I attended the Legislative Forum tonight and signed up to speak. My issue was Free the Hops. I think I said something like:
I live in Representative Hinshaw’s district. I am speaking in support of Free the Hops, which is a bi-partisan grassroots organization formed to reform Alabama’s Beer Laws. I know that many of you Representatives and Senators have supported Free the Hops in the past, and I hope that it will pass this time. Thank you.
Brief. Much less than the three minutes allotted.
The Legislative Delegation present included Senator Arthur Orr (R – 3), Representative Mac McCutcheon (R – 25), Representative Sue Schmitz (D – 6), Representative Howard Sanderford (R – 20), Senator Tom Butler (D -2 ), Representative Randy Hinshaw (D – 21), Representative Butch Taylor (D – 22), Representative Laura Hall (D – 19), and Representative Mike Ball (R – 10).
Senate 7 GOP candidates Roger Richardson, Mary Scott Hunter, and Paul Sanford were there campaigning (as was Democrat Laura Hall – in the delegation).
Leading Democrat Doug Dermody and Leading Republican Elbert Peters were there, as well as many other civic leaders including Susan Newman, Mark Russell, Judge Frank Riddick, Sandy Kirkendall, George Barry, Will Culver, Stan Simpson, and Laurie McCauley. The irrepressible Jackie Reed was there too.
The rules: people signed up to speak for a max of three minutes, and legislators did not answer questions or submit to polling – they could address an issue if they wanted to. The gist of issues surfaced included (keep in mind I don’t do shorthand, I scribble, and I don’t know most of these people – apologies if I misspell your name and don’t explain your issue fully):
1. McNeal and Erbert of AEA – does Walmart pay AL income tax? AEA says no. (Butler says their analysis is correct)
2. Richardson of MADD. Family killed by drunk driver.
3. Hall of MADD. Paralyzed by drunk driver.
4. Hall of MADD. Husband paralyzed by drunk driver.
5. Brinkley – Midwives.
6. Group of students – Youth Advocates in Action. Chewing tobacco.
7. Soule – Partnership for Drug Free. Criminalize Salvia.
8. Fagan – Eviction laws.
9. Hogan – Dangerous dogs (Hinshaw agrees that issue needs to be addressed).
10. Robertson – Rural “Roads by Prescription”.
11. Doug Seay – Pirates. Just kidding, Doug is recovering from surgery and had a patch on his eye. He went on to speak about Constitutional Reform (Hinshaw and Taylor support).
12. Timberlake – transparency, open meetings compliance, waive tuition for Seniors at Universities.
13. Cox – no Senate 7 representation during session, restore APT ‘For the Record’ funding.
14. Davis – Mental Health.
15. Holman? – Medicare funding.
16. Brown – chewing tobacco sales to minors.
17. Johnson – Family Services Center.
18. Jackie Reed – (I really love her, she does a great service for Huntsville and says what needs to be said) quit stealing education money from children, build more jails for sex predators, “we want your name on that button” (vote your own machines).
19. Sasan – Proration, if kids don’t have a school program they’ll find their own program (crack, meth, teen pregnancy).
20. Gurley Mayor Simpson – fund small town infrastructure.
21. Stenburg? – County School Impact Fee.
22. Balch – film industry incentives (Sanderford co-sponsored bill).
23. Masterson – empty Senate 7 seat.
24. Holsenbeck? – ACCR, need to raise taxes, end payday loan business misery.
25. Me – Free the Hops.
26. Zieger – Alabama Family Rights Organization, 50 / 50 parenting.
27. Kozinski – oppose Real ID and biometrics.
28. Foster – supports Fair Pay Act.
On a more personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting Will Culver, our new City Councilman. He is a serious guy who seems to want to represent all of the people in his district, not just the ones who voted for him. Even with his law enforcement background, he was surprised when I mentioned that Huntsville is #83 nationally for crime and #2 in Alabama, according to FBI statistics aggregated by CQ Press. Also:
I asked Representative Hall to consider responding to the Flashpoint Senate 7 questionnaire.
And best of all, Representative Hinshaw said he reads Flashpoint occasionally, and he said he thinks we’re “fair” to him. In real life, I like Randy and have campaigned both for him and against him (remember he switched parties). He doesn’t know this (well, he might now), but he is probably the person most responsible for me becoming as pro-life as I am now. Go figure.
John Peck of The Huntsville Times wrote an article about the forum: “People Talk, Politicians Listen”.