The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Seis de Mayo and District 19 Forum Report

Updates at the end of this post.

Los Sombreros es un buen lugar para celebrar Cinco de Mayo.

Pardon my Spanish, but Los Sombreros in Bessemer is a good place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo because the management comes around and pours extra tequila into your frozen margarita.

Yet still, I am up early and able to function at full capacity.

At the forum for Democratic Senate district 19 candidates last night all of the candidates except for Madilyn Southern showed up to spar for votes. Rep. Rod Scott of Fairfield arrived late and only had 2 minutes to present his case. The others gave opening statements and then answered questions from the audience.

I asked a question about the budget passed by the senate yesterday. The budget included $2.8 million for AIDS funding, but $5 million is required to receive matching federal funds under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006 formerly (and still commonly) known as the Ryan White Care Act.

Without the $5 million from the state, we stand to lose millions in money that pays for treatment and saves countless lives. In short, people will die.

I mentioned that the House had passed the same budget, as far as AIDS funding goes.

Both Priscilla Dunn and Merika Coleman were surprised. They indicated that they were not aware, and agreed to the importance of the match. They were surprised that Rep. Patricia Todd had not made them (and other legislators) aware of the urgency regarding this. Other candidates jumped on this, saying the current legislators should have been more informed and they they would have read the legislation and known.

Not necessarily. You might read "2.8 million" but the legislation is not going to say ("this does not meet federal matching standards").

Anyway, my multiple attempts to get a response from Rep. Todd about this have not been successful. When she does, I will post an update.

In the end, Dunn and Coleman believe that the budget can be adjusted in committee and the funding will be there. All of the candidates stressed the importance of getting matching funds when possible (I could have mentioned the lack of securing matching funds for public transportation by our Jefferson county delegation and local elected officials for years...decades, but we won't go there).

The Birmingham News reported this

(Eric)Major said he tried to introduce legislation while a representative to stop the
bond swaps, measures he said Coleman and Rep. Priscilla Dunn of Bessemer
Coleman fired back by asking the voters to "Google" her record on
the issue.

I guess what she wanted the voters to be reminded of is Major's domestic violence charge and his trip to the Supreme Court of Alabama which threw out his $500,000 award for his claim that his civil rights were violated when he was arrested ( here and here).

Back to the AIDS funding.

There is still a final step left to finalize the General Fund budget. A committee of members from the House (Representatives Knight, Page, and Gaston) has to vote to reconcile the Senate's version of the budget.

Please take a moment to call and email Representative John Knight, Representative Victor Gaston, and Representative Jack Page and let them know that the $2.8 million for AIDS funding needs to be upped to $5 million, and while you are at it, tell them the $700,000 for AIDS Service Organizations needs to be added back as well.

Representative John Knight (334) 242-7660

Representative Victor Gaston (334) 242-7675

Representative Jack Page (334) 242-7742

Update: The house today unanimously rejected the Senate version of the budget for various reasons. Maybe they will fix this problem.

Also, today, a senate committee approved adding sexual orientation to the hate crimes bill. Now to the full senate.

Update: Rep. Todd told me she that Rep. Laura Hall is the primary advocate in the house for AIDS related issues. That makes sense, Hall had a son that died from AIDS and has been an outspoken advocate for AIDS issues over the years. One would think that Dunn and Coleman would have recognized this.


Anonymous said...

Does the Ryan White act still have a Sept 2009 sunset? If so, does Alabama's fiscal year qualify for matching funds?

Joe said...

When I read the act, it appears so. I am not sure regarding the Alabama situatuation, but I know AIDS advocacy goups sent me the info so they must think it qualifies.