We won by working together in the legislature and successfully moving good legislation. I hope we continue to win in the days ahead.
Thursday closed out the opening week of the 2012 legislative session in Montgomery. Early in the week we confirmed the rumors; our budgets are in terrible shape, worse since the depression. I’m still digesting the information that was presented and know we have a lot of work to do.
I started the morning chairing the Legislative Contract Review Committee. The work of this committee and our continued push to ensure Alabama companies are being considered for contracts awarded by the state is paying off. In the first 6 months of 2011 $45M was awarded to out of state companies. This was reduced to $32M in the second 6 months. Important to note that $25M of the $45M was federal dollars - making Alabama a "pass through entity". This was reduced to $14M in the second 6 months, a postive trend. We will continue to encourage department heads, boards, and commissions with contract award authorty to ensure everything is being done to enable Alabama businesses to be considered for contract award.
We started moving some legislation in the Senate. Several bills were moved in and out of committees earlier in the week and on Thursday nine bills were voted out of the Senate and moved to the House. The House moved several bills as well; we’ll take those up in the Senate next week.
I successfully moved SB60 out of the Senate yesterday. SB60 supports the Department of Public Safety and Department of Human Resources in updating the processes by which criminal background checks and finger printing is done. In short, have you ever wondered, after reading about an investigation where someone harms a child or steals money as a state employee, and then we discover they have a criminal history – how did the state miss that in the background check when hiring them? This bill helps prevent that by enhancing the process of background checks, utilizing FBI databases for fingerprints, and imposes greater penalties for omitting or lying on background check forms. A person will also receive, via certified mail, detailed information on why they were denied employment based on the background check. This helps someone identify and correct erroneous information. This is a good bill and I look forward to it passing in the House and becoming law.
I was able to complete some work on legislative redistricting Thursday morning. Regular readers of the blog know that according to the 2010 Census, SD2 grew to be the largest Senate District in the state with just under 180,000 people. The target size is 136,000 people. Similar growth was experienced in most House and Senate districts across North Alabama. We have a lot of work ahead of us on this as well.
The Senate adjourned a little after 2:00 and I headed home after tying up some loose ends, arriving back in Madison at 7:00. Unfortunately I was unable to meet one-on-one with Dr. Mabry as planned due to scheduling conflicts. I look forward to rescheduling and meeting with him.
I’ll return to Montgomery next Tuesday and pray the newfound spirit of cooperation will continue…forever the optimist!