BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Business Council of Alabama’s Pathways to Policy Summit on Alabama’s Future held Oct. 27-28 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel included dynamic speakers and presentations and BCA committee meetings to draft the 2017 legislative agenda for business.
Speakers Oct. 27 included Alabama’s top leadership in the Legislature, education and workforce development, speakers who addressed Alabama’s infrastructure crisis, health care cost management, and the leadership of the BCA and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.
Former WNBA MVP and four-time U.S. Olympic basketball gold medal winner Lisa Leslie spoke as an ambassador for Champions for Choice in Education. “School choice is giving parents the opportunity to choose the best school for their children,” Leslie said.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh discussed issues expected to be addressed in the 2017 regular legislative session that begins in February.
Speaker McCutcheon said the General Fund budget, Alabama’s prison system, and the state’s important infrastructure will be primary House issues. Sen. Marsh said the Senate will continue to deal with issues that improve Alabama’s business climate.
On Oct. 28, committee members worked on proposed policies for the BCA’s legislative agenda on labor and employment, judicial and legal reform, small business, environment and energy, health, education and workforce development, and tax and fiscal policy.
The member-developed draft agenda will be presented for consideration at the BCA’s annual meeting Dec. 2 in Birmingham.
The BCA’s 2016 chairman, Tommy Lee, President and CEO of Vulcan Inc. in Foley, said the Pathways to Policy summit was a change to the BCA’s traditional committee days’ structure.
“This is an opportunity to highlight issues facing Alabama’s business community and solutions to them,” Lee said. “We have our own fiscal and political challenges and now is the time for business to step up.”
In addition to Leslie, speaking at the Pathways to Improving Education and Workforce Development, which was sponsored by the Business Education Alliance of Alabama, were author, attorney and education reform leader Kevin P. Chavois; Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, chair of the House Education Policy Committee; Jeff Lynn, senior executive director of Workforce and Economic Development, Alabama Community College System; former state school Superintendent Joseph B. Morton, Ph.D., chairman and president of the BEA; and Alabama Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance.
Speakers for the session on Pathways to Solving Alabama’s Infrastructure crisis, sponsored by the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure, were Christina Atchley, manager of congressional and public affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Jason O’Rouke, senior director of public policy and federal affairs , Georgia Chamber of Commerce; and Jim Page, president and CEO, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
Pathways to Improving Health Care and Reducing Costs, sponsored by The Partnership between the BCA and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, featured L. Keith Granger, chief executive officer, Grandview Medical Center; BCA board member and BCA Health Committee co-chair Denson Henry, vice president, Henry Brick Company Inc.; Jeff Ingrum, senior vice president of the Healthcare Networks Division, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama; and Dr. Chad Mathis, a specialist in sports medicine, Alabama Bone and Joint Clinic.
Speaking at the Pathways to a Better Alabama conference were CCAA President and CEO Jeremy L. Arthur, BCA President and CEO William J. Canary; and BCA Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Chief of Staff Mark Colson.
Sen. Marsh was the closing keynote speaker on Oct. 27.