We are wrapping up a very busy week in the Alabama Legislature and my office. My week began at the ribbon-cutting for a new Boeing facility in Huntsville, a symbol of the company’s continued investment in Alabama. It’s a relationship we have enjoyed for more than 50 years. Also, I had the opportunity to meet with several groups visiting Montgomery including the Arab Chamber of Commerce and Marshall County Leadership, and was privileged to meet with Patrick Scheuermann, Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
I was honored to preside over a Joint Session to award the nominees and recipient of the Legislative Medal of Honor, an award presented to Alabama’s law enforcement heroes. The Medal of Honor was given posthumously to Mobile Police Officer Steven Green who was killed in the line of duty. Thank you for his selfless service and to all the nominees for their commitment to protecting their communities and state.
The Legislature met for its 21st and 22nd days, leaving eight Legislative meeting days to finish the people’s business. The Senate worked diligently and conducted business with high regard to productivity and decorum.
Key military legislation is moving through the Legislative process, and as Chair of the Military Stability Commission, these bills are a high priority for me. The goal of the MSC is to poise Alabama be to be BRAC-ready by strengthening our military installations and advocating for our military members and veterans. It’s unclear when BRAC will come up again, but we want to be ready when it does.
HB 424 by Rep. Barry Moore giving in-state tuition status to certain veterans and their dependents was passed out of Senate Education Policy Committee with no amendments. The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee gave favorable report to HB 338 by Rep. Paul Lee which allows military members to receive academic credit or credit toward professional licensure for relevant skills acquired while serving in the military. The same committee also passed out SB 267 by Sen. Holtzclaw, which establishes the Military Stability Fund.
Additionally, Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 68 passed the Senate Thursday afternoon and now goes to the House for consideration. SJR 68 updates the original act which established the Commission by adding a commission member and authorizing the Commission to be supported by the Military Stability Foundation, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization which can accept public and private contributions.
I am very pleased to see these bills move forward and sincerely thank the House and Senate members who have sponsored legislation and who have been committed to strengthening our military installations and protecting our nation’s service men and women.
Complete List of MSC Bills:
· SB158/HB401 – Military Salary Differential
· SB159 – Military Custody and Visitation Act
· SB160/HB416 – Predatory Lending
· SB161/HB424 – In-State Tuition
· SB162 – Veteran Treatment Courts
· SB267 – Military Stability Fund
· HB392 – Military Land Use Planning Act
Real World Design Challenge National Competition
Alabama’s high school aerospace engineering design team, dubbed the Fort Payne Seven, is currently in Washington D.C. and I will know shortly how they performed at the Real World Design Challenge National Competition. The team from Fort Payne High School was challenged to design an unmanned aerial vehicle. I want to commend these students for working together and achieving new heights academically and personally. This program provides the type of hands-on, real-world experience to which I believe all Alabama students should have access. It is incumbent upon the state and our educational institutions to prepare our children for the 21st century workforce in a globally competitive market. I would like to see Alabama’s involvement in RWDC grow so many more students may receive this valuable experience.
Stay tuned to my Twitter and Facebook to learn the outcome of the RWDC National Competition.
Auburn Aviation Accreditation
It came to my attention recently that Auburn University’s Aviation Management Program is at risk of losing its certification through the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI). Thank you to those constituents who wrote to my office concerning the matter. Auburn has offered education in aviation for over 70 years. The program has graduated hundreds of aviation professionals who have contributed greatly to the advancement of the industry. While Auburn’s Aviation Management Program could exist without accreditation, the credibility of a degree from the program to potential employers could be lost. The need for aviation professionals is only growing as Alabama solidifies its role as a hub for aviation business and development.
I have asked that the university give every appropriate consideration to ensuring the Aviation Management Program maintains its accreditation and prestige. You may learn more about the topic by visiting flyauburn.org.
30th Anniversary of Alabama’s Sister-State Relationship with Taiwan
This year, Alabama celebrates a 30-year sister-state relationship with the Republic of China on Taiwan. I was pleased to have the opportunity to lead a trade mission to Taiwan in 2011 and have since been honored to welcome representatives of the Taiwan government to Montgomery. Most recently, I hosted Mr. Junq-tzer Lin, Governor of Taiwan Province, Republic of China, in celebration of our long-standing relationship as a sister-state and presented him with a Certificate of Recognition. Alabama and Taiwan share the core values of democracy. It is the United States’ 10th largest trade partner and Alabama’s 15th largest export destination totaling $221 million in 2012. I applaud Taiwan for its brave commitment to achieving peace and prosperity and look forward to continuing our relationship, one that strengthens with each passing year.
Ethics Commission Appointment
I am pleased to appoint Ms. Larkin Martin of Courtland, Alabama to the Alabama Ethics Commission pending Senate confirmation. Ms. Martin is the manager of two successful family-owned row crop and timber farms. Her term begins September 1, 2013. I know she will render valuable service to the State in this position.
Thank you for allowing me to serve the great State of Alabama and if I may ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (334) 242-7900.
Thoughts and Prayers for Boston
I send my thoughts and prayers to the people of Boston and those impacted by the Boston Marathon bombing and to law enforcement injured or killed in the midst of apprehending one of the suspects. Your selfless service is beyond measure.