BCA’s Government Affairs Conference makes successful return

BCA Communications Staff

BCA Communications Staff

The Business Council of Alabama’s 2021 Government Affairs Conference held July 30 through August 1 was a successful return of the hallmark annual event.

Over 600 conference attendees, including hundreds of BCA members, over 100 state legislators, elected and appointed government officials from both parties, and honored guests, including Governor Ivey, Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth and members of the Alabama Congressional delegation, gathered at the Marriott Grand Hotel in Point Clear.

The weekend featured remarks by Governor Kay Ivey to both the BCA Board of Directors and the entire contingent of attendees at the Saturday evening reception; two Q&A panels with members of Alabama’s congressional delegation and state legislative leaders; and a slate of informative panel sessions on key challenges and opportunities facing the State of Alabama. The Government Affairs Conference provided unique networking opportunities to discuss politics and policy with friends and colleagues in a beautiful, informal and relaxed setting.

The conference kicked off Friday morning with business meetings for the BCA’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, chaired by Gary Smith, president and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

ProgressPAC, the political arm of BCA, held its annual summer meeting and unanimously endorsed three statewide candidates. The meeting was chaired by Angus R. Cooper, III, of Cooper/T Smith Stevedoring, Inc. Receiving endorsements were: Kelli Wise for Supreme Court Justice Place 2; Greg Cook for Supreme Court Justice Place 1; and Rick Pate, Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries. Judge Wise and Commissioner Pate are seeking re-election and have been previously endorsed by ProgressPAC.

Friday afternoon’s schedule included a series of concurrent policy committee meetings of several of BCA’s committees, including Education and Workforce Development; Environment and Energy; Health; Small Business; Tax and Fiscal Policy; Judicial and Legal Reform; Labor and Employment; and Federal Affairs. Speakers included Dr. Scott Harris, State Health Officer, Alabama of Public Health; Vernon Barnett, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Revenue and Fitzgerald Washington, Alabama Secretary of Labor.

Friday evening brought all conference attendees together for a family-friendly welcome dinner followed by a bonfire and s’mores on the beach.

Saturday morning’s breakfast program began with a state legislative panel discussion between Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) and House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville). The discussion was moderated by Horace Horn of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.  The panel provided a review of the highlights from the 2021 regular session of the legislature and a look-ahead at possible issues that could be included in special sessions.

The following panel discussion included U.S. Reps. Jerry Carl (AL-01) and Barry Moore (AL-02), Alabama’s freshmen congressmen. The moderator was Jason Isbell of Regions Financial Corporation.  These Members provided an interesting and candid perspective about their experience as new Congressmen along with their opinions on key issues on Capitol Hill.

The morning session continued with three concurrent issue panels, with topics including: Innovating Alabama for Tomorrow’s Economy; The Future of Healthcare and Medicaid in Alabama; and Broadband: Advancing Alabama’s Connectivity. The discussion that took place during the Innovating Alabama for Tomorrow’s Economy panel focused on the benefits of nurturing Alabama’s emerging innovation industry, as well as the growing need for electric vehicle infrastructure in our state. The discussion was moderated by Houston Smith of Alabama Power Company and panelists included Charisse Stokes of Tidal IT Solutions Tech MGM, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed, Alabama’s Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield and Michael Staley of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition. The Future of Healthcare and Medicaid in Alabama panel was led by Ted Hosp of BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama and included Senator Greg Albritton, Representative Steve Clouse, The Alabama Hospital Association’s Don Williamson and USA Health’s Owen Bailey. Discussions centered on how Alabama can address rural healthcare needs and the potential for an option to expand Medicaid that is fiscally responsible for the State. The Broadband panel, which featured Senators Clay Scofield and Bobby Singleton, Representative Danny Garrett, and Alabama Department of Education’s Jessica Sanders, was moderated by Lindsay Rane Carter of Abbeville Fiber and was focused on the efforts accomplished in recent years to expand broadband. The conversation then shifted to what needs to be done in the future to continue that progress in order to address broadband connectivity needs in business, agriculture, education and the medical industry.  

Saturday night’s reception unveiled a video celebrating the State of Alabama’s national leadership on COVID-19 related liability protections, as well as a recognition of BCA’s efforts to simultaneously protect both lives and livelihoods throughout the pandemic. Governor Ivey spoke to the crowd and recognized BCA for its leadership on key issues such as infrastructure expansion and the COVID-19 crisis. BCA incoming chairman Mike Kemp expressed appreciation to Governor Ivey for her steady leadership during these challenging times and spotlighted ProgressPAC’s endorsement of her re-election.

The conference was made possible thanks to a record-number of generous sponsors, including the following presenting sponsors: Alabama Power Company, BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, and Regions Financial Corporation. Overall, some 44 sponsors supported the conference, the largest number ever.

During the Government Affairs Conference, BCA took all available precautions to ensure the safety of each attendee. This included recommending that all attendees follow COVID-19 safety recommendations made by the CDC and Alabama Department of Public Health. The conference made sanitation stations and disposable masks available at all events, and the hotel provided for social distancing and encouraged indoor masking wherever possible.

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