Thursday, February 5, 2009

Senator Rodger Smitherman (D) of Birmingham is the new President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate

With a vote of 18 to 12 Senator Rodger Smitherman was elected the new President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate. Immediately following Sen. Smitherman was sworn into office with his wife and daughter by his side.

Senator Smitherman addressed the full senate saying that he is not the President Pro Tempore for one caucus or the other rather he is the President Pro Tempore of the entire Alabama Senate. He noted that he hopes to be the bridge that brings the members together. Smitherman expressed that he wants to do everything in his power to make the State of Alabama all that it can be and make sure it moves forward.

After Senator Smitherman addressed the Senate, Senator Jabo Waggoner (D), who was also nominated for the position of President Pro Tempore, publicly congratulated Senator Smitherman on behalf of the entire Republican party.

Nominations for President Pro Tempore

Following Senator Hinton Mitchem's resignation as President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate, nominations began for his successor.

Senator Lowell Barron (D) of Fyffe and Senator Rodger Bedford (D) of Russellville, came to the microphone to nominate Senator Rodger Smitherman (D) of Birmingham.

Senator Steve French (R) of Birmingham and Senator Hank Erwin (R) of Calera stood to nominate Senator Jabo Waggoner (R) of Vestavia Hills.

Both nominees were praised as strong leaders in the Alabama Senate and as people who can take Alabama into the future without looking back.

President Pro Tempore Hinton Mitchem Resigns Effective Immediately

The Alabama Senate convened at 2:00 pm CST today.

Immediately after beginning for the day, Senator Hinton Mitchem (D) Guntersville resigned from his post as President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate, citing that he is a man of his word. During the 2007 Organizational Session Mitchem vowed to step down as President Pro Tempore after serving only two years.

Following Senator Mitchem's resignations, Lt. Governor Jim Folsom and a number of Senators rose to the podium to give praise for his service in office. Among those Senators were Senator Bedford, Senator Z. Little, Senator T. Little, Senator Sanders, and Senator Singleton.

Inside Governor Bob Riley's State of the State Address

Economy, Ethics & Education were the key topics of Governor Bob Riley's State of the State address this evening.

After paying homage to the late Governor Guy Hunt. Governor Riley began his speech by discussing the economic state of Alabama. The Governor proclaimed that Alabama is weathering the storm better than most, and its business climate is ranked in the top 3 in the nation.

Governor Riley received the 1st standing ovation of his speech when he announced that Alabama has no better partner for growth than Germany. More than 50 German companies have located in the state. Dr. Lutz Goergens, Germany's Consul General was in attendance seated with First Lady Patsy Riley.

Part of Governor Riley's plan for stimulating Alabama's economy and workforce is a Back-to-Work Tax Credit of $500.00 to encourage companies to hire unemployed workers. Governor Riley stated that we want employers to hire people who need a job right now rather than someone who already has a job.

Another proposal made by Governor Riley is a Targeted Job Creation Tax Credit. As laid out in the Governor's plan it is a $1,500.00 incentive over three years for each new job created in counties with the highest unemployment levels.

Moving into Ethics reform, Governor Riley stated that this state will never reach its full potential unless it enacts ethics reforms that finally build confidence in state government.

The proposal calls for a complete overhaul of Alabama's ethics code. Noted by Governor Riley, this would be the first comprehensive rewrite to Alabama's ethics laws since 1973. In the proposal the ethics commission would-for the first time-have subpoena power and an attorney general or district attorney would be given a reasonable amount of time to either prosecute an ethics case or decline it.

Governor Riley finished his speech with Education, praising the state for all of the accomplishments it has made over the past 6 years with the Alabama Reading Initiative, Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative and ACCESS Distance Learning. He then recognized State Superintendent Joe Morton and the Alabama State Board of Education for its efforts.

The Governor's proposal to the State Budget would protect funding for those programs mentioned above. Governor Riley also discouraged those who believe gambling money would solve the State's Education budget problems.

The speech ended with the Governor asking everyone to stand together, find common ground and work for a common good.

Look for more legislative coverage on Thursday inside the Alabama State House.