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Sessions outlines priorities during Atmore visit

By By BRIAN BLACKLEY
Advance Publisher
In a sweep through his home state including a stop in Atmore, U. S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Republican, hailed the new administration's progress in helping put the country's political priorities back on track by focusing on education, defense spending and health care.
Sessions, a member of the U.S. Armed Services Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Health Education Committee, updated his constituents on his progress in his tour, which included a visit to his family home in Monroe County.
Now in his fourth year as a U.S. Senator, Sessions, a veteran of Alabama politics, says three major goals in Congress include the reform of the IDEA education bill, the passage of a patient's bill of rights and continued growth in defense spending.
In keeping with his goal of seeing improved health care, Sessions said that the "wage index," a sliding scale that measures how much government programs like Medicare and Medicaid will pay for certain kinds of medical treatment, is seriously flawed and is hurting the ability of hospitals to operate soundly.
Sessions said that government intervention has harmed hospitals in some ways.
A source of educational problems, Sessions says, is IDEA, a current law that regulates, among other things, disciplinary procedures against mentally or physically disadvantaged students.
IDEA, originally passed to protect disadvantaged students, Sessions says, has run amuck and doesn't offer school administrators the opportunity to choose how to handle certain students who may be disruptive in a learning environment.
Sessions cites that the reform of IDEA has some bipartisan support, with many left-leaning Democrats agreeing to support reform in the future.
Finally, Sessions believes that the United States military is suffering from dramatic infrastructure needs that have come from stationary defense spending support for over a decade.
Other aging military equipment includes ships that are being retired faster than new ones are being built to replace them.
The Atmore stop was one of no less than 67 that Sessions plans to make this year in his goal of visiting all Alabama counties.
Sessions said recently, with the downturn in the economy that began last spring, people have been concerned about Social Security in Alabama.
Sessions took office as a U.S. Senator in 1997 after serving in past positions of U.S. Attorney and Alabama Attorney General among others.