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State Sen. Rusty Glover responds to Alabama lieutenant governor candidate questionnaire

State Sen. Rusty Glover, a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, recently responded to the questionnaire prepared by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News. His answers are below.

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY AND PRINCIPLES

Question: What is your political philosophy and, if elected, how would it shape the way you lead as lieutenant governor?

Glover: My political philosophy is for less government and less government intervention. I firmly believe that the least government is the best government. As Lt. Governor, I can influence legislation that will reflect a less government approach, one where the individual can flourish – free of the shackles of bureaucratic administration.

How have you demonstrated your commitment to your political philosophy?

I sponsored legislation against common core in 2015 and 2016. This year I sponsored, and passed, a resolution (SJR101) to have Alabama adopt Daylight Savings Time permanently, which would be of enormous benefit for businesses in the state. As early as 2010, I sponsored legislation to allow health care providers, health care institutions, and health care payers the authority to refuse to perform or to participate in health care services that violated their conscience.

In 2016, the American Conservative Union gave me the “Award for Conservative Achievement,” due to my conservative voting record. Many would like to hide behind their voting record – I proudly submit it to the people of Alabama for their review.

What should be the role of the lieutenant governor?

The role of the Lt. Governor is to act only within the express powers given to the office by the Constitution of the State of Alabama of 1905. All other powers must come from the consent of the People of the State of Alabama. The Constitution of Alabama directs the Lt. Governor to preside, to maintain order and dignity, in the Alabama Senate.

A Lt. Governor with integrity will conduct the office in a manner as to avoid the embarrassments, conflicts, and altercations that have occurred in previous sessions. On the Senate floor, the Lt. Governor can allow for efficient consideration and passage of legislation for the people of the State of Alabama. The Lt. Governor is also charged with overseeing travel, and other administrative functions of the Legislature – where I can continue to save the people of Alabama money.

What is the most challenging social issue facing families in Alabama? Does government have a role in helping to solve that problem, and if so, what would you propose?

I passionately believe that the breakup of the home – and children who are lacking guidance from parents – are the most pressing and challenging social issues facing Alabama families. Often the parents are not involved with the children’s education. I support Faith based initiatives – which are proven time and again to truly help families attain a better quality of life.

As someone who taught history in high school, I uniquely understand that, as a society, we need to get back to the basics of Alabama values – faith, family, and freedom. These are the ideas which are the foundation of our state, our people – and these are the values which can again best allow families to flourish.

ETHICS

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Alabama receives a D+ grade for integrity. When the state is in the national news, it is often because of a lack of ethical behavior by state officials or candidates. How would having you as Lieutenant Governor improve our state’s image nationally and, more generally, what suggestions do you have to ensure integrity throughout the state government?

As I stated in an earlier response, I believe that a Lt. Governor with integrity will conduct the office in a manner as to avoid the embarrassments, conflicts, and altercations of previous sessions. In the next session of the Legislature, Ethics Reform will come up. I want to be at the table to ensure that our Ethics laws are stronger.

I have a record of making stronger ethics laws a priority. In 2009, I sponsored and passed Senate Bill 274 that called for the manifest, destinations and any guests on the Governor’s airplane to be named and posted on the Governor’s website. As the only candidate in the race who has been in the Senate, I know the senate rules and I know how best to support ethics legislation that fosters transparency and clarity – and I also know how to best defeat the attempts to cut, water-down and harm ethics legislation.

As Lieutenant Governor, you will be responsible for appointing more than 400 people to state positions. How can Alabamians be sure that you will appoint qualified and experienced candidates and not simply supporters from current or previous electoral campaigns?

Alabama government can use all the transparency it can attain in every process. The integrity that I have exhibited in my years in the legislature will continue if I am elected Lt. Governor. As for appointees – I am fully committed to interviewing individuals for each position – selecting the best candidate based on credentials and qualifications.

To further transparency in the Lt. Governor’s office – I pledge and promise that my appointment calendar will be public information through the Lt. Governor’s website. This website will make my appointment calendar available to the public – and not just who I meet with, but also when I meet with them.

EDUCATION

PUBLIC EDUCATION

Alabama is ranked number forty-seven on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best States for Education, and ranked number 1 in Pre-Kindergarten quality. As far as public education reforms, there have been many suggestions for improvement including increased investment in STEM education, distance learning, and reforming teacher tenure. What reforms would you propose or support to improve public education and prepare Alabama’s children for school success and lifelong learning?

I support streamlining a pipeline for high schools students to trade schools. It has been said that not all knowledge comes from college, but skill is always a matter of degree. The economy of tomorrow belongs to the skilled knowledge economy. Every child in Alabama should go through intensive STEM education. Smaller schools in rural areas deserve and need access to better courses, which can be delivered in a cost-effective manner through broadband technologies.

By encouraging a seamless transition between high school and community colleges, technical colleges and trade schools, while also supporting college and graduate degree retention, we can develop the kind of economic strength which will be the envy of the South. But this can only happen, if our K-12 schools are given the critical support they need in these trying times. Teachers and administrators need tools to improve discipline in schools.

For too long Montgomery elites, have not listened to the very ones who are charged with implementing reforms the legislature and government bureaucrats try to pass – and I should know, I was a teacher for 25 years. I will travel the state to hear from teachers and parents and administrators by hosting roundtables – and continue to gain insight for better legislation.

EDUCATIONAL CHOICE

In 2015, Alabama became the 43rd state to approve legislation to authorize charter schools. Many states now allow parents to transfer their child from a failing public school to a non-failing public school, to utilize education savings accounts or school vouchers, or to send students to alternative schools using tax-credit scholarships, allowing parents greater control in their child’s educational endeavors. How should educational choice fit into Alabama’s education system?

We all want higher graduation rates, and the way to that is through public charter schools which allow at risk students a better chance – allowing students to learn and teachers to teach. As a former teacher for 25 years, I appreciate the way Mobile County has implemented a public charter school for at-risk students. The proof is there – better results in grades and graduation rate exists. We’ve seen great results from this because charter schools like the one in Mobile County can head off problems, before they become overwhelming in the student’s and community’s life.

In addition to these specific charter schools, signature academies in Enterprise, Troy, and Mobile are meeting great success for our young people. These signature academies are giving our young people the critical experience they need to succeed, and succeed earlier – while also advancing their academic preparation, streamlining pathways to the workforce and filling workforce gaps sooner.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

TAX CODE

In Alabama, the bottom 20% of earners pay 10% of their income in state and local taxes while the top 1% only pays 3.8% of their income in the same taxes. If elected, what would you propose be the future of the state income tax and do you see this disparity as a problem?

I am not for any tax reforms which would call for a raise in taxes to pay for another’s tax cut.

STATE AND LOCAL TAXES

According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, Alabama boasts the 12th most regressive state and local tax system in the nation. One contributor to this ranking is our combined 9% grocery tax (only four states tax groceries more than Alabama). In 2017, Governor Bentley proposed decreasing the grocery tax by 4%. If you are elected, would you suggest changes to the grocery tax?

If the grocery tax is reduced, our budget is immediately $507 million short. When you reduce the grocery tax, the Legislature must make it up somewhere else – the revenue must be there. Therefore, any reform I would support must show that taxes will not be raised on anyone or anywhere else to pay for this tax cut.

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT

US News ranks Alabama’s roads and bridges as the 16th and 21st best in the country, respectively. Even so, every neighbor of ours—except Mississippi – has roads and bridges that rank in the top 10. Alabama also ranks 45th in terms of broadband access. If elected, what would you prioritize as the most important infrastructure investment projects, and what innovative options would you propose to fund such projects?  

The knowledge economy, based in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, demands a digital infrastructure. We started with the broadband bill, which can ensure a better quality of service, which will in-turn attract businesses to Alabama – and especially those areas of rural Alabama which needs jobs the most.

I do support President Trump’s infrastructure plan. Limited government best sees itself limited to proper roles, one of which is infrastructure. There are monies which should be going to the Alabama Department of Transportation, yet these monies are often spent on other agency shortfalls. This needs to stop. Honesty and transparency demands that we use dollars for their intended purpose. Coupled with President Trump’s infrastructure plan for roads, bridges, and ports, Alabama can jump start an economic engine – the benefits of which could last for generations.

STATE-RUN LOTTERY

Most states resort to installing a state-run lottery to increase revenue and pay for government projects. Do you support a lottery to solve the state’s fiscal woes? Why or why not?

The Lt. Governor, nor Governor, have a vote for any voter-approved lottery per the Constitution of Alabama. Having said that, I am opposed to a lottery funding our government, which happens at the expense of our most vulnerable.

I’m from a district which borders Mississippi. I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of how gambling has left more problems for families and children in its wake. Not only do families suffer, but small businesses also suffer as consumers spend money with the government lottery instead of buying locally – hurting the very ones who desperately need to see improved economic gains and growth.

FEDERAL DEPENDENCY

Alabama is currently the fourth most federally dependent state in the country. What do you think should be the federal government’s role in our state finances?

If Alabama wants to curb federal dependency, then we as its leaders must market Alabama – not to the special interests, but to those expanding businesses that recognize that our low taxes, willing workforce and right to work laws, create an environment of opportunity. Mercedes, Honda, and a host of other companies are helping us through better employment and higher returns on wages.

Of course, our position as a recipient state as opposed to a donor state from the federal government – puts us in an odd position, but I believe this can be overcome through better, smarter, and more effective economic expansion as more people work, and as we respond to the needs of a new economy.

THE RIGHT TO WORK

JOB CREATION

The Census Bureau suggests that Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee are creating more jobs than Alabama. As lieutenant governor, how would you foster job creation that rivals our neighbors to the north, east, and south?

As the Lt. Governor, while the legislature is in session, I will gladly work with the Governor on economic recruitment, streamlining government, and seeking opportunity. While not in session, I will work with the Governor to meet with industries to get jobs here, to Alabama. Attracting the best and brightest people and businesses to Alabama must be a cornerstone of the Lt. Governor’s office.

As a pro-business leader, I see what our quality of life and low taxes at offers to businesses. Better digital broadband and physical infrastructure, coupled with cutting government bureaucracy and paperwork, will make small businesses grow – the true greatness of Alabama’s economic engine.

ROLE OF LABOR

Alabama is a right-to-work state. In your opinion, what is the proper role of organized labor and should Alabama remain a right-to-work state?

I believe that Alabamians were wise to put in our constitution that we are a right to work state – which has allowed us to recruit and attract more businesses. We only need to look to other states that do not have such laws and see the difference in growth and opportunity.

OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING IN ALABAMA

The state of Alabama licenses 151 different occupations and over 20% of Alabama workers need a license to work. If elected, how would address these regulations—regulations that both the Obama and Trump administrations have regarded as problematic?

I think that we need to intensely examine all occupational taxes and regulations – to ensure that there exists a clear benefit to the consumer. For many of these licenses, the benefit isn’t so clear – either for the consumer or for the business. Those should be eliminated quickly as government bureaucracy often stands in the way of economic growth. I pledge to work toward the elimination of business licenses by 20% every single year I’m in office.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

OPIOID EPIDEMIC

According to the CDC, Alabama is the state highest-prescribed with opioids, with more prescriptions than people. Opioids are the main driver of overdose deaths and, in 2016, 756 Alabamians died from drug overdoses. As lieutenant governor, how would you help the governor tackle Alabama’s share of this national crisis? 

The Lt. Governor must work with district attorneys and listen to their suggestions. I call for a total state plan. The opioid crisis we are in is not just the governor’s problem, a local problem, or a family problem. It’s an Alabama problem. Let’s get back to the basics of faith, family, and freedom – I see economic development as part of the solution, as one of the surest ways to defeat drugs in life is a job.

CRIME PREVENTION

Alabama has the third highest murder rate in the country. As lieutenant governor, how would you address crime and what policies, specifically, would you propose?

Closing the border to illegal immigration is part of the solution. But here again, we must work in concert with the district attorneys, the Attorney General, State Troopers and city police forces. In order to propose legislation that will help solve the problem we must listen to the very ones charged with enforcement.

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13 hours ago

20 percent of Americans have known someone suffering from opioid addiction

A federal survey reveals roughly 20 percent of Americans know or have known someone struggling with addiction to opioid painkillers.

The annual report on the economic well being of U.S. households by the Federal Reserve System included questions regarding exposure to opioids, a first in the history of the survey. It found at least one in five Americans personally know someone suffering with an addiction to opioids, reported The Hill.

While the study revealed that white people are roughly twice as likely to be impacted by opioid abuse, the results also showed opioid addiction does not discriminate along socioeconomic lines.

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“Adults who have been personally exposed to the opioid epidemic have somewhat less favorable assessments of economic conditions than those who have not been exposed,” said researchers, according to The Hill. “However, local unemployment rates are similar in the neighborhoods where those exposed to opioids live and where those not exposed live. Altogether, this analysis suggests the need to look beyond economic conditions to understand the roots of the current opioid epidemic.”

The researchers noted that a majority of adults impacted by the opioid epidemic have a positive view of their local economy.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase is driven primarily by opioids, which claimed 42,249 lives in 2016, a 28-percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015.

Opioid overdoses made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer. Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a painkiller about 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, experienced a particularly dramatic increase, more than doubling from 9,580 lives in 2015 to 19,413 lives in 2016.

The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., officials said. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

14 hours ago

Alabama teacher charged with having sex with student

A statement from police says 54-year-old Meta Lovely of Duncanville surrendered Wednesday. She is being held on $30,000 bond on a charge of having sex with a student less than 19 years old.

Lovely worked as a substitute teacher at Bryant High School.

Police say they were told about a possible improper relationship between a school employee and a student on May 2.

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A lawyer representing Lovely, Mary Turner, says her client is innocent and “adamantly” denies the allegations.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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14 hours ago

Less than two weeks to primary – governor’s race

As we get down to the lick log in the 2018 June Primary, there are few if any surprises in any of the major state races. Polling indicates that all of the contests are about where they were three or four months ago when the races began.

There is a tremendous amount of apathy and indifference as we head into the final days. This lack of enthusiasm has also affected fundraising. Most of the high-profile races have not attracted the amount of dollars as in the past.

Kay Ivey is sitting on a sizeable lead in the GOP gubernatorial primary. She took a slight dip in the polls when she ducked out of debates. However, it is not as pronounced as it would have been if she had appeared. Her campaign has been managed brilliantly.

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Coincidentally, at the same time that her staff adroitly kept her out of the debates, her polling picked up that preserving the confederate monuments was an issue with conservative Republican primary voters. Kay’s media folks responded with an ad that could have come out of the George Wallace playbook. They had her telling folks that northern liberals and scalawags were not going to tell us what we are going to do with our monuments. Her resolve made folks wonder if she was actually there when the monuments were erected.

Last week, with only three weeks until the primary, lesbian lawmaker and LGBTQ activist Patricia Todd suggested in social media posts that Kay was gay. Ms. Ivey adamantly denied the tweet. She has adroitly deflected any and all inquiries into her private life.

The bottom line is that polls indicated she had a 30-point lead three months ago, and that lead is about the same now with less than two weeks to go to the Primary. The question is do her challengers push her into a runoff. Speculation is that she could win without a runoff the same way that her mentor, Lurleen Wallace, did in 1966.

The surprise in the GOP race could be Birmingham evangelist, Scott Dawson. He has run a very energetic campaign. Evangelical, rural, Roy Moore voters may be coalescing around the young minister. His strength might be underestimated by polling data.

This white evangelical vote is ironically similar to the African American vote in the state. It is quiet and beats to a different drummer. The message resonates through word-of-mouth between church pews rather than through the media and social media. Although, it eventually gravitates to being somewhat in lock-step with a predictably higher than average turnout.

Most observers expect Huntsville mayor, Tommy Battle, to make a late run at Ivey. He has money in the bank. He will also come out of the vote rich Tennessee Valley with good Friends and Neighbors support. He should get enough votes to run second and force Ivey into a runoff.

However, there will still be a 15-to-20 point spread in favor of Ivey when the votes are counted on June 5. Kay will have to put on her campaign bonnet for another six weeks. She will still not debate.

The Democratic Primary for governor has two thoroughbreds battling it out for the opportunity to face the GOP candidate, probably Ivey. Polling in this race between former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox is inconclusive.

Most of the folks who vote in the Democratic Primary on June 5 will be African American.

Although this vote is not monolithic, the pendulum swings toward one candidate.

The African American leadership in the party is actively supporting Walt Maddox. He has also captured a good number of young white millennials and college students. My guess is that Maddox is the winner in the Democratic Primary.

Troy King will probably lead the balloting in the Attorney General contest. Alice Martin and Steve Marshall are battling for a place in the runoff with King.

Twinkle Cavanaugh is poised to get a good vote in the Lt. Governor’s race. If she has a runoff, it will probably be Will Ainsworth from Sand Mountain, who has had a significant TV buy.

State Senator Gerald Dial has surged in the Agriculture Commissioner race, primarily due to a brilliant and upbeat television ad. It is the best TV spot of the year. He is also benefiting immensely from grassroots support from rural volunteer firefighters throughout the state.

Voter ambivalence favors incumbents and those who have voter name identification. Therefore, my prognostication is that when all of the votes are counted in November, we will have a female Republican Governor, Kay Ivey, and a female Republican Lt. Governor, Twinkle Cavanaugh.

We will see.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in more than 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the legislature. Steve may be reached at this link.

15 hours ago

Alabama’s gubernatorial candidates’ disagree and agree on how to create jobs

Alabama’s workforce won big earlier this year when Toyota-Mazda promised to create 4,000 jobs in the Huntsville area, though the number of tax dollars that state and local coffers will not see, due to abatements granted by authorities at both levels, is in the millions.

Some candidates for governor see such tax breaks as a poor way to invite job creators into the state, as indicated by their responses to recent questionnaires created by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News.

When asked how the candidates would foster job creation that rivals our neighboring states, Scott Dawson, a Republican candidate for governor, responded in part:

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“… We all have to remember that when we bring in a company from out-of-state, the incentives that we utilize to draw them are based on giving away free taxes. The takeaway is that we can do all of the recruiting that we want, but if we’re not making Alabama a sweet home for the businesses or would-be entrepreneurs that are already here — which pay Alabama taxes — we aren’t being financially responsible! I’m a conservative who knows that free market capitalism works.”

Democratic candidate State Rep. James Fields’ ideas are somewhat similar to Dawson’s.

“I will work to end the failed, short-sighted strategy of squeezing government, giving away the farm, and cutting taxes for corporations with the expectation that an economy will suddenly prosper,” Fields responded to the same question.

State Sen. Bill Hightower, who is also vying for the Republican nomination, criticized special tax carve-outs but made his argument more a critique of Alabama’s tax code rather than case-by-case incentives.

“More than 25 states across the nation have embarked on significant tax reform in the last few years,” Hightower wrote in his response. “It is apparent that each of them realize they are in a competition for jobs and growth. By improving their tax policies, they create a business and family-friendly environment which lends itself to prosperity…. But here in Alabama, special interests and career politicians have spent years rigging the tax code with special interest tax carve-outs. I want to make Alabama’s tax code simple, low, and effective in order to compete with neighboring states. ”

Hightower, along with the Democratic Mayor of Tuscaloosa, Walt Maddox, also stressed the importance of developing Alabama’s workforce as a way to attract investment, though the two disagree on a funding mechanism for the skills training. Maddox supports a lottery, while Hightower does not.

Gov. Kay Ivey, who is currently the race’s front-runner, responded broadly in favor of improving infrastructure, education, and workforce development, as did Maddox. She also wrote, “In only a year, more than $6 billion have been invested, 13,000 jobs have been created and we have achieved record low unemployment.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle also touted his record, calling himself the “most effective job creator in the state” and responding: “Over the last 10 years I have created more jobs than all other Alabama counties combined. That’s 63% of all jobs in the state of Alabama. I have created 53% of the jobs in this state announced while Governor Ivey has been in office.”

Battle has elsewhere advocated both infrastructure and workforce development as ways of attracting businesses.

Democratic candidate Sue Bell Cobb did not respond to the questionnaire.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

15 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers says he has seen no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, calls it a distraction

As the calls to investigate the investigators continue to grow, America has clearly started to tire of non-stop news coverage and the politicking off of the narrative of the narrative that the Russians and Trump campaign colluded to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. Congressman Mike Rogers was asked on WVNN this morning if he has seen ANYTHING that leads him to believe actual collusion took place:

“None, and this town leaks like a sieve. If there was anything it would have been leaked months ago. They have nothing. All they can do is keep this cloud out there in the fake news media that there’s some corruption going on between the Trump Administration and the Russian government and there is no evidence of that. This is all about trying to keep people distracted from all the good things the Trump administration has been doing.”

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Why this matters: Rogers is hardly the first Alabama politician to make this statement. Congressman Mo Brooks called for the probe to end soon. As this drags on, Americans have soured on House Democrats, giving Republicans an edge for the first time. The investigation has gone from collusion, to Internet ads, to financial crimes committed by people years before the campaign, to a porn star’s payment, to a former attorney trying to sell access, and all along NOTHING proving collusion has been brought forward while plenty of information continues to come out.

Like Rogers, America is over this.

Listen to the interview here: