Alabama House Republicans understand that our 2015 agenda must pursue two simultaneous goals – moving our state forward using proven conservative principles and ideas while also fighting a defensive effort to protect our traditional values against an overreaching and out-of-control federal government. To those ends, we propose to include the package of bills outlined below in the “Alabama First” legislative agenda.
Our agenda earned its name because it is designed to put Alabama firmly on the road toward becoming first in education and first in economic development. And when it comes to deciding between implementing the Obama administration’s liberal policies or doing what is best for our state, House Republicans will always chose to put “Alabama First.”
First in Education
21st Century Workforce Scholarships
House Republicans recognize that a strong and skilled workforce will help ensure that more Alabamians have long-lasting, good-paying jobs. They also recognize that in order to keep current industries and recruit new ones, our workforce must be competitive with those offered by other states and international communities. Career-technical dual enrollment is one of the best tools we have to ensure our state has the highly-skilled and capable workforce we need both now and in the future. That is why House Republicans support providing an additional $5 million in funding for student scholarships in career-tech dual enrollment programs across our state.
Alabama has seen tremendous improvements in our education system over the past few years, including the highest graduation rate in our state’s history. But as long as there are students stuck in schools that do not meet their needs, parents and families must be provided with additional school choice options. House Republicans believe that every child in Alabama deserves access to a quality education regardless of their economic status, race, or zip code. They also believe that parents or guardians know their child best and are the most qualified to make educational decisions on their behalf. House Republicans support more school choice options for parents and students such as allowing for the creation of public charter schools, as well as other parental empowerment tools for a student’s educational growth and success.
First in Economic Development and Job Creation
With intense competition coming for economic development, industrial recruitment, and job creation projects, more must be done for Alabama to remain competitive in the types of economic incentives we can offer. That is why House Republicans are working with Governor Bentley and the Alabama Department of Commerce on an Economic Development Initiative to overhaul and update our economic development incentives to recruit new business and retain existing business in Alabama.
First in Transparency and Accountability
Regulation Repeal Act
Over the last four years, House Republicans have passed measures to stop the implementation of job-killing regulations, eliminate taxes and fees that are more costly for the state to collect than what they bring in, and provide numerous tax cuts across Alabama. To continue their efforts to downsize government and reduce red tape, House Republicans support legislation that will repeal more than 300 state laws on the books today that are obsolete, unenforceable, or otherwise no longer have any purpose or relevance.
Truth in Salary Act
House Republicans believe that responsible governing demands transparency and accountability, and state employees and educators deserve to be fully informed about the benefits that taxpayers provide to them – an effort that is common practice across the private sector. To accomplish these goals, House Republicans support legislation requiring all state agencies, local boards of education, and postsecondary and higher education institutions to provide employees with an annual itemized statement detailing all benefits received or accrued from his or her employer.
Putting Alabama Values First
Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act
Alabama House Republicans understand that our religious liberties and freedoms are under attack by activist judges, an expanding federal government, and liberal interest groups. An effort to protect these freedoms has become even more imperative with recent actions to overturn the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. To ensure that Alabama judges and ministers are not forced to violate their religious or moral beliefs, Alabama House Republicans support passage of the Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act which will protect these individuals from being forced to officiate marriages for any reason.
Student Religious Liberties Act
A series of federal court decisions over the last fifty years have whittled away the rights to prayer and religious expression in schools and created much confusion as to what is now permissible and what is not. House Republicans believe that it is time to re-establish the freedom of student-led prayer and religious expression in our schools, and will support the Student Religious Liberties Act during the 2015 Legislative Session.
Capital Punishment Preservation Act
Alabama House Republicans understand that capital punishment serves as both an effective deterrent and a proper punishment for those who would commit the most heinous crimes on our books, but liberal interest groups and committed political activists are working on multiple fronts to end the use of the death penalty in our state. In order to ensure that the public is protected and sentences for capital crimes are carried out, Alabama House Republicans support passage of the Capital Punishment Preservation Act which will allow the Department of Corrections to once again utilize the electric chair as the primary method of execution if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional or if the drugs essential to carrying out that death penalty process are unavailable for any reason.