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May 2014 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

As the school year winds down, and we all get ready for summer, the wheels of government keep turning.

  • Governor Bentley’s Road to Economic Recovery Tour: Governor Robert Bentley and Lt. Governor Kay Ivey recently visited Dothan as part of the Road to Economic Recovery Tour. The purpose of the tour is to visit communities across the state and discuss local economic conditions and state-level efforts to bring more jobs to the state. The governor met with area residents and business owners to discuss these topics and other community issues. The tour included lunch at a local restaurant, a tour of Dothan High School and a business roundtable at the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Alabama’s Pre-K Program Expands: Alabama’s state-funded prekindergarten program, which received perfect marks on a national report for the eighth straight year, will expand by 100 classrooms next school year. According to the governor’s office and the Alabama School Readiness Alliance and Voices for Alabama’s Children, that means the program will serve about 1,800 more students, up to a total of about 7,400 statewide. Fourteen of the new programs are in Jefferson County, seven in Tuscaloosa, five in Mobile, four each in Madison and Baldwin counties and three in Montgomery. The Legislature increased funding for the program by $10 million, to $38.5 million for the fiscal year starting October 1.
  • Alabama Only State Without a Dam Safety Program: Alabama is the only state in the country without a dam safety program. Efforts to get one implemented have gone nowhere in the Alabama Legislature, where concerns about increased regulations and violating private property rights of dam owners have trumped a new safety program. Legislation was introduced in the waning days of the 2014 regular session that would have implemented a dam safety program overseen by the Office of Water Resources of ADECA. The proposal would give the state oversight to approve design and construction of new dams, to inspect dams, to establish state authority to handle emergency situations if a dam fails, and requires annual certification to maintain a dam. The bill excluded dams not greater than 6 feet in height regardless of storage capacity and not greater than 15-acre feet regardless of height unless the dam is classified as a “high hazard potential dam.”
  • Healthcare Costs on the Rise: The 26 states that opted out of a Medicaid expansion to avoid the financial burden of increased enrollment will see enrollment and related costs rise this year anyway according Forbes magazine. The marketing blitz that encouraged enrollment in states that opted-in raised awareness in the opt-out states. The heightened awareness prompted the enrollment of people who were previously unaware of their Medicaid eligibility. The opt-out states are facing unexpected financial and operational pressure due to increased enrollment. Alabama was the only Southern state that opted out of the Medicaid expansion that experienced a decrease in enrollment.

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