January 17, 2022 Group Watch: Gov Awards Grants to Combat Drug Crime

Governor Ivey awarded $1.6 million in public safety grants aimed at fighting illegal drugs and drug-related crimes across the state. The Grants in the amount of $202,557 each went to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the state’s seven regional drug task forces, and the funds will be used to combat drug sellers, manufacturers and users.  Ivey reaffirmed her administration’s support of law enforcement in their efforts to combat crime stemming from illegal drugs, pointing to recent successes. Alabama task force agents made nearly 800 arrests in 2021. They also seized 2.3 million grams of marijuana, more than 508,483 grams of methamphetamine and 66,664 grams of cocaine. These efforts also removed numerous firearms and drug related currency from our streets.

January 17, 2022 Group Watch: State Rep Steve McMillan Being Treated for Brain Tumors

State Rep. Steve McMillan, 80, who is retiring at the end of this term, is undergoing an aggressive treatment plan for three small brain tumors but vows to be a participant in this year’s legislative session. According to reports, he will receive treatment during the month of January, and he hopes to return to Montgomery during the spring. Our prayers are extended to Rep. McMillan, Alabama’s longest-serving member of the state House of Representatives, who is an effective legislator and a heck of a nice guy!

December 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Personnel changes, more economic development scores and a preview of the issues — medical marijuana, gambling and more —  likely to show up and spur debate in the 2022 session of The Alabama Legislature, which convenes January 11, are among the news to know this December.

Also, the state is making plans to spend funds from the recently passed federal infrastructure bill, and a few new candidates have thrown their hat into the ring of the governor’s race.

And, there are a few holidays this month too. Read on for more details on it all, as well as our seasonal wishes and a nod to The Bloom Group’s founder, Hal Bloom, as a beloved Christmas tradition he helped establish celebrates 50 fabulous years.

December 2021 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

@ALFTBL
Dec 11
Thank You Bama Nation!
@_bryce_young

December 2021 Group Watch: Medical Marijuana Expected to Be Discussed During the 2022 Session

The commission created to write the rules and regulate the use of medical marijuana in Alabama has a lot on its plate and may require additional legislation to get its work done. It’s now possible that medical marijuana won’t be available for patients, who’ll require a prescription, until 2023.

December 2021 Group Watch: New Candidates Enter Governor’s Race

Lindy Blanchard, a nonprofit director, former ambassador and major financial supporter of former President Donald Trump, has entered Alabama’s governor’s race. Blanchard, who had been a candidate for the U.S. Senate, says she is opposed to federal COVID vaccination plans and accuses Republicans in charge of state government of being out of touch with Alabamians. Tim James also announced he will seek the Republican nomination for governor. James said his campaign will focus on education, resisting the federal vaccine plan and “continuing to fight the cultural war,” including pushing to ban same-sex marriage and repealing Alabama’s medical marijuana law.

December 2021 Group Watch: Abortion Bill On the Agenda for 2022 Session

The hot-button issue of abortion bans will be a part of the legislature’s 2022 session. A bill that is being dubbed “Texas-style” in reference to the law passed in the Lone Star state that placed new restrictions on abortions has been filed in the Alabama House of Representatives by Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville. The bill would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is able to be detected. Read more here.

December 2021 Group Watch: Jeff Dunn Stepping Down; John Hamm in as AL Prison Commissioner

Alabama Prison Commissioner Jeff Dunn will step down from his role at the end of December. Dunn’s tenure was marked by early declines in prison overcrowding, thanks to changes in sentencing guidelines in 2015. The commissioner also achieved a longtime goal this fall, when the legislature approved a plan to build two new men’s prisons in Elmore and Escambia counties. Dunn’s tenure was also driven by a crisis of violence within state prisons that he seemed unable to control. Correctional facilities in Alabama have been understaffed for years, and efforts to increase pay for correctional officers and create separate classifications to improve the situation have had only limited success. The governor has appointed John Hamm (pictured above), deputy secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, to succeed Dunn. Hamm brings more than 35 years of experience in law

December 2021 Group Watch: Gambling Likely Getting Another Roll of the Dice in 2022 Session

State Senator Greg Albritton, the Senate General Fund Budget Committee chair, says to expect the legislature to take another crack at gaming in the 2022 regular session. Despite being the fourth year of the quadrennium, which is typically not a time that significant legislation makes its way through the process, Albritton thinks this could be the year. He expressed the desire to get control of gaming that is already occurring in the state and collect taxes from the gross proceeds. Read more here.

December 2021 Group Watch: Retiree Bonus Bills Coming Back for 2022 Session

Senators Del Marsh and Bobby Singleton say they will try again in the upcoming session to give one-time bonuses to retired state workers and teachers. Marsh has pre-filed SB 11 for the upcoming session, which gives a bonus of at least $300 to state retirees. Singleton has indicated he plans to file a similar bill for retired educators. Marsh noted that the state’s budget situation at the end of fiscal 2021 makes it a good time for bonuses, and Senate education budget committee chair Senator Arthur Orr has said bonuses are on the table for the 2022 session.

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