Here’s the video from Alabama Government 101 for anyone who missed it:
The Alabama Legislature will gavel in tomorrow at 12 noon. Here’s a preview of what you can expect during this session:
The 2011 legislative session can be summed up in one word–Budget. It’s all about the budget this year. Revenue shortfalls and the loss of federal stimulus money have led to serious budget woes for the Alabama legislature. Governor Bentley and House and Senate leadership are warning of serious cuts. The Alabama Education Trust Fund is in a slightly better situation than originally forecasted, so it may emerge relatively intact. The Alabama General Fund, however, is a different story. Look for another round of proration, layoffs or furloughs of state employees, and possibly even the complete elimination of some departments and agencies.
The Rolling Reserve Budget Act (RRBA) is a top priority for Republican legislators. Introduced by Rep. Greg Canfield, the RRBA changes the way we budget from a revenue forecasting method to a 15-year rolling average. Spending is capped at the 15-year average, and in years where revenue exceeds that cap the surplus will go into a savings account to prepare for years where revenues fall short of the average. This will be a big step toward avoiding proration in the Education budget in the future.
Job creation is also a running theme in pre-session interviews with legislators. Look for some form of tax credits for companies who hire new employees. There is also a move to increase the tax credit for employers who provide health insurance to their employees from 150% to 200%.
Rep. Micky Hammon has introduced HB56 which is similar to legislation passed in Arizona on immigration. The bill requires businesses who receive economic development incentives to use e-verify, makes the entry, presence and involvement in economic activity of unauthorized illegal aliens a crime in this state, and requires law enforcement to verify the citizenship during routine enforcement of local, county or state laws.
In their Handshake with Alabama, Republicans pledged to immediately introduce and work to pass a constitutional amendment that would ‘prohibit any person, employer or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.'” This amendment would essentially be a nullification of Obamacare and would be similar to measures introduced or passed in at least 30 other state legislatures across the country.
Rep. Paul DeMarco has introduced legislation (HB25) that will reform the state’s online check register and reporting system. The goal is to make it easier for the layperson to use and understand.
This list is hardly exhaustive of all that will come up this session, but it’s a good start. I’m told the session will be an easy one, completing the budgets, passing a few key pieces of legislation, and sine die. It will be interesting to see if things run that smoothly. For a complete list of measures we support (and oppose) check out our legislative agenda.
Senator Cam Ward has a great article at Doc’s Political Parlor describing legislation to bring more transparency to campaign finance in this state. Currently campaign finance reports are filed by mail or in person and scanned copies are available online. As Cam points out, this makes searching them impossible.
Under this legislation, once a campaign disclosure report is filed, the electronic report will become part of a database allowing citizens to search contributors by name which gives them a full picture of who gives and receives money in statewide elections. This system will be similar to the searchable databases that are used by the Federal Elections Commission which monitor congressional and presidential races.
We’re glad to see the legislature moving toward more transparency. Voters should have access to information in an easily accessible, easy to understand format.
You would think the Obama administration might get the message, but they still plan to appeal the decision. This ruling was particularly significant because more than half of the states were plaintiffs in the matter.
A federal judge in Florida struck down President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul as unconstitutional on Monday in the biggest legal challenge yet to federal authority to enact the law.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the reform law’s so-called individual mandate went too far in requiring that Americans start buying health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty.
“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void,” he wrote, “This has been a difficult decision to reach and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications.”
Referring to a key provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Vinson sided with governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans, in declaring the Obama healthcare reform unconstitutional. Read more
|Wednesday, January 19th marks the one-year anniversary of the Special Election in which Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate, largely on the promise that he would cast the 41st vote against ObamaCare. As you recall, Harry Reid broke his promise and broke faith with the American people when he used reconciliation, a procedural tool, to skirt the rules and pass ObamaCare.
Liberals just aren’t getting it! We need to keep reminding them of the message the people of Massachusetts sent last January 19th and that voters throughout America sent on Election Day last November: We want them to repeal ObamaCare and stop out-of-control government spending.
If passed, H.R. 2, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” would repeal P.L. 111-148, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA) and the crooked “reconciliation” vehicle Harry Reid used to pass it, P.L. 111-152, the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.”
We need to put an end to thousands-of pages-long spending bills. H.R. 2 is barely three-pages long, consisting mostly of its lengthy list of co-sponsors, and it simply states that ObamaCare is repealed in its entirety.
This is a great opportunity to get to know your Congressman’s staff when you call and urge him or her to vote to Repeal ObamaCare on Wednesday!
We’ve been working hard over the past couple of months to put together a solid, conservative and realistic agenda for the coming legislative session. These are the policy items we’re going to be working on come March. During the special session in December, we distributed copies of our legislative agenda to the new legislature.
I’ve linked to the posted agenda and made it available for download so you can choose which format you prefer. If anyone has any questions or would like to work with us on any of the agenda items, you can reach me at Brooklyn@alabamaeagle.org
Today, Governor-Elect Robert Bentley and Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange released the following statement on Governor Riley’s Gambling Task Force:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
–Revised to correct a typographical error–
December 29, 2010
Contact: Jessica Garrison on behalf of Bentley and Strange, 205-568-4371
Governor-Elect Bentley to Assign Gambling Task Force to AG-Elect Strange
Bentley, Strange Issue Joint Statement
MONTGOMERY, Ala– Governor-Elect Robert Bentley today announced plans to assign the work of the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling to the Attorney General’s Office on January 17, 2011, when he and Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange take office.
“By assigning all pending cases and investigative authority to the Attorney General’s office, I have transferred the primary responsibility for ensuring that Alabama’s gambling laws are enforced statewide to Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange,” said Governor-Elect Bentley. “I will fully support Attorney General Luther Strange in his efforts to enforce the laws of Alabama, including laws against illegal gambling,” Governor-Elect Bentley said. “Attorney General Strange will follow the law on gambling and he will have my full support.”
Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange thanked Governor-Elect Bentley for his confidence and said the Attorney General’s office will not back down from enforcing Alabama’s gambling laws under his leadership.
“The people of Alabama have elected me to enforce the laws of this great state. I intend to enforce the rule of law as it is written and in strict accordance with the decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court,” said Attorney General-Elect Strange.
Governor-Elect Bentley and Attorney General-Elect Strange said gambling establishments now closed under threat of raid by the Task Force should not mistake today’s announcement as a signal to open their casinos. It simply means the Attorney General will be the officer at the statewide level taking primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting those that own, operate or house illegal gambling machines.
Attorney General-Elect Strange stated, “I will work with the local District Attorneys who are willing to be a part of our team.”
The state’s legal position for the enforcement of Alabama’s prohibition of slot machines as it relates to so-called “electronic bingo” will continue to be as follows:
1. Any machine that meets the definition of a slot machine or gambling device pursuant to Sections 13A-12-20 (5) and (10) of the Code of Alabama (1975) will be seized, gambling proceeds will be seized, forfeiture actions will be pursued; and any persons who are in the possession of illegal slot machines or who are promoting illegal gambling will be prosecuted, period.
2. Absolutely no constitutional amendment in the State of Alabama authorizes the use of machines that accept cash or credit and then dispense cash value prizes based upon chance. Machines with those features are slot machines and are not made legal by any bingo amendment. Likewise, no local bingo rule, regulation or ordinance can legally authorize slot machines.
3. The six factors defining bingo laid out by the Alabama Supreme Court in the Cornerstone case will be applied strictly. Those factors cannot be changed, diluted, waived, redefined or reinterpreted by local rule, local regulation, or local definitions, nor through purported certifications from a gaming laboratory.
4. The Attorney General’s office will provide guidance to prosecutors after the transition, but the operators of gambling establishments throughout our state should clearly understand the legal position of the State of Alabama moving forward beginning on January 17, 2011.
Contact: Jessica Garrison on behalf of Bentley and Strange, 205-568-4371
Paid for by Attorney General Luther Strange Transition and Inaugural Committee, Inc., P.O. Box 3723, Montgomery, Alabama 36109
The Alabama House of Representatives gaveled in at 10:00 am yesterday morning, and a Democrat filibuster of SB 2 almost automatically ensued. 15 hours later Republicans broke the filibuster, and passed SB 2 by a vote of 52-49. Thirteen Republicans, including the three who recently switch parties, broke ranks and voted with the Democrats against the bill.
SB 2, also known as the “Check-Off Bill”, prevents the use of state resources on political activities. In practice, this means that the state will no longer be allowed to collect dues for organizations like the Alabama Education Association (AEA) or the Alabama State Employees Association (ASEA), which they are currently collecting through automatic payroll deductions.
Democrats claimed the bill was politically motivated to diminish the power of AEA who is traditionally supportive of Democrat candidates. Rep. Lynn Greer was asked repeatedly how much it cost the state to collect the dues. Greer didn’t have a specific number, but insisted it cost the state something. The debate over cost proves that Democrats continue to miss the point. $1 is too much for the state to pay to collect political dues. Taxpayers should not be forced to finance/facilitate the funding of AEA or ASEA’s political organizations. There are a lot of worthy organizations in the state, and most of them don’t get to have dues taken out of their members’ paychecks automatically.
Members of these organizations are 100% free to speak their mind and can continue to donate to the organization. The bill does not take anyone’s rights away. It simply removes the burden from the state of collecting the money.
For more information on SB 2, click here.
For many years, Democrat led legislatures have forced taxpayers to pick up the tab when state employees and education workers have dues automatically deducted from their paycheck and sent to their unions. Those deductions go to union PACs and organizations to fund political activities. The cost of providing this service is a whopping $2,500,000 a year–all of it paid for with your tax dollars. THIS MUST BE STOPPED!!
Unions are targeting House Republicans claiming it’s eliminating this political payroll deduction is going to take away their freedom of speech. THIS IS NOT TRUE. State employees and education workers will still be 100% free to contribute to these groups, and the groups will still be 100% free to lobby legislators. But YOU wouldn’t be forced to pay for it.
The Senate has already passed SB 2, which will stop the state-funded payroll deductions for political activities. It will be up for a vote in the House this week. Make sure your legislator knows you want an end to this abuse of taxpayer money. Make sure House members know that you are watching!
Today Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional, saying that it “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.” The suit was brought by VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who argued that the individual mandate was an unconstitutional expansion of the Commerce Clause.
The White House dismissed the ruling as having little effect on the implementation of Obamacare. They continue to believe the bill will ultimately be ruled constitutional. Hudson acknowledged that the final outcome will undoubtedly reside with a higher court, but said, “In this Court’s view, the award of declaratory judgment is sufficient to stay the hand of the executive branch pending appellate review.”
The Virginia suit is one of 15 nationwide against Obamacare, and it is the first to strike down part of the health care reform law.