Daily News Digest – January 24, 2018

Good morning! This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Wednesday, January 24, 2018. 

1. Leaked Trump memo may spur Alabama infrastructure investment

WHY IT MATTERS

  • As first reported by Axios’ Jonathan Swan, who seems to be getting all the White House scoops lately, the “Infrastructure Incentives Initiative”document offers the first glimpse how the Trump Administration plans to dole out federal dollars in its highly-anticipated road and bridge improvements effort.
  • (This was the thing that was supposed to come after tax reform before all the immigration talk started taking over)
  • For Alabama, the draft plan raises major questions as to how the state will compete for grants without a revenue mechanism to match federal funds.
  • There is an unmistakable and heavy preference toward states and local governments who can pony up their own resources.
  • Why is that a problem? Last year the legislature failed to pass an infrastructure revenue and investment plan that would have given the state a leg up in applying for these Trump road grants.

WHAT’S NEXT

  • It looks like the road and bridge funding plan is still “dead” for this session.
  • Will this leaked memo change that and spur lawmakers to act this year? Maybe. But, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon tells me a legislative working group is running the traps on the issue in order to have a bill ready by next year.
  • Even if timing is not an issue, one risk to waiting until next year could be the influx of newly-elected state lawmakers.
  • A high number of House and Senate members are retiring or seeking different office, meaning many new faces are expected in the State House beginning in 2019. None of them will have been a part of a legislative working group, and some could balk at the prospect of casting one of their first votes to raise the gas tax.
  • Whether it happens this year or next, Republicans now have relatively concrete (HA!) evidence that the Trump Administration is insisting they raise revenue for infrastructure .
  • All this is in the story, so go read it.

2. Strange bedfellows: groups unite to reform asset forfeiture laws

Photo credit: Hal Yeager
  • Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: a rock-ribbed conservative and a bleeding-heart liberal walk into a bar…
  • That’s sort of it was like to see an unlikely coalition of conservative and liberal groups come together yesterday to support the introduction of legislation to change Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture laws.
  • On the right: the Heritage Foundation, the Alabama Policy Institute, the American Conservative Union, among others. On the left: the Southern Poverty Law CenterAlabama Appleseed, and the Drug Policy Alliance.
  • Why are the groups aligned on this issue? Because, no matter your political or ideological leanings, most of us all have a distinctly American resistance to the unrestrained power of the government. And, frankly, it’s pretty messed up how state law allows the police to seize your property almost indefinitely without proving you have committed a crime.
  • Sen. Arthur Orr and Rep. Arnold Mooney are sponsoring the Alabama Forfeiture Accountability and Integrity Reform Act to stop asset forfeiture absent a criminal conviction.
  • Read Brad Edward’s piece in today’s Montgomery Advertiser to get a better understanding of the bill, including some pretty incredible stories shared during yesterday’s news conference.
  • Raycom’s Michael Doudna did a story for WSFA that is worth a watch this morning as well.
  • Jokes aside, it is pretty refreshing to see those on the opposite ends of the political spectrum find something they agree on. That’s a rare event in today’s tribal, hyper-partisan, zero-sum political environment.

A MESSAGE FROM ADAMS AND REESE, LLP

Mobile Tax Policy Forum is today

Don’t forget: The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and Adams and Reese, LLP are hosting a Federal Tax Policy Forum today to help individuals and businesses better understand the scope and impact of the nation’s new tax law.

The forum takes place  from 7:30-9:00 a.m. at the Battle House Hotel in Downtown Mobile. There are some big names lined up:

  • Congressman Bradley Byrne will offer opening remarks from his perspective having worked on the tax bill.
  • AXIOS editor-in-chief Nick Johnson will moderate the event.
  • Other panelists include tax policy experts from Washington’s top think tanks like Brookings, the Center for American Progress, and the Heritage Foundation. 
  • Alabama Deputy Commissioner of Revenue Joe Garrett will be there to speak and answer questions about the new law’s impact from a state perspective.

Event organizer Michael Berson tells me the Mobile Chamber and Adams and Reese, LLP plan on doing more events like this to discuss other important policies in the future. That’s great to hear because not enough opportunities exist where local residents and business owners can engage federal and state experts to talk about how big, complicated issues affect them in a meaningful way.

I’ll keep you updated on future events.

3. Marriage bill makes national news; Roy Moore weighs in

4. Headlines

AL.COM – Contributor Jimmy Rane:  One of Alabama’s greatest assets is Richard Shelby.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Oprah Winfrey visit creates a buzz in Dothan, Abbeville.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Oprah visits Alabama grave of woman honored in Globes speech.

AL.COM – Wreck found by reporter may be last American slave ship, archaeologists say.

AL.COM – Possible discovery of slave ship Clotilda creates high hopes for Africatown supporters.

DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily:  Democrats fumble on shutdown.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – State officials praise CHIP renewal.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – The Tuscaloosa News:  As usual, lawmakers prefer grandstanding to tackling problems.

ANNISTON STAR – Editor Phillip Tutor:  Little Margaret’s story comes alive.

ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star:  The United States of Shutdown.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Lawmakers join fight against asset seizure law.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – The Opelika-Auburn News:  Legislature has long list, but it should include rural broadband.

AL.COM – Many rural counties still waiting to benefit from Alabama Jobs Act.

AL.COM – Alabamians made more than $16 million from Airbnb in 2017.

AL.COM – AG Jeff Sessions questioned by Mueller team as part of Russia investigation.

AL.COM – Rep. Bandy died of injuries from Georgia wreck, coroner says.

AL.COM – 30 Alabama high schools doing the best job preparing students for college.

AL.COM – Alabama House passes bill to end Senate special elections.

AL.COM – Here come the (progressive) women? After annual marches, Alabama women look to populate ballots.

SENATE SKETCHES – “Senate Sketches,” Sen. Hank Sanders’ weekly message to his constituents.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Columnist Josh Moon:  The sad tenure of Larry Stutts.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Commissioner John McMillan qualifies to run for state Treasurer.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Longtime Pickens County prosecutor Chris McCool qualifies for Criminal Appeals race.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama seeking approval for execution.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Contributor Parker Snider:  Here in Alabama, the government can legally take your stuff (AND NOT GIVE IT BACK).

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Contributor Walter Williams:  President Trump is wrong — our nation does not need stronger libel laws.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Craig Lipscomb qualifies as Republican candidate for Gadsden-area State House district.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama leads the nation in political corruption, new study shows.

DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle:  CHIP children aren’t pawns.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump asked the acting FBI director how he voted during Oval Office meeting.

WASHINGTON POST – Schumer has rescinded offer to Trump on border wall funding.

WASHINGTON POST – ‘America First is not America alone’: Trump aims to reset global opinion about him in Davos.

WASHINGTON POST – Potential citizenship question in 2020 Census could shift power to rural America.

NEW YORK TIMES – Senators Race to Protect Immigrants, and Restore Their Institution

NEW YORK TIMES – School Shooting in Kentucky Is Nation’s 11th of Year. It’s Jan. 23.

NEW YORK TIMES – The New York Times:  Mr. Trump’s Tariffs Will Not Bring Back Manufacturing Jobs

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