January 2017 Group Watch: Talladega College Part of Inaugural Parade

Talladega College President Dr. Billy Hawkins announced that the Marching Tornado Band has accepted an invitation to perform in the president’s inaugural parade. We’d like to congratulate Talladega College, a longtime The Bloom Group client, on this wonderful opportunity. The school established a GoFundMe page (click here to visit it), which set a goal of $75,000, to defray the expenses. On Thursday, Dr. Hawkins appeared on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,”  where he described the educational value of the experience for the 300-member band. Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain shared news of the GoFundMe page on his personal website, urging others to make donations. As of this morning, the fund was reporting contributions close to $600,000. Talladega College under the leadership of Dr. Hawkins has been described as one of great hidden treasures of Alabama.

January 2017 Group Watch: More Automotive Jobs Possible in Birmingham

Mayor William Bell says one of the city’s existing suppliers is looking to expand its current facility and create 400-600 jobs in Birmingham. The mayor declined to release what automotive supplier may be expanding, or when the formal announcement will be made. The comments were made during the mayor’s “state of the city” address at a Kiwanis Club luncheon in downtown Birmingham. When asked about the status of a stadium near the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, Bell said a decision will be made soon on what type of stadium will be constructed to house UAB football and other events. The mayor commented that stakeholders may need to decide to build a larger, dome facility that can be used year-round. The estimated cost for such a facility is $400-$500 million.

December 2016 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The holidays are almost here, and 2016 is winding down, but there’s still plenty of political activity: Jeff Sessions’ U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs, as is a spot in the Alabama House. Plus, you may have to wait longer to get part of your tax refund in 2017.

Luther Strange to Run for U.S. Senate
Alabama Attorney Luther Strange has announced his intention to seek the U.S. Senate seat left open by Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be the nation’s attorney general. Strange says he filed the appropriate paperwork with the federal election authorities. Once Sessions formally vacates his Senate seat, Governor Robert Bentley will appoint his replacement and call for a special election. State law does not set a specific time for the special election but says the governor must “forthwith order an election” if the vacancy occurs more than four months before the next general election, which is in 2018. Sessions’ current term runs until 2020.

Representative Oliver Robinson Resigns House Seat
Representative Oliver Robinson from Birmingham recently announced he will retire immediately from Alabama House of Representatives. Robinson has served since 1998 and said he is retiring to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Robison’s daughter works for Governor Robert Bentley and will be serving as the governor’s liaison in the House. With Robinson’s retirement, Birmingham Mayor William Bell has lost an advocate and friend. Robinson supported bills backed by the Mayor intended to take power from Birmingham’s City Council President, who has been a fierce rival of Mayor Bell. Governor Bentley will determine a date and call a special election to fill Robinson’s vacated seat.
Federal Tax Refunds to be Delayed 
It is estimated that almost 500,000 Alabamians will not receive their federal tax refunds until after February 15, 2017 due to a new law aimed at reducing identity theft and fraud. The Internal Revenue Service will hold refunds until mid-February 2017 for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit. The additional time allows for closer scrutiny for the tens of millions of people who claim credits. The IRS will begin accepting electronic tax returns on January23, 2017. The filing deadline for 2016 returns is April 18, 2017, three days later than usual, because April 15 falls on Saturday, and Emancipation Day, which is celebrated in Washington D.C., is commemorated on Monday, April 17.

December 2016 Group Watch: AL Legislature Receives High Marks

The 2016 Session of the Alabama Legislature received high marks for fiscal and social conservatism from the American Conservative Union on their conservatism report card. The ACU praised the Alabama House and Senate for enacting more conservative legislation during the 2016 sessions. The ACU scores every House and Senate member based on their votes on a selection of bills picked for their adherence to conservative principles. The average score for members of the Senate increased 12 percentage points from an average score of 55 percent out of 100 in 2015 to 67 percent in 2016. The House’s average score increased five percentage points from 48 percent in 2015 to 53 percent in 2016. The Alabama Legislature ranks highly among conservative states, with the Senate among the top five states.

December 2016 Group Watch: Tweet Trends in Legislature

Alabama Today recently did some research and came up with some interesting stats concerning social media use by Alabama Legislators, reporting that 55 percent of them use Twitter. But how they use it and how often varies. Read the full article here, and don’t forget to follow The Bloom Group on Twitter, @thebloomgroup.We use it to report the news you need to know as it happens.

December 2016 Group Watch: Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

As we approach the close of this year, all of us here at The Bloom Group are already looking forward to representing and serving our clients in 2017. We hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday season and a wonderful start to the New Year!

November 2016 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The role Alabama leaders may play on the national stage now that Donald Trump is president-elect and a suspension of the Governor Bentley impeachment hearings are the talk of the town this month.

AL Senator Jeff Sessions Joins Trump Transition Team
President-elect Donald Trump is shaking up his transition team as he plunges into the work of setting up his administration. The transition effort will be led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence and will include steadfast supporters like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Sessions was an early supporter of Trump and a fierce defender of him and his candidacy.

Former AL AG Bill Pryor Among Contenders for Supreme Court
Among the names on a Trump list of 21 possible Supreme Court nominees is Mobile native Bill Pryor. Pryor served as Alabama’s Attorney General from 1997-2004, becoming the youngest state AG in the country. In 2005, Pryor was nominated by President George W. Bush as a U.S. Circuit Judge for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a position to which he was confirmed by the United States Senate. Pryor has steadfastly opposed legalized abortion, ruled against gay marriage and ruled for for religious organizations fighting Obamacare contraceptive mandates. He is a practicing Catholic and a graduate of Tulane Law School.
House Judiciary Committee Suspends Impeachment Hearings
The House Judiciary committee has suspended its impeachment hearings against Governor Robert Bentley after receiving a request from the State’s Attorney General’s office expressing concerns that the hearings could jeopardize the AG’s criminal investigation into a separate criminal matter. Committee Chair Mike Jones said his decision to suspend the hearings is consistent with his commitment to work cooperatively with other investigating agencies. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said that proceeding with impeachment hearings while there is an active criminal investigation would put a number of parties in a difficult position.

November 2016 Group Watch: AL House Speaker Adjusts to New Role

Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said at the time he took office in August that he felt like he was drinking from a fire hose. Months later, after working through a hectic special session focused on a state budget crisis, he is now settling into the job that became his after former Speaker Mike Hubbard was ousted in June after being convicted on ethics charges. Speaker McCutcheon said budgets will continue to be challenges, as members remain largely opposed to tax increases. He hopes the advisory committee on budgets will provide information to lawmakers if there are any earmarked dollars that can be used to address other needs.

November 2016 Group Watch: Thousands of AL Voters Didn’t Vote for President

More than 13,000 Alabama voters went to the polls last Tuesday and did not vote in the presidential race. According to the secretary of state’s office, 2.1 million ballots were cast and as expected, Alabama supported Donald Trump. The more than 13,000 ballots cast in the state that did not include a vote for president overwhelmed the last time the incumbent president was not on the ballot. In 2008, when President Obama defeated John McCain, 5,843 Alabama ballots did not include a vote for president. McCain carried Alabama by more than 450,000 votes over Obama.

November 2106 Group Watch: We’re Thankful for You

This Thanksgiving, as we pause to celebrate our blessings and the things we are thankful for, The Bloom Group would like to express our appreciation for all of our clients and friends. We hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of food, family and fun.

The Bloom Group, Inc.

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