By Joshua Huff, sports editor
CENTER POINT — The Center Point Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 10, with former state house representative and current attorney Paul DeMarco as speaker.
During the luncheon, DeMarco spoke to a crowded room about the issues surrounding politics, state and nationwide. From political and criminal reform, and gambling and the gas tax, to medical marijuana and the census, DeMarco highlighted the topics swirling around Alabama politics.
In the wide-ranging discussion. DeMarco bemoaned the scare tactics plaguing politics and the punishments levied against politicians who opposed the gas tax.
“There is nobody else in the chamber that I owe anything to,” DeMarco said. “I’m responsible for my folks back home. Some of the folks that voted against the bill lost their committee assignments. The Speaker took away their committee assignments. Basically, they got punished for voting against the gasoline tax. That’s not right.”
As for prison and criminal reform, DeMarco opinioned about reducing sentences. Nobody is in prison for shoplifting, he said.
“Folks in prison are the ones that you want in prison.”
He also brought up the issue of the lottery bill and how the money will be divvied up between education and the general fund. DeMarco expects a big debate about that in the upcoming session. He also expects a debate on the use of medical marijuana.
DeMarco is against the use of marijuana. He argued that traffic fatalities have gone up by 150 percent in states that legalized marijuana. A study published in the journal Addiction found that the fatalities did indeed rise, but only temporarily. The rate went back to normal after about a year.
However, research has been all over the place with the Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute finding that crashes increased six percent in states that legalized marijuana. Other studies have found no increases, such as the American Journal of Public Health.
In closing, DeMarco urged people to fill out the census and restated his love for Alabama.
“I’m proud to live in Alabama,” he said. “I’m proud to live in my community. We have so many great things.”
DeMarco graduated from Auburn University in 1990 with a degree in journalism. He then attended the University of Alabama School of Law where he served as editor in chief of the Alabama Law review. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2005. He served nine years before losing in the 2014 primary election to Gary Palmer.
DeMarco is now a defender with the law firm of Parson, Lee & Juliano, P.C. He is also a contributing writer with The Trussville Tribune.