February 2023 Group Watch: Pre-Filed Bill Would Require Monthly ADOC Oversight Reports

Under existing law, the Alabama Department of Corrections is required to report quarterly to the Joint Legislative Prison Oversight Committee. Amid growing concerns about the rising number of deaths in the state’s prisons and what some are calling a lack of transparency, a bill has been pre-filed to require monthly reporting. The existing law requires each report include statistical data on the number, manner and cause of inmate deaths occurring in a correctional facility, including the results of any autopsy provided to the department by a third party. It also requires the department to report on all occurrences of sexual abuse or victimization of inmates, as well as a report on contraband in prisons, including cell phones, weapons and controlled substances recovered within facilities. These requirements will remain under the proposed legislation. Pre-filed bills are usually considered mostly in the order of introduction.

February Group Watch: AL Exports Heading for Record Year

Alabama exports are bouncing back from global trade frictions and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which interrupted years of momentum that lifted overseas shipments of Alabama-made goods. While full year results are not yet available for 2022, existing trade data show that Alabama exports approached $23.4 billion in value through November, a figure that already eclipses the annual record of $21.7 billion set in 2017. Trade data indicate that the value of Alabama exports through the first 11 months of 2022 were tracking 23% higher than in the  same period for the previous year. Many of Alabama’s top export categories showed robust upticks during the first 11 months of 2022, including:

  •          Chemicals ($2.5 billion) – up 22%
  •          Minerals and ores ($1.9 billion) – up 194%
  •          Primary metals ($1.5 billion) – up 24%
  •          Paper ($1.4 billion) – up 35 %

Germany, the No.1 international destination for Alabama goods in 2021, remained the top destination for Alabama exports for the first 11 months of 2022, with shipments valued at nearly $3.9 billion. Other leading export destinations during the period were Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea.

February 2023 Group Watch: Aviation Training Jobs Coming to Selma

Resicum International LLC, which provides flight training and maintenance support to government, commercial and general aviation customers, plans to open an aviation training academy at Craig Field in Selma that will prepare the next generation of industry professionals from around the world. The company plans to invest $1.3 million and create 70 jobs over a three-year period at this new operational hub located on the former U.S. Air Force base in Dallas County. The jobs will pay an average of $30 an hour, plus benefits. The Craig Field Airport and Industrial Authority and the Selma and Dallas County Economic Development Authority said Resicum has signed a 10-year lease for a 50,000-square-foot hangar on the Craig Field flight line. The Virginia-based company’s new aviation training academy is aimed at future industry professionals from around the world. The company is immediately bringing avionics training, flight training (fixed and rotor wing) and certificate courses for aviation maintenance skill-building.

February 2023 Group Watch: Tuskegee Scores Auto Manufacturing Facility

Samkee Corp., a major South Korean automotive supplier, plans to invest $128 million to open its first U.S. factory in Alabama through a project that will create 170 jobs in Tuskegee and provide an economic boost for Macon County. Samkee Corp. will soon begin construction on the new manufacturing facility in the Tuskegee Commerce Park, where it will become the city’s first auto parts manufacturer. Samkee will serve as a Tier 1 supplier to Hyundai Motor Co. The new jobs will pay an average wage of just over $20 an hour. Samkee specializes in high-pressure die-cast aluminum components, including parts for engines, transmissions and electric vehicles, along with alloys. Parts production at the advanced casting facility is expected to begin in early 2024.

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

The 2023 regular session of the Alabama Legislature doesn’t begin until March, but the organizational session has taken place, with leadership elected for the next four years in the House and Senate. And after Governor Ivey’s inauguration earlier this week, she made a new appointment, naming the director for the state’s Office of Minority Affairs.

In other news, since medical cannabis was made legal in Alabama during the 2022 session, the ball has not stopped rolling on the process to make it available to patients who can benefit from it. The Alabama  Medical Cannabis Commission, the body formed to regulate medical cannabis, has now received close to 100 license applications from those hoping to be a part of the new industry in some way. 

Find more details on this and other #alpolitics news in following posts.

January 2023 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

Jan 17
We’ve got some work ahead, but we’re up for the task. Thank you
@GovernorKayIvey for your vote of confidence. #alpolitics

January 2023 Group Watch: Gov Ivey Appoints Director of Minority Affairs

Stacia Robison, described as a small business “champion” by Gov. Kay Ivey, has been named director of the Alabama Office of Minority Affairs. Robinson comes to the post from BeneChoice Companies benefits and financial choices company. She also serves as district manager of Colonial Life Insurance. She recently sold her BNI-Business Network International franchise, which she owned for 25 years. Robinson’s expertise in business involvement includes employee benefits design and administration, as well as advertising, consulting and professional speaking. Robinson served on the Industrial Development Board of Montgomery, the Leadership Council of the NFIB, and the Alabama Small Business Commission. A native of Denver, Robinson served seven years in the Air Force as a communications-computer officer, and completed her master’s in counseling and human development at Troy University in Montgomery. 

January 2023 Group Watch: House Officially Elects Speaker; Senate Re-elects Pro Tem

Alabama lawmakers elected leaders for the new four-year term during a recent organizational session. There were no surprises as the House of Representatives picked Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, a Republican from Rainsville, as the new speaker.The Senate re-elected Sen. Greg Reed, Republican from Jasper, as president pro tem, the top position in the chamber. Ledbetter was first elected to the Legislature in 2014 and had been majority leader since 2017. Ledbetter worked for more than 30 years for Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative. He and his wife are the former owners of the Mountain Valley News in Rainsville. He is also a former mayor and city council member in Rainsville. The new speaker is committed to education, jobs and economic development, mental health and access to high-speed internet in rural areas. He also wants to improve the adoption process. Sen. Reed was re-elected pro tem on a unanimous 35-0 vote. He has been pro tem since 2021 when former Sen. Del Marsh stepped aside from the post.

January 2023 Group Watch: Bill to Give Tax Rebates Expected This Session

Legislative leaders on the Republican side say that legislation to give Alabamians a tax rebate will be debated during regular session. State government is enjoying a budget surplus, and Republicans believe the best way to use the money is to give some of it back to the tax payers who dutifully paid it to the state; the rebates could be a couple hundred dollars each. Read more here. 

January 2023 Group Watch: House & Senate Committee Assignments Made

Last week, leadership in the Alabama House and Senate announced which members would be serving on which committees. The full list for the Senate can be found here; the House list is here. Note that a rule was changed to allow some Senate committees to contain more members than in the past. 

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