3/18/2019 Group Watch: Improved Training for School Resource Officers

Governor Kay Ivey awarded a grant to improve training of 40 school resource officers. The training will go to officers in Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore, Butler, Crenshaw, Lowndes, Macon, Pike and Tallapoosa counties. In addition to the training conducted by the National Association of School Resource Officers, Central Alabama Crimestoppers will give instruction on its tip reward and gun deterrent programs, which enable students to report school safety violations to authorities. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from funds made available to the state from the U.S. Department of Justice.

3/18/2019 Group Watch: Coming Soon-Session Expectations

The legislature is expected to pass an Education Trust Fund budget, which for the first time ever will exceed $7 billion, and the roughly $2 billion General Fund budget for non-education agencies will remain a top priority. Included in the General Fund budget are major programs like Medicaid, prisons and public safety. Reliable sources say that a constitutional amendment allowing for the creation of a state lottery will be filed, with proceeds being split between the General Fund and Education Trust Fund. Such a proposal, which requires a vote of the people, could provide a revenue stream to address the long-running problems in the prison system as well as the rapidly closing small hospitals across the state.

3/18/2019 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 17

March 11, 2019 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The 2019 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature began last Tuesday, March 5, and on that same day was suspended until March 19 to make way for a Special Session called by Governor Ivey. Here’s what happened last week.
  • Tuesday, Day 1 of Regular Session: The Alabama Legislature convened for the start of the 2019 Regular Session. The customary joint session was held on Tuesday evening in the historic original chambers in the capitol. During her address, Governor Kay Ivey discussed the state’s economy, improving education, a gas tax proposal to improve infrastructure, the prison overhaul and her general and education budget proposals. The governor says she is proposing $40 million less for Medicaid, an additional $7 million for mental health programs and funding to add 50 state troopers. She is proposing adding $25 million to expand the First Class Pre-K program, and a four percent raise for education personnel (K-12 through community college). Near the end of her remarks, the governor announced she was calling a special session to start on Wednesday to consider a three bill package relating to her infrastructure initiative. Each chamber reconvened following the address and recessed the regular session until March 19th.
  • Wednesday, Day 1 of Special Session: The legislature convened, and three bills were introduced pursuant to the call of the governor to address infrastructure matters required to advance public safety and the economic vitality of the state.
  • Thursday, Day 2 of Special Session: The House Transportation Utilities and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved the three bills related to  infrastructure, including a 10-cent gas tax increase, electric vehicle fees and accountability measures. The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee approved three bills dealing with the registration of ATVs with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the prohibition of the use of golf carts and low-speed vehicles on public highways, and technical corrections to the Department of Transportation long-range planning process. The House and Senate committee bills are on the calendar and available for consideration on the 3rdday of the Special Session.
  • Friday, Day 3 of Special Session: The House overwhelmingly passed bills to authorize the issuance of bonds to improve the Mobile Ship Channel, to make technical corrections to the Department of Transportation long-range planning process and, in dramatic fashion, voted 83-20 to pass the 10 cent gasoline tax, which includes fees for electric vehicles. The Senate passed the three bills before them with ease; they related to the registration of ATVs, prohibiting the use of golf carts and low-speed vehicles on public highways and further clarifying the Department of Transportation long-range planning process.

3/11/2019 Group Watch: Alabama’s Infrastructure

Governor Ivey believes the state’s infrastructure needs are issues that the legislature must act upon “for the safety and economic prosperity of the people of Alabama,” as she declared in her proclamation calling for a Special Session. Read the entire proclamation below.


3/11/2019 Group Watch: Congrats!

The Bloom Group would like to congratulate Representative Parker Moore and his wife Allyson on the birth of a beautiful baby girl.

3/11/2019 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 1

This evening, I’m releasing details
of the #RebuildAlabamabill, which is being filed in the Alabama Legislature by Rep. Bill Poole ahead of the 2019 Regular Session.

February 2019 Group Watch: News & Views From the State House

Education and criminal justice issues are among the notable political headlines this month.
  • Governor awards grant to help prosecute domestic violence offenders. Governor Ivey awarded a $144,000 grant to the Office of Prosecutions Services Domestic Violence Resource Prosecutor program to help train police in handling domestic violence and sexual assault cases. The funds will assist law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations to investigate domestic violence and sexual assault cases and help victims recover. The Office of Prosecutions Services works with domestic violence agencies in how to meet the needs of victims and also teaches law enforcement officials how to respond, investigate and prosecute domestic violence offenders.
  • Pay raise likely for Alabama teachers. State leaders seem to agree that a pay raise for educators is appropriate. It is, however, unclear how much of a raise legislators are likely to approve. Senator Arthur Orr, who chairs the Alabama Senate’s education budget committee, said that he supports a raise for teachers. Orr said it is too soon to say what percentage of pay raise is likely, but points to the fact salaries are lagging behind inflation since 2008. State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey supports a pay raise for teachers, but he declined to give a percentage. Mackey said that decision is up to the governor and legislature.
  • Three new men’s prisons to be built. Governor  Ivey announced that her administration will seek bids for the construction of three regional prisons for men to replace aging, cramped facilities that the Alabama Department of Corrections has said are too costly to maintain and repair. The governor said new prisons are a necessary part of a larger plan to fix a system plagued by violence, a severe shortage of correctional officers, overcrowding, and what a federal judge ruled are unconstitutional deficiencies in mental health care. The financing arrangement is still to be determined. The options include an agreement under which the state would lease and operate prisons built by private companies, or a state bond issue to pay for construction.
  • Education and workforce training remain a priority for businesses. Alabama business executives believe education and workforce training remains the top issue currently facing the state. Business executives are surveyed annually by the Center for Business and Economic Research in the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business on various topics related to issues facing the state and their companies. More than 70 business executives participated in the latest survey in November 2018. This survey has been conducted since 2013 and for the third consecutive year education and workforce training has topped their list. Eighty-nine percent of respondents listed their top priority as education and workforce development. Business leaders are concerned over the tightening labor market.

February 2019 Group Watch: Going Electric

Republic Services, an industry leader in recycling and waste solutions, recently announced a partnership with Mack Trucks to develop a fleet of fully electric Mack LR refuse trucks. Read more here. 

February 2019 Group Watch: AL Dept of Commerce Earns Award

Business Facilities Magazine has awarded its silver award for the 2018 Economic Development Deal of the year to Alabama’s Department of Commerce for landing the Mazda-Toyota auto plant in Huntsville. The award was announced in the magazine’s January/February issue and recognizes large scale economic development projects. The gold medal went to New York and Virginia’s teams for the Amazon HQ2 project. Bronze honors went to Michigan for revitalization of Detroit’s Michigan Central Station Depot.

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