February 17, 2020 Group Watch: Husband of Rep. Terri Collins Dies

Thomas “Tom” Collins, a longtime volunteer worship leader and youth lay leader in Decatur and the husband of State Representative Terri Collins, died Sunday at age 63. Tom was renowned for his uplifting spiritual singing and Christian leadership and will be missed by all who knew him. We that The Bloom Group are blessed to have known him.

February 17, 2020 Group Watch: Ainsworth’s Workforce Commission Reports

Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s 21st Century Workforce Commission recently released its findings. The topline recommendation from the report is the creation of a cabinet-level coordinating agency to be called the Governor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development. The report calls for increased investment in areas highlighted by many of the state’s pre-existing workforce development initiatives; technical education, STEM classes for K-12 students, coordination between government and industry and bringing people back into the workforce through retraining.

February 10, 2020 Issue News & Views from the State House

The 2020 regular session of the Alabama Legislature is here. It began on Tuesday, February 4, and that evening, Governor Ivey delivered her State of the State address, where she outlined the priorities of the state and the challenges it is facing (see below for details). In the coming weeks, the legislature is likely to have bills concerning medical marijuana use and a state lottery, and there will probably be vigorous debate about legalized gambling, so this session is shaping up to be both provocative and transformational. Here’s a snapshot of the first week’s activity.

  • Wednesday, February 5 (committee day): Only a few committees met. The House State Government Committee approved bills to exempt certain leases of goods and services by County Boards of Education from the competitive bid law and to require the annexation of property overlapping police jurisdictions to be approved by all affected parties. The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved a bill to prohibit municipal occupational taxes unless they are authorized by local law. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to repeal the prohibition of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from appointing judges outside of a district from hearing cases in Jefferson County. The Senate Education Policy Committee approved bills to reduce speed in school zones in a municipality and to authorize the State Board of Education to issue alternative teaching certificates to qualified members of the Armed Forces.
  • Thursday, February 6 (2nd day of session): Both chambers met briefly to receive committee reports and introduction of bills before adjourning.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

Jan 29
If Alabama comes back with a low census count, the state could lose a congressional seat in Washington, DC. #ALcounts

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: Celebrating Senator Jabo Waggoner

At the start of the session on Tuesday, Senators passed a resolution designating Senator J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner of Jefferson County the “Centennial Senator.” Senator Waggoner began his 100th legislative session on Tuesday; this feat was accomplished over 48 years in the Alabama Legislature and includes regular, organizational and special sessions. We salute the Senator for his service to Alabama.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: State of the State

During Tuesday night’s State of the State address, Governor Kay Ivey laid out her bipartisan approach to find solutions to matters ranging from infrastructure funding to the state education system. She highlighted road projects in 48 of the state’s 67 counties and said there are more to come. Ivey stressed the importance of criminal reform and the need for new prisons to address unconstitutional overcrowding. She once again noted that this is an Alabama problem and requires an “Alabama solution.” The governor touted the state’s nationally recognized First Class Pre-K program and is proposing a $1 billion bond issue for K-12 and the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities. She praised the Department of Human Resources for leading the nation over the past two years in the permanent placement of foster children in adopted homes. She is continuing her emphasis on rural healthcare and is asking the legislature to build three new crisis centers in the state for persons facing mental health challenges. She also recognized families of law enforcement persons killed in the line of duty over the last year and praised their service, dedication and sacrifice.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: State Leaders Stress Importance of Census

In March, the 2020 Census begins, and 100-percent statewide participation is key for Alabama’s future. State leaders outlined why it is so critical, saying it could be the most important census in state history, while urging all Alabamians to get counted. With proper participation, the federal government will have an accurate population number for the state, a statistic that is essential. Director of Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs pointed out that the count directly affects the level of the state’s federal funding, funding that supports a wide range of programs affecting infrastructure and healthcare to education. There are $13 billion dollars on the line. But the state’s population also affects its representation in Congress. A low count could lead to Alabama losing a seat (even two), and therefore, having less of a voice on Capitol Hill. Participation is easy and is estimated to take only five minutes, and it can be done on the phone, online or through the mail.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: AL Republicans Tout Gov Ivey’s State of the State Address

Alabama’s Republican leaders had only good things to say about Ivey’s recent State of the State speech and the plans and initiatives she laid out in it, saying her past performance and the goals she highlighted in the address are why she’s got some of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the country. Read more here.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: House Minority Leader’s State of the State Response

“Promise in direction” is how House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels characterized the plans put forth in Governor Ivey’s State of the State address. But he also said he believes even more can be done to address a host of challenges in Alabama. He called for more funding for education, pointing to the state’s poor performance on standardized math tests, as well as for solutions to provide access to affordable healthcare and for the state’s continuing criminal justice issues.

January 2020 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Leaders and legislators are gearing up for the 2020 session and already discussing issues from sales taxes to medical marijuana. Plus, more positive business news means the new year is off to a good start.

  • Senator Clyde Chambliss Looking to Repeal Grocery Sales Tax: State Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) recently revealed he would head an effort to repeal Alabama’s sales tax on groceries. Alabama, along with Mississippi and South Dakota, are the only states to levy sales taxes on groceries, which is 4 percent. When combined with other local sales taxes, the amount can be up to 11 percent in some parts of the state. Many believe there is support for the concept, but the challenge is how to replace the revenue reduction. Chambliss said he is researching funding options and looks to have a proposal for the upcoming session, which begins February 4.
  • AG Explains His Opposition To Medical Marijuana: Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told legislators in a letter that he opposes a proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana products for medical use in Alabama. He noted his work on the state’s ongoing crisis of opioid addiction and overdoses and said there is no evidence that medical marijuana could help that problem, and that it could actually compound it. The Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission voted to recommend a bill that would regulate how patients with certain conditions could use medical marijuana products under a doctor’s supervision. The proposed legislation would regulate how products are cultivated, processed, tested, transported, packaged, advertised, sold and taxed.

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