House Minority Leader talks business, political issues (VIDEO)

House Minority Leader Craig Ford today discussed business and political issues at the Business Council of Alabama’s Governmental Affairs Committee’s weekly legislative session meeting.

Ford, D-Gadsden, was chosen Minority Leader by House Democrats in 2010 when Republicans gained a supermajority in the House and Senate, giving the GOP an unassailable ability to pass legislation if Republicans stick together.

Ford, co-owner of an insurance agency and a weekly newspaper in Gadsden, discussed the perception that only Republicans are pro-business. He said many Democrats in the House like himself own businesses.

“Because you have a ‘D’ beside your name doesn’t mean you’re not business oriented,” Ford said. “We have supported business issues, workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation. I deal with it myself.”

Ford invited business representatives and association directors to attend the weekly Democratic Caucus meeting held every Wednesday during legislative sessions.

“We have an open door policy,” Ford said. “We don’t know what issues are before you and your company if you don’t come to us. We want you to come back and talk about your legislation.”

Ford said that he is the first Democrat Minority Leader in 136 years, noting that Democrats are in the superminority, a political situation he is working to change this election year.

“Our task at hand is to get out of the superminority, that way we can get heard on a daily basis,” Ford said. “Our issues are important as everyone else. We are trying our best to become a balance in the legislature, I think everyone wins with a balance.

“Do I think the Democrats will take back the House and Senate, I don’t know?” he said. “Do I think they’ll come out of a superminority? Yes, I do.”

Ford said he meets every week with House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, a former Minority Leader, to discuss the week’s agenda. It allows him to inform the Democratic Caucus.

“The Speaker has been good to us, he’s been good to me as Minority Leader,” Ford said.

Ford said with the 30-day session at its midpoint, he expects budgets to dominate the attention.

“We’ll tackle the Education Trust Fund budget and if there are any complicated issues it will be teacher pay raises,” Ford said. “Both parties will have to address funding for the General Fund. We cannot continue to go as we have in the past.

“The next 15 days, I imagine it will be mostly budget oriented,” he said.

-Dana Beyerle