- Created on 10 December 2013
By Bill and Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—With only seven months until the 2014 primaries, 'tis the season for big money flowing in and out of Political Action Committees.
The total amount of money being reported by PACs in November, 2013, show a combined total beginning balance of $51,458,796.75, with $1,265,925.23 in contributions. There were $1,376,404.77, in expenditures leaving an ending balance of $51,380,310.79.
Top 5 in total Contributions raised:
Alabama Voice of Teachers for Education $176,637.20
Alabama Trucking Association $155,941.00
Alabama Bankers Association $73,864.58
PROGRESS PAC $69,048.49
Alabama Medical PAC $118,718.23
PROGRESS PAC $69,048.49
The top 5 in Expenditures distributed:
Alabama Voice of Teachers for Education $177,499.93
Alabama Bankers Association $125,063.13
Alabama Trucking Association $87,000.00
Alabama Nursing Home Association Care PAC $$55,000.00
Alabama 2014 PAC $54,790.65
Top 5 Largest Warchests:
Alabama Voice of Teachers for Education $4,638,517.95
Progress PAC $2,030,445.19
Farm PAC $1,411,710.93
Alabama Realtors $994,066.04
Alabama 2014 PAC $970,783.83
PACS receiving Major Contributions:
Alabama 2014 PAC, $20,000, Alabama Deer Association
Alabama Bankers Association, $50,000, Alabama Bankers Association
Alabama Trucking Association, $150,000, Alabama Trucking Association Golf Classic
Alabama Bankers Association PAC, $50,000, Alabama Bankers Association, Inc.
The Alabama Education Association has by far the most money on hand with $4,638,517.95 in its war chest.
The next largest is controlled by the Business Council of Alabama which has $2,030,445.19 placing it over $2.6 million behind the teacher’s organizations.
As always, ALFA will be a big player in the coming elections as well as the realtors and former Gov. Bob Riley’s Alabama 2014 PAC.
However, the million dollar question is, will the associations honor the deal it struck with House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Del Marsh? According to several reliable sources, Hubbard made a deal with the associations that they would send one half to one third of their PAC holding to candidates of Hubbard’s choosing:
“When the phone call came from Mike, the associations were to start handing out cash,” said one source.
Given Hubbard’s tenuous hold on the Speaker’s Office because of Grand Jury proceeding in Lee County, it will be worth watching to see if these powerful associations want to be tried to a man who could any day face criminal indictments.
- Created on 10 December 2013
Five Points, Alabama — Retired St. Clair County Circuit Judge Jim Hill has announced that he will run as a Republican candidate for the House District 50 legislative seat being vacated by State Rep. Jim McClendon (R - Spriqgville), who is running for the State Senate. The district includes portions of St. Clair and Shelby counties.
Hill said he plans to focus his campaign on improving the economy and job market within the district and across Alabama, and he will work to bring a higher standard of ethics and account ability to Montgomery. Improving public education for parents and children ranks high on his priority list, as well.
"The economic climate that Obama and the liberal Democrats have created has hurt our nation and crippled businesses, but the conservative leadership shown by Republicans like Gov. Bentley has helped Alabama weather the storm better than most states. I believe, however, that we can do even more." Hill said. "As a legislator, I plan to work with my Republican colleagues and put Alabama firmly on the road to recovery so that jobs are once again plentiful and families won't struggle to make ends meet."
Hill was elected St. Clair County Circuit Judge in 2004 and served in that capacity on the Governor's Task Force on Prison Overcrowding. He was also instrumental in creating a Day Program for juvenile offenders while in office, an early warning system with schools, the St. Clair Drug Court, and the St. Clair Domestic Violence Program.
In addition, Hill served for ten years as the St. Clair County District Judge and was active with the Alabama Juvenile Judges Association, a group of state, district, and circuit judges dedicated to raising awareness of juvenile law issues affecting children within the state.
He was also engaged in private law practice for almost 20 years and was the President of the Alabama League of Municipalities City Attorney Association during that period.
Hill earned his undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and received his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law.
He and his wife, Susan, have two grown children - James E. Hill III, an attorney, and Elizabeth Hill, an NBCT teacher.
Hill attends Springville First Baptist Church and serves as a Sunday School teacher there.
- Created on 10 December 2013
By Minority Leader, Representative Craig Ford
I have always believed in letting the people of Alabama decide the fate of gambling and whether we should have a state lottery to help fund education. You can never go wrong when you trust the voters and let the people settle these kinds of issues.
And though we sometimes disagree on political issues, this is one issue where Gov. Bentley and I are in complete agreement.
During the 2010 campaigns, Gov. Bentley said, “I believe the people of Alabama need to decide at the ballot box on a YES or NO vote whether to allow gambling or abolish all forms of gambling.”
Creating a state lottery has been an issue in Alabama for decades, but the voters have not been allowed to vote on the issue since 1999. A lot has changed since then, and we can draft a better lottery proposal than the one we put before the voters almost fifteen years ago.
Today, Alabama is one of only seven states that does not have a state lottery. And every day, Alabamians are driving to stores and gas stations in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida to buy lottery tickets. But instead of their money going towards schools in Alabama, their money is paying for kids in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida to get an education.
The reality is that people who want to play the lottery or gamble are going to do so. That is why you will see so many cars with Alabama license plates parked at these gas stations, at the casinos in Philadelphia, Mississippi, at VictoryLand or at the facilities owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
By not having a state lottery, we are not stopping or even slowing down gambling in Alabama. All we are doing is sending our money to other states to help pay for their children’s education while year after year our schools continue to struggle to get by.
A report provided by the Legislative Fiscal office during last year’s legislative session estimated that a state lottery could generate as much as $250 million per year for our schools. And news articles in neighboring state’s have shown that those states brought in much more.
Instead of giving that $250 million to other states every year, we need to be using that money for our own children’s education.
That is why I plan to propose another lottery bill during the 2014 legislative session, and I am asking Gov. Bentley to stand with me and keep his campaign promise to finally let the people of Alabama vote on a state lottery.
The lottery bill that I will sponsor will set aside $50 million to provide every school in Alabama with one resource officer. For school systems that do not have a resource officer, this will give them a new sense of security and help maintain discipline in their schools. In the school systems that already pay for a resource officer, this will allow them to use that money for other educational needs.
The rest of the revenue generated from the lottery will go towards providing scholarships to students who make the AB Honor Roll. This money will help them to pay for tuition and books at either a four-year university or at a two-year college or vocational school of their choice.
Every year, the costs of higher education are increasing. At the same time, more and more jobs are requiring a higher level of education or training. In this economy, it is extremely difficult to get a job with just a high school diploma, alone.
Our children need and deserve a chance to get their degree or certificate in a vocation so that they can get a good job and make their dreams a reality. A state lottery can open the doors of opportunity for thousands of children in Alabama and lighten the burden on thousands more.
The time is right. Let’s keep Gov. Bentley’s promise to the voters and finally allow the people to decide the fate of a state lottery in Alabama.
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.
- Created on 10 December 2013
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama House District 47 Republican Primary is already starting to get heated. Former Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman David Wheeler of Vestavia has been actively campaigning in House District 47, challenging Republican incumbent, Jack Williams also from Vestavia.
Former Chairman Wheeler said in a written statement, “I am proud and humbled by the amount of support I have been receiving this year. It will take a strong grassroots campaign to beat an 9 year incumbent and our campaign has been receiving the support to do just that.”
Wheeler said, “Unlike my opponent, I will never support tax increases on the hard working families of Jefferson County. I also support term limits for our elected officials and am not a career politician like my opponent. I will be accessible to the residents of House District 47 and will be an advocate they can count on.”
Wheeler's insurgent campaign has raised more than $34,000 and is among the leading non-incumbent fund raisers in 2013. Wheeler held a Meet and Greet on November 12th attended by over 100 supporters.
David Wheeler said, “I am proud to have support from people in the district and friends and family from around the county. My opponent is banking on Montgomery special interests to come to his aid. .The people I talk to are tired of Montgomery special interests selecting their legislators.”
On his website, Wheeler said, “We need to work toward tax reform. I will never support raising new taxes on the hardworking families of Alabama. I believe government should live within its means. We need one budget instead of a general fund and education fund. And I favor un-earmarking of funds so the legislators have greater flexibility in tough budget years.”
Wheeler said, “I am a strong proponent of protecting Property Rights. I believe that government should never infringe on private property through eminent domain.”
On Illegal Immigration, Wheeler said, “I believe the border needs to be protected and national laws need to be enforced. I do not favor blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants.”
According to the bio on his website, David W. Wheeler is a University of Montevallo trustee, Wheeler is a retired Alabama Power Company executive with 29 years of experience with the company. Wheeler went to Alabama Power in 1972 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Montevallo. Wheeler also has a master’s degree in business administration from Samford in 1976 and is a certified management accountant.
Wheeler retired from Alabama Power in 2001, as director of accounting, finance and regulatory services. Wheeler was the primary liaison with the Alabama Public Service Commission. From 1988–1993 he was based in Washington, D.C., as manager of federal affairs for Alabama Power. Between 1972–1988, Wheeler held various management and staff positions in the Accounting, Finance, Planning and Budgeting Departments of Alabama Power. Wheeler also spent three years as president of Vulcan Termite and Pest Control Inc.
David Wheeler is a past president of the Birmingham Jaycees, the Birmingham Jaycee Foundation and the Alabama Jaycees Life Member Association. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Jefferson County Citizens Supervisory Committee.
Additionally, Wheeler is a past chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party and is currently a member of the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee, the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee, and the Jefferson County Republican Steering Committee. Wheeler is also active in the Mid-Alabama Republican Club.
Wheeler is a past member of the Institute of Management Accountants, the Leadership Development Association, and the Business Council of Alabama where he served as a member of BCA’s Progress PAC Regional Advisory Committee. Wheeler has been a member of national, state and county pest-control organizations and is a past member of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders, the Birmingham Area Realtors®, and the Associated Builders and Contractors.
Wheeler is a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Homewood and is active in the Hoover and Vestavia Chambers of Commerce. Wheeler is married to the former Diane Reeves, a native of Troy.
House District 47 is in Jefferson County and includes portions of Vestavia Hills and Hoover.
- Created on 10 December 2013
By Representative Darrio Melton
As a representative of the people, I hear stories all the time. But there is one story that particularly breaks my heart, and that is the story of the family who just can’t seem to make ends meet.
Here in Alabama, we have no minimum wage laws. We pay our employees based on the Federal minimum standard, which is $7.25 per hour. We also conform to all federal laws regarding breaks, sick leave, maternity leave, overtime pay and nearly every other protection that secures rights for the employees of Alabama.
If those Federal laws were to be repealed, as many Republican Presidential hopefuls promised, the working family here in Alabama would have no chance at ever making ends meet.
If the Federal laws were to be repealed, Alabama would have no minimum wage regulations, so you could get paid as little as a dollar a day. If the Federal laws were to be repealed, your employer would have no obligation to pay you overtime for working more than 40 hours in a week, so you could be forced to work seven days a week or risk being terminated. If those laws were to be repealed, your employer would not have to give you a lunch break or allow you to step outside for a few minutes during your shift, so you could be forced to work 12-hour days with no break.
The Republican Supermajority has had a great way of spinning the situation around. They call repeal of worker-protection laws “pro-growth economic policies” and “pro-business regulations.” What they really mean is that they want to allow a company to put profit over people.
I want to protect the people of Alabama from policies that support businesses at the expense of the working family. I think there’s a way that we can all agree on what’s fair without hurting the business or the worker. And I think it’s time we agree on a minimum wage for the state of Alabama.
Alabama’s cost of living score is an 88, which means living here is—on average—about 12 percent cheaper than the national average. For a family of three (two parents and a child) in Alabama, this means a monthly budget of about $2,716 for the month and $32,590 for the year.
This monthly budget would include $513 for housing, $514 for food, $342 for healthcare, $524 for transportation, $368 in childcare, $208 in taxes and $247 in other expenses. Does that sound about right for your family?
Now, let’s assume that the two parents living in the household with that budget are both working full time—40 hours a week—at minimum wage jobs. They would each bring in $260.12 weekly (with roughly $30 withheld each week for Social Security, Federal, state and local taxes), which means a combined income of $2,254.37 every month.
This family would fall $461.63 short of their budget each month. That would mean a $5,537.52 shortfall every year.
But what if that family got paid just $1.50 per hour more? That would mean an hourly wage of $8.75, which would give the family enough added income to make up the $5,537.52 shortfall and have $690 left over to put into savings or plan for retirement.
The Economic Policy Institute has conducted a study that confirms that a $9.80 minimum wage would create 1,800 new jobs and give half a million people in Alabama a raise.
Because I’m committed to job creation and economic security for the people of this state, I plan to introduce legislation that will increase minimum wage to an amount that allows Alabamians to become economically independent.
I know we could use more jobs in Alabama, and I know the people in this state can use a raise. It’s time to put the people over the politics and do what’s right for the working families in this state.
Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010.