Fri10242014

Last updateThu, 23 Oct 2014 6am

Bentley Announces 34 Additional ATRIP Projects

By  Brandon Moseley

Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Monday announced 34 additional, supplemental road and bridge projects that can move forward as part of Round 1 of funding for the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).

Gov. Bentley said, “With these additional projects, we are moving closer to our goal of improving the safety of roads and bridges throughout Alabama.  Many of our bridges are in desperate need of repair or replacement.  Many of our roads are outdated and cannot handle current demand.  Through ATRIP, we are able to make needed improvements to enhance public safety and quality of life in our communities.”

Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey said, “I am proud to work with Governor Bentley as we improve our roads.   As a member of the ATRIP Advisory Committee and as chair of the Jobs Creation and Military Stability Commission, I believe this announcement will enhance our ability to strengthen job growth in this great state.”

Alabama State Representative Mac McCutcheon, who also serves on the ATRIP Advisory Committee said, “ALDOT, under the leadership of Governor Bentley, has taken on an aggressive transportation plan to build and improve Alabama’s infrastructure over the next three years.  The State of Alabama understands the need to promote transportation projects in order to improve public safety and infrastructure, which is necessary for economic growth and the creation of business and jobs.”

Alabama State Senator Paul Bussman, also a member of the ATRIP Advisory Committee said,  “The Governor and the Legislature are focused on job recruitment, retention, and renewal.  One of the key components of that is quality infrastructure.  Improving our roads and bridges will help get products to markets and to industries.  Having a quality infrastructure in the state is instrumental in job creation.”

Gov. Bentley said, “As ATRIP projects move forward, they will also serve as valuable economic development tools for the state. When a company decides where to build a new facility and create jobs, that company looks for areas with modern, safe roads and bridges.  So as we improve roads and bridges, we are improving public safety while also making Alabama more attractive to companies that want to move here and create jobs.”

The first phase of Round 1 funding was announced in May.  The additional projects announced by Governor Bentley Monday include 30 bridge rehabilitation or replacement projects.  Additional road widening, resurfacing, and intersection improvement projects are also included.

The 34 projects include: $248,000 to replace the bridge on Possum Trot Road in Calhoun County, $669,000 to replace the Sandy Creek Bridge on County Road 11 in Chambers County, $522,000 to replace the Tuckabum Creek Bridge on County Road 119 in Choctaw County, $138,000 to replace the Cane Creek Bridge on County Road 22 in Conecuh County, $223,000 to replace the Murder Creek Bridge on County Road 30 in Conecuh County, $276,000 to replace the Bay Branch Bridge on Bay Branch Road in Covington County,  $254,000 to replace the Corner Creek Bridge on County Road 89 in Covington County, $1040,000 to replace the Little Wills Creek Bridge on Wesson Gap Road in Etowah County, $298,000 to replace the Bristow Creek Bridge on Mayo Road in Etowah County $865,000 to replace the Rock Creek Bridge on Denton Road in Houston County, $815,000 to replace the Bryant Creek Bridge on County Road 151 in Jackson County, $1,429,000 to replace the Mud Creek Bridge on County Road 213 in Jackson County, $582,000 to replace the Dry Creek Bridge on County Road 44 in Jackson County, $4,833,000 went to Lee County to widen Moores Mill Road from East University Drive to Grove Hill Road including the bridge over I-85, $1,476,000 to replace the Chewacla Creek Bridge on Country Road 22 in Macon County,$6,731,000 to renovate the Flint River Bridge and add additional lanes to Winchester Road in Madison County, $8,400,000 to add additional lanes on Morton Road from Zierdt Road to Rideout Road in Madison County, $5,694,000 to add more lanes to County Line Road from Madison Blvd to US-72 in Madison County, $454,000 to replace Mill Creek Bridge on Wall Triana Highway in Madison County, $657,000 to replace Slab Creek Bridge on Welcome Home Church Road in Marshall County, $3,993,000 to improve I-65 frontage Road and SR 158 in Mobile County, $9,970,000 to widen and resurface Shillinger Road in Mobile County, $720,000 to replace the Flint Creek Bridge on Willhite Road in Morgan County, $600,000 to rehabilitate the Gordon Drive overpass in Morgan County, $400,000 to replace the Holland Creek Bridge on 12th Ave. in Russell County, $320,000 to replace the bridge on Moccasin Branch Road in Tuscaloosa County, $320,000 to renovate Thornton Creek Bridge on Dobbs Road in Tuscaloosa County, and $1,000,000 to replace the Big Sandy Creek Bridge on South Sandy Road.   Crenshaw County is having six bridges replaced and was awarded $2,490,000 in ATRIP money.  All the local governments involved have to come up with a 20% match to the ATRIP awards.     

Some 61 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received funding for various transportation initiatives in the First Round of ATRIP funding and, 139 projects have been approved. 

 

Bachus Supports Bill Giving Small Business Relief from Federal Red Tape

By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Political Reporter

Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia issued a written statement after he voted Thursday in favor of the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.  The bill addresses federal regulatory overreach that Bachus says is discouraging the hiring of new workers.  According to Rep. Bachus’s statement, “The bill would place a hold on costly new regulations while the economy remains weak, prevent the rushed issuance of “midnight regulations,” require a study of the costs as well as the benefits of proposed rules, and enhance regulatory accountability.”

Rep. Bachus said, “Small business owners in Alabama tell me they are overwhelmed by the blizzard of regulations coming from Washington. Costly new rules seem to be coming from nearly every agency almost every single day. Every dollar spent on unnecessary regulatory expenses is one less dollar that can be invested in growing a business or hiring new workers. Far from the federal government being responsible for building small businesses, as has been claimed recently, regulatory overreach by this Administration in particular has held the economy back,” said Congressman Bachus.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce agrees with Rep. Bachus.  On Facebook the Chamber wrote, “Excessive amounts of red tape handcuffs entrepreneurs and businesses. No wonder 80% of small businesses surveyed for our Q1 Small Business Outlook Survey said that taxation, regulation, and legislation from Washington make it harder for their business to hire more employees.”

Congressman Bachus is Chairman of the Financial Services Committee.  Chairman Bachus has been directing a committee review of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law this month.  Chairman Bachus said, “Our committee has sought out job creators, small businesses, and community bankers in Alabama and throughout the country to listen to their real-world experiences. What we have heard clearly and consistently is that the regulatory overkill of stacking more than 400 new rules on top of all the existing rules has made it much more difficult for small businesses to get financing, grow, and hire workers,” Bachus stated.  Last week Senator Shelby (R) from Alabama blamed Dodd-Frank for the historically weak economic recovery that has seen very little real job creation.

The Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday by a margin of 245 to 172.  The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been reluctant to act on much of anything, preferring to not schedule votes rather than debate controversial legislation, including the federal budget.

Congressman Spencer Bachus represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.  He is seeking an 11th term in the House of Representatives.  His opponent in the November 6th General Election is retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Penny Huggins Bailey (D) from Leeds.

 

API Speaks to Red Mountain Republicans

By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Political Reporter

The Red Mountain Republicans met at Salvatore’s in Mountain Brook on Monday night.  The Speaker at the event was  Gary Palmer, President of the Alabama Policy Institute (API).  According to Palmer, API is Alabama’s version of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Palmer said that API is not opposed to any borrowing from the trust fund; but that they are for paying the money back to the trust fund if it is borrowed and any borrowing should be conditioned upon the state dealing with fundamental reform on how the state operates its current budget.  Palmer says that the Constitutional Amendment being proposed on September 18th does not meet either of those criteria so conservatives should vote against passage of the amendment. The proposed constitutional amendment would raid $437 million from the Alabama’s Trust Fund for three years so that the state can pay for Alabama General Fund spending for the next three years.

Palmer said that there are other things the state can do to reform its spending other than raiding the trust fund.  Palmer said that he was appointed to a commission for reforming Alabama state government by Governor Robert Bentley.  Palmer says that they identified 500 properties which the state owns which they are not using and another 2,400 pieces of property which the state owns that could potentially be downsized by a legislature which was more committed to downsizing state government.  He said the state even owned two (now closed) bait shops.  None of the Commission’s recommendations were implemented.  Instead of rightsizing and reforming state government the state legislature passed a budget based on raiding the state’s trust fund.

Another example that Pres. Palmer cited of state government wasting tax dollars is that state agencies pay a per diem rate for employees who are traveling on state business.  Most private sector employees only get reimbursed on their actual expenses and never rack up any per diem money.   Palmer also pointed out examples of technologically obsolete offices that still fill out time sheets and then use state troopers to drive the time sheets to Montgomery.  Technology like time clocks could save taxpayers millions of dollars Palmer said.

Palmer pointed out that Alabama Medicaid squanders tens of millions annually because the program doesn’t have an assisted living option for seniors who have become wards of the state in their retirement years.  Only Alabama and Kentucky do not have an assisted living option.  Instead Alabama pays for more costly nursing home care.  Over 60% of seniors in Alabama nursing homes have become so impoverished that their families have turned over responsibility for their care to the state of Alabama.  Palmer suggested that an assisted living option would be just one way that the state could find saving in the Alabama Medicaid budget.  The state of Alabama’s share of the Medicaid budget is expected to cost state taxpayers $604 million next year.  An assisted living option instead of warehousing poor Alabama seniors in nursing homes for the sunset years could save Alabama Medicaid $40-50 million a year according to Palmer and API.

Palmer was also critical of the Alabama state employees’ pension fund.  Palmer pointed out that RSA head Dr. Bronner has invested over 30% of RSA’s money into nonpublic assets like golf courses, newspapers, and TV stations so it is difficult (if not impossible) to accurately value the real worth of the pension fund.  Where Dr. Bronner estimates that his assets will generate an 8% annual return per year, Palmer thinks that rate of return is too high given the poor returns the fund has produced in the last decade.  This means that state taxpayers are on the hook for several $billion more in unfunded liabilities to pay for state pensioners than the numbers that Dr. Bronner and Mark Reynolds gave the state legislature.  Palmer says that the state should offer early retirement packages to state employees that are within five years of retirement.  If just 1750 of the ~11,000 such employees take the buyout that could save taxpayers $95 million a year.  Palmer said that there are already more state retirees drawing state pensions than there are current state employees paying into the plan.  He believes that the state should switch from a defined benefit pension plan to a hybrid plan like 401ks. 

Palmer also lamented the failure of charter schools during the last legislative session. Palmer said, “The AEA flat out lied about it (charter schools) and the school superintendents were off base on it.”  “We were targeting failing schools.”  Palmer says schools like Woodlawn HS in the City of Birmingham have a graduate rate as low as 33%.  “That is who we want to focus on.”  “If we can just reduce the male drop out rate alone in Alabama by 5% it will save the state $125 million a year.”  Palmer said that whole sections of Birmingham are boarded up because of the crime and the horrible schools and that will only continue if Alabama does not improve the performance of its school systems.  API has studied the other 41 states that have charter schools and Palmer believes that Alabama can learn from those state’s successes and from their mistakes.

Palmer said, “It is inexcusable for a Republican supermajority to surrender on this issue (charter schools).  We are better than this.”  “I got farther with the Democrats than I got with the Republican supermajority.  What we are lacking on this is leadership.  People are afraid to stand and fight.”  Pres. Palmer said that both caucuses leadership needs to get together.  Speaking bluntly Palmer said, “Some guys in the upper chamber are not Republicans.  We need to tell a couple of them to go back to where they came from,” (referring to Republican State Senators who vote with AEA and not with the Republican Caucus).

API President Gary Palmer said that after the 2014 election, Republicans could end up with 25 State Senators and 72 state representatives but he warned, “I don’t think the party leadership and the Governor understand how angry the grassroots are.”  Palmer warned that that grassroots anger on conservative issues like state spending and charter schools could lead to primary battles in Republican districts.  “I am very scared that the AEA will bring their candidates into the primaries.”

Palmer said, “I think we ought to have a full public discussion on the (September 18th) CA.” “We need to talk about what this is and need to talk about all the other things that we can do.”  Palmer said that the language used on the ballot is “ridiculous” and is purposely designed to mislead voters about what will happen if they vote “No” on September 18th as he believes that they should do.

Palmer said that what the state needs most is leadership.  “People will rally too fighters” and cited Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as an example.

 

 

Bonner Says House Stands Behind America’s Job Creators

 

By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Political Reporter

Congressman Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile addressed the subject of the economy this week in a written statement.

Rep. Bonner said, “Last week the president took credit for his handling of the economy, noting in a California speech, "We tried our plan and it worked."  With all due respect, Mr. President, you are wrong.  More than a trillion dollars in questionable stimulus spending, on top of a steady rise of onerous government red tape on business, have failed to put Americans back to work.  These policies weigh down the economy through massive new federal debt and have rendered our businesses less profitable and less competitive.  This is hardly a plan that has "worked."”

Representative Bonner continued, “.  Since January of 2011, the House of Representatives has aggressively passed bill after bill to untie the hands of businesses and instill confidence in the economy.  What has become of the more than 30 pro-job bills we've passed in the House?  They were all blocked by Majority Leader Harry Reid's Senate for political reasons.  Apparently, in the Senate politics trumps jobs.”

Rep. Bonner said, “Back in January, President Obama's own Jobs Council issued a report that read much like the House blueprint for putting Americans back to work.  Its recommendations of expanded domestic oil drilling and new regulatory reforms to kick-start job creation have largely been ignored by the White House.  During a time when 23 million Americans are out of work or underemployed, the president has seemingly decided only one job is important – his.  For the last seven months he has failed to meet with his Jobs Council but has found time to make more than 100 political trips.”

Rep. Bonner said, “Last Thursday, the House passed the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.  If enacted into law, it would freeze any new major federal government regulation on business until the national unemployment rate falls below six percent.”  Bonner said that the Obama administration has written 42,000 pages of new regulations in just the last seven months.  The Mobile Congressman said that the House also passed a bill that would (if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President) open up new oil fields for offshore drilling thereby creating new job opportunities for Americans.

Congressman Josiah “Jo” Bonner represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.  Rep. Bonner has no Democratic opponent in the November 6th General Election.

 

Judge Roy Moore Supports Chick-Fil-A

By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Political Reporter

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) from Gallant and the Foundation For Moral Law announced his support for Chick-fil-A and the Cathy family’s stand for traditional marriage.

Judge Roy Moore said in a written statement that, "Marriage between one man and one woman is an institution ordained by God and is the foundation of the family, upon which the future of our nation rests.  Like the great majority of the country, Alabama has recognized in its law that marriage, to be valid, can only occur between one man and one woman."

Chief Justice Moore said, “At a time when moral values are under attack by a philosophy which contradicts everything upon which our Country began, it is encouraging to see Chick-fil-A boldly stand for truth and virtue in our society.”

The Foundation for Moral Law is a national non-profit legal organization headed by Chief Justice Roy Moore and is headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama.  Moore’s statement said that the Foundation for Moral Law, “Is dedicated to restoring the knowledge of God in law and government through litigation and education relating to moral issues and religious liberty cases.

Chick-Fil-A is a chain of fast food restaurants known for selling chicken sandwiches instead of the traditional hamburger.  The Chick-Fil-A chain has been targeted by homosexual activists because of their stance opposing homosexual marriage. 

The President of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy started a political firestorm nationally when he told the ‘Baptist Press’, “We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business (and) a family-led business."

The homosexual lobby is extremely powerful because they are careful to donate large sums of money to politicians who back their agenda, which some Christians claim is anti-family.  Chick-Fil-A has been denounced by politicians and the mainstream media alike, but here in Alabama the reaction has been largely supportive.  Pro-homosexual organizations are urging a boycott of the chicken sandwich chain.  Conservative groups are asking that their supporters buy lunch at Chick-fil-A on August 1st for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

Judge Roy Moore was elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2002.  Anti-Christian groups sued to make the Moore remove a Ten Commandments monument he placed in the Alabama Supreme Court Building.  When Moore refused a federal judge’s order to remove the monument, a group of Alabama jurists removed both Moore and the monument.  Moore ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2006 and 2010.

Moore won  the Republican nomination to return to the Alabama Supreme Court as Chief Justice.  His Democratic opponent on the November 6th ballot is Pelham attorney Harry Lyons (D).  Lyons is a perennial candidate who is best known for being shot twice and for his previous stance for executing illegal aliens.

 

 

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