What Is It Like to Be in the Alabama Senate?

By Shay Shelnutt

When I first started thinking about running for the state senate back in early 2014, I had very little knowledge of the course the journey would take. It was my first attempt at a political office. Mentoring kids for a number of years as a public school teacher and coach had been fulfilling, as is the work I currently do helping families and businesses as a realtor.

However, like many of you, there was growing concern about the direction of our country the past few years, with Washington liberals attacking our conservative, Judeo-Christian values in Alabama and handing down regulations that hurt economic growth. After several conversations with my darling wife, Paige, other family members and friends, I decided to step forward to serve. It was a great honor to be elected to represent District 17 in the Alabama Senate.

Being a new senator, there was a certain learning curve to master at the beginning of the 2015 Session. My first few weeks were spent learning about complex rules for procedure on the Senate floor, reading material on the grim state of the General Fund budget, and meeting with constituents to hear about their support or concerns on certain pieces of legislation. It didn’t take me long to realize that the legislature passes laws every week that will impact the lives of Alabamians, in ways large and small, and I was determined to do my best to put the interests of Alabama families first by supporting conservative legislation that will move our state forward.

I joined other Senate Republicans to establish an agenda called “Paving a Path for the Future,” with a focus on fostering job growth, reforming education, and protecting taxpayer dollars. I believe we have made great progress on every count.

To spur job growth, the Senate passed the Alabama Jobs Act, which provides economic incentives to companies that create new jobs in the state. A companion bill, the Veterans and Rural Jobs Act, provides additional incentives and tax credits to companies that create new jobs in rural counties and for companies that hire veterans. These incentives will encourage our existing businesses to expand by building new factories and job sites, and help us attract new businesses.

With legislature passing the School Choice and Student Opportunity Act, Alabama joined forty-two other states that have already implemented charter schools, and giving parents and students another education option is the responsible thing to do—a zip code should not determine a family’s education choices. The Senate also unanimously passed next year’s education budget, which increases funding for voluntary pre-k and textbooks. This budget is fiscally responsible and will avoid proration.

Protecting taxpayer dollars is a priority: The Mandatory Tax Expenditure Report will require the Legislative Fiscal Office to produce an annual report for the legislators and the public to show every credit, exemption, economic incentive, and deduction used. The Prison Reform bill will prevent a federal takeover of Alabama’s prisons, and will help solve the problem of overcrowding in our prisons by instituting smart sentencing reform. These two bills should save taxpayers millions of dollars.

On a personal level, I have sponsored and co-sponsored legislation this session regarding term limits; the rights to carry firearms; prohibiting nepotism; guaranteeing grandparent rights; and, mandatory sentences for repeat offenders.

Please contact me if there is anything I can do to help you. It is an honor to serve as your state senator.