Category: Alabama Senate

Alabama Leads Against UN Agenda 21’s Infringement on Property Rights

Investor’s Business Daily has an excellent article on how Alabama has taken the lead against the UN’s Agenda 21 and its threat to individual property rights.  Not many people know what Agenda 21 is, but it is an initiative of the United Nations to “promote sustainable development” and it is also a huge threat to property rights.  It has not been adopted by the US Senate, but Obama’s EPA has been quietly adopting many of the suggested regulations associated with Agenda 21.

An example of some of the language from Agenda 21 many Americans find problematic:

“Land … cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market,” Agenda 21 says.

“Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes.”

Thankfully, the Alabama legislature recognized the danger in this kind of scheme and passed SB477 unanimously in both houses.  The legislation bars the taking of private property in Alabama without due process and says that “Alabama and all political subdivisions may not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process, as may be required by policy recommendations originating in or traceable to Agenda 21.”

2012 Legislative Wrap Up

Sorry for the delay in our legislative wrap up, but I’ve been a little under the weather…

The big story of the 2012 Alabama legislative session isn’t what passed, but what didn’t.  The session began with two big, controversial issues–charter schools and immigration reform–on the tip of everyone’s tongue.  Alabama being one of the few states in the union without a charter school law, a handful of Alabama legislators had made passing such a law their top priority.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, Alabama already has the toughest immigration law in the country and there were a lot of people committed to weakening it.

 

Let’s start with charter schools. Why has Alabama never authorized the establishment of charter schools? I’m afraid you’ll find there is no satisfactory answer.  Maybe that’s why Representative Phil Williams and Senator Dick Brewbaker set out to drastically change the course of education in Alabama by taking on the Goliath known as AEA with their media disinformation campaigns.  Additionally, a very stealthy and clever campaign was being waged on our conservative legislators by the State Superintendents Association.  Doubts were planted in the minds of some of our best and brightest Republican legislators over whether or not we could afford charter schools even though state money spent would have been the same per child and whether or not they were really effective.  Unfortunately, many of these doubts took hold and resulted in a Senate version of a charter school law that did everything but create charter schools.  Thankfully, some legislators realized that it was the better part of wisdom to regroup and come back again next year with a better bill and more organized effort.  Alas, Alabama must survive another year without parental choice in public education.

 

The second big fight this session was over an issue Alabama has already taken the lead on–immigration reform.  Last year, the Alabama legislature showed it had the courage of its conviction and passed the toughest immigration law in the nation–HB56.  Considering the controversial nature of said law, it is only natural there would be a lot of time and money spent trying to weaken it. But, there were also legitimate changes that needed to be made to make the law more enforceable.  One of the original law’s original sponsors, Rep. Micky Hammon, introduced a set of revisions filed as HB658.  Eagle Forum of Alabama–along with several tea party groups, immigration reform organizations, and law enforcement oriented activists–opposed several of the revisions contained in HB658 based on our belief that it would significantly weaken the original law.  Another original sponsor of the law, Senator Scott Beason, stepped in at this point and was able to work with Rep. Hammon, law enforcement, and others and come to an agreement that made the necessary changes to strengthen the original law without weakening its effect.  These changes were passed on the last day.  Governor Bentley put the issue on the call in the ensuing Special Session but according to press reports, he could not find any legislators willing to introduce the additional changes he had listed on his website, so he signed the law.

 

There were a few other notable pieces of legislation that passed including Sen. Greg Reed’s Federal Abortion Mandate Opt Out Act and Sen. Gerald Dial’s SB477 to protect Alabama citizens from power grabs under the UN’s Agenda 21 Initiative.  This vital bill is a first in the nation and passed with no dissenting votes. It would “prohibit state, counties, etc., from developing environmental and developmental policies that would infringe on the due process of citizens”.  Rep. Paul DeMarco’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights passed both houses but was pocket vetoed.  In other words, Gov. Bentley chose not to sign it.

 

Unfortunately a bill to lower the mandatory school age from seven to six passed both Houses before we realized it.  It has always been our position that parents should decide when their children are ready for formal schooling, not the state. Although the bill provides for a delay until age seven if a parent writes the local school board, we anticipate that without vigilance on our part, this provision will be stripped in the future.

 

But sadly, there were a lot of others that didn’t pass–among them Sen. Cam Ward’s SB84 to prohibit the use of foreign law in Alabama courts and Rep. Steve McMillan’s Fair Ballot Commission Act (HB481).  We regretted that the Attorney General’s packet of law enforcement bills  – specifically increasing penalties for illegal gambling enterprises from misdemeanor to felonies.

 

Two good resolutions of note were passed.  Both houses concurred on Sen. Waggoner’s resolution that asks Congress to prevent the Environmental and Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions without Congressional approval. Sen. Dick Brewbaker’s resolution that passed the Senate but was not brought to a vote in the House “encourages the State Board  of Education to take all steps it deems appropriate, including revocation of the adoption of the [Common Core] initiative’s standards if necessary, to retain complete control over Alabama’s academic standards, curriculum, instruction, and testing system.”

 

So while conservatives in the Alabama legislature weren’t able to make any great strides in area of education reform, they were able to prevent the teeth from being stripped out of one of the great accomplishments Alabama has–our immigration law.

 

 

 

SB541 Is The Right Fix For Alabama’s Immigration Law

Senator Scott Beason, a co-sponsor of HB56, has introduced a bill (SB541) to tweak that legislation and make it easier to enforce and easier to defend in court.  Sen. Beason’s bill was approved by a Senate Committee today and heads to the floor for a full vote.  HB56’s original sponsor, Rep. Micky Hammon, has also introduced a bill (HB658)to address some issues with the immigration law, but many feel that it changes too much, thus endangering HB56 with the courts, and substantially weakens the original legislation. SB541, however, does exactly what GOP leaders promised they would do–it tweaks the law to make it more effective and more enforceable without making it weaker.

Please call your Legislators ASAP to let them know you support SB541 and want them to stand firm against weakening HB56.

Prescription-Only Is NOT The Answer

Legislation has been introduced in Alabama to make all pseudophedrine products available only by prescription.  The reason:  Criminals buy pseudophedrine-based cold medicines in bulk to make methamphetamine or “meth”.  Meth is a highly addictive, life-destroying drug that is rampant across the country.  Sand Mountain in particular is a popular spot for the manufacture of meth, earning it the name “Meth Mountain.”

Understandably, our elected officials and law enforcement are concerned about the meth problem. But making over-the-counter cold medicines prescription-only is not the answer.  Consider the following:

  • Alabama currently has a system in place called NPLEx which allows pharmacists, clerks and law enforcement officials to access customer information at the point of sale and immediately stop a transaction if the customer in question has exceeded his or her monthly PSE purchase limit, or raises additional red flags.
  • During the first year using this system, Alabama law enforcement was able to prevent 93,234 boxes of PSE product from being sold.
  • Mexican cartels are increasingly supplying the meth in the U.S. Some estimates say approximately 90% of the meth in the U.S. came from Mexico.
  • This legislation will punish 98% of Alabamians who simply want relief from cold and allergies because of the 2% that use these medicines to make meth.
  • 210,000 Alabamians use PSE products every year. Of these 50,000 are Medicaid recipients. Flooding our doctors offices and requiring innocent Alabamians to come out of pocket for a co-pay will hurt family budgets and have a detrimental affect on the already cash strapped Alabama Medicaid Agency.
  • There are alternatives: Senator Bill Holtzclaw (SB344) and Representative Blaine Galliher (HB363) have introduced compromise legislation that limits sales of PSE products to pharmacies only and expands the reach of the NPLEx database.

Take Action!!

If you don’t think law-abiding citizens who need relief from cold and/or allergy symptoms should have to spend the time and money for a doctor’s visit because of a few criminals who are abusing the product, then call or email your legislator now!!

State Senate  334-242-7600

State House  334-242-7800

This Week In The Alabama Legislature

Things are rolling along in the Alabama Legislature which is now into the fourth week of the 2012 session.  This week, the House passed a bill (HB243) to increase incentives used to lure the film and television production industry to Alabama.  The goal is to make Alabama more competitive with our neighboring states Georgia, Florida and Louisiana in attracting the film industry.

Also passed by the House were two bills by Representative Jay Love.  The first rewards teachers for obtaining national board certification by giving them a $5000 supplemental salary bonus.  The second bill ends the dispute over whether overtime counts as earnable compensation when computing retirement benefits.  The answer:  Yes.  Overtime does count as earnable compensation for the purpose of calculating retirement.  The legislation initially applied only to state law enforcement officers, but was amended in committee to apply to all members of the Employee Retirement Systems.

On Wednesday, several good bills got out of committee including:

Senator Cam Ward’s SB84 which prohibits the use of foreign law to violate the rights of U.S. citizens.

Representative Blaine Galliher’s HB133 which allows students in public schools to receive credit for faith-based courses conducted off-campus.

Senator Cam Ward’s SB105 which authorizes health care providers to decline to perform services that violate their conscience.

At least one bad bill was killed in committee–SB260 by Senator Paul Sanford–which would have significantly weakened the immigration bill by removing the requirement that employers use e-Verify.  In addition, it would have repealed the requirement that individuals show a valid ID to renew car tags and driver’s and other licenses.

Stay tuned for more updates on the 2012 session of the Alabama Legislature!

This Week In The Alabama Legislature

We’re entering the third week of the legislative session, and it looks to be a quiet week. The House will take up the texting while driving ban aka “TTYL” bill (HB2) sponsored by Rep. Jim McClendon, Rep. Mac McCutcheon’s legislation adding utility trucks and wreckers to the list of vehicles for which drivers are required to slow down and move into a vacant lane for when parked on the side of the road (HB76), and Rep. Allen Farley’s bill to crack down on synthetic drugs known as “spice” or “salts” (HB158).  Depending on how fast things move, the House may also get to Rep. Jay Love’s bill to reward teachers who complete the national board certification process (HB251).

Up on the 7th floor the Senate will take up some of the economic development incentives bills passed by the House last week (HB151, HB152, HB159 and HB160).

A New Year, New Session, New Opportunities

Today marks the beginning of the 2012 session of the Alabama Legislature. A new session means opportunities and for Alabama, the opportunities are abundant.  Legislators will have the opportunity to pass meaningful education reform in the form of charter schools.  Basic principles of any market tell us that more competition leads to a higher quality across the board. And no one can deny Alabama schools could use some improvement.

Legislators will also have opportunities to help create jobs.  I say “help” because the state shouldn’t create jobs, but it should get out of the way and let the private sector begin putting Alabamians to work.  Legislators should remove obstacles to job creation and provide incentives for companies looking to locate or expand in our state. Several of these job creating measures are on the slate for the first week of the session including legislation giving economic development offices and the Governor more flexibility in offering tax incentives and a measure to allow the state to offer temporary state income tax incentives to offset build-up phase costs for companies bringing jobs to the state.

Last, but certainly not least, legislators will have the opportunity to stand strong on Alabama’s new immigration law.  There are those who want to weaken the law who will use language like “tweaking” or “making it easier to enforce,” but legislators should tread carefully.  While there are some legitimate fixes that need to be made, i.e.–adding military ID’s to the list of acceptable forms of identification, by and large, the law should be left as is.  Keep an eye on our website for more information on this issue.

Alabama legislators appear poised to take advantage of some of these opportunities and they deserve our support.  We just have to make sure they keep their eye on the ball and don’t get  distracted by those who want to keep running Alabama in the same old way.  After all, if we keep doing things the same way, we’ll keep getting the same result.  They say opportunity only knocks once, so here’s to giving our legislators the fortitude to open the door.

More Alabamians Back To Work After Passage Of Landmark Immigration Law

Opponents called the law evil, racist and defamed the character of those who supported it, but their attacks ring somewhat hollow now that evidence has shown it is working.  That’s right!  Alabama had one of the largest drops in unemployment in the country for the 3rd month in a row!  Unemployment has dropped from 9.8% when the law took effect in September 2011 to 8.1% as of December 2011.  The December 2011 drop from 8.7% to 8.1% was the largest in the country.  Below, Fox News discusses the trend and its correlation to the new immigration law.

S&P Says Internet Sales Tax Bills Will Yield Little

Wall Street credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s say the current push by states to collect sales tax on internet purchases will yield little in the way of increased revenues:

America’s state governments won’t see many revenue gains any time soon if they triumph in battles to tax sales by out-of-state Internet retailers, a leading Wall Street credit-ratings group said on Monday.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said that state governments were increasingly targeting Internet sales outside their borders but still faced legal hurdles and were unlikely to see much top-line benefit soon.

“At this time, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services does not think that the amount of revenue states are foregoing by not collecting tax on Internet sales is significant enough to influence state or local ratings,”

States across the country are facing tough budget battles this year and Alabama is no exception. State legislators are under a lot of pressure by retail associations and others to help close that gap by collecting sales tax on internet purchases. Before they act on that, legislators should consider the cost of imposing a tax increase on the people of Alabama. Is an insignificant increase in revenue worth asking citizens to pay more sales tax in what are already tough economic times?

AG Luther Strange Explains His Position on AL’s New Immigration Law

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange had a great op-ed in the Mobile Press-Register yesterday explaining his position on Alabama’s new immigration law.  A BIG thanks to Big Luther for doing such a wonderful job defending Alabama!

By LUTHER STRANGE

Special to the Press-Register

As the attorney general of Alabama, it is my duty to uphold and defend the laws of the state as they are passed by the Legislature and signed into law by our governor. Earlier this year, Alabama’s immigration law was passed and then signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley.

The law was immediately challenged, and my office has been litigating the issue in federal court.

Recently, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to certain Alabama school districts directing them to produce a laundry list of data. Because this particular issue received considerable attention in the media, I thought it would be helpful to ensure my position is clear regarding this matter.

This data — much of which is not currently collected by schools and would require many hours and scarce resources to compile — was purportedly sought by the Justice Department to determine whether the new law discourages children from attending school.

As counsel for the state superintendent of education in the ongoing litigation initiated by the Justice Department on these same issues, I advised the superintendent that the school districts were not compelled to reply.

Why? Because when the Civil Rights Division receives a complaint about alleged discrimination in Alabama schools, the law requires it to notify school officials and allow the schools and our state to take steps to correct the problem. We are still awaiting this information.

This theme of cooperation between the federal government and the states runs throughout federal law — from protecting civil rights in schools to enforcing federal immigration law. Congress has repeatedly instructed the federal government to work with states, not against them.

We are a nation of immigrants. That is one of our great strengths. I have personally recruited industry from around the world to Alabama. And those businesses are thriving here.

What is really at stake is the rule of law, on which all our freedoms are founded.

Everyone agrees that the existing immigration law should be enforced by the federal government. Unfortunately, the federal government has failed in its responsibility to enforce its own laws.

That leaves the states to deal with the issue, as we’ve witnessed in Arizona, Indiana, Utah, Georgia, South Carolina and here in Alabama. I have no doubt that other states will follow.

As this debate swirls and the political winds blow, I am and will continue to be focused on my job of enforcing the laws of Alabama through the proper legal channels. And I sincerely hope to have the cooperation of the Department of Justice in the process.

To those who’d like to inject the old images of Alabama from 1963, I reiterate what I have made clear from the day I took office: I have and will always enforce the law equally and fairly without regard to race, gender, ethnicity or political party.

My office is determined to see that all of our schoolchildren are protected from unlawful activity.

As I have said many times, Alabama officials are not going to do anything that violates any individual’s constitutional rights. Such illegal actions will not be tolerated as long as I am Alabama’s attorney general. That is where I stand.

Luther Strange is attorney general of Alabama. His email address is constituentaffairs@ago.state.al.us.