Closing out 2013, looking ahead to 2014

Published 5:57 pm Monday, December 30, 2013

When the clock strikes midnight, we will close the door on another year and welcome 2014 into our lives. New Years resolutions, plans for the future and excitement about upcoming events and changes will fill our heads and hearts as we bring in another new year, which we all hope will be better than the last.

As a state representative, 2014 means so much more to me. Because 2014 means it’s an election year.

As I welcome in 2014, I want to shut the door on some terrible things that happened in 2013 — terrible things that happened to the great state of Alabama. Along with my personal excitement and plans, I also want to plan to make 2014 different for our citizens.

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You see, shutting the door on 2013 means shutting the door on the Alabama Accountability Act, the “school choice” bill that took millions of dollars away from our own children and put it into private schools. It also means shutting the door on the legislature’s inability to secure our schools following the devastation in Newtown, Conn.

Shutting the door on 2013 means shutting the door on the Supreme Court decision to overturn sections of the Voting Rights Act, effectively setting us back from 50 years of progress. Along with it, we shut the door on the debate over the new, gerrymandered districts that restrict the minority voice in state politics.

Shutting the door on 2013 means shutting the door on the health care debate and Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision not to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid and offer health care to hundreds of thousands of Alabamians.

I know 2013 has been a hard year. But shutting the door on 2013 means we get to open the door on 2014. And I’m making sure that opening the door on 2014 will bring the changes we are looking for.

When the legislative session starts in January, I’m introducing legislation to increase the minimum wage to a livable standard for working men and women in this state. I’m introducing legislation to allow same-day voter registration to increase access to the polls for all Alabamians. I’m going to fight every day to improve education and support the teachers who make educating our children possible. And I’m going to fight every day for the people of this state.

Shutting the door on 2013 means shutting the door on the Republican Supermajority. It means electing a government that will represent the people and their interests, not shut down debate and pass bills behind closed doors.

As we begin 2014, we will be starting a new chapter for each of us individually and for the state of Alabama. We can remain hurt over the trials and troubles of the past year, or we can stand up, be strong and resolve to make a change for ourselves, our families and our community.

This is the year we have the power to make a change — we can’t let it slip away.