The Alabama House Democrats held a press conference on Wednesday to highlight legislation that their members are sponsoring and to promote their agenda. A Representative from Birmingham said the people of Alabama are not receiving the message the Democrats have, because of poor media coverage.
“The Alabama House Democratic Caucus holds a press conference every week of the regular session, but when I go home and cut on the television, I see the [Republican] leadership,” said Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham).
Moore blasted the news media for what she called slanted coverage and for not covering House Democrats fairly. Moore criticized the media for not even attending the Democrats' press conference and not reporting anything that they say.
“I sponsored a bill to take the tax off of groceries and it will not even be heard in committee,” said Moore. “Every week, I take a point of personal privilege on the House floor to argue for Medicaid Expansion and it gets no coverage at all.”
The press conference also featured Reps. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile), Rep. Kelvin Lawrence (D-Hayneville), and Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville).
Drummond said that the Alabama House Democrats have a “Pro-Growth, Pro-Innovation, and Pro-Alabama agenda and that the House Democratic Agenda features policy proposals “to improve economic growth, affordable healthcare, education innovation, voting rights, and justice for all.”
“We are still grieving the loss of over 17,000 Alabamians who have lost their lives to COVID-19,” Drummond said. COVID-19 has also “exposed a number of problems that poor people are facing in the state for far too long including exposing disparities with ... education, healthcare, and income.”
Drummond said there are people who go to work every day and still can’t afford health insurance.
She is also concerned about teacher shortages. Drummond said she has sponsored House Bill 214 “to provide a one-time bonus to our retired teachers and staff members. Retired teachers have stepped up to help with the teacher shortages. They are the ones standing in the gap.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) called for a bonus for retired educators and state employees in her state of the state address and that appears to have bipartisan support at this time.
Lawrence said that the House Democrat agenda “Is based on the agenda that we create laws and policies that are morally sound.” He also said Alabama must invest and stay competitive with wages.
“HB202 has bipartisan support to provide a 4% pay increase to all of our state employees,” Lawrence said. “This is a net positive to Alabama’s growth.
Jackson said, “The most fundamental right that we have as Alabamians and Americans is the right to vote.”
“Alabama House Democrats stand for Democracy,” Jackson said. “One shouldn't have to spend hours in line, especially during the pandemic, to vote. We should have more than one day in which to vote.
“House Bill 218 will allow early voting. Requiring each county to open early voting centers.”
Jackson said that Alabama House Democrats are also in support of HB217 to provide for excuse-free absentee ballots.
Drummond said that Democrats also support eliminating requirements that the recently incarcerated must pay before their voting rights are restored.
“Voting rights are the cornerstone of our Democracy,” Drummond said.
“There are over 450 bills that have been introduced in the House,” Drummond said. “We are fighting. We are going to make sure that your voice is heard.”
Drummond said she opposes permitless carry bills and anything banning critical race theory.
“Permitless carry is dangerous,” said Drummond. “Banning critical race theory is a non-issue in K-12.”
1819 News asked about Sen. Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to greatly increase options for school choice in Alabama.
“I have actually read that bill and my reaction is not a positive one,” Drummond said. “Has the Accountability Act done anything to help the state? Public education is for those who are poor in the state. That bill is going to take us backward and not forward.
“As a retired educator, this takes us back to Jim Crow: separate, but unequal. This is destroying public education.”
Thursday is day nine of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative session. The legislature is limited by the Alabama Constitution to just 30 legislative days in a legislative session in a 120-calendar day period but is not constitutionally required to use all 30 of those days.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.