Sunday after church we attended the Madison Hospital Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Monday morning I enjoyed visiting with some of the old timers at the “liar’s tables” at the East Limestone Chevron and at Bo Jangles in Athens. I always enjoy when I get to do this and come away knowing much more about what’s going on in our communities than I ever would from any other source! As a bonus, Limestone County Commission Chair Stanley Menefee was at the Chevron and Rep (Mayor) Dan Williams, Athens City Councilmen Harold Wales and Jim Hickman were at Bo jangles. It was great seeing everyone and I thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns.
Later on Monday I stopped by Bob Jones High School to deliver a resolution to Mr. Jeremy Raper – the 2011 Milken Award Winner. I was in Taiwan as a member of a 6 state delegation when he received this award last November but was able to sponsor a resolution on behalf of the Madison County Legislative Delegation once we went into session earlier this month. We are vey proud of Mr. Raper and it is always great to visit Bob Jones – as Mr. Parker would say “The Best dadgum High School in Alabama”.
I arrived in Montgomery just before 11 AM on Tuesday. I attended the Caucus lunch meeting where we reviewed this weeks plan and then held a couple of meetings in my office to discuss various bills I’m working on.
An issue I handled quickly upon arrival in Montgomery was this automatic annual pay increase established by the 2007 legislature. I declined the CPI increase in a letter last year and have done so in a letter again this year and will continue to do so. I wrote about the legislative pay extensively in December’s Newsletter under the heading - What does a Senator Get Paid, and even provided a scanned copy of my annual pay stub. I encourage readers to review my comments in the newsletter and I look forward to supporting the legislative pay commission bill that is coming up this year.
The Senate went into session at 2 PM. Once the Senate had convened and settled in I rose for a Point of Personal Privilege – this is a term used when we request the floor to speak to our colleagues on an issue, as opposed to debating a bill. You can read my statement here but in short, my point was to encourage the press to continue to cover the automatic, annual cost of living increase - who accepted and who declined the raise (Read the Birmingham news article here). Alabamians deserve to know who took the pay increase and who declined it. Some legislators have said they are planning to keep the increase because of the rising cost of gas. Yes, gas prices are soaring and as we drive to Montgomery weekly for session (roundtrip for me is 360 miles) it is costing us more…but what about everyone else in Alabama? How anyone can justify this annual increase is beyond me. This is just one of many reasons why we need to pass the legislative pay bill and fix this issue once and for all. Following is a great editorial by John Peck of the Huntsville Times from earlier this month on the proposed bill to address legislative pay.
We passed several bills yesterday, all non-controversial. I moved my third bill out of the Senate for this year, dealing with how a National Guard Member is taken care of should they become injured while on active duty for the state – i.e., during last year’s tornados. This bill was brought to me by the Alabama National Guard and, as the chair of the Veteran’s and Military Affairs Committee; I was honored to champion it through the legislative process.
Today is committee day, I have somewhat of a light load – only three committee meetings. Hopefully this will allow me to get caught up on some emails, phone calls.