Protect Vital Child Care Providers: STOP HB277

Opposition to HB277 is about protecting children by protecting some of the best, safest, and most positive child care options for children in Alabama.

If hard working Alabama parents no longer have high quality and low cost options, it harms children. HB277 will hurt poor families that depend on government subsidies to help pay for child care. An unintended consequence of HB277 will be that that many children in rural areas of the state will no longer have any positive child care options.

Eagle Forum of AL also needs to address an advertisement by the Voices organization
released earlier this week on Alabama Public  Radio. This commercial falsely claimed that half of the state’s child care facilities are completely unregulated and do not follow even basic safety standards.

Eagle Forum of Alabama along with many other policy organizations in Alabama researched these claims made by Voices. We found them to be untrue. There are at least eleven agencies that regulate all licensed exempt child care providers in Alabama.  Basic safety regulations are already required for all of these child care providers.  See “Get the Facts on HB277” analysis for more details.

We all believe in protecting children, but Eagle Forum of Alabama finds that this legislation is not properly focused on addressing the real problems at hand. We encourage you to oppose HB277 as more work needs to be done on this legislation.

Better Policy Alternatives Available Than Fiscally Irresponsible SB302 and HB487

Eagle Forum of Alabama finds that SB302 and HB487 are bad policy and will not properly address important public policy issues within Alabama’s prisons and infrastructure.

In the last two weeks of the Alabama legislative session, there are two bills that will have profound and lasting effects on the pocketbooks of Alabama taxpayers. The gas tax (HB487), if passed, would be a $300 million tax increase—the largest tax increase in Alabama in modern times. The other (SB302) is the prison bill. We need to address both the prison and infrastructure issues realistically with pay as we go measures that require transparency, accountability, and a vote of the people.

Instead, the legislature is about to be asked to pass (1)The $2.4 billion bond issue for transportation and (2) the now $845 million prison bill.  These two measures together equal at least a 50% increase in state indebtedness.

First, on Tuesday a SUBSTITUTE VERSION of Gov. Bentley’s PRISON BILL that increases bonding from $800 million to $845 million is being dropped in committee. It has NOT been posted.  See Eagle Forum’s prior analysis here.  Does the bill address the immediate need of medical care and mental health care? Are competitive bids required?  Will prisons be moved from communities that now depend on them for employment? Does new construction now address overcrowding?  Citizens won’t know if objections that stalled Gov. Bentley’s plan have been alleviated until after the committee vote, but it is certain that the cost has been increased, not cut.  Therefore, Alabama taxpayers would be saddled with an ultimate cost of well over $1.5 billion over at least 30 years.  See prison recommendations here.

Second, the Alabama Legislature is considering the largest tax increase in modern history in the form of a transportation bill that calls for $2.4 billion in highway bonds without a vote of the people.  This can accurately be called the largest tax increase on Alabamians in modern history because it amounts to $300 million a year in perpetuity.  There is no sunset.

Thankfully, the Speaker of the House has assured the people of Alabama that the gas tax (HB487) would not come back up this session.  Please thank Speaker McCutcheon for his commitment and ask him to continue to resist attempts to ram HB487 through.  There are sound alternatives being proposed for future action.

Please contact your state representatives to let them know that you do NOT support the gigantic bond issues for prisons or roads.  Ask them to look at sound alternatives!

Urgent Action Needed on Daily Fantasy Sports Bill

On Tuesday, the House passed HB354 (the Daily Fantasy Sports Bill). “In states that sponsor commercial gambling, all taxpayers-including the non-gamblers– end up paying higher taxes for less services and their states end up with worse budget problems over the long term. Allowing states to sponsor online fantasy sports gambling will deepen these financial problems, forcing the taxpayers who don’t gamble to foot the bill.”
(www.alcap.com)

During the lengthy debate, a couple of good amendments presented by Rep. Mike Jones were passed. We are concerned that those amendments, which place greater restrictions on the Daily Fantasy Sports companies may be stripped from the bill in the Senate. When the vote on final passage of the bill was taken, it only passed by a narrow margin of 5 votes. You can click HERE to see how your House member voted.

HB354 NOW GOES TO THE SENATE. WE NEED A GROUNDSWELL OF PEOPLE TO CONTACT THEIR STATE SENATORS AND ENCOURAGE HIM/HER TO OPPOSE HB354.

To understand how dangerous this online gambling bill is (even though proponents argue that it is not gambling), you can click HERE to read what Stop Predatory Gambling has written about this deceptive enterprise. You can also click HERE to watch the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary,  _Frontline_, from 2016 about Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Forty-three minutes into the documentary, the producers interviewed a young man from Auburn, AL, Josh Adams, who lost $20,000 playing DFS. You can also read the New York Times story about Josh Adams by clicking HERE.

Help Save Women and Children with HB315

When Democrats ran our state, they passed a law that made it a crime to be a midwife in Alabama. Alabama is one of just six states that criminalizes midwifery. HB315, which was introduced by Moulton-Republican State Rep. Ken Johnson in February, would decriminalize Certified Professional midwives and has been scheduled on Tuesday’s special order agenda. Please contact your State legislators and let them know you would like for them to support HB315.  HB315 is legislation that is pro-life, pro-liberty, and pro-women. For women in Alabama currently facing a health crisis in rural areas of the state, allowing professional mid-wives to serve is a common sense solution.  It makes little sense to penalize a trained mid-wife who bears certification for helping women have safer births.

As registered nurse in Alabama Sarah Brown stated, “While I love my OBGYN doctor, I believe it is time that the women of Alabama have the option to hire a midwife. It puzzles me to think that I could choose to abort my baby, but that I cannot choose to hire a midwife to assist me in my pregnancy.”  The current law criminalizing a historic and safe medical practice of midwifery needs to be changed this session. Women in Alabama and families in Alabama have waited far too long for HB315 to be passed. Eagle Forum of Alabama is proud to stand up in support of this pro-life legislation which has a direct impact on helping families and women in this state. Contact your State Representative today and early tomorrow before the vote on HB315! Let them know you expect their support of this important legislation. Contact the Alabama State House (334) 242-7095 then ask for you respective member.

Urgent: act ASAP to move Common Core Repeal Bill to Senate Floor

Urgent:  act ASAP to move Common Core Repeal Bill to Senate Floor
 

The bill to Repeal and Replace Common Core SB415 (Sen. Harri Anne Smith) passed the Senate Education Committee today with a 4-1 vote.  (YES: Sen. Brewbaker, Bussman, McLendon, Pittman.  NO: Sen. Figures)

SB415 will replace common core (cc) standards (aka Alabama College and Career Ready Standards) in Math and English Language Arts (including history, social studies, science, & technical subjects) with proven, superior standards based on the best of the best pre-Common Core Standards.

TODAY please contact each member of the Senate Rules Committee (below) and ask them to place SB415 number one on the Senate Special Order Calendar so that the Senate will vote on it!  Also contact your senator. Let’s show the Senate that the polls are right: over 70% of Alabamians want common core repealed.

Talking points for your contacts:

  • What is more basic than educating Alabama students in Math and English?  Yet we dropped from 25thand rising in 2011 to dead last in 2015.
  • Alabama is dead last in Math and ELA.  See here.
  • Protect all children from “irreversible damage” due to 4 years of CC Math documented by California data under Phil Daro CC Math.  Alabama is ending its 4th year now!   THIS TRAVESTY MUST STOP. See pre-eminent math standards writer Dr. James Milgram letter.
  • Experimenting with education in Alabama is failing our students.  That failure correlates directly with implementation of common core.  What higher priority can there be than to correct this problem?
  • The Alabama Senate must send a message to the State School Board to fast track replacement of common core standards with what was working in Alabama and nationwide prior to common core.
  • Alabama being dead last demands drastic, urgent action. Denial won’t fix the demonstrated problem.
  • The Senate must insist that we repeal common core and replace it with proven,superior traditional standards.
  • Parents, students and educators deserve better than a regimen imposed upon our children through the ordered Obama administration incentives and regulations.
  • Please instruct and enable educators in Alabama to restore sound education practices.
  • Alabama’s economic success and growth demands repeal of common core.

Senate Rules Committee:
Sen. Jabo Waggoner  (334)242-7892  [email protected]
Sen. Billy Beasley (334)242-7868 [email protected]
Sen. Dick Brewbaker (334)242-7895 [email protected]
Sen. Gerald Dial (334)242-7874  [email protected]
Sen. Vivian Figures (334)242-7871  [email protected]
Sen. Rusty Glover (334)242-7886  [email protected]
Sen. Bill Hightower (334)242-7882  [email protected]
Sen. Jimmy Holley (334)242-7845
Sen. Jim McClendon (334)242-7898 [email protected]
Sen. Arthur Orr (334)242-7891
Sen. Trip Pittman (334) 7897  [email protected]
Sen. Greg Reed (334)242-7894  [email protected]
Sen. Paul Sanford (334)242-7867 [email protected]
Sen. Clay Scofield (334)242-7876  [email protected]
Sen Rodger Smitherman (334)242-7870 [email protected]
Sen. Phil Williams (334)242-7857  [email protected]

For documentation see alabamaeagle.org or call (205)879-7096.

Collectivism in Alabama Politics

By Deborah Love

This week has been “Alabama Week” on The Daily Show, a week devoted to the mocking of Alabama and especially its recent political scandals. I suspect many Alabamians have laughed along with Trevor Noah, half from nervous embarrassment and half from frustration. The hostile spotlight on Alabama brings my thoughts back to one memory from a time when I interned with Senator Jeff Sessions as an eager college student, excited to make a positive difference. One of the first phone calls I received was from an angry man who asked me where I was from, to which I quickly replied with a proud and positive voice, “I am from Alabama.” The man responded “You’re a barefoot, inbred, pregnant woman.” The man continued to yell before eventually hanging up. When I looked up his area code I realized he was not from Alabama. So I wondered why he thought such horrible things about a person he had never met. I thought it was strange that he hated the politics of my state so much he would insult a stranger.

I realized later on that this man’s prejudice and hatred of me was based solely on a sort of collectivist logic. By using that term, I don’t mean merely leftward progressivism – collectivism is the idea that people can be reduced to, and explained according to group interests. It is an idea which promotes stereotypes, prejudice, and hatred. We can all think of examples that permeate the current political and cultural dialogue which are based in this fallacy. If you look on social media you will see political or cultural discussions quickly escalate to these broad stereotypical conclusions that judge an individual or entire group from a collectivist lens. Following are some examples that I have recently seen online. Rebekah Caldwell Mason is like many other women in Montgomery politics. Republicans are all corrupt. Black men are all thugs. Millennials are lazy and want everything for free. Democrats hate America. Libertarians are pot heads. Conservatives are extremists. The media is all liberal and biased. These statements are the result of acceptance of the idea of collectivism; they are not based in reason. We all know that there are caring, loving, smart and well-intentioned people in each of these categories. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

The acceptance of this tribalist sort of collectivism has led to a negative perception of Alabama. The people of Alabama are not synonymous with the state government. Mike Hubbard nor Robert Bentley upheld their duty to the people of Alabama, and they both misled the public; but Alabama is much more than its government. The entire state should not be judged by a few very powerful people. As an Alabamian, I am proud to be from Alabama. I am proud of what private individuals in Alabama are doing right this moment. Our religious institutions, private philanthropic organizations, schools, neighborhoods, and families are all made up of individuals. We are the full sum of each and every man, women, and child, divisible, unique, of value and merit, but with mistakes included .

Progress more often comes in form like a general current, as each individual Alabamian every day makes decision after decision, and act after act. Sometimes these decisions and acts are not the best, but if, as I believe, most days good people do good things, the general tide of progress will rise ever higher and higher. This is thanks to the merits of individual people, each making innumerable positive decisions each and every day. Alabama’s identity does not reside within the Governor’s mansion, but with each and every individual Alabamian. It is because I reject collectivism and collective guilt this week I can still say that I am glad to be an Alabamian. It may be trite to reference the band Lynryd Skynryd, but the outsiders from Florida had a great point – the actions of “the Governor”, or indeed any politician, cannot be held to condemn an entire people.

Deborah Love is Executive Director of Eagle Forum of Alabama, a Conservative grass-roots public policy organization dedicated to sound public policy solutions in Alabama and Washington DC.

Imperative immediate call to Gov. Ivey

Please contact Governor Ivey ASAP and ask her to protect the freedom of religion in Alabama, her churches and their members. Ask her to sign The Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act (HB24/SB145) without any executive amendment and without delay!  To contact the Governor’s office, call: 1-334-242-7100 AND email by going to: governor.Alabama.gov/contact.

This act protects church and religious operated state-licensed adoption agencies from being required to make same sex adoption placements in violation of their religious beliefs based on scriptural marriage. With the 2015 Obergefell SCOTUS opinion legalizing same sex marriage, regulations are expected requiring same sex marriage placements. Already in Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, DC and San Francisco, Christian adoption agencies have closed.

Adoption is an important alternative to abortion. We cannot afford the closing down of 30% of Alabama adoptions done by the affected agencies.

The Human Rights campaign, a heavily financed LGBTQ lobbying organization, abortion interests and others have opposed these bills, but they passed both houses with large margins. Now, we are told that Google, AT&T and Apple are pressuring Governor Ivey to add the amendment.  Please let our new Governor know that we need her to stand with the Alabama Christian Community and sign the act.

This issue is about more than protecting innocent life; it is about the very essence of religious freedom. In committee, Christians were said to be intolerant and discriminatory. Our religious beliefs were expected to be secondary to the desires of homosexuals.

This is our first confrontation in Alabama with the gay rights agenda. If we do not stand firm now, we will face increased opposition.  Those organizations that oppose us because of what we believe, will coalesce; and we will find we have little or no voice in protecting our values. Large corporations, gay rights advocates, abortion interests, gambling interests, and you name it, will be telling us how to live. Our sincerely held religious beliefs dictate against what they want.  We must act now to protect our rights for ourselves and our posterity.  We must not allow those who advocate unhealthy lifestyles to discriminate against us and against Christian ministries, nor advance their agenda at the expense of vulnerable youth and the whole of society.

We are indebted to Eric Johnston of Southeast Law Institute for much of the foregoing explanation.
 

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Parents Beware: Teens Enticed by Suicide Tale, “Thirteen Reasons Why”

by Krissie Allen

In 1995, Pope John Paul II issued his widely acclaimed encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), warning Christians of an emerging “culture of death.” Pointing to various political, social, and cultural norms that offer a perverse idea of freedom that sacrifices the inherent value of life in favor of individuality, the encyclical affirms that the Gospel of Christ is indeed a Gospel of life. Christians are therefore called to resist the culture of death and embrace a culture that respects, protects and serves every life because “[o]nly in this direction will [one] find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness.”

At times the culture of death’s attack on life is easy to identify and thereby resist. (One need only ponder the struggle over abortion-rights or euthanasia to see the menacing culture of death at work.) Other times, however, its attack seems more insidious yet equally dangerous. And one of the most recent examples is Netflix’s most tweeted about show geared towards teens:13 Reasons Why.

Based on Jay Asher’s debut novel of the same name, the series tells the story behind the suicide of a young teenager named Hannah, and according to the show’s producer Selena Gomez, is intended to offer an “honest” view of suicide so it “should never be an option.”

With teen depression and suicide on the rise, such a purported intention sounds noble enough. The series’ questionable (if not unconscionable) methodology, however, has proven to be far from noble.

Essentially, each of the 13 episodes reveals a new audiotape Hannah left behind and allows young viewers to progressively uncover (and essentially experience) the multiple mistreatments that led to her tragic decision. Viewers are accordingly lured, episode after episode, into witnessing just about every shocking teen trauma imaginable: Hannah’s homosexual kiss that becomes fodder for teen bullying, her witnessing of a friend’s rape, her own sexual assault and eventual rape, her failed attempt to receive help from a dismissive guidance counselor, and most disturbingly, her final hopeless and graphic act of slitting of her wrists in the bathtub.

Countless experts have already rung the alarm on the show and criticized its depiction of suicide as explicitly dangerous.  Everyone from suicide prevention groups, mental health experts, educators, youth ministers, and even mainstream reviewers have warned that the series’ graphic images and sensational plot lines could potentially result in harm to young viewers who have previously dealt with these serious issues and could work to desensitize people to suicidal acts in general.

One initial take away from this controversy for Christians is that the culture of death is very much alive and willing to manipulate young people. It might feign concern for human tragedy and difficulty and might even claim to pursue justice and peace. Unwilling to acknowledge Christ’s love and His redemptive powers, however, its solutions always—always—fall short. Instead of offering hope, it offers despair. Instead of offering love, it offers wrath. Instead of offering faith, it offers skepticism or doubt. And instead of seeking to raise children of light, it seeks to raise children of woe.

The more imperative take away, however, is that our culture is in desperate need of hearing, seeing and experiencing the gospel of life. While Netflix and others of its ilk might choose to capitalize off of teen tragedy and continue to promote shows such as 13 Reasons Why, Christians have unyielding power to combat its influence by living Christ-centered lives that bear witness to Jesus, as The Ultimate Reason Why Not.  

 

All Pro-life Bills Pass Senate

Wonderful news!  All three pro-life bills that we have supported this legislative session passed the Senate today.  They now head to the Governor’s desk for signature.

1.  The Healthcare Rights of Conscience bill (religious freedom for healthcare providers who object to abortion, cloning, stem-cell research) by Rep. Arnold Mooney/Sen. Paul Sanford

2.  Ban on Assisted Suicide bill by Representative Mack Butler/Senator Phil Williams

3.  Right to Life Constitutional Amendment (a constitutional amendment to go on the ballot declaring that abortion is not a protected right in Alabama)  by Rep. Matt Fridy/Sen. Phil

Williams

Thank you to everyone who turned out to lobby for life, and especially those legislators that voted to protect it!