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05/24/2013 – Sen. Roger Bedford Capitol Report for May 24th, 2013

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Capitol Report for May 24th, 2013

I am pleased to let you know that 49 County News, as part of their efforts to keep the community safe, have made a Google map of all the community storm shelters that are located in Marion County Alabama and Franklin County Alabama. I want to commend them for doing this as I think it will help keep people better informed about the exact location of the storm shelters. The 49 County News has made this information available for your iPhone through a free app from the app store. The app uses your location and gives you the ability to identify the closest community storm shelter to your present location. You should always have your safe place planned out in advance.

In order to take advantage of this map 49 County News has made you must download the free My Maps Editor App from the Apple App Store then follow the 49 County News link to download the KML File for the Google Map of Marion County as well as the KML file for Franklin County.

Unfortunately the GOP Republican Super Majority continued to pass a second verison of the Alabama Accountability Act which is also known as the School Voucher Plan. For the first time ever in our state, public dollars will follow children to private schools and our tax dollars will pay for private for profit schools. The deduction was raised from 50% to 100% for companies that want to donate to private school foundations to assist with public students going to private schools. It had been my hope that if the bill could not be repelled and go back to the Flexibility Bill , that we would at least prevent public dollars from going to private schools thus further weakening our public school systems. The new bill gives some school flexibility in complying with state education laws but also creates a tax credit known as vouchers for parents who choose to send their children to private schools and non-failing public schools but unfortunately private schools are not rated so we do not know if they are failing or not failing.

We also passed a bill to allow schools to hire armed security guards who have police training. I think that we must do all that we can to make our schools safer and a better learning environment for our children.

I offered an amendment to increase the raise to 5% for teachers K-12 and for those in our community college system and for retirees. We could have paid for this without taking any money out of the classroom. Unfortunately the Republican’s killed it, and the 5% pay raise that we proposed for teachers and personnel, both active and retired was changed into a 2% pay raise, good for only K-12 teachers. This is after the Republicans cut teachers pay by 2.5% three years ago, when they made them absorb more of the cost of their benefits which has historically been paid for by the state.

I am pleased to report to you that we approved borrowing 30 million through a bond issue to repair 6 schools damaged by the tornados 2011 and 2012 which included money to help finish the rebuilding and remodeling of Phil Campbell.

As many of you know we lost our state park in Gulf Shores, to a hurricane years ago. At the Governors urging the legislature agreed to use money from the BP oil spill settlement to build a convention center and conference center at the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. This will be run by a private, for profit, group hopefully selected through a bid process to obtain the best value at the least amount of cost to the public.

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments to me is that the GOP Super Majority refused to expand Medicaid like I had requested. This would have included coverage for 350,000 Alabamians. These are working poor who are paying taxes, but can not afford health insurance or it’s simply not available at their job. This is particularly important in rural areas because this would have been 350,000 new customers for rural hospitals, doctors, pharmacists and dentist who are currently not customers because they can not afford the health care. This would have created approximately 10,000 new jobs in Alabama. It would have been paid for 100% by theFederal Government for the first three years beginning in 2014.

After that, the State would begin to shoulder some of the cost starting at 5% in 2017 and capping at 10% in 2020. The Federal Government would then continue to pay 90% of the cost with the State of Alabama only having to pay 10%. In other words, Alabama would reap a 9 to 1 Federal match. This would provide health care to cover an additional 7 % of our population who unfortunately will not get health coverage.

The Henry Kiser Family Foundation estimated the expansion would bring $10 billion in new federal health care money to Alabama from 2014 to 2019. The State’s cost to get these dollars would be approximately $582 million. That is like investing 500 dollars and getting back 10,000.

This is a tremendous economic opportunity for Alabama as well as a great way to improve the quality of life in this state that so far the Republicans have prevented us from accomplishing. I hope they will change their mind.

Governor Bentley being a doctor should surely see the need for better health care coverage in Alabama, particularly when it would it cost no new tax dollars to the Alabama tax payers.

I am pleased to report to you that I was successful in passing a bill to protect Alabama gun owner’s rights. As a life long hunter and fisherman I am a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment. Many years ago I became a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association because I think we should protect our 2nd amendment rights. I certainly believe that we must emphasize fire arm safety and the proper use of firearms. Early in the session the Business Council of Alabama had tried to kill our gun owners bill, but fortunately common sense carried and we passed it in a bipartizan manner.

Overall it was a tough session this year and I would give it a B- if I had to rate it. Had it not been for some major bills like the Breast Cancer Awareness Bill, the bill to protect our gun rights, along with a few others, it would have received a failing grade because of the lack of debate and transparency over this legislation which lead to the 8 page school Flexibility Bill being changed into a 28 page school voucher bill without any debate or amendments. I believe that when we have accountability in the Alabama Senate through debate and review of the bills and the issues along with the ability to listen to the constituents which we represent , we will have an accountable government that passes good bills and not these that are rushed through and then when the harm is found in them it is called unintended consequences.

I had the honor and privilege of being the commencement speaker at Vina High School graduation this week. I am very proud of all of this years graduates and their many accomplishments. I wish them all the very best in their future endeavors.

Please continue to contact me with your cards, letters, calls and e-mails. I consider it an honor to work for you.

Roger H. Bedford, Jr.

Alabama State House

11 S. Union Street, Suite 738
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Phone 334-242-7862, Fax 334-242-9202
Russellville Office

P.O. Box 370

Russellville, Alabama 35653

Phone 256-332-6966 Fax 256-332-6967





Amanda Hovater
Roger H. Bedford, Jr.
Alabama State Senator District 6
Roger Bedford & Assoc., P.C.
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 370
Russellville, Alabama 35653
(256) 332-6966 – Direct Line Russellville Office
(256) 332-2880 – Law Firm
(256) 332-6967 – Facsimile
(334) 242-7862 – Montgomery Office

Written by 49 County News.Net

May 24, 2013 at 9:34 PM

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