The search for federal funds Shelby highlights county’s needs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby spoke to residents during a town meeting at Pelham City Hall on Monday, telling taxpayers they are not getting their fair share of road projects.

As one of the fastest growing areas in the state, Shelby County deserves to have some of its &uot;growing needs&uot; met, Shelby said.

&uot;This is a growing county. You pay a lot of taxes,&uot; he said. &uot;You need to have some of your growing needs met.&uot;

Recent legislation proposed by Rep. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, highlighted the disproportionate amount of money that Shelby County pumps into the state highway department each year compared to the worth of road projects received.

&uot;I know you’re not getting your money back,&uot; Shelby said.

According to Ward, who attended Monday’s meeting, Shelby County taxpayers paid $12.9 million in gas taxes to Montgomery last year. The county received only about $4.3 million in road projects, Ward said.

Shelby called Monday’s meeting after unveiling the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 with former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and others. The legislation is designed to protect government and official acknowledgments of god from federal courts.

During Monday’s meeting in Pelham, Shelby addressed a crowd of about 100 people on issues such as the separation of church and state, the economy and the war in Iraq.

&uot;We’re trying to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts,&uot; Shelby said. &uot;I saw nothing wrong myself with the Ten Commandments in the court. I’ve talked with Judge Moore about this.&uot;

Although Shelby said he does not propose imposing a specific religion on the public, he said he does believe in defending &uot;the fact that I can invoke the name of God.&uot;

During Monday’s meeting, Shelby pulled a pocket-sized text of the U.S. Constitution from his pocket on three separate occasions. Twice Shelby read from the First Amendment, and once from the Preamble.

Shelby said the federal government has ignored the First Amendment, which protects the free exercise of religion.

Shelby said his proposed legislation will address such issues.

&uot;We’re going to push this because I think it’s time to say ‘I’ve got a right to acknowledge God,&uot; Shelby said.

Monday’s meeting marked the 26th consecutive year that Shelby has stopped for similar events in Pelham. Shelby said he visits each county in the state every year.

Although Shelby said he thinks the economy is picking up, jobs have been slow to surface. Shelby said America is losing its manufacturing base to China and Japan because of a trade imbalance.

According to Shelby, China and Japan &uot;manipulate&uot; their currencies to keep them under value.

&uot;We’ve got to wake up to our trade policies,&uot; he said.

Shelby is chairman of the Banking Committee in the U.S. Senate and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. He said no legislator from Alabama served on the Appropriations Committee before his term.

Shelby briefly addressed Iraq, saying, &uot;We’ve had great success on the ground. We can’t just cut and run. They’ve got terrorists from every part of the world there.&uot;

Other issues Shelby touched on Monday included illegal immigration and same-sex marriage.

&uot;Illegal immigration ought to bother everybody because it’s illegal,&uot; Shelby said.

Shelby also said to the sound of applause from Monday’s crowd that he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman