February 13, 2024 Group Watch: Day-by-Day, Play-by-Play

Tuesday, 1st day: Governor’s Session Agenda (delivered in her State of the State speech):

  • She is supporting legislation to prohibit ballot harvesting and closing loopholes that allow political operatives to pressure voters through the absentee voting process. 
  • She wants to let the issue of gaming in the state be decided by Alabamians at the ballot box. She called for a crackdown on illegal gambling and for responsible regulation of limited forms of legal gaming, including a statewide lottery.
  • She asked the legislature to invest in school safety through a $100 million grant program. Lawmakers also being asked to approve a proposed Sound of Freedom Act that will mandate life in prison for those who traffic minors. 
  • Last year, the governor introduced the idea of the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences. After a year of planning, she is proposing to locate the school in Demopolis.
  • She is supporting legislation entitled the CHOOSE Act, which would provide for a $7,000 education savings account to be used by parents for their children to attend the school of their choice. 
  • The governor reiterated her commitment to expanding quality mental health services, completing the construction of the two mega prisons, and continuing the success in foster care, adoptions and childcare.

Wednesday, 2nd day and a committee day:

  • The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved bills to prevent ballot harvesting and to amend the dam safety and inspection process. 
  • The Senate County and Municipal Government Committee approved bills relating to the appointment of county and municipal library boards; to authorize local law enforcement to contract with a nonpublic K-12 school to provide school resource officers; and bills relating to retirees under the Employees Retirement System and the Teachers Retirement System.

Thursday, 3rd day: 

  • The Senate passed bills to provide for elective procedures for inspecting and maintaining state-owned dams; to require the State Textbook Review Committee to review periodicals; and to authorize the posting of school curricula on school websites and allow for parental review.

February 13, 2024 Group Watch: Gambling Bills Introduced in the House

The issue of gambling is back in the Alabama Legislature, and last week, two bills were introduced in the House to legalize a lottery, sports betting, casinos and create an Alabama Gaming Commission to regulate it all. Governor Ivey believes Alabamians should have their say via a statewide vote, but the bills have a long road ahead of them to reach the ballot. It hasn’t happened since 1999. Read more here.

February 13, 2024 Group Watch: AL School Of Healthcare Sciences Foundation Receives Funding 

The Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences Foundation, in partnership with the Alabama Department of Education and Whitfield Regional Hospital, has received a $26.4 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies to help fund the proposed Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences. The funding is contingent on approval of the school by the Alabama Legislature. The development of this residential high school, which intends to prepare students from across the state for careers in the healthcare industry while addressing rural education and healthcare workforce development needs, has been supported by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a consortium of Alabama health systems, as well as state two- and four-year colleges and universities. The school is proposed to be open in 2026 in Demopolis and serve between 85-100 students in each graduating class.

February 13, 2024 Group Watch: Firm Acquires North Alabama Industrial Facility

AE Industrial Partners (AEI), a private equity firm specializing in aerospace, national security and industrial services, announced that its affiliate Rocket Shoals LLC has acquired a sprawling industrial facility in Colbert County with plans to redevelop it as an “aerospace center of excellence.” The facility is on 638 acres and contains 2.27 million square feet of industrial zoned manufacturing capacity. AEI says the space is well suited for aerospace manufacturing and will become the new headquarters for a select portfolio of companies, as well as other aerospace suppliers, manufacturers and innovators. AEI is partnering with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to provide joint capabilities and bring innovative solutions to federal customers.

February 24, 2024 Group Watch: AL Workforce Competitiveness has “Transformative” New Plan

A commission tasked with crafting a path to modernize Alabama’s workforce competitiveness has released what it calls a “landmark plan.” The 21st Century Work Force Commission, created by the Alabama legislature in 2019 and led by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, is pushing to grow the state’s economic recruitment abilities, labor force participation rate and developing effective training and employment of Alabamians. The multi-pronged plan includes merging unaligned and duplicative workforce development agencies; collaboration with Alabama employers; development of an Alabama workforce plan; accountability benchmarks for workforce outcomes; workforce pathways diplomas and investment in county career technical centers; recruitment into in-demand jobs; public-private solutions to barriers; creating easier access to scholarships for military transition; child care tax credits; mental health and addiction diversion programs; and housing tax credits.

February 13, 2024 Group Watch: Manufacture Alabama Elects New Members to Board of Directors

Manufacture Alabama represents hundreds of companies, from the most recognized international corporations to small, family-owned operations, all integral to the economy in Alabama and across the globe. The group announced the election of two members to its board of directors, including Donna Jackson from International Paper and Craig Savage from Airbus. The Board of Directors also approved the nomination of Karen Johnston from Toyota North America to the position of Vice Chair. Jon Barganier, President and CEO of Manufacture Alabama, voiced his excitement for the changes and the contributions they will make going forward.

February 13, 2024 Group Watch: AL Senate Committee Oks Bill Allowing Local Removals of Library Board Members

Last Wednesday, an Alabama Senate Committee approved a bill that would allow local governments to remove library board members from their positions. The Senate County and Municipal Government Committee approved the measure, sponsored by Senator Chris Elliot, on a 7-3 party line vote after Democrats on the committee said they were concerned it was tied to recent efforts to limit the availability of certain books in libraries. The bill would allow any governing body that appoints library board members to remove that member of the board. The bill would also require library board members to serve four-year terms instead of staggered terms. 

January 2024 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature is gearing up for its 2024 regular session, which convenes on February 6. House Speaker Nathan Ledbetter has shared his thoughts on the issues and topics that should take priority for the law-making body.

State budgets will for sure be on the agenda, and further decreasing the state sales tax on groceries will be considered as legislators review the education revenue numbers. Also, Governor Ivey has announced her intention to stand up to unions that have their sights set on Alabama automakers, saying her position protects jobs. 

And speaking of jobs, a few economic development wins for the state are bringing new employment opporunities.

We’ve got more information on all this, as well as other important #alpolitics topics below.

January 2024 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

Jan 18
Proposed Demopolis health care high school gets $26.4 million pledge.

January 2024 Group Watch: House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter Outlines 2024 Priorities

Alabama House Speaker Nathan Ledbetter stressed that issues preventing Alabamians from working and ways to improve workforce participation should take center stage during the legislative session, noting the need to “think outside of the box” for solutions. At a Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce event, Leadbetter said he wants to continue to make Alabama a business-friendly state, and addressing issues in transportation, underemployment and child care is the way to do it. The workforce participation rate (percentage of residents working or looking for work) was 57.1 percent in November, compared to 62.8 percent nationwide. Alabama’s participation rate historically lags the nation. Ledbetter said there will also be focus put on education legislation and continuing support for existing programs such as Numeracy and Literacy Acts. 

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