Op-Ed: Continue to improve rural Alabama

Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview (Cullman Tribune file photo)

My legislative district is rural, therefore my voice in the Legislature is for rural issues.

We’ve had significant success for “rural Alabama” in the Legislature in recent years, primarily because of a focus lead by the Rural Caucus in the Alabama House of Representatives

One member of the Legislature told me he’d heard the term “rural Alabama” more in recent years than ever before in Montgomery!

That’s our goal, and it’s paying off for “rural Alabama” to be heard.

The only way to be successful with legislation in Montgomery is to develop relationships and build coalitions.

The House Rural Caucus has grown to about 44 members of 105. It is a bipartisan group because “rural Alabama” is made up of “Ds” and “Rs,” and working together gets things done.

Rural Caucus officers are Caucus Chair Rep. David Standridge, R-Hayden; Rep. Chris Sells, R-Greenville; Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee; and Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview.

Take a look at some of the recent success for rural Alabama:

House Committee on Urban & Rural Development

Our message is, we want to bring rural Alabama up without bringing urban Alabama down.

Speaker (Mac) McCutcheon shares this goal and added a new permanent House Committee to work on it.

Governor Ivey’s focus on rural Alabama

Governor Kay Ivey grew up in rural Alabama and understands it better than anybody.

Governor Ivey seldom makes a speech without using the term rural Alabama, and her priorities and record as governor reflect that she is sincere with those words.

Rural Alabama a priority of BCA and State Department of Commerce

Katie Britt, the new CEO of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) was thoughtful enough to contact me her first day on the job to express loud and clear her support for rural Alabama and to remind everyone that she grew up in rural Enterprise, AL.

Like Governor Ivey, Katie Britt seldom makes a speech without using the term rural Alabama.

Greg Canfield, Alabama’s very successful economic development recruiter in his role as Governor Ivey’s cabinet-level secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce is committed to improving business in rural Alabama.

Mr. Canfield recently established a rural development specialist position and hired a very qualified rural business recruiter.

Education in rural Alabama

Our committee recognizes the most important component of economic success is education/workforce development.

Our top priority was to advocate for the appointment of the new state superintendent of education to be the best qualified and understand education in rural Alabama.

I believe we accomplished that when Dr. Mackey was appointed.

Rural health care

Access to health care is crucial in multiple important ways.

First and most important is life-saving critical care.

Second is preventative care for a healthier population.

And, then there is the economic component that medical services brings to an area.

Rural health care is a priority of this legislative session and of Governor Ivey and legislative leadership. You will hear a lot more about rural health care this session.

Rural broadband coalition

One of biggest success stories for rural Alabama is the movement of broadband development.

We are seeing huge announcements being made to expand broadband and telecommunications in Alabama after new broadband legislation passed during the last two legislative sessions.

A tremendous rural broadband coalition evolved during the 2019 session that resulted in sweeping changes to broadband laws.

With these new broadband laws, high-speed internet is coming to rural Alabama sooner rather than later!

Agribusiness is important

Agribusiness is not only important to rural Alabama, it’s important to all Alabama!

Agribusiness is a $70 billion industry in Alabama, and my district is probably the most agribusiness district in the state.

We must never forget the impact of agribusiness in Alabama!

Driver’s license offices & required state services in rural Alabama

Our message was heard loud and clear in 2015 when the decision was made to close 31 of Alabama’s 78 driver’s license offices across the state.

Our message was, “How can we expect business to open up in rural Alabama when state services are closing down in rural Alabama?”

We’ve seen a different attitude on this issue with Governor Ivey, and this legislative session I expect to see more good news, a culmination of work on improving access to driver’s license services and customer service in all state agencies.

We will have a watchful eye on all legislation this session with one simple question: How does this impact rural Alabama?

Thank y’all for letting me represent you in Montgomery!

Randall Shedd

District 11, Alabama

House of Representatives

1461 Welcome Road

Cullman, AL 35058

Cellular & Text 256.531.6641

Email randallshedd@icloud.com