January 2021 Group Watch: Briggs & Stratton $9.4M Expansion

Briggs & Stratton announced a $9.4 million expansion at its Auburn facility, which is expected to create 35 new jobs over the next year. The facility is located in the Auburn Technology Park South and remains one of the largest manufacturing employers in East Alabama. Based in Wisconsin, Briggs & Stratton is the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, as well as commercial lithium-ion batteries, power generation, pressure washers, lawn and garden and job site products. The City of Auburn’s economic development department said the announcement is not only a good sign for the local economy, but an important indicator that the area has successfully weathered the COVID-19 pandemic.

January 2021 Group Watch: Law Enforcement Forms Alliance to Fight Human Trafficking

Federal, state and tribal authorities, and nonprofits have joined to form a task force aimed at improving prosecutions of human traffickers and aiding victims. The Alabama Anti Human Trafficking Alliance, funded by a $2.9 million grant from the Department of Justice, will coordinate response and resources. The Alabama Attorney General’s office will also designate an assistant attorney general and special agent to assist with human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. There were at least 200 cases of human trafficking in Alabama between 2015 and 2019, though authorities believe that number, taken from hotline calls, does not reflect the full scope of the problem. The majority of the victims were women exploited for sex; 30 percent were children. Alabama’s proximity to trafficking hot spots such as Atlanta, Chattanooga, Memphis and New Orleans means traffickers regularly travel the state.

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

As we get ready to enjoy the holidays and (happily) bid 2020 farewell, we’ve got mostly good news to share. And look for Group Watch in your inbox weekly when the 2021 Legislative Session begins next year!
  • Governor Signs Emergency ProclamationGovernor Kay Ivey signed a supplemental emergency proclamation to address tax and economic development issues that were delayed in the Alabama Legislature’s 2020 Regular Session due to COVID-19. The proclamation will allow Alabama citizens and businesses to avoid paying state taxes on certain benefits received under the federal CARES Act. The proclamation directs the revenue commissioner to alter the tax-return forms and instructions to ensure Alabama citizens and business will not pay taxes to the state on the financial aid they received from Congress through the CARES act, aid such as tax credits, advance refunds and loan forgiveness. The proclamation also extends the Alabama Jobs Act tax credits and the Growing Alabama tax credits until the legislature has an opportunity to enact further legislation addressing the programs.
  • HomTex Inc. Expansion Creates More Than 300 Jobs: HomeTex Inc. has received $10,572,100 in CARES Act funds to expand operations to Selma to develop Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). HomTex is a family-owned and certified minority-owned business headquartered in Cullman County, and the new Dallas County manufacturing location will create 300 to 325 new jobs. In partnership with the state of Alabama and Wallace Community College in Selma, HomTex will establish an operation to produce General Purpose and FDA approved Level 1, 2 and 3 surgical masks and N95 masks. Wallace Community College will offer apprenticeship programs that will allow students to help make masks for their region and beyond. HomTex also has production and distribution facilities in Silva, NC; Belton, SC; and Leoma, TN.
  • More Than $298M Awarded to Public School and College Authority ProjectsGovernor Ivey announced $298,317,492 has been awarded to Public School and College Authority projects for 20 entities around the state. The Authority was established to tackle long-standing school infrastructure projects or educational upgrades that have been delayed due to limited funding. The Public School and College Authority is comprised of Governor Ivey, State Finance Director Kelly Butler and Alabama Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey. The Legislature authorized the sale of up to $1.25 billion in bonds, and allocated money to every city and county K-12 school system and to higher education institutions. The money was divided, with 73 percent going to K-12 schools and 27 percent going to two-and four-year colleges.

December 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

Tweet of the Month

Dec 16
Rest In Peace Hero.

December 2020 Group Watch: Merry Christmas & Very Happy New Year

From all of us at The Bloom Group, we hope your holiday season is safe and full of joy, despite any differences or challenges COVID has brought to your plans. Goodbye 2020, and welcome, welcome 2021!

December 2020 Group Watch: Justice Department Sueing Alabama

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the State of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). The complaint alleges that the conditions at Alabama’s prisons for men violate the Constitution. The department says Alabama does not provide adequate protection against prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse. It is further alleged that ADOC is not providing safe and sanitary conditions, and prisoners are subjected to excessive force at the hands of prison staff. The lawsuit is the result of a multiyear investigation and comes after nearly two years of negotiations that failed to reach a settlement that would correct the alleged deficiencies identified in the investigation. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, but no monetary damages.

December 2020 Group Watch: Lynn Beshear Retires as Mental Health Commissioner

Lynn Beshear retired as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health on December 16, after being appointed to the position in July 2017 by Governor Ivey. Beshear is credited with spearheading many initiatives to increase access of services for citizens with mental illness while navigating complexities of delivery by the department and community providers. Governor Ivey has appointedKim Boswell as the new Commissioner. Boswell comes to the job with more than 36 years of experience working with individuals with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and developmental disabilities. She previously served as Chief of Staff to Beshear and has been both Associate Commissioner for Administration as well as Director of Human Resources for the Alabama Department of Mental Health. Boswell has a bachelor’s of social work from the University of Alabama Birmingham and a master’s of social work from Florida State University.

December 2020 Group Watch: Special Elections

Governor Ivey has scheduled a special election in Alabama Senate District 14 to replace Cam Ward, who was appointed to head the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. The special primary election will be March 30, 2021. A runoff, if necessary, will be April 27, and the general election will be July 13.

Former state Rep. April Weaver has announced she will run for the seat. Weaver left her House seat in May to accept a job in the Trump administration. She is a registered nurse who has worked for 23 years in hospital administration. Senate District 14 includes portions of Bibb, Chilton, Hale, Jefferson and Shelby counties.

Rep. Kirk Hatcher won the Democratic nomination for Senate District 26, defeating former Rep. John Knight in a runoff. Hatcher garnered 74 percent of the ballots cast. He now faces Republican challenger William Green in the March special general election.

December 2020 Group Watch: Terry Lathan Not Seeking New Term

After serving as Chair of the Alabama Republican Party since 2015, Terry Lathan announced that she will not seek another term. She noted the Party’s recent win reclaiming the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Doug Jones and said she was ready to “travel different roads of service” for the Republican Party. She will continue in her role until the Party’s next meeting in late February.

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

Fall weather is finally here in Alabama, and along with that pleasant development comes other good “climate” news: national recognition praising Alabama’s business-friendly environment, plus a bevy of positive economic development wins for the state.
  • Golden Boy Foods Expanding AL Manufacturing Operations: Golden Boy Foods plans to invest more than $13 million in an expansion project at its production facility in Troy, creating 67 full-time jobs. To expand peanut butter production, Golden Boy will modify its existing Alabama manufacturing facility and occupy a 170,000 square-foot building being constructed by the City of Troy’s Industrial Development Board and leased on a long-term basis to the company. The growth will essentially double the company’s industrial footprint in Pike County, where it has operated since 2011. Golden Boy Foods is one of the largest manufacturers of private label and contracted manufactured nut butter in North America.
  • Alabama Business Climate High in “Site Selection” Rankings: The state’s business climate ranked near the top of the states in a comprehensive analysis released by “Site Selection,” a national publication that focuses on economic development. In the magazine’s 2020 analysis, Alabama ranked No. 7, tied with Arizona, and up two spots from the previous year. Georgia and North Carolina share the top spot, followed by Ohio, Texas and South Carolina. Ranking behind Alabama in the Top 10 were Kentucky and Tennessee. Workforce skills were the most important criteria to site selectors for the fifth consecutive year, with workforce development programs at No.2. Transportation infrastructure, ease of permitting and regulatory procedures, and state and local taxes complete the top five topics considered.
  • Lowe’s Plans $61 Million Distribution Hub: Lowe’s Home Improvement announced plans to construct a 1.2-million-square-foot distribution facility in Jefferson County, creating 150 jobs as part of a $61 million project. According to the Birmingham Business Alliance, the facility will be located in Bessemer on 98 acres of property currently owned by U.S. Steel. North Carolina-based Lowe’s will contract with developer Clayco to construct and lease back the facility, which will house bulk items for distribution like refrigerators and water heaters and will provide stock space for 112 stores throughout the Southeastern region. The bulk distribution facility will allow Lowe’s to provide quicker deliveries to customers across Alabama and the Southeast and will allow for next-day deliveries for a larger range of products housed within the facility.
  • Amazon Expands AL Footprint In Metro Birmingham: Amazon Logistics announced plans to open two new delivery stations in the Birmingham metro area, creating hundreds of jobs and speeding up deliveries for the internet retailer’s customers in the region. One of the delivery stations will be located at Birmingham’s long vacant Century Plaza Mall, and the other station will open at Lakeshore Parkway and Alabama 150 in Bessemer, where other significant distribution and logistics projects have recently landed. According to Amazon, the delivery stations will create hundreds of full and part-time jobs, paying at least $15 per hour, in addition to hundreds of driver opportunities for Amazon’s Delivery Service Partners and Amazon Flex drivers.

The Bloom Group, Inc.

401 Adams Avenue, Suite 710
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
Telephone: (334) 244-8948
Fax: (334) 213-0688

Live Audio Feed

Listen to your senators and representatives at work. Click here to find links to live audio of the House and audio plus video of the Senate.

Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee

Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee

The News You Need

Find the latest information on all things Alabama politics on Alabama Today.