Other legislative business today included:
I attended Governor Bentley’s Bill Signing Ceremony with leadership and other legislators. As promised, the first bill sent to the Governor for the 2013 session was the legislation guaranteeing the payback of the Alabama Trust Fund – in defined installment payments – of any funds borrowed through the September 18th Referendum.
Veterans and Military Affairs - I chaired the first Veterans and Military Affairs Committee meeting of the 2013 session. We were scheduled to meet last week but were unable to obtain a quorum due to colleagues being involved in other committee meetings that were in progress...and went long. We adjusted our meeting time today and were able to successful pass several pro-military bills. I’m very proud of this committee and our dedicated memberships – many of whom have served in uniform, or are serving in the Alabama National Guard. The focus of these bills is to continue to position Alabama as the veteran and military friendly state that we are.
A few that are near-and-dear to me include SB154, the Veteran License Bill – establishing that a military issued license/certificate (i.e. HVAC) remains valid for up to 6 months after the veteran is honorably discharged from active duty. This allows the veteran to become employed, immediately go to work and later become state certified within the 6 month window.
Another bill, SB162, the Veteran Court Bill authorizes the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court to establish veterans' treatment courts to provide specialized dockets to handle criminal cases involving veterans and active members of the U. S. Armed Forces. The bill would also authorize the state to seek federal funding for the program. We need to remain aggressive in establishing programs such as these – we owe this to our men and women who have and are serving our nation and I’m committed to working with stake holders to ensure our state is fully ready to address these and other concerns our returning veterans may have.
Lastly, through my involvement with the annual Hero’s Week, hosted by the Semper Fi Community Task Force, I’m especially proud to sponsor SB163, the Veteran Hunting Bill. The bill provides for a resident physically disabled military veteran's appreciation hunting license and provides for a special physically disabled military veteran's appreciation three-day trip event hunting license for groups to purchase one hunting license for a three day hunt, allowing up to 10 Wounded Warriors to hunt on that license. I’ve seen firsthand the sheer joy of a physically disabled veteran who is able to once again do something they once enjoyed before sustaining their injury in service to our nation – hunt! Thanks to everyone who is helping make this legislation possible and to the many volunteers that work to take these Wounded Warriors hunting.
Homebrew Bill - I then attended the House committee hearing on HB9, the Homebrew Bill that is working its way through the legislative process. Rep Mac McCutcheon has sponsored this bill in years past and I helped him with it in the Senate last year. Although the bill made it out of the House and through a Senate Committee last year, it was unfortunately stalled in the last hours of the session last year. We are working a dual pronged strategy this year – working two, identical bills through each body. The House version passed the committee today, the Senate version SB171, will be in committee tomorrow morning. I enjoyed visiting with everyone that made a special trip to Montgomery to testify in support of this bill today and thank the hobbyist and support your grass roots efforts!
The Senate reconvenes tomorrow morning at 10 AM...I’m feeling much better today - the prayers were felt and much appreciated – thank you! And I should be back to 100% tomorrow – in time to run the Grissom ROTC Wounded Warrior 5K on Saturday.
Semper Fi - Bill