County’s delegation will have ‘historic’ influence in 2015 session

State Rep. April Weaver, third from left, takes her oath of office at American Village in 2014. Weaver and four of her Shelby County colleagues are chairing committees in the Alabama Legislature this year. (Contributed)

State Rep. April Weaver, third from left, takes her oath of office at American Village in 2014. Weaver and four of her Shelby County colleagues are chairing committees in the Alabama Legislature this year. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

State Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, has been in office for nearly 29 years, but he said he has never seen Shelby County in a better position with the Alabama Legislature than it is now.

“Many years ago, myself, Butch Ellis and Al Knight were all chairmen of committees. That’s probably the only time in the history of Shelby County that we all had chairmanships,” Hill said during a Jan. 16 interview.

When the state’s 2015 legislative session begins in early March, five Shelby County legislators will be chairmen of committees in the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate.

Hill will be the chairman of the House’s Insurance Committee, state Rep. April Weaver, R-Brierfield, will be the chairman of the House’s Health Committee, state Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, will be the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, state Sen. Slade Blackwell, R-Birmingham, will chair the Senate Banking Committee and state Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Birmingham, will chair the Senate Rules Committee.

“It’s always great to be on what is known as the leadership team. You control the flow of legislation through those committees,” Hill said, praising his delegation colleagues. “It means a lot to Shelby County to have that many people in a position of power.”

When bills are introduced into the Alabama House or Senate, the bills are first presented to the appropriate committee, which decides if the bill will move on for full House or Senate consideration.

Ward said the committees being chaired by the Shelby County delegation will deal with issues affecting the county.

“Every issue that impacts peoples’ daily lives in Shelby County, we will have a voice in that,” Ward said. “That’s significant, because for a long time, we didn’t have a voice in those issues.”

Weaver said she is excited to take a more involved role in dealing with health-related legislation.

“After spending 20 years in health care, I feel that is the area I can serve the best,” Weaver said. “Shelby County is going to be well-represented. Anytime you can have more voices at the table, it’s a great thing for the county.”