PHOTOS: Chamber Delegation Meets with State Leaders During 2019 Montgomery Drive-In

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Ninety Chamber members, business owners, and community leaders headed to the State Capitol April 2-3, for the organization's annual Montgomery Drive-In. 

The trip, which promotes the Chamber's legislative agenda, provides an opportunity for participants to meet with key leaders in state government, while networking with other community leaders.

Rep. Bill Poole

The trip began with a welcome luncheon at the Alabama Cattlemen's Assocation, sponsored by Rep. Bill Poole, who also served as the event speaker. Poole who spoke on transportation issues as well as the session ahead, said he was extremely pleased that such a large delegation had made the annual trip. "It's important for state leaders to understand that you're watching and engaged," Poole said.

With respect to the recently passed infrastructure funding bill, Poole discussed how seven legislatures in the Southeast have increased their gasoline tax, and stated it was necessary for Alabama to remain on pace. "We had to pass Rebuild Alabama - there were no other viable options," Poole said. "It was critical to make this investment, and the infrastructure will last for generations. We were falling behind not only every state in the Southeast, but the country."

Poole stressed that now the focus must shift to implementation, and to inform ourselves of what federal monies are available. "We have a rare opportunity to create synergy and draw down a healthy amount of federal dollars," he said.

Supt. Eric Mackey

After lunch, the group headed to the Alabama State Capitol Auditorium, where Dr. Eric Mackey, State Superintendent, Alabama Department of Education, gave attendees an overview of his department, and gave updates on its direction. Mackey said the department is focusing on chipping away at classroom size, as studies have indicated that more than 30 students per class impacts student performance.

Mackey also said the department is implementing a new student information system that is more secure, and working rolling out new professional development programs and ongoing assessment protocol. The department is also working to raise mathematics proficiency, as 80 percent of our students are behind the national average in math as they turn age four. 

Following the education update, Josh Blades, Senior Advisor for Government Affairs and Economic Development with Bradley Arant, gave an overview of the role of the lobbyist at the capitol. 

During the afternoon, the group observed the Alabama Legislature in session in the House and Senate Galleries at the Alabama State House, and in the evening attended the Business Council of Alabama's Legislative Reception.

On day two, Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt addressed the delegation, and discussed the ways the organization plans to move forward. "Our mission is to unite small and large businesses and to move the state forward," she said. "We will get back to core business principles. We support a fair and equitable tax structure and cutting government waste. BCA is inclusive - we will work with the majority and the minority party."

Sen. Greg Reed

At the close of the breakfast, Britt and Drew Harrell, Executive Director for the Alliance for Alabama's Infrastructure, surprised Chamber President and CEO Jim Page with a presentation honoring his efforts to advance Alabama's infrastructure, and his role in the Rebuild Alabama legislation.

The morning continued with policy discussions with Sen. Gerald Allen, Sen. Greg Reed, Rep. Chris England, Rep. A.J. McCampbell, Rep. Kyle South, Rep. Rodney Sullivan, and Rep. Rich Wingo.

In addition to speaking on a number of topics including the budget, the possiblity of a lottery, our prisons, healthcare, Medicaid expansion and more, the legislative delegation answered a variety of questions on rural hospitals, workforce development, and how they decide priority in funding.

"We have a long term focus," Reed told attendees. "What does Alabama need to be today, and what does Alabama have to be in 15 to 20 years?"

Gov. Kay Ivey

The Drive-In concluded with a luncheon featuring Gov. Kay Ivey at the RSA Plaza Terrace. The governor was introduced by her Chief of Staff, the Honorable Jo Bonner, who spoke on what a difficult time it was to come into office and steady the ship, and yet have the first gas tax bill in 27 years passed. "Gov. Ivey reached out to all 140 legislators and got 80 percent of the vote," Bonner said. 

When Gov. Ivey took the podium, she had high praise for the Tuscaloosa elected officials. "There is strength in teamwork," she said. "The entire Tuscaloosa delegation played a vital role in the success of the passage of this bill. Rep BIll Poole did a masterful job quarterbacking this bill, and I have special appreciation for Jim Page. We've shown the state and the nation what success looks like when you practice bipartisanship."

The 2019 Montgomery Drive-In Participants:

Scott Anders, Tuscaloosa County; Dr. Bill Ashley, Shelton State Community College; Antoine Bell, The University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies; Kayce Bell, Alabama Credit Union; Shannon Biddlecome, Broadway Pizza Highway 43; Dr. Terri Boman, The University of Alabama; Jewitt Bradley, Community Service Programs of West Alabama; Daniel Bradshaw, Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors; Bobby Bragg, JamisonMoneyFarmer PC; Kathie Buchalter Carnes, Carnes Capital Growth Buchalter, Inc; Keith Carpenter, City of Northport; Mac Chambers, Frontier Enterprises, LLC; Vikki Chavis, The University of Alabama; Laura Chism, Dorroh & Miles, PC; Roy Clem, Alabama Public Television; Tommy Cobb, Alabama Credit Union; Erica Cochran, Hospice of West Alabama; Michele Coley, Allstate Coley Agency; Jesse Crane, First Federal Bank; Norman Crow, DT Freight, LLC; Wade Dailey, Wells Fargo Bank; Ron Davis, City of Northport; Stacey DeLoach, Ward Scott Architecture; Lourn Evans, BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing; Tanner Funk, Alabama ONE; Lee Garrison, The Frazer Lanier Company, Inc.; Erica Grant, The Charm District; Chris Gunter, Buffalo Rock Company; Nicole Hampton, Rosen Harwood, P.A.; Bruce Higginbotham, City of Northport; Joe Hocutt, Southland Benefit Solutions; Savannah Howell, City of Tuscaloosa; Phil Hutchenson, Alabama Public Television; Dan Johnson, JamisonMoneyFarmer PC; Donny Jones, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama; Elliott Jones, Raymond James; Quin Kelly, Stillman College; Jamie Lake, Insuresoft, LLC; James Leitner, The Radiology Clinic; Javelin Lewis, Community Service Programs of West Alabama; Blake Madison, Rosen Harwood, P.A.; Amy Materson, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama; John Mazyck, The Frazer Lanier Company, Inc.; Jill McDonald, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama; Hannah McPhillips, The DCH Foundation; Gary Minor, Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority; Holly Morgan, The University of Alabama; Dr. Jacqueline Morgan, The University of Alabama; Jordan Morris, Ward Scott Architecture; Commissioner Mark Nelson, Tuscaloosa County; Brad Newman, ZF Chassis Systems, LLC; Adrian Newsome, DCH Health System; Kelly Norstrom, Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy; Concetta Odongo, BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing; Whitney Oswalt, Alabama ONE; Danny Owen, Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports; Jim Page, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama; Tim Parker, III, Parker Towing Company; Alison Phillips, Parking Towing Company; Gary Phillips, Premier Service Company, Inc.; Kyle Phillips, Bryant Bank; Jerry Pike, Eagles' Wings, Inc.; Jordan Plaster, Plaster, Scarvey and Shumaker of Ameriprise Financial; Jabaree Prewitt, WVUA23; Ron Price, Bill Lunsford Construction, Inc.; Mason Primm, StressCrete, Inc.; Julie Ramm, City of Northport; Lillian Roberts, Shelton State Community College; Max Snyder, City of Northport; Anna Kay Springer, Hamner Real Estate, Inc.; Ryan Stallings, Alabama ONE; Don Staley, Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports; Steve Swofford, Alabama Credit Union; Charlie Taylor, The University of Alabama System; Delshonda Thomas, The Arc of Tuscaloosa; Jason Walker, TTL, Inc.; Cade Warner, The Westervelt Company; LaTonya Washington, Alabama Community Care; Terri Williams, AT&T; Caitlin Wilson, Hamner Real Estate, Inc.; RaSheda Workman, Stillman College; Cyndee Worrall, CohnReznik, LLP; Brian Wysock, TTL, Inc.

With great appreciation to our sponsors, without whom the 2019 Montgomery Drive-In could not have been possible:

Presenting Sponsor

The University of Alabama System

Gold Sponsors

AT&T

The Frazer Lanier Company

Tuscaloosa Charter Service 

The University of Alabama

Silver Sponsors

City of Northport

Shelton State Community College

TTL, Inc.

Tuscaloosa County

Welcome Lunch Sponsors

Representative Bill Poole

Southland Benefit Solutions

Montgomery Luncheon Sponsors

Alabama ONE

Plaster, Scarvey and Shumaker of Ameriprise Financial

Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports

Breakfast Sponsor

DT Freight LLC

Bus Sponsor

Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports