Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Remembering Chief Justice Perry Hooper, Sr.

  A few weeks ago former Alabama Chief Justice Perry O. Hooper Sr. died at his home in Montgomery at age 91. He was the epitome of the southern gentleman. He was also one of the founding fathers of the modern Republican Party in Alabama.

  Hooper Sr. was a GOP leader long before it was cool to be a Republican in Alabama. He was the state’s longtime National Committee Chairman as well as a one-time party chairman. Many of Hooper’s early GOP stalwarts, like Wynton Blount and Jim Martin, used to jest that there were so few Republicans in the state that they could call a state executive committee meeting or convention in a phone booth.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Darrio Melton: Republicans aren't practicing what they preach

  As a member of the clergy, "practice what you preach" has a very literal meaning in my life. When I deliver a sermon or lead a Bible study, I'm called not just to be a messenger, but a teacher and example of the lessons set forth on Sundays. That's not to say I don't fall short, because we all fall short. But it is to say that I have an obligation to my parishioners not to lead a Bible study on Wednesday then go out and act like a fool on Friday.

  Being a lawmaker is very similar. When I hold a town hall event or write one of these articles, I have an obligation to my constituents not to say one thing in a stump speech and turn around and go to Montgomery and do something completely different.

  It's called integrity. It's about standing by your values.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Gene Policinski: Hello Facebook! Welcome to the wide, wild world of news media

  Forgive me for a little old-fashioned smirking when following the digital-era dilemma of Facebook having to own up to some human involvement in its tidy, algorithmic universe.

  Millennials and others were outraged — outraged! — at the recent disclosure that the internet social media giant’s “trending topics” report may have had more than a smidge of real people decision-making involved in the daily determination of what’s hot in posted news.

  On May 9, web tech blog Gizmodo carried a report citing an anonymous former contractor who claimed that while he worked on the “topics” report, he and colleagues were directed to regularly insert liberal topics into the report while suppressing conservative subjects.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Craig Ford: Expanding pre-K is a step in the right direction

  With all the bad we see in our political news, it's good to know there is some good news out there, too!

  These days, it’s easy to think nothing good ever comes out of our government – especially here in Alabama! But for all the bad you hear about, there are a lot of great things going on in our state and in our public schools. A perfect example is Alabama’s pre-K program, which has just been named the best pre-K program in the country for the tenth year in a row by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Michael Josephson: The one-minute graduation speech

  I’ve given my share of commencement addresses, and I confess it’s a head-swelling experience to tell a captive crowd how you think they ought to live their lives while wearing an academic robe and a very silly hat. After all, didn’t they come primarily to hear what you have to say? Actually, they didn’t. In fact, graduation speakers are impediments to the real goal of the day – celebration, not reflection.

  So what we need is a good one-minute graduation speech. Here’s my effort:

Friday, May 20, 2016

New Medicare and Medicaid services proposal tests ways to lower drug expenditures

  The current payment methodology for drugs covered under Medicare Part B, which includes costly physician-administered drugs, does not work for patients. It encourages drug companies to charge sky-high prices and creates financial incentives to overprescribe higher-priced drugs, increasing patient costs. This is why the Center for American Progress strongly supports a proposal by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, to test new ways to pay for these medications.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1510: The fight to reopen driver's license offices

  Sometimes things just seem to be working out, but there is an old saying: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” That thought repeated itself in my mind over and over again. I was so thankful because I knew the way things were working was much bigger than me. It was even bigger than all those who helped in so many ways. Sometimes things just seem to be working out, but I know not to count our chickens before they hatch.

  In late September 2015, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) announced that 31 driver's license offices would be closed. As a result, citizens in 28 counties would have to travel to other counties to secure driver’s licenses. In the Alabama Black Belt, 11 of 13 counties did not have a driver's license office. Because driver licenses are the number one document for driving, voting, travel by plane, business transactions, etc., outrage was strong. The matter was even picked up by MSNBC and other national news organizations.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: It takes an act of Congress

  Last week we talked about how difficult it is to win passage of a piece of legislation in the Alabama Legislature. It does not matter if the proposed bill is for apple pie and motherhood. If for nothing else, the bill has to go before both House and Senate committees, win approval, and not get an amendment put on it. If it gets an amendment placed on it, it has to basically start all over again. It then has to get placed on the special order calendar set by the Rules Committee, and there are hundreds of bills waiting to get on this calendar. Only a few bills ever get on the calendar each day, and there are only 30 legislative days in the session. If it gets on the calendar, it then has to pass both chambers and hopefully the governor is also for apple pie and motherhood, because if he vetoes it, it has to start all over again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Darrio Melton: Medicaid funding must be addressed in a special session

  The 2016 regular session of the Alabama Legislature is in the books, but for many politicos on Goat Hill, it seemed more like a rush to get out of school for the summer so we can get to the "fun stuff" in the coming months.

  Unfortunately for most Alabamians, the trials and investigations don't impact their lives and communities the way the decisions made in the legislature do. For those people, the end of the legislative session meant they're left without solutions to their problems and without answers to their questions.

  This is why we have no choice but to call a special session, and lawmakers have a duty to focus our time and work on finding real answers and solutions, not debating feel-good legislation or wasting time with political posturing.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Michael Josephson: Intellectual humility and the pursuit of wisdom

  This is a reminder of the need to be as rigorously honest, informed and objective about our own ideas as we are when we evaluate those of others.

  Wisdom requires courage and humility to receive and consider new facts, opinions and perspectives, even when they challenge long and deeply held beliefs.