Tag: Alabama House

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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Celebrate Church Day Care in Montgomery and Lobby against HB277 – DHR Control of Church Ministry

Celebrate Church Child Care Week and stand up for our children and religious liberty – this week at the Alabama State House in Montgomery –  Tuesday thru Thursday, April 11-13 beginning with a briefing at 10AM each morning in Room 325.  We must stop HB277.

  • HB277 is an unnecessary and unConstitutional overreach of government into church ministry.
  • It is a violation of the Alabama Religious Freedom Act and the Free Exercise Clause of the US Constitution.
  • It adds nothing to the health and safety of children already in day care run by legitimate churches.
  • The language in the bill could open control by the DHR of other church related ministries.

We have negotiated and presented ideas and language that should have satisfied the proponents of HB277, but they would not compromise in any form. This is about power and federal funding and not about Child Safety or otherwise they would have accepted at least a few of our recommended changes. See http://alabamaeagle.org/2017/04/07/get-the-facts-on-hb277

We cannot over emphasize the importance of the presence of you and your family and friends at the State House this week at least one of the days mentioned; and if you can attend more days, great. We must show our legislators that we are against HB277.  Please give us an estimate of how many you estimate will be in your group.  We will have people at the State House to help direct everyone and will have handouts in Room 325 to give to the House members along with a brief orientation.

PLEASE email or call and tell your representative that you will be in Montgomery at the state house on one of these days and you want to visit with them.  For your House Member call 1-334-242-7600 and the receptionist will connect you to your representative; or for the Senate call
1-334-242-7800 and the receptionist will connect you to your senator.
If he/she is not available ask the secretary to give them a message that you will be traveling to Montgomery to see them for 5 minutes to discuss your opposition to HB277.

Bring as many as you can! Remember, there will be a brief orientation and training. Bring your business cards, daycare pamphlets, or church/ministry information to pass out.

For information on HB277 Gets the Facts here
http://alabamaeagle.org/2017/04/07/get-the-facts-on-hb277

For Instructions for State House Lobbying, visit our website, here.

Topics

No one is exempt from children safety laws or regulations.
What is currently required of license exempt (church) facilities?
What are the thirteen agencies which regulate license-exempt providers in Alabama?
Licensed care does not ensure safety
Misleading examples of child endangerment as pretext for state action
HB277 targets church facilities but exempts certain other child-care Follow the money Public policy should be based on facts, not stereotypes
Religious Liberty Violations:  First Amendment and Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment 622, Section V Government overreach Removes parental authority and choice Truth about minimum standards Real Solutions

Signators

Dr. Allen Mendenhall, Executive Director, The Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty
Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, Alabama Citizen’s Action Program Alabama Citizen’s Action Program Robin Mears, Executive Director, Alabama Christian Education Association
Rev., Dr. John Killian, Pastor and Past President Alabama Baptist State Convention
Eunie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama
Deborah Love, Executive Director, Eagle Forum of Alabama
Eric Johnston, President of The Southeast Law Institute
Jeff Smith, Administrator of Trinity Christian Academy and Preschool, Oxford, Alabama
Danny J. Hubbard, Publisher and Author, Reveal Publishing
Scott Elliot, Director of Youth Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church
Dr. Tom Ford, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church and Ezekiel Academy Board Member
Col. Charles Orr, Christian Citizen Task Force, Whitesburg Baptist Church
Samuel J. McLure, The Adoption Law Firm
James McCaney, Jr. Senior Pastor, Victory Christian Fellowship Church
Maurice McCaney, Chancellor, Victory Christian Academy
Wanda McCaney, Director, Victory Christian Academy
Lorraine McCaney, Head Administrator, Victory Christian Academy
Mike Parsons, Director of Save Alabama’s Values and Education McCaney Law Group, LLC
Denise Driskell, Senior Administrator of Pathways Academy
Robert M. Driskell, High School Administrator of Pathways Academy
Rev. Jerry Johnston, Associate Pastor, Trinity Baptist Oxford, Alabama
Michael Rippy, Lead Pastor, Evangel Church, Evangel Christian Preschool

Get the Facts on HB277

Get the facts on HB277!  It is important for Alabamians to learn more about the significant role of religious and private child care providers in Alabama. A large portion of Alabama’s families rely on these providers to care for their children on a daily basis.  These are predominately church operated ministries to church members and outreaches to the community. A smaller number are affiliated with religious schools. Many prefer private facilities which are licensed exempt over state controlled facilities. In October 2016, there were 998 licensed and 943 license exempt child care centers in Alabama, according to Alabama DHR. The number of licensed exempt child care centers in Alabama is increasing because many families our choosing licensed exempt centers.

Families already have a choice between licensed exempt and licensed by the state child care providers. Yet many decide to not attend licensed child care providers and purposely go to licensed exempt child care options. Even the grandchild of the sponsor of HB277 attends a license exempt child care provider in Alabama.  Opposition to HB277 is about protecting children by protecting some of the best, safe, and positive child care options for children in Alabama. If hard working Alabamians no longer have high quality and low cost options, it harms children.  Many families will no longer have the opportunities and options they rely on for their families.

No one is exempt from child safety laws or regulations 

  • Licensed exempt day care providers are not exempt from child safety laws and regulations. All child care providers in Alabama are either licensed exempt or licensed. To become licensed exempt the provider must file appropriate paperwork with DHR including immunization records.
  • Criminal behavior is already outlawed in the state of Alabama regardless of where the crime occurs whether in a private or public setting. There are many state laws which directly address child abuse and neglect. The appropriate state agencies already possess the authority to investigate and punish criminals
  • Just as public school employees those at licensed exempt child care facilities already must pass full criminal background checks. (AL Code 38-13-3)
  • In addition, the State of Alabama already places an affirmative duty on child care employees in private and public settings with the responsibility to report suspected child abuse.
  • Child care providers are regulated for health and safety standards by multiple state agencies already. License exemption for child care providers in Alabama does not mean they are exempt from child safety laws and regulations.

What is currently required of licensed exempt facilities?

 DHR provides a list of requirements that involves their agency here http://dhr.alabama.gov/services/Child_Care_Services/license%20Exempt%20Centers.aspx

  • Notice that the child care program is an integral part of a local church
  • Notice that intent to operate a child care program has been given to the appropriate health departments so that facilities will be inspected to meet standards
  • Inspection by fire department at least once a year
  • Inspection by the Alabama Department of Public Health at least twice a year
  • Notice to the department certifying health inspection reports, immunizations, and medical forms for all staff and children.
  • Notice to parents of staff qualifications, pupil-student ratio, discipline policies, type of curriculum, religious teachings, and type of lunch program.
  • Parents required to sign affidavits about licensed-exempt status
  • Church/facility must submit affidavits of notification to DHR
  • Must follow all state and federal laws

What are the thirteen agencies who currently regulate license-exempt providers in Alabama?

  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Alabama and Local Health Department
  • State Fire Marshall
  • State Building Commission
  • Alabama Department of Revenue
  • Alabama Department of Labor
  • Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
  • Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Federal Transportation Administration
  • Local Codes (zoning, safety requirements)
  • Safe States (enforce asbestos laws)
  • County District Attorney
  • The Alabama Code governing numerous aspects of caring for children

Licensed care does not ensure safety

DHR and other state agencies have failed on many occasions to follow through on inspections to facilities. In 2014 changes to block grants from the Federal Government required DHR to inspect facilities receiving grants whether or not they are license exempt.  Those inspections were not always completed.  Regulations and license requirements have failed on many occasions to protect children.

  • There is no evidence that licensed day care facilities are safer than license exempt facilities. We can all cherry pick examples in either public or private settings, but there is no factual evidence that licensed facilities are safer than non-licensed facilities.

Misleading examples of child endangerment as pretext for state action

As a matter of fact, every claim of injury to children upon which HB277 proponents rely are as a result of the violation of health standards already required of licensed exempt facilities.  If DHR and the responsible health departments had done their jobs, those events would not have happened. But more to the point, DHR regulation would not have prevented them. However, it certainly makes for good, if not misleading, selling points to uninformed observers.

Sunny Side Day Care– Sunny Side Day Care was highlighted as a key example of a licensed exempt center for a staph infection outbreak that happened at that location. Sunny Side Day Care receives funding from the Federal Government. That means state agencies already have more ability and responsibility to regulate that facility. However, on many occasions DHR has failed to inspect some facilities as they did in regards to Sunny Side. In regards to food safety all child care facilities must meet be food safety, standards already. All the reasonable measure are already in place to address this problem.  There was no clear testimony provided that regulations or licenses would have prevented the staph incident. This memorandum from the Office of Inspector General about license exempt facilities examines the legal authority. https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-10-00231.pdf

  • There is no guarantee that regulations or licenses will prevent all health incidents but one thing is clear: Alabama DHR had the ability to inspect Sunny Side Day Care facility prior to the staph incident. Licenses and regulations do not ensure a child’s safety.

HB277 exempts certain child- care facilities but targets religious facilities

Do supporters of HB277 think that licenses and the regulations associated with this bill protect children?  Why then are shopping center day cares exempt on page 6 of HB277 Why would public controlled facilities be exempt from this regulation? The potential for safety concerns for children is the same in these locations as others.

Follow the money

The free market allows parents to decide for themselves in what type of educational environment or child care facility they would like to place their child. Most parents like options because it produces the best choices for their children. However some groups and individuals are resorting to scare tactics to push economic protectionism against religious affiliated facilities. In the last several years more families have been moving away from licensed facilities and towards licensed-exempt facilities. That concerns some who benefit economically from licensed centers.

  • In addition to the economic protectionism aspects of HB277, the Federal involvement and out of state donations to lobbying organizations have thrown big money to groups and agencies to push for licensure mandates. As the fiscal note for the HB277 shows the financial support for this regulation comes from the Federal government http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/2017RS/FiscalNotes/FN-36426.htm. Another source of funding for this lobbying push comes from Kellogg Foundation a national out of state organization.

Public policy should be based on facts not stereotypes

Religious and secular child care providers both care about protecting children and helping families. That is why they do what they do.  There have been many innuendos and false claims made about religious institutions in Alabama.

  • The vast majority of Alabama’s religious institutions and religiously affiliated providers do wonderful work for Alabama’s families. Just as we do not judge every public school teacher by the actions of a small percentage of teachers we should apply that same respect for private and religious institutions.
  • We punish the individual not an entire religious community or group. We do not judge every private child care institution by select bad actors. That promotes fear and prejudice between Alabama’s religious populations, the general public and state agencies. Solid public policy proposals will not result from fear tactics and prejudice.

Religious Liberty Violations

“A child care facility that is an integral part of a church or nonprofit religious school shall be licensed…” (pg. 27 of HB277)  HB277 removes important religious liberty protections that ensure Alabama’s diverse religious population has freedom to exercise their religious beliefs in regards to early childhood development without government intrusion and control. “Also under existing law, child care facilities that are part of a church or nonprofit religious school are exempt from licensing by the Department of Human Resources.” (pg. 1 of HB277) Alabama’s diverse religious communities have for generations worked to protect children, start hospitals, adoption agencies, founded schools, and ministries for the poor.

Separation of church and state means that the state does not control the church or any religious institutions. If the church must receive a license from the state in order to operate a ministry that violates the religious liberty protections Alabamians have been provided in the state and Federal Constitution.  Protecting children and religious freedom are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact parents and the Alabama Constitution expect them to be mutually inclusive. The Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment provides for what is called the “compelling interest test.” Government may not burden or restrict a religious activity or belief without first having a compelling interest to do so in the least burdensome or restrictive way. HB277 is unconstitutional and will likely face class action suit by Alabama religious institutions. It will very likely be struck down.

  • First Amendment United States Constitution applicable to Alabama

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  • Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment 622, section V

Section V. (a) Government shall not burden a person’s freedom of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).

(b) Government may burden a person’s freedom of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:

(1) Is in furtherance of a compelling government interest; and

(2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest.

(c) A person whose religious freedom has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government.

Government overreach

Hundreds of licensed exempt facilities will close due to HB277 unnecessary regulatory overreach. HB277 oversteps and violates what the proper role of government is in Alabama.  The government has an interest in protecting safety of all Alabamians but that does not mean the government should control private religious institutions. Reasonable regulations and criminal laws already punish bad actors. State agencies already retain the ability to regulate and inspect in needed situations.  Demanding licenses and the regulatory power that comes with licenses will not improve children’s safety. Instead, a license requirement will mean more state control over private and religious institutions. If the church was must come to the state to request to operate then the church is not free from state intrusion. In addition to day cares HB277 will regulate mother’s day out, volunteers, day nurseries, and play groups.

Removes Parental Authority and choice

Currently there are more positive child care options and choices in early childhood service providers in the state of Alabama. Once HB277 passes that will no longer be the case. If you dislike one provider, you have options outside of state regulated facilities or facilities who accept grants. Families who rely on grants also have options currently. However, HB277 will remove this option for parents.  It will require every child care provider to follow the same regimen, and it will give state agencies control of these institutions.

Truth about minimum standards

Many private and religious child care providers in Alabama already go above and beyond minimum standards by DHR.  HB277 would require every day care facility to follow the list of regulations called minimum standards. Child neglect, abuse, health, and safety regulations and law exist and are already in place outside of minimum standards. Many religious institutions or private facilities reject DHR minimum standards.  These regulations have many aspects that are not directly related to child’s safety but they are instead more focused toward the facility.

DHR would have the full authority to deny licensing, employment, and ability to volunteer based on individual receiving speeding tickets, or criminal charges even when found innocent.

DHR would have the authority to consider a center’s beliefs unsuitable for licensing, employment and the ability to volunteer.

DHR can immediately terminate license, employment and the ability to volunteer for being viewed as unsuitable with no proof of wrongdoing. It gives them unintended control due to the subjectivity of determining who or what is “unsuitable”.

DHR can close a center for what they “think” is a lack of business funds.

DHR holds the approval to whether or not a Center Director can be hired.

DHR requirements for certain number of staff per child.

Real Solutions

Rather than address the issue of a few “for profit” daycares masquerading as churches, proponents of HB277 want to remove the protection of all churches. The good faith offer of actual redress of the real problem has been disingenuously and deceitfully rejected by supporters of HB277 in favor of unconstitutional church regulation. Using child protection as an excuse, their real goal is church regulation of this very important church ministry, the choice of parents to raise up their children in the way they should go. 

Dr. Allen Mendenhall, Executive Director, The Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty

Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, Alabama Citizen’s Action Program

Alabama Citizen’s Action Program

Robin Mears, Executive Director, Alabama Christian Education Association

Eunie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama

Deborah Love, Executive Director, Eagle Forum of Alabama

Eric Johnston, President of The Southeast Law Institute

Jeff Smith, Administrator of Trinity Christian Academy and Preschool, Oxford, Alabama

Danny J. Hubbard, Publisher and Author, Reveal Publishing

Scott Elliot, Director of Youth Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church

Dr. Tom Ford, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church and Ezekiel Academy Board Member

Col. Charles Orr, Christian Citizen Task Force, Whitesburg Baptist Church

Samuel J. McLure, The Adoption Law Firm

James McCaney, Jr. Senior Pastor, Victory Christian Fellowship Church

Maurice McCaney, Chancellor, Victory Christian Academy

Wanda McCaney, Director, Victory Christian Academy

Lorraine McCaney, Head Administrator, Victory Christian Academy

Mike Parsons, Director of Save Alabama’s Values and Education

Rev., Dr. John Killian, Pastor and Past President Alabama Baptist State Convention

McCaney Law Group, LLC

Denise Driskell, Senior Administrator of Pathways Academy

Robert M. Driskell, High School Administrator of Pathways Academy

Rev. Jerry Johnston, Associate Pastor, Trinity Baptist Oxford, Alabama

Michael Rippy, Lead Pastor, Evangel Church, Evangel Christian Preschool

 

 

 

 

 

HB277 / SB256 Must be Stopped!

SB236/HB277 – Sponsored by Senator Cam Ward and Representative Pebblin Warren, proposes to require church nurseries and religious childcare providers (daycares) to be licensed by the state Department of Human Resources as are all other such providers. Church daycares and nurseries have always been exempt from licensure, even though their workers must pass background checks. The First Amendment should send a bold statement to state legislators about the proper role of state and federal government. Their role IS NOT to regulate churches or their ministries. This House bill passed unanimously by voice vote in the Child and Senior Advocacy Committee.  Eagle Forum of Alabama strongly opposes SB236/HB277. This bill will allow the state to regulate Vacation Bible School, for example. It removes important religious liberty protections that currently protect Alabamians. This bill is about much more than simply licensing church daycares and nurseries, it is also about money.  Foundation grant money has been awarded here in Alabama to push for all Alabama daycares to be licensed.  The Alabama DHR was awarded $1.7 million to improve the quality of daycare in the state.  Their only answer to that is to license daycares in church which are now exempt, although such centers are statistically safer for children by far than licensed centers. Those involved in negotiating for changes to the bill have offered 5 changes that would deal with the issues brought up by proponents for all child care facilities but these were totally dismissed, giving credence to the fact that this is not about protecting children, but about money and control.

Dollars are flowing from the federal government in support of licensed daycare facilities. The more that are licensed, the more money. With federal dollars come federal control.  The bill says that in licensed church daycare facilities “no employee of the department (DHR) may infringe upon the ability of the center to teach or practice a religion.”  However, these words would not control mandates from the federal government, such as those on the state Pre-K program that say, “no part of the day may be religious in nature.”  If religious day care programs are required to be licensed, it is safe to assume that such mandates would follow.

Please contact your Representatives and Senators today as well as Senator Ward  and Rep. Warren immediately to let them know that you strongly oppose this bill. His email address is cam@camward.com, and office number is 334-242-7873. Representative Pebblin Warren’s email address is tiger9127@bellsouth.net . Her office number is 334-242-7734

Talking Points for SB236/HB277

  • Background check requirements already in place
  • Child abuse and neglect already outlawed in AL
  • This bill is about regulation and money, it is not about child safety

Most Important Pro-Life Day of the year

Alabama House designates “Pro-life Day” for March 16, 2017
Next week on Thursday, March 16, 2017 there will a special opportunity for the pro-life community in Alabama. We need your help!
March 16 this year has been designated as “Pro-Life Day” by the Alabama House of Representatives. This is a special opportunity.  Important pro-life legislation will be on the calendar. We will not have a rally outside as in earlier years. We need to have a presence inside the statehouse. To do that we need as many people as possible to be there that day. People need to call on their House member and sit in the gallery or overflow rooms to watch the debate.  We need to show the House we respect their willingness to support pro-life legislation. This is one of the most important pro-life days for Alabamians this year. We need every Eagle Forum of Alabama member and pro-lifer to be present to ensure successful passage of important pro-life legislation this year.
For more information on pro-life day this year, please contact us at (205) 879-7096. We are happy to help answer any questions about this important event. Eagle Forum of Alabama would like to see the successful passage of these bills this year.  The first three bills with asterisks listed below are pro-life bills that have been promoted for years, but have not yet passed.  We need your help to make sure all these pro-life bills pass this year.  All that is needed is your presence. You standing up for the voiceless.
Join the social media campaign for life on the Pro-Life Day next week.  Use the hashtag #prolifeAL and the phrase “Defend All Life in All Stages” starting Thursday morning.
Assisted Suicide Ban Act*
HB96 Rep. Mack Butler/SB198 Sen. Phil Williams
Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act*
HB24 Rep. Rich Wingo/SB145 Sen. Bill Hightower
Health Care Rights of Conscience Act*
HB95 Rep. Arnold Mooney/SB185 Sen. Paul Sanford
Right to Life Constitutional Amendment
HB98 Rep. Matt Fridy

Problems with Governor Bentley’s Alabama Prison Transformation Act

Problems with the Governors $800MM plan:

·        It does not follow the Competitive Bid Law; authorizes No Bid Contracts.

O The competitive bid law is in place to protect taxpayers’ dollars and protect against coercion and collusion.  Competitively bidding all public works projects is the law in Alabama and it provides the best price with the job completed on time and brings transparency in the use of tax payers dollars. It’s the taxpayers’ method of comparative shoppingAny construction on prisons must be bid competitively  using sealed bids opened publicly.

·         The funding for this prison project is extremely concerning.

O The $800 Million Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative Act would ultimately cost at least $1.5 billion and would create a bond debt that Alabamians will be paying on for 30 years and in perpetuity if the Governor sees fit.  

O The prison bill calls for Gov. Robert Bentley [and future Governors] and two of his appointed cabinet members to have full authority—by statute—to not only borrow $800 million for his ambitious prison plans but to keep it from public review, thus giving the Governor carte blanche with no real oversight.  The use of a lease revenue bond will stop the public from voicing its opinion on borrowing the money while keeping the almost one billion dollars borrowed off the books and in the hands of a very small group.

·         It moves prisons out of the communities that have invested in them and rely on them for employment.

o The investments in infrastructure made by communities with prisons to sustain those prisons were leveraged based on the service provided to the prison system.  If they lose these prisons the debt service will still have to be paid by citizens through increased utility rates or local taxes.  These are the same citizens who will be losing their jobs. 

O The loss of direct and indirect jobs would create a negative economic impact on communities that is so significant that it would take many years to recover.

·         The enormous cost that will not solve the prison-overcrowding problem or health care problems.

O Sentencing reform passed in 2013 has already started reducing the inmate population from 27,000 before the reforms to 23,000 today. The Bentley plan would only accommodate a total of 16,000 inmates, and in five years the system will still be at 125% capacity. Why not just build one additional prison to specifically address the overcrowding needs?

O There are 4 prisons that were built after the 1990’s: Bullock, Ventress, Easterling, Bibb.  Bibb was built in 1998.  It is difficult to argue that these structures are in need of replacement.

O Why have we not already purchased the private Perry County facility which would hold 800 inmates and for which bond money was legislated in 2010 under Gov. Riley.  Almost 7 years later, nothing has been done to buy it and lower occupancy elsewhere.  This Perry County facility would hold 800 inmates.

O The Governor says the debt will be paid through savings by reducing the hours and numbers of correctional officers. However, the prisons are already severely short on correctional officers.    

O The immediate need is for increased expenditures on medical care and mental health care, not overcrowding.  This bill does not address these medical needs, yet this is the issue about which the courts have expressed concern.

 

Recommendations:

·         Place inmates in City and County jails to relieve immediate overcrowding.

·         Buy the Perry County Facility.

·         Make the necessary renovations to existing facilities and bid the work out.  Once the renovations are competitively bid, the price will probably be less than current projections.

·         If necessary, build one new facility following the competitive bid law.  It is the law.

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle Forum Of Alabama Strongly Supports Bill To Ban Assisted Suicide In Alabama

Contact your State Senator and State Representative now.  Tell them you support the Assisted Suicide Ban Act HB96 (Rep. Mack Butler) and its companion bill SB198 (Sen. Phil Williams).  House Information: (334) 242-7600  –  Senate Information: (334) 242-7800, to voice your concerns with your legislators NOW!

Ask them to pass this legislation to insure that Alabama protects life until natural death.  Alabama must not join the five states plus the District of Columbia who have already legalized assisted suicide and the other 21 states that are currently considering legislation to legalize “assisted suicide” which redefines the concept of medical good as never before.  Our state has long supported its commitment to protect and preserve all human life at every stage. As this legislation states, the state has an interest in protecting vulnerable groups, such as the impoverished, the elderly, and disabled persons from abuse, neglect, and mistakes.  The state also has an interest in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession.

Assisted suicide laws clearly violate fundamental medical ethics. Without protections from assisted suicide in Alabama, the elderly, individuals with special needs, and the mentally ill will become targeted for assisted suicide as they have in other states.  Alabama is one of the few states that currently has no statute directly addressing assisted suicide.  The U. S. Supreme Court has upheld state bans on assisted suicide, and it is time for the Alabama Legislature to take action by passing the Assisted Suicide Ban Act.

In states that have legalized physician assisted suicide (PAS) there are few protections for those with mental health problems.  Even in Oregon and California, where the law calls for counseling where the physician thinks the patient may have psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression, less than 4% of those who received a prescription were referred to counseling.  Inadequate pain control was identified as a concern in only 1/4 to1/3 of the cases.  If the reason for the decision is not physical, it is safe to assume that more patients should have received professional counseling other than from their physician.  With such laws, there is nobody to hold the physician accountable.  The laws allow too much latitude for physicians to rely on their own opinions in their practices.  PHYSICIANS NEED TO HELP SUCH DISTURBED PATIENTS, NOT KILL THEM.

In a recent U. S. Senate hearing, Dr. G. Kevin Donovan, professor of pediatrics and director of clinical bioethics at Georgetown University, stated: “In medicine we know that what is permissible becomes habitual, and what is habitual becomes standard care, and what is [the] standard of care becomes obligatory.”  We must protect life at all stages and remember the oath doctors take to “first do no harm.”

Conservatives Rally Against Data Collection Bills from the Alabama Political Reporter

By Brandon Moseley

The legislature has returned for another session and some GOP legislators are once again pushing a longitudinal data collection scheme. Once again the primary opponents of this grand scheme are fellow Republicans. On Thursday, February 23 Alabama Eagle Forum led a conservative rally in opposition to the longitudinal data bills, House Bill 97 and Senate Bill 153.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) read a statement from his wife, state school board member Jackie Zeigler (R) vowing to oppose the data collection.

A statement was read from Representative Barry Moore (R from Enterprise). Moore said that only communist countries think they can direct children into career paths from early childhood. Moore questioned education rankings where countries that have invented nothing and innovated nothing are ranked higher than the U.S.

Rep. Arnold Mooney (R from Indian Springs) said that liberty loving people must be most on guard when the government acts with good intentions.

Rep. Ed Henry (R from Hartselle) said, “Does government need all of this information to better serve the public?”

Henry said that when he was campaigning, “Nobody ever said I wished the government would collect more data on me.” Henry said, “There really are not evil people down here we are just differing on which side we need to be on this.” Henry warned that we will end up losing our nation as we know it.” This would put us on a dangerous path and I don’t have any desire to be part of it.”

Senator Rusty Glover (R from Mobile) said, “We didn’t come to Montgomery to grow the size of government and this is growing the size of government. Sen. Glover said, “I have received dozens and dozens of phone calls from constituents asking,” for this to be stopped. I have not had the first parent or student asking that this be done.”

Glover has recently announced his 2018 candidacy for Lieutenant Governor. Current Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey is term limited from running again.

State School Board member Stephanie Bell (R) warned of a potential for government tyranny with this. At this point the best place for HB97 and SB153 is the trash can. Bell said that the federal government has demonstrated in the last year how vulnerable their data bases are to hacking. They can not secure the data. “This is about growing bureaucracy.” This will become one of the biggest budget items in state government in future.

Joe Godfrey ALCAP quoted GK Chesterton: “It is only in believing in God that we can ever criticize government, because without God they will worship government as God.” Godfrey warned of the dangers of giving the state of Alabama that much power. We need to encourage our legislators to stand strong in opposition to this.

Rep. Allen Farley (R from McCalla) said, “I am a Christian conservative member of the Republican Party in that order.” Farley said, “The poor schools are in the poor communities.  Most of the prison population comes from the poor communities.” “As a Republican we believe in smaller government but a big and great God. Farley warned about the danger of data collection.

State School Board member Betty Peters (R) said, “I have no faith that no harm will be done.” “We have new things coming at our children every day that invade our children’s privacy.” “We must assure that no harm is done,” to the children of the state. This database is being run by a board with very few elected people on it. At the state Board of Education we asked questions. Then Governor ordered the board set up through an executive order with all of these appointed people, many of them appointed by him. I do not like appointed boards where everybody is appointed. I am elected if you don’t like what I am doing you can vote me out. Appointed people only answer to the person who appointed them.

Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director Deborah Love, who emceed the event, thanked all the legislators who attended and said, “We can count on their vote as a no vote and a yes vote for liberty.”

Rep. Mike Holmes (R from Wetumpka) said that the HIPAA data was also supposed to be secure. The dirty little secret is those HIPAA laws are not being enforced. There are 1300 complaints against the people running the database and the same people who maintain that data base are the people who is running this data base. Data mining of the database has become big business. if they can do that with the medical database they can do that with this.

Conservatives Rally Against Data Collection Bills

Alabama Workforce-Data Bills Threaten Student, Family Privacy

What with manipulation of currency and theft of jobs, China is held in fairly low repute, especially down South. But some Alabama legislators seem enamored of at least one part of the Chinese system – the one that compiles enormous amounts of data on citizens, beginning when they’re toddlers and continuing through their careers, and swaps this data back and forth among various government agencies for government purposes. One might expect this kind of dangerous nonsense from, say, California, but . . . Alabama?

Parents and citizens are alarmed at two companion bills (SB 153 and HB  97) currently moving through the legislature to create a massive centralized warehouse of education and workforce data. This system would be called ANSWERS, or the Alabama Network of Statewide Workforce and Education-Related Statistics, which would be administered by a new Department of Labor bureaucracy called the Office of Education and Workforce Statistics (the “Office”).

The reach of ANSWERS would be sweeping. Operated by the Office, the system would combine education data (beginning in pre-K) and workforce data to provide information on the effectiveness of educational and workforce-training programs, and to assess “the availability of a skilled workforce to address current and future demands of business and industry.” (The bills don’t explain how the government can predict the “future demands of business and industry”; the Soviet Union tried it, but without much success.) The data could then be analyzed for whatever purposes the bureaucrats come up with, and used for “research” which, if history is any guide, will be ignored if it doesn’t support what the bureaucrats want to do.

How would this work? An Advisory Board would be established to identify the types of data that certain listed governmental entities would have to dump into the centralized warehouse. The statutory (and non-exclusive) list of such data sources includes all education agencies in the state, from pre-school through four-year universities – plus the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Veterans’ Affairs. So these billions of data points on practically all Alabama citizens would be centralized into one repository to be sifted and shifted by central planners.

But surely the Advisory Board will be constructed so as to protect the interests of children and their parents. Not exactly. Of the 24 members, 22 must be either politicians, bureaucrats, or representatives of specific entities such as higher-education systems. One must represent private industry and know something about data-security (the bills’ only nod to security concerns), and the last shall be a lonely “representative of the public” (not necessarily a parent). The fix, ladies and gentlemen, is in.

The privacy concerns with ANSWERS are staggering. For one thing, although certain proponents have suggested the data would all be de-identified, the bills clearly contemplate the presence of personally identifiable data (by requiring “security clearance . . . for individuals with access to personally identifiable data”). Indeed, the bills specify that the Office would be considered an “authorized representative” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the only point of such a designation is to be entitled to receive students’ personally identifiable without parental consent or even notification.

Even if all data were to be de-identified, data can be frequently re-identified – especially when there are hundreds of data points on each individual to enable data-matching. And the bills even specify that the Office is to “link educational, workforce, and workforce training data from multiple sources through quality matching.” In such a vast repository, anonymization will be difficult if not impossible.

No more comforting is the bills’ requirement that the system comply with FERPA and other unspecified privacy laws. Five years ago the Obama administration gutted FERPA by regulation, thus enabling almost unlimited disclosure of personally identifiable student data as long as certain terms are used to justify the disclosure. Do the bills’ sponsors not know this? If not, what are they doing writing legislation that relies on FERPA “protections”?

The bills require no particular system of data-security, leaving that up to the Office. But the Office will have an unenviable task, given that this wealth of extremely sensitive information (including student education data, Social Security numbers from the Labor Department, family income information from student-loan programs, and on and on) will be conveniently assembled into one neat package and therefore made enormously attractive to hackers. One might as well assemble all the crown jewels of Europe into one room and hope jewel thieves don’t notice.

If enacted, ANSWERS would be among the most intrusive longitudinal data systems in the country – only 16 states and D.C. have such an Orwellian system. But most Alabama parents understand that the government has no right to collect highly personal data on their children, or on adults for that matter, and give it to other agencies to track their journey through the workforce and through life. It is none of the government’s business. One would have expected Alabama officials to understand this as well.

An equally fundamental, and troubling, aspect of this contemplated data repository is its adoption of the statist “socialization,” workforce-development philosophy of education. Traditional education in America has been designed to develop each individual to the full extent of his talents, to expose him to the best of human thought; statist education is designed to train him to be a cog in the economic machine. Only if the State adopts the latter philosophy does it need a data repository to track citizens and see how the training is working out.

Fortunately, Alabama State Superintendent Michael Sentance has a strong history in a true educational system rather than a workforce-training system. His experience as Secretary of Education in Massachusetts back when that state educated children better than any other state in the nation should prepare him to recognize the dangers of the ANSWERS network.

In public statements so far, Sentance has focused on the critical problems with data security. The parents of Alabama students are counting on him to go further – to reel in the dangerous inclination of the all-powerful State to collect data on free-born citizens and use it to analyze them as though rats in a laboratory. If Sentance comes out against ANSWERS, that ill-advised scheme will probably go down. Alabama is not China. Supt. Sentance can ensure that it doesn’t become so.

Eunie Smith is President of Eagle Forum of Alabama