Mayors of major Alabama cities focus on Glock switch bans and economic development

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – At a meeting in the port city, the mayors of Alabama’s 10 most populous cities took a cruise near the Port of Mobile and discussed issues of common interest.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, addressing the first of those quarterly meetings in 2014, said mayors are finalizing their legislative agenda for 2023.

“I’ll say we’re very, very close to being exactly on the same page with what’s going to be on this legislative agenda,” he said. “But I would like to defer about 10 days to tell you what that will be.”

Though the group has no concrete proposals ready to implement, mayors said the issues are clear — improving public safety and creating jobs. Stimpson pointed to devices that turn semi-automatic pistols into machine guns. The so-called Glock switches are illegal under federal law, but not under state law.

“Unanimously. We know you can’t allow citizens to walk around with a gun because some devices are submachine guns,” Stimpson said.

Originally, the so-called Big 10 mayors were five – the leaders of Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. Later it was expanded to include the 10 most populous cities. The group on Monday celebrated a victory achieved last year with the passage of the Aniah Act, which gives the judge broader discretion to refuse bail. Voters approved it in November and it has already been used twice in Mobile.

Public safety is the first priority for any city leader, said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed.

“We spend a significant portion of our time each day thinking about the safety of our citizens and what we can continue to do to keep them safe across all of our 10 cities,” he said.

Economic development is the other focus. Stimpson said he explained to his colleagues how the Port of Mobile would benefit the entire state. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said mayors support re-enacting a law providing tax incentives to attract big industry to the state.

“This is very important to our community,” he said. “It’s important to our community that we can continue to have economic growth and that jobs continue to come to our area.”

Alongside the specific legislative proposal for the session, which begins in March, Stimpson said the quarterly meetings gave department heads a chance to see what’s working in other cities. The mayors, he added, drew inspiration from each other.

“During that time, we’ve become friends who realize we’re all struggling with the same challenges — maybe on different levels,” he said. “But we have so much to gain by sharing information and that’s really what it’s about. … So much has been done, probably unbeknownst to the citizens of our cities, simply because a mayor shared a path to solving a challenge.”

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