Chamber Leadership class visits Montgomery

Mar. 18—MONTGOMERY — Watching the chaos on the floor of the state legislature may lead one to believe nothing is getting done or can be done.

The four Calhoun County representatives to the state house reassured members of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Calhoun County Class of 2023 the complete opposite is true during a visit by the class to Montgomery.

The visit Thursday came during lawmakers' final debate and eventual passage during a special called session of a bill that determined the spending of $1.06 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law hours after the bill's passage.

All four of Calhoun County's representatives to the statehouse took time to visit with the LCC class and describe both what actually happens in a session and some of the bills they hope to offer when the regular session gavels into order next week.

State Sen. Keith Kelley and state Reps. Barbara Boyd, Steve Hurst and Randy Wood found time between votes on a busy morning to welcome the group.

"It does look like chaos on the House floor," Wood explained, with all three of his colleagues in agreement. "But, that is just members talking and negotiating with each other. It's how business is done."

Wood said there will be "thousands of bills introduced next week" but only a few will eventually make it to the finish line.

"The bill I am offering would prevent the use of cellphones in cars except when they are operated by Bluetooth," Wood said. "There are a lot of accidents caused by people on their phones while they are driving and this could save a lot of lives."

Hurst, with his bill, is taking aim at the recent practice of requiring tickets to high school sporting events to be purchased through a website. Hurst said he recently heard from a lady who drove a long distance to take her children to a school's football game in Alabama only to be turned away when she was told she could not pay cash.

"That's just not right," Hurst said. "It's just a way for the athletic association to make more money. I'm going to offer a bill that will allow cash payment as an option at these games."

Boyd talked about her many years as a teacher and the obstacles she faced getting a job.

"I am now an educator and a legislator," Boyd said. "I'm telling you this — especially you young people — to let you know you can make it."

Boyd had some fun with Kelley, noting the new state senator was once her student.

"We are blessed here in Alabama," Kelley said. "We get along with each other. It's not like it is in Washington. We may disagree but we get along and work together."

All four were adamant that constituents should call them with problems or ideas.

"We are here to serve," Hurst said.

The class also had the chance to visit The Legacy Museum.

Located on a site where Black people were forced to labor in bondage, the museum provides an interactive and emotional tribute to those who suffered under slavery.

The tour also included a visit to the Monument at the Peace and Justice Memorial Center, the nation's first memorial dedicated to the legacy of slaves and people terrorized by lynchings.

Staff Writer Brian Graves: 256-236-1551.