Republican leaders outline 2016 “Right for Alabama” agenda

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Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), alongside Majority Leader Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) and Rep. Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva), held a press conference Thursday to lay out the Republican agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

Titled “Right for Alabama,” the agenda lays out state Republicans’ priorities for the upcoming session.

“Our ‘Right for Alabama’ agenda focuses on important issues like job creation, protecting public school students from harm, demanding the dignity that unborn life deserves, and other vital initiatives,” Hubbard said in a press release. “It also continues Alabama’s on-going fight against wrong-headed federal policies that would erode our constitutionally protected gun rights and force the state to accept thousands of potentially dangerous and unchecked Syrian refugees.”

The first item on the agenda, and the one that all three legislators agree is most important, is a “zero-based budgeting reform,” which requires state agencies to account for each dollar received, identify ineffective programs and save or redirect taxpayer money. According to Hubbard, both the general fund and education budgets will be the first items addressed in the upcoming session.

State Republicans also planb to address pension reform in an effort to “ensure the long-term solvency and fiscal health of the Retirement Systems of Alabama” and preserve the current level of benefits retirees earn.

The Alabama Taxpayer Advocate Act would change a current statute, which requires the Alabama Department of Revenue to select a person from its ranks to serve as Taxpayer Advocate, to allow the governor to select the advocate from a pool of qualified candidates.

The Small Business Job Creation Tax Credit would provide a $1,500 tax to small businesses for “every new, qualified employee hired by small businesses operating within the state.”

Alabama’s Right to Work Constitutional Amendment will enshrine Alabama’s status as a “Right to Work” within the state constitution, declaring that Alabama is “open for business.”

Republicans will also offer legislation aimed at “protecting public safety from Syrian refugee threats” and will assist members of the national Republican Party in “overturning Brack Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders attacking out Second Amendment right to own firearms.”

Republicans also plan to create a School Security and Student Safety Task Force, made up of education, law enforcement and emergency management officials, to conduct a “comprehensive review and assessment of state laws, regulations, and protocols relating to security and student safety.”

Though none of the legislators present would specify the amount, state Republicans also plan to work on providing teachers with a pay raise and establish the Wireless Infrastructure Renovation for Education (WIRED) Act, which provide grants to local school systems for the “purchase, installation or upgrade of wireless infrastructure.” If successful, Alabama will become the first state in the nation to have wireless infrastructure at all of its schools.

Last on Republicans’ agenda is the Unborn Infants’ Dignity of Life Act, which will outlaw “the sale of the bodily remains of unborn infants.”

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