By Steve Flowers
Gov. Kay Ivey’s first legislative session of the quadrennium was very successful. Her prowess at getting things accomplished with this legislature has been remarkable.
She knows what she is doing. It should not be surprising given her background and experience.
Ivey has been around state government for most of her adult life. She has dealt with the legislature for over four decades.
Her adroitness in the passage of the Infrastructure package was similar to the legislative success enjoyed by Gov. George Wallace in his prime years. Like Wallace, Ivey knows how to reward her friends and punish her enemies.
Those legislators, who were instrumental in passage, are already seeing the fruits of their labors.
There is an old adage in politics that says, “Those that bake the pie get to eat it.
Ivey has already announced and plans are being made to begin work in districts of the “Rebuild Alabama” leaders. Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), is getting McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa expanded. Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) is getting Highway 82 between Prattville and Tuscaloosa completed.
The Huntsville-Madison County and Limestone County delegation was unanimous in support of Rebuild Alabama. They will get everything they need to improve access for the new Mazda-Toyota plant. This will include adding six lanes to I-565 in Huntsville as well as improving Limestone County I-65 interchanges. This project was helped by Speaker Mac McCutcheon.
Making Highway 411 four lanes through Cherokee and Etowah counties was also announced by the governor. This was a plus for Rep. Ginny Shaver and Sen. Andrew Jones.
The Wiregrass will be taken care of under the Rebuild Alabama program, also. They have needs that have not been met since Big Jim Folsom built the Ross Clark Circle around Dothan.
Every Wiregrass legislator voted for Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama including Sens. Donnie Chesteen and Jimmy Holley as well as house members Steve Clouse, Paul Lee, Dexter Grimsley, Jeff Sorrells, Rhett Marquis and Wes Allen.
The state dock’s expansion will be invaluable for not only the Mobile-Baldwin area but for the entire state. Our automakers like Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes will be able to ship their vehicles within state. Our poultry farmers will have more available markets. This aspect appealed to North Alabama legislative leaders like Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter and Sens. Steve Livingston, Clay Scofield and Garlan Gudger. These fellows will also get some much anticipated road projects for their Sand Mountain and North Alabama areas.
Every Republican legislator from the Mobile-Baldwin County area voted for passage.
Reps. Chris Pringle and Victor Gaston were the whips in the House. State Sens. David Sessions, Jack Williams and Chris Elliott spearheaded the effort in the senate.
Working quietly behind the scenes to make sure that the docks expansion was part of the Rebuild Alabama program was former Mobile-Baldwin Congressman Jo Bonner. This quiet Southern gentleman is a power to be reckoned with in this administration. He worked hard and alone with his big sister Ivey to put this plan together. They worked the legislature together diligently day and night to secure passage, and they did it the right way. The best decision and accomplishment Ivey achieved is getting Bonner to be her chief of staff and right hand.
In addition, our coal industry will be helped immensely by the docks expansion. The outstanding Walker County delegation of Sen. Greg Reed and Reps. Connie Rowe and Tim Wadsworth worked for passage for this reason and other important road projects are in the works for their area.
Ivey has called for a special election for the vacant House Seat 42. This seat was held by longtime Rep. Jimmy Martin of Clanton who recently passed away. The primary will be Aug. 20.
It is definitely a Republican district and has always been a Chilton County seat, but it may move to Autauga. The population of Autauga has grown so much that almost exactly the same number of voters are in Autauga as Chilton. There are three candidates in the primary from Chilton and they are all beating each other up. The lone candidate from Autauga, Van Smith, is favored to win the seat. He will more than likely prevail. He is extremely popular, qualified and connected. Smith has the endorsement of ALFA and the business interests in the state. He is a longtime ALFA and rural co-op board member. It is still a quasi-rural district.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Flowers may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.