Shelby County holds 2023 Legislative Preview
Published 9:33 am Monday, February 27, 2023
By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer
PELHAM – A preview of what’s to come in the upcoming legislative session was held during The Shelby County Chamber’s 2023 Legislative Preview luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
The luncheon featured comments about education and school choice, early release from prison, a surplus in the state budget, parental rights, the future of the economy, abortion, gender identity and many more hot topics.
“It all boiled down to one thing,” Walker said about his work with American Village. “The core belief that it is in our best interest to teach our kids the history of the founding of our country. I am very grateful to all of you. Shelby County holds a special place in my heart forever.”
During the meeting, State Senator April Weaver of District 14, discussed Senate Bill one, which has been pre-filed. This bill is named the Deputy Brad Johnson Act, was named after a Bibb County deputy died in the line of duty in 2022.
“This bill will make sure good time is used as an incentive for our prison population instead (of) giving them good time just because,” Weaver said. “Many of you will remember the situation that caused me to start working on this bill. It is a situation I have been involved in from the beginning, I am carrying this bill in the Senate.”
Weaver said this bill will roll back the way that good behavior is calculated and given in the state of Alabama.
“Right now, a prisoner can receive up to 75 days of good time for each 30 days they serve,” Weaver said. “In my opinion, that is way too much. We’re going roll that back, 30 days for the people who are acting the best. If they have issues, that calculation is rolled back even more.”
The second aspect of the bill consists of a list of certain offenses that, if done in prison, good time will not be given.
“If they kill someone, if they sexually assault someone, if they riot, if they escape, there are about 10 things we’re going to list,” Weaver said. “If you do these things in prison, you don’t get good time. I don’t believe if you have bad behavior in prison that you should get good time. The other thing this is going to do is require a report from the department of corrections to the legislature, the attorney general and the governor each year related to data given for good time for people in prison. This is something I believe has to be addressed in the name of public safety.”
Russell Bedsole was present representing House District 49. House District 49 covers Shelby, Bibb and Chilton Counties. Inside of Shelby County, the District 49 encompasses Helena, Alabaster and Montevallo. Bedsole was on the scene the night that Deputy Johnson was killed, Bedsole is a career-law enforcement professional who has been serving for the last 24 years and is currently the jail commander of the Shelby County Jail.
“We are working on the Deputy Brad Johnson Bil together,” Bedsole said. “I have the house version HB-9. Senator Weaver’s comments are true, that individual should have never been on the street. I believe we are failing the inmate population in our state. Our state corrections system needs to begin to follow our process in which we are educating and rehabilitating these offenders. I believe in this piece of legislation, we need to do things to ensure that these inmates aren’t turned out of the system too rapidly in a way that they are not prepared for society.”
Corley Ellis, representative of House District 41, was present and serves on the insurance committee as chair, fiscal responsibility committee, joint legislative committee on state parks, permanent legislative committee on reapportionment, educational portion of ways and means committee and Shelby County Legislation Committee.
“I enjoy serving with these men and women,” Ellis said. “We have a tremendous delegation that works very hard in Montgomery to represent you all.”
Ellis was picked to be insurance chair and said the Education Ways and Means has budgeted very conservatively.
“Of course, the economy has dipped.” Ellis said. “We have a big surplus from last year, the 2022 budget, we have an about a $2.8 billion surplus, which is nice. You’re going to hear talks about rebates, which we like to do as politicians. My concern is the market is trending down, so I would rather put that in a rainy-day fund because I think we’re going to need it, and the economy is going to continue down for a while before it comes back up. I think we’re a little bit artificially propped up by all the federal money that has trickled down.”
Kenneth Paschal of House District 73 was in attendance. Paschal was elected in a special election in July 2021 and serves on the Constitution, Campaign and Elections Committee, vice chair of the military and veteran’s affair committees, educational policy committee and Shelby County Legislation Committee.
“We have a lot of moving parts over the past couple of weeks,” Paschal said. “I will be carrying one bill for our military and veterans.”
House Bill 6 states parents have a fundamental right to direct a child’s upbringing, education and care.
“The word fundamental right means given by God,” Paschal said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that since 1923, so my intent is just to codify that in the Alabama code. Based on our beliefs and values here in the great state of Alabama, I think it’s important that we codify that.”
Susan DuBose represents District 45, which includes Shelby, Jefferson and St. Clair counties. DuBose serves on the health committee, education policy committee, fiscal responsibility committee and Shelby, Jefferson and St. Clair County Legislation. DuBose said she asked to be specifically on the health committee.
“I wanted to be there to protect life,” DuBose said. “I wanted to be a female voice to keep our Alabama Human Life Protection in place.”
DuBose said the second reason for desiring to be in the health committee, was while campaigning she heard many stories from parents of drug overdoses of their children.
“This fentanyl crisis that we are all facing is a humongous crisis,” DuBose said. “I don’t have the answers to that, but we have got to protect our children. We have got to work on keeping them safe and getting rid of this fentanyl crisis that is going on.”
Leigh Hulsey, representative of District 15, was present as a former 14-year member of the Helena City Council until being elected to her current position.
“I lean on much more conservative approach when it comes to spending tax dollars,” Hulsey said. “I would like to see what our true baseline is.”
More information about legislature can be found at Shelbyal.com.