Sept. 21, 2017

Minutes of the August 21, 2017 Meeting
The Rotary Club of Mobile

Call to Order:
The meeting was called to order by John Dukes at 12:15 p.m. Wayne Miller offered the invocation. Tommy Blankenship led the club in song and the Pledge of Allegiance. Tom Martenstein welcomed members’ guests.

Announcements:
• John Dukes announced there would be a board meeting immediately following today’s regular meeting.
• The Rotary Annual Gala is scheduled for October 11 at the Southern National Restaurant, 360 Dauphin Street.
• The Mobile ARC recently presented their “Agency of Distinction” award to the Rotary Childrens Foundation.
• Member Ariel Chavez provided an update on the activities of our Interact Club. The club is based at Murphy High School and has 26 members. The club is in the process of partnering with another Interact club in LaPaz, Bolivia to help a homeless childrens’ shelter. In addition, a Career Day is being planned for Spring 2018 and Rotarians are encouraged to participate by sharing their vocation. A sign-up sheet was distributed.

Program: Greg Cochran, Alabama League of Municipalities
Tom McGehee introduced Greg Cochran.

Mr. Cochran spoke on the important role of lobbyists in the legislative process for a better Alabama. Cochran commented it was often said “lobbyists were the people we hire to protect us from the people we elect.” Although, the influence of lobbyists was curtailed greatly by two recent changes to the Alabama ethics laws.

Mr. Cochran cited a number of critical issues facing the state of Alabama. Among these were infrastructure funding. In Alabama, state funding of roads, bridges, highways, etc. is largely based upon taxes collected from various fuels sold in the state. With the improved energy efficiency, Alabama is essentially collecting $360 million less than a few years ago. Since state funds are normally matched with federal monies on a 5:1 basis, this results in an additional $1.8 billion lost.

Mr. Cochran also mentioned that while levels of personal income were at historic levels in the Alabama, sales tax collections have been virtually flat since 2009. He cited growing online purchases without the collection of sales taxes for state and local benefit. Alabama’s 450 municipalities need funding to address the needs in their communities. He encouraged federal enactment of the “Marketplace Fairness Act” to better facilitate sales tax collections from out-of-state vendors to Alabama citizens.

After addressing a number of questions, John thanked Mr. Cochran for speaking to the club and noted that in his honor a donation was made to the Rotary Children’s Foundation.

Adjournment
The meeting adjourned at 1 p.m.

Bob Chappelle