New year presents new opportunities
By CAM WARD / Guest Columnist
Every new year presents challenges and opportunities.
As a people we invariably take stock of the accomplishments and setbacks of the previous year, and take the time to count the many blessings we have, including living in the greatest state in the greatest nation on God’s green earth.
As legislators, our minds turn to the yearly drama presented to us by the upcoming regular sesssion of the Alabama Legislature. As a legislator, I begin my year thinking of how we can help improve the lives of Alabama’s citizens.
Can we help people susceptible to fraud and abuse? Can we make our roads and highways safer? Can we make courts more efficient and cost effective? Can we shrink state government and reform or repeal outmoded and outdated business regulations — freeing up capital and putting people to work?
I believe we can. Rep. Paul DeMarco, my counterpart in the House Judiciary Committee, and I have already pre-filed a bill to make elder abuse a crime in our state.
Abuse, neglect and defrauding of our senior citizens is a serious problem, and it deserves its own category in our legal canons to let people know we will not stand for that sort of thing in Alabama.
I also plan to introduce a bill to crack down on unlicensed drivers — the amount of damage done by, and the amount of money lost by the state because of this problem approaches the ridiculous.
There are also some very systemic changes we need to make in state government. We also need to work to find common sense, conservative ways to reduce the size of The general fund budget. Currently, Medicaid and corrections make up 65 percent of our state’s non-education spending. At current growth rates and projections these two departments will gobble up our entire budget. That is unsustainable, and I hope we can find the political will to tackle these tough problems.
I plan to continue my work as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee to find new and creative ways we can encourage innovation in the energy sector in our state. One area of energy efficiency is to reduce the size of our state automobile fleet.
While much of my agenda is pro-active, I want to assure the people that I am also here as a bulwark against bad legislation. I will not allow the dilution of our Second Amendment rights through ill-conceived gun control legislation.
Public safety is important but piling more laws on top of already laws that are not enforced is not the answer.
The promise of the New Year, and a new legislative session is upon us — I plan to make the most of both in 2013, and I hope you do too!
Cam Ward is a state senator from Alabaster.