The Wire

  • Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

    Excerpt:

    With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

    North Alabama has spoken.
    When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

    Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

  • On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born

    Excerpt:

    Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

    Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

    Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

4 months ago

Alabama lawmakers stretch out session amid tensions, stalemates

(AL Legislature)

Alabama lawmakers stretched out the legislative session as tensions and disagreements on Wednesday derailed what they hoped would be their final meeting day.

Legislators abandoned a plan to conclude the session Wednesday night as a number of measures had not reached final passage by late into the evening. They will return to the Alabama Statehouse Thursday morning.

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“I think everybody — with clearer heads, at nine in the morning, making reasonable decisions— we’ll still end up with a good session,” Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said.

The meeting day was peppered with sniping between the House and Senate over the pace of votes. The chambers each took multiple recesses as they waited to see if the other chamber was making progress on priority pieces of legislation.

“I’ve run out of patience with the people on the fifth floor and their lack of progress on lots of bills,” Republican Sen. Arthur Orr, the education budget chairman, said of the House of Representatives.

African-American lawmakers continued to push for passage of a racial profiling bill that would require law enforcement officers to record the reason for traffic stops and the race of stopped motorists. The Alabama Senate had approved the bill without a dissenting vote, but it hit roadblocks in the Alabama House.

The House adjourned Wednesday without debating the bill

Rep. Merika Coleman, a Democrat from Pleasant Grove, said she and other supporters will push to get the bill considered Thursday.

However, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon indicated the bill might not get a vote Thursday. He said lawmakers hadn’t adopted a debate agenda and would be prioritizing bills already in line for a vote.

A proposal to exempt economic developers from the rules that govern lobbyists is another contentious issue that could be decided Thursday.

A divided Alabama Senate approved the bill on a 15-14 vote after a prickly debate over whether it was an economic development necessity or creates a wide new loophole in state ethics law.

The House of Representatives will resume debate Thursday over whether to go along with Senate changes to the bill.
“It stinks,” state Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat from Greensboro, said.

Rep. Ken Johnson, the bill’s sponsor, said requiring the people who help companies decide where to locate to “jump through hoops” to work in Alabama could hurt the state’s job recruitment efforts.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 years ago

Alabama lottery will not be on November ballot after vote blocked in House

Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Flickr user Joel יוֹאֵל)
Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Yellowhammer)
Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Yellowhammer)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Procedural wrangling in the Alabama House of Representatives will keep a statewide lottery constitutional amendment from appearing on the ballot in November.

Wednesday, August 24, was the deadline for the legislature to authorize a constitutional amendment to appear on the General Election ballot on November 8th.

However, House rules stipulate that committee meetings must be advertised at least 24 hours in advance, unless four-fifths of the House votes to suspend the rules and allow a meeting to happen on shorter notice. Realizing that the committee meeting time on the lottery was not advertised in advance, a group of House members banded together and did not allow the rules to be suspended, thereby making it impossible for any proposal to pass by the Wednesday deadline.

Pro-lottery lawmakers blasted their colleagues for “delaying” throughout the day.

“You can call it a delay, I call it being deliberative,” quipped Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton), who has expressed concerns about rushing through such a major constitutional amendment so quickly.

Republicans in Democratic-leaning areas of the state were pleased with the development, as they had voiced concerns that a lottery vote might increase Democratic turnout in November and jeopardize Republican officeholders.

The House last week passed a bill that would allocate money from the state’s BP oil spill settlement to pay down debt, cover the shortfall in Medicaid, and fund infrastructure projects on the gulf coast.

The bill, sponsored by General Fund Budget Chairman Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), would use BP money to pay back $448.5 million in state debt, free up about $35 million for Medicaid, and send the rest of the money — about $191 million — to the coast for road projects.

Governor Bentley is currently sitting on $35 million from BP’s Fiscal Year 2016 payment to the state, so combining that with Rep. Clouse’s bill would ultimately make about $70 million available for Medicaid.

The Senate is expected to consider the bill on Wednesday.

If it receives final passage, the stated reason for the current special session — to patch a hole in Medicaid funding — will have been accomplished, possibly leaving a lottery vote in doubt.

1
3 years ago

Alabama lawmaker pushes Convention of States to pass balanced budget amendment

United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)

A state senator is pushing to renew Alabama’s call for a Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) has pre-filed a bill for the 2016 Legislative Session that would compel Alabama to join the “Compact for a Balanced Budget,” a group of states “uniting to fix the debt” through a federal Balanced Budget Amendment

The idea of a Convention of States gained steam in 2013 after conservative talk show host Mark Levin advocated for a states-led convention in his book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment.

Each state would then choose delegates to represent them at the convention, but each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution.

In short, the convention of the states is widely viewed as a last-ditch effort to push back against an overreaching federal government. 27 states have so far passed resolutions calling for a convention to pass a federal balanced budget amendment.

The Alabama Legislature passed a resolution earlier this year strictly limiting the purpose of a proposed convention to three areas:

1) Imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

Members of the Alabama House and Senate who supported the effort say it was necessary because “the federal government has created a crushing national debt” and “invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative power of federal mandates.”

The resolution Sen. Allen is now proposing is even more narrowly defined. It would limit the convention to only addressing the question of a balanced budget amendment.

“Even if we don’t get enough states behind it, we’ll send a clear message to Congress,” Allen told the Anniston Star. “Get your house in order.”

The possibility of a “runaway convention” is the most often cited concern with convening such a meeting of the states.

“In the course of our work advising state and federal lawmakers and conservative allies across the country, we have been giving this issue close attention and study,” said Dr. Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. “The lack of precedent, extensive unknowns, and considerable risks of an Article V amendments convention should bring sober pause to advocates of legitimate constitutional reform contemplating this avenue.”

But Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton), who has sponsored a resolution calling for a Convention of States during the last couple of legislative sessions, said those concerns are overblown.

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson told Yellowhammer earlier this year. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

Alabama’s two Senate Budget Chairmen have also been actively involved in the rule-making process for a possible convention. Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) and Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) traveled to Mt. Vernon, Virginia to discuss the ground rules of a potential convention.

“We discussed the reality that the biggest threat to America is an irresponsible Federal Government,” said Pittman. “Checks that need to be put on the Federal Government have not been accomplished and based on current activity appear not to be likely… 32 (states) participated in the Mount Vernon Assembly, to prepare rules and form committees within a strict framework… to discuss and build support for a possible amendment convention of the States.”

Sen. Allen’s latest bill calls for a 24-hour, one-issue convention to convene in Dallas, Texas, the Wednesday after Congress receives the petition from the required number of states.


RELATED:
1. Two Alabama senators discuss potential constitutional convention at Mt. Vernon Assembly
2. Two top Ala. Senators propose bills laying out guidelines for Convention of States
3. Alabama officially applies to Congress for Convention of States


1
3 years ago

Alabama House calls for Convention of States to rein in federal government

Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Yellowhammer)

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After several hours of debate Tuesday evening, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a resolution calling for a Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution. Each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments.

The resolution passed today by the Alabama House strictly limits the purpose of the proposed convention to three areas:

1) imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

This is the second year HJR112, sponsored by Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton) and cosponsored by 52 additional Republicans, has been approved by the House. Last year the resolution died in the Senate, but Rep. Johnson has high hopes that this year will be the year Alabama officially signs on to the idea of a Article V convention.

“We’re calling for restraints on the federal government,” Johnson told Yellowhammer when the resolution passed last year. “That means an amendment that forces them to balance the budget and stops these overreaching federal mandates. We’re also calling for term limits on federal elected offices.”

Johnson said the states are able to limit the scope of the convention ahead of time, to mitigate the risk of a “runaway convention.”

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson said. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

HJR112 would require the legislature to create the rules for determining the appointment and duties of delegates to the convention, as well as constitute a continuing application until at least two-thirds of all State Legislatures have made application for a convention to provide for these purposes, unless the resolution is rescinded by a succeeding legislature.


1
4 years ago

Simple math is the storyline worth watching on Election Day in Alabama

There’s very little drama at the top of the ticket this year in Alabama, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a storyline worth watching.

That storyline is math, simple math. And no, believe it or not, it has nothing to do with Common Core.

Here are a few reasons why math is the storyline worth following when it comes to Alabama’s 2014 General Elections.

1. The Makeup of the Legislature

Alabama State House (Photo: Creative Commons/Jay Williams)
Alabama State House (Photo: Creative Commons/Jay Williams)

There’s no doubt there will be Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the Alabama legislature once all the votes are totaled Tuesday night. However, you can bet your bottom dollar Republican leaders are keeping a close watch on the final tally, and not just because they want to run up the score for bragging rights.

Although the Republican primaries held earlier this year were an unmitigated disaster for The Alabama Education Association (AEA) — the state’s de facto Democratic Party — they did manage to get a handful of their choice candidates elected. In fact, some of them have already been meeting separately from the full GOP caucus.

If Democrats manage to peel off a couple more Republican candidates in the General Election, the AEA could be positioned to block some of the “heavier lifts” Republicans try to make by combining the AEA-aligned Republicans with their Democratic allies to erode the GOP’s filibuster-proof majority.

A few races to watch where Democrats are hoping to take out a Republican incumbent include House District 7 (Ken Johnson), HD 8 (Terri Collins), HD 89 (Alan Boothe), Senate District 10 (Phil Williams) and Senate District 13 (Gerald Dial).

The open seats the two parties are battling over are HD24 (Republican Nathaniel Ledbetter vs. Democrat David Beddingfield) and HD37 (Republican Bob Fincher vs. Democrat Josh Burns).

The AEA has also spent well over a million dollars against each of the GOP’s top legislative leaders, House Speaker Mike Hubbard (HD79) and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (SD12). They should be able to hold off their challengers, but they’ve had to fight, and it’s worth watching any time a group spends that much money in a state legislative race.

But while a lot of the attention is being paid to whether Republicans can hold on, there are a few Democrats who are fighting for their political lives, as well, most notably state representatives Daniel Boman (HD16) and Greg Burdine (HD1).

2. Can $1.5 million+ make a Democrat viable in Alabama?

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (Photo: Yellowhammer)
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (Photo: Yellowhammer)

The electoral math is heavily stacked against any Democrat runnings statewide in Alabama, but is $1.5 million spent on a scorched earth campaign enough to make a Democrat viable? Probably not, but the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has donated that stunning sum to Democrat Joe Hubbard, basically single-handedly funding his effort to unseat Republican Attorney General Luther Strange.

The Cook Partisan Voting Index rates Alabama as a “R+14” state, meaning a generic Republican running statewide starts with a 14-point lead against a generic Democrat. The deluge of negative ads might make this one closer than it should be, but it’s still hard to imagine Hubbard pulling off the upset.

3. Can $20 million buy you, well, anything?

AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry (Photo: YouTube)
AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry (Photo: YouTube)

Since we’re already having so much fun with math, how about a word problem?

Combine the $10+ million of teachers’ dues AEA has spent directly with the $4 million in loans they’ve taken out from Regions Bank and the untold millions they are widely believed to have funneled into so called “dark money” groups not required to disclose their donors, and what do you get?

That’s the question the AEA’s board will get an answer to on Tuesday night. Their total expenditures on this election cycle are so obscene that one would expect them to regain their stranglehold on the state. Yet, even in the AEA’s best case scenario, they only stand a chance at picking up a handful of legislative seats.

We’ll have more on this in our election postmortem, but a lot of folks in Montgomery are watching this one closely.

4. Bentley’s pursuit of 57.45%

YH Robert Bentley

The perceived rift between Gov. Bentley and the so called “Riley” faction of the Alabama Republican Party has been overblown a lot over the last few years, especially when it comes to the governor’s relationship with GOP legislative leadership. However, don’t think for a second that Bentley’s camp isn’t trying to eclipse former Gov. Bob Riley’s performance in his 2006 re-election bid.

Riley bested Democrat Lucy Baxley with 57.45% of the vote that year, which was a disastrous cyle for Republicans around the country. The electoral dynamics are reversed this year, which looks like it might be a banner year for the GOP.

Most projections suggest Bentley will outperform Riley in his bid for a second term. With the results of the gubernatorial race a forgone conclusion, this is the closest thing Alabama’s got to drama at the top of the ticket in 2014.


RELATED:
Everything you need to know about voting in Alabama
9 quotes that will inspire you to go vote today


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Jack Daniel’s opens new Alabama manufacturing facility, creates 200 new jobs

(Photo: DrinkSpirits)
(Photo: DrinkSpirits)

Gov. Robert Bentley and numerous local and state elected officials came together today to celebrate the grand opening of Jack Daniel’s new barrel manufacturing facility at the Mallard Fox West Industrial Complex in Trinity, Ala., just west of Decatur.

Just over two years ago, Brown-Forman, one of the largest spirits and wine companies in the world, announced that growing worldwide demand for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey had compelled them to open a new cooperage to craft barrels in Decatur, Ala.

“Barrels are more than a container for our whiskey; they’re an important ingredient,” Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller, said at the time. “All of the color of Jack Daniel’s and more than half of our whiskey’s flavor is derived from the barrel. We believe in the importance of the barrel in making our whiskey so much that we are the only major distiller that makes its own barrels. Making a quality barrel is essential to making a quality whiskey, and this facility will help ensure we hold true to Mr. Jack Daniel’s guiding words that ‘every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can.'”

The new Alabama facility will produce white oak barrels used for maturing Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Approximately 200 people will be employed at the cooperage.

Each barrel is handmade and goes through a proprietary process designed to give Jack Daniel’s its unique flavor.

Jack Daniel's barrel being made by hand at the company's Kentucky cooperage. (Photo: DrinkSpirits)
Jack Daniel’s barrel being made by hand at the company’s Kentucky cooperage. (Photo: DrinkSpirits)

The video below gives a quick look at one of the most fascinating parts of the process, known as “charring.”

“Charring barrels is one of the most dramatic and exciting parts of the barrel-making process,” explained Geoff Kleinman founder and managing editor of DrinkSpirits.com. “Open ended barrels are placed over natural gas burners and set on fire, exposed to heat as high as 1500 degrees.”

For an in-depth look at the Jack Daniel’s barrel-making process, check out this article at DrinkSpirits.

Officially registered by the U.S. Government in 1866 and based in Lynchburg, Tenn., the Jack Daniel Distillery is the oldest registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Alabama House passes resolution calling for Convention of the States

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

The Alabama House of Representatives today passed House Joint Resolution 49, an application to Congress calling for a Constitutional Convention under Article V of the United States Constitution.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution. Each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments.

The resolution passed today by the Alabama House strictly limits the purpose of the proposed convention to three areas:

1) imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment; 2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and 3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton, told Yellowhammer that he introduced the resolution because he believes a convention is the last available option to force the federal government to live within its means.

“We’re calling for restraints on the federal government,” Johnson said. “That means an amendment that forces them to balance the budget and stops these overreaching federal mandates. We’re also calling for term limits on federal elected offices.”

Johnson said it is important that the states are able to limit the scope of the convention ahead of time, which his resolution does, to mitigate the risk of a “runaway convention.”

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson said. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

This resolution, unless rescinded by a succeeding Legislature, constitutes a continuing application until at least two-thirds of all State Legislatures have made application for a convention to provide for these purposes.

It now goes up to the Senate, where several legislators have already been actively involved in the process leading up to a potential Constitutional Convention.

In December of last year, Alabama state senators Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, joined roughly 100 state legislators from 32 states at Mt. Vernon, Virginia to discuss the ground rules of a potential Convention of the States.

State Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, at the Mount Vernon Assembly
State Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, at the Mount Vernon Assembly

The full resolution passed by the Alabama House today can be read below.

WHEREAS, the Founders of our Constitution empowered state legislators to be guardians of liberty against future abuses of power by the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has created a crushing national debt through improper and imprudent
spending; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates, most of which are unfunded to a great extent; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has ceased to live under a proper interpretation of the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, it is the solemn duty of the states to protect the liberty of our people, particularly for the generations to come, to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States through a Convention of the States under Article V to place clear restraints on these and related abuses of power; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOSUES THEREOF CONCURRING, That the Legislature of the States of Alabama hereby applies to Congress, under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States, for the calling of a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments that impose fiscal restrains on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State is hereby directed to transmit copies of this application to the President and Secretary of the United States Senate and to the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, and to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States Congress from this state; and to also transmit copies hereof to the presiding officers of each of the legislative houses in the several states, requesting their cooperation.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this application constitutes a continuing application in accordance with Article V of the Constitution of the United States until the Legislatures of at least two-thirds of the several states have made applications on the same subject.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Two top Ala. Senators propose bills laying out guidelines for Convention of States

From Left: Sen. Trip Pittman, Sen. Arthur Orr, Rep. Ken Johnson, Rep. Barry Moore
From Left: Sen. Trip Pittman, Sen. Arthur Orr, Rep. Ken Johnson, Rep. Barry Moore

Two top-ranking Alabama State Senators today held a press conference to stress the importance of establishing guidelines for amending the U.S. Constitution through a Convention of the States, as outlined in Article V of the Constitution.

Working with lawmakers from 31 other states through the Mt. Vernon Assembly, Senators Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, are sponsoring two bills that would set parameters on delegates to an amendment convention in the event one is called to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Under Article V of the nation’s governing document, an amendment convention can be convened if two-thirds of state legislatures, or 34 states, approve an application for the convention to occur. Proposed amendments would then have to be ratified by three-fourths, or 38 states.

The proposed bills in the Alabama legislature designate a process by which delegates are selected to represent Alabama at the convention and establish guidelines for delegates to follow.

Senate Bill 199, sponsored by Pittman, is designed to hold potential delegates accountable by requiring the Legislature to adopt instructions for delegates, in addition to providing that a vote by a delegate outside the scope of the Legislature’s instructions is void.

“From out-of-control spending to seemingly endless gridlock, it’s easy to see why so many Americans think Washington is broken,” Pittman said. “Fortunately our nation’s Founding Fathers had the foresight to provide states with a mechanism to hold the federal government accountable. Article V of the U.S. Constitution is an important protection tool for states to use against a runaway federal government. It’s equally important, however, that the states have checks in place to ensure delegates honestly represent the views and beliefs of Alabamians, not special interests. These two bills will ensure that Alabama’s delegates are accountable to the people if and when a convention of states is convened.”

[RELATED: Alabama legislator introduces resolution calling for Convention of the States]

Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Orr, establishes qualifications for delegates and gives the Legislature the authority to appoint and recall delegates.

“Nearly three out of four Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction,” Orr explained. “The national debt is skyrocketing, only to be compounded by trillions of dollars in unfunded entitlement programs. By many accounts, the federal government has far overstepped its bounds with unprecedented regulations into numerous areas of our economy and everyday lives. Given the dire outlook, many are realizing that a state-led amendment convention is our best hope for a positive change of direction. If nothing else, this movement of states is a sharp reminder to Congress that we mean business.”

Orr and Pittman also pointed out that while all amendments to the U.S. Constitution to date have been proposed by Congress, 20 states, including Alabama, have petitioned Congress to call a state-led convention on a balanced budget amendment to control unchecked federal spending. This coalition, they said, shows a positive trend of states that are ready and willing to take on a crucial problem Congress has long ignored.

In 2011, the Alabama House and Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 100, sponsored by Orr, formally petitioning Congress to call a convention under Article V for the specific purpose of passing a federal balanced budget amendment, requiring that, in the absence of a national emergency, federal spending for any fiscal year not exceed total federal revenue.

Both SB199 and SB200 have received their first reading and are pending action by the Senate Committee on Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
5 years ago

Alabama legislator introduces resolution calling for Convention of the States

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

Ken Johnson, R-Moulton, this week introduced a resolution in the Alabama House of Representatives calling for a Convention of the States in an effort to check federal government spending and mandates and calling for term limits on certain federal elected officials.

In December of last year, Alabama state senators Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, joined roughly 100 state legislators from 32 states at Mt. Vernon, Virginia to discuss the ground rules of a potential Convention of the States.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment.

Rep. Ken Johnson (Left) with Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (Right)
Rep. Ken Johnson (Left) with Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (Right)

Each state would then choose delegates to represent them at the convention, but each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution.

The idea of a Constitutional Convention gained steam in the conservative grassroots community after talk show host Mark Levin advocated for a states-led convention in his book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic.

Rep. Johnson told Yellowhammer this morning that he introduced the resolution because he believes a convention is the last available option to force the federal government to live within its means.

“We’re calling for restraints on the federal government,” Johnson said. “That means an amendment that forces them to balance the budget and stops these overreaching federal mandates. We’re also calling for term limits on federal elected offices.”

Johnson said the states are able to limit the scope of the convention ahead of time, to mitigate the risk of a “runaway convention.”

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson said. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

Johnson’s full resolution can be read below. 37 members of the Alabama House signed on as co-sponsors.

WHEREAS, the Founders of our Constitution empowered state legislators to be guardians of liberty against future abuses of power by the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has created a crushing national debt through improper and imprudent
spending; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates, most of which are unfunded to a great extent; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has ceased to live under a proper interpretation of the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, it is the solemn duty of the states to protect the liberty of our people, particularly for the generations to come, to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States through a Convention of the States under Article V to place clear restraints on these and related abuses of power; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOSUES THEREOF CONCURRING, That the Legislature of the States of Alabama hereby applies to Congress, under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States, for the calling of a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments that impose fiscal restrains on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State is hereby directed to transmit copies of this application to the President and Secretary of the United States Senate and to the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, and to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States Congress from this state; and to also transmit copies hereof to the presiding officers of each of the legislative houses in the several states, requesting their cooperation.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this application constitutes a continuing application in accordance with Article V of the Constitution of the United States until the Legislatures of at least two-thirds of the several states have made applications on the same subject.


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5 years ago

What to expect as Alabama’s legislature goes into its election year Session

Mark Twain

Agenda Bills Coming First Out of the Gate

Republicans are going to come right out of the gate this week with bills from their “Commonsense Conservative” agenda specifically related to tax relief. Rep. Barry Moore’s Tax Relief Act and Rep. Jim Patterson’s Tax Elimination Act will likely move very early in the session, as will Rep. Paul DeMarco’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

If history is any guide, House Republicans will plow through their entire agenda in the first couple of weeks of the session. Last year they quickly passed all ten of the bills on their agenda, but only six of them went on to pass the Senate and only five were ultimately signed into law by the Governor.


RELATED: House Republicans: 2014 will be year of ‘taxpayer relief’ in Alabama

Common Core Fight Rages On

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, has publicly stated that he hopes to avoid contentious issues because legislators are anxious to get back to their districts to campaign.

But while it’s unlikely that any piece of legislation will spark the kind of fights we saw last year with the Alabama Accountability Act, Sen. Scott Beason’s continued push to repeal Alabama’s version of Common Core Standards promises to keep the halls of the State House buzzing with conservative activists. Marsh says he won’t bring the bill up for a vote because Republicans are so divided over it. Common Core is by far the most emotionally charged current political issue in the state. That alone is plenty of reason to keep an eye on it during the 2014 session.

Too Early to Tell on Teacher Pay Raise

Another education-related issue that will be in play this year is a potential pay raise for school teachers. In 2013, the legislature passed a budget that gave teachers a 2 percent raise, the first they’d seen in six years. Governor Bentley says he will include another pay raise in his budget this year. House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, is calling for a 6 percent raise. Bentley says that won’t be possible because of budget constraints. When it comes to budgeting, both Bentley and Ford have the luxury of floating spending proposals without the pressure of executing them. Legislative Republicans will ultimately craft the state’s budgets, and the budget chairmen seem uncertain right now on whether the state will have enough money to hand out any raises. Tight budgets are squeezed further this year due to skyrocketing healthcare costs brought on by ObamaCare. Democrats love this issue politically because it gives them an opportunity to paint Republicans trying to balance the budget as anti-education.


Related: ObamaCare could keep teachers from getting a raise

Modernizing Economic Incentives

The most significant legislation related to jobs this session could end up being a proposal to overhaul the way Alabama offers economic incentives to major industries considering locating in the state. Although landing Airbus was a major coup, economic developers have privately expressed frustration with the way the state currently has to structure its incentive packages. Numerous sources have told Yellowhammer that legislation is quietly being worked on to put Alabama on a level playing field with other states.

Asphalt vs. Concrete

A little known issue that’s been bubbling below the surface since last year is a so-called lifecycle budgeting bill being pushed by out-of-state — and some out-of-country — concrete companies. Opponents of the bill say it’s a government mandate that picks winners and losers in the pavement industry and flies in the face of free market principles. Proponents say it’s a way to save the state money over the long haul. One thing that’s indisputable though is that there are no concrete companies in Alabama, while numerous asphalt companies located in the state would take a hit. Both sides are bringing the big guns into the fight. Former Gov. Bob Riley and his lobbying outfit are representing the cement industry. They are pitted against the asphalt industry’s lobbying firm of Swatek, Azbell, Howe & Ross, which includes longtime Riley adviser Dax Swatek. This is set up to be one of the more interesting behind-the-scenes battles of the session.

Calls for Medicaid Expansion Fall on Deaf Ears

Democrats have indicated that they will continue their push for the state to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, said it will be her caucus’s top priority. The PR campaign will continue over the next 6 months, but insiders say expansion advocates are simply holding out hope that Gov. Bentley will reconsidering his opposition to the expansion after he wins re-election. The Governor has ratcheted up his rhetoric against the expansion in recent months, especially after leftwing public officials and members of the media started attacking him. It’s hard to imagine him changing directions at this point.

Revolving Door Comes to a Stop

In response to numerous legislators leaving office mid-term to take jobs as lobbyists, Sen. Del Marsh is sponsoring a bill to close the “revolving door” between elected office and the governmental affairs world. “The Revolving Door Act” bans former legislators from lobbying either house of the legislature for two years after leaving office. House Republicans have also included the bill in their legislative agenda. It’s being sponsored on the House side by Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton,

$$$$$

Finally, the top issue this session — as it should be every session — is the state’s budgets.

The state is constitutionally required this year to pay back the rest of the money owed to the state’s Rainy Day Fund out of the education budget. It’s too early to tell what that amount will be because we don’t yet know how much money the state will bring in this year, but it could be as much as $128 million. That, combined with the spike in state employees’ healthcare costs brought on by ObamaCare, means the education budget will be as tight as ever.

The General Fund budget is unfortunately in even worse shape. The rising costs of Medicaid are swallowing a greater chunk of the General Fund each year. After level-funding most agencies last year, it’s very likely that some will receive a cut in this year’s budget.


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5 years ago

Rep. says Alabama House GOP’s 2014 agenda ‘focuses on taxpayer relief’

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

Alabama’s 2014 legislative session begins next week. Most insiders are predicting a fairly noncontroversial session. Legislators are anxious to avoid contentious issues in an election year and would like to get back to their districts as soon as possible.

House Republicans last year plowed through their aptly named “We Dare Defend Our Rights” agenda, which included several hot button issues like the Alabama Accountability Act (school choice), the Women’s Health and Safety Act (pro-life), The Religious Liberty Act (anti-ObamaCare), and the Alabama Firearms Protection Amendment (pro-2nd Amendment).

The tone is decidedly less confrontational this year.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard and his GOP caucus in early December rolled out their “Commonsense Conservative” agenda for the 2014 session. House Majority Leader Micky Hammon declared 2014 the “year of taxpayer relief” in Alabama. Six of the nine bills on the agenda deal with reducing the tax burden for Alabamians in one way or another.

Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne
Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne

Yellowhammer caught up with Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne, who headed up the GOP’s platform committee that crafted the agenda, to hear how the final product came together.

“We had three different days of roundtable discussions with legislators from around the state,” Davis said. “We’ve made a significant effort to transform state government since we took over the majority in 2010. We passed unprecedented school choice legislation. We’ve kept the state out of proration and made the government live within its means through the Rolling Reserve Act. There are a lot of bills I could point to. But when we started looking ahead to 2014, we wanted to keep the focus on addressing the needs of the state in commonsense, conservative ways. Naming it the ‘Commonsense Conservative Agenda’ was a perfect fit.”

While a lot of the focus in recent months has been on recruiting major industries to the state — efforts that Davis said have been extremely fruitful — Republicans in the House decided they wanted to specifically dial in on small, hometown businesses during the 2014 session.


RELATED: House Republicans: 2014 will be year of ‘taxpayer relief’ in Alabama

“We started brainstorming on what we could do to help mom and pop shops, family owned businesses, small businesses that are in our communities,” Davis recalled. “Every legislator has these folks in their community. We felt it was important to roll back government red tape and simplify reporting to revenue systems, give them tax breaks, and ultimately free up these small business to grow and have a greater impact on our local communities than they already do.”

With that in mind, House Republicans added the Small Business Tax Relief Act and Business Tax Streamlining Act to their agenda.

The Small Business Tax Relief Act is being sponsored by Rep. Barry Moore of Enterprise.

“Currently, businesses are required to pay in advance if their average monthly estimated sales tax payment is more than $1,000,” Moore explained when Republicans rolled out the agenda. “The Small Business Tax Relief Act will raise the threshold for making these payments from $1,000 to $2,500 per month. This could provide approximately 6,000 Alabama small business owners with an immediate, one-time tax cut of up to $2,500 and will inject approximately $4.6 million into the Alabama economy. With ObamaCare raising everyone’s healthcare costs and the federal government trying to regulate us to death, our small businesses need all the relief we can give them.”

The Business Tax Streamlining Act is being sponsored by Greg Wren of Montgomery. It seeks to simplify the process for filing business personal property taxes by creating a new online tax filing system that Republicans say will be a “one-stop-shop” for filing these taxes. It will also “allow businesses claiming $10,000 or less in business personal property tax to file a short form that does not require them to itemize their property.”

Alabama House Republicans announcing their 2014 legislative agenda
Alabama House Republicans announcing their 2014 legislative agenda

“A tremendous group of freshmen were elected in 2010 — Barry Moore, Ken Johnson, Jim Patterson, Mike Jones, Paul Lee, Becky Nordgren, Wayne Johnson, so many others — I can’t say enough good things about them,” Davis said. “The ones I just mentioned are carrying bills that are included in the agenda. Of the nine bills, seven of them are being carried by freshman. That says a lot about the respect they’ve earned in their short time here.”

In addition to the freshmen who are carrying bills, first-term representatives Ed Henry, Paul Lee and April Weaver joined Davis and House Rules Chairman Mac McCutcheon on the platform committee tasked with executing the process of putting together the agenda.

Davis said they discussed ideas with the House committee chairmen, then the whole caucus spent a half-day going through it all. The nine bill package went on to be unanimously approved by the House caucus.

One issue missing from the agenda that will likely make an otherwise placid session a bit more contentious is Common Core. Grassroots conservative groups have made the national education standards their top issue over the last year. Tea party groups have consistently called on the legislature to overrule the state school board and repeal them.

Davis said there are Republicans inside their caucus on both sides of the issue, which would make it difficult to find a consensus on including it in the agenda.

“It’s been back and forth,” Davis said. “We’ve worked closely with the state superintendent on a lot of education issues, but the bottom line is, there’s already an elected board in place that makes those policy decisions, that provides leadership there. It’s a tough issue and I know people on both sides are really passionate about it.”

“We’re proud of our agenda and we really looked to craft bills that could have an impact on communities all across the state,” Davis concluded. “We’ve got some legislation that’s going to really help the taxpayers. This is a year to focus on taxpayer relief and on small businesses to make their life easier.”


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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5 years ago

Alabama leaders respond to massive mill closing while workers search for hope

International Paper mill, Courtland, Ala.
International Paper mill, Courtland, Ala.

Major industry comes to small-town Alabama

“An Act to Establish the Town of Courtland, in Lawrence County” was passed by the Alabama Territorial Legislature on December 13, 1819.

Wealthy planters quickly set up shop in the town. One of the South’s first railroads was built to run through Courtland so their crops could be shipped without having to traverse the hazardous Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River. The railroad was mostly destroyed during the Civil War, but was rebuilt and became part of the southern rail system around the turn of the 20th century.
International Paper Logo
In the early 1970s, Champion International Paper, one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world, erected a mill in Courtland. To say the mill has been a major source of employment for the town would be an understatement. It was bought out by International Paper in 2000, and today the mill employees more people than actually live in the town. Over 1,100 Alabamians count on the mill to provide for their families. Less than 1,000 people live in Courtland, which consists of a little over 300 households.

From undisputed paper king to borderline paper tiger

Around the same time the Courtland railroad was rebuilt and put back into operation after being destroyed during the Civil War, 18 pulp and paper mills in the northeast United States merged to form International Paper. At the time, IP supplied an incredible 60 percent of the country’s newsprint.

Their famed Hudson River Mill revolutionized the paper industry, serving both as the company’s headquarters and as one of its largest plants. After World War II, workers in the Hudson River Mill perfected the production of coated papers. They shifted the company’s focus off of newsprint and on to the growing coated papers market, which exploded with the rise of U.S. service industries and the growth of the American middle class.

Today, 115 years after its founding, International Paper remains the king of the paper industry, employing over 60,000 people worldwide with revenues north of $26 billion a year.

But in spite of its imposing size, significant assets and global workforce, International Paper is struggling to overcome simple free-market economics — supply and demand.

The market for uncoated paper in the U.S. has been declining since 1999. In recent years, that decline has turned into a free fall.

In 2005, International Paper implemented an aggressive restructuring plan that resulted in the sale of over 6 million acres of forestland in the United States. They also shed their coated paper and beverage packaging businesses, along with other holdings.

IP still maintains a massive global empire, but it’s hard not to see their shuffling as little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Sept. 11 hits home

9/11 is synonymous with tragedy for most Americans.

But for long-time IP workers in Courtland, 9/11 takes on an even more personal meaning.

“I went to work that morning like I have for just about as long as I can remember,” an IP worker told Yellowhammer. He asked to remain anonymous because he said he wasn’t interested in “more reporters calling [his] house after they read [his] name.”

We’ll refer to him as James.

James is in his mid-30s and has been working at International Paper’s Courtland mill since graduating from high school. He worked other jobs growing up, but IP is the only “career job” he’s ever had.

James and his wife have three kids. She works part-time, and they’ve never quite been able to reach their goal of her staying at home to raise the kids full-time until they graduate high school.

“They told us the morning of 9/11 that we were done — the plant was through,” James recalled. “My first thought was ‘my kids won’t be able to go to college.’ I mean, there are more pressing things than that, obviously. I’ve got to pay these bills. I’ve got to put food on the table. But every parent worth their salt is doing what they do in hopes of giving their kids a shot they never had — to give them the chance for a better life.”

With only a high school diploma and few manufacturing jobs available, James is facing the prospect of uprooting his family.

“I’ve got to find out where the work is,” James said. “I ain’t never took a dime from the government and I ain’t about to start now. Listen man, I didn’t know what stress was until Sept. 11, 2013. It’s a sad day for the whole country, and I ain’t trying to compare losing my job to people losing their lives, but this hit home.”

State leaders get the news

“These decisions are especially difficult because of the impact to long-serving and hard-working employees, their families and the surrounding communities,” said International Paper Chairman and CEO, John Faraci. “This decision to permanently close capacity is primarily being driven by demand decline for uncoated freesheet paper products in the United States.”

IP will begin laying off workers gradually over the next few months, with complete work stoppage set for sometime early next year.

There are two potential scenarios that could play out when a major employer decides to close up shop.

In the first scenario, the Department of Commerce is told in advance.

The state then uses whatever resources it can muster to convince the company to stay open. Sometimes that means economic incentives — whether they come directly from the state or in partnership with local governments — other times it means jobs training and recruitment.

Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield

“We’ll work with the company any way we can to help them remain operational,” Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield told Yellowhammer. “We immediately launch an exploration to find out what conditions have led to the situation. We open a dialogue with senior-level management and find out if there is anything the state can do to assist them.”

In the second scenario, state government officials are given no advance notice — they’re blindsided.

International Paper’s closing falls into scenario number two.

But even though IP did not reach out to the state for assistance, Canfield said they engaged immediately after finding out about the company’s plan to close the Courtland mill.

“Governor Bentley reached out to IP’s CEO,” Canfield said. “[The CEO] made it clear that there wasn’t a pathway forward to keep the plant open.”

Canfield said the state also searched for scenarios in which the equipment at the IP mill could be repurposed to create a different, more sustainable business model.

No luck.

“The company had already gone through a repurposing exercise to find other uses for the plant. They looked at the life of the plant, the equipment and the costs of modifying what they had for another purpose. There was no business case to be made for doing that, even if the state offered incentives, which it did.”

Canfield said the Commerce Department even offered to pursue extraordinary measures, like seeking approval from the legislature to incentivize IP at a level higher than the Commerce Department is currently authorized.

“Even that went nowhere,” he said. “We’re fighting market forces that are out of everyone’s hands. Market conditions led to the situation IP Is in. We can’t help them get customers in a declining market that’s projected to continue to decline. They don’t need incentives, they need customers to buy their products.”

The ripple effect

Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman, and Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton, are Courtland’s current representatives in the Alabama legislature.

“What people don’t see is the jobs outside of IP that are affected as well,” Rep. Johnson told Yellowhammer. “There were contractors out there every day, people selling diesel fuel, the little lady selling biscuits every morning at the nearby gas station. This impacts everyone in the community, whether they actually work at the mill or not.”

Sen. Bussman echoed Johnson’s assessment of the ripple effect the mill’s closing could have on the local economy.

“You’ve got hundreds of people — loggers, truck drivers — they’re bringing in 175 to 180 loads every day. We have a tremendous forestry industry that now has no place in the area to sell its timber.”

The “wood supply chain,” as it is known, consists of loggers and wood dealers that supply wood to the mill, the truckers that deliver the wood, and the landowners who grow the timber.

An Alabama saw mill
An Alabama saw mill

In spite of the market conditions that led to the Courtland mill being shut down, the forest industry in Alabama is actually showing signs of growth. The Alabama Department of Commerce listed 31 new forestry-related projects with a total investment of $303 million, creating over 1,200 jobs in 2012 alone.

Still, there’s no way to sugarcoat the negative impact the closing of the mill will have on northwest Alabama communities and on members of the forestry community that depend on the jobs and markets created by the mill.

“This facility has been a vital part of the forestry community in northwest Alabama for decades and its closure represents a real loss for the local communities and for Alabama as a whole,” said Chris Isaacson, Executive Vice-President of the Alabama Forestry Association. “The impact will be felt not only by the employees, but also by the entire wood supply chain including forest landowners, loggers, truckers and all of the suppliers and vendors that provide support.”

A pathway forward

“We’ve started discussions with economic development people to see how we can make this a soft landing,” Sen. Bussman said. “Hopefully the state can help retrain some of the workers. We’re in discussions with Secretary Canfield, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and others who can help in those areas. Rep. Johnson and I are going to work every day on bringing new industries to the area.”

House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Rep. Johnson held a press conference last week during which they announced plans to provide resources to IP workers and other people in the area affected by the mill’s closing.

Governor Bentley’s “rapid response team” is set to visit the plant this week to help employees find new jobs and training.

“You may have people who have been employed out there such a long time that a high school education was not required,” Johnson said. “And now we may need to help them with their GED or we may need to help them with further training. That’s just part of what they’ll do. There’ll even be credit counseling made available to some who will need that.”

Secretary Canfield said the Dept. of Commerce has already begun looking at their existing book of projects to introduce them to Lawrence County. He also said they are “casting a wide net” to find companies considering projects that might find the current International Paper location suitable to their needs.

“These are longterm solutions, but we’re already working on them while the Department of Labor, ADECA and others on our team work to meet the immediate needs,” Canfield said.

Back in Courtland, James, the long-time International Paper employee, huddled with his family and friends at a local church and prayed for guidance.

“We’ve done all the crying we’re going to do, and believe me, there’s been a lot of that,” James said. “Now we’re crying out to the Lord and finding our hope in Him. There ain’t much hope to be found anywhere else right now.”


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