up with me.

To the citizens of Baldwin County: it has been the privilege of a lifetime to represent you in the Alabama Legislature.

Thank you.

U.S. Rep. Trip Pittman is a Republican from Montrose.

40 mins ago

Ad challenges Doug Jones on assertion that Boston Marathon Bomber should be allowed to vote while in jail

Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) partisan pledge to back whomever the Democrats nominate against President Donald Trump in 2020 is already manifesting itself as a major political – and policy – blunder by the incumbent from Mountain Brook as Jones seeks re-election of his own.

Hours after the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) erected an Alabama billboard tying Jones to far-left “socialist” healthcare plans, a new video ad was released challenging Jones to answer whether he agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), two leading contenders for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination, when they said during a CNN town hall Monday evening that the Boston Marathon Bomber and all other U.S. citizens currently serving domestic prison sentences should be allowed to vote.

Watch:

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This is not the only radical policy issue that Jones has tacitly promised to support with his blanket presidential pledge, nor could it be the last.

Expect to see Republicans continue to tie Jones to national Democratic ideas that the clear majority of Alabamians disagree with. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton 62.9 percent to 34.6 percent, which was a difference of almost 600,000 votes.

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

2 hours ago

Major bills to get committee hearings on Tuesday

MONTGOMERY — Tuesday is expected to be an interesting day in the Alabama legislature, as respective bills dealing with the lottery and constitutional carry are set to receive committee consideration.

State Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Range) lottery bill – SB 220 – and State Sen. Gerald Allen’s (R-Tuscaloosa) bill eliminating firearm permit requirements – SB 4 – are on the Senate Tourism Committee’s meeting agenda for 2:00 p.m. You can listen live here.

Additionally, State Sen. Cam Ward’s (R-Alabaster) open records reform bill, SB 237, is on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee’s meeting agenda for 1:00 p.m. Listen live to that here.

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Both meetings are in room 825 of the State House.

SB 220 and SB 4 have each received a public hearing in recent weeks.

SB 4’s public hearing was in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 220 is the only clean lottery legislation that has been filed this session.

SB 237 is known as the “Alabama Open Records Act.” State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) is carrying the bill in the House.

The House will gavel in at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, while the Senate will begin its legislative day at 3:00 p.m.

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

Another state legislator looking at 2020 U.S. Senate bid

Episode five of “The Insider with Sean Ross” has the scoop on a new potential candidate looking at mounting a Republican 2020 U.S. Senate bid. This time, it is a state legislator who voted against the Rebuild Alabama Act, Gov. Kay Ivey’s infrastructure package that will raise the state fuel tax 10 cents over three years.

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Join Sean Ross for the inside scoop on all the latest from Goat Hill to Capitol Hill as he hosts “The Insider,” a podcast on the new Yellowhammer Podcast Network.

Episodes will be released as news breaks, so subscribe now to stay in the know on all things political in Alabama.

13 hours ago

Del Marsh not running for U.S. Senate in 2020

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has confirmed to Yellowhammer News that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

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This came after The Anniston Star published an interview Monday evening with Marsh saying, “I’m not running.”

Marsh, who has been one of Alabama’s most powerful people since the Republican takeover of the state legislature in 2010, was rumored for months to be a leading contender for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination this cycle.

However, Yellowhammer News had reported in recent weeks online and on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that Marsh had become significantly less likely to mount a bid.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) also confirmed recently that he will not run for Jones’ seat in 2020.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville are the only announced Republican candidates thus far.

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

14 hours ago

Report: Doug Jones hires prominent pro-choice adviser as campaign manager

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has picked a campaign manager for his 2020 re-election bid.

According to National Journal’s Zach Cohen, Jones has hired Cory Warfield, a Democratic operative known best perhaps for being a former adviser to Emily’s List.

Based in Washington, D.C., Emily’s List succinctly describes its mission as, “We ignite change by getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office.”

The group lobbies for “abortion rights,” spending tens of millions in major election cycles to advance its cause.

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Warfield confirmed the report on Twitter, while also using the opportunity to fundraise for Jones.

The new campaign manager also formerly ran Nevada’s 2016 Democratic presidential caucus.

This comes after Jones only raised 12 percent of his funds from Alabama donors in the first quarter of 2019.

The incumbent junior senator continues to draw heavy criticism for his coziness with D.C. special interest groups and national Democrats.

RELATED: Doug Jones touts support of abortion rights — ‘I am in favor of a woman’s freedom to choose’

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