- Created on 26 February 2015
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Republican National Committeeman Paul Reynolds has been a vocal opponent expansion of federal regulations that we have witnessed under the administration of President Barack H. Obama (D). Reynolds recently emailed his concerns to conservatives around the state of Alabama.
RNC member Reynolds wrote, “More than ever, I believe private enterprise and the principles of the free market will soon cease to exist in this country. Right before our eyes, Barack Obama is employing thousands of unelected federal bureaucrats to implement a methodical government takeover of the economy. At the end of last year, the Obama Administration handed down more than 1200 new regulations, some of which from the EPA are the most expensive to taxpayers in our nation’s history. Undeterred, they promptly handed down another 206 regulations earlier this month. All of these laws were enacted without the approval of our elected Congress. This Soviet-style central planning is the exact approach to the economy taken by the now-defunct nations of Eastern Europe during much of the last century.”
Reynolds continued, “Tomorrow will mark another pivotal point in the Obama central planning effort. That is when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at the request of Barak Obama, will announce its rules to regulate the internet as a public utility. These rules, issued under the misnomer of “net neutrality,” will allow the government to regulate and prioritize content, rather than internet users and the free market. What could possibly go wrong when the federal government controls the internet? These rules will surely have the effect of discouraging investment and lead to taxes on emails, video chats, data usage and video streaming. Rand Paul described the internet as “the single greatest catalyst in history for individual liberty and free markets,” and now Obama and the FCC want to restrict both.”
Reynolds said, “This is why I recently authored resolutions passed at the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) dealing with this issue. I did so because we must create greater awareness of this quiet form of tyranny being employed by the federal government, if we wish to end it.”
The Democrat Majority on the FCC is set to enact a new 232 page regulatory act on Thursday, February 26.
Reynolds is asking that Alabama Republican Senators cosponsor the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act of 2015 (H.R. 527) passed by the House, a bill which requires all Federal Regulatory Agencies provide documentation of how new proposed regulations effect small businesses. Additionally he wants the Alabama US House delegation to use the Legislative Review Act to immediately call all FCC decisions regarding Net Neutrality into a full Congressional review.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai who has been a vocal opponent of net neutrality said on Tuesday, “Net Neutrality is "a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist.” Pai warned that regulating the internet like a utility company will threaten the kind of innovation we've taken for granted over the past 20 years. Paid said, "Do you trust the federal government to make the Internet ecosystem more vibrant than it is today? Can you think of any regulated utility like the electric company or water company that is as innovative as the Internet?"
Conservative Talk Radio host Rush Limbaugh said on Wednesday, February 25, “What is going to happen Thursday is a direct result of Obama hijacking the effort -- essentially, let me just put it to you this way. Do you own a website, do you operate a website? If Obama gets his way, you're gonna have to get a license for it just like radio and TV stations get licenses, because the Internet is gonna be subject to regulation under Title II like broadcast facilities are. Cable is not, but over the air broadcast -- But they can't wait to regulate the Internet, folks, they just can't wait.” “The way net neutrality is being sold to Millennials is -- and I read these tech bloggers, these little guys. I read 'em, they hate their cable providers. They hate their web service providers, Internet service, they hate 'em. Just like you were made to hate Big Oil and just like you were made to hate Big Tobacco. Just like you've been oriented to hate Big Anything, Big Retail, big box retail like Walmart. The Democrats' enemies list now includes all of the telecommunications companies and the Internet service providers.”
- Created on 26 February 2015
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, February 25, the Alabama House Republican Caucus announced their 2015 legislative agenda. This year’s GOP agenda has been titled, the Alabama First Agenda. On Wednesday Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was joined by the Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee Representative Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw) and State Representative Paul Lee (R-Dothan) when they unveiled the House Republican Caucus’s 2015 legislative agenda.
Speaker Hubbard said, “The Alabama First agenda is designed to put Alabama firmly on the road toward being first in education and first in economic development, and when it comes to combating liberal mandates and policies from Washington, this agenda puts the interests, needs, and conservative values of Alabama first.”
Rep. Lee is the chair of the Republican Caucus platform committee which developed this year’s legislative agenda. The full Caucus membership ratified the recommendations at a recent meeting.
Chairman Lee said, “I believe the platform committee crafted a document that truly reflects the needs, concerns, and beliefs that most Alabamians share. Whether you are a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, or simply someone who cares deeply about improving our public schools, this agenda has something that should appeal to you.”
Rules Committee Chairman McCutcheon said the agenda bills will be given first priority once the session convenes on March 3. This has been the practice in previous sessions since the voters of Alabama gave the Republican Party control of the legislature in 2010 after over 130 years of Democratic Party control. In 2014 Alabama voters gave the GOP added another five seats to add to their already commanding super majority.
Chairman McCutcheon said in a statement, “Because Republicans hold such a large number of seats, these bills have already secured the support of a majority of the House membership. By quickly passing these agenda bills, we can take important steps toward improving education, strengthening our economy, and standing tall for Alabama values.”
The legislation that comprises the “Alabama First” agenda includes: scholarships in career-tech dual enrollment programs; an ambitious charter schools bill; an updated economic incentives bill to lure more high impact employers to the state; a bill reauthorizing use of the electric chair if lethal injection drugs become either illegal or otherwise impossible to obtain; a bill protecting and encouraging more student led prayer in Alabama’s public schools; deregulation to make Alabama government more efficient; a bill protecting the rights of ministers, judges, and others to not participate in marriages they feel are violations of their religious beliefs; and a bill directing state agencies to provide each employee with an itemized statement of the values of the benefits they get from the state.
What is not found in this year’s ambitious agenda is any expansion of gambling in Alabama, Medicaid expansion, or any of Governor Robert Bentley’s (R) requested $700 million in tax increases.
This was not lost on Alabama House Minority Leader, Rep. Craig Ford (D-Gadsden). Rep. Ford released his own statement critical of the GOP agenda. Rep. Ford said in his statement, “Once again, they are not addressing the real problems. They are dodging the issue of the multi-million dollar hole in the General Fund budget, and offering absolutely no solutions. They don’t even acknowledge the problem! And because they have no answers to the budget problems, they hope to distract the taxpayers with talk about charter schools and other non-relevant issues.”
Rep. Ford has long favored more legal gambling. He said that, “House Democrats have offered a real solution, including a state lottery and negotiating a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians. We are committed to focusing on the real problems and offering real solutions that protect the taxpayers.”
Minority Leader Ford, “Instead of wasting the taxpayers’ money and time, the Republican Caucus should be focusing on solving the actual problems our state is facing. It’s time to let the people vote on a state lottery! It’s time to consider negotiating a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians. Instead of taking money out of our already underfunded public schools to create new charter schools, let’s look at actual reforms to make schools better.”
Rep. Ford said, “Alabama faces serious problems. The taxpayers deserve serious solutions. The Republican Caucus’ agenda offers no solutions at all. But Gov. Bentley has shown he takes the state’s problems seriously, and House Democrats are ready to work with the governor to pass a lottery and work together on other solutions.”
The House Republican Caucus has proposed what they call: ‘21st Century Workforce Scholarships.’ The House Republican Caucus wrote that a strong and skilled workforce will help ensure that more Alabamians have long-lasting, good-paying jobs. The GOP is proposing providing an additional $5 million in funding for career-technical dual enrollment scholarships across the State.
The Caucus is also proposing more school choices for parents, what they call ‘Parental Empowerment Tools.’ The Caucus wrote, “Every child in Alabama deserves access to a quality education regardless of their economic status, race, or zip code, and parents and guardians are the most qualified to make educational decisions on their behalf.”
The Caucus is expected to support the School Choice and Student Opportunity Act that will be sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and handled by Representative Terri Collins (R) in the House.
The Caucus is working with Gov. Bentley and the Alabama Department of Commerce on an Economic Development Initiative to overhaul and update the state’s economic development incentives to recruit new business and retain existing business in Alabama.
The Regulation Repeal Act promises to continue GOP efforts to downsize government and reduce red tape and repeal more than 300 what they have determined are obsolete, unenforceable, and unneeded laws currently on the books.
The Truth in Salary Act will require state agencies and public education entities to provide employees with an annual itemized statement detailing all benefits that are being provided along with their cost to the taxpayers.
The Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act promises to protect judges, ministers, and others from being forced to participate in wedding ceremonies that violate their fundamental religious and moral beliefs.
The Student Religious Liberties Act is needed because , “A series of federal court decisions over the last fifty years have whittled away the rights to prayer and religious expression in schools and created much confusion as to what is now permissible and what is not. House Republicans will re-establish the freedom of student-led prayer and religious expression in our schools by enacting the Student Religious Liberties Act.”
The Capital Punishment Preservation Act will allow the Department of Corrections to once again utilize the electric chair as the primary method of execution if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional or if the drugs essential to carrying out that death penalty process are unavailable for any reason.
The House Republican Caucus wrote that their 2015 legislative agenda is designed to put our state firmly on the road toward being the first in education and first in economic development. And when it comes to combating the liberal mandates and policies being handed down by the Obama administration, this agenda puts the interests, needs, and conservative values of Alabama first.
- Created on 26 February 2015
Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
Many times in my life I've seen that teamwork really does work. Whether it’s in sports, business or government, every member of the team gets together and comes to an agreement—a little give from some people and a little take from others. For teamwork to really work however, everyone involved, including the leaders, must be willing to work together. Teamwork does not work when one or more of the people involved doesn’t make an effort. Unfortunately for Gadsden and the I-759 project, that is exactly what is happening.
The I-759 project received a lot of attention in the press last week. Most of it was encouraging, as our local elected leaders and I came out in support of taking action and renewed our call for progress.
But then the press asked our U.S. Congressman, Robert Aderholt, what he would do to help.
Congressman Aderholt is Alabama’s most senior congressman. Now serving his 10th term in U.S. Congress, Rep. Aderholt serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, which is a very powerful committee and, most importantly, is the committee that makes decisions regarding funding the operation of the federal government.
Our congressman literally sits on the committee that decides the highway and transportation budget. This means that our congressman is in a better position than anyone to secure federal funding for I-759. Making the situation even better for us, Alabama’s own Congresswoman Martha Roby also sits on the Appropriations Committee. With her help and his experience and seniority, Congressman Aderholt should have no problems getting a little extra money for I-759. It is the job we elected him do these past twenty years, and the job he is in prime position to fulfill.
But when the press asked the congressman what he was doing to help with I-759, his exact words were, “We’re to a point right now where federal funding for earmarked projects has been taken off the board” and that his “hands are tied.” Then he went on to shift the blame to state leaders, saying we needed to lobby the Alabama Department of Transportation and the governor.
How is this possible? How is it that our congressman, with twenty years of experience and being a senior member of the House Appropriations committee, is unable to secure federal funding for I-759?
Only Congressman Aderholt can secure federal funds. To say he can't do anything is a total cop out. Senator Shelby has been a complete champion for our state in Washington, having secured millions of dollars over the years for infrastructure projects like I-759.
It’s also not just a problem with securing federal funding.
As The Gadsden Times reported, the other major problem has been getting plans that would pass federal approval. However, no one ever clarifies what federal approval is, exactly. So you would think it would be our congressman’s job to step in and help coordinate the federal agencies with the state department that is drawing the plans to make sure everything is in order. After all, having been in congress for twenty years, Congressman Aderholt should know better than anyone how to navigate Washington and get approval for projects like this. I find it hard to believe he couldn't offer more guidance to the Alabama Department of Transportation on how to draft a proposal that would exceed federal expectations. But Congressman Aderholt hasn't.
Completing projects like I-759 require a team effort. Yes, state leaders need to work together to secure state funding. But no one is in a better position than our Congressman to secure the federal funds and to make sure our plans meet federal guidelines. But instead of being a team player, Congressman Aderholt has been absent from the table.
Etowah County is the largest county in Congressman Aderholt’s district. As such, we have a great deal of traffic coming through. The extension of I-759 should be a priority for him, like it is for myself and the rest of Etowah County’s elected leaders. Congressman Aderholt has now served two-thirds as long as former congressman, Tom Bevill, did. But if he accomplished a tenth of what Congressman Bevill did for our district, most of us would be happy.
It's time for our congressman to do his part and join the team. He was elected to serve the people of Etowah and to fight for the best interests of this district, and I-759 is in the best interest of this district. The people of Gadsden have supported rep. Adherolt for twenty years. We deserve his support now.
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.
- Created on 26 February 2015
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, February 25, US Representatives Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), and Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) today joined their fellow conservative lawmakers in a letter urging that House leadership hold firm in fully funding the Department of Homeland Security while specifically preventing funds from going to implement President Obama’s executive actions on immigration which they consider to be unlawful.
Congresswoman Roby said on Facebook, “You'll see more on this in the coming days. Even though Senate Democrats continue to block a Homeland Security funding bill we passed last month, the House must hold firm. We have a responsibility to prohibit funding from being used to implement President Obama's unlawful executive amnesty. I believe it would be a mistake for Senate Democrats and the president to choose executive amnesty over the responsible funding of Homeland Security, but it will be theirs to make. As our letter states, "District Court rulings can be overturned, but the power of the purse is absolute." Stay tuned.”
Congressman Brooks said on Facebook, “I joined in sending a letter to House leadership, urging them to hold strong and force the Senate to act on the House-passed Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that stops President Obama’s unlawful executive amnesty. I hope Speaker Boehner will continue to show backbone on this issue, because illegal aliens coming into America is a national security issue. What good does it do to have a Department of Homeland Security if you’re going to allow anybody to cross our borders, terrorist or not, and come unlawfully into the United States of America.”
Congressman Byrne also wrote on Facebook, “I recently joined a number of my conservative colleagues in sending a letter to House leadership, including Speaker Boehner, urging leadership not to back down from the fight over President Obama's illegal executive amnesty. The House has passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security and halt the President's illegal action. The House has done our job, and the Senate should act.”
Rep. Brooks said, “I remain committed to voting against any bill that funds the president’s amnesty. We are doing everything we can to communicate with House leadership that it is very important to the American people, who we were elected to represent, that we fund DHS in a way that protects national security.”
In November, President Barack H Obama (D) angry with House Republicans who opposed his immigration reform bill announced that he was going to circumvent the United States Congress and act unilaterally, granting de facto amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Since then, Congress has attempted to use its “power of the purse” to block the actions. Last week a federal judge in Texas ruled that the president had overstepped his authority in issuing the orders. The President has asked an appeal court to lift the stay. Alabama joined Texas and 24 other states in the lawsuit arguing that the President’s actions will cost the states billions of dollars and are being done unconstitutionally. The Texas federal judge put a stay on the President’s amnesty while the case is before his court.
In a letter to House leaders led by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Representatives Roby, Brooks, Palmer, Byrne and other conservatives said the Legislative Branch must not rely solely on the courts but exercise its own Constitutional authority to prevent the unlawful actions.
The letter from House conservatives wrote:
“Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader McCarthy, and Whip Scalise:
We write you today to thank you for standing firm and forcing the Senate to act on a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that stops President Obama’s unlawful executive actions on immigration. The House of Representatives continues to reflect the will and sentiment of the majority of Americans by combatting the President’s executive overreach.
The Federal District Court’s concerns with the President’s executive actions on immigration are very encouraging. However, we must remember that these decisions are subject to review by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of the United States, and the ultimate fate of the President’s executive action remains in question. For this reason, the Legislative Branch has a responsibility to use its exclusive and constitutionally-granted authority to prevent the President’s unlawful usurpation of power, without waiting for a final interpretation from the Judicial Branch. District Court rulings can be overturned, but the power of the purse is absolute.
As elected representatives of the people, we have an obligation to act. American voters supported our position of opposing executive overreach during the November elections, and are solely responsible for giving us control of the Senate as well as a historic majority in the House.
Regardless of how we may feel about immigration issues generally, the issue at hand is the preservation of the separation of powers and the preservation of the Constitution. Now is the time to stand firm against these unlawful executive actions.”
Members of Congress signing the letter include: Martha Roby, Jeff Duncan, Jim Jordan, Matt Salmon, Dave Brat, Louie Gohmert, Steve King, Ryan Zinke, John Fleming, Jim Bridenstine, Ted Yoho, Bradley Byrne, Gary Palmer, Mo Brooks, Tim Huelskamp, Curt Clawson, Mark Sanford, Randy Weber, Paul Gosar, John Duncan, David Schweikert, Doug Lamborn, Brian Babin, Walter Jones, Steven Palazzo, Jeff Miller, Cynthia Lummis, Barry Loudermilk, Tom McClintock, and Lou Barletta
The Department of Homeland Security is only funded til the end of the day on Friday. Moderates are urging the leadership to compromise and pass a bill without prohibitions against the President’s immigration actions.
- Created on 25 February 2015
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Gov. Robert Bentley says the State must raise taxes to meet its fiscal obligations, and he is being beaten like rented mule for even making the suggestion.
Now, no one should be happy that his campaign website featured an ad that, among other things, said “No New Taxes,” but Bentley is a Republican and saying that he was going to raises taxes a little would have meant that he only beat his Democratic opponent by 60 points.
That aside, they have yet to hear his proposal, but they are totally against it.
But this battle is not, let me repeat, is not over taxes. It is all about who will set the agenda and determine the future of our State. Will it be Robert Bentley or Speaker Mike Hubbard and the shadow government of former Gov. Bob Riley?
The State Legislature has only one constitutionally mandated responsibility: Pass a budget. For the last four years they have balanced the State’s budget (which is mandatory) by cutting or as they say “right-sizing government,” and by borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Gas and Oil Trust Fund.
In reality what we have seen over the last four years is slash, burn and borrow, not fiscal sanity.
In the past, the State has relied on federal dollars and other tricks to balance the budget. But Bentley thinks the legislature should stop fooling itself and the citizens and fix the problem now, rather than at some magical time in the future. But this means Bentley is in charge and they can’t have Bentley in charge.
Bentley says, “It time to eat your vegetables,” but they would rather not. They would rather drink the kool-aid. It’s tastier and Hubbard has a large supply.
Anyway, careerist politicos do not want to have to tell their constituents that they realized the ship was sinking, and actually did something to repair the damage rather than pretending that the water is good for them. And if Grandma drowns, she was just a burden on the state.
Most politicians live in a kind of Never Never Land where they are free to do as they wish, because they are special. They are special because they have been elected to a high office. And because they are special, they think they have been endowed with a special wisdom.
Sadly, winning an election may make an individual think they have something that others do not, but the fact is votes don’t make one wiser.
According to Proverbs 29:11, “A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.”
But too many of our legislators don’t have the patience for wisdom, they want to show toughness.
Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) has even used his campaign funds to buy a billboard to fight Bentley.
(Ignoring advice from Proverbs 29:11)
Here in Alabama, our politicos live in a Never Never Land where Captain Hook is the good guy and good ole Dr. Bentley should stick to shaking hands and hugging babies.
The Governor’s plan could be terrible, but no one knows, and yet the ALGOP passed a resolution against it. Is it actually possible to be against something even though you have no idea what it is?
Of course, taxes are part of the Panphobia of most Republicans, and rightfully so. But, to condemn something before it is even known is a little odd.
But then again, this is not about taxes...it's about control.
Politics should be a contest of ideas played on a field of intellectual honesty. But it seems no one wants to engage in the conversation, much less be intellectually honest.
Bentley wants to raise some taxes to fix the holes.
He finally wants to lead.
Maybe we should give him the chance.