October 2023 Group Watch: Governor Awards Grants to Promote Highway Safety

Governor Kay Ivey awarded $3.5 million in grant funding to the University of Alabama, Auburn University and the Alabama Department of Public Health to be used to make the state’s highways safer. The University of Alabama will receive $2.23 million to provide traffic data through the Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety and the Alabama Transportation Institute. The data will help determine areas with a high number of traffic crashes and driving infractions. Police and state troopers will use the information to increase patrols and monitoring in those areas. Auburn University will receive $1.2 million to produce multi-media campaigns, involving radio, television, digital, billboard and print publications, to coincide with national highway campaigns to increase seat belt use and reduce impaired driving and speeding. The media campaigns will be geared toward demographics and areas based on information from the Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety. The Alabama Department of Public Health will receive $60,000 to contract with a firm that tracks injuries and deaths in traffic crashes throughout the state. This information helps complete the Alabama Center for Advanced Safety Reports. These grants are administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, and funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

October 2023 Group Watch: Gov. Ivey Announces Major Business Tax Reform 

Governor Kay Ivey recently announced the implementation of a major tax reform initiative that will lessen the burdens on many Alabama small businesses. Effective October 1, 2023, more than 3,000 Alabama businesses are no longer required to pay monthly estimated sales taxes to the state Department of Revenue. Responding to the governor’s call, the legislature created the new law during the 2023 session, and it removes the monthly estimated sales tax requirement for businesses with less than $20,000 in average monthly sales tax liability. 

October 2023 Group Watch: Speaker Forms Committee to Assess State’s Labor Participation

The state’s unemployment rate—at an all-time low of 2.2 percent—places Alabama among the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates. And Alabama is witnessing record-breaking economic growth. But Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter knows things can be even better. He formed an ad hoc committee to study Alabama’s labor force participation rate and identify barriers to workforce entry. Currently there are approximately 140,000 job openings and 48,000 unemployed workers across the state. These numbers translate into a lack of almost 100,000 workers over the age of 16,  which translates into one of the lowest labor participation rates in the country. Some specific areas the commission will examine and address are extending adequate childcare to families, analyzing the correlation between productivity growth and labor output, ensuring wages and salaries are competitive and offering improved mental health programs and services.

October 2023 Group Watch: Alabama Lawmakers Approve Construction Agreement for New Statehouse

A panel of Alabama legislators voted to proceed with a plan to construct a new statehouse. The legislature passed a bill earlier this year authorizing work on a new building for lawmakers to replace the current building, which faces mold and leaks and deferred maintenance costs of $100 million. If constructed, the statehouse would be the first built in the nation since Florida finished work on its Capital Complex in 1977. According to the head of the Legislative Services Agency, a construction agreement with the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) would call for the payment of RSA’s out-of-pocket costs plus an 8 percent administration fee. The legislature will have the option to purchase building at the end of a 25-year lease or at any point during the lease.

October 2023 Group Watch: Federal Court Makes Final Selection for AL’s 2024 Congressional Districts 

A panel of federal judges has made a final decision on which of the three maps Alabama will have to use in its upcoming 2024 congressional district races. The judges selected remedial plan No. 3, which features a Black voting age population in District 2 that is 48.7 percent and a Black voting age population in District 7, currently the only majority minority district in the state, at 51.9 percent. Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen issued a statement saying his office will facilitate the 2024 election cycle in accordance with the court’s order, and keep the state’s elections safe, secure and transparent. The map selected by the court was supported by the National Redistricting Foundation.

October 2023 Group Watch: Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission Overhauls Licensing Process Amid Legal Disputes

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) adopted new application and licensing rules after months of legal disputes and amid stalled settlement negotiations over the commission’s evaluation process. The AMCC awarded licenses to produce and distribute medical cannabis in June, but inconsistencies in the scoring of applications led to multiple lawsuits and a halt to the licensing process. Companies denied licenses have alleged that the commission was conducting much of its business behind closed doors, a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The new rules adopted by the commission will allow it to use scores it gave to prior applications but also give applicants the chance  present their proposals to the commission in a public meeting.

September 2023 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

As students across Alabama get back into the groove of school, Governor Ivey and other elected leaders have been putting a lot of emphasis on education issues this month.

Issues affecting the state’s economy were also put in the spotlight in recent weeks. Despite record-breaking numbers in economic growth and low unemployment, Alabama could be doing even better with the removal of a few barriers, like access to childcare. The legislature is expected to focus on these topics in the 2024 session to add power to the “Game Plan” bills passed in this year’s session. 

Find more details on all this and other key #alpolitics topics below.

September 2023 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

Sept 17

236 years ago today, our Founding Fathers signed the United States Constitution establishing the government for the greatest country the world has ever known and securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

September 2023 Group Watch: Speaker Ledbetter Outlines Plans to Keep AL’s Economy Growing

Representative Nathan Ledbetter, Speaker of Alabama’s House of Representatives, recently outlined the pros and cons impacting Alabama’s economy. He touted the historic numbers that “paint a picture of robust economic progress and unmatched job growth.” But he also noted what these numbers don’t show, explaining the barriers that are hindering the state from reaching its full potential. To keep the state’s growth going, he said the legislature will likely make addressing these issues a priority in the 2024 legislative session. Read more here.

September 2023 Group Watch: Gov. Ivey Speaks to Alabama’s Youngest Students

Once an elementary school teacher herself, Governor Kay Ivey recently cleared her office calendar to visit elementary schools around the state. During a visit to Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in Huntsville, she discussed the importance of reading and having a strong work ethic. She told students it was their job to study and work hard and be the best they can be, encouraging them to dream big, and explaining that with hard work and dedication, they can realize those dreams and aspirations. 

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