Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Dramatic gubernatorial race brewing

  When talk turns to politics in Alabama, it usually leads to the governor’s race. In Alabama politics, the governor’s office is the Brass Ring. It is talked about more than anything else around coffee clubs and kitchen tables from Sand Mountain to the Wiregrass. It is comparable to college football being the king of all sports in Alabama.

  This infatuation with the governor’s office is borne out in the state's voting history. In most states, the presidential race sees the largest voter turnout, but that is not the case in Alabama where we have historically voted more heavily in gubernatorial years. Governor race years also have most of the important local offices up for grabs. “All politics is local.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Require background checks for all gun sales

  Under current federal law, some individuals are prohibited from buying and possessing guns for reasons such as a prior felony conviction, history of domestic abuse, or involuntary commitment for mental health treatment. Licensed gun dealers are required to conduct a background check for every gun sale in order to ensure that they are not selling guns to prohibited purchasers.

  However, a substantial gap in the law allows unlicensed sellers—such as private individuals who sell guns online, at gun shows, or anywhere else—to sell guns without first conducting a background check. This means that prohibited purchasers can easily evade the law by buying guns through private transactions.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Taylor’s Top Four: Alabama Legislative Session review for week 10

  The session looks to be winding down, but we aren’t going anywhere! Here’s your recap of week 10 in the Alabama Legislature.

  If you want to receive daily news from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to the Alabama Policy Institute’s Daily Clips.

1. General Fund budget has almost cleared its last hurdle 

  On Tuesday, the house passed the 2019 General Fund budget, which passed the Senate in February. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that it was the fastest the budget has passed in years: “‘The Clerk of the House, who’s been here 30 years, said that’s the fastest he’s seen it,’ said House Ways and Means General Fund chair Steve Clouse, R-Ozark. ‘It’s my 24th year, and I know that was the fastest.'” There are a few things in this budget that have been widely talked about this year: a pay raise for state employees, a bonus for state retirees, a funding increase for the Department of Corrections, and another increase for Medicaid.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1605: It is so painful, it hurts deep down inside

  Sometimes I have to speak. Sometimes I have to write. I am not anxious to speak. I write every week, but I am not anxious to write. But sometimes I have to write. This is one of those times I have to write. It is so painful, it hurts deep down inside.

  It was a mass murder at a school. Seventeen school children and school personnel died. Another seventeen were shot and injured but did not die. That’s 34 persons shot in one mass shooting, one mass murder.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Craig Ford: Let’s make universal pre-K a reality

  I believe that everyone between the ages of four and sixty-four should either be in a good school or a good job. That is why one of my long-time goals has been to see every four-year-old in Alabama have access to the state’s nationally-recognized pre-K program.

  The State of Alabama has done a good job in recent years of expanding the program, and expanding the program has received broad, bipartisan support. In fact, in an age where Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on any major issue, pre-K has been the one program that has unified everybody.

  Why is the pre-K program so popular and so important? Because it works!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Rebecca Wood: The bill that would legalize discrimination against my daughter

  My daughter was born 26 weeks into my pregnancy. When Charlie arrived she weighed one pound and 12 ounces, and she was just as long as my finger. During the first few weeks of her life, I watched her overcome what felt like insurmountable obstacles. She struggled to breathe, her stomach wasn’t mature enough to digest food, and her skin was so thin it was agony for her to be held. I worried that we were asking too much of her, but she fought to survive. Today, she is a joyous 5-year-old, though she has residual effects of her significantly premature birth. Charlie was incredibly susceptible to infections, and she has delays in speech and fine motor development. She will go through life with a disability: she needs help tying her shoes, using scissors, and opening her lunch.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Gene Policinski: The White House is wrong. A free press is ‘the people’

  An angry U.S. president feels hounded by the news media and is infuriated and discouraged with the intense and personal criticism of his domestic and international policies.

  I would suspect virtually all of you read that opening paragraph and thought of Donald Trump – and not of George Washington.

  But, in fact, it was our first president who felt the pressure of critics who attacked not just his administration but his personal integrity: A leading newspaper criticized him for a 61st birthday party it said was “monarchical” – apparently, a real political body slam in 1792. A critical press was a major reason he declined a third term, scholars say.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Is this it for Martha Roby?

  Well, folks, the 2018 political year has begun and all of the horses are in the chute. It is going to be a good year for horse races.

  Perennially, the year of the governor’s race has been the best year for Alabama politics. Historically, most Alabamians have been more interested in who they elect as governor than who they elect as president. However, we have really been more interested in who is sheriff than president. If the old adage that “All politics is local” applies in Tip O’Neil’s Massachusetts, it applies doubly in the Heart of Dixie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The problem with privatizing public education for military students

  On March 7, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced the Military Education Savings Act of 2018 to divert funding from a long-standing federal program, Impact Aid, into a voucher-like program to pay for private school tuition, tutoring, or homeschooling materials for military families. The bill is modeled off a Heritage Foundation proposal, which is supported by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to create education savings accounts (ESAs) for certain military-connected students—or students who have a parent on active duty. The ESAs would create an account for military-connected students not enrolled in public schools that could be used for private school tuition, private tutoring, online programs, or textbooks. The proposal is yet another attempt to launch private school voucher programs, instead of investing public money in public schools.

Monday, March 12, 2018

We're deporting people who were Americans before the U.S. existed

  The screaming blocks out all other sound. In more than two minutes of footage, the only words audible above the girls’ sobbing:  “Get in the car.” “Mom!” “Where is she going?” “Are you guys alone?” “Yes.”

  The video, posted to Facebook on Thursday, shows at least two Border Patrol agents physically tearing Perla Morales-Luna out of her daughters’ arms and pushing her into a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle.