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franklin county times

Capital report for Feb. 22, 2013

By: Sen. Roger Bedford

As I drove home from Montgomery this week on Hwy 24 from Moulton to Russellville I was very pleased to see the new asphalt layer.

As you know we have been waiting over the past year to get the final asphalt paving laid down.

Several of you have complained about how rough the road was before the final layering and I think we can now all agree that we are headed in the right direction.

Hopefully the weather will allow us to finish up the cross overs making them smooth as well.

I am also exciting about continuing the four lanes of Highway 24 on down to Red Bay and the by-pass there.

This past week I had some of the highway officials meet with the city officials of Red Bay about a traffic safety concern which they had and the need for a red light.

With the improvement of our road systems I think it will help us attract new industry, allow existing industries to get their goods and products out to markets safely and also help with tourism.

You may rest assured that I am going to continue to work to improve out state highways.

As we have talked about before the ATRIP funding will soon be coming in to help pave county roads that are major collectors as well as help with bridge repairs. These are millions of dollars that are pouring into our Senate District from one end to the other in highway improvements.

However as you know I think we have paid the tax money in to Montgomery and we deserve to get it back and spend it on goods and services in our Senate District. You may rest assured that I will continue to fight to do that.

I am pleased to announce the following grants that have been awarded throughout our Senate District. $1,000 to the City of Red Bay Founders Festival, $1500 to the NACOLG Senior winter Ball, $1500 to the Town of Vina for their Park Improvement Project, $2000 to Russellville High School SADD program, Vina Rescue Squad and Fire Department received $3000, Red Bay High School received $2600 for their office remodeling project, $500 to Vina High School’s track team, $500 to Vina High School’s baseball team, $635 to Red Bay Elementary for their Camera System.

Phil Campbell High School Tip Off Club $1500, Belgreen High School Special Education Department, $1000, Russellville High School Baseball, $1500, Tharptown High School Softball program $500 and Tharptown High School Baseball $500.

It is also a pleasure for me to announce the following ADECA grants that are being awarded in our Senate District. Tammy McDaniel with the Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama Inc. will receive $99,352.00.

This will provide Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program funds to sub-grantees to weatherize homes of low-income, elderly and disabled residents in Franklin and Lauderdale Counties.

The Alabama Senate Democrats announced this week that our number one legislative agenda item in the Alabama Senate will be to see that the Medicaid expansion is rolled out in Alabama.

This is really a no brainer in that the Federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for some 350,000 new Alabamians to be covered by Medicaid. As you know that is about 7 percent of the population. This will mainly affect people who are identified as working poor. While that is not exactly an accurate name that is how they frequently describe people who are working at minimum wage jobs and those slightly above it that do not have health insurance at their place of employment or they cannot afford it in the private market place. They are working and paying taxes they simply have no health insurance.

By accepting this Medicaid expansion in Alabama we could have 350,000 new healthcare customers throughout this State.

That is bigger than any Mercedes expansion. You would have 350,000 new customers for doctors, dentist, pharmacist, and rural hospitals.

This is a tremendous buying power that would turn over in our economy. UAB and others have studied the economic impact and basically the rough math is, for the 500 million it would cost the State of Alabama over a 10-year period, we would receive approximately 20 billion in positive cash flow.

This would be a huge boost to Alabama’s economy and especially rural Alabama.

So far Gov. Bentley has refused to accept this Medicaid expansion.

However other states that have Republican Governors or Republican Super Majorities all across the nation are seeing the wisdom of accepting the money.

We are continuing to put pressure on Governor Bentley to do the right thing and expand Medicaid coverage which will help working families in Alabama, our children can get preventive care instead of showing up at the Emergency Rooms needing acute care and costing more tax dollars.

So when you have tax savings and an improvement in the quality of life as well as a return on an investment ten-fold, I think we need to move forward on the Medicaid expansion, it is the right thing to do.

The critically acclaimed “Muscle Shoals” documentary that captivated audiences at the Sundance Film Festival will premiere on February 27 to its home audience as part of The George Lindsey UNA Film Festival. The Greg “Freddy” Camalier-directed film traces the history of Muscle Shoals music through the people who created it. More information about this premiere can be obtained by emailing lindseyfilmfest@una.edu.

Let me also thank all of you for the cards, e-mails, phone calls and faxes I have been getting during this Legislative Session. It always helps me to know what is on your mind and how you feel about the issues.

We are working hard to make sure our Second Amendment rights are protected and no crazy gun control legislation is passed in Alabama.

We must do more to make our schools safer and that remains one of my top priorities.

Roger Bedford is a state senator for Franklin County. 

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