Friday, January 14, 2011

This past week saw not only a major snowfall throughout the Senate District and State but, a major reorganization of the Alabama Legislature. For the first time in 136 years, the Alabama Republican party has captured the majority in both the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives. As such, Democrats, such as myself, will be giving up our chairmanships and the Republicans will take over them. The Alabama Senate unanimously voted Republican Senator Del Marsh of Anniston as the new Senate Pro Tem. I was glad to support his election.

I was honored to be elected unanimously as the minority leader of the Alabama Legislature. As such, I will play more of a policy development and coordination role in legislation rather than just dealing with the budget as I have these past twelve years. It is my pleasure to also receive appointments to the finance and taxation general fund committee, which I used to chair, as well as an appointment to the finance and taxation education budget committee. I also received an appointment to the Rules Committee, which is the policy setting committee of the senate, the confirmations committee which confirms or rejects governor appointees and the banking and insurance committee. I feel that these important committee roles will help us continue to work hard to see that the views of our senate district are heard.

I hope that we will have a bipartisan approach to the problems facing our state. Unemployment is still way too high and many of our people are underemployed, working at a job for lesser pay than they once were. You may rest assured that I will continue to work to bring jobs to Northwest Alabama and to keep the jobs which we have here. We have several industrial prospects looking at locating in our senate district.

I am very pleased to see Governor-elect, Dr. Robert Bentley, has selected former speaker of the House, Seth Hammett, to head up ADO, the Alabama Development Office. I have already spoken with Governor-elect Bentley and former speaker Hammett about helping grow jobs here in Northwest Alabama. I am pleased to report that both have been very receptive to the idea. I feel that they will help us and you may rest assured that economic growth and development will be a topic of every extended conversation I have with them.

I hope that the snow and ice did not inconvenience you too much. I was snowed in at my house for two days but fortunately, I had been to the grocery store beforehand. One of the grocery store owners in our area told me that the snow and ice had actually helped his business greatly. This is a perfect example of how in every storm there can be a silver lining.

I am pleased to report to you that we have received confirmation that two highway projects will be up for bids in our senate district on January 14. The first one is in Franklin County and involves the Red Bay Bypass portion of Corridor V from the Mississippi State Line to State Road 247. All four lanes of the road will receive base and paving with partial grading and drainage work. This will be a great addition to the highway work that is already going on Highway 24 also known as Corridor V. This is the highway that will eventually join Corridor X, also known as I-22 in Mississippi.

The second highway project is in Marion County and involves the resurfacing and pavement widening of State Road 74 from State Road 4 on Corridor X to just east of State Road 17 in Hamilton. This will be Phase I of the widening and resurfacing project for 2011. Both of these projects will help improve the safety of travel in our district and help us get goods to market more efficiently.

I am looking forward to the upcoming inauguration of Governor Bentley this coming week. My wife, Maudie, and I will be in attendance. I was pleased that several of our local bands were included in the parades.

I also want to congratulate Auburn University and Cam Newton. It is quite an honor to have back to back national championships as well back to back Heisman winners from the State of Alabama. It is my understanding that this is the first time in the history of our Nation that this has occurred. I think we can all take great pride in our fine universities and their accomplishments not only in athletics but, in academics as well.

It was my pleasure to attend the Hamilton Aggies football banquet. I appreciate Coach Stidham inviting me down. What a great way to cap off a hundred years of football, by playing in the Super 6 for the state championship. While the score at the end of the game had Leeds High School ahead, Hamilton High School was still a winner. The coaching staff, the players, band, cheerleaders, parents and grandparents all formed a winning team that we can be proud of.

Let me also thank so many of you for the kind Christmas cards and greetings which you sent Maudie and me. If I can be of any assistance to you in any way please do not hesitate to contact at the following addresses and phone numbers.

Alabama State House

11 S. Union Street, Suite 738

Montgomery, AL 36130

Phone: 334-242-7862, Fax: 334-242-4736

Russellville Office

PO Box 370

Russellville, AL 35653

Phone: 256-332-6966, Fax: 256-332-6967