Back to Montgomery - I backed out of my driveway at 6:15 this morning, heading to Montgomery for this week’s session. I arrived at the State House about 9:30 for meetings in my office prior to our Caucus meeting at 11:00.
Of note, I have a page working with me in the legislature this week. For readers that are interested, the Alabama Legislature offers a great opportunity for young people to participate in the legislative process through its Legislative Page Program. Pages must be between the ages of 12-18.
The Senate went into session at noon and began debating several bills focused on efficiency in state government. We adjourned just before 6 PM and all-in-all had a productive day. I highlight a couple of the bills passed today below:
Senate Bills 116 and 117, sponsored by Senator Phil Williams (R-Gadsden), were debated first. I appreciate his hard work on these bills that streamline the state’s IT functions and potentially save $30 to $60 million a year for the state’s budgets. In short, these bills establish the Alabama Technology Authority for the delivery of state IT services and create a cabinet-level IT secretary to coordinate the efforts. Our current system operates in a very compartmentalized fashion, with each state agency having its own separate IT department. These bills provide the necessary infrastructure to ensure we’re providing quality IT services and working from an economy of scale; taking advantage of savings from purchasing hardware and software as a state rather than individual departments. The other bill establishes a cabinet-level position designed to advise the Governor on IT matters and to communicate and coordinate with all state agencies on IT strategy. Alabama is one of only a handful of states that doesn’t have a cabinet-level IT official. As our state operations become more and more technology dependent it’s imperative that we have someone to hold accountable for making sure we’re doing operating in the most efficient and responsible manner. SB116 passed 31-0, SB117 passed 32-0...these are good business sense bills and I appreciate the bi-partisan support for these initiatives.
Similarly, Senate Bill 108, sponsored by Senator Marsh was debated next. We continued to focus on efficiency efforts through the consolidation and reorganization of state-level public safety and law enforcement. The proposed bill will potentially save $30 million a year and will help achieve an efficient and cost-effective delivery of public safety services. This bill was crafted over the summer of 2012 with the involvement of numerous law enforcement officials and stakeholders to reorganize public safety services under the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency. The agency will be led by a cabinet-level secretary and will consist of two units, the Department of Public Safety and the State Bureau of Investigations. Again, a good business based bill, removing redundancies across many departments. SB108 passed 31-0 and I again appreciate the bi-partisan support for this initiative.
Tomorrow is committee day and I have four committee meetings scheduled throughout the day with a total of 23 bills that will be considered...some light reading for the night. I’ll start tomorrow morning at 0830 with an Education Policy Committee meeting where SB54, The Local Control School Flexibility Act (read more on the Home Page) will be debated and voted on. The House version of this bill, HB84, passed committee last week. I will offer several amendments, addressing concerns raised by different groups. I truly appreciate those taking the time to communicate with me and helping with fact based changes to this important piece of legislation. I'll provide more updates after tomorrow's meetings.
Semper Fi - Bill