By Heather Smith
TUSCALOOSA–Congresswoman Terri Sewell spoke at a luncheon Tuesday provided by the Rotary Club at the Indian Hills Country Club on McFarland. One of the main points in her speech was strengthening the job market in Alabama.
Voted the first African American Congress representative for the 7th district of Alabama, she is the only Democratic in Alabama’s delegation. She is a freshman in the 112th Congress and a member of the House committees of agriculture and science,space, and technology. Raised in Selma, Sewell went on to attend Princeton University, Harvard Law School, and Oxford.
Sewell has many notable achievements, but she focused on her story about escorting the president during his inaugural address. She was able to speak with him about her home state a few minutes before his speech.
“I went on to tell the president about the 7th Congressional districts, while one of the poorest districts in the state of Alabama … and one of the poorest in the nation. We also have a high unemployment rate–high drop out rate–but what we lack in economic prosperity, I told him that we more than made up for in heart and in spirit and fight. And that I am convinced that what we need in the 7th Congressional district are just resources and opportunities.”
One of the opportunities focused on the TRAIN ACT. Sewell defended her decision to vote for the bill because of the potential damages Alabama’s workers and businesses could suffer if it did not pass.
The TRAIN ACT, H.R. 2401, pits the environment against jobs for Americans. The proposed bill would stop the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) from strictly regulating carbon emissions and would continue the use of coal as one of our main energy supplies. The EPA mandates could affect the price of energy consumption and potentially affect the labor forces.
“The environment, while very important, I just think is a luxury when you’re taking about saving jobs in this kind of economy,” she said.
Sewell was one of 18 Democrats that voted with the Republicans to dismiss the TRAIN ACT. The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate.
However, there is another potential move that could bring 15,000 jobs to Alabama in the next five years. Sewell said that the free trade agreements with Panama, Columbia and Korea could help the economy. Congress will take up those discussions in the next few months.
Obama’s job plan is another way to boost the market. She went on to say that there needs to be more tax reliefs for small businesses and believes that corporate tax structure has to be re-examined. Sewell also said that the state or the government should not limit pale grants because they are essential to building the future of this country by allowing students to earn higher educations. She was adamant that she would not have been able to attend college without one.
“The only way I believe we can out educate, out innovate, out compete with the rest of the world is that we invest in all that is good in America.”
Obama’s bill has hit a wall, however. The Wall Street Journal covers the story. It might not be as easy to generate jobs as the Congresswoman suggested. Now that the bill has passed that severely restricts illegal Latino immigration into Alabama, there are more jobs for Americans but no one wants them.
Marcy Bonebright wrote about the difficulties now facing the construction companies. “Hispanics, documented and undocumented, dominate anything to do with masonry, concrete, framing, roofing and landscaping,” Bob McNelly, a contractor with Nash-McCraw Properties, told the news service. “There are very few subcontractors I work with that don’t have a Hispanic workforce… It’s not the pay rate. It’s the fact that they work harder than anyone. It’s the work ethic.”