By Tracy Estes
With the beginning of a new quadrennium in the Alabama Legislature, members are provided their respective standing committee assignments for the upcoming four-year term. Such was also the case for me, as I begin my second term serving House District 17.
Committee assignments are selected by Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter, who previously served as majority leader and will be replacing retiring speaker Mac McCutcheon.
To my good fortune, I retained a seat on the three committees upon which I served in my freshman term. The following committees are important to me, as such critical legislation passes through each every year: education policy, public safety and homeland security and children and senior advocacy. I was also provided a seat on the energy council, which is not a standing committee but serves a vital role in our state’s study and advancement into the various forms of energy available in this country and around the world.
Those who know my background are aware of my 15 years of service on the Winfield Board of Education as well as time on the state board of directors and three-member executive committee with the Alabama Association of School Boards. Shortly after beginning my inaugural term, I was appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to the Southern Regional Education Board, which is a collective representing 16 states which shares and compares ways to improve education across the region.
I was selected by the AASB as the Legislator of the Year in my
first year for advancing education legislation through the legislative process by the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives. In the same year, I was honored as an educational advocate by the School Superintendents of Alabama. In short, my heart has always been driven to serve our children from pre-school through college.
Important legislation is expected to come before this committee in the coming months, and I am honored to sit around the table where legislation can either be approved to move forward or terminated following extensive discussion and debate.
Secondly, I am pleased to have been given a second term on public safety and homeland security, as public safety has unfortunately become such an important issue in American society. Numerous bills have come before our committee over the last four years, ranging from individual gun ownership rights to where persons can legally carry their firearms in public. I am certain similar issues will come before our committee again in the upcoming session.
Slightly less visible is the children and senior advocacy committee, which handles issues ranging from parental rights in divorce cases and beyond. But the most significant legislation expected to come before this body in this session will be a plan to expedite the adoption process in Alabama. We are seeking ways to move children into loving homes at a more expedited pace without compromising the background checks and such needed to make certain the environment into which the child is moving is ideal.
Even more important this time is Ledbetter’s decision asking me to serve as vice-chairman of the children and senior advocacy committee. In other words, I will have a front-row seat to this battle and the many twists and turns expected throughout the adoption legislation’s journey through the House and Senate.
Coming soon will be new office and parking assignments. My hope is to secure a larger office than freshmen have in their term in order to more easily accommodate groups from House District 17 which come for a visit. I always prefer my constituents feel at home in the Alabama State House. After all, the structure and the office space within belongs to those who pay the bills—the state’s taxpayers. But each trip should make the visitors feel welcome and fully accommodated.
In closing, allow me to note the quadrennial organizational meetings were held earlier this month in Montgomery. Legislative members gathered to fill leadership roles in each chamber with the House selecting Ledbetter to serve as Speaker of the House. I have worked closely with this man over the last four years and have found him to be an honorable, Christian man. I look forward to working with him in his new role. He has a clear-cut vision for this term by streamlining the adoption process, improving access to mental health care and substantive advances in education across the state.
Selected as our vice president was Chris Pringle of Mobile with Scott Stadthagen of Hartselle chosen as majority leader (Republican) and Anthony Daniels returning as minority leader (Democrat).
In addition to filling leadership positions, the members participated in extensive ethics training while also being reminded of ways to create a positive work environment throughout the building, including the most effective ways to insure sexual harassment lines were never crossed.
We were also given the opportunity to participate in a forum with officials representing the Alabama Press and Alabama Broadcasters associations. Not only did I have the chance to visit with old friends from the press association but was also reminded of the important role the media plays in covering the Legislature and the members’ responsibility to be open, honest and transparent with those who represent the various mediums across the state. All levels of government should be monitored and scrutinized to make certain they are operating within the law the with the public’s best interest at heart.
I will provide further updates from the Alabama State House on a periodic basis. Remember, I work for you and am always available to hear your questions or concerns. Please feel free to contact me with needs with which I can assist. I will do my best to remedy each respective problem while there will always be a few beyond my best efforts. Those who need to speak with me can reach me at 205-468-0643.
See complete story in the Journal Record.