Allen reflects on first session as state representative

Published 6:25 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Rep. Wes Allen, R-Pike, wrapped up his first ever legislative session Friday at the State House.

Allen said it was a good first session, and that he was able to hit the ground running.

“It was a privilege to be able to go and represent Pike and Dale counties and advocate for those conservative values and principles that many Alabamians, especially the people of District 89, hold dear” Allen said.

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Overall, Allen said much good was accomplished during the session, although one of his primary bills did not make it through this session.

“The red tape bill is still a work in progress,” Allen said. “Any time you’re trying to reel in the bureaucracy in Montgomery you’re going to receive some pushback.”

The bill would have required agencies to seek approval from the Alabama Legislature before enacting any proposed rule or rule change that would have an economic impact of more than $1 million.

Allen was able to carry through a local bill allowing law enforcement officers to transport patients that may be mentally ill to a hospital for evaluation. Allen’s bill that would ensure rural hospitals’ ability to recover debts from state income taxes also passed.

Allen also highlighted several other bills that were able to pass through the Legislature during the first session of his tenure.

“We’ve got a strong economy right now so our budgets are doing very well,” Allen said. “We were able to pass a $7.1 billion Education Trust Fund that includes a 4 percent pay raise to our teachers and raised the starting salaries for teachers above $40,000 for the first time in our state’s history. Were trying to address the teacher shortage and attract good teachers.

“We also passed a $2.2 billion general fund budget that included a little more than $500 million  to the Department of Corrections in part to hire an additional 500 correctional officers and we gave an increase to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to add 50 State Troopers.”

The legislature also passed a near-total ban on abortions, although it is being challenged in court, and bills strengthening the law on human trafficking and providing for education, all of which Allen supported.

Allen noted some other bills he supported that were passed into law, including a bill that will give the governor and senate the authority to appoint the head of the pardon and paroles board; a bill establishing a vote on a constitutional amendment to replace the election of state school board officers with an appointment system and eliminate Common Core; a bill to develop rural access to broadband; a bill establishing a vote on a constitutional amendment clarifying that only U.S. citizens can vote in Alabama elections; a bill requiring schools to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance; a bill allowing a course on the Bible to be taught as an elective in grades 6 through 12; a bill requiring sex offenders with victims under the age of 13 years to be chemically castrated at their own expense; and a bill that strengthens the law against driving without passing in the far-left lane of interstates.