Legislative Report 011218

Volume 19 Number 1 – January 12, 2018

1st & 2nd legislative days

Governor Ivey Gives First State of the State

On January 9, 2018, Governor Kay Ivey delivered her first, and what she hopes will not be her last, State of the State Address. The speech was optimistic in tone, and delivered a very positive outlook for Alabamians in the years to come. She started by referencing “steadying the ship of state,” a direct allusion to the Bentley scandal and the political turmoil it caused. She acknowledged that reestablishing trust in state government was a top priority.

Governor Ivey is especially proud of Alabama’s unemployment rate, which is at an historical low of 3.5 percent. She acknowledged that the unemployment rate has steadily fallen in each month since she became governor nine months ago. Attributing to this low rate, she announced that Kimber Firearms would be building a $38 million facility in Troy, bringing 366 new jobs to the area.

Governor Ivey then turned to budgets and said that her proposals would include pay raises for education employees and state employees alike. There was no amount specified, but numbers in the budget proposal suggest somewhere in the range of two to three percent increases.

The governor also said that her budget would fully fund the $144 million increase that was requested by the Department of Education. Adding to this, Governor Ivey stated that she would propose a $23 million increase for the pre-kindergarten program, which she called “first class.” Governor Ivey then shifted to her education initiative titled “Strong Start, Strong Finish,” which is intended to improve the education initiatives from pre-K all the way to career readiness.

Shifting from education, the governor turned to the prison system and called its issues “our state’s biggest challenge.” Recently, a federal judge found Alabama’s mental healthcare system “horrendously inadequate,” and prisons have been overcrowded and understaffed for years. The governor plans to allocate more resources to the Department of Corrections to help with improving health care and adding more officers.

Governor Ivey then discussed the importance of rural communities in Alabama, and the importance of broadband access. She went on to say that broadband capability in rural Alabama is inadequate and that she will support legislation to encourage new broadband investments.

The governor closed with a statement on moving forward. She said, “The ship of the state has been steadied. Together, let’s move it in a new direction toward progress and sustainability. I am honored to be at the helm of this magnificent ship we call Alabama, which benefits from a strong and committed crew, the good people of Alabama.”

House Republicans Focus on Agenda Bills

House Republicans began work on their 2018 legislative agenda titled “Flag, Family, and Country.” The package includes nine measures designed to “provide protections for Alabama families, extend benefits to active duty soldiers and military veterans, and encourage respect for the U.S. Flag during the playing of the National Anthem and other patriotic displays.”

The agenda measures include

  • Childhood Trauma and Domestic Violence Prevention Bills
    • The first bill would call for the death penalty or life in prison without parole for murder of a parent or guardian in the presence of a child.
    • The second would dramatically increase the penalties for acts of domestic violence committed against a parent or guardian in the presence of a child.
  • The Veterans’ Employment Act
    • This bill expands the “Heroes for Hire Act” previously passed by House Republicans and provides incentives to businesses that hire honorably discharged veterans who are currently unemployed.
  • Parks for Patriots Act of 2018
    • This bill would provide free, year-round admission to all Alabama state parks for all active military personnel and veterans, including members of the National Guard and Reserves.
  • Resolution urging respect to be shown for the U.S. Flag
    • This resolution would urge all Americans to show proper honor and respect to the U.S. Flag during the playing of the National Anthem, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and other displays of patriotic pride.
  • Resolution supporting construction of a U.S. – Mexican border wall
    • This resolution would urge Congress to fund and expedite the construction of a secure wall across the border between the United States and Mexico, which continues to be a cornerstone priority of President Donald Trump’s administration.
  • Consideration of proposals by the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council
  • Prioritizing of rural development proposals and initiatives
  • Providing unprecedented amounts of budget and fiscal information to taxpayers

House Republicans will focus on these measures throughout the session and work to pass them early. For more information on the agenda, click here.

Senate Republicans Announce 2018 Agenda

On Thursday, the Senate Republicans announced their 2018 legislative agenda.

The “Fighting for Alabama” Senate Republican Agenda includes the following items:

  • Provide an Income Tax Break
  • Grow Broadband and Telecom Services in Rural Alabama
  • Make Child Sex Trafficking a Capital Offense
  • Save Money in Alabama’s Biggest Budget Item – Medicaid

“Our top priority is passing balanced, responsible budgets. Beyond that, we have an agenda that’s focused on cutting taxes and bringing job growth to every part of Alabama,” stated Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed. “We are going to continue to focus on common-sense, conservative solutions to the challenges facing Alabama.”

For more information on the Senate Republican agenda, click here.

Upcoming Legislative Schedule

The House of Representatives and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, January 16, at 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. respectively.

Several members of legislative leadership have reiterated that this will be a brief session, focusing on passing the budgets and going home to allow members to campaign for reelection.