October 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Fall weather has finally arrived, and with it, increased and new funding for several programs and initiatives around the state.
  • Livingston’s University Charter School Earns $1.7M grant: The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the University Charter School in Livingston a five-year grant worth at least $1.7 million as part of a program to support and increase the number of high-quality charter schools nationwide. The grant is funded through the department’s Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program (CSP) National Dissemination competitive grants competition. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby said in a statement released by his office, “The grant for West Alabama’s University Charter School will help give students the opportunity to excel academically while also building character and responsibility.” He added that the program will have a major impact on the development and progress of students in the Black Belt, preparing them for future professional success.
  • Alabama DHR Raises Low-Income Childcare Subsidies: The Alabama Department of Human Resources has increased the subsidies that help low-income families obtain childcare services, thanks to a $40.7 million boost in federal funding provided by the Omnibus bill signed earlier this year by President Trump. The new rates will vary depending on the childcare market. The department conducted a market survey last year to determine costs by region. DHR spent $98 million on child care subsidies in fiscal year 2018 and plans to spend up to $112 million in fiscal year 2019. There are approximately 31,000 children in Alabama receiving subsidies for childcare.
  • Gov. Ivey Awards $1.89M to Aid Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Victims: Governor Ivey recently announced awards of $1.89 million in grants to support organizations and programs that help victims of domestic violence and elder abuse throughout the state. She announced a grant awarded to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. DHR’s Adult Protective Services Division provides in-home services and temporary placement options for victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. The grant sources are the U.S. Department of Justice and the Domestic Violence Trust Fund.

October 2018 Group Watch: New State Center to Monitor Cyber Attacks

Governor Kay Ivey recently announced the opening of the Security Operations Center (SOC), an operation designed to protect state technology systems from cyberattacks. The SOC, part of the state’s Office of Information Technology, works as a centralized agency to assess all threats coming into the state. Individual agencies have their own teams, but the state’s Chief Information Security Officer said the center will help improve overall security. The center has four employees monitoring state systems and any attacks on them.

October 2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

Oct. 15
Sometimes a big hug is all you need to lift your spirits. Thank you to Jason and the thousands of workers who have committed to restoring power and hope to our service territory. See more here.

October 2018 Group Watch: New Medicaid Program

Governor Ivey recently announced that the federal government has approved a new statewide care-management program to complement and enhance the state’s current system of long-term care services provided to approximately 23,000 Alabama Medicaid recipients. The Integrated Care Network (ICN) program was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in September, to offer more community options for Medicaid longterm care recipients. The ICN program is for Medicaid recipients who live in a nursing home setting, or receive services in their home through Medicaid’s Elderly and Disabled (E&D) waiver or the Alabama Community Transition (ACT) waiver. The state will implement a system of case management, outreach and education, with the goal of increasing the number of persons receiving in-home care rather than living in a nursing home facility.

September 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The governor and other GOP leaders say the state is headed in the right direction and have listed priorities for the next four years. A recent high ranking for Alabama is in line with their sentiments.
  • Publication Names Alabama No. 1: Global Trade, a magazine focusing on U.S. companies doing international business, has named Alabama as the top state for manufacturing. Alabama received high marks for AIDT, its workforce development agency, its work pre-certifying development sites through the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and its rapid permitting process. Global Trade says the state has seen a continued influx of manufacturing investment, much of it from the international auto industry. Alabama ranks fifth in the nation in auto production, with Toyota, Mazda, Mercedes, Hyundai and Honda all locating factories here. Vehicles are now the state’s number one export. Alabama also enjoys a leadership position in aerospace production. Earlier this year, Business Facilities named Alabama as the state with the best business climate.
  • Marsh & McCutcheon Outline Goals for Next Term: Republican leaders of the Alabama Legislature say the state is better off after eight years of GOP control, with expanding industries, low unemployment and more stable budgets. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said improving education and funding a plan to upgrade highways and other infrastructure are key tasks for the next four years. McCutcheon said tax and budget reforms will also be on the table. Both leaders say they have no plans to propose a lottery; they will not be surprised to see a proposal receive serious consideration.
  • Gov. Ivey Touts Strong Economy: Last week, Governor Kay Ivey addressed the Alabama Retired State Employee Association and Alabama Public Employees Advocacy League (ARSEA/APEAL). She praised the state’s economy, touting the state’s low unemployment rate and her plans for an education overhaul that she says will allow Alabamians to get “quality jobs.” She described the state’s Medicaid budget as “bare-bones,” which prohibits the state from expanding the program at this time.

September 2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

Aug 26
Retweet from @DrABHosey
Happy 100th Birthday to Ms. Katherine Johnson, NASA human computer who calculated trajectories for the Apollo space missions by hand!

September 2018 Group Watch: Kavanaugh Confirmation Good for AL

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall believes Alabamians have much to gain if Kavanaugh is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He points out that legal scholars from the left and right agree that Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications are impeccable. Having him on the bench would be a significant step toward restoring the kind of restraint, limited government the Founders of this nation envisioned. Marshall calls for the swift confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.

September 2018 Group Watch: Education Dept. Seeks Additional Funds

The Alabama Department of Education will request more funding for school safety, reading and math programs and transportation when the legislature returns next year. State Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey announced his department would also seek a $30 million increase for nurses and a $16.8 million increase for pre-K special education, in part to relieve financial pressure from local districts. Dr. Mackey proposes to hire 243 new teachers for grades 4 through 6.

August 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

School’s back in session, and there is some notable education news this month.
  • Gov Ivey Announces Bicentennial Schools: Alabama became a state on December 14, 1819. As part of the state’s preparation for next year’s bicentennial, Governor Kay Ivey announced the 200 schools that have been selected as official Alabama Bicentennial Schools. Ivey was joined at the announcement by superintendents, principals, teachers, students and administrators from the selected schools, along with legislators and other dignitaries from across the state. The Bicentennial Schools Initiative was launched by Governor Ivey in 2017. The initiative encourages all public, private and homeschool students and teachers to participate in the celebration of statehood in 2019.
  • First Integrated School in Sumter County: When school started at the University Charter School (UCS) in Livingston, in west Alabama’s Sumter County, students in K-8 began a new era. For the first time, black students and white students are learning side-by-side in integrated public school classrooms. More than half of the school’s 300-plus students are black, while just under half are white. While not fully representative of the county’s split — 76 percent black, 24 percent white — no public school in the county has come close to reaching the percentage at UCS. The development of the program was done in conjunction with the University of West Alabama in Livingston.
  • Republican Policies Working: Congresswoman Martha Roby recently said that recent economic growth numbers are, “proof that our pro-growth policies are working.” According to Roby, our economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018, marking the fastest economic expansion in the country in nearly four years. Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District and is seeking her fifth term. She faces Democrat Tabitha Isner in the November general election.
    Congressman Robert Aderholt shares Roby’s sentiment, noting that in July, unemployment dropped to 3.9 percent. Aderholt cites this as proof that tax cuts and the Jobs Act are working. According to Aderholt, the economy is on pace to hit 3 percent annual growth, and workers’ wages are growing faster than they have in more than a decade.

August 2018 Group Watch: Gulf State Park is AL Tourism Dept’s Attraction of the Year

Gulf State Park has been named the Alabama Tourism Department’s 2018 Attraction of the year. The park includes three miles of white sandy beaches and draws visitors from around the world. Alabama Tourism praised the park’s staff and volunteers who provide hospitality, educational and recreational offerings. A new lodge at the park is scheduled to open in November. Connectivity to the outdoors is the central focus of the environmentally friendly coastal development. The new lodge will have 350 rooms.

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