March | April 2017



Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard serves as chair of CSG’s Southern Legislative Conference. He was first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1998 and elected speaker in 2010.


What are your goals as
SLC chair?

“In keeping with the tradition of SLC chairs, it is my hope that we can continue to provide services and programs to our members that are relevant to their needs as policymakers. At a time when issues have become so much more complex and the volume of information almost unmanageable, the SLC offers legislators and legislative staff quality research and extensive analysis on issues. An issue dear to me is food security, and I am proud that we continue to focus on this issue at our annual meetings. At these meetings, members come for a morning of fellowship on Sunday, don hairnets and gloves and, remarkably, package more than 20,000 meals in less than 90 minutes. We work in conjunction with local food banks to distribute the meals.”

How does the SLC help policymakers in your region?

“The regional structure of The Council of State Governments is key to the success of the organization as a whole. Policymakers in our region are particularly fortunate to have the wide range of resources available to them from our office in Atlanta. The SLC is able to provide opportunities for small legislative delegations to travel to both domestic and international venues to observe innovative industries, public-private partnerships and a host of other potential job-creation opportunities.”

What are some of the biggest issues affecting your region?

“Job creation, energy, workforce development and education.”

“The South, and Alabama, in particular, has been quite successful in attracting new jobs, new industries and new economic development investments to the area. Given the continuing downturn in the national economy, competition for those jobs and industries is becoming even more fierce among the country’s various geographic regions, especially since more investment translates into more revenues for state budgets. Maintaining and expanding the South’s success in landing economic development projects is, by far, the biggest issue we face in the current economic climate.”
“The South is heavily rural. Of the more than 113 million people living in the South, 23.3 million—or nearly one in five—live in rural places. With rural Southerners representing almost half (47 percent) of all rural Americans, we have many challenges with regard to transportation. Our region has approximately 1,565,393 miles of roads, of which about 491,294 miles are state maintained roads. To put this in perspective, the Southern region has about 39.7 percent of the total road-miles in the nation and nearly 60 percent of the total state-maintained roads nationally. With an aging infrastructure and such vast expanses of rural area, addressing the needs of our rural citizens becomes quite a challenge.”
“Building a workforce that is capable and ready to move in to high-tech jobs is a key challenge for all policymakers. This is a major objective for our region. In Alabama, we have been able to see growth in this arena through our innovative workforce development programs, which have been ranked the nation’s best year after year.”
“The South plays a huge role in our nation’s quest for energy independence and contributes greatly to satisfying the energy needs of the United States. Of the total domestic oil refinery capacity, 53 percent is located in the South. We also are home to five of seven operating LNG (liquid natural gas) terminals in the contiguous United States. Eleven of our 15 member states are coal producers, including Alabama. In addition, we have hydropower, biofuels, wind, solar and nuclear. All of this contributes to the nation’s energy security, and managing this has huge relevance to each of our member states.”
“Improving public education at all levels is an area of particular personal interest, and it is something I have focused upon during my years in the Alabama legislature and as speaker of the house. When studies showed that Alabama had among the highest high school dropout rates in the nation, we passed legislation and devoted time, attention and resources to solving the epidemic, and our efforts have begun to produce results. Because Alabama, like many states in the South, has large swaths of rural areas, we created, funded and continue to support an innovative program named ACCESS Distance Learning. Through ACCESS, Advance Placement instruction, foreign language classes and other electives are broadcast via satellite into schools across the state, each of which are equipped with interactive computer terminals. ”
"Providing top-notch programming at our annual meetings on topics specific to the needs of policymakers is one of the best mechanisms we have in addressing these critical areas.  In addition, we have been able to provide webinars on topics such as education finance reform and pension reform to legislators and legislative staff who need information on these topics. We also are able to offer testimony before legislative committees on topics, and our staffers provide a quick-response inquiry service, policy briefs, issue alerts and in-depth reports on an array of topics.  In short, the SLC is a very effective tool in providing needed information to legislators and their staff. The SLC serves as a much-needed resource to those in state government."