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5 years ago

Top 7 most conservative Alabama legislators

Alabama State House
Alabama State House

1. Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise

Rep. Barry Moore
Rep. Barry Moore

Freshman representative Barry Moore is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. He’s a founder or investor in multiple successful businesses, most notably Barry Moore Industries, a commercial waste management company based in Enterprise. Every vote he casts in the legislature is informed by his extensive private sector experience.

If it’s about smaller government, lower taxes, less spending or decreased government regulation, Moore’s going to be with you 100 percent of the time.

With Ft. Rucker located in his district, Moore has also been a leading advocate for military families. He shepherded a bill that made it easier for active duty military personnel to get in-state tuition, and a similar bill making it easier for military spouses to get business licenses. He also sponsored a bill that would’ve reduced unemployment benefits for certain persons receiving pension payments.

The vote that most illustrates Moore’s rock-ribbed conservatism occurred during the 2011 session. A bill to extend unemployment benefits was passed overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of 94-1. The one “no” vote? Barry Moore.

In a state house packed full of Republicans, Moore is the most dependable conservative vote in the Alabama legislature.

2. Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle

Rep. Ed Henry
Rep. Ed Henry

Known among his colleagues for his sense of humor and willingness to say — and tweet — exactly what’s on his mind, Rep. Henry really hit his stride as a legislator during the 2013 session.

He was the lead House sponsor on the Omnibus Gun Bill, giving Alabama what proponents of the bill called “the strongest Second Amendment protections in the country.” The gun bill was one of the most contentious pieces of legislation during the 2013 session. When negotiations got heated between staunch Second Amendment advocates, business interests, law enforcement personnel and other stakeholders, Henry was a steady, constitutional-conservative champion, balancing Second Amendment and Fifth Amendment concerns in an effort to build consensus.

Over the last few sessions, Henry sponsored the “Tim Tebow Act,” a bill that would allow homeschooled students equal access to sports and extracurricular activities; a “loser pays” bill to discourage frivolous lawsuits; and numerous pro-life bills.

If you’re a conservative, you want Henry in the room working for you.

3. Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne

Senate Education Budget Chairman Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, speaking at the Business Council of Alabama April 9, 2013
Sen. Trip Pittman

Pittman’s libertarian streak is a little unnerving to his senate colleagues sometimes, but if the preservation of the free market is a big deal for you, Pittman’s your guy. He was even a member of Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign team in Alabama.

His top duty in the senate is overseeing the biggest pot of money in state government — the education budget.

The budget has not experienced proration since Pittman took over at the helm.

When he’s not mixing it up on the seventh floor of the state house, Pittman runs Pittman Tractor Company, an Authorized Hyundai Dealer selling and repairing heavy equipments all over south Alabama.

A small business owner who fiercely defends the free market. That’s music to conservatives’ ears.

4. Sen. Phil Williams, R-Gadsden

Alabama State Senator Phil Williams Yellow Hammer Politics
Sen. Phil Williams

Williams is a hard-charging conservative bulldog, a trait that likely comes from his quarter century of military service that included multiple tours overseas — one each in Iraq and Afghanistan. Earlier this month, LTC Williams took over command of the 4th Alabama Army National Guard.

In the legislature, Williams has pushed bills on a wide range of conservative issues.

He led the floor debate and ultimately helped win the repeal of the legislative pay raise Democrats gave themselves in 2007. He’s sponsored and supported numerous pro-life bills, including twice carrying the Personhood bill, which declares that life begins at conception. In recent sessions he’s been the lead sponsor on numerous proposals aimed at streamlining and downsizing state government.

Prior to his current private sector gig as an attorney with his own firm, Williams & Associates, LLC, Williams was in full-time ministry for seven years with the international youth outreach organization YoungLife.

5. Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale

Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale
Sen. Scott Beason

Never one to shy away from a fight, Tea Party favorite Scott Beason has been in the middle of just about every controversial bill the Alabama legislature has taken up in recent years.

Want to pass the country’s toughest immigration law? Beason will be the lead sponsor. Want to expand and protect gun rights? Beason’s your guy. Want to repeal Common Core? Beason’s leading the charge.

There are a lot of legislators who could be on this list based on their conservative voting record. Beason’s on here because he’s not just going to vote for it, he’s going to sponsor it, stump for it, yell at the press about it and push his colleagues to support it until it’s finally done.

6. Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Arab

Sen. Clay Scofield
Sen. Clay Scofield

Scofield is the senate’s tort reform champion. He’s led the charge against frivolous lawsuits as part of the GOP’s efforts to make Alabama the most business-friendly state in the country. He’s a guaranteed “yes” vote on any piece of conservative legislation, and a “no” vote on anything that strays from his conservative, down-home roots.

Scofield is also one of Alabama’s most socially conservative legislators. He has sponsored and supported numerous pieces of pro-life legislation since he was elected just three short years ago.

7. Rep. Kurt Wallace, R-Maplesville

Rep. Kurt Wallace
Rep. Kurt Wallace

Wallace describes himself in his bio as a “Conservative Christian who will fearlessly defend my God, country, and family against all who would do them harm.”

He’s is a staunch defender of Alabama’s right-to-work status. His very first bill in the legislature paved the way to make it more difficult for employee unions to organize using intimidation. It was past as part of Republicans’ “Handshake with Alabama,” a series of bills delivering on GOP campaign promises after the 2010 elections.

He’s earned a reputation around the state house as a calm operator who stands on principle, even when it’s not politically correct or socially convenient.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

7 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

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First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

8 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

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That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

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

8 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

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“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

9 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

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According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

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To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.