Budget, business and safety key issues for local legislators

Addressing the state’s budget concerns, working to improve the state’s economy and helping to make Alabama’s roads and cities safer are key issues for the Shelby County legislative delegation during the 2013 legislative session, the elected officials said.

Alabama’s senators and state representatives traveled to Montgomery on Feb. 5 to begin the 2013 regular legislative session, which state Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, said would be “a busy one.”

Among the top issues for the legislature this session will be addressing the state’s rising costs of Medicaid and the corrections department, Ward said.

“Currently, Medicaid and corrections make up 65 percent of our state’s non-education spending,” Ward wrote in a column printed in the Shelby County Reporter. “At current growth rates and projections, these two departments will gobble up our entire budget. That is unsustainable, and I hope we can find the political will to tackle these tough problems.”

Ward also said he and state Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, have sponsored a bill aiming to make abuse of senior citizens a crime, and said he plans to sponsor a bill aimed at “cracking down” on unlicensed drivers.

Ward and state Rep. April Weaver, R-Brierfield, said they will look to “unburden businesses of all sizes from needless and inefficient government bureaucracy and regulation” through the “Red Tape Reduction Act,” which was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Weaver.

“State government should concentrate on giving business owners the tools they need to remain successful instead of finding ways to suffocate them under the weight of needless government oversight and mounds of paperwork,” Weaver said previously.

Weaver and Ward also said they will oppose gun control bills introduced during the legislative session.

“I will not allow the dilution of our Second Amendment rights through ill-conceived gun control legislation,” Ward wrote. “Public safety is important, but piling more laws on top of laws that are already not enforced is not the answer.”

“I will be cosponsoring bills that dare defend our rights, including those that protect our religious freedom and Second Amendment gun rights,” Weaver wrote on the Shelby County Legislative Delegation website.

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