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ALAPAC Announces Support for April Weaver in Senate District 14

ALAPAC Announces Support for April Weaver in Senate District 14

Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) is proud to announce its support of former State Representative April Weaver in the upcoming special election for Senate District 14.

The ALAPAC Board considers many factors in making campaign support decisions, including candidate-vetting meetings with ALAPAC staff and board members, electronic surveys of ALAPAC contributors, third-party polling data and outreach from local physician ALAPAC contributors voicing support. Regarding its decision to support Weaver, ALAPAC Board Chairman David Herrick, M.D. noted her previous role as Chair of the House Health Committee and the relationships Weaver has built with physicians in her area and across the state.

“Supporting April Weaver for Senate District 14 was an easy decision,” Herrick said. “From her previous roles in both the Alabama House of Representatives and HHS, Weaver has consistently been a leader in healthcare industry and an advocate of policies that move medicine forward. The overwhelming outreach and support from physicians in her area, as well as statewide, is a testament to the positive impact Weaver has made both personally and professionally.”

At a time when healthcare policy is so polarized, electing candidates who understand these issues and value physician input is a top priority. April Weaver is that type of candidate, and we encourage all physicians in Senate District 14 to support her campaign. The special primary election is Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Senate District 14 represents portions of Bibb, Chilton, Hale, Jefferson and Shelby counties.

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ALAPAC Announces New Regional Board Program

ALAPAC Announces New Regional Board Program

The Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) recently revised its bylaws to create 10 Regional Boards (RB) that will increase specialty and individual practice participation in local and statewide candidate support decisions.

Under this new structure:

  1. Each specialty with at least a 25% multi-year average participation in ALAPAC will be invited to nominate a physician for each RB throughout the state, and,
  2. Each individual practice with 100% multi-year ALAPAC participation will be invited to nominate a member of the practice to the local RB.  

“The ALAPAC Board is excited about this new direction and believes it will better help us raise funds to aid in the election of candidates we as physicians can work with on complex health policy issues,” Chair David Herrick, M.D., said.

Physicians nominated by either their specialty or their practice to serve on an RB must maintain Medical Association membership and ALAPAC contributor status to continue serving. As well, each RB member will work with ALAPAC to increase contributions from amongst local physicians of his or her respective specialty. 

If your specialty or your practice qualifies for the new RB program, society leadership and practice members and staff will soon be notified. If you have questions about or would like to check on your specialty’s or your practice’s eligibility, please contact Niko Corley at ncorley@alamedical.org or (334) 261-2000. 

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2020 ALAPAC Voting Guide: Constitutional Amendments

2020 ALAPAC Voting Guide: Constitutional Amendments

OVERVIEW

On Election Day, the people of Alabama will have the chance to cast their votes for a number of federal and state officials. In addition, voters will decide whether several proposed amendments should be added to the Alabama Constitution.

The purpose of this guide is to explain the statewide constitutional amendments in plain language to help Alabama physicians make informed decisions on election day.

STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 1:

Amendment Text:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Article VIII of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 177 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to provide that only a citizen of the United States has the right to vote.

Basic Summary:

If adopted, Amendment 1 will have little to no impact on voting laws, as Alabama and federal voting requirements already require voters to be citizens of the United States.

Detailed Summary:

Amendment 1 concerns who has the right to vote in Alabama, making a wording change that has no legal effect.

Currently, the Alabama Constitution reads that “every citizen of the United States. . . .” This amendment, if passed, would exchange the word “every” for “only” so that the Alabama Constitution would read, “Only a citizen of the United States. . . .”

This language and the original language of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 mention U.S. citizenship. That has traditionally been interpreted to mean that U.S. citizenship is required to vote. Federal law requires only U.S. citizens vote in federal elections. Amendment 1 proposes to change the language of Article VIII to replace “Every Citizen of the United States” with “Only a Citizen of the United States.”

STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 2:

Amendment Text:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to increase the membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and further provide for the appointment of the additional members; further provide for the membership of the Court of the Judiciary and further provide for the appointment of the additional members; further provide for the process of disqualifying an active judge; repeal provisions providing for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justices and appellate judges and the removal for cause of the judges of the district and circuit courts, judges of the probate courts, and judges of certain other courts by the Supreme Court; delete the authority of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to appoint an Administrative Director Courts; provide the Supreme Court of Alabama with authority to appoint an Administrative Director of Courts; require the Legislature to establish procedures for the appointment of the Administrative Director of Courts; delete the requirement that a district court hold court in each incorporated municipality with a population of 1,000 or more where there is no municipal court; provide that the procedure for the filling of vacancies in the office of a judge may be changed by local constitutional amendment; delete certain language relating to the position of constable holding more than one state office; delete a provision providing for the temporary maintenance of the prior judicial system; repeal the office of circuit solicitor; and make certain nonsubstantive stylistic changes.

Basic Summary:

If adopted, Amendment 2 would implement changes to how the administration of Alabama’s court system functions and revise the process for appointing and impeaching judges.

Detailed Summary:

This amendment proposes six changes to the state’s judicial system. In summary, this amendment:

1. Provides that county district courts do not have to hold city court in a city with a population of less than 1,000;

  • This is largely a practical change.

2. Allows the Alabama Supreme Court, rather than the Chief Justice, to appoint the Administrative Director of Courts;

  • Currently, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court chooses the Director of Courts, who oversees the $450 million and 2,500 employee state court system. Since 2010, there have been five different Chief Justices and therefore five different Directors of Courts. If approved, Amendment Two would allow for the entire Supreme Court to make an appointment out of three candidates brought to them by a nominating board of judges, a clerk, and a lawyer. Instead of changing every time the Court’s makeup changes, this appointment would last for ten years.

3. Increases from 9 to 11 the total membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and determines who appoints each member (the Judicial Inquiry Commission evaluates ethics complaints filed against judges);

  • Expanding the Commission’s composition from 9 to 11 allows for the inclusion of a probate judge and a municipal judge.

4. Allows the Governor, rather than the Lieutenant Governor, to appoint a member of the Court of the Judiciary (the Court of the Judiciary hears complaints filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission);

  • Language elsewhere has already caused this shift to happen in practice. The amendment would simply clarify it in the Alabama Constitution.

5. Prevents a judge from being automatically disqualified from holding office simply because a complaint was filed with the Judiciary Inquiry Commission; and

  • Currently, judges are suspended from service, with pay, when a complaint is filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission. Alabama, alone, suspends judges based simply on a complaint. Amendment 2 removes this provision.

6. Provides that a judge can be removed from office only by the Court of the Judiciary.

  • Currently, Supreme Court justices and appellate judges are the only judges suspect to impeachment. This change would place them under the same disciplinary procedures as other judges.

STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 3:

Amendment Text:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a judge, other than a judge of probate, appointed to fill a vacancy would serve an initial term until the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January following the next general election after the judge has completed two years in office.

Basic Summary:

This amendment changes the initial term of a judge that is appointed to fill a vacancy due to death, resignation, retirement, or removal. The current law and this proposed amendment do not apply to probate judges.

Detailed Summary:

Judicial vacancies, which are created by the death, resignation, retirement, or removal from office of a sitting judge, are filled by gubernatorial appointment. Judicial terms are six years. Per the Constitution, probate judges appointed by the Governor serve out the balance of the unexpired term. Also, per the Constitution, all other appointed judges serve until the general election after serving one year in office.

In practice, however, appointed judges routinely serve two, and sometimes almost three years, due to how the dates of general elections fall. Amendment 3 extends the time of service for an appointed judge from the general election after one year of service to the general election after two years of service.

STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 4

Amendment Text:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature to recompile the Alabama Constitution and submit it during the 2022 Regular Session, and provide a process for its ratification by the voters of this state.

Basic Summary:

Alabama’s constitution contains segregationist and racist language and has sections that are repeated or do not currently apply. If approved, Amendment 4 would allow the state legislature to rearrange the constitution and remove racist or repeated language.

Detailed Summary:

Alabama’s constitution can be changed only during a constitutional convention or when a majority of voters approve a constitutional amendment.

Amendment 4 does not change the requirement that a majority of voters must approve a constitutional amendment. Amendment 4, if approved, simply allows the Alabama Legislature, when it meets in 2022, to draft a rearranged version of the state constitution.

This draft could only:

(1) remove racist language;

(2) remove language that is repeated or no longer applies;

(3) combine language related to economic development; and

(4) combine language that relates to the same county.

No other changes could be made.

STATEWIDE AMENDMENTS 5 & 6

Amendment 5 Text:

Relating to Franklin County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person is not liable for using deadly physical force in self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under certain conditions.

Amendment 6 Text:

Relating to Lauderdale County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person is not liable for using deadly physical force in self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under certain conditions.

Basic Summary:

The amendments are identical other than the county to which they apply. Both would put into the Alabama Constitution a version of the state’s already-existing “stand your ground” law that applies to the use of deadly force in churches.

Unless the statewide “stand your ground” law changes, these amendments will have little practical effect.

Detailed Summary:

Alabama is among 27 states with stand your ground laws, which protect individuals from criminal prosecution if they use physical or deadly force in defending themselves or someone else from serious threat of harm. The law does not require the person to retreat before using physical force.

Even without specific language related to churches or the proposed amendment, lawful participants in a church have the right to defend themselves when under attack. But the stand your ground law and the proposed amendments would not prohibit churches from developing policies banning handguns and other weapons from church property.

If passed by the majority of voters in Alabama and by voters in Franklin and Lauderdale County, the state constitution would be amended to contain a special “Stand Your Ground” law that applies to churches in Franklin and Lauderdale Counties.

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ALAPAC Announces Support for Carl, Coleman in Congressional Races

ALAPAC Announces Support for Carl, Coleman in Congressional Races

The all-physician board of the Alabama Medical PAC, ALAPAC, voted recently to support several candidates in their bids for federal office:

  • In Alabama’s First Congressional District, the ALAPAC Board voted to support Jerry Carl.
  • In Alabama’s Second Congressional District, the ALAPAC Board voted to support Jeff Coleman.

The ALAPAC Board considers many factors in making campaign support decisions, including candidate-vetting meetings with ALAPAC staff and board members, electronic surveys of ALAPAC contributors, third-party polling data and outreach from local physician ALAPAC contributors voicing support. Regarding ALAPAC support for Carl and Coleman, ALAPAC Board Chairman David Herrick, M.D. noted a significant factor in both races was outreach from local physicians.

“These candidates have built relationships with physicians in their local communities and a number of those physicians reached out to ALAPAC and asked for support for both Jerry Carl and Jeff Coleman,” Dr. Herrick said. “That’s a key element in ALAPAC’s decision making process in races where there is no incumbent with a voting record that we can look at and examine to see how they voted on the issues medicine believes are important.”

The runoffs for both Congressional District 1 and 2 are Tuesday, July 14. At this point, election officials indicate polling places will be open as usual, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Be on the lookout for emails from ALAPAC as that date nears with additional information on voting resources.

Board also suspends 2020 summer fundraising efforts amid COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its negative financial effects on physicians and medical practices of all specialties statewide, ALAPAC is suspending its usual “summer shortfall” fundraising drive and instead focusing board and staff energies in the coming months to revamping ALAPAC into a more specialty-focused and locally-driven political action committee.

“At the same time we are spending money to support candidates in Congressional Districts 1 and 2, we have also had to make the tough decision to suspend our traditional summer fundraising drive, which will ultimately result in fewer funds raised in the short term. Given the current status of COVID and practices’ financial challenges, it seems like the right decision. However, the Board and I are convinced the new approach and restructuring efforts we are planning will serve as a better long-term investment for ALAPAC,” Dr. Herrick said.

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ALAPAC Supported Candidates Win Elections

ALAPAC Supported Candidates Win Elections

In the past two weeks, both ALAPAC supported candidates were victorious in their special election campaigns to the House of Representatives: Van Smith, who won the seat for HD42 on November 4, and Charlotte Meadows, who was elected to serve HD74 just this past Tuesday.

Smith, a former Autauga County Commissioner, received ALAPAC’s support was largely due to the recommendations of ALAPAC contributing physicians. Lee Carter, M.D., an Autauga family physician and HD42 resident, was instrumental in ALAPAC’s support for Smith, who he believes will be a strong voice for rural health issues.

For Meadows, healthcare is an area she knows well. As the wife of Montgomery physician Allen Meadows, M.D., and a former practice manager, Meadows has a wealth of knowledge and experience on the issues physicians face everyday. Knowing this, ALAPAC became heavily involved in her race since she announced her candidacy, and we are excited to have her serve in the House of Representatives.

Thank you to everyone who supported both Van and Charlotte in their victories. We hope that you will continue to support ALAPAC and help us in electing candidates who best represent the professional needs of physicians, their families, and their patients.

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ALAPAC-Supported Van Smith Wins Special Election

ALAPAC-Supported Van Smith Wins Special Election

On Tuesday, Autauga County Commissioner Van Smith won the special election to fill the vacancy in Alabama House District 42 with 88% of the vote. ALAPAC has supported Van since the Primary, with a key reason being the advocacy of area physicians who have known and worked with Mr. Smith for years and who spoke to his support for physicians.

With the victory, Mr. Smith will now turn his attention to the upcoming legislative session. HD42 comprises Autuga and Chilton Counties, and supporting rural health care is a major interest of both area physicians and Mr. Smith.

“As an ALAPAC contributor, it’s important to know I have a voice in our campaign support process,” said Lee Carter, M.D., an Autaugaville family physician and HD 42 resident. “I’ve known Van for years and think he will represent our area well and be a voice for rural health issues.”

Congrats again to Mr. Smith and thank you to the physicians who supported him in this election.

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