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Local Republican Party hears legislative session updates
By Christa Jennings
The Coosa County Republican Party met Monday evening with a good turnout and multiple guest speakers as this was its first meeting since October.
In a room that was almost standing room only, Party Chair Terry Mitchell welcomed everyone and thanked them for their patience in getting the meetings started again.
Mitchell also announced the new members of the Executive Committee. He added that there are still openings available for anyone who might be interested in getting involved and joining the committee.
The floor was then turned over for the evening’s guest speakers, Rep. Ben Robbins, Rep. Ed Oliver, Alabama Court of Appeals Judge Matt Fridy, and U.S. Senate candidate Lynda Blanchard.
Robbins gave an overview of his first legislative session. He mentioned that record budgets had been passed for the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund.
He mentioned the state’s recovery following the initial COVID-19 pandemic and having a strong budget despite that. He added that state employees received a 2% raise, including teachers.
“I think that we’re going to be in very good economic shape, especially coming out of COVID, compared to where a lot of the other states in the country are,” Robbins said.
He went on to mention some high points from the legislative session, including Coosa County receiving some of the new funding. With the approved budget, $500,000 has been appropriated for work at Flagg Mountain for repairs, upgrades and a water system.
Robbins said additional funding will be coming for those efforts as he will continue working for his constituents in District 5 of the county. He said the additional funding would help revolutionize and change the northwest part of the county with the ongoing efforts at Flagg Mountain.
“When I woke up every morning, I thought, ‘What’s going to be the best thing for Talladega, Coosa and Clay counties?’ Every bill I read, that was my thought,” Robbins said. “Is this good for Talladega, Coosa and Clay counties? If I thought it was, then I’d ask, ‘Well is this good for the state?’ If I thought it was good for the state, after being good for my district, then I’d vote for it. If I thought it wasn’t, then I simply didn’t vote for it.”
One of the things Robbins said he was most proud of was fighting to try to get rural healthcare funding for his district. He said that he mentioned in legislative session that he represents the only county in the state that does not have a health department.
He said although he was unable to win, he did at least start the argument and bring light to the situation regarding the need for rural healthcare funding. He said if they continue sending healthcare funds to larger communities then they cannot expect the rural areas to survive.
Additionally, Robbins said he voted against the medical marijuana bill because of his concerns that it’s going to hurt the local area, create a monopoly and that only a chosen group would be allowed to have dispenser sites, meaning locals would have to travel out of the county to get medical marijuana, causing more money to flow out of the county.
“I might not have won my first battle on that issue, but it’s not going to be my last, and I promise you I’m going to fight for Talladega, Coosa and Clay counties every day I’m in the legislature,” he said. “You’re going to start seeing some very serious rewards soon.”
Rep. Oliver also spoke about the successes of the legislative session regarding some of the bills that moved forward for Gov. Kay Ivey’s signature.
He also complimented Robbins on his first year in office, stating, “Ben walked in there his first year like he had been there the whole time. He did a great job. I appreciate having him there.”
He said they have a good coalition in office to represent Coosa County. He further mentioned various bills he’s been working on, including ambulance service for the area.
Oliver mentioned one area that he has become especially involved with and that he will continue working on is stopping critical race theory from being taught in schools.
U.S. Senate candidate Blanchard introduced herself to the crowd and provided an overview of her background, including growing up in Montgomery, becoming a successful entrepreneur, founding charitable foundations, and being appointed ambassador to Solvenia, the home country of former First Lady Melanie Trump.
Blanchard also shared some of her experiences living in a socialist country and the understanding that she gained from those experiences. She stated that she is a firm believer in the America First program and will support that effort.
To learn more about Blanchard, visit lyndablanchard.com or her campaign Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Blanchard4Sen.
Alabama Court of Appeals Judge Fridy was also in attendance and thanked the people of Coosa County for their support during the election. He said he plans to stay in touch with Coosa County and visit often.
Rockford Mayor Scott White also told the crowd about the town’s beautification work day on June 19 and the Summer Fest event planned for June 26.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Coosa County Republican Party will be held at 6 p.m. June 21 at the E-911 building in Rockford. More information will be announced closer to the meeting date.