September 2020 Group Watch: ASU Using New Screening Tech

Alabama State University announced it is using new technology to help students stay safe during the pandemic. The university partnered with Alabama Company Dragonfly to put 10 screening devices around the campus: five temperature-scanning devices and five social-distancing devices. A student walks up to the device, it takes their temperature and then provides a green light if the temp is appropriate. ASU President Dr. Quentin Ross says the university is the first college in Alabama to use the new equipment. The technology cost about $100,000, and the university is using CARES Act money to pay for it. ASU said it is considering using the devices at football games when its season begins.

August 2020 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Innovation, economic development wins and additional COVID-19 relief are among the #alpolitics headlines this month.
  • CARES Act Update: Governor Kay Ivey has announced additional awards in CARES funding. Fifty million dollars is available for grants of up to $15,000 to nonprofit organizations and faith-based programs to help mitigate operational costs resulting from COVID-19. Hospitals and nursing home were awarded $100 million to cover operating costs that are COVID-19 related, such as PPE, cleaning, personnel costs and other pandemic-related expenses; the specific amounts awarded to these facilities are listed on the state website, al.gov. The Department of Mental Health was awarded $7 million for its Crisis and Recovery Services program and the Community Provider Reimbursement program. These programs provide toll-free hotline services for persons in crisis and services to individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities. The Alabama Agriculture Stabilization Program received $26 million, which will be administered by the Department of Agriculture and Industries. Funds from all grants must be expended by December 31, 2020.
  • Toyota Alabama installing 3.3-acre Solar Array: The Toyota engine plant in Huntsville is playing a key role in the automaker’s new solar energy plan, as part of a $9.3 million investment designed to cut the need for outside energy in its operations across three states. The company is adding almost 11 acres of new solar arrays in Alabama, Missouri and West Virginia, a setup that will offset 6,480,000 kWh of energy, or the equivalent of powering nearly 800 homes per year. In Huntsville, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama’s 3.3- acre solar array will be the largest built to date in Madison County. The $2.7 million project, expected to be complete by the end of the year, will generate 1.6 megawatts of solar-generated energy and reduce CO2 emissions at the plant by 1,732 metric tons annually.
  • FedEx Ground to Build $40 Million Facility in Jefferson County: The Birmingham Business Alliance recently announced that FedEx Ground plans to build a $40.6 million facility in Jefferson County that would create 285 full and part-time jobs within three years of the project’s completion. The 300,000-square-foot facility will occupy a 46-acre site off Lakeshore Parkway, a growing logistics and distribution corridor that would place the new building next to a Dollar General distribution center. Construction on the facility is expected to begin around September 1, with completion scheduled for June 2021. The cities of Bessemer and Birmingham and the Jefferson County Commission have been close collaborators on what is being called one of the largest economic development projects this year for the region. 

August 2020 Group Watch: New Leadership for National Gov Association

The National Governors Association announced its new Executive Committee leadership for 2020-21 as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo became chair of the association. At the summer meeting, Governor Cuomo became chair and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, vice chair. Joining them on the Executive Committee are Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Governor Gary Herbert of Utah. The Executive Committee has general authority over all policy issues and primary jurisdiction over issues involving federalism, homeland security, the federal budget and federal tax policy. Members of the committee are elected annually.

August 2020 Group Watch: Flight Works Alabama Opens

Flight Works Alabama, an aerospace education center located near the Airbus manufacturing facility in Mobile, has launched its mission to inspire and equip future aviation workers across the region. The 15,000-square-foot facility, which features more than 40 high-tech exhibits to provide a comprehensive look at the aviation and aerospace industry, officially opened its doors. The center has a heavy emphasis on commercial jet aircraft like those manufactured at the nearby Airbus manufacturing facility, where A220 and A320 family aircraft are produced. Visitors to the center can engage in more than 50 experiences, including flying an Airbus A320; taking a spacewalk and installing a virtual payload on the International Space Station; designing an aircraft’s livery and paint it in a virtual paint shop; and navigating a high-tech drone through an outdoor drone aviary.

August 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

@thebloomgroup
Anybody here seen my old friend John? Vintage Year Montgomery, AL circa 1995.

August 2020 Group Watch: AL Power Refunding $100M

The Alabama Public Service Commission recently approved a plan to credit Alabama Power Company customers on their October bills. The move refunds $100 million to customers. The typical customer will receive a $25 credit on their October bill, which is in addition to a 3-percent rate reduction that customers are enjoying in 2020. The global economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt people across Alabama, and it has dramatically lowered fuel costs for Alabama Power Company’s plants.

July 2020 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

As we enter the sixth month of COVID-19 and the multiple restrictions it has made necessary —including a new statewide mask requirement —
we still successfully held runoff elections, and there’s education news.
  • COVID-19 Update: Governor Kay Ivey issued her 14th supplemental emergency proclamation containing an amended Safer at Home Order that includes a statewide mask requirement. Individuals will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people. The order extends until July 31,2020 at 5 p.m. You can read it at the link below.
  • Gov Announces Alabama Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Final Report and Recommendations: Governor Ivey recently announced the final report and recommendations of the Alabama Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The final report provides recommendations to enhance Birth to Age Eight Systems; Family Engagement; Health and Wellbeing; Learning Outside the Classroom; and Special Education, English Language Learners and Struggling Readers. Campaign leaders have developed an introductory video with a call to action for the Alabama Children’s Policy Councils as they begin work on establishing a local, county-level Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to continue this important work in each of the state’s 67 counties. The local campaigns represent a grassroots effort organized around the common goal of supporting Alabama students in achieving reading proficiency.
  • Dr. Barbara Cooper Takes Helm at Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education: Governor Ivey announced the appointment of Dr. Barbara Cooper as Secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (DECE). Dr. Cooper brings significant experience and expertise to the role, and she previously held senior level positions with the DECE and the Alabama State Department of Education. She served as DECE director of the Office of School Readiness and the Birth to Grade 12 advisor for Ivey’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation. She was also appointed by the Alabama State Board of Education to serve as the chief administrative officer during the Montgomery Public Schools Intervention, where she worked to improve leadership and governance.

2020-07-15-14th-Supplemental-SOE-COVID-19

July 2020 Group Watch: Runoff Election Results

Several runoff elections were held on Tuesday with these results:

U.S. Senate: Tommy Tuberville (R) 60.74%; Jeff Session (R) 39.26%.
1st Congressional District; Jerry Carl (R) 52.29%, Bill Hightower (R) 47.71%.
2nd Congressional District; Barry Moore (R) 60.45%, Jeff Coleman (R) 39.55%.
District 5 State School Board; Tonya Chestnut(D) 61.35%, Fred Bell (D) 38.65%.
Place #2 Court of Criminal Appeals; Beth Kellum (R) 56.15%, Will Smith (R) 43.65%.

July 2020 Group Watch: AL Dept of Labor to Offer Extended Unemployment

The Alabama Department of Labor announced that Alabamians who have exhausted all other unemployment benefits will be eligible for the extended Benefits (EB) program. To qualify for the Extended Benefits program, an individual must have gone through both the normal 14 weeks of unemployment provided for by the State of Alabama and the additional 13 weeks provided by the federal government as part of the CARES Act in March. The Extended Benefits program is a federal project offered only when a state’s insured unemployment rate goes over 5.9 percent

July 2020 Group Watch: CARES Grant Awards

Governor Ivey has announced awards to several entities from the CARES ACT funds. The governor awarded $30 million to be used to establish a COVID-19 testing and safety development program. The program will be implemented by a coalition led by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the University of Alabama Birmingham. The governor awarded $48 million to the Alabama Department of education in response to challenges related to COVID-19. This allocation will enable schools to enact policies established in the Alabama Department of Education’s Roadmap to reopening Schools, such as equipping school buses with WiFi to increase internet connectivity in parts of the state and  providing digital textbook and library resources for students and to provide additional academic support to boost learning opportunities. Governor Ivey unveiled a $100 million small business grant program, called  ”Revive Alabama,” to support businesses with 10 or fewer employees that have been impacted by COVIV-19. Qualifying businesses may receive up to $15,000.

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