Archived Story

Whatley speaks to Chamber

Published 6:10pm Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) was the guest speaker at the quarterly meeting of the Dadeville Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church.
Whatley mainly addressed the goings-on at the recent Alabama State Legislative sessions.
One of the more noteworthy doings of the legislature was the passing of both the Education Trust Fund and General Fund Budgets. Whatley said compared to budgets approved in previous years, these budgets were very reasonable.
“We’re living within our means. We’re appropriating money that we feel like we have or very possibly anticipate having,” Whatley said. “In past years, budgets were passed that basically we knew we didn’t have the money for.”
Whatley said he didn’t know if there would be any more proration, but he said he thinks there is a “really good shot” that the state can stay within the latest budget.
One example of the money cuts that are taking place Whatley gave involved the office of the President Pro Tempore in the Senate. He said that office had $4.4 million set aside for it last year, and now it will have $200,000.
Another highly discussed piece of legislation that was passed was the immigration bill. Whatley said last week in a Record article that he supported the bill.
On Tuesday, he discussed the E-verify portion of the immigration bill, which he disagrees with.
“The problem I had with the E-verify portion was that, as chairman of the Agriculture Committee, I’m dealing with some farmers that are my father’s age, 65-66 years old,” Whatley said. “I don’t like the idea of an 80-year-old farmer having to E-verify his employees when he has documentation in front of him.
“That’s the problem that we’re dealing with. The bottom line is the federal government is in charge of immigration. The federal government has decided they are not going to do their job, so we’ve decided to do their job for them and force them to do it.”
Whatley talked about the tenure reform bill, as well. The bill prevents teachers who are arrested or convicted of a crime from being paid while they are in jail. It also gives the school board, superintendants and principals authority to recommend dismissal of tenured teachers.
If that happens, there will be a 60-day appeal period (down from 280 days) and that teacher would go before a retired Alabama judge, which reduces cost. There is also a RIF (reduction in forces) clause in the bill, which prevents personnel from being kept on if the money for their salary is not in the budget.
“That is a business decision,” Whatley said. “If we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money.
“(The tenure reform bill) was a controversial and tough vote.”
Whatley touched on a couple of other bills he was involved with:
-A fertilizer bill was reformed, helping farmers avoid having to pay additional fees and register in different counties or municipalities if their crop crosses into multiple zones.
-A honeybee bill that prevents honeybee hives from being transported from Georgia into Alabama. Bees from different areas can damage colonies already existing in an area.
-The bill that staggers terms for the Auburn University Board of Trustees so that only two members can come up for re-election per year.
Whatley also gave a special thanks to the Lake Martin Search and Rescue Squad, which had a few members in attendance for their work in the April 27 tornadoes.