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Last updateThu, 24 Apr 2014 2pm

Bentley Says Alabama Economic Development Projects Increased in 2011

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

Thursday Governor Robert Bentley issued a written statement announcing that new and expanding industry announcement totals rose to the highest capital investment levels in the past four years.

Governor Bentley said.  “Alabama’s economic development programs are working hand-in-hand with local development partners to create new jobs and new opportunities for people in this state.”

The Alabama Department of Commerce (formerly called the Alabama Development Office), announced that during 2011, the number of new jobs increased by 9.3% and capital investment by 87.7% compared to 2010.

In 2011 new and expanding industries announced they were hiring 17,248 people and investing $4,083,056,603 in the state.  In 2010, companies announced 15,779 new hires and investments of $2,175,179,750.  70 new companies announced that they were planning to locate in Alabama, creating 4,879 new jobs investing capital of $1,555,869,746.  313 companies already located in Alabama announced expansion plans creating 12,369 new jobs, and $2,527,186,857 in new capital investment in 2011.

“These new figures confirm Alabama is headed in the right direction as we continue to recover from the economic downturn,” Governor Bentley said.  “At the same time, we must work hard to continue the momentum.  Economic development is extremely competitive, and we are making every effort to keep Alabama at the top of the list for companies seeking to locate or expand here.  That’s why passage of the Alabama Job Creation and Retention Act of 2012 is so essential to economic development in the long term.  We must make sure we have the tools we need to continue to secure new investment and high-quality jobs for our communities.”

Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said, “The cooperative relationships we have established and continue to establish on a daily basis are the impetus for this growth.  We not only want our companies to locate here, we want them to grow, and we stand ready to help them make this happen.”

The largest economic development projects announced were: Navistar International Corporation, which announced 1,800 jobs and $87 million in capital investment to build heavy duty trucks in Colbert County; Mercedes Benz U.S. International Inc., with a 1,000-employee expansion and a capital investment of more than $289 million for vehicle production in Tuscaloosa County; and Carpenter Technology Corporation, which announced 203 jobs and $500 million in capital investment for a stainless steel manufacturing plant in Limestone County.

The top ranking county in 2011 rated by capital investment was Limestone, with investments of $539,200,000.  They were followed by Morgan County with $415,901,000; Mobile County with $345,310,000; Tallapoosa County with new capital investment of $333,594,012; Tuscaloosa County with $324,050,000; Talladega County with $301,640,000; Montgomery County with $237,778,803; Winston County with $200,000,000; Jefferson County $193,307,687; and Cullman County with $159,457,619.

Colbert County had the most new jobs with 2,172 announced jobs.  There were followed by Colbert County with 2,172 jobs; Madison with 1,956; Tuscaloosa with 1,457; Jefferson with 749; Mobile with 747; Cullman with 743; Montgomery with 697; Limestone with 655; Lee with 533; and Pike with 530.

Governor Robert Bentley was elected in 2010 promising that as Governor he would focus on creating new jobs and improving Alabama’s employment situation.

 

Sewell Votes In Opposition of House Republican Fiscal Year 2013 Budget

 

By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Political Reporter 

Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D) from Alabama released a written statement following her vote against the House Republican Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution.

Representative Sewell said, “Today, I voted against the Republican Fiscal Year 2013 Budget resolution, a budget proposal that would result in harsh cuts to vital programs, investments and services. This Republican budget proposes drastic cuts to discretionary programs by approximately $120 billion and mandatory programs by $284 billion. This budget would leave America’s middle-class families, seniors, children, and our most vulnerable without a life-line to continue to recover from this economic recession.”

Rep. Sewell said, “The proposed cuts in this budget dangerously reduce funding for infrastructure projects, critical Medicare and Medicaid services and education funding. Furthermore, it does nothing to help incentivize the creation of jobs and put Americans back to work.”

Rep. Sewell continued, “At a time when we should be investing in our nation’s infrastructure projects such as building roads, bridges and schools, this proposal seeks to cut $31.5 billion in transportation spending, eliminating funding for high-speed rail projects and any new intercity rail initiatives.”

“Lastly, this budget continues to provide tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires without giving tax relief to struggling middle class Americans. We all must share the responsibility for reducing our nation’s deficit.  It is unfortunate that instead of putting forth a budget that would create jobs, balance our budget and spur economic growth throughout our country, we once again, see divisive politics and no common ground.  As we move forward, it is my hope that we pass a 2013 federal budget that works for all Americans,” Representative Sewell finished.

Rep. Sewell said earlier, “I agree with the President that the recovery of our American economy must be built upon two fundamental principles – protecting the middle class and promoting shared sacrifice and collective responsibility.” “America is and has always been most successful when we invest in our people—middle-class families and small business owners—who can grow our economy from the bottom up. We can no longer afford to provide tax breaks to wealthy Americans by depriving seniors and the middle class of the support they need and deserve. Everyone must do their part.”

Congresswoman Terri Sewell represents Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.

Read Sewell’s statement:

http://sewell.house.gov/press-release/statement-congresswoman-terri-sewell-opposition-house-republican

 

Rep. Drake and Sen. Beason Support HB 306

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

Alabama State Representative Dickie Drake (R) from Leeds says that he is still pushing for his bill to ban counties in Alabama from making non-sewer users pay a fee for the sewers they do not use.  In an ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ exclusive phone interview Rep. Dickie Drake said that he still intends to introduce his bill on the floor of the State House in the coming weeks.  Rep. Drake said that he asked to carry over the bill temporarily on March 14th when Democrats threatened to filibuster the bill.

The Alabama Political Reporter talked to Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale about HB 306 and he says that he supports the bill to ban non-sewer user fees.  Senator Beason said that he wanted the Senate to pass the bill last year when it passed the House but it died in the Senate because the legislative session expired before the Senate could take up the bill. 

The bill banning non-sewer user impact fees statewide was introduced and championed by Rep. Dickie Drake’s brother, Rep. Owen Drake (R) also from Leeds.  Owen died from cancer over the summer and Dickie ran for the vacated seat in the subsequent special election and has since reintroduced his brother’s legislation.

HB 306 would “prohibit any county from levying or collecting a fee or charge for sewer service on any person, entity, or property not directly connected to any sewer system owned or operated by the county.”

Non-sewer user fees have been proposed by attorneys representing the powerful Wall-Street banks that hold the debt that Jefferson County defaulted on when the county stopped paying its debts rather than make deep cuts to its payroll and operations. 

Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman supports a non-user fee.  He recently told reporters: "Just from a fairness standpoint, everybody in the county that drinks the water and has benefited from the EPA mandate that we improve the system should share in the cost," Bowman said. "The challenge is to come up with a term that is palatable for people who are not on the sewer. Some people have said a 'clean water fee,' some folks have said a 'nonuser fee.”

The Jefferson County Commission has ordered lawyers to draw up a rate study to determine how much money that a non-sewer user should pay in the proposed scheme to charge non-sewer users to maintain the sewer system they do not use.  Rep. Drake said that he has constituents in his district (and cited the Southern Trace and Rowan Springs neighborhoods as examples) who already pay a sewer bill for their neighborhood association owned corporately managed sewer system who would now also be billed the non-sewer user impact fee if the Jefferson County Commission proceeds with their controversial nonuser fee proposal.

55% of Jefferson County residents are on the Jefferson County sewer system, but 45% are not.  In a written statement, Rep. Drake said, “45% of Jefferson County residents who use a septic tank would be forced to pay into the county’s sewer system.  Though proponents of the fee argue that “everyone benefits from the county’s sewer system,” the bottom line is that this is simply an additional tax.  In these tough economic times, it simply doesn’t make sense for anyone to pay for a service that they do not use, and it is not right or fair to require them to do so.” 

Sen. Beason said that Jefferson County should cut their budget to match their current revenues.  Sen. Beason said he supports un-earmarking tax revenues for Cooper Green Hospital and the Jefferson County Health Department to help Jefferson County emerge from bankruptcy but he was opposed to charging the sewer impact fee and he was opposed to the permanent reintroduction of Jefferson County’s unpopular outlawed Occupation Tax. 

Sen. Beason says that Jefferson County spends more money per county resident than any other health department in the state by far.  Currently the Jefferson County Health Department is getting roughly $20 million and Cooper Green gets an estimated $40 million in taxpayer subsidies from the County.  Unfortunately Cooper Green can’t balance its budget even with that and has asked the County to give them another $8 to $11 million this year including $3.5 million to pay past due bills.

Rep Drakes said in his written statement, “The County Commission has taken steps demonstrating a commitment to seeing this tax imposed, including hiring attorneys to direct studies on appropriate fee rates.  One County Commissioner was even quoted earlier this year saying that names for the tax are being tested so they can find a “term that is palatable”.  Whether such a tax has a palatable name or not, it is still not fair to residents of the County.”

HB 306 is being cosponsored in the House by Representatives McClendon, Nordgren, Mask, Shiver, Merrill, Treadaway, DeMarco, Williams (J), Farley, Gaston, McClurkin, Carns, and Weaver.

 

Shelby Says Biomedical Research is a Necessary and Worthy Investment

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

Wednesday, Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama said, “NIH funding should be a priority and that its benefits extend well beyond its research discoveries.”  Sen. Shelby remarks were made at a Subcommittee hearing on the National Institutes of Health Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Proposal.  Sen. Shelby is the ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

Senator Shelby said, “For the millions of Americans suffering from a serious illness, biomedical research is the beginning of hope.  NIH-funded research investigates ways to prevent disease, understand its causes, and develop more effective treatments.”

Sen. Shelby said, “The proposed budget for NIH is $30.86 billion, which is claimed to be level funding from Fiscal Year 2012.  However, this amount does not take into account the additional funding the Department of Health and Human Services requested for Department-wide evaluation activities.  If this so-called “evaluation tap” is agreed to, it will reduce the NIH budget by $215 million, bringing the budget request below the Fiscal Year 2012 level.  Further, the Administration’s request does not keep pace with biomedical research inflation.  As a result, in inflationary adjusted dollars, the NIH is 17 percent below where they were 10 years ago.” 

Sen. Shelby said, “In 2011, NIH research funding supported of 432,092 jobs nationwide.  Research carried out by the NIH and its network of 325,000 researchers at 3,000 institutions across the country serves the nation with the goal of improving human health.”

Sen. Shelby continued, “As Congress faces unprecedented challenges to reduce government spending, we must all face the consequences of tough choices.  Certainly these are difficult times, but I believe biomedical research is a necessary and worthy investment in the health of our people and the vitality of our communities.  Funding for the NIH lays the foundation for drug and device discoveries over the next decade.  Biomedical research is the answer to lowering our nation’s health care costs.  This is not the time to abandon our commitment to the health of all Americans and the NIH.”  “Without sustained support for the NIH, the translation of discoveries from “bench to bedside” will be dramatically slowed and the US will surrender its role as the world leader in scientific research.”

Senator Shelby also expressed concerns about changes that the NIH had made in how grants were awarded particularly the reduction in average grant size and a hard cap of $1.5 million in grant money to a particular researcher.  Sen. Shelby objected to the grant cap on the grounds that grant awards should be based entirely on merit.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The NIH is the world’s largest source of medical research funds.  NIH funded medical research make important discoveries that improve health and save lives.  Since 1900 Americans’ average life expectancy has climbed from 47 to 78.  Americans today live longer and healthier lives thanks in large part to NIH-funded medical research.

To read Senator Shelby’s statement:

http://shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/newsreleases?ID=67031213-86c6-46c6-a65f-a264c89ae35a

 

Sessions Says Obama Will Scale Back Missile Defense if Reelected

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a statement following President Obama’s controversial comments to Russian President Medvedev that were accidentally captured by an open microphone at a public appearance of the two world leaders.

 Senator Sessions said, "President Obama's 'hot mic' comment to Russian President Medvedev reveals that he is sending one message to Russia about our nation’s defenses and a contradictory message to Congress and the American people. I have stated my concern for a long time that President Obama is insufficiently committed to missile defense, a concern heightened and validated by this unsettling incident.”

Sen. Sessions said, “President Obama has repeatedly insisted he favors missile defense but the ideological left from which he arose has intellectually opposed missile defense for decades, as they did during the Reagan years, believing that it hampers the formation of a close international community. President Obama already scratched the Polish site to great consternation.”

“The meaning of the ‘hot mic’ moment is unmistakable: President Obama wished to send a secret and direct message through President Medvedev to Prime Minister Putin that, if he is re-elected and has ‘space’, he will acquiesce to Putin’s demands that the United States scale back its planned missile defense system,” concluded Sen. Sessions.

The controversy began when President Barack H. Obama was meeting with outgoing Russian President Medvedev in South Korea.  “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” President Obama could be heard saying to President Medvedev. “Yeah, I understand,” Pres. Medvedev replied. “I understand your message about space. Space for you ... .” Pres. Obama then said, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”  Pres. Medvedev replied “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” referring to Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, who just won an election to succeed Mr. Medvedev, who previously was the Prime Minister while Putin was the President.  Russia’s Constitution required that the autocratic Putin not serve as President for more than two terms back to back.

Governor Mitt Romney, the likely Republican challenger to Pres. Obama, told a crowd in San Diego that the President’s remarks were “an alarming and troubling development.” Sen. Rick Santorum said, “Ronald Reagan didn’t whisper to Gorbachev, ‘Give me some flexibility,’” Santorum said. “He walked out of Iceland and said, ‘You either do this, or we have no deal.’” Obama had asked Medvedev to “give me a little space, buddy ... then I’ll throw some other of our allies under the bus.” Speaker Newt Gingrich, told CNN, “I’m curious: how many other countries has the president promised that he’d have a lot more flexibility the morning he doesn’t have to answer to the American people?”

Congressman Mo Brooks has introduced H.R. 4125, The U.S. Missile Defense Information Act of 2012, to prevent President Obama from giving American missile secrets to the Russians.  Rep. Brooks recently said, “Multiple news sources have reported that the Obama Administration may share our missile defense secrets with the Russians. We are concerned these reports may be accurate, particularly because President Obama has publicly stated his willingness to violate the amendment I sponsored, and Congress passed, that prohibits the President from sharing America’s ‘hit-to-kill’ and other sensitive and expensive missile defense technology with Russia. I introduced this bill to protect American lives and protect decades of costly research and innovation. Congress acted to ensure this sensitive ‘hit-to-kill’ technology cannot be used against our own troops in the field, or Americans here at home.”

 

 

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