First Quarter 2014 Newsletter
The Alabama Legislature completed the fourth Legislative Session of this quadrennium on April 3rd. As expected, the 2014 Session was marked by expediency and efficiency. Legislators completed 30 legislative meeting days almost a month early using only 80 of 105 days allowed.
- 479 bills introduced in the Senate
- 624 bills introduced in the House
- 271 bills sent to the Governor
Lt. Governor Ivey presides over the Alabama Senate, April 3, 2014.
Responsibly Balanced Budgets: Legislators once again approved responsibly balanced budgets designed to prevent proration. Proration used to be the tool by which the legislature made ends meet, but that changed when new leadership arrived four years ago. The General Fund and Education Trust Fund Budgets provide level or increased funding to most state agencies by reducing spending and creating efficiencies in government operations; and without raising taxes.
Increased Transparency: During the 2014 Session, the Alabama Legislature passed a measure to increase the transparency of the tax appeals process. The Taxpayer Fairness Act is a proactive effort to ensure all taxpayers are treated fairly through a separate and independent tax appeals process. Prior to its passage, the same organization that collected taxes (Department of Revenue) oversaw the appeals process too. This extra measure to protect the integrity of the process sends the message to taxpayers and businesses that Alabama operates above board.
Protecting Human Life: This Session, the Alabama Legislature passed two of the strongest pro-life bills in the state’s history. The Governor is set to sign a bill that lengthens the 24-hour waiting period to 48 hours before an abortion procedure can be performed and another to require parental consent for minors seeking an abortion. In the past, a pro-life bill would not have made it out of committee. Under new leadership, Alabama is working to protect human life.
Preparing Our Future Workforce: Alabama’s success in creating jobs is dependent on our ability to provide a qualified, trainable workforce -- a major factor when companies consider development or expansion in our state. The Legislature unanimously passed, and the Governor signed, a bill establishing the Alabama Workforce Council to better identify the needs of industry and equip our future workforce for highly-skilled, high-paying 21st Century jobs. In Alabama, we’re building jets, rockets, and automobiles. We want to make sure the next generation is prepared to continue the work down the line. The Council was a recommendation from the College and Career Ready Task Force, on which I served as a co-chair. I have one appointment to the Council and was pleased to announce in March that I have appointed former State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Joe Morton. I believe his knowledge of education and business makes him uniquely qualified for the position.
(Left to Right) Col Samuel Black, Commander, 187th Fighter Wing, Montgomery; Col Jenny Johnson, Commander, 908th Airlift Wing, Maxwell AFB; Col Trent Edward, Commander, 42nd Air Base Wing, Maxwell AFB; Gen Dennis Via; Lt Gen David Fadok, Commander and President, Air University, Maxwell AFB; Brig Gen Steven Berryhill, Commander, Alabama Air National Guard; Col Cliff James, Commander, 117th Air Refueling Wing, Birmingham.
Two bills that passed this Session help strengthen Alabama’s defense against the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) process. The Overseas Voting Act ensures service members deployed overseas may fully participate in the elections process by absentee voting. The Military Land Use Planning Act, drafted and supported by the Military Stability Commission, encourages cities and military bases to communicate regarding the use of land surrounding a military installation. The availability of land around bases was a primary factor during the 2005 BRAC to determine which bases to close, so anything we can do to strengthen the relationship between municipalities and military bases is a positive step.
As Chair of the Military Stability Commission, I remain committed to advocating for our military interests, especially as BRAC approaches and potential defense cuts loom. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced his proposal to reduce forces to pre-World War II levels, trim the production of Littoral Combat Ships built by Austal on Alabama’s coast, and retire and replace the Bell helicopters flown out of Ft. Rucker. The military in Alabama protects the freedoms we enjoy and is a major economic engine for the state creating a multi-billion dollar economic impact. As a nation in persistent conflict and with unrest in regions across the globe, now is not the time to scale back. In Alabama, we’re working to strengthen our defense to BRAC and any other potential Department of Defense cuts.
Four-Star General Visits State House
General Dennis Via addresses a Joint Session of the Legislature for Military Day, February, 6, 2014.
On February 6, 2014, it was my honor to welcome General Dennis Via, Commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command based in Huntsville, to the Alabama Legislature for Military Day. General Via is Alabama’s only four-star general and one of only 13 in the entire U.S. Army. The Legislature hosted General Via along with Lieutenant General David Fadok, Commander and President of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base; Major General Perry Smith, Adjutant General for the State of Alabama; Brigadier General Steven Berryhill, Commander of the Alabama Air National Guard, and many others for a Joint Session of the Legislature to recognize our military men and women and put a spotlight on Alabama’s valuable military assets and missions. Alabama has a long history of allegiance and support of our military. We are fortunate to live in a state where service members are honored and veterans are revered.
Aerospace in Alabama
The best and brightest minds from the aviation and aerospace fields gathered at the Alabama State House for NASA Alabama Aerospace Day coinciding with the last day of the Legislative Session. Industry experts discussed advancing aerospace in Alabama at a roundtable talk and interactive exhibits showed off some of NASA’s impressive capabilities. I have taken an active role in promoting and supporting aerospace in Alabama as Vice-Chair of the Aerospace States Association (ASA) and was pleased to announce the launch of the Alabama Chapter of ASA. Through this organization, we’ll connect industry and government leaders to develop and support measures to ensure the prosperity of aviation, aerospace, and defense industry.
Alabama has been in the aviation and aerospace industry for more than 100 years dating back to when the Wright Brothers set up the nation's first civilian flying school in Montgomery in 1910. Even before the creation of NASA in 1958, Alabama has been a leader in aerospace development and the best is yet to come. NASA is about three years off from the first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built with the mission to explore deep space -- and it’s Made in Alabama.
Lt. Governor Ivey joins (L to R) Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell, Governor Robert Bentley, Hwaeseung R&A CEO & President, Dae-Hyun Baek; and HSAA President Harry Kim for the HSAA expansion ribbon cutting on February 19, 2014.
Thanks to a booming first quarter in job creation, many Alabama companies are now hiring. Existing companies, like HS Automotive Alabama in Enterprise, expanded; and new companies, like Remington Arms with 2,000 jobs, moved in. The Governor’s Office is expected to release the first quarter job numbers soon, so I won’t pre-empt the announcement, but let’s just say -- business is good! Alabama continues to make strides in job growth and economic development. In March, Site Selection magazine ranked Alabama in the top 10 states for the most economic development projects per capita during 2013. Alabama is certainly on the move.
It is my honor to serve as Lieutenant Governor and preside over the Alabama Senate for four years now. I am grateful for the privilege to serve the people of Alabama in this capacity. Public service is truly my passion.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if I may be of any assistance to you.