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February 2015 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Business is booming in Alabama, and the new Senate Majority Leader is reaching across the aisle.

  • Exports Are Up: State exports were up 1.2 percent in 2014, led by shipments of Alabama-made automobiles to almost 100 countries, according to U.S. Commerce Department data. Rising overseas sales of industrial machinery, plastics and more contributed to a total of $19.5 billion in export sales last year. That was just short of the state’s annual record for overseas shipments, which was set in 2012, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. Canada was the top foreign market for Alabama’s fast-growing auto industry, with nearly $2 billion in vehicle shipments. Alabama’s exports are up 57 percent since 2009.
  • Senate Majority Leader involves Democrats: Montgomery is not known for transparency; in fact, the average citizen would probably have difficulty listing the top two or three issues facing the State Legislature. Alabama’s new Senate Majority Leader, Republican Greg Reed of Jasper, wants to change that. Reed recognizes the need to provide a blueprint for legislative action that is both clear and concise. Reed believes clearly identifying priorities will help Senators relay their accomplishments to their constituents. Reed is willing to extend an olive branch to Democrats in an effort to restore a collegial atmosphere. He recognizes that Republicans have the votes to control outcomes, but wants to include Democrats in discussions about the agenda, the calendar and legislative issues. He suggested establishing bipartisan dinners and other outings where Senators could develop relationships rather than merely clashing on the Senate floor. Reed hopes to set the tone as a new kind of communicator willing to serve his constituents, his colleagues and even those with whom he disagrees.

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