Weekend Update – I arrived home in Madison around 7:30 Thursday night. I knew we had to be weather aware on Friday but had lined up a doctor’s appointment for Friday morning. A routine physical last fall detected a “hick-up” on an EKG and we needed to follow up on that. So Friday morning, just as the first tornado sirens started going off, my doctor and I discussed and scheduled a heart catheterization test for Monday afternoon. I left his office in Huntsville at 10:30, stopped by the house to pick up my daughter Sydney (she took notes and handled communications) and headed out to the affected areas while remembering my doctor’s orders – keep your stress level down.
We visited with storm victims and county/city officials starting in East Limestone at Cumberland Subdivision, worked out way over to Eagle Point, the Limestone County Prison, East Limestone Rd, into Madison Co, through the Yarborough Rd area and Sparkman High School before the weather worsened, as round two of the storms was about to hit. We hunkered down for the night at home and got back on the road Saturday morning, starting in Athens at the Cane Break Subdivision and working our way back to the east after a brief stop by the annual Home and Garden Show at the Athens Event Center. It was nice to visit with business owners and discuss pro-business legislation.
Friday’s storms were rated as an EF-3 and were on the ground for about 35 miles in Limestone and Madison Counties, closely following the path from April's Storms. I’m thankful for all of the volunteers who continue to help out. I’ve returned phone calls and emails from constituents that have reached out to me and will continue to do so as I work with local officials on cleanup.
Monday I attended a breakfast and lunch meeting that were scheduled earlier the prior week…how ironic that my heart test scheduled on Friday required me to fast until the procedure…that made for a couple of long meetings! My medical test were completed Monday evening, good news, pipes are clear, no blockages, bad news; we are left wondering why test show elevated cholesterol levels and the “hick-up” on the EKG. Other than being sore where the probe was inserted in my leg, I’m good to go for another week in Montgomery…and will work to keep my stress level down.
Moving a little slow this morning, I arrived at the State House at 1:30, leaving me just a few minutes to get caught up before we went into session at 2:00.
From the Senate Floor: The first bill up was Senator Reed’s bill, SB257, increasing the amount of classroom funding annually to $300. We thought this bill would fly through but to our surprise, the Democrats set out to filibuster the bill. Why? I can't answer for my colleagues but encourage you to ask them. To me they’ve put politics in front of education as there is nothing else in the bill. After significant delay they finally offered an amendment moving the $300 to $1,000 but with no prior coordination with the budget chair - this validates their sincerity of the amendment. The Fiscal Note on SB257 increased the obligation to the Education Trust Fund by $12.5M. Simple math, $1,000 per teacher pushes that to $41.7M…and they didn’t think they needed to coordinate that with the budget chair? Looks like they just wanted to say republicans voted against $1,000. This never came to a vote due to procedural rule requiring us to bring up sunset committee actions in the second hour of this legislative day. They knew this and fumbled their delivery. I don’t like playing reindeer games on taxpayer time! This is what is wrong with Montgomery and politics in our nation.
Classroom Funding: A quick recap of funding for the classroom in years past; following is an excerpt from my December Newsletter: Funding for classroom supplies has been an easy target for budget cuts in years past. We all know teachers need classroom supplies and I do not think they should have to purchase classroom supplies with their personal funds. In the 2007 state budget, each teacher received about $500 for classroom supplies. This was cut in 2008 and ultimately reduced to zero in both the 2010 and 2011 school years. Although it was never widely reported, the new, Republican controlled legislature restored funding for 2011, about $135 per teacher to buy supplies in the 2012 budget year.
I almost forgot – Sen Dunn’s SB28, a bill from last Thursday that I’ve not blogged on, moved out of committee. SB28 moves the minimum mandatory age of attendance from seven to six years old. This bill had been delayed in committee but the committee chair made an unusual move and called a committee meeting while we were in session Thursday; for whatever reason only 5 committee members attended; 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans. The final vote on SB28, 3 – 2 along party lines. As I’ve said before, nothing prevents a parent from enrolling their child at age 6 but they must do so by age 7. This bill, if it passes, will require every child to be enrolled in school at age 6. So, this vote shows that the Democrats feel the Government knows better than the parents while the Republicans believe it is a parent’s choice. I will continue to oppose this bill.
I have a full dance card tomorrow starting with a Huntsville/Madison Co Chamber Breakfast followed by seven committee meetings – I’m pitching two of my bills, one in a Senate Committee and one in a House Committee. I will continue to rest up from Monday and hopefully be back to 110% soon.
Semper Fi - Bill