|Byrne off to a good start in congress|
|Written by News Desk|
|Friday, 21 March 2014 14:24|
Our new United States Representative, Bradley Byrne of Fairhope has gotten off to a good start in his adventure into Congress.
After his swearing-in, Byrne spoke to House members, telling them he wanted to work together with them like a work horse, not a show horse. The response, he says, "has been overwhelming and I believe many Republicans and Democrats are hungry to work together to address the pressing issues facing our country. We share more in common than many will publicly admit."
Byrne says that "working together may not create headlines like accusations and name-calling so often does up here, but the undercurrents of reform and progress continues to have a strong pull." Byrne adds that he has already been able to have an impact on policies that affect Alabama by forging coalitions and working together.
For example, he points out that last month reports began surfacing that the Pentagon was planning to end the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program early, leaving Mobile-based shipbuilder, Austal USA, high and dry. He wrote a letter and began reaching out to Republicans and Democrats who feel strongly on this issue, ending up with 21 cosigners from 5 states and both parties. "This strong showing from members across the country punctuates how important this program is to our Navy, and in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month, the Secretary of Defense said directly to me that a modified LCS program will continue beyond the original order if certain benchmarks are met."
Following the resignation of Jo Bonner on August 2 to become vice chancellor for the University of Alabama, primary elections were held last September 24. A runoff in the Republican primary took place on November 5 and the general election was pushed back to December 17. Republican Byrne won the election by a comfortable margin in the strongly conservative district.
With only a few days remaining in the current legislative session the state budgets remain in limbo and there is likely to be serious problems with passage of the Education Trust Fund budget if it fails to include the two percent teacher pay increase. The House version did, however, restore the $10 million in funding for Alabama State University, an amount which was slashed to zero by the Senate. Gov. Bentley reportedly told lawmakers if the funding wasn't restored for the pay raise and for health insurance in the Education Trust Fund Budget, that budget would get a veto.
The latest attack on the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, SB 443 by Sen. Scott Beason, is the most disingenuous to date according to Sally Howell, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards. She says it uses the rallying cry of "local option to divert attention from the true impact of the bill which is lowering standards for students, weakening accountability for parents and taxpayers, and stalling efforts to make our state nationally and internationally competitive.
Howell says "SB 443, if passed, would be a train wreck to efforts to improve the system of public education in this state and derail our progress under the new nationally and internationally bench marked standards. It would also bypass the democratically elected state Board of Education by allowing every local school board to opt out of the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards for math and English language arts."
Howell says the local autonomy aspect is an illusion. "Local school boards exercising the so called "opt out" would be required to implement the standards last adopted by the state board which were not aligned to the "common core," a set of voluntary academic standards developed by the states, National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. She says this means school boards would be forced to use 20th century standards and the bill would send Alabama back to math standards adopted in 2003 and English language arts standards adopted in 1999."
The statewide political newsletter, Inside Alabama Politics, reports that the two heavyweights of Alabama Political Fundraising are both flexing their muscles. The Alabama Education Association (AEA) has a balance in its campaign account of $4.4 million, having already dolled out nearly a half million. AEA's contributions have gone mostly to Democrats, but it also gave $150,000 to GOP Senate candidate Garreth Moore. Look for the organization to become more active on the Republican side.
On the GOP side, the Business Council of Alabama has over $2.2 million in its campaign coffers and Bob Riley's Alabama 2014 PAC has over a million in the bank. Speaker Mike Hubbard's Storm PAC only has a balance of $277,169.
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