|Responses are listed in the order in which they were received.||Mayor Walt Maddox||Governor Kay Ivey|
|POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY AND PRINCIPLES|
|What is your political philosophy and, if elected, how would it shape the way you govern?||I believe in effective and transparent government based on sound policies, and ethical leadership that relies on best management practices.|
I offer Alabama a New Covenant where our leaders wake up every day ready to fight for the people without regard to party. By placing results above rhetoric, we will forge a way forward that will make a real difference in the issues facing Alabamians.
My approach to policy proposals is to identify the issues, opportunities, and problems related to making Alabama better; learning all relevant facts; establishing policy goals that serve Alabama citizens; cataloging potential policy alternatives that support those policy goals; balancing the interests of all parties affected; and then through careful analysis determining the best policy moving forward.
|Growing up on the family farm in Wilcox County, I learned to put in a hard day’s work, to live within our means, and the importance of faith, family and community. These are the same values I have carried with me throughout my life. As a public servant, I have always fought for conservative principles: promoting economic growth, protecting taxpayer dollars, fighting for the unborn, preserving our Second Amendment rights and restoring the people’s trust in government.|
|How have you demonstrated your commitment to your political philosophy?||As Mayor of Tuscaloosa, this approach to transparent and effective government has been part of my everyday practice in serving the people for almost two decades. Important data is posted on the web, policy initiatives are discussed openly in public meetings that are webcast and archived, the concerns of stakeholders are heard and considered, and policies are implemented in a fair and equitable manner.|
The Tuscaloosa Forward Plan that was developed in the recovery from the tornado of April 27, 2011 is an excellent example of how I see solutions to problems being developed by bringing all stakeholders together with experts and area leaders, to sort through what was often competing interests with both short and long term components, to find solutions that best meet the needs of the entire community.
|When I became Governor, I told you we’d clean up the mess in Montgomery and bring back conservative values—and we have. Immediately upon assuming the role of Governor, I turned over nearly half the cabinet and replaced them with people of integrity. With executive orders, I've streamlined state government, shut down unnecessary task forces, and banned lobbyists from appointments by the executive branch.
From my experience as Lieutenant Governor, I understood and prioritized open communications between the Executive and Legislative Branch to make sure we were effectively working together for the people of Alabama - and we did. In only one year, I signed hundreds of bills and resolutions - nearly one for every day I've been in office - and now Alabama is working again. But, I’m not done yet.
|What is the most important role of the governor?||The governor must first and foremost fulfill the constitutional oath to support and defend the constitutions of the state of Alabama and of the United States, acting as the chief executive officer of the state to see that the laws are faithfully executed.|
Equally important, the governor must be a leader in proposing laws and policies that benefit all of Alabama, and be the face of the state who takes responsibility for its direction, progress, and even mistakes.
|First and foremost, a Governor should have a vision and plan to promote conservative values, incentivize economic prosperity, improve education, and maintain the trust of the people. As Governor, I have made it my job to make sure you have a job with a good paycheck. Under my leadership, Alabama has created more than 13,000 new jobs, achieved the lowest unemployment rate in Alabama history, and most recently, I signed the largest middle class tax cut in a decade.|
|What is the most challenging social issue facing families in Alabama? Does government have a role in helping to solve that problem, and if so, what would you propose?||Perhaps the best answer is to identify the common theme underlying the solutions to most of Alabama’s problems: they are opportunities for economic development. The expansion of Medicaid will not only provide insurance to our most vulnerable citizens, it also will stoke our healthcare industry with more high paying jobs and creation of advanced medical treatments. The Alabama Education Lottery will instill $300 million new dollars per year into Alabama’s economy even as it improves workforce development, making Alabama more attractive to new industries. Fixing our roads and bridges will not only make us safer, it will create jobs both directly through highway construction, and more importantly by providing the quality infrastructure that new factories and businesses look for in site selection.||As a pro-life conservative, I believe every life is precious, starting at conception. Throughout my time as a public servant, I have championed policies such as protecting the unborn and preventing the use of taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions.|
|Alabama has four abortion clinics operating across the state, and Planned Parenthood has announced plans to build a new clinic in downtown Birmingham. How do you feel about these clinics and what would you do as governor about any taxpayer funds they receive?||I’m a pro-life Democrat who is concerned that many Republicans are more pro-birth than pro-life. Perhaps Sister Joan Chittister best summed up my feelings when she said "I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."|
Although I am personally opposed to abortion, under the law of the land a woman has a right to choose up until the point of fetal viability. The federal Hyde Amendment prohibits use of federal funds to pay for abortions except those that endanger the life of the woman, or that result from rape or incest, and Alabama law does not provide any state funds for abortions. The courts will ultimately decide which of Alabama’s several laws regulating abortion are constitutional, including any restrictions on new abortion clinics. As a governor sworn to uphold the federal and state constitutions and the laws of Alabama, I will faithfully execute Alabama’s laws within the constitutional limits defined by the Supreme Court.
|I have and will always advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. I'm pro-life because God teaches us to love life, and he created us and wants us to love one another, and I will always fight to protect the unborn.|
As Governor, I supported President Trump’s action to rollback Obama-era regulations and stop the use of state Medicaid dollars from paying abortion providers. Prohibiting the use of tax dollars for abortions or abortion-related services is just one small step towards saving the unborn.
I am honored to have been recognized for my pro-life record, receiving endorsements for Governor from Alabama Citizens for Life and Susan B. Anthony List, two leading pro-life groups.
|Alabama is ranked number forty-seven on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best States for Education, and ranked number 1 in Pre-Kindergarten quality. As far as public education reforms, there have been many suggestions for improvement including increased investment in STEM education, distance learning, and reforming teacher tenure. What reforms would you propose or support to improve public education and prepare Alabama’s children for school success and lifelong learning?||Initiatives for reform arise from good intentions, but they all run head on into a major problem: chronic underfunding. My proposal for the Alabama Education Lottery will infuse Alabama with $300 million new dollars annually, to be spent in four major areas: Universal First Class Pre-K, to extend Alabama’s top tier Pre-K program to all of our children instead of less than a quarter or a third of 4-year olds; The Foundation Program Promise, which will help close the funding gap between schools systems with fewer resources and those with more; Community Innovation Grants, which will provide wrap around services to address problems like mental health and poor family environments which prevent learning; and College Scholarships and Workforce Readiness, which will be there for our high school graduates to lift themselves even higher.||I have an experience in my life that makes me unique among a lot of Governors—I began my career as a teacher. Being a teacher shows you what a school can do, and what an adult in the life of a child can help them achieve. |
Alabama needs a comprehensive approach that improves education from Pre-K to the workforce, that's why I launched "Strong Start, Strong Finish." The “Strong Start, Strong Finish” education initiative focuses on three stages of education: 1) early childhood education, 2) computer science in middle school and high school, and 3) workforce preparedness. I instituted Strong Start, Strong Finish because we must prepare our people for the jobs of today and for the jobs of tomorrow. By 2020, 62 percent of all jobs available in Alabama will require some form of postsecondary education. However, today, only 37 percent of our workforce has achieved such an education. We must ensure that our students graduate high school and then earn a postsecondary certificate or degree.
I am also proud of the education budget that I signed into law. We added another $216 million in education funding, for the largest investment in education in a decade, and this money goes straight into the classrooms.
Education is the cornerstone of a better life, and I am committed to doing everything I can to make sure Alabama children have the resources they need to complete school, be prepared for the workplace and succeed.
|ALABAMA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION|
|Dr. Eric Mackey was recently named Alabama’s next State Superintendent of Education. The governor serves as a voting member of the Alabama State Board of Education. What vision for Alabama do you share with the new superintendent and where do your philosophies differ? How will you prioritize Alabama’s school children in your role on the Board?||I look forward to working with Dr. Mackey and learning more about his philosophy of education. I agree with much of what I know about him, that Alabama needs long-term solutions instead of quick fixes, and that education curricula must be more rigorous, with an emphasis on preparing students for a 21st century economy based on information and technology. I admire his work in helping make Alabama Pre-K a highly respected program, which still needs to be expanded statewide. I will expect Dr. Mackey to elevate Alabama’s public schools. That starts with closing the funding gaps between schools where property values are high and rural schools which struggle. Our schools also need more wrap around services because health, mental health, and social problems all stand in the way of learning. My Alabama Education Lottery will address all these issues as well as send more students to colleges, universities, and work force training.||Choosing the next State Superintendent is one the most important decisions entrusted to the Board. Before we began the process, I laid out a thorough and deliberate process to ensure we chose someone with a forward thinking vision that would improve the quality of education for all Alabama students. |
Ultimately, I voted for Dr. Mackey because of our shared vision and commitment to ensuring children have a strong start to their educational journey and a strong finish so they can succeed when they enter the workforce. I also appreciate Dr. Mackey's plans to improve assessments, the quality and quantity of our teachers, and to reduce administrative overhead. Dr. Mackey also demonstrated an important and strong commitment to continue and complete the Montgomery Public School intervention.
As president of the Board, I am focused on setting clear goals to improve learning and adopting strategy for educators to implement. I believe the Board must also see that Dr. Mackey is fully empowered to focus on students, unhindered from personal or political agendas.
|The recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida reignited the discussion about school safety. President Trump has suggested arming teachers while others have argued for increased use of school resource officers and funding for mental health programs. As governor, how would you ensure the safety of Alabama’s children in public schools?||My School Safety Plan was released earlier this year and calls for five areas of action. (1) We must harden our schools through better design standards, use of technology, and the presence of armed law enforcement security officers. (2) Faculty, staff, and security officers at all schools must be trained in the proper reaction to active threats. (3) Ban weapons at schools except those possessed by trained security personnel. (4) Develop protocols to identify and act upon potential attackers. (5) Support reasonable gun control measures like universal background checks, higher age limits for the purchase of assault weapons, and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill who are a danger to themselves or others, and those on the terrorist watch list.||Earlier this year, I unveiled the "Smart on Safety Initiative”, a four-pronged plan to ensure the safety of our children at school. It's an unfortunate reality but we must be prepared to prevent and respond to violence on our school grounds.
Details on the Smart on Safety Initiatives:
Secure Schools: While each school is different, the state will support local educators and administrators as they meet their own safety needs. As part of this plan, I signed a bill that allows schools to access funds from the Education Trust Fund Rolling Reserve Acts for the improvement and enhancement of school safety.
We Know Our Schools: A key part of the plan includes prevention. Schools are encouraged to identify at-risk students through student engagement and intervene before they harm themselves or others.
Emergency Operations Plan (EOPs): If a tragedy does occur, school personal need to be empowered to act before first responders arrive. Schools should work with first responders and law enforcement on an ongoing basis to develop and maintain a current coordinated response to emergencies. Teachers and students will also receiving regular trainings.
SAFE Council: An issue this critical does not leave room for error, which is why I established the SAFE Council. Composed of the Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Secretary of the Office of Information Technology, the Alabama State Superintendent of Education and the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the SAFE Council carefully and thoroughly developed a report focused on the improvement of physical security, threat assessments and mental health and coordinated training. Some of the council's recommendations will be immediately implemented, and I will be working with the State Legislature on the items that require further action and consideration.
|In 2015, Alabama became the 43rd state to approve legislation to authorize charter schools. Many states now allow parents to transfer their child from a failing public school to a non-failing public school, to utilize education savings accounts or school vouchers, or to send students to alternative schools using tax-credit scholarships, allowing parents greater control in their child’s educational endeavors. How should school choice fit into Alabama’s education system?||I’m certainly for better schools but charter schools and use of public funds for private schools don’t appear to be the answer their advocates claim. Rather they’re just another source of controversy and a diversion of public funds from school that are already underfunded. What I’d prefer to see is all the momentum and energy behind advocating for school choice be put into making all our public schools better. Many of the ideas behind alternative schooling can be generalized, but this should be done within the system that serves all public school children.||As president of the Board of Education, an intimate knowledge of the education system is critical to our children’s success and ultimately the success of this great state. As a former teacher, I appreciate the benefits of school choice. School choice provides healthy competition, and competition can effectively raise student performance, teacher attendance, and financial management. As a conservative leader, I will always support and empower local administrators.|
|In Alabama, the bottom 20% of earners pay 10% of their income in state and local taxes while the top 1% only pays 3.8% of their income in the same taxes. If elected, what would be the future of the state income tax and do you see this disparity as a problem?||Alabama’s regressive tax structure problems involves more than just its income tax. Powerful land owners have long successfully lobbied to keep property taxes low. This in turn causes an unhealthy dependency on income, sales, and other taxes, which for the most part are not distributed according to wealth or ability to pay. Once Alabama is ready to have a serious discussion with itself and face the truth, it will be possible to enact revenue neutral tax reform that distributes the burden of operating state and local governments in alignment with how wealth is distributed. Those with an interest in keeping the current system falsely characterize such tax reform as tax increases or redistributions of wealth, and it is that perception that we must overcome before reforms win the support of the people.||This year, I was proud to work together with the state legislature to pass the largest middle class tax cut in a decade. Under the new law, we increased the threshold for claiming the maximum exemption for state income taxes.
I understand that every dollar spent by the government belongs to the people. And with the economy booming, I am pleased that we were able to give back to Alabamians some of their hard earned money.
|STATE AND LOCAL TAXES|
|According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, Alabama boasts the 12th most regressive state and local tax system in the nation. One contributor to this ranking is our combined 9% grocery tax (only four states tax groceries more than Alabama). In 2017, Governor Bentley proposed decreasing the grocery tax by 4%. If you are elected, would you suggest changes to the grocery tax?||I support eliminating the state sales tax on groceries. But to do so we must offset the lost revenues with another source. One idea is to eliminate the state deduction for federal income taxes, which would require a constitutional amendment to be voted on by the people. Unfortunately, at the local level, state law limits sources of revenue municipalities and counties can adopt, which would make eliminating local sales taxes on groceries impossible unless a new source of revenue replaces it. We must look at ways to free up the dependency of local governments from sales taxes so that all taxes on groceries can be eliminated.||During my first year in office, I focused on giving Alabamians back some of their hard earned money with the largest middle class tax cut in a decade. This is a first step, but we are certainly not finished. With support from the people of Alabama, I would dedicate the next four years to continuing the good work we begun. |
Tax reform requires a comprehensive approach. As families know, financial planning requires an examination of how much money is being earned and how much money is being spent. Before we can determine what taxes should be changed or eliminated, we must conduct a thorough review of government spending to identify and eliminate unnecessary spending.
Promoting economic growth is another important step to reducing the tax burden on families. As Governor, I have made it my job to make sure everybody has a job with a good paycheck.
In less than a year, we steadied the ship, achieved record low unemployment, approved record funding for education and still managed to give Alabamians the largest middle class tax cut in a decade. Imagine the progress we can make if given four years to implement our agenda.
|US News ranks Alabama’s roads and bridges as the 16th and 21st best in the country, respectively. Even so, every neighbor of ours—except Mississippi—has roads and bridges that rank in the top 10. Alabama also ranks 45th in terms of broadband access. If elected, what would you prioritize as the most important infrastructure investment projects, and what innovative options would you propose to fund such projects?||I support the plan put forth by the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure, which was founded by the Business Council of Alabama, Chambers of Commerce across the state, businesses, industry associations, and professional groups – all of whom understand that quality roads and bridges are critical to improving Alabama’s economy. Not only must we take a long, hard look at our decreasing fuel tax revenues, which today bring in the equivalent of 35 cents per gallon less than in the mid-1990s, we also must look toward the future as hybrid and electric vehicles continue to cause the same wear and tear on roadways while paying less in fuel taxes. We get what we pay for, and right now we’re paying for roads and bridges that become more dangerous every day and are less attractive to new industries.||Infrastructure is a critical component to job creation efforts. If we want to be competitive in the 21st Century economy, we must invest in our roads, bridges and broadband Internet.
However, current infrastructure funding in Alabama provides for only two of three important aspects: 1) We are able to provide for the general maintenance of roads and bridges; and 2) We periodically fund priority projects to alleviate some of the state’s most congested roadways. The third aspect which we are unable to fund under our current structure is that of 3) priority projects which continue to be on our state’s “wish list.” This wish list is typically driven by the recommendations of local officials as they determine their greatest needs.
Shortly after being sworn in as Governor, I was chosen as one of eight governors to work with President Trump on how to improve our infrastructure. As we have worked with President Trump and the Federal Highway Administration, we have begun to implement alternative methods to address the expansion of infrastructure. For example, we have applied the utilization of public-private partnerships (P3s). The greatest example of this is the I-10 Mobile River Bridge. This project is one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the United States, and we will take a business-minded approach by leveraging the private sector for a more efficient and cost-effective outcome to the state and its residents.
Infrastructure is not just limited to our roads and bridges. Our ability to continue to attract world-class companies and improve access to quality education and health care is dependent on widespread access to high speed Internet. I prioritized broadband access by supporting and signing "The Broadband Accessibility Act" into law during my first full legislative session as Governor. This law is an important step to moving Alabama forward by ensuring our citizens have the tools and resources needed to succeed in this modern economy. But I'm not done yet.
I plan to continue to work with existing Internet providers, education leaders, healthcare providers and others to identify even more ways to expand our broadband capabilities so that every citizen who needs access will have it available.
|Most states resort to installing a state-run lottery to increase revenue and pay for government projects. Do you support a lottery to solve the state’s fiscal woes? Why or why not?||The Alabama Education Lottery is a cornerstone of my campaign. It will bring in $300 million every year to make college more affordable for Alabama students, expand Pre-K to every child in the state, provide wrap around services to address health, mental health, and social problems that prevent learning, and close the funding gap between school systems in high and low property value districts.||In Alabama, a state lottery would require a Constitutional amendment, which requires the state legislature to pass a bill which is then goes directly to the people for a vote. If the state legislature passed a bill, I would support allowing the people of Alabama to vote.|
|THE RIGHT TO WORK|
|The Census Bureau suggests that Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee are creating more jobs than Alabama. As governor, how would you foster job creation that rivals our neighbors to the north, east, and south?||The first thing we must do is get our workforce ready for jobs of the 21st century. This is an employer’s number one concern and so it should be our number one priority. The Alabama Education Lottery will provide funding for workforce development and apprenticeships as well as higher educational attainment, and restructuring our workforce development efforts to be more effective and efficient will make every dollar invested in our future count. Second, we must rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges. Economic development cannot happen if new businesses and industries have no confidence that essential transportation infrastructure will be in place. Alabama is blessed with a strong work ethic, abundant natural resources, and a geographic location that puts us in position to lead the south in job and wage growth. All we need are the missing pieces of the puzzle that have been neglected for too long.||Under my leadership, Alabama is attracting world class companies. In only a year, more than $6 billion have been invested, 13,000 jobs have been created and we have achieved record low unemployment. But, we’re not done yet. If we want to continue to recruit job creators, we need to improve education, modernize our infrastructure and strengthen our workforce development.|
|ROLE OF LABOR|
|Alabama is a right-to-work state. In your opinion, what is the proper role of organized labor and should Alabama remain a right-to-work state?||I support the right of labor to organize. The minds and muscles of Alabama workers are the backbone of all our industries, and those workers have a legal right to unite for the betterment of them all. Unions have done so much to help wage growth and job safety of working people. Understanding this, in 2016, Alabama voters included right to work as part of our constitution. Therefore, so long as it remains the law of Alabama, as governor I will be sworn to uphold the individual rights of all workers, even as I continue to support the right of workers to unite for their common good.||Yes, workers should be entitled to work without being forced to join a labor union. This affords workers more freedom, including financial burdens. Being a right to work state is not only good for workers, it’s good for the overall economy as it increases competition and promotes more economic growth. I believe a free marketplace is most effective.|
|OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING IN ALABAMA|
|The state of Alabama licenses 151 different occupations and over 20% of Alabama workers need a license to work. If elected, how would you address these regulations—regulations that both the Obama and Trump administrations have regarded as problematic?||Much of Alabama’s occupational licensing structure is an inconsistent, ad hoc, unreasonable mess. Licensing should be about assuring only that individuals who perform services to the public are qualified and properly regulated, and should not be an income generator that squeezes money out of multiple layers of the same business and falls disproportionally on lower wage jobs. We should start with common sense reforms. Many lower level licenses can be subsumed by license holders who are responsible for their performance. For example, there’s no need to require a license to shampoos someone’s hair when a licensed cosmetologist is responsible for 100% of the training, approval, and supervision of the person doing the shampoo. We must eliminate duplicative and unnecessary licensing boards. We must align fees for licenses that legitimately have rigorous standards with the costs of administration.||I am fully committed to reducing the size and scope of state government. I have led efforts to streamline government operations and continue to make that a priority. Government should exist to protect citizens, help the most vulnerable, and create an optimal environment for job creation. Our economic development successes over the last year prove that companies see Alabama as a state with a favorable economic and regulatory climate. However, government can always operate more efficiently and effectively for the people.
I will continue to push for more friendly policies for businesses and individuals and fully commit to President Trump’s policies for a less burdensome government. Government was created for the people and by the people. It should not be an “us vs. them” mentality. The dollars that support state government do not belong to the bureaucrat – but to the residents of this state. We must always remember to spend them with meticulous and thoughtful results in mind.
|According to the CDC, Alabama is the state highest-prescribed with opioids, with more prescriptions than people. Opioids are the main driver of overdose deaths and, in 2016, 756 Alabamians died from drug overdoses. As governor, how would you tackle Alabama’s share of this national crisis?||The expansion of Medicaid is a major first step in overcoming many of Alabama’s problems, including opioid and other drug abuse. The expansion will increase the availability of and access to treatment and counseling that we so desperately need. We also need to improve prescription drug monitoring and make medical treatments more widely available, like Suboxone, which alleviates the pain of opioid withdrawal but is too expensive for most to afford without assistance. Detox units, residential and outpatient services, consultation among addiction specialists and other providers must be expanded. UAB’s Addiction Recovery Program provides an effective model that can be replicated statewide for a medically supervised approach to early sobriety including intensive therapy, 12-step fellowship, trauma and grief work, and family support. Overdose remedies like Narcan must be widely available to both emergency first responders and the general public. We must implement common sense initiatives like warm handoffs so that people who seek emergency medical treatment for drug overdoses are automatically connected to a treatment program – and, of course, that begins by make sure treatment programs are available.||The opioid crisis is an issue that touches all our communities. This isn’t a political issue, it’s destroying lives regardless of political parties, and we must do everything in our power to stop it.|
That is why I signed an executive order to establish the Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council, which is tasked with addressing the urgent epidemic that is ravaging our families.
|Alabama has the third highest murder rate in the country. As governor, how would you address crime and what policies, specifically, would you propose?||The governor should meet with leaders in law enforcement and experts in criminal conduct to find the most effective ways to reduce crime, with consideration given to such approaches as keeping children in school longer – a proven deterrent to criminal behavior; identification of threats in the community; behavioral intervention programs; using technology tools that detect patterns of criminal behavior and provide evidence to make arrests; providing our youth with opportunities for learning skills, recreation, and service to the community as alternatives to drugs and crimes; hot spot and focused policing – faster reaction to crime trends to proactively stop crimes from being committed; eliminate blighted housing; community policing; and responsible and reasonable gun laws.||Any efforts to target crime reduction must begin early in an individual’s life with commitment to create a different culture, environment and opportunity for everyone. For Alabamians to have career opportunities, they must be prepared when the right job comes along. My education initiative, Strong Start, Strong Finish does just that. Under Strong Start, Strong Finish we will coordinate our efforts and bring all stakeholders to the table in order to improve education all the way from Pre-K to the workforce effective education requires a strong foundation in a child’s early years. In 2017, under the leadership of Secretary Jeana Ross, Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program increased the number of classrooms to 938 statewide. Research shows us that students who participate in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program are more likely than other students to be proficient in reading and math at every grade level. |
For the 11th year in a row, our First-Class Pre-K program was recognized for being the highest-quality Pre-K in the nation. In fact, Harvard University is currently developing a full-length documentary on Alabama’s Pre-K program to share across the country with those interested in following our lead. Our First-Class Pre-K is certainly a bright spot for Alabama.
I’m proud to have quickly become known as a governor focused on education. Over the past nine months, I have devoted a great deal of my time to my role as president of the State Board of Education. In less than two years, Alabama has had four different K-12 superintendents. That is nothing to be proud of. The members of the State Board of Education must ensure continuity to see progress. Board members must set goals and adopt strategies to achieve student learning at high standards. Our central focus must be on our students, not on personal agendas or political maneuvering.
|Alabama has received national attention for the state of its prisons and a federal judge recently called inmate care “horrendously inadequate”. How would you address this issue, and do you support the use of private prisons?||Alabama’s prison system is driven largely by court order or continuing efforts to stave off court orders, and private prisons are a pathway to even more headaches. Nobody like to talk about prisons, but it is our duty as a society to provide safe and secure prisons that comply with standards of human decency while also serving their punitive purpose. Our prison system is severely overcrowded and are at risk for federal court takeover. We are not rehabilitating our prisoners or treating those with mental health problems, which puts them at high risk to commit further crimes and return to prison. Once we embrace the fact that 90% of prisoners will one day return to society, then perhaps we can accept the fact that rehabilitation of prisoners – with educational opportunities, job skill training, and mental health and drug abuse treatment – is just as important as meting out punishment for the crime.||Perhaps our state’s biggest challenge is found in our prison system. For far too long we have run our state’s prison system in a way that risks a takeover by the federal courts. Now, one federal court has found that our prisons are overcrowded and understaffed, due at least in part to facilities that are worn and old. Correctional professionals work diligently to provide security, medical, mental health and rehabilitative services in a challenging environment. They deserve our attention and support. We must also work diligently to provide appropriate care to those placed in the custody of the Department of Corrections.|
Immediately after taking office, I instructed Commissioner Jeff Dunn and his staff to work closely with my staff to develop a viable plan to address correctional staffing and make capital investments in our infrastructure.
We have commissioned comprehensive reviews to determine the compensation levels necessary to recruit and retain corrections staff. And I have instructed the Commissioner to hire a project management team to help us develop a master plan so we will be able to make smart, cost-effective decisions when addressing our outdated prison infrastructure.
We will no longer guess about possible fixes. Instead, I will present to the people a workable solution to this generational problem. I am committed to meeting this challenge head-on. Together, with the support of the legislature, we will solve this problem for generations to come. This is an Alabama problem that must have an Alabama solution; now is the time to act.
|CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE|
|Some states are eliminating provisions that allow police to seize property without securing a criminal conviction. Do you support the use of civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement and the provision that allows agencies to keep the proceeds of seized property? Why or why not?||Civil asset forfeiture can be an effective tool in combatting drug trafficking. However, there are too many stories about people who are never charged with crimes falling victim to the relatively low standards for seizing property when there is a mere suspicion of criminal activity. I believe in the 2nd amendment, but I also believe in the due process clause of the 14th amendment. But before we eliminate what can be an effective law enforcement tool, we need to gather evidence of how Alabama law enforcement agencies are using civil forfeitures. Therefore, I support the bill that failed in the last legislative session to require detailed reporting by law enforcement agencies as to how and when assets are seized, the suspected crime underling the seizure, how the funds or assets are used by the agency, whether there was ultimately a conviction in the case, and similar data. We also need to consider whether funds from forfeited assets should continue to go to the law enforcement agencies or instead into the general funds of state and local governments. This would remove the so-called profit motive from law enforcement. We must work toward the day when assets are not seized unless there’s strong assurance they were used in criminal activity, ideally only after a conviction. Gathering data so that we may formulate strategies that fight crime effectively while retaining fundamental fairness in our justice system is the best start.||I support reform to protect personal property and due process rights of all Alabamians. This year, the state legislature took an important step by starting the conversation. It is my hope that we can build upon the foundation that was laid and implement real reform that balances individuals’ protection of personal property and the flexibility necessary for law enforcement to hold criminals accountable.|
|Responses are included in the order in which they were received.||Representative Will Ainsworth||Dr. Will Boyd|
|What is your political philosophy and, if elected, how would it shape the way you lead as lieutenant governor?||I am a deeply committed Christian Conservative, and my faith-based political philosophy guides all of my thoughts and decisions as a public servant. I am also a straight shooter who opposes politi-cal double-talk and believes that the flawed doctrine of political correctness is a direct threat to the basic freedoms and liberties that our U.S. Constitution guarantees us.||My political philosophy would likely be described as pragmatic as I consider myself a practical progressive. As Lieutenant Governor, I will put people over politics—concerning myself with the needs of all Alabamians versus a political platform. My compassion would lead me to work tirelessly to help every Alabamian seeking work get employment. My empathy would fuel my drive to expand Medicaid, protect of the Education Trust Fund many Alabamians depend on, and work towards a fairer tax system that does not unfairly burden low- and middle-income families while providing tax breaks for the rich.|
|How have you demonstrated your commitment to your political philosophy?||I am not a career politician. I am currently serving my first term in the Alabama House, and my actions in office demonstrate my commitment to conservative principles. During the past four years I have focused my efforts on sponsoring term limits and recall legislation, championing pro-life measures, defending against liberal attacks on the Second Amendment, and fighting against federal intrusion with a 10th Amendment approach.|
Unlike another candidate for lieutenant governor who campaigned in favor of Bob Riley’s massive Amendment One tax increase, I have worked with a group of fellow House conservatives to kill more than $1 billion in taxes over the past four years. When Robert Bentley broke a re-election campaign promise by proposing almost $800 million in new taxes, I was among the first lawmak-ers to point out his deception and oppose his wrong-headed effort.
|Over the past ten years alone, I have strongly supported policies that benefit those I was elected to serve or seek to serve. As an elected official, I listened to the concerns of voters on “both sides of the aisle” and supported projects or policies that provided for the needs of the many—even if it such support led to criticism from my own party.|
|What should be the role of the lieutenant governor?||According to the 1901 Constitution, the lieutenant governor is responsible for presiding over the State Senate and stepping in if a governor leaves office, but I believe the office can be expanded to include other roles. As the second highest ranking constitutional officer in the state, the lieutenant governor has a natural bully pulpit that can be used to promote ideas, reforms, and policies that should be considered. Because the lieutenant governor runs separately from the governor - unlike the president and vice president - these initiatives may be completely separate from those that the governor promotes.|
I also believe that the lieutenant governor can play a much larger role in the economic development efforts of the state. Responsibilities and duties require the governor to be largely tethered to the Capitol, but when the Legislature is not in session, the lieutenant governor may be utilized to meet with business leaders, foreign companies, and other prospects who show an interest in locating, investing, or expanding in Alabama.
|While my campaign motto is “leading Alabama forward,” my aim is to “be number one at serving as number two.” Said differently, I want to employ my servant-leadership experience as a pastor and public servant to support the Governor in leading the State of Alabama with the understanding that my role is to serve as president of the Senate and make nearly four hundred appointments to more than one hundred and sixty agencies, boards, and commissions. Of course, I am prepared to step in at any time and serve as Alabama’s chief servant and executive should the Governor be rendered unable to execute her of his duties.|
|What is the most challenging social issue facing families in Alabama? Does government have a role in helping to solve that problem, and if so, what would you propose?||I believe abortion is among the biggest social issues facing not only Alabama families but all peo-ple. Abortion is murder. Those three simple words sum up my position on the issue, which many falsely claim is a complex one.|
My mother, Sharon, is the director of the Real Life Crisis Pregnancy Center in Marshall County, and she uses that role to stress adoption as the proper response to unwanted pregnancies. My fa-ther, Billy, is a man of deep and abiding faith who supports my mother’s mission and helped foster my relationship with Christ.
Earlier this year, I carried and passed legislation that provides a generous tax credit to families that adopt children whether in-state or out-of-state. It is my hope that this incentive will provide a sta-ble home and a caring family to children who simply want to be loved.
As a state legislator, I helped pass a constitutional amendment that will appear on the November ballot and declares Alabama to be a pro-life state so that we may stand ready to take action as soon as the abomination known as Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
When a surreptitiously recorded video showed representatives of Planned Parenthood cavalierly discussing the sale of unborn infant body parts as if they were a publicly traded commodity, my fellow lawmakers and I enacted the Unborn Infants’ Dignity of Life Act, which criminalizes such transactions in Alabama.
If we are going to win that war and preserve the traditional values and cornerstone morals upon which this nation was built, we must have leaders at all levels who have the courage to join the bat-tle, the voice to win the debate, and the determination to keep fighting until victory is ours.
|I believe the most challenging issue facing families in Alabama is still racial inequality. A lack of inclusion has resulted in many Alabamians being left behind. Unemployment rates are higher in African American communities. Many people of color are without healthcare and continue to be locked up disproportionately to their counterparts. On the campaign trail, I have noticed that predominately African-American communities have been left to tackle some of the most complicated environmental issues that have disgracefully and unethically been caused by chemical spills, toxic dumping, and infrastructure deficiencies that resemble those of developing countries.
Lack of environmental cleanup and protection has purportedly resulted in central organ complications, exposure to carcinogenic materials, nausea, and death. All of these problems could easily be remedied by legislators and the government agencies working to provide every Alabamian with a fair shot to achieve the American dream—no matter the color of skin.
As Lieutenant Governor, I will not only use my bully pulpit to advocate for high speed rail to improve the odds of job acquisition or an educational lottery that will help provide needed funding to public schools, I will also advocate for broadband and more mobile towers in the black belt. I will work tirelessly to ensure that STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math jobs) are not reserved for Alabama’s biggest metropolitan areas; but, I will fight to make sure these STEAM jobs are also available in the rural areas of Alabama. After all, there is no reason why any Alabamian who wants to work should live in poverty, be too far from a good public school, or be without affordable healthcare.
|According to the Center for Public Integrity, Alabama receives a D+ grade for integrity. When the state is in the national news, it is often because of a lack of ethical behavior by state officials or candidates. How would having you as Lieutenant Governor improve our state’s image nationally and, more generally, what suggestions do you have to ensure integrity throughout the state government?||Those who steal from others to enrich themselves are criminals whether they wear a ski mask in a bank or a suit and tie in the Alabama State House. That is why I spoke out against Mike Hubbard and Mickey Hammon and risked their punishment in return. As a member of the House Health Committee, I was also among the first signers of the Articles of Impeachment that were filed against Robert Bentley.|
Far too often, career politicians lose their perspective, become numb to corruption, and fall prey to the temptations that the political systems offers. As a newcomer to public service, that is why I sponsored term limit legislation in the Alabama House, and it is why I’ll help ensure that politicians who engage in corruption will experience the inside of a jail cell.
During my term in the House, I have passed two ethics bills into law - one that strengthened the prohibition against double voting and another that tightened the revolving door barring public officials, state employees and others from resigning their jobs and immediately cashing in on their positions by becoming lobbyists.
|In the absence of exemplary leadership in the “highest offices” of the State of Alabama, I believe we need to restore public trust through ethics reform. The recent controversies surrounding moral failures in all three of Alabama’s branches of government have presented the state with a greater need for demonstration of ethical behavior and social responsibility. I strongly believe that leadership derailment often occurs as there is a lack of articulation of values and beliefs or no demonstration of the same.
Public trust cannot be restored by state officials and candidates by simply placing religious monuments around government buildings or even running political advertisements with candidates holding The Bible in hand. Public trust will not simply be restored with an influx of “religious” leaders into government. As a bishop and professor, I believe that ethics reform involves much more than posting codes of conduct and ethics in the chambers and halls of government or demanding more transparency. I strongly believe, and argue as much in my publications, that public trust in our state officials and candidates will come as we, state candidates and officials, embody the highest levels of ethical responsibility and engage in exemplary leadership practices which ultimately look out for the well-being of all Alabamians.
As the thirty-first Lieutenant Governor of Alabama, I will work to restore public trust, character and integrity statewide by:
1. Pushing for reforms which lead to ethical and social audits of government offices.
2. Ensuring that state officials, like business executives of for-profit organizations, are socially-conscious of the concerns of the citizens, employees and all (domestic and foreign) who stand to gain or lose from the decisions they make.
3. Encouraging government offices and agencies to benchmark their ethics and behavior to those of world-class providers of goods and services.
4. Encouraging all elected officials to become critically reflective of their own actions in public and “behind closed doors”, seeking feedback from the citizens and promoting higher levels of their accountability to the people which elected them to serve our state and nation.
|As Lieutenant Governor, you will be responsible for appointing more than 400 people to state positions. How can Alabamians be sure that you will appoint qualified and experienced candidates and not simply supporters from current or previous electoral campaigns?||As I stated earlier, I am a devoted Christian Conservative who embraces a strict interpretation of the Constitution, free market ideas, and a faith-based political philosophy. I will seek out and ap-point those who share these ideas, beliefs, and traits.||Nepotism and “pay to play” tactics have rendered Alabama officials vulnerable to bribery, corruption, and other unethical practices. As an administrator, manager, executive and overseer working within for-profit and nonprofit organizations, I am required to ensure that job applicants possess the right skills and qualifications to fill job vacancies. Committed to the overarching goals of the organizations I served, I never have or will appoint anyone who is not qualified or experienced. Neither will I appoint someone solely on their current or previous connections to my electoral campaigns. As Lieutenant Governor, I will be held responsible for every appointment I make. Therefore, I am committed to seeking out the most qualified and experienced woman or man—no matter his or her race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.|
|Alabama is ranked number forty-seven on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best States for Education, and ranked number 1 in Pre-Kindergarten quality. As far as public education reforms, there have been many suggestions for improvement including increased investment in STEM education, distance learning, and reforming teacher tenure. What reforms would you propose or support to improve public education and prepare Alabama’s children for school success and lifelong learning?||I witnessed firsthand the importance of Pre-K programs to a child’s development because my wife was a Pre-K teacher. That’s why I’ll work to expand Alabama’s nationally-recognized First Class Pre-K program throughout Alabama. I understand that exposure to voluntary Pre-K programs can often make the difference in whether a child later excels in school or falls behind.
Watching my wife, Kendall, work with the children in her Pre-K program opened my eyes to its importance in a child’s development. Studies have shown that if a child can read at grade level by third grade, they can maintain their progress until graduation, but if a child cannot read at level by that time, their chances of ever catching up drop dramatically. That’s why I want to expand Ala-bama’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program and give our children a jump start when it comes to learning. Believe it or not, Pre-K programs can pay dividends years later in terms of having a pre-pared workforce that can fill 21st Century jobs.
I want to place an emphasis on funding for career technical training and expanding its potential in our schools. It’s a fact that not every child is going to go to college, and we need to make sure that those who don’t are adequately prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation, and career technical training is the key to that goal. Even students who do attend college benefit from acquiring the skills that career tech can provide them in high school. Schools in Marshall County, where I live, already offer programs in areas like cyber security and IT, and public school officials tell me there is a desperate need for advanced robotics courses, as well, but we lack the necessary equipment. Training in the traditional trades also provides much-needed skills to fill the long-standing jobs that fewer and fewer individuals are prepared to fill. Emphasizing, encouraging, and funding career technical training will greatly benefit our economic development efforts.
If we really want to have the best schools in the country, we need to pay our educators like we want to have the best schools in the country. It’s time we put as much emphasis on being successful in the classroom as we do on being successful on the football field, and the first step toward that goal is paying our teachers a wage that recognizes their efforts.
|While serving in higher learning, I had the pleasure of serving as Dean of Student Success while also teaching Business Management. My responsibilities included oversight of career services and providing professional assistance for student success. I have a passion for preparing students for educational success and connecting them to the right people to help improve job acquisition. I know many Alabama educators share my beliefs.
I believe Alabama has the best administrators and educators; however, our legislators have not chosen to make funding of public education a priority. We cannot spend more money on housing a prisoner than educating a child in public school system and expect to succeed. We cannot raid our Educational Trust Fund or allow tax credit scholarship programs to pour money into schools where financial assistance is not needed.
My four year-old just graduated from a Pre-Kindergarten program. She was truly blessed to have the opportunity to matriculate through such a program; however, every four year-old in Alabama should be afforded the same opportunity without respect to level of household income. Pre-K must be fully funded statewide and this could be achieved through an Educational Lottery. As it relates to public education reforms, Alabama needs to rethink how it provides education.
I am a product of both traditional “brick-and-mortar” and nontraditional “brick-and-click” schools of higher learning. I want Alabamians to be afforded the same opportunities to become continuous learners. While there are nearly seventy-five thousand Alabamians out of work, there are more than thirty thousand jobs that have remained unfilled because of a lack of the right skillsets. We don’t need to teach students to test. We need to introduce students to learning experiences and programs that prepare them for changing economies and global marketplaces. We need to invest in STEM and STEAM programs. We need to explore ways to improve both our pedagogy (educating of children) and andragogy (educating of adults).
As Lieutenant Governor, I intend to introduce Alabama to my “Blue and Gold” program that brings educators together with blue collar workers to ensure that students are able to find more jobs in the private sector upon completion of high school and community college while also readjusting blue color workers for a greener economy through trade readjustment.
In order to move Alabama forward, we need to rethink how we prepare inmates for reentry into society and the workforce. We must introduce postsecondary learning to prisons to reduce recidivism. As we are increasing Alabama Department of Corrections salaries, we need to also raise the salaries of teacher to the level of a living wage. It is sad that our educators have to work two or more jobs to reach a living wage.
Having served as a Dean of Student Success for a private college, I propose that state educators in primary, secondary, and postsecondary schools partner together to:
• Identify ways to better engage all students and parents through targeted electronic messages or social networks such as Facebook,
• Find ways to help the financially at-risk successfully persist to graduation,
• Help students discover their strengths or areas of interest sooner,
• Provide psychological counseling to students who willfully disrupt the learning experience or purposefully do not engage in the classroom,
• Create special summer college prep programs for first generation college students,
• Connect college students to the right people and resources within their community to improve the chances of job acquisition in the State of Alabama,
• Benchmark test performance against similar sized communities in the state in efforts to provide continuous improvement and hire the best teachers and administrators,
• Provide Career Services support to all juniors and seniors in High School and College (i.e. resume and cover letter training, graduate school and career advising, transportation to job fairs, and access to internship/job posting databases), and
• Create a nonprofit State Board of Education Counselors similar to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) dedicated to education and career advising.
Through these collaborative efforts, I believes Alabama will see:
• Students will be able to sooner discover the places they can go with their interest, hobbies (ultimately leading to a more satisfied workforce),
• A decrease in class interruptions and fewer altercations with teachers and other students (on and off campus, including gang-related activities),
• Students/Parents finding it less needful to seek out private schools outside their own communities,
• Elementary, Middle and High School educators gaining a better understanding the effectiveness of their teaching pedagogy, perhaps even better understanding the educational challenges for students in a geographical region,
• Improved retention (and satisfaction) of students attending community, private and public colleges as there is less “run around” required to register for classes or gain access to services needed on campus,
• Better prepared job seekers (the best prepared are likely to acquire the best paying jobs), and
• Improved retention of Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.
|In 2015, Alabama became the 43rd state to approve legislation to authorize charter schools. Many states now allow parents to transfer their child from a failing public school to a non-failing public school, to utilize education savings accounts or school vouchers, or to send students to alternative schools using tax-credit scholarships, allowing parents greater control in their child’s educational endeavors. How should educational choice fit into Alabama's education system?||Charter schools and the Alabama Accountability Act in its current form are not one-size-fits-all solutions to our education problems. The Accountability Act doesn’t work for my home county of Marshall, for example, because we do not have the infrastructure to support it, and since our schools already perform well, we simply don’t need it.
Charter schools, school choice, and similar ideas may work well in inner city school systems or underfunded systems, but they do not work well in areas where educators are succeeding and positive results are being produced. We must find solutions to endemic public education problems, but we must not enact politics that harm areas where schools are performing well in an attempt to help areas where schools are failing.
|The Alabama State Department of Education has published findings that a number of public schools have, over many years, failed to make their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals. National Assessment of Academic Progress (NAEP) data has also reflected somber proficiency levels in math, science and reading for elementary students. Having the choice of a public charter school has been well received by many as research has reflected public charter schools have a positive effect on college success indicators like ACT scores and graduation rates.
At first glance, it seems appealing to provide parents and students with more choices to control educational endeavors. Regrettably, the policy issues regarding educational choice in Alabama should carefully be considered. While the assumption that spending more money public students has been hotly debated, it is a fact that tax-credit scholarships, intended to provide thousands of students in failing school districts with increased funding, have gone to a high number of students who are not even enrolled in failing schools.
While Alabama should offer its educators compensation that is comparable or even more favorable than other states, the legislature should ensure that education options like tax credit scholarships are not being used merely to provide individuals and business with financial incentives at the expense of Alabama’s public school system. I believe that public schools should be at the heart of every Alabama community. Every Alabama child deserves access to a quality school—no matter the geographical location.
|In Alabama, the bottom 20% of earners pay 10% of their income in state and local taxes while the top 1% only pays 3.8% of their income in the same taxes. If elected, what would you propose be the future of the state income tax and do you see this disparity as a problem?||The disparity you note is not related to Alabama’s income tax, but, rather, the state’s reliance on sales taxes for revenue. Because the drafters of the 1901 Constitution smartly required most tax increases to be ratified by voters, career politicians and special interests have largely relied on rais-ing one of the few taxes that doesn’t require public approval - sales taxes. As a result, more than 90% of Alabamians live in areas with total sale taxes of at least nine cents on the dollar. The solu-tion is to elect public officials like me who not only oppose new taxes but seek to cut them when-ever possible.|
Alabama currently collects enough revenue to meet our needs and provide essential services, but our state government lacks the flexibility to shift money to meet emergencies and unexpected chal-lenges.
In years past, whenever a new tax was approved, its proceeds were earmarked for one specific purpose or another. Some of these earmarks are constitutional, which means the voters, in their wisdom, dedicated the taxes to an agency, initiative, or spotlighted need during referendum elections.
Many of Alabama’s statutory earmarks, however, were put in place many years ago through back room bargains between lobbyists and long-retired politicians who no longer roam the State House halls. Removing these earmarks will allow us to avoid new taxes and set priorities based on need, not on decades-old, money-hoarding schemes that lobbyists locked into our budgets.
At 91 percent, we have the highest percentage of earmarked tax dollars in the nation. The national average is just 24 percent, and the next highest state behind Alabama is Michigan with 63 percent. Rhode Island is the lowest in the United States with only 4 percent of its tax revenues being earmarked.
Attempting to raise taxes without first addressing earmarking is like pouring water into a bucket that has a large hole in the bottom of it. No matter how much water you pour, the bucket is never going to fill up. That is why I sponsored legislation that attempted to plug the hole in the bottom of the bucket first and prevent any more trips to the taxpayers’ well.
My bill would have removed the statutory earmarks that exist in our code, which would allow us the freedom to budget like families gathered at the kitchen table - placing our bills on one side, our income on the other, and setting priorities that meet critical needs while living within our means.
Unfortunately, the same special interests that carved out those earmarks and the career politicians that do their bidding united against my legislation. If elected, I plan to use the bully pulpit of the lieutenant governor’s office to make another push for commonsense, conservative unearmarking legislation
|Alabama has an upside-down tax system that is unfair. It is regressive because lower income earners pay more in sales taxes than higher income earners. Proportional income taxes, though viewed as fair to some, don’t offset the revenues lost to the tax breaks provided to higher income earners and businesses that do not pay their fair share in taxes. The wage gains of low- and middle-class Alabamians cannot keep pace with inflation. Even worse, Alabama’s tax system fails to keep pace with the State’s needs as 57% of the top fifth of income earners only pay 44% of the state and local taxes collected.
In order for Alabama to avoid structural deficits, I propose that Alabama takes a serious look at moving to a proportional and progressive tax system that will fairly tax all Alabamians rather than saddling the cost of Alabama services to the backs of low- and middle-income households. Some feel it would be too difficult to make changes in the Alabama tax structure as it would require changes to the Alabama Constitution. However, as Lieutenant Governor, I support the following proposals presented by Arise Citizens’ Policy Project which includes:
• Increasing the personal exemption,
• Increasing the standard deduction,
• Increasing the dependent deduction,
• Making Alabama’s deductions and exemptions keep pace with annual cost of living increases,
• Create a state earned income tax credit, set at 10%, to help low-income working families offset the cost of high sales taxes, and
• Create a new rate structure.
|STATE AND LOCAL TAXES|
|According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, Alabama boasts the 12th most regressive state and local tax system in the nation. One contributor to this ranking is our combined 9% grocery tax (only four states tax groceries more than Alabama). In 2017, Governor Bentley proposed decreasing the grocery tax by 4%. If you are elected, would you suggest changes to the grocery tax?||I think the premise of your question is misleading because only 4% of the sales tax on groceries is controlled by the state, and the rest is levied by cities and counties at various levels. In addition, Bentley proposed decreasing the grocery tax as part of his roughly $800 million tax increase pro-posal, which would have been a massive mistake to enact.|
I support removing the grocery tax, but liberals have called for accomplishing this by repealing Al-abamians’ ability to deduct their federal income taxes from their state taxes, which, in my opinion, would result in an overall tax increase on working families and allow income that taxpayers already sent to the federal government to be unfairly double-taxed by the state.
For any repeal effort to work, the state must prohibit cities and counties from raising taxes on gro-ceries after the state has reduced them, or at least require a local referendum to be approved before-hand.
|Alabama has a regressive state and local tax system. Alabama’s regressive tax system results in $100 in groceries costing $110. Regressive state and local taxes hit low- and middle-income families hardest in Alabama as much of their income is spent on goods that are taxed at this high rate. When elected Lieutenant Governor, I will work hard to support any legislation that seeks to do away with the grocery tax. Alabama remains one of less than a handful of states that fully tax groceries. There is no reason why Alabama should tax low-income families even deeper into poverty.|
|US News ranks Alabama’s roads and bridges as the 16th and 21st best in the country, respectively. Even so, every neighbor of ours—except Mississippi—has roads and bridges that rank in the top 10. Alabama also ranks 45th in terms of broadband access. If elected, what would you prioritize as the most important infrastructure investment projects, and what innovative options would you propose to fund such projects?||My transportation plan includes close examination of the steps our sister southeastern states have already taken to resolve their infrastructure issues and mimicking their successes while avoiding their pitfalls.|
Reducing regulations, implementing cost-cutting measures, and reexamining overly-cautions environmental mandates could dramatically reduce construction costs and help us put our money into asphalt instead of bureaucracy.
Public/private partnerships, which allow the private sector to carry the majority of construction and maintenance costs, are another area worthy of exploring.
Utilizing groundbreaking technologies in the roadbuilding industry can also cut costs in the long-term and save millions of taxpayer dollars that can be reinvested in roadways.
New high-density mineral bonds in asphalt, for example, can be used to repel the moisture and ultraviolet light rays that are major contributing factors in the cracking, raveling, and deterioration of our streets, highways, and interstates.
By implementing our sister states’ models, innovative approaches, conservative policies, and new technologies, I remain confident we can provide Alabama’s citizens and businesses with the quality transportation system that they deserve.
|While Alabama’s roads and bridges have been ranked as 16th and 21st in the country, respectively, much of our infrastructure is outdated. Alabama needs broadband, energy, transportation, water, and wastewater infrastructure updates.
Alabama needs to modernize its infrastructure with prioritization being placed on broadband service. It is awful that there are areas of the state where there is no mobile phone reception, no broadband and concern about clean drinking water. Kids can’t search the internet for nontraditional learning at home as their parents have to visit local restaurants with Wi-Fi just to complete job applications. How can we expect businesses to be attracted to these areas to infuse more money for infrastructure improvements?
While Alabama roads and bridges will always be under construction, I believe it is time legislators progressively look to investing in high speed rail to provide Alabamians with greater access to employment opportunities while also lessening the amount of traffic on state roads and bridges. Each year, Alabama leaves millions in federal funding on the table each year by not investing in a high speed intercity rail system like other states. A high speed rail project in Alabama could create more than 20,000 permanent jobs over a 10 years of construction, cause a rise in property values near stations, lower fuel emissions, and shorten commute between major cities.
|Most states resort to installing a state-run lottery to increase revenue and pay for government projects. Do you support a lottery to solve the state’s fiscal woes? Why or why not?||I personally oppose a lottery because it preys on the poor, erodes our morals, and embraces risky fiscal policy. Because a constitutional amendment goes straight from the Legislature to a vote of the people and by-passes the governor’s desk, neither the governor, nor certainly the lieutenant governor, can block one in any case.||I support a state-run lottery—especially an education lottery as Alabamians have expressed their frustration educating the children of Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. An educational lottery, restricted solely to educational use, would help fully-fund pre-K, invest more in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math programs that better prepare students for job acquisition, help provide public schools more wraparound services, and help provide teachers with salaries competitive with other states.|
|Alabama is currently the fourth most federally dependent state in the country. What do you think should be the federal government’s role in our state finances?||Our taxes fund the federal government, so to say that Alabama taxpayers are dependent on the fed-eral government is a misnomer. It is more proper to say that the federal government is dependent on Alabama taxpayers. I believe our state should demand every dime we can get back from the federal government, but I would prefer that it comes here with a no-strings-attached policy. Feder-al block grants with absolutely no mandates would be the preferable form.||As previously mentioned regarding public transportation, Alabama needs to progressively work towards getting federal dollars to invest in infrastructure projects like high speed rail that will move the state forward. While other states receive an average of one quarter of their budgets from the federal government, Alabama receives nearly forty percent. This equates to two dollars from the federal government for every five dollars Alabama spends. While Alabama depends on this funding to support basic services, we need to be more progressive and consider looking for more matching grants and funding for infrastructure improvements. While I support the federal government’s role in supplying federal grants, I believe Alabama needs to do a better job identifying opportunities to contribute more to federal programs that provide “matching dollars “back to the state.|
|THE RIGHT TO WORK|
|The Census Bureau suggests that Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee are creating more jobs than Alabama. As lieutenant governor, how would you foster job creation that rivals our neighbors to the north, east, and south?||Census bureau records may not be the best measure because in terms of per capita creation, Ala-bama is more than holding its own. In fact, we currently have the lowest unemployment rate in state history and are running close to the point of having more jobs available than qualified workers who can fill them.|
Toyota/Mazda, Polaris, Remington, Hyundai, Honda, Airbus, Boeing.
These are just a few of the dozens upon dozens of new and expanding industries that have chosen to locate in Alabama and provide jobs and opportunity to our citizens in recent years.
It is no secret that Alabama continues to lead not only the southeast, but the entire nation, in eco-nomic development categories across the board, and the state’s Department of Commerce could fill a room with all of the “Silver Shovel” awards and other industrial recruitment honors it has cap-tured over the past few decades.
But if we are going to continue our forward progress and provide even more jobs, hope, and secu-rity to Alabama’s families, our attention must begin to focus upon ensuring our workforce is pre-pared to fill 21st Century jobs.
Career tech in our K-12 system, as I noted in the response to your education reform question above, is certainly a firm foundation upon which we can build our economic future. Expanding and enriching workforce development opportunities is our community college system is another integral part.
And, as I also noted above, I plan to be an active lieutenant governor who is deeply involved in the economic development and industrial recruitment efforts of the state. As a businessman, I make my living in sales, and Alabama’s economic success story is certainly a product that is easy to promote to prospects.
|While I oppose disproportionate tax cuts, I believe tax rate reductions can lead to economic expansion. I support increasing the money supply at state and local levels. I also support tax increment financing and offering incentives to businesses to attract them to Alabama.
“Leading Alabama forward” requires supporting our workforce, especially our manufacturers. We need sound policies, modernization of infrastructure (including broadband in rural areas), detangling of regulations, education of the next generation of manufacturing, developing alternative energy sources, promotion of global trade, and even provision of tax incentives to businesses that truly provide job creation in areas where economic growth has been nonexistent.
Having served as a city councilman and an assistant adjunct professor of Business Management, I know the effectiveness of offering incentives to attract businesses to an area seeking economic development; however, I believe a better way of attracting a good workforce is ensuring that these communities seeking economic development have great education systems to attract a good workforce.
|ROLE OF LABOR|
|Alabama is a right-to-work state. In your opinion, what is the proper role of organized labor and should Alabama remain a right-to-work state?||Voters spoke loudly and clearly on this issue when they approved a constitutional amendment permanently declaring Alabama a “right to work” state, and as a member of the House, I was proud to help place that measure on the ballot.||I am a “Friend of Labor.” I seek to be a strong voice for Alabama’s Working Families. I know from experience that organized Labor is one of the keystones of our Democracy. I will fight for Alabama’s working families as Lieutenant Governor by standing in solidarity with Labor to strengthen and defend worker’s rights to organize and bargain collectively. I will demand economic freedom for Alabama’s working families as support an increase in the Federal Minimum Wage to achieve a Realistic Living Wage. I have pledged to stand with Labor on the issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Employee Free Choice Act, Banning Striker Replacement, Davis-Bacon, Safety Standards and Fair Trade. I have been regarding as a “friend of Labor” who will fight for Alabama’s working families. I will stand with Labor to demand that the exporting of jobs overseas be stopped and that more good paying jobs are created here in Alabama.|
|OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING IN ALABAMA|
|The state of Alabama licenses 151 different occupations and over 20% of Alabama workers need a license to work. If elected, how would address these regulations—regulations that both the Obama and Trump administrations have regarded as problematic?||As a small businessman, I know firsthand that government regulations have a crippling effect on our ability to succeed and demand unnecessary hours and dollars in order to meet compliance. As lieutenant governor, I would like to see a top down review of not only licensure regulations, but ALL state regulations and mandates.|
When President Donald Trump took office, he issued orders that for every new federal government regulation that was added, two had to be repealed. During his first six months in office, the Trump administration exceeded his orders by repealing 16 old rules for each new one added.
I would like to see us accomplish something similar in Alabama.
|Occupational licenses benefit consumers by insuring that products or services are offered with quality and safety. While occupational licensing is needed for practitioners in higher skilled occupations, Alabama has requirements for licenses in over 150 different occupations, presenting barriers and hurdles for practitioners like auctioneering, barbers, locksmiths, manicurists, massage therapists, and other fields. These fees, erect barriers and exact burdens for people seeking to enter professions that provide services to Alabamians.
Acquisition of occupational licenses has been estimated to cost Alabamians over $80 million annually. It has also been estimated that Alabamians working in occupations requiring these licenses collectively pay $30 million annually just to maintain licensing. The fees can prevent Alabamians from entering certain occupational fields and ultimately get passed on to customers—driving up the cost of either of the services provided by these 151 different licensed occupation workers.
As Lieutenant Governor, I would work to reform occupational licensing. I would encourage more use of certification rather than licensing. Certification would allow more Alabamians pay an upfront fee for initial training and allow trained individuals to work within their fields without the burden of licensing fees that that have been proven to be disproportionately unfair to low-income and minorities seeking work. Alabama has nearly 75,000 people out of work and 900,000 living in poverty. Changes in licensing laws alone could provide more Alabamians an opportunity to find work to improve their quality of life.
Interestingly, occupational licensing can be harmful in areas dealing with disasters. Without emergency declarations for occupational licensing, immediate healthcare can be delayed. Long term, reconstruction can be delayed in the aftermath of a disaster like tornados. For the many reasons provided above, Alabama needs to scale back licensing regulations that impede Alabamians from working and ultimately pass higher costs of services provided on the Alabama customers who may ultimately elect to do the job themselves rather than investing in Alabama’s economy.
|According to the CDC, Alabama is the state highest-prescribed with opioids, with more prescriptions than people. Opioids are the main driver of overdose deaths and, in 2016, 756 Alabamians died from drug overdoses. As lieutenant governor, how would you help the governor tackle Alabama’s share of this national crisis?||Solving this epidemic is going to take the efforts of all involved parties, including law enforcement officials and medical professionals, working in a cooperative fashion and finding solutions togeth-er. The Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council that recently submitted its findings and report to Gov. Kay Ivey is a good first step.|
During the past legislative session, I supported a new law that increases penalties for the unlawful distribution of Fentanyl, a potent opioid that produces a heroin-like effect. The measure also sets minimum mandatory prison sentences based on the weight that is distributed.
Fentanyl is considered to be 100 times more powerful than morphine, and coming into accidental contact with even the smallest amount can quickly kill first responders who treat overdose cases.
Rampant opioid addiction is destroying lives, families, friendships and futures. Focusing efforts on combatting Fentanyl opens a new front in the war on drugs and targets distributors, who de-serve punishment, over users, who need help and rehabilitation.
|According to the Center for Disease Control, Alabama has seen more prescriptions filled than people living in the state. In 2015, one study reflected that 5.8 million opioids were prescribed in our state that has a population of 4.8 million. In 2016, 756 Alabamians died from drug overdoses as an even greater number of Alabamians are suffering from addiction. As lieutenant governor, I will help the governor tackle Alabama’s share of this national crises by supporting priorities which include: 1) overhauling Alabama’s prescription monitoring system, 2) providing addicts treatment programs versus incarceration, and 3) working to provide medication that prevent the effects of opioid and overdose. While these are remedial efforts as they offer assistance after addiction, I would support efforts to also facilitate more behavioral and educational research that leads to prevention of opioid addiction for those suffering from chronic pain and are on opioid analgesics due to injuries sustained by way of trauma.|
|Alabama has the third highest murder rate in the country. As lieutenant governor, how would you address crime and what policies, specifically, would you propose?||Liberal activists and street thugs have worked in recent years to convince portions of our communi-ties that police officers are the enemy and the instructions of law enforcement personnel should be defied, not followed. This message and this approach is dangerous, dishonest, and threatens the very fabric of our social order.|
Let me make one thing perfectly clear. The men and women who wear badges and protect our cit-ies and counties are heroes to be celebrated, not enemies to be attacked. The same holds true for firefighters, paramedics, and ambulance drivers and also for the support personnel who enable them to do their jobs.
These first responders will find no better advocate or cheerleader than me, and I pledge to provide every resource in my power to keep them safe and assist them in carrying out their duties.
We must adopt a no-nonsense, get-tough policy on lawbreakers and teach them the meaning of the phrase, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” This hardline approach should apply to all offenses from violent crimes to property thefts to public corruption and white collar transgressions.
| For too long, candidates have campaigned on being “tough on crime” without providing away to prepare inmates for reentry into society or lower recidivism. Furthermore, these same politicians have made way for “pipe ways to prison.” As legislators entertain the privatization of prisons, even more people are concerned with housing prisoners rather than preventing crime.|
I’m concerned about Alabama’s prison overcrowding and lack of adequate correctional and mental-health staff. Some of these problems could be addressed with “fairer sentencing,” more investment in mental health treatment, more reentry preparation, and increased pay for Alabama Department of Corrections employees.
This year, it has already been announced that the Alabama Department of Corrections is cutting the amount of money it spends on drug rehabilitation, making prisons weaker and less productive in their mission to reform prisoners so they do not return to criminal activities upon their release.
In conclusion, I believe changes in the economy can have more pronounced effects on crime rates than incarceration. I also believe providing postsecondary learning “behind bars,” even to those with only elementary education levels, can significantly reduce recidivism and improve reintegration into society.
|Responses are included in the order in which they were received.||Attorney General Steve Marshall|
|Interpreting the Law|
|Attorneys general are in the business of interpreting and enforcing the law. If elected, would you see your role as Attorney General (AG) as that of an activist, with freedom to interpret the law to new situations, events, and presidential administrations, or as that of a constructionist, interpreting the law strictly through the lens of original intent?||As Attorney General, I am primarily responsible for enforcing and defending the laws of this state and the Constitution. Through the formal opinions process, I also have a role in interpreting Alabama’s laws. I take seriously my duty to enforce and interpret the law as it is written, looking to the plain meaning of the text and not my own opinion of what is the best or right result. When the law is not clear, I do not believe that trying to discern legislative intent is an appropriate means for interpreting law. Instead, I apply Alabama’s well-established principles of statutory construction and look to relevant case law for judicial interpretations of the statute in question.|
|Enforcing the Law|
|Are you willing to aggressively defend state statutes and policies, even if you disagree with them?||Yes. As Attorney General, I have aggressively defended our state’s laws regardless of whether I believed that a particular law made for good policy or good politics.|
|How do you plan to balance your role as chief law enforcement officer in the state with your role as chief legal representative of the state?||As Attorney General, I serve the law enforcement community as a partner, resource, and advocate on an array of criminal and public safety matters. My office maintains a criminal trials division, a public corruption unit, and handles all of the state’s criminal appeals and capital litigation. My ongoing Initiative on Violent Crime is an example of how an Attorney General, as the chief law enforcement officer, can take the lead and galvanize federal, state, and local law enforcement around a common goal. Simultaneously, I am the state’s attorney and run what is often referred to as “the people’s law firm.” That includes protecting Alabama’s consumers, defending Alabama’s laws, and pursuing the state’s interests beyond Alabama’s borders. For me, the keys to balancing both of these important roles have been laying out a clear mission and vision, selective hiring, and smart delegation.|
|Budget and Staff|
|The AG oversees a staff of more than 160 and a budget of over $10 million. What has prepared you to lead such a large organization and to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars?||As Attorney General, I have managed an annual budget of over $20 million dollars—$10 million of that is the amount appropriated to my Office through the General Fund. For 15 years prior to becoming Attorney General, I served as District Attorney of Marshall County. In addition to managing the staff and budget of that office, I also directed the Marshall County Drug Task Force. Both the office and the drug task force completed successful audits every year under my leadership. In any spending decision, I am cognizant of the duty I have to use taxpayer dollars in an efficient and responsible manner that is directly responsive to the demands of public safety and protecting the public’s interest.|
|Given limited resources, the AG must use discretion in deciding which crimes to prosecute. What is your overall position on the extent of prosecutorial discretion? Should prosecutorial discretion ever be used to avoid prosecuting an alleged corrupt government official? Do you think a prosecutor ever has the right to not prosecute a broad range of accused people/crimes?||As Attorney General, I have the discretion to prioritize the resources of my office in the manner that I believe will best serve public safety and the public’s interests. In doing so, I do not have the discretion to pick and choose which laws my office will enforce. With my approval, prosecutors are able to exercise discretion over when criminal charges are appropriate under the laws of our state based solely upon the facts and the evidence before them. Throughout my twenty-year career as a prosecutor, I have demonstrated that I will always apply the law fairly and equally to those who violate it.|
|Code of Ethics|
|Both the current and the preceding AGs proposed comprehensive reforms to Alabama’s ethics laws. The Legislature recently established a Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission “to reform and clarify the Code of Ethics”. The AG will co-chair this Commission with the Ethics Commission Director. Would you recommend amendments or revisions to the ethics code? If so, what are your suggestions in doing so?||Yes. As Attorney General, I have advocated for reforms that would draw clearer lines between legal and illegal activity and ensure that those who violate the public’s trust are held accountable. My comprehensive ethics reform package, written under the direction of my corruption unit, was filed by Senator Marsh during the 2018 legislative session as Senate Bill 343. This legislation will serve as a guiding document for the legislature’s Ethics Review and Clarification Commission, of which I am the co-chair, and I will advocate for it within that body.|
|In the Office of Attorney General|
|While the Alabama Attorney General's office is one of the state's largest legal offices, it has been a common practice for AGs to outsource lucrative legal work to politically connected law firms. The firms often then contribute large sums to the AG's campaigns for reelection or higher office. Is this an example of the AG using the powers of the office for personal benefit? If so, how will you make changes to this practice?||As Attorney General, I have become intimately familiar with the manpower and capacity of my office through the work of our divisions and units. Proportionally, Alabama maintains one of the smallest Attorney General Offices in the country. As a result, it can be both necessary and cost effective to utilize outside counsel in extraordinary cases in order to pursue the state’s interests without overburdening or disrupting the daily work of a particular division.|
State law sets clear parameters on hiring outside counsel and how their compensation can be structured, but an Attorney General can do even more to ensure fiscal responsibility in these matters. As Attorney General, I have contracted with outside counsel on one occasion—in consumer-protection litigation related to the deceptive marketing of opioids—and capped attorney’s fees nearly 50% lower than what state law allows.
Alabama ethics and campaign finance laws are abundantly clear in regard to quid pro quo arrangements and using one’s office for personal gain. An Attorney General must strictly adhere to these laws, as I have.
|Ethics and Economic Development|
|Alabama House Bill 317 exempts certain economic developers from being required to register as lobbyists and drew heated discussion across the state this past legislative session. Is this exemption, in your opinion, as innocuous as proponents claim or likely to lead to abuse as opponents suggest?||The public has every reason to be skeptical when ethics questions are raised in the policymaking process. When House Bill 317 was introduced, I too had significant concerns with the way that economic development was dealt with in the context of the ethics law. After working with the Department of Commerce for several weeks, the bill was amended to reflect my Office’s preferred approach of narrowly defining who an “economic development professional” is and then excluding those “professionals” from the definition of “lobbyist.” This was in line with the comprehensive ethics reform bill that was proposed by my office and filed as SB343. I found the enacted version of HB317 to be acceptable, particularly given the sunset date that was inserted at my request. This sunset provision will ensure that this issue will be further analyzed, debated, and dealt with by the Ethics Review and Clarification Commission prior to the 2019 legislative session.|
|Campus Free Speech|
|U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently said there is "too much suppression of free and open speech on college campuses today.” Do you believe this is an issue in Alabama and, if so, how should the AG respond?||I agree with Attorney General Sessions—without question, we have seen significant erosion of free speech on college campuses across the country. We have also seen numerous attempts to stifle the religious expression of students in Alabama’s public K-12 schools via numerous threatening letters and lawsuits from outside interest groups. The Attorney General can play a valuable role in the protection of First Amendment rights both by providing guidance to involved parties on what is protected speech and by assisting in national and state-based cases in which the state has a distinct interest in protecting individual First Amendment rights.|
|Do you think that individuals and small business owners should be forced to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs in order to comply with anti-discrimination laws?||No. As Attorney General, I have taken a stand for the religious liberties of individuals and private business owners in several notable cases. These cases include: defending a Kentucky t-shirt printer from being compelled to print shirts containing messages that were in conflict with his religious beliefs; defending faith-based pregnancy centers in Maryland and California from being compelled to disseminate pro-abortion materials; and defending a Colorado bakeshop from being compelled to design cakes that support a message in violation of his religious beliefs. The California and Colorado cases are currently pending with the U.S. Supreme Court. In each of these cases, I have maintained that the First Amendment freedom of expression is violated when the government attempts to compel private speech that is in conflict with an individual’s sincerely-held religious beliefs.|
|When Texas Governor Greg Abbott was the Lone Star State’s Attorney General, he made headlines by saying, “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and I go home.” What role should the AG take in fighting federal government overreach? Would you be willing to file suit—and use state resources—to prevent such overreach?||As Attorney General, I have proudly led and joined cases with fellow conservative Attorneys General designed to limit federal overreach and protect our liberty. Many of our cases deal with federal actions taken during the Obama Administration. For example, I led a case challenging the federal government’s redefinition and dramatic expansion of the Endangered Species Act. The effect of this rule change, made by unelected bureaucrats in Washington, was a very real and substantial threat to private property rights—a foundational freedom. Fortunately, in this case, the Trump Administration agreed to work with us toward a swift resolution. Though|
lawsuits will continue to be necessary at times, I am optimistic about my ability to work with the Trump Administration to reclaim the sovereignty of the state and expand individual freedom.
|Many state attorneys general have sued the Trump administration for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. On May 2, 2018, Alabama joined six other states suing to end the program permanently. In your opinion, how effective is this form of joint action and how do you plan on upholding Alabama immigration law if executive action on the federal level runs contrary?||As Attorney General, I made the decision to join with six other states to ask a federal court to declare the DACA program unconstitutional. We argued that the program is unconstitutional for several reasons: DACA was not approved by Congress, it is in conflict with federal immigration law, it violated the Administrative Procedures Act, and it violated the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution. This form of joint action is extremely effective—Alabama won a significant victory in a nearly-identical case over the constitutionality of DAPA in 2014. At least three activist federal judges have attempted to prohibit the Trump Administration from closing the DACA program. Our lawsuit argues that the program was never constitutional to begin with and provides a means by which this question can be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.|
|According to the CDC, Alabama is the state highest-prescribed with opioids, with more prescriptions than people. Opioids are the main driver of overdose deaths and, in 2016, 756 Alabamians died from drug overdoses. As AG, how would you address Alabama’s share of this national crisis?||As Attorney General, I have put the full resources of my Office behind tackling the complex and devastating opioid crisis in our state. In addition to co-chairing the Governor’s Overdose and Addiction Council, I have joined with various federal partners within the Trump Administration to chart the best course toward a solution. The work of the Addiction Council has already produced some fruit—we have outlawed the trafficking of dangerous illegal opioids and have established a better system of data collection which is vital in pinpointing the problem in our state. While I have spent a great deal of time focused on the responsibilities of law enforcement in dealing with opioids, I am convinced that we do not have all of the answers. To that end, I have traveled our state promoting greater community education and engagement on this issue. In April and May, I have held “Faith Forums” in Alabama’s 4 major cities to encourage members of the faith community to join the fight and reach out to those struggling with addiction.|
|RULE OF LAW|
|Civil Asset Forfeiture|
|Some states are eliminating provisions that allow police to seize property without securing a criminal conviction. Would you support legislation that reforms the use of civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement and the provision that allows agencies to keep the proceeds of seized property? Why or why not?||As Attorney General, and as a prosecutor for over two decades, I have used and directed the use of civil asset forfeiture where appropriate and find it to be a vital tool for law enforcement that must be preserved. Like U.S. Attorney General Sessions, I believe that the state has a rightful interest in removing the fruits and instrumentalities derived from crime. That is not to say that the system is perfect, however. To that end, I would support efforts to make the forfeiture process more transparent to increase public confidence. Further, though due process does exist under Alabama’s forfeiture laws, I would be willing to establish within my Office a process of review for alleged abuse of civil asset forfeiture.|
|Alabama has received national attention for the state of its prisons and a federal judge recently called inmate care “horrendously inadequate”. How would you address this issue, and do you support the use of private prisons?||As Attorney General, I must decline to offer a personal opinion on a matter that the state is currently litigating.|
|In its 2009 Cornerstone decision, the Alabama Supreme Court held that local laws in Alabama legalizing “bingo” games for the benefit of churches and other charities authorized only the old fashioned, or “traditional” game commonly known by that name. The Court repeated itself over a half dozen times in the seven years after Cornerstone. In light of the Alabama Supreme Court’s decisions on this issue, should casinos—like the ones operating in Macon and Greene Counties—be allowed to operate as they are today? Explain your answer in detail, including whether you consider Alabama Supreme Court decisions on matters of Alabama law to be “the law of the land.”||As Attorney General, I have enforced the law against illegal casinos in Alabama. When I took office, there were casinos operating illegally in five counties. I filed lawsuits to shut them down and, as a result, one of the casinos was immediately closed. The remaining cases are pending in court. As I said at the time those suits were announced, the Alabama Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that electronic bingo and the use of slot machines are illegal in all Alabama counties. It was incumbent upon me to take action to hold accountable those who defy the laws of our state.|
|In 2009, the Governor of Alabama appointed a special task force to enforce the gambling laws of Alabama in the absence of any action by the then Attorney General to shut down or prosecute the operation of gambling machines in Macon, Greene and other counties. This action by the Governor succeeded in shutting down casinos in these counties. Should that enforcement action have been taken by the Attorney General instead of the Governor?||An Attorney General abdicates his or her lawful duties by failing to enforce the law. In 2009, the Governor was compelled to take action when the sitting Attorney General refused to enforce Alabama’s gambling laws.|
It is also important to note that, though attempted in 2015, the Governor has no authority to prevent or hinder the Attorney General from fully enforcing the law.
|The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows certain Indian tribes, including the Poarch Creek, to conduct gaming operations on reservation land if such operations are permitted by the law of the state in which those reservations are located. Numerous Alabama Supreme Court decisions have been written arguing that electronic machines of the nature at issue are illegal under Alabama law. Should these machines continue to be permitted on Indian reservations within the State of Alabama? If elected Alabama Attorney General, would you work with the United States Attorney General to make sure that the all gambling laws, including federal law applicable to Indian reservations, are properly enforced?||As Attorney General, it is my responsibility to enforce the laws of our state and to abide by binding decisions of the court. In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that the State of Alabama has no right of action to sue the Poarch Creek Tribe over enforcement of state gambling laws and that the federal government alone has regulatory authority over Indian gaming. To the degree that it is lawful and appropriate, I will work with the National Indian Gaming Commission and U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that all applicable laws on gaming are enforced.|