Hardee represents county at ACCA conference

Published 10:39 am Tuesday, December 27, 2022

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Chilton County Commission Chairman Jimmie Hardee recently attended the Association of County Commissions of Alabama’s Legislative Conference from Dec.7-8 in Montgomery to give Chilton County a voice.

Hardee attended both days of the conference and was able to listen to Gov. Kay Ivey and notable state leaders such as Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield and Secretary of State-Elect Wes Allen.

“We can focus on local laws all we want, but our local laws are only for us,” Hardee said. “The state laws affect everyone, and those may not be good for all the counties or here in Chilton County.”

Hardee said the biggest talking point of the conference amongst the commission chairmen was the expansion of broadband internet to rural counties in Alabama. Portions of Chilton County fall under this umbrella not having reliable internet service in certain spots.

“Whether it is through a partnership with the state, or through abatements from local programs in those counties, we need to figure that out,” Hardee said.

Federal funding from the American Rescue Plan and discussing the beneficiaries of the $26 million that will be allocated to the state of Alabama was also a hot topic. The funding is based on population, and the conference is designed to make sure all voices across the counties in Alabama are heard when it comes to topics that affect everyone.

“I enjoyed the fact that the 67 counties can get on one playing ground that are equal to all of us,” Hardee said. “The rural counties suffer more than any of your metropolitan counties because of lack of funding.”

Hardee did, however, disagree with some portions of the conference, such as the prison reform policy discussion.

“Building new prisons is not the answer,” Hardee said. “Stiffer penalties, accountability and rehabilitation are the answers to prison reform. I was disappointed to hear that we are going to build new prisons, but we are going to turn around and shut down the old prisons. We are not curing the population.”

Hardee said building new prisons is just “making a new accommodation to those people who repeatedly break the law.”

Hardee said he takes pride in representing the citizens of Chilton County at conferences such as this one, and hopes they become more informed because of it.

“We need to know what laws are passing, and we need to know what their platform is. You will not know unless you go,” Hardee said. “You have got to have a voice, and I hope I am a strong voice for Chilton County when it comes to the ACCA and legislation. It is amazing how things are getting done in a timely manner (in Montgomery). We have some good representatives there who represent Chilton County.”

Hardee plans on being there for the ACCA legislation conference in 2023 as well.