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U.S. Chamber Conveys Spirit of Enterprise Awards to Senator Shelby, U.S. Reps. Palmer, Roby

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, receives U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award from U.S. Chamber Southeast Region Manager Brince Manning, third from right, during the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast on Wednesday. From left are: Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean; Business Council of Alabama board member and Power South Energy Vice President for External Affairs Horace Horn; Rep. Roby; Manning; BCA President and CEO William J. Canary; and, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. (Contributed)

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and two members of Alabama’s congressional delegation recently were presented U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Awards by Brince Manning of the U.S. Chamber.

“Alabama’s congressional delegation is second to none, and the Business Council of Alabama is proud to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in recognizing our members of Congress who are committed to ensuring that American businesses can continue to operate and succeed in a free enterprise system,” BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., left, receives Spirit of Enterprise Award from Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Sisson. (Contributed)

Manning, the chamber’s Southeast region manager, conveyed the Spirit of Enterprise Award to Sen. Shelby, R-Ala., at a Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Tuesday.

“The BCA commends Senator Shelby for his extraordinary contributions, his dedication to our national security, and his service to the state of Alabama, its economy, and most importantly, its people,” Shelby said.

On Wednesday, Manning presented the award to Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, during a Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast.

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, was presented the award on April 4 by Manning and Mark Colson, BCA senior vice president of governmental affairs and chief of staff, at a combined meeting of the chambers of Greater Shelby County, Homewood, Hoover Area, Montevallo, South Shelby and Vestavia Hills.

Rep. Garry Palmer, R-Hoover, receives U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award from U.S. Chamber Southeast Region Manager Brince Manning, left, and BCA senior vice president of governmental affairs and chief of staff Mark Colson, right.

The U.S. Chamber’s Spirit of Enterprise awards are based on a member of Congress’ business voting record on key business votes set out in the chamber’s annual publication, “How They Voted.” Votes included in the rankings are Chamber-designated “key votes” – recorded floor votes on issues established as priorities by the chamber’s board of directors, on which the chamber communicates its position prior to the vote.

All seven members of Alabama’s congressional delegation have received this award.


ALABAMA WILL GET $21 MILLION FROM OIL LEASE

Alabama will get $21 million of the $188 million in energy revenues to be disbursed in Fiscal Year 2018 to four Gulf states, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne said. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that the Department of Interior will disburse almost $188 million to four Gulf oil and gas producing states under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.

The act is the federal legislation that creates a revenue sharing agreement between Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Each state receives a percentage of federal oil revenue from their coastal drilling. In addition to Alabama’s $21 million, $2.47 million will go to Baldwin County and $2.88 million to Mobile County.

“Revenue generated from offshore oil and gas leases is critically important to Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and I appreciate Secretary Zinke and the Trump Administration for their commitment to our coastal communities,” Rep. Byrne said. “I have consistently fought to protect this revenue source, which is put to use on important conservation and infrastructure projects along the Gulf Coast.”

Rep. Byrne has successfully blocked efforts to redirect the money away from Gulf states and recently he said he worked to secure a provision in the tax reform bill to increase the money available under GOMESA. The provision would help make up for shortfalls in the projected amount of revenue from offshore oil and gas leases.


STATES ARE VYING TO CHANGE MEDICAID

States are seeking to change Medicaid in 2018, Roll Call reports. Some states seek to expand the government insurance program while others seek to add requirements. Advocates are seeking Medicaid expansion initiatives on November ballots in Utah, Nebraska, Idaho and Montana, and Virginia lawmakers appear about to secure an expansion deal. Indiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas seek changes, such as adding work requirements, while other states await word from the Trump administration on whether they can make other revisions, Roll Call reported.

Medicaid is a combined state-federal medical insurance program for the needy, blind, aged, disabled, and for low-income families with children. It’s Alabama’s largest General Fund budget item at $755 million. Medicaid appropriations can influence taxes and appropriations to other state agencies.

So far, 32 states and the District of Columbia have opted to expand Medicaid while 18 including Alabama have not. Maine voters approved expansion last November, making 70,000 of Maine’s 1.3 million people eligible in July. Gov. Paul LePage said lawmakers must fund it and meet requirements he set out, such as not using a one-time funding source. Advocates vow to sue if he doesn’t act. Referendum proposals in Utah and Montana call for either a sales tax or cigarette tax increase.

The Trump administration already approved work requirements in Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas. Consumer advocates filed a federal class-action lawsuit in Kentucky, alleging the administration does not have the authority to approve sweeping changes they argue don’t meet the program’s objectives. Alabama, Ohio, and Virginia have expressed interest in creating a work mandate.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Small Business Week

U.S. Chamber (Donahue 4/30) “This week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joins with all Americans to celebrate National Small Business Week. This is an opportunity to show our appreciation for the backbone of our nation’s economy: the small businesses that employ more than half of all Americans and create about two out of every three new jobs each year. The Chamber is proud to represent millions of these businesses all around the country.

“We fight for their interests every day in Washington, D.C., on the big policy issues before our government. Small businesses have a better shot at growth and success when America has an innovative, vibrant, and growing economy; a pro-growth tax code; a well-trained workforce; and a position of strength in the global marketplace. This is why the Chamber consistently makes the case that small businesses are significant stakeholders in the big policy battles happening in Washington.

“Since we last marked Small Business Week, the Chamber has helped deliver a historic policy win through the pro-growth tax reform bill signed into law last December. Small businesses suffered tremendously under our old tax code. The Chamber will continue speaking up on behalf of the small business community this week and every week. And we encourage all Americans to join us in celebrating – and patronizing – the restaurants, retail stores, manufacturers, service providers, and other small businesses that create jobs and drive economic growth.”

(A Wall Street Journal op-ed says small business is “soaring.”)

White House to request $11 billion in spending cuts

The HILL (Elis 5/3) “The White House plans to ask Congress for $11 billion in discretionary spending cuts, a GOP aide told The Hill, a significant decrease from earlier ambitions to cut as much as $60 billion. The package of cuts, first reported by Politico, would come in the form of a rescissions request from the president as soon as Monday. Congress has 45 days to act on such requests.

“An administration official emphasized that the package has yet to be finalized. ‘While discussions are on-going and the final number is still in flux, it’s important to note that this package will be the first in a series,’ the official said. Many congressional Republicans are wary of cutting back spending in the aftermath of the bipartisan spending deal in March, in which Democrats agreed to higher defense spending in exchange for higher levels of nondefense funding.

“The deal resulted in March’s $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package, which President Trump railed against before signing it into law. According to Politico, the $11 billion would focus on unspent funds that were approved in previous years rather than targeting funds approved in the 2018 omnibus, which could make it easier for Republicans concerned about backtracking on their recent promises.”

Alabama Attorney General Joins Other AGs in DACA Preliminary Injunction

Alabama Attorney General (Marshall 5/2) “Alabama Attorney Steve Marshall is one of a coalition of seven attorneys general who filed a lawsuit Tuesday calling for the halt of the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which was implemented by an Obama administration memo without the legal consent of Congress. On Wednesday, Attorney General Marshall joined the same multi-state coalition in filing a preliminary injunction against DACA.

“Since the Obama administration’s unilateral creation of the DACA program in 2012, nearly one million unlawful aliens have been given legal presence and work eligibility in the United States. The U.S. Constitution is quite clear that Congress alone has the legal authority to write U.S. immigration law, not the President through an executive branch memo, said Attorney General Marshall. The purpose of this pursuit has never been to steer immigration policy, but to rightfully return policymaking to the legislative branch of government.

“Last September, after Alabama and nine other states first threatened to sue the federal government to end the lawful DACA program, the Trump administration agreed to phase it out by March 2018. Since then, activist judges in at least three separate federal courts have issued rulings blocking the dismantling of DACA. The preliminary injunction filed today asks the federal court to halt the issuance or renewal of any DACA permits while the seven-state coalition’s lawsuit is under court review. The lawsuit was filed May 1, 2018, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas by Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.”

Economy Adds 164K Jobs in April, Unemployment Lowest Since 2000

The HILL (Needham 5/4) “The U.S. economy added 164,000 jobs in April … as the nation’s labor market maintains a steady pace of growth. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest level since December 2000, the Labor Department reported on Friday. Jobs growth is expected to slow down somewhat as the labor market tightens and the unemployment rate drops into rarely seen 3 percent range.

“In April, average hourly earnings were up 2.6 percent for the year. Jobs in the previous two months were 30,000 more than previously reported. Job gains averaged 208,000 over the past three months, down from a 242,000 average in the previous estimates, which is enough to get workers off the sidelines and into the labor market. February’s employment was lower than reported falling to 324,000 from 326,000 while March’s figure, which came in well below expectations at 103,000 was better than initially reported at 135,000.

“Employers have added jobs for 91 straight months, and the economic expansion, which began in June 2009, is now in its 107th month, which is the second-longest expansion in U.S. economic history. The nation’s longest span of growth lasted 120 months, from 1991 to 2001.”

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Dana Beyerle
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