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

Election announcements and committee moves top the list of political news right now.

  • Alabama Senate Race Results: Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was twice removed from the bench for thumbing his nose at the federal courts, was the leading vote getter in a crowded field seeking the Republican nomination. Incumbent Senator Luther Strange came in a not-too-distant second. They will face each other in a September 26 runoff to determine the Republican nominee. Former U.S. attorney Doug Jones of Birmingham easily outdistanced his Democratic challengers to win his party’s nomination without a runoff. He will face the Republican nominee in the general special election in December.
  • Senate Leader Marsh Will Seek Re-election: Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh announced he will seek re-election to the state Senate in 2018. Marsh had been high on lists of potential gubernatorial candidates but has said he was waiting for Governor Kay Ivey to make a decision about seeking the office. Ivey’s office said she is continuing to consider running for a full term and is close to a decision. Marsh said if he’s re-elected to the Senate, education and infrastructure would be his priorities. Marsh said he looks forward to working with Ivey, should she seek a full term.
  • House Speaker Announces Committee Changes: Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon recently announced several committee reassignments. McCutcheon said the changes will bring new ideas and fresh perspectives. They are: Alan Boothe (R-Troy) from Rules to Ethics and Campaign Finance; Prince Chestnut (D-Selma) from State Government to Judiciary; Danny Crawford (R-Athens) assigned to Agriculture and Forestry; Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) from Judiciary to County and Municipal Government; Kelvin Lawrence (D-Hayneville) assigned to State Government; Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley) from State Government to Judiciary, and Jack Williams (R-Wilmer) from Agriculture and Forestry to State Government.

August 2017 Group Watch: Woman Takes Command of National Guard

Major General Sheryl E. Gordon was recently appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to head the Alabama National Guard. Gordon replaces Major General Perry Smith, who is retiring. Gordon is the first woman to serve as adjutant general of the guard. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Alabama Army National Guard in 1981. She has served in multiple command roles throughout the state. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Birmingham Southern College and Auburn University and a master’s in education administration from Auburn University at Montgomery.

August 2017 Group Watch: Alabama’s First Female Supreme Court Justice Dies

The first female member of the Alabama Supreme Court, Janie Shores, has died. Shores, who also was once considered as a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee, died recently at her home in Baldwin County days after suffering a stroke. Shores was first elected to the state Supreme Court in 1974 as a Democrat and served until her retirement in 1999. Then-President Bill Clinton considered her for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, but the seat ultimately went to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A gathering for local residents was held Friday at St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope. A memorial service was held later that day in Birmingham where she lived for more than 40 years.

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

The governor’s race is heating up along with the temps. Here’s the latest buzz on on that as well as some other political news.

  • Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announces plans to explore run for governor: Maddox recently announced plans to explore running for Alabama governor in 2018. Maddox is using the slogan “Make Alabama proud again.” He says the most difficult decision of running for governor lies ahead, and he will continue to focus on his responsibilities as a husband, father and mayor. Maddox says that many have urged him to switch parties for convenience, but he says he has no plans to abandon the Democratic Party. He declared that the days of party rule should end, and that candidates should run for the people of Alabama. Maddox has been mayor since 2005 and won a fourth term earlier this year in a landslide. He has been praised for his economic development work and handling of the aftermath of the deadly 2011 tornadoes that hit the city.
  • State Senator Bill Hightower jumps into the race: Hightower, R-Mobile, is expected to formally announce plans to run for governor. Hightower has filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office to form a campaign committee for a gubernatorial campaign. He is the first legislator to enter the race. Hightower was interviewed by former Governor Robert Bentley earlier this year for appointment to the U.S. Senate to replace Jeff Sessions. He first won the Senate seat in a 2013 special election and was re-elected in 2014. He also owns an international corporate strategic consulting company.

July 2017 Group Watch: Dr. Tom Miller Retiring as Alabama State Health Officer

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Tom Miller recently announced he is retiring this fall. Reports indicate that he is slated to retire September 1, 2017. Dr. Miller assumed the position in 2015 following the retirement of Dr. Don Williamson. Miller was highly regarded in health circles but came under fire for hiring the former director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System who was terminated in 2014 for neglect of duty. The hire was rescinded following the backlash.

July 2017 Group Watch: Alabama Education Board Drops Testing Contract

The Alabama State Board of Education has voted unanimously against renewing the ACT Aspire testing contract. The contract decision affects the 2017-18 school year. The vote comes after news that ACT Aspire reports for schools across Alabama would be delayed due to coding errors in the formatting of results. Data from the ACT Aspire is supposed to help local schools and parents have access to detailed information on student progress. This information is then supposed to help improve instruction for the next school year and helps parents understand their students’ progression. A Request for Proposals (RFP) is forthcoming.

July 2017 Group Watch: Gov. Ivey’s First 100 Days

Governor Kay Ivey is touting the progress she and her administration have made during her first 100 days in office in a new video, including the improvements to our state’s infrastructure. Watch it here.

July 2017 Group Watch: Senate Special Election

A special election will be held in Alabama on December 12 to choose who will hold former Senator Jeff Sessions’ seat. Former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is currently holding the seat after being appointed to the vacancy by former Governor Robert Bentley. Read this al.com article that outlines who has thrown their hat in the race so far.

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

Summer is in full swing, but work is ongoing on Alabama’s political front, with several new appointments and titles headlining the news.

  • Mike Jones named Alabama House Rules Chair: House Judiciary Committee chair Mike Jones of Andalusia moved over to chair the House Rules Committee. Jones succeeds Representative Alan Boothe of Troy who announced he would not seek re-election in 2018 and planned to step down as Rules chair. Jones, a two-term representative, oversaw the Judiciary Committee’s probe into former Governor Robert Bentley’s possible impeachment, helping the committee create a process almost from scratch. The Rules Committee decides agendas of bills for the House, and the chair plays a major role in determining the flow of legislation.
  • Jim Hill named Alabama House Judiciary Chair: Representative Jim Hill of Moody, a retired circuit judge, will chair the House Judiciary Committee. Hill had served as vice chair and has a reputation of fairness and impartiality. He served as a district court and circuit court judge in St. Clair County from 1994 until his retirement in 2013. He is now in a private law practice. He is completing his first term in the Alabama Legislature.
  • Governor Ivey names Acting Conservation Commissioner: Governor Kay Ivey named Christopher Blankenship acting commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He replaces Gunter Guy, whose resignation was accepted by the governor. A spokesperson for the governor said, “She wishes Gunter Guy well, but it was a business decision and not a personal one.” The governor’s office said she would seek a permanent commissioner for the job. Blankenship, a 23-year veteran of the department, was Deputy Commissioner of the department and before that, served as director of the Marine Resources Division. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources gets no money from the state’s General Fund, relying instead on self-generated funds from hunting and fishing license sales and federal funding.

June 2017 Group Watch: Attorney General Steve Marshall to Seek Full Term

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, appointed to the position in February, has announced he will seek election to the office. He says his top priority will be to maintain an effective working relationship with local law enforcement. He looks forward to working with sheriffs, district attorneys, police and investigators who are on the front lines of public safety. Marshall was formerly district attorney in Marshall County, where he served for 16 years before his appointment as attorney general. He is the first candidate to file and will run as a Republican.

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