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Andy in action

MONTGOMERY — The more than 40 people who participated in the Chamber of Commerce’s “Andy in Action” bus trip to Montgomery yesterday had an opportunity to hear from Covington County’s senator and to hobnob with representatives from several powerful state offices.

Sen. Jimmy Holley (R-Elba), who is serving his third term as a senator and was a state representative for four terms, reflected on the changes he’s seen at the Capitol.

When he arrived at Goat Hill as a state representative, he said, there were no computers, a few telephones and the legislature still met in Alabama’s historic Capitol. One thing, however, has remained constant, he said.

“The great thing we can observe in democracy is opposing viewpoints and the opportunity for debate,” Holley said. “Out of that debate comes better government.”

Holley also commented on the state’s economy, saying Alabama will “grow back to prosperity.”

“Typically, Alabama is just behind the national economy,” he said. “When we begin to see things come out nationally, Alabama will be almost parallel.

“All around, we in Alabama will have to situate to fund state government and we can grow back to prosperity,” he said.

Speaker of the house Seth Hammett (D-Andalusia) was out of town, but his assistant, Julie Lindsey, gave participants an insider’s view of the “ins and outs” of the House of Representatives. Hammett, who has represented Covington County for 32 years, has announced he will not seek re-election in 2010.

Lindsey spoke briefly about what a newly-elected representative might do to rise in the legislative ranks.

“Covington County has had someone in a leadership position here for so long,” she said. “Depending on who they are, what their interests are. The new speaker appoints to committees, and he or she will take (the new representative’s) interests into consideration when making appointments.”

Col. Al Allenback, district director with Congressman Bobby Bright’s office, said residents should not hesitate to contact Bright’s office with concerns or questions.

“Calls are very important to the congressman,” he said. “Before the vote was taken on the stimulus package, he called me and said what do the people say. I told him 20 to 1 no. He voted no.

Jeff Rayburn, legislative representative for the governor’s office, also addressed the group. Described as Covington County’s “direct link to the governor’s office,” Rayburn is the son of Bill and Frances Rayburn of Andalusia.

He spoke of the governor’s plan to increase economic development.

He said the governor cites providing incentives for white-collar jobs, ethics reform and education reform as the way to attract industry to Alabama.