August 2021 Group Watch: Alabama & the Infrastructure Deal

The recently passed federal infrastructure bill contains $1.2 trillion for various public works programs. Based on formula funding alone, Alabama would expect to receive $5.2 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $225 million for bridge repairs and replacements over five years. The state can also compete for the $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities. The state would also receive $405 million over five years to improve public transportation options across the state. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Alabama would expect to receive $79 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state. The state would also have the opportunity to apply for $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging. Alabama is slated to receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state. Also, more than 1,500,000 Alabamians will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.

August 2021 Group Watch: AL Medical Cannabis Commission Holds First Meeting

Late last week, Alabama’s newly formed Medical Cannabis Commission held its inaugural meeting in Montgomery. Earlier this year, Governor Ivey signed the bill that made the use of cannabis to address  specific health concerns legal, and the commission is beginning its work to come up with the rules and procedures needed to regulate the growth of marijuana and then the manufacturing of it into medical cannabis products. Alabama joins 35 other states that allow medical cannabis.

August 2021 Group Watch: AL’s New Finance Director Sworn In

Bill Poole officially became the state finance director, joining Governor Ivey’s cabinet last Monday. The three-term legislator replaced Kelley Butler who recently retired. Governor Ivey also set a special election on October 19 to fill the seat Poole is leaving open. Read more here.

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

July 2021

Several hot topics are generating buzz this month.
Movement on the medical marijuana front is making news, with the new “seed-to-sale” industry’s regulatory commission taking its final form.

Despite dwindling numbers since its peak in Alabama, COVID remains a headline topic both in terms of vaccinations and ongoing recovery efforts.

The Alabama Superintendent of Education took a firm stand on the subject of critical race theory in Alabama schools.

And politicians, including the governor, are already full-swing into fundraising and campaigning ahead of the 2022 elections.

Read all about this and more in this month’s Group Watch.

July 2021 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

July 15
In June, Gov. Ivey ended Alabama’s federal pandemic unemployment programs. Now, the labor shortage is shrinking and businesses can keep their doors open. Read about how one restaurant owner in Daphne is already seeing the benefits of this policy here:

July 2021 Group Watch: Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Commission Coming Together

The 14-member board that will oversee Alabama’s new medical marijuana industry is being formed. The bill passed by the Legislature in May that legalizes and regulates the production and use of medical marijuana products in Alabama calls for the Medical Cannabis Commission to be in place by July 1. The commission has until  September 1, 2022, to establish rules for implementation of the program and to issue licenses to cultivators, processors, transporters, testing laboratories and dispensaries. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will regulate the cultivators.

Governor Ivey, the lieutenant governor, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House, the agriculture commissioner and the health officer all get to make appointments to the commission, and the attorney general and secretary of state each name a non-voting advisory member.

Twelve of the total 14 have already been named. Governor Ivey announced her three appointees: Dr. William Saliski Jr., a pulmonologist from Montgomery; Sam Blakemore, a pharmacist at Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham; and Dwight Gamble, a bank executive from Headland. Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth named Dr. Angela Martin, a pediatrician from Anniston; Dr. Eric Jensen, a biochemist from Brownsboro; and Loree Skelton, a healthcare lawyer from Birmingham. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon named Rex Vaughn, a Madison County farmer and north region vice president for the Alabama Farmers Federation, and Charles Price, a retired circuit judge from Montgomery. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed appointed Dr. Steven Stokes, a radiation oncologist from Dothan, and Taylor Hatchett of Boozer Farms in Chilton County. Ag Commissioner Rick Pate appointed James Harwell, former executive director of the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association and president of Green Thumb Nursery in Montgomery. Attorney General Steve Marshall has appointed AG Chief Counsel Katherine Green Robertson.

All nominees face Senate confirmation when the Legislature returns but can serve before confirmation since the Legislature is not in session.

July 2021 Group Watch: Governor Ivey Back on Gov Association Exec Committee

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey was once again elected to serve on the executive committee of the National Governor’s Association. The bipartisan National Governors Association works alongside governors in their efforts to restore public health and continue a robust, sustainable economic recovery. Serving along with Governor Ivey on the executive committee are the governors from Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Mexico. The governors assumed their new roles during the association summer meeting, which took place in a virtual format.

July 2021 Group Watch: New COVID Vaccination Campaign in AL

A recent survey by the Alabama Hospital Association found that 94 percent of Alabamians hospitalized with COVID-19 were not vaccinated against the deadly disease. The fact was announced by the Alabama Department of Public Health in a statement that called for the public to help encourage others to get vaccinated through the newly launched “We Can Do This Alabama” campaign. Those participating in the campaign are asked to encourage three new people each week to get vaccinated, for four weeks. They’re also challenged to recruit five additional people to serve as local champions. Alabama’s vaccination rate is the lowest in the country.

July 2021 Group Watch: Gov & Lt. Gov Already Raising Big Bucks for Re-election

Governor Kay Ivey reportedly has raised $1.2 million in her bid for re-election. Her sizable war chest could deter challengers from either side of the aisle in the 2022 election. In a bit of saber-rattling, her campaign made the figure known ahead of mandatory election filings. Likewise, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth announced that his campaign raised a historic $911,370 in the month of June. Ainsworth sees his early fundraising success as a product of the support he has enjoyed across the state.

July 2021 Group Watch: AL Rural Hospitals Receiving $ to Battle COVID-19

Alabama is receiving $10.3 million from the federal government to help small, rural hospitals with testing and other efforts to mitigate COVID-19. The Health and Human Services administration announced that the money would go to 40 Alabama hospitals with fewer than 50 beds. Hospitals will use the funds to maintain or increase COVID-19 testing, expand access to testing for rural residents, and tailor mitigation efforts to reflect the needs of local communities.

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