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I left my home in Madison a little after 6 AM this morning, headed to Montgomery for the start of the 2015 Legislative Session. After a brief stop north of Birmingham – I pulled over to speak with the Matt Murphy Show – I arrived at the State Capitol at 0930, in time for the budget hearings presented by the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO) and the State Finance Director. I’ve linked the LFO presentation here and encourage readers to review the budget presentation. Governor Bentley’s proposed budget should be made available sometime tomorrow; I will provide a link once available.

We start committee meetings in the morning where we will begin reviewing bills that have been introduced. I have the General Fund Committee meeting at 9:30 followed by meetings in my office.  The Transportation and Energy Committee meets at 11:30 and I'll close out committee meetings with County and Municipal Government at 2:30. 

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It is tradition for family members to be granted floor privileges for the Senate on the first day of session and I was honored to have my wife Pam, daughters Abby and Sydney, son-in-law Michael and our three week old grandson, Holt, join me on the Senate floor. We made some special memories, no doubt.

I'll continue to keep the blog updated throughout the session  - with information on bills and debates, and maybe a picture or two of Holt. Yes, I'm a proud Grandpa!

Semper Fi - Bill




 
 
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I drove down to our property in Winston County around noon on Wednesday for what was supposed to be an overnight stay.  The forecast for 2-4 inches of snow was spot on and forecast called for a warmer day on Thursday so that I could drive home... except it kept snowing overnight and I awoke to about 8 inches of snow (please forgive the homemade ruler).


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Now I enjoy a pretty snow as much as anyone but I don’t enjoy trees falling on power line and blocking the narrow road out. I couldn’t do anything until the trees on the power lines were removed. The power company cleared the trees on their lines early Friday morning and I was left clearing the others with a small camp hatchet and shovel (note to my wife and daughters if you’re reading this – a chainsaw is now at the top of my birthday wish list!)  

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I made it safely home today and, with the recent news coverage, I am a little behind on emails and phone calls. I have no outside connectivity via my primary cell phone and have limited coverage with our alternative phone at this very remote location.

My apologies to the reporters and friends who have attempted to contact me over the past couple of days.  I was not kidnapped nor hunkered down in a hole somewhere until the barrage passed – I was simply “off the net”.  I’m back. We are holding a press conference Monday at 1 PM.  Stay tuned.

Semper Fi - Bill


 
 
PictureClearing Our Driveway in 2011
I hope everyone is enjoying Presidents Day.  While I’m not a fan of the winter months (remember the snow of 2011)  having snow today would’ve been nice as a lot of people are off work and some schools are closed due to the federal holiday. My apologizes to those at work or in school today!

I think sometimes being a weatherman in the Tennessee Valley is about as rewarding as being a politician - half the people are happy half the time!  I recall the “big snow storm” that was forecasted shortly after we moved here from San Diego in 1999. In California, if we wanted snow we had the luxury of driving to the mountains of Big Bear, playing in the snow all day and then leaving it behind as we drove to our home on the coast. One year I took some high school buddies surfing in the morning and snow skiing in the afternoon; the good old days of living in Southern Cal.

Back to the “big snow storm” …or at least the one they had forecasted.  Our daughters, age 3 and 9 at the time, were very excited about the looming snow storm….ok, I was a little excited too, I drove a Jeep Wrangler at the time and was ready to go play!  The forecasters were calling for six to nine inches of snow and I wanted the girls to see how high the snow was from the warmth of our home (remember, we were spoiled by the California weather) so I drove a tent stake into the ground near the walkway leading to our front door and taped a ruler to it so that we could easily look out the window and see the depth of the snow when we got up the next morning.  We went to bed that evening as excited as any Christmas Eve.  Of course the next morning there was not a snow flake to be found! I’ll never forget one local weatherman stating “It snowed six inches thousands of feet in the upper atmosphere but it was so dry at the lower atmosphere that it all evaporated.” Uh- huh, sure it did.  Try explaining that to my two little girls.  We’ve been suspicious of winter weather forecast in the Tennessee Valley ever since.

Some important dates to remember:

23 February – the annual Madison County Legislative Delegation Public Forum will be held at the Huntsville City Hall, City Council Chambers from 7 – 9 PM.

26 February – the annual Limestone County Legislative Delegation Public Forum will be held at the Athens State University Ball Room from 5:30 – 7:30.

3 March – the 2015 Legislative Session starts in Montgomery.

I will continue updates from the Legislative Session on Bill’s Blog once session starts. As I’ve done in the past, I’ll post links to the bills and share my thoughts. I encourage readers to be informed and study the bills you are interested in…don’t rely on the press or special interest groups – form your own fact based opinion.

Fit For Life 1000 Mile Challenge Update - It has been great to hear from so many people that have taken up the challenge. People around town such as in the gym, grocery store or at church have shared with me how they are doing on their personal quest.  Several people in other parts of the state and even in other states are participating. I’m looking forward to some warmer, dryer weather so that I can do some 5Ks.  The Grissom ROTC Wounded Warrior 5K is next Saturday, the 21st of Feb – hopefully we’ll have some great running weather. Remember, it does not matter if you walk, jog or run – just get started and get Fit for Life! See the Home Page for details on the Challenge.

Semper Fi - Bill

 
 
While reading through an email from a news clipping service on Tuesday, I came across an article reporting an increase in fees for renewal of driver’s license that went into effect on Monday; this was the first I was informed of the increases.  Fees went up $12.50 across the board, from renewals to replacement.  To put this into perspective – on Friday it cost $23.50 to renew a driver’s license – on Monday the fee shot up 54% to $36.25. 

This struck me as odd for several reasons. First, I didn’t recall debating a fee increase during last year’s legislative session so, how did this happen. Second, fee increases such as this normally are requested by a Department but then must go before a Legislative Council that includes a 90 day window for comments from those affected by the fee. 

After a few phone calls and researching legislative code, it was determined that the department used a code section (Section 32-6-6, copied below – applicable text underlined) to unilaterally raise the fees without legislative oversight. This code section was last amended in 2009 (Act # 2009-762, Senator Bedford).

I’ve also copied below a response from the department further explaining their rational for the increase.

The Way Ahead: I plan to introduce a bill that will accomplish two things. First, amend the code section to require fee increases from this department to follow the existing Legislative Council process – in other words, close this loop-hole so that fee increases are discussed openly.  Second, I will push for this change to be retroactive so that the recent fee increase will go through the oversight process.

The 2015 Legislative Session starts on March 3rd. I will continue to keep you posted about this and other legislative items in the weeks ahead via this blog.

Semper Fi - Bill 

Alabama Code: Section 32-6-6

Contents of licenses; photo specifications; fee for photo license or card

Each driver's license issued by the Department of Public Safety, except temporary permits or other special circumstances as determined by the Director of the Department of Public Safety, shall bear thereon a distinguishing number assigned to the licensee and a color photograph of the licensee, the name, birthdate, address, and a description of the licensee, who, for the purpose of identification and as a condition precedent to the validity of the license, immediately upon receipt thereof, shall endorse his or her usual or regular signature upon the license in the space provided thereon, unless a facsimile of the licensee's signature appears thereon.

A photo driver's license and photo nondriver identification card as provided in Section 32-6-4 shall have a photo core that meets the minimum width and length dimensions specified in ANSI standards X4.13-1971 and ANSI standard CR80, plus or minus 1/4 inch. In addition to all current and existing fees, the department may charge an additional fee to recover the cost of producing and issuing photo drivers' licenses and photo nondriver identification cards. The fee may not exceed ten cents ($.10) over the actual cost of producing and issuing the license or card including the cost of materials, labor costs, telecommunications costs, computer costs, postage, and any other costs incurred in producing and issuing a license or card. Revenues collected under this section shall be used by the department for the sole purpose of this program and any excess shall revert to the General Fund at the end of each fiscal year.

(Acts 1975, No. 539, §1; Acts 1984, No. 84-305, p. 678; Act 2009-762, p. 2308, §1.)

Statement from Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

 Over the past several months, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has examined the core responsibilities and functions of each legacy agency to determine where there are opportunities to consolidate services.  By working together as one agency, we will operate more efficiently from a law enforcement perspective and be able to provide the citizens of Alabama a more effective agency. 

One of the areas that desperately needs improvement is driver license.   The business model for driver license simply wasn't working - the system is inefficient and archaic. 

 Using advancements in technology, our goal is to help alleviate or reduce wait time. A pilot program utilizing grant funding that would enable citizens to renew their Alabama driver license at a kiosk was tested and determined to be successful with the issuance of more than 2,500 driver licenses.  In December of 2014, we deployed kiosks in Mobile, Dothan, Montgomery, Opelika, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Decatur, and Huntsville.  In addition to renewal kiosks, a scheduling system was developed and tested in Dothan.  The scheduling system has been also been deployed to the major markets for further testing.  Additionally, within the first quarter of 2015, we will offer citizens the ability to renew their driver license online.

 In recent years, many Driver License Offices have experienced staffing shortages due to budget shortfalls.  Currently, the Driver License Unit has more than 70 vacant positions statewide and with hiring freezes in place, this has resulted in longer lines, wait times, and in many offices, a reduction in hours of operation. 

 In researching solutions to fix the business model for driver license, we discovered that the State of Alabama is losing a significant amount of money each time a driver license is issued.  The cost for the State to produce and issue an Alabama driver license far exceeds the cost the citizen is charged to obtain a driver license.  To help recoup a portion of the loss to produce and issue a driver license, beginning February 9, 2015, we will modify the charge. Alabama law grants our agency the ability to modify the fee according to the production costs.

 The Secretary's goal is to improve the business model and provide a better service. Additionally, the level of professionalism will greatly increase and wait times will greatly improve. The state DL cost will now average approximately $9 a year. A standard Class D operator license, which is renewable every four years, will be $36.25.

 It also is important to note the change will not affect testing fees or issuance fees for non-driver identification cards for senior citizens or individuals with physical and/or mental disabilities.  

 We ask the public to be patient and judge us by our efficiencies that we implement.

### End of Statement

 
 
As a reminder - I publish the blog when we are in session and publish a monthly (sometimes semi-monthly) newsletter when the legislature is not in session.  We were in session from Feb - May of 2014 and will return to session in the spring of 2015. Following is the last blog post from 2014.

My blog of the 2014 session fell victim to a combination of writer’s block and scheduling challenges.  As I alluded to in early blog postings, the frenzied three day pace took its toll - normally we vote on Tue and Thursdays, leaving Wed open for committee meetings – this year we routinely voted Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The quickened pace required me to devote free time to reading and studying legislation as I prepared for floor votes.

The Budgets – I am a member of the General Fund Committee and feel that I am well versed in the components of that budget. As a reminder, Alabama has two budgets – the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund or ETF. I am not a member of the ETF Committee and therefore play catch-up on the ins and outs of the ETF budget. As has been reported in the media, a falling out of sorts is ongoing between the legislature and the Governor regarding the budgets – will he veto the budgets and call a special session, or will he sign them into law? I was briefed on the ongoing discussions which lead to the “compromise deal” between the governor and leadership weeks ago. The deal was suspect from the start and as such we were unable to pass the budgets until the final hours of the session last week.

The $1.8B General Fund Budget, while austere, passed the legislature with little fanfare; the problems lie with the $5.9B Education Trust Fund Budget. I voted for the General Fund Budget. I voted against the ETF, twice.  The first “no” vote occurred when the budget first passed the Senate (details reported here) and forwarded to the House; the second “no” vote was when the budget came back to the Senate last week. The House made their changes - not unexpected - requiring the ETF to go to a Conference Committee. When asked why I voted against the budget, I was quoted in the media stating – “we need to prioritize our priorities”.

Prioritizing our Priorities – what do I mean by this? Well, just like with your household budget – we must identify the most important items in the budget and fund those – when revenues are flat or down we should carefully consider expanding programs and determine at what cost; not just fiscal but opportunity cost as well.  I don’t think we do a very good job of that with the ETF. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of the fact that over the past four years we have passed conservative, balanced budgets. We have not gone into proration during a single budget cycle. Proration occurs when revenues fall short of predictions used during the budget process – therefore causing the governor to adjust spending; resulting in across the board budget cuts...not good. Proration was a common theme in years past, largely due to over estimating revenues.

We are not missing the mark in estimating revenue, we are missing the mark by continuing to expand programs – arguably worthwhile programs but again, at what cost. We level fund or cut programs while expanding others. In my view this is not a sound business principal and therefore I, along with several other legislators (they can speak for themselves) voted against the budget.

Did the Governor’s proposed budget submitted to the legislature back in January exploit a loophole violating the Rolling Reserve? Yes. Was it illegal? No. Did the Senate ETF Committee budget violate the rolling reserve? Yes. Was it illegal? No.  Did the final version of the ETF budget violate the Rolling Reserve? Yes. Was it illegal...apparently not!

Should we have passed the Governor’s proposed budget and then work to close the loophole? Perhaps, yes. I still believe that somewhere between the Governor’s proposed budget and the legislative version sent to him is a workable budget but we must be willing to prioritize our priorities. The question remains - will we have another shot at it in 2014?

As in years past, I plan to close out the 2014 Legislative Blog with an overview of significant legislation from the session. I will continue compiling that information and post to the blog in the coming days and then return to the monthly newsletter in May.

Semper Fi - Bill



 

Groundhog Day...

03/08/2014

 
Once again I find myself behind on the blog; the quickened pace of this year’s legislative session in the Senate has caused me to forgo the blog as I focus my time and energy on pending legislation. On the bright side, I’m almost caught up on emails.  

The Senate returns to session Tuesday of next week for the 23rd Legislative day...7 Legislative days remain, roughly 3 – 4 weeks and we’ve yet to pass a budget; it’s like Groundhog Day - we’ve been here before!  

I enjoyed attending several activities over the last two weeks, visiting with people from across the district discussing important local concerns such as at the Madison City Schools PTA “Brown Bag” Luncheon. Pam and I also enjoyed a night out at the Madison Hospital annual fundraiser – The Medi Gras Bash last weekend.  

This weekend we will attend the Asbury United Methodist Church CHRIST Choirs Desert Night Out fundraiser (Fri and Sat). We worship at Asbury and our daughter participates in this choir. The local talent performing at this two night event is amazing – we are truly blessed – and the homemade desserts are amazing!  

I’m two weeks behind on the blog so I’ll focus on significant legislation from last week first (25 – 27 Feb) and then move into activities from this week.  

After posting this I’m going out to play in the sun today and hope you are able to do so as well!  
Semper Fi
Bill  

The Senate passed a host of bills regarding welfare reform:

Drug testing for welfare applicants with a prior drug conviction (SB63)
Restore community service, job training or work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients without dependents (SB87)
Require welfare applicants to submit job applications before receiving benefits (SB115)
Prohibit spending of welfare benefits on liquor, tobacco, casinos and strip clubs (SB116)

The Senate also passed the Education Budget. While there are some good things in the budget, I voted against the budget based on several factors – the greatest of which was the lack of time for me to review the budget and its impact on the education community. In years past I have had an opportunity for the education community to review the budget and share their insight with me that I was later able to address with the budget chair.  The education budget was passed out of committee around noon on Wed the 26th and we were asked to vote on it Thursday evening the 27th.  I don’t view that as having amble time to study a budget and therefore voted against it.

Highlights of the budget provided by the budget chair follow:  

Meets top 4 priorities of the State Department of Education:
1. Funding for 250 new 7th and 8th grade teachers in order to lower class sizes ($10 million)
2. Increased appropriation for OCE (Other Current Expenditures) by $6 million
3.
Increased appropriation for transportation by $1.5 million
4. Increased appropriation for textbooks by $2.8 million

Additionally, the budget - 
Increases appropriation for state’s voluntary Pre-K program by $10 million
Increases appropriation for Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative by $2.5 million Maintains level funding for Alabama Reading Initiative
Dedicated $62 million toward repaying the $437 million borrowed by the Democrat majority in 2008  

I also voted against the move to change the proposed 2% pay raise for teachers and support personnel to a 1% bonus. I will continue to support the raise over a onetime bonus....and we still need to work out the PEEHIP issue with the board - more to come on this.

Significant bills passed this week (4 - 6 March) include:

The Alabama Ahead Act – (SB1) Technology Infrastructure for Education bill passed the full Senate and is on its way to the House. I have concerns with this bill as on the surface we are borrowing $100M...we don’t need to borrow anymore money (which is why I voted against the bill). However, I recognize the need to expand technology in the classroom but only after providing for the infrastructure and training required for such expansion to be successful.  We were successful in amending the original bill to include this oversight and to require local system participation/funding match of 25%. Additionally, systems that have already deployed technology along these lines will be able to recoup some of their costs.  
 
Two government streamlining bills passed the General Fund Committee that I am a member of this week.    We continue our efforts to streamline state government and reduce spending. SB412 would consolidate the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles into the Alabama Department of Corrections and the SB411 State Forestry Commission into the Department of Agriculture. To date, Republicans’ have enacted streamlining reforms that will save taxpayers millions of dollars annually – simply put – our state government needed to be put on a diet! This is not a question of someone not doing their job, this is a question of efficiency in state government and we are making business decisions to better allocate limited resources while continuing to serve the people of Alabama.  
 
 
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Today closed out the 6th week of the 2014 Legislative Session. This was a very busy yet productive week.

Wednesday was comprised of several committee meetings with departmental meetings interspersed throughout the day.  Wednesday evening was filled with several receptions and a dinner. I was able to attend the Soil and Water Conservation reception, the Home Builders reception and the Independent Insurance Agents reception. Later that evening I attended the Alabama Federation of Republican Women (AFRW) dinner; House Speaker Hubbard was the guest speaker.

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I began Thursday morning with the Tennessee Valley Authority Caucus meeting. The caucus hosted Col Bill Marks; Garrison Commander of Redstone Arsenal, at today’s meeting. Col Marks provided a great overview of the economic impact and growth opportunities Redstone Arsenal provides to our region and the state. 

I continued the morning chairing the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee meeting. We debated and passed three bills out of the committee. Of note HB211 passed – establishing a disabled veterans hunting license.

The Senate went into session at 10 AM and we began debating several bills that were in position for passage out of the Senate. Bills passing the full Senate include:

SB85 – This bill removes the war time or hazardous duty clause for veteran’s education benefits.

SB319 – This bill clears up implementation issues raised by the Administrative Office of Courts and Department of Public Safety for the Ignition Interlock device that we passed in 2011. I was the sponsor of this legislation supported by MADD.

SB98 – This bill addresses pre-need – or pre-paid – funeral services and was brought about after a few cases of funeral homes across the state going out of business - after accepting payment for pre-paid funeral services, leaving grieving families in a terrible circumstance. This legislation requires payments made for pre-need funeral services to be placed in a secure account.

I will keep a watchful eye to the West as I drive home later this evening, hopefully arriving home ahead of the forecasted storms. I am looking forward to running my first 5K of the year this weekend – the 5th annual Grissom JROTC Wounded Warrior 5K.   

The Senate will return to session on Tuesday for the 17th Legislative Day.

Semper Fi - Bill



 
 
The big news from this week is of course the Huntsville Remington announcement. As this has been covered extensively by local and national media, I feel confident that readers are fully aware of the significant economic impact this has on our area and for our state. I’m truly honored to represent you in the Alabama Senate and at this point I simply want to thank everyone who supports the pro-business, pro-right to work and pro-second amendment team that I’m a part of! We have more work to do and I stand ready to capitalize on opportunities such as the Remington announcement - the best is yet to come!

I started this morning with a meeting in my office in Madison (some of you know this as Starbucks on Hwy 72) and then enjoyed a beautiful sunny drive south to Montgomery for the week’s session. Once in Montgomery I met with the caucus to review the weeks plan. The Senate went into session at 1 PM. After some procedural work, the Senate began debating what is known as the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights. This legislation has passed the Senate in previous years – in 2013 the bill passed both the House and Senate but due to a technical error while engrossing the amendments to the bill the Governor was unable to sign it. The version we are working on this year, HB105 passed the House in a 97 – 2 vote. Long story short – here we are again and the debate on this legislation is renewed for another year. The debate continued for 5 hours until approximately 6 PM at which time the bill was carried over. We finished the day passing several local bills and adjourned until Thursday at 10 AM. 

I wanted to remind readers that it is not too late to sign up for the Grissom JROTC Wounded Warrior 5K slated for this Saturday, February 22nd.   Proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and Grissom JROTC Program. I am honored to have been asked to serve as the Race Marshall for this the 5th annual 5K and look forward to running the event. My Achilles heel injury continues to mend well and I’ll be ready for the race on Saturday and hope to see many of you out there supporting the event. More information is available at this link.

Tomorrow’s schedule consists of several committee meetings starting at 8:30 AM. In Education Policy we will debate 3 bills, in Commerce Transportation and Utilities we will debate 8 Bills, and in General Fund we will debate 8 bills; that’s 3 committee meetings with 15 bills...before lunch.  Tomorrow afternoon I have several departmental meetings scheduled in between presenting one of my bills, SB325 - providing confidentiality for any person or entity participating in an execution or performing any ancillary function to the Judiciary Committee. Tonight I plan to join the Alabama Cattleman’s Association for their annual legislative reception here in Montgomery but will turn in early to prepare for tomorrow!

Semper Fi

Bill

 
 
I started the morning with the Education Policy Committee meeting at 0830. In all I had a total of 3 committee meetings where a total of 12 bills were debated throughout the day.

A bill that I am sponsoring, SB319, was passed unanimously by the Commerce, Transportation and Utilities (CTU) Committee this afternoon.  This bill is supported by MADD and will help with implementation of the Ignition Interlock legislation that we passed in 2012. Of note, I was honored to have been named a MADD Legislator of the Year in Alabama and am committed to continuing to work on this important legislation.

The Senate went into session at 3 PM and worked to pass several non-controversial bills in a very cooperative spirit.  There was indication that the “wheels would come off” early on in today’s session but agreements were made concerning another bill pitting members of a delegation against each other. The parties were able to come to an agreement, avoiding a Senate shutdown...at least for today.

The Senate adjourned at 6 PM and will reconvene at 10 AM tomorrow morning.

In other news – having nothing to do with legislation or the State of Alabama – most readers know that I'm an avid Corvette enthusiast, supporter and Life Member of the National Corvette Museum (NCM). In case you have not heard, the NCM had a sinkhole open up early this morning, swallowing a total of 8 priceless Corvettes. I’m sad that this happened, but happy that the incident occurred while the NCM was closed and no one was hurt. The cars – while expensive to repair – can hopefully be retrieved and repaired. The picture below was sent to me early this morning. A security camera video of the beginning of the incident is linked here.

 
 
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I want to thank regular readers of the Blog for contacting me asking why I’m behind on the blog...it is nice to know that I was missed! In simple terms, I was overcome by events (to include Mother Nature) and simply fell behind on putting my thoughts on paper...well, in electrons! I will not attempt to cover legislative events from the days missed other than to say that two weeks ago the Senate and House struggled to achieve a quorum due to the snow/ice storm that hit the Birmingham area, and last week we doubled down on committee work in an attempt to get back on track doing two weeks of work in one week.

I left my home in Madison late Monday afternoon – ahead of the snow and ice for this week – arriving in Montgomery last night. Today is the start of our fifth week of the 2014 Legislative Session. The state constitution limits us to 30 legislative days within a 105 day calendar window. The window opened on 14 January and today is the 12th Legislative Day; a legislative day occurs any day the Senate goes to the floor for a vote. 

I was able to join the Alabama State Retired Employees Association for their annual meeting and luncheon this afternoon. The Madison County Chamber of Commerce was scheduled to visit the State House on Wednesday but had to cancel due to the snow and ice.  I know we are all looking forward to Spring!

Action on the Senate Floor today included finishing up the Sun Set Bills. These Bills are the process by which various boards and commissions are reviewed and allowed to continue their work. Our rules call for this re-authorization to take place by a certain legislative day.


The Grissom JROTC Wounded Warrior 5K – I’m honored to have been asked to serve as the Race Marshall for the 5th Annual Grissom JROTC Wounded Warrior 5K on Saturday, February 22nd. Most readers know that last year I ran a 5K a month (I doubled up on two months and actually ended up running 14 races) attending events in Athens, Madison and Huntsville, supporting a wide variety of causes. This race will be my first race of 2014 as I’m nursing an Achilles tendon injury suffered while running after Christmas. After several weeks of “self medication” I finally ended up at Nesin Physical Therapy. The staff there is taking great care of me and I should be ready for the full 5K on the 22nd...albeit at a slower pace!  I encourage you to sign up at the link above. Remember – to finish is to win, but you must start to finish! I hope you will be able to join us for this great event.
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A couple of pictures from last week in Montgomery: Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong visited the State House to share some insight on economic development activities from back home. General Via, CG of the Army Material Command at Redstone Arsenal spoke to a joint session of the Alabama Legislature commemorating Military Appreciation Day. I had a great visit with Athens City and Limestone County Superintendents regarding education initiatives.

In other events across Senate District 2 – even though we are in session I continue to work across the Senate District when back home.


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Friday night Pam and I attended the opening reception of the Madison Connect – the Mayor’s Annual State of the City Event at the Davidson Center before heading over to the 25th Annual Greater Huntsville Humane Society Dog Ball. We where honored to walk “Buzz” down the runway for the show. Buzz is a shelter dog available for adoption. Saturday morning I attended the Tennessee Valley Republican Club monthly meeting and that evening Pam and I attended the Project Management Institute – North Alabama Chapter Annual Awards Dinner at the Ledges where I was the Key Note Speaker. It was a busy weekend but we enjoyed visiting with so many of you and supporting a wide range of great causes!

I will start tomorrow morning with committee meetings at 8:30 and the Senate goes back into session at 3 PM. I hear that several inches of additional snow is expected to fall across North Alabama this evening so please be safe on the roads, check on neighbors and the elderly especially if the power goes out...also please don't forget to bring our four legged friends inside!

Semper Fi - Bill