Reed, the Chairman of the Senate Health Committee, as well as the Hospital Committee of the State Coordinating Council, recently met with fellow committee members in conference chambers to discuss a problem of great significance affecting the state’s health system — a lack of psychiatric beds available for patients who are in need of them.
With the closure of several health facilities that have occurred in recent years, the number of psychiatric beds in Alabama has decreased, while the demand continues to dramatically increase — leaving hospital administrators with the difficult decision of what to do with the patients who are in need of the specialized care.
Committee members and guest speakers to the meeting weigh-in on the issue, coming to the concensus that a special study commission — comprised of representatives from across the state medical community — should be formed to research, report and make a recommendation for developing a methodology for psychiatric bed needs.
After coming to a unanimous vote on the action, the committee adjourns to its next meeting date — with Reed heading back to his home district to meet with constituents and speak at meetings across the area.
Nearing the conclusion of his first term in the senate since being elected in 2010, Reed has experienced a number of victories with the passage of his sponsored bills during his four years in Montgomery.
He’s cultivated relationships with Gov. Robert Bentley, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and several key lawmakers throughout the senate and the house — picking up valuable insight along the way from veteran legislators, as well as making his first term in office a pleasurable journey.
2010-2014: From taking office to landmark legislation
In November 2010, Greg Reed took his oath of office to become state senator of Alabama’s District 5 — representing residents in Walker, Winston, Tusca-loosa and Jefferson counties.
The great responsibility entrusted to him by the voters of his district wasn’t lost on Reed — who, in turn, was eager to get to work on the senate floor but also found the experience overwhelming.
“Being elected and given the mantle of representing over 140,000 Alabamians was a job that I asked for and the people of our district were willing to give me,” Reed said. “Moving into that role, I felt it was a tremendous responsibility. When you move into the duty of being a public servant in the Alabama Senate, there is not a how-to book waiting for you when you arrive in office. I had support — and I had those in Montgomery who were willing to help and give me good advice based upon the experiences they had, but for me personally, it was the most intense learning experience of my life.”
With his work in the health industry, Reed was appointed to chair the Senate Health Committee and became a member of several other committees to begin the quadrennium, helping him to formulate areas that needed attention — along with his own personal and business experiences.
Although 2011 was largely a transitional year in the legislature, Reed gained vital experience in sponsoring and gaining support for his bills, which laid the framework for his success in passing legislation in future sessions. In 2012, five bills that he sponsored were successfully passed and signed by the governor, highlighted by SB 10 — in which the State of Alabama opted out of federally funded abortions under the Affordable Care Act.
Following on the heels of the success of 2012, Reed struck gold in 2013 with three landmark bills, including SB 340 the “Medicare Reform” Bill that was estimated to save the state and its voters between $50 to $70 million and SB 229 that authorized the creation of permits for certain nurses and assistants to prescribe certain controlled substances — thus allowing providers such as nurse practioneer to have more ability to treat their patients.
Reed states that 2014 has been another good year for the legislature, with cuts being made to the general budget in certain unnecessary areas while still providing quality services to citizens and continuing to promote economic development. The legislature was also able to offer bonuses to state employees for their hard work and dedication to the public.
“We’ve done a good job with the budget, we’ve seen some positive benefits and we haven’t had to increase taxes,” Reed said. “Above all else, we’ve been able to not sacrifice services to voters while focusing on our top priorities.”
While there still remains “open questions related to the education budget,” Reed said extra funding was used to care of additional expenses mentioned from state superintendents and boards of education, as well as hiring 80 new teachers statewide for seventh and eighth grades.
Among this year’s other accomplishments are the paying of $10 million owed to the state’s Rainy Day Fund, welfare reform bills relating to health care issues and amendments to Reed’s Medicare Reform Bill.
Also dear to his heart is the passage of five pro-life bills and a bill for the creation for a three-day family fishing licence to help promote easier access to Alabama’s waterways.
“Our lakes and rivers are a treasure for anglers and sportsmen nationwide to come and enjoy — and our district is no exception with Smith Lake, the Walker County Lake and our rivers,” Reed said. “The bill that was passed will help families, individuals and groups participating in tournaments encounter fewer obstacles so they can get out to the water faster.”
Looking to the future
Having made several critical accomplishments since 2011, Reed and his colleagues in the senate are casting their ever-watchful eyes to the continued growth of the state. Among future goals highlighted by Reed are sustained attempts at streamlining government, recruiting more industry to the state and a further lowering of the unemployment rate.
“Economically, Alabama is moving in a positive direction. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the southeast — which shows what we all have known, Alabamians want to work,” Reed said. “I’m proud and honored that the people of District 5 have tasked me with leading our area into a bright future. With so many good things happening in the near future with retail developments and the eventual completion of I-22, there’s no doubt in my mind that great days are on the horizon.”