By Rep. Danny Garrett
House District 44
Since the ending of the 2015 second special session, I have enjoyed visiting around District 44 and hearing what is on everyone’s hearts and minds. I have had the opportunity to speak at events involving Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Club, local school board members and schools, veterans, local churches and with several community groups. During the Thanksgiving season, I was reminded of what a privilege and blessing it is to have the opportunity serve the people and communities I love.
Congratulations to the Clay-Chalkville Cougars, the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies and the Pinson Valley Indians for successful football seasons and for making the state playoffs! We will all be rooting for the Cougars this weekend as they play for the second year in a row for the Class 6A state championship. We wish Coach Jerry Hood and the team best wishes for a repeat of last year’s championship!
I am currently working with the City of Clay and members of the community to try to obtain easement rights on state property adjacent to Cosby Lake that will extend walking and running trails in the area. We are meeting with the Freshwater Land Trust and other state officials to see if we can reach an agreement. I am also interested in working with the Land Trust to support Turkey Creek Nature Preserve as it expands. TCNP is a real gem in our area and I urge you to visit the beautiful creek and walking trails.
The Alabama Department of Transportation is close to finishing road work on I-459 and U.S. 11. We appreciate their attention and for the improvements they have made. Thank you to Commissioner Joe Knight for his diligence and efforts to address roads in the district.
One of my favorite things to do as a representative is to support and visit our local schools. I was honored to serve as the Grand Marshall for the Hewitt-Trussville homecoming parade and to participate in the Pinson Valley homecoming parade. It was my pleasure to present checks for $5,250 each to Chalkville Elementary School and Clay Elementary School. Principals Rod Johnson from Chalkville and Dr. Sharon Gallant from Clay accepted these grants which will be used for general purposes at their schools.
Once again, the City of Clay hosted an outstanding Veterans Day luncheon for local veterans. Former Navy Seal and Clay resident Dean Self gave an emotional and inspiring talk during the program, held at Clearview Baptist Church. I was honored to once again be able to attend the event with my dad, Ray Garrett and my father-in-law, Rogers Sisson, both whom are veterans of the Korean War. Thank you, Mayor Charles Webster and city council, for hosting this event each year.
Christian Crawford, who graduated last year from Clay-Chalkville High School, is now a student at Auburn University in Montgomery pursuing a degree in political science and communication. I enjoyed hosting him and his family during the 2015 Regular Session and he prayed the opening prayer for the House legislative session. He contacted me when he was home for break and I enjoyed catching up with him at Papa Sal’s.
On Nov. 16, I presented an update of the Education Trust Fund and Rolling Reserve Act to the Trussville City Schools Board of Education at their quarterly workshop. We discussed expected funding for education for 2016 and I explained changes made during the 2015 session that should benefit classroom appropriations. I also discussed my strong belief that supporting education is critical to workforce creation and economic development in Alabama, and that this would be a focus of mine in the upcoming session.
Congratulations to Trussville City Schools, for being recognized as one of the top schools systems in the state. Also congratulations to TCS for recognition of students’ achieving outstanding test scores, from elementary through high school grades.
I have recently had the opportunity to attend (1) the National Future Farmers of America Conference, where I had meetings and breakfast with the state adult and high school leadership; (2) the Birmingham Business Alliance Awards dinner, where several local citizens and companies were recognized (Robert Mason/ POC Automation and Bill Todd/o2 ideas); (3) the Alabama Policy Institute dinner (Laura Ingraham, keynote speaker); and (4) Trussville Chamber of Commerce 2015 Legislative Breakfast where the presenters included Commissioner Joe Knight, Senators Slade Blackwell and Shay Shelnutt, city councilman Alan Taylor and me.
The leadership of the Alabama House and Senate appointed several task forces that have been working since the end of the session in preparation for the 2016 session. Task forces have been established to assess (1) Pension reform; (2) privatization of the Alcohol Beverage Control board; and (3) un-earmarking of the state budgets. I am a member of the Pension Reform task force and we have met five times since the session. I also met with another group of legislators who would like to see meaningful tax reform in Alabama and we are discussing possible legislation for 2016.
I was honored to be appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve on the 2016 Platform Committee for the Republican caucus. Our committee of seven house members will be meeting during December with the other members of the House to hear their thoughts about issues the caucus should emphasize in the upcoming legislative session. I would certainly be interested in hearing from you about what you believe the Republican caucus should include in its agenda for 2016.
Carol and I hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and are able to enjoy the time with your family and friends. I urge you to support local merchants and to attend the parades, concerts and special events available this time of year in Clay, Pinson and Trussville. Please follow my Facebook page, “Representative Danny Garrett” for information about news and events concerning our district.