1/15/2018 Group Watch: Toyota-Mazda Plant Coming to AL

Last Wednesday executives from Mazda Motor of America and Toyota North America announced that they will build a plant in Limestone County, just north of Huntsville. The new plant is expected to employ 4,000 people along with a multiplier of three to four times that many in a network of suppliers across the state. The state’s workforce training program, AIDT will train people across the state for the skilled jobs.

1/15/2018 Group Watch: State of the State

During a televised event, Governor Kay Ivey delivered her first annual address last Tuesday, and it set broad and wide-ranging priorities for state government. Matching a mood among legislators, Ivey avoided major controversy, proposing pay raises for state employees and teachers, increased investment in education and a renewed effort to improve Alabama’s embattled prison system. Ivey’s speech focused largely on issues she’s spearheaded since she ascended to the post last year including education, economic development and improving the state’s prisons.

December 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

More good news is making headlines this month, a gift just in time for the holidays.

  • State Budgets Will Have More Money: State Finance Director Clinton Carter recently said he expects each of the budgets to have about $200 million more this year. Carter said the state’s economy is showing signs of recovery after the longest and most prolonged recession in modern history. The unemployment rate is at a historic low, at about 3.6 percent. Carter says attrition among state employees, belt-tightening and careful financial management have Alabama in solid financial condition. While other states have experienced a downgrade in their credit rating, Alabama has avoided credit troubles. The state’s resiliency is credited to the Alabama Trust Fund, which receives money from the oil and gas leases and most recently from British Petroleum settlement. The financial gains could be offset by growing expenses in the prison system and Medicaid.
  • Alabama’s 2016 Graduation Rate Ranks 16th in Nation: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Alabama’s overall high school graduation rate of 87.1 percent for the class of 2016 ranks 16th in the nation. The graduation rate for the country as a whole for the class of 2016 hit a record high of 84.1 percent, increasing from 83.2 percent for the class of 2015. The federal graduation rate is calculated as the percentage of students who graduate four years after entering high school as a ninth grader.
  • Gov. Ivey Announces $1.5 million Grant for Early Education: Governor Kay Ivey recently announced that Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Satsuma will be among the first to benefit from a grant funding a new early childhood education program. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation awarded the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education a $1.5 million grant to allow for further expansion of the Pre Through 3 initiative for early learning. Pre Through 3 is in its first year as a pilot program, serving 35 classrooms in eight systems across the state.

December 2017 Group Watch: Republican 2018 Agenda

The 2018 regular session of the Alabama Legislature begins early this year, with the House and Senate convening on Tuesday, January 9. In preparation, the Alabama House Republican Caucus released its 2018 agenda last week. Entitled “Flag, Family, and Country,” the list of issues includes measures to protect Alabama families, to extend benefits to members of the military, to increase respect for our nation’s flag and more. Read more here.

December 2017 Group Watch: Merry Christmas

While this time of year can be hectic, all of us here at The Bloom Group would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our clients and colleagues Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year! We hope you find some quality time among the shopping, parties and gatherings to truly enjoy the season and all it brings.

November 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Governor approval ratings staying high and our state’s hospital infection rates being ranked low mark some good news for November.

  • Governor Ivey’s Approval Holds Steady: Governor Kay Ivey’s approval rating is holding high and steady as she finishes out her sixth month since taking office. A new poll shows that 62 percent of those polled said they approved of the job she is doing as governor. Her disapproval rating dropped 1 percentage point from 13 percent to 12 percent. Ivey’s popularity has her in the top 5 governors in terms their approval rating, moving up two spots since the last poll from sixth to fourth. Only the governors of Arkansas, Maryland and Massachusetts have higher approval ratings.
  • State Developing Master Plan for Prisons: The Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) plans to hire a project management team to develop a master plan to build and renovate state prisons. The DOC expects to have the project management team in place by mid-December. The agency issued a request for qualification (RFQ) to identify companies that can do the work. Preference will be given Alabama companies. The goals of the project are construction of new men’s prison facilities, renovation of existing facilities and renovation of existing healthcare facilities for prisoners or construction of new ones.
  • AL Hospitals’ Infection Rates Low: Alabama hospitals performed better that the national average in four key measures of the rates of patient infections, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The state’s acting state health officer Dr. Scott Harris announced the results from an annual report on infections patients acquire in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. Since 2011, Alabama hospitals have reported in four categories: catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-associated bloodstream infections and surgical site infections from colon surgeries and abdominal hysterectomies. Prevention of healthcare-associated infections is important because they delay a patient’s recovery or cause death.
  • Rep. Richard Lindsey Retiring: State Representative Richard Linsey announced he will not run for another term in the House of Representatives, where he has served since 1983. During his tenure in the House, Lindsey served for 10 years as chair of the House Education Budget Committee. Lindsey said he has enjoyed serving the people of his district, and his colleagues say he will be missed.

November 2017 Group Watch: GOP Chair Issues Warning

Republican Party Chair Terry Latham recently warned GOP officials and candidates not to endorse Doug Jones or a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate race against Roy Moore. She reminded party members that the party reserves the right to deny ballot access to a candidate for public office if in a prior election that person was a Republican office holder and either publicly participated in the primary election of another party or publicly supported a nominee of another party. The provisions of the rule shall apply for a period of six years after such person so participated.

November 2017 Group Watch: Thankful for You

At The Bloom Group, our “thankful” list is a pretty long one. We’re grateful that Alabama politics is always interesting. We’re appreciative of our many years in this business. But most of all, we remain thankful for our many public and private sector clients who trust us to help them reach their goals. We hope you have a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.

November 2017 Group Watch: Welcome John!

The Bloom Groupwelcomes its newest associate, John Guthrie Jr. He has decades of experience and a proven track record of successfully lobbying for more than 30 local government entities in Jefferson County—including the county and its largest city, Birmingham. Get to know him better here.

October 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

More election news and personnel moves top the news in Alabama politics this month.

  • Walt Maddox Running for Governor: Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox confirmed what many have speculated for some time: He is running governor in 2018. Maddox, a Democrat who has led the state’s fifth largest city since 2005, has 319 individuals invested in his campaign. Along with Maddox, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb is running for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, Governor Kay has announced plans to seek a full term. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Birmingham Evangelist Scott Dawson, state corrections officer Stacy George, state Senator Bill Hightower of Mobile, Birmingham businessman Joshua Jones and Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan are also seeking the GOP nomination.
  • Republicans & Democrats Look to Fill Ross Seat: The appointment of Senator Quinton Ross to become president of Alabama State University has created a flurry of activity to fill his now vacant senate seat for District 26. Governor Ivey set the primary for Tuesday, December 12, with a runoff Tuesday, February 27, 2018, and the general election Tuesday, May 15, 2018. DJ Johnson has qualified to run as a Republican. Five Democrats qualified to run on the Democratic ticket: Deborah Anthony, Fred Bell, David Burkette, Tony Cobb and John Knight. Knight is currently serving in the House from Montgomery, and Burkette and Bell are currently serving on the Montgomery City Council.
  • Buskey Retiring: Representative James Buskey of Mobile announced he will not seek re-election in 2018, thus ending a legislative career of more than 40 years. Buskey is one of the longest current serving members of the legislature, second only to Alvin Holmes of Montgomery, who has served since 1976. When Buskey’s current term ends, he will have served 42 years in the House. Members young and not so young praise his acumen and leadership.
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