Coastal insurance reform

The average cost to insure a home in Mobile and Baldwin Counties is eleventy billion dollars, if you can find an insurer.  Central and North Alabama are facing the same types of issues in the wake of the recent devastating tornadoes, so this is about more than ‘coastal insurance reform’.  Insurance reform may get addressed in a special session of the legislature, if not, it will certainly be a top issue in the next legislative session.

Governor Dr. Robert Bentley just named the members of the Affordable Homeowners Insurance Commission, led by Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell (R).  Huntsville is represented on the commission by Wayne Parker and State Farm agent Joe Demos.  Some interesting appointments include K. Carl Smith (The conservativeMessenger) and Michelle Kurtz (Homeowners’ Hurricane Insurance Initiative).  State Senator Ben Brooks (R – Mobile), State Representative Mike Hill (R – Columbiana), and State Representative Steve McMillan (R – Gulf Shores) are on the commission – presumably to sponsor legislation incorporating the results of the Commission’s efforts.

I spoke with Representative McMillan last week after his fishing trip and he said that insurance reform was his top legislative priority.  The GOP legislature passed a couple of bills this year to ”create a tax deduction for strengthening homes against hurricanes and tornadoes, set up an Insurance Department trust fund for retrofitting homes, and require that insurers publicly disclose information when they ask regulators for rate changes.”

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Alabama must keep Forever Wild

Alabama State Representative Randy Davis (Republican-96) wrote an editorial for The Huntsville Times “Alabama must keep its Forever Wild law” (no link available yet):

…there is one piece of legislation that all Republicans and Democrats alike should commit to pass early this session.  The Forever Wild program was approved in 1992 with an overwhelming majority of 84 percent of Alabamians voting in support of its creation.  It’s even more popular today, but… the funding will sunset in 2012 unless reauthorized by the Legislature.

…These lands not only provide opportunities for all Alabamians to enjoy our great outdoors, but also create a significant impact on the local economies where these lands are located.

…This program generates significant economic development and tourism in Alabama that results in new jobs and increased revenue…  This makes Forever Wild, by far, a net positive when it comes to our state budget and the creation of new jobs for Alabamians.

Davis is sponsoring the Forever Wild law in its current form (“as is”) in the State House, joined by State Senator Scott Beason (Republican-17) in the Senate.  The “as is” part is important – last year some legislators wanted to raid the fund for road construction.

Protect Forever Wild is an organization working to pass the Forever Wild law:

Created in 1992 by a constitutional referendum that garnered 83 percent of the vote, Forever Wild is a program dedicated to preserving Alabama’s most beautiful and environmentally sensitive land, all while expanding the recreational opportunities available to the public.
 
Forever Wild keeps our water and air clean, protects our wildlife, and helps ensure that our children will have the opportunity to experience the natural wonders of our beautiful state.

I urge every member the Republican caucus to vote to reauthorize the Forever Wild law “as is”.  It’s the right thing to do…

What can you do for me

“What can you do for me” by Utah Saints hit #10 on the music charts in the UK in 1991.   I think that it’s a catchy title for this post – alas without the sampling and dance beat.  My newly-elected State Representative Jim Patterson (R-21) asked me to make a list of what I want the legislature to work on, so here it is in no particular order, and I probably forgot something.  There’s room in the comments for your suggestions and thoughts.

 More below the fold…

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A Star is Born

A Star is Born

A Star is Born

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the trash cart made famous in State Senator Paul Sanford’s TV ad.

In what seems like an announcement for 2014, Paul Sanford says:

we need help retrieving our signs for the next time.  bring them to Little Paul’s and we will store for future use.  Thanks!

I like this on so many levels.  First, reuse is a good waste management practice. Second, I appreciate frugality.  Third, we might get to vote for Paul again in 2014.

I’m fixing to head down to Little Paul’s to get some pie, so if you want me to swing by and get your yard sign let me know…

Sanford Fundraiser

From the Paul Sanford campaign:

J.V. & Jeanette Balch
Joyce Ellett
David & Kathy Linden
Herschel & Lynne Matheny
Allan Rhodes
Art & Jackie Sanford
Louise Sanford
Terry & Timi Sanford
Frances Taylor
Ken & Connie Ward 

Cordially Invite You to a Fundraising Reception
Honoring

Paul Sanford, Republican State Senator District 7

Monday, October 18, 2010
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Monte Sano Lodge

 Contributions Appreciated                                                Casual Dress

RSVP 256-882-7626                                                     Music—Tony Mason

 Paid for by friends of Paul Sanford/218 Westchester Ave./Huntsville, Al 35801

 

Northeast Alabama Tea Party Rally

WHAT:            HUNTSVILLE TEA PARTY ELECTION RALLY FOR NORTHEAST ALABAMA

WHEN:            October 26, 2010 at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE:          Parking lot at corner of Clinton Street and Woodson in (across from Clinton Street Post Office)

SPEAKERS:   
Dr. Robert Bentley, Republican Candidate for Governor
Commissioner Mo Brooks, Republican Candidate for Congress (District 5)
Mary Scott Hunter, Republican Candidate for State School Board (District 8)
Senator Paul Sanford, Republican Candidate for State Senate (District 7)
Councilman Bill Holtzclaw, Republican Candidate for State Senate (District 2)

Please mark your calendars to join us for what we hope to be a fantastic turnout to hear and/or meet some of the GOP candidates from our area the week before the election.  We will also asking that you publicize this event through your organizations or campaigns, as the case may be, once our formal release is prepared.  I wanted to go ahead and get this out so that all of you would reserve this date on your calendars.

Candidates running to represent all or parts of Madison and/or Limestone County that are in attendance will be recognized during the program by Roger Richardson.  Local elected GOP officials will be recognized as well.  We hope people will be there early to meet candidates, who will be invited to set up tables.

Please note that Dr. Bentley will speak first and, after speaking, he must IMMEDIATELY leave to go to Athens for a televised debate (so please do not try to talk to him after he speaks.  We don’t want him to be late!).  Mo will go next and then he must also leave to go to Athens, because his debate follows Dr. Bentley’s.

Brewery Modernization Act Fails This Year

From fellow blogger Dan:

Yesterday marked the last day of the legislative session. We had hoped two pro-beer bills would be passing. Unfortunately, neither did.

SB328, the Brewery Modernization Act, was the official Free the Hops bill for this session. Despite being a common-sense, pro-business bill that would create jobs and help a growing industry in Alabama (without costing a penny to the public purse), the House leadership decided not to put it on the agenda Thursday. We were instead relegated to a possible second agenda, meaning that if they got through with the first agenda and still wanted to work, we would be placed somewhere on a follow-up agenda. When things started slowing down Thursday, it was clear that we would not get our shot.

 Unfortunately, the Brewery Modernization Act had a big holdup early on in the session after the ABC expressed concerns with it. We certainly don’t want the state agency responsible for regulating alcohol to lobby against our bill, so we worked with them to address their concerns. After a long time, we were finally able to craft a substitute bill to move through the legislature.

 After that hurdle, SB328 sailed through the Senate and received a favorable report from the House Committee on Tourism and Travel. Unfortunately, all the delays meant we really only had the last 2 weeks to pass our bill through the House. They didn’t get to us.

 All things being equal, the Brewery Modernization Act made it very far for its first year. But all things aren’t equal. Free the Hops decided to go with this legislation because we thought it was a common sense bill to pass in an election year and with a down economy. With the growing brewing industry in Alabama, it just seemed like the right time.

 Straight to Ale is a new brewery in Huntsville expecting to debut in time for the Rocket City Brewfest. They are located in the Lincoln Mills development and have plans for a taproom at the brewery to showcase their selections. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to build their taproom for at least another year because the legislature decided not to consider the Brewery Modernization Act.

 Until last week, Back Forty Beer Company was looking at two locations to build their new brewery in Gadsden. One site was if the Brewery Modernization Act passed – it had space for a tasting room and was ideally located in the historic district of Gadsden. The other site was in an industrial park if it didn’t pass. Unfortunately, the legislature this year kept a growing business off Broad Street as Back Forty has to brew it’s beer in a hidden corner far away from public eyes.

 Good People Brewing in Birmingham recently moved into their new location and were hoping the Brewery Modernization Act would allow them to build a taproom at the new place. Instead, the public has to keep out of this growing business.

 Olde Towne in Huntsville has an extremely spacious brewery and would like to rent it out for events and hold promotional events of their own periodically. The legislature put an end to that idea.

 Montgomery Brewing Company has been around since 1995 and is the only brewpub licensee currently active in the state of Alabama, meaning it is the one place where you can enjoy a beer at the brewery. They already have a wholesaler network ready to distribute and market their beers outside of the brewery, but instead they must continue selling their beer on-premise only. They’re not allowed to expand their business by selling their beer to other bars, restaurants, and stores.

 I personally know of a few entrepreneurs who have the means and desire to open a brewpub in different cities in Alabama. Most, if not all, will put their plans on hold for now because, until the Brewery Modernization Act passes, they’re so restricted on where they can open and who they can sell to, the business risk is too high.

 These are some real-world examples of how the legislative inaction with regard to the Brewery Modernization Act is hindering economic development and expansion. We’re not talking abstract ideas and possibilities. There will be real repercussions due to the House’s decision not to consider this legislation.

Madison County GOP Breakfast – 1/16/2010

Congressman Parker Griffith (R) attended the Madison County Republican breakfast this morning, creating quite a buzz.  Griffith’s welcome ranged from warm hugs and handshakes to curiosity to silent disapproval.  The leadership didn’t exactly embrace Griffith – they didn’t seat him at the head table as might be expected for a sitting Congressman of your party.

I introduced myself to Griffith, telling him that I wasn’t sure if he’d show up to one of our meetings and that I respected him for attending.  Griffith said that he’d heard of Flashpoint (unsurprising since we covered the Huntsville Hospital documents pretty extensively during the last campaign).  I made Griffith the same offer that I made to the Artur Davis (D) campaign; we’ll post event notifications or issue papers sent to us from his campaign.  I hope Griffith takes us up on the offer.

The GOP breakfast was packed with more than 300 people.  You can really tell that the campaign season has started - lots of officials and candidates. In addition to Griffith, AL05 Congressional candidates Mo Brooks and Les Phillip attended (Les is probably so looking forward to reading “The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire” – he and I – and Mo – share a love of history).  Attendees included: State Representatives Phil Williams (6), Mike Ball (10) and Howard Sanderford (20); House 20 candidate David Pinkleton; Senate 9 candidates Tony Cochran, Clay Scofield, Don Spurlin, and John Wilson; State Board of Education candidate Mary Scott Hunter; Sheriff Blake Dorning; Judges Dick Richardson and Dennis O’Dell; DA Rob Broussard; Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong; HSV Councilman Mark Russell; HSV Board of Education member Jennie Robinson; Madison Councilman Tim Cowles; and Madison County Board of Education candidate David Vess.  Forgive me if I left anyone off the list.

Talk radio superstar Dale Jackson of WVNN attended the breakfast. 

John McMillan, candidate for Agriculture and Industries Commissioner, deserves a special mention.  McMillan was endorsed by 26 Republican legislators – which is unusual for a primary and speaks to the respect McMillan has gained through years of public service.

***

The meeting featured speeches by the candidates for State Senate 9 (South Huntsville, Marshall County, and part of Blount County).  We are blessed to have such fine people running to replace incumbent Senator Hinton Mitchem (D).  Here are excerpts from their speeches (keep in mind it’s tough for me to eat and write at the same time):

Tony Cochran – if elected, he will be the only CPA in the legislature, which he says will benefit the budget process. “Democrats are bankrupting the State of Alabama”.  Supports Charter Schools.  Prevent AEA executives from participating in State retirement plan.  Rolling reserve budget system (Canfield).  Pro-life.  Pro-gun.  Illegal immigration – TN trains 10% of its troopers to be ICE officers.

Clay Scofield – this is “the year of the conservative”.  Pro-life. Pro-Second Amendment. Ethics – “we have to create an environment where being a legislator is unprofitable”. Tell Hubbard NO; “40% of the eductaion budget is spent in the boardroon and not in the classroom”. “Take care of home-grown businesses”.  Note that Clay is a young man, someone at my table who didn’t know him said he was “pretty impressive”.

Don Spurlin – “Small Government, low taxes, Constitution, pro-family, pro-life”.  Education – “focus on the classroon”, math and reading initiative.  “I believe in the ABC’s, not the AEA’s”.  Economy – “Provide what employer’s need: trained workforce, industry-ready worksites, infrastructure”.  Marshall County is impacted more by illegal immigration than any other County in the State.  Don noted that Governor Riley praised the Alabama DHR for a record number of adoptions in the State of the State address. Spurlin praised the Marshall County DHR who also had a record number of adoptions.

John Wilson – “Lifelong conservative Republican”. Wilson noted that Sen. Hinton Mitchem was a “no-show” at the Madison County Legislative Delegation’s forum.  PACT – the State has a “moral obligation to honor the contract”.  Support gas tax pledge. Illegal immigration – supports E-Verify and suspending business licenses of employers who don’t make a good faith effort to comply.  “John Wilson reporting for duty”.

State Senate 9 – Tony Cochran

Tony Cochran kicked off his State Senate 9 race last night, after a busy day of press events and speeches.  The kickoff party was held at the Hampton Inn in Guntersville, next to Wintzell’s Oyster House.  I attended the kickoff to meet Tony (hadn’t met him yet) and ask him about my favorite question: Free the Hops.  Cochran is supportive.  He has even toured the Lincoln Mill renovation and seen the Straight to Ale brewery (opening late Feb 2010).

Tony shared a story about how he and incumbent State Senator Hinton Mitchem and a group of Marshall County Chamber of Commerce types traveled to DC for a meeting, and how the CofC guys (apparent beer lovers) cornered Mitchem to talk about the Gourmet Beer Bill.  There’s nowhere to run when you’re in a small plane.  I think most politicians in Alabama have faced that conversation over the past few years.

A good crowd of about 80 people braved sub-freezing temperatures to support Cochran.  Cochran made his speech, saying that given the State’s financial troubles, electing a CPA to office would be a good thing.  Cochran was definitely at home with the audience, saying that they already knew everything about him and that they would hold him accountable.  IMO there’s nothing like friends and family to keep you straight.

Cochran made a direct plea to his supporters: “I need your money and I need your vote”.  Cochran said that he had already raised about $90,000 and his goal was about $175,000.  Wow.  That’s a lot of money – I can hardly wait to see the finance reports that come out soon to see how the other candidates are faring.

Cochran has a couple of not-so-secret weapons – his daughters.  The crowd included a bunch of young voters who seemed to be eager to help elect Tara and Shelby’s dad.  These two add a lot of energy to the campaign.

The State Senate District 9 Republican primary includes Tony Cochran, Clay Scofield, Don Spurlin, and John Wilson.  The winner faces incumbent Hinton Mitchem in the general election.

***

John McMillan, Republican candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, dropped by Cochran’s event on his way to the Marshall County GOP meeting held next door at Wintzell’s.  I really like McMillan – he’s from Gulf Shores and we talk about that area a lot.  McMillan has some fascinating family stories about taking your own cow with you to the beach and buying blocks of ice from a boat for the sawdust-insulated cooler.

McMillan and I also share a great passion for clean water.  Plus, McMillan supports Free the Hops (even though he doesn’t drink).  Great guy.

Marshall County Republican Women – Wintzell’s

Last Thursday I went to the Marshall County Republican Women’s Club meeting in Guntersville.  The meeting was held at Wintzell’s Oyster House (on  US431 next to the Hampton Inn).  More than 50 people attended and brought Toys for Tots.

First, I’m going to praise Wintzell’s Oyster House (“fried, stewed, and nude”).  I’ve been to the original Wintzell’s in downtown Mobile.  A few years ago, some guy from Cracker Barrel bought it and started expanding.  Next, they started franchising – the Wintzell’s in Guntersville was the first franchise.  We’re about to get one here in Huntsville at the former Green Hills Grille at University and Wynn.

Now for the praise:  the food was good, the service was terrific, the facility was clean, the view was magnificent, and the manager was friendly.  Plus they serve Olde Towne beer (however I drank tea with lunch).  I knew I was in the right place when the manager started talking about Dogfish Head Brewery.

***

I got to meet and talk with several GOP candidates: Agriculture Commissioner candidate Dale Peterson (“let’s save our family farms”); State Senate 9 candidate Don Spurlin; Senate 9 candidate Clay Scofield; West Point Mayor and candidate for State House 12 Kenneth Kilgo; former State Representative and House 26 candidate Kerry Rich; and Marshall County Circuit Judge Tim Jolley.  I also got to meet Albertville Mayor Lindsey Lyons.

Since this was our first meeting, I made it a point to talk with State Senate 9 candidate Clay Scofield of Arab.  Scofield is an Auburn graduate, a chicken farmer, and runs an erosion control business.  He describes himself as “very conservative” with strong libertarian beliefs.  Others have described him as a “Lincoln populist” (Clay is tall and gangly).

I immediately asked Scofield about Free the Hops.  He says he doesn’t drink, but would have voted for the Gourmet Beer Bill because it was good for business.  He is generally supportive of this year’s pro-business FTH legislation.  I like him already.

I also got to meet Jordana Long, who is married to Wes Long, candidate for House 27.  To bring this all back to the beginning – Long is one of the partners in Wintzell’s…

***

The speaker at the event was Elois Zeanah of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women.  Here are excerpts from an email about her speech: 

E-Verify is the federal web-based electronic verification program for employers to quickly verify Social Security Numbers of new workers.  This system is highly accurate, and verification is completed within minutes at minimal cost.  Illegal immigration if a huge factor in budget deficits in Alabama.  Yet illegal immigration continues to grow in our state because Alabama has become a magnet for illegal immigration since border states of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia have passed E-Verify bills to discourage illegal workers and to punish employers who hire them.  Studies prove that illegal aliens avoid states with E-Verify and migrate to states which do not.  An E-Verify bill would curb illegal immigration  and help save Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars a year — not to mention jobs that would be saved for Alabama citizens…

Good news!  Senator Scott Beason has agreed to sponsor our bill in the Senate; and Representative Micky Hammon has agreed to sponsor our bill in the House.  Both are perfect Sponsors since both have submitted several bills each to curb illegal immigration in past years, were members of the State Commission on Immigration, and are articulate and most knowledgeable on the issue.