FOLEY – On Tuesday, May 22, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall spoke at the Foley Event Center as part of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Series. Marshall is Alabama’s …
FOLEY – On Tuesday, May 22, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall spoke at the Foley Event Center as part of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Series. Marshall is Alabama’s 48th Attorney General, taking the position in Feb. 2017. After 15 months in the position, Marshall is focusing on some major points that he hopes to influence for the state.
During the speech, Marshall talked about three key areas where he is hoping to make a difference: cutting down opioid abuse; providing Alabamians with data security; and ethics.
“Our state right now is dealing with an opioid epidemic,” Marshall said. “The major concern with opioids is the loss of life. Since 2007, opioid deaths in Alabama have quadrupled, and that’s contributed to the overdose of opioids.”
With the rising opioid related deaths, Marshall states that the life expectancy in the country has decreased over the last few years.
“That is directly attributed to the number of lives that we lose in this country to these drugs,” said Marshall. “We need to recognize that this issue exists and decide what we’re going to do about it.”
According to Marshall, some of the key issues that need to be dealt with are supply control and making sure that addicts who need help can get it. Considering both of those factors, Marshall aims to give doctors and pharmacists the tools they need to determine a patient’s past prescription history to determine the amount of opioid related drugs that have been purchased. Another area of prevention Marshall spoke of was teaching the younger generations the consequences of opioid abuse, and for adults to understand how easy it can be for children to obtain a controlled substance. Whenever a patient gets a common procedure done, such as getting a wisdom tooth pulled, pain medication is prescribed and taken home.
“Young people have access to these drugs because they’re sitting in their medicine cabinets,” said Marshall. “We have to be able to have safe storage, safe usage, and safe disposal of these medicines.”
The second area that Marshall spoke about concerned breaches of data and identity theft, issues that have become all too common in the digital era.
“Unfortunately, Alabama was, until the most recent legislative session, the only state in the union that if there was a data breach, a company did not have to notify you of that fact,” Marshall said. “Some companies used good business practice, and I appreciate that, but yet 49 other states were out there who said that if your personal information is taken, you need to know about it.”
During the last legislative session, the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act was passed, which will make it so if ever there is a data breach, customers or people who may be affected legally must be notified. This will allow them to discover any breaches in their security early on, and quickly deal with the situation.
The final thing that Marshall spoke about concerned bringing the voices of the state together as one on revisions to the Alabama Ethics Laws.
“Ethics laws violations are really just crimes with a different name,” Marshall said. “Legislation passed a bill to allow the formation of a commission to be able to reform and clarify the direction of our current ethics laws.”
A major point in Marshall’s discussion concerned a recent ethics bill that passed that exempts economic development consultants from a requirement to register as lobbyists with the Ethics Commission unless they seek special incentives for their clients. Those who are against this exemption state that placing such restrictions on potential business owners could cause them to look elsewhere to set up shop if they wished to proceed confidentially.
“That exemption is going to expire in April of next year, and as we move towards ethics laws, that’s going to be an initiative,” Marshall said. “We need people to be engaged so your voices are heard, for one because of how economic development is important, but also how it can impact our communities to bring good jobs to the state … We need voices to be heard. I’m going to be a champion for this, but I’m only one voice.”
To learn more about upcoming Leadership Series and Chamber events, check the website at www.southbaldwinchamber.com.