Gov. Robert Bentley is traveling the state this week to promote his plan to raise taxes to help shrink a $700-million deficit in the state's General Fund budget, which pays for such things as public safety, health care for the poor and elderly, and highway and bridge construction and repair. He'll have a tough sale, especially with his fellow Republicans who control the legislature. Most ran on a pledge of "no new taxes," just as Bentley himself did when running for his first term as governor.
As the 2015 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature gets started, there are many important issues facing our lawmakers. We don’t envy them. Most of us do not appreciate or understand the challenges they face regarding budgets, prisons, health care, and other essential services we have come to expect from state government.
How to come up with a good local healthcare system is getting deserved attention right now, for quality of life of those who live here and for luring new businesses to improve our economy. As we focus on solving this problem, we should not take for granted what we do have going for us that may be lacking in other areas. That's our good public schools.
An email this week from the publisher of the Clark County Democrat in Grove Hill served as a reminder of the law of unintended consequences.
The 'kicking the can' column below describes some of the shortfalls in the state's General Fund budget that will have to be addressed when the legislature convenes next week. For too long too little has been done about an impending financial crisis, and now the state is out of options.
According to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) 17 of Alabama's 67 counties still don't have a four-lane route to an interstate, some-thing that companies almost always look for when deciding where to locate.
When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant a stay of U.S. District Judge Callie Granade's ruling that Alabama's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, it made Alabama the 37th state where same sex marriage is legal. Many court observers also feel it is a strong indication of how the Supreme Court will rule when it hears a case in June that will have implications for the remaining states.
Many of us had measles as children and survived. Nonetheless, measles is the most deadly of all childhood rash and fever illnesses. And it's one of the most easily spread.
When the Alabama Legislature next goes into session, it will face some tough issues that will require some hard financial choices. The state's $1.8 billion general fund budget, which funds nearly all government functions except education, is short hundreds of millions, and the federal stimulus money that allowed state lawmakers to avoid dealing with the funding crisis is gone. Decision time is here.
Anyone who has had an email account for any length of time probably has received unsolicited offers to reduce your IRS or credit card debt for pennies on the dollar.
Fielding calls from customers wanting to know why it takes so long for us to get their newspapers to them is a regular occurrence. We wish we had answers for them. The papers are mailed on Wednesday mornings, as always.
According to the Alabama Retail Association (ARA), Alabama experienced an increase of almost 2.7 percent in retail sales through October of 2014 and averaged 2.6-percent growth each month in 2014 over the same month a year earlier.
It seems that there once was more emphasis on learning cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), either individually or in the work place, than there is today.
Christmas music, Christmas meals, giving and receiving gifts, and spending time with family and friends are the memories most of us have this time of year.
With more and more rural hospitals closing each year, and with Randolph County in a precarious position with its one remaining hospital, the future for quality healthcare here might seem bleak.
An advertisement in last week's Leader by the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce and Randolph County Economic Development Authority asked readers to shop locally first. Why shop at a locally owned business first? The following 10 reasons show how more money spent at local businesses is reinvested in our community.
Level the playing field on sales tax collections
Under our criminal justice system a person charged is presumed to be innocent until found guilty in the courts. Other aspects of living in a free society sometimes conflict with this presumption, however.
Christmas decorations were on store shelves before Halloween, and within days some radio stations already were playing non-stop Christmas music. Thanksgiving, lacking the commercial potential of Christmas, has become an afterthought.
Veterans Day is next Tuesday, which is when the post office, banks and government offices close in observance. It always is November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918.
Five proposed statewide amendments to the Alabama Constitution will be on next Tuesday’s ballot. The full text of each appears in the Public Notices section of this issue of The Leader. Here’s a summary and an analysis of each.
Monday's grand jury indictment of Alabama House Speaker and former Alabama Republican Party chairman Mike Hubbard on 23 felony ethics law violations is a pretty good indication little has changed in state-level politics.
Next Monday we'll have the opportunity to observe candidates for several offices respond to a series of prepared questions. The event at the Roanoke City Auditorium will be a chance to actually see and hear the candidates and should help us decide if this is the person we want representing us in the office for which he or she is running.
In addition to the offices up for grabs in November's general election, five amendments to Alabama's Constitution will be on the statewide ballot.
The top two stories on the front page are separate stories yet related to each other.
Code of Alabama 1975, § 36-12-40 provides that, "Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute."
Following up on last week's editorial about our dependence on technology to the point of having very little face-to-face interaction anymore.
Apple introduced its iPhone 6 yesterday, with a larger screen, upgraded software and a number of features to make the company's newest smart phone even more indispensable to users. Rather than being a cause for celebration, however, some of us see the accelerating personal technology race as cause for alarm.
We’ve always heard that the first minutes are critical for victims of cardiac arrest or trauma. The American Heart Association in fact has established a standard response time of four minutes for basic life support and eight minutes for advanced life support to begin for victims of cardiac arrest. Survival in any lifethreatening medical emergency is dependent on receiving an appropriate level of medical care as quickly as possible.
We'd like to believe that only the Alabama Legislature could come up with something as bad as the misnamed "Alabama Accountability Act," which takes funds from our already underfunded public schools to give to unaccountable private schools.
By getting body cameras for its officers, the Roanoke Police Department is way ahead of most other departments––of any size. We expect many more law enforcement organizations will follow suit in the coming years. The times demand it.
Alabama's prisons are severely overcrowded due to a number of factors, including a "three strikes" law, harsh penalties for drug crimes, and elected judges and prosecutors who don't want to be seen as soft on crime.
School resumes next week in Randolph County, and with it comes special dangers with more children out and about and with more traffic as certain times of the day.
Alabama’s annual sales tax holiday for school-related items begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and ends at midnight Sunday Aug. 3, giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain school supplies, computers, books and clothing free of the state’s four percent sales tax. Here, local governments also have waived their portion of the tax, joining 231 other municipalities and 57 other counties that have done so.
Some of us don't see the world the way some of our elected officials do.
The threat is real and it is here now.
An Alabama man was charged with murder after authorities say he left his toddler son in his SUV for seven hours on Wednesday of last week. The 22-month-old boy was strapped into a child car seat in the back seat of his father's vehicle. The temperature was 88 degrees outside the car a little after 4 p.m. when the father realized he had left his son in the vehicle all day.
Concern about the future of Wedowee Hospital has spread beyond the hospital's board and the Randolph County Healthcare Authority to the general public, as it should. As the only hospital in Randolph County, it has meant the difference in life and death on several occasions. Emergency situations continue to arise where there simply isn't time to reach a medical facility farther away.
Summer is a great time to take that long-overdue vacation or make much-needed home repairs, but as the weather heats up, so do scams. Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about these popular summer scams.
We in Randolph County had a voting opportunity yesterday that many in Alabama did not have. Yet many here did not avail themselves of that opportunity.
Every time political party primaries are held there are complaints from some voters that they were not allowed to vote for all of the candidates they wanted to vote for. Their favorite for revenue commissioner might be on the Democratic ballot, for example, while their choice for state representative might be running as a Republican.
We're in full campaign swing now with the Republican and Democratic primary elections coming up in less than two weeks. Between now and then we'll be bombarded with campaign messages––some infor-mative but most falling far short of letting us know why we should vote for a particular candidate.
The message of the week in the Directory of Churches on page 17A points out that people helping others and doing good in the world are so commonplace that it is the heinous crimes that make the news, simply because they are so shocking and out of the norm. It asks us to imagine a newscast every evening with headlines such as "Charitable giving is up" and "People are helping others everywhere."
After a year of legalized alcoholic beverage sales the figures are in, and Roanoke’s city government shows a substantial financial boost over previous years when no taxes or fees were collected on alcohol sales.
The recent damage done by the storms and tornados brings out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis also brings out contractors who take advantage of those who have already been victimized.
Spring, with its many fundraisers to support vital local institutions and programs, is a good time to reflect on the importance of shopping locally. The Randolph County Learning Center has its annual Bike Hike, the Animal Shelter has its book sales and auctions, and lately a number of fundraisers have sprung up for the theatre renovation project. But all rely on the generosity of local businesses, especially small locally owned businesses, and those businesses need local customers in order to survive and thrive.
If you haven't already, chances are good that you'll have a run-in with a scammer. It might be a phishing email asking you to click on a link, a phone call telling you your computer has been compromised, or a contractor who shows up at your door ready to trim your trees.
State Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, resigned from the Legislature yesterday after pleading guilty to taking a bribe. For using his office for personal gain, he got off with a Class A misdemeanor, the requirement that he pay $24,000 in restitution to the state's general fund within 90 days, that he resign from office, and that he cooperate with an ongoing investigation into corruption in the State House. Wren was given a 12-month sentence, which was suspended, and he was placed on probation for two years.
“I think heroic deeds were all conceived in open air.” Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road This week, March 16-22, is Sunshine Week, a national