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franklin county times

Education retirees hear from state rep

Guest speaker Rep. Jamie Kiel kicked off the Franklin County Education Retirees Association meetings for the new calendar year Oct. 18. The meeting took place at the Russellville First Methodist Church ministry center.

Kiel said that more than 1,000 pieces of legislation were introduced, but only a third passed. He discussed some of the more prominent bills.

  • The Literacy Act is intended to improve reading outcomes for students across Alabama. This law states that all third-grade students must demonstrate sufficient reading skills for promotion to fourth grade beginning with the 2023-2024 school year. In accordance with the law, all kindergarten through third-grade students receive an Alabama State Department of Education approved reading assessment.
  • The Legislature provided funding to assist with the Baby Box program. There is one in Decatur and one in Mobile. The Department of Human Resources is the lead agency offering a Baby Box to all expecting and new parents in the state. The goal is to provide parents with the education and resources needed to ensure a safe sleep environment for their infants.
  • A Fentanyl penalties bill provides mandatory sentencing guidelines for anyone that sells, makes, delivers or possesses more than one gram of fentanyl. It will also impose additional penalties for any subsequent violations.
  • In addition to the regular session, two special sessions were held in July to redraw the Alabama Congressional map to meet the representation for Black voters as required by the U. S. Supreme Court. Kiel said his district remains the same.

When asked about the possibility of expanding Medicare in Alabama, money for the Trust Fund or retirees receiving the Cost of Living Advance in the 2024 legislative session, he said there was little hope because of inflation. The good news is there will be no proration for schools. One major concern is the passing of school vouchers in the 2024 session.

District I Director Melba Wiegand also attended the meeting and gave greetings from the AERA Staff.  She encouraged members to be watchful for scams as elders are prime targets. She reminded members to enroll at least two new members this year to meet the AERA statewide community service project of increasing membership.

Sandy Gibson presided over the meeting. She reported a total for the group of 113,630 community volunteer service hours over the past year and encouraged members to continue to submit their hours at each meeting.

Elizabeth Daniel reported the project for this year will be the Russellville Coalition for the Homeless. Members are encouraged to bring items to each meeting. Gibson serves on the AERA State Legislative Committee and encouraged members to read the AERA Voice magazine for updated information.

A potluck luncheon followed, and membership dues were collected. Yearly membership dues are $12, and associate member dues are $5, for the year. This is the time of the year to join so you can enjoy good fellowship and keep abreast of the benefits for retirees.

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