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.

January 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

@thebloomgroup
Jan 14
First Alabama woman state senator, an education champion, turns 90.

January 2020 Group Watch: HMMA Registers Production Gain

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama auto assembly plant in Montgomery produced 336,000 vehicles in 2019, a total output that rose about 4 percent over the previous year. The Santa Fe SUV was the primary contributor to the production increase at the plant, where workers also build the Sonata and Elantra sedans and a recently redesigned Sonata. Earlier in 2019, the plant celebrated the grand opening of its new cylinder head engine plant, a $388-million, 50-job project. The total engine production for 2019 was 472,254.

January 2020 Group Watch: Wood Pellet Factory Announced

It was recently announced that a $100 million wood pellet factory will be built in Demopolis. The plant will be located on the Tombigbee River so that pellets can be readily loaded on barges for shipment. The plant is scheduled to start production during the first half of 2021. Wood pellets are mainly used as a fuel for heating sources in Europe. Alabama has the second largest timberland base in the nation, and Demopolis is a growing hub for the timber industry in Alabama. A wood pellet factory is also under construction in Sumter County.

January 2020 Group Watch: Gov Appoints Dr. Tommie Stewart to State BOE

Governor Kay Ivey appointed Dr. Tommie Stewart to the State Board of Education. The appointment fills the District 5 seat that became vacant after the death of Board member Ella Bell in November 2019. Dr. Stewart is the former dean of Alabama State University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. She hit the ground running, attending her first board meeting days after the appointment. Dr. Stewart has degrees from Jackson State University, the University of California Santa Barbara and Florida State University.

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