Daily News Digest – February 27, 2018

Daily News Digest – February 27, 2018

Good morning! Happy Birthday to Lance Latham and Happy Late Birthday to John Rogers! This is your Daily News Digest for Tuesday, February 27. 

1. Halfway there: Legislature returns

The Alabama Legislature convenes today for the 15th day of the 2018 Regular Session. That means they are at the halfway point, though some believe they won’t use the full 30 legislative day allotment.

Here is what to expect in each chamber…


  • Rep. April Weaver’s palliative life bills are back on calendar. This legislation allows terminally ill school-aged minors to attend school with the agreement of their doctor and eases liability on schools for such circumstances. The main bill is named the Alex Hoover Act after the North Alabama teenager who wanted to attend high school while receiving treatment for a rare heart condition. Hoover died in August.
  • Also up is Rep. Mark Tuggle’s bill to require the state’s Forever Wild program to pay taxes on land it acquires. Forever Wild supporters are up in arms over this bill, claiming it would virtually end the state’s popular land acquisition and conservation program. Tuggle and others argue it isn’t fair to cash-strapped rural counties to allow the state to take away their otherwise taxable land into trust tax free. Expect a big fight over this.  
  • Sen. Steve Livingston’s “dangerous dogs” bill that would allow the state to declare certain dogs as dangerous and impose harsher penalties on owners whose dogs hurt or kill another person. It is named “Emily’s Law” after Emily Colvin of Jackson County, who was mauled and killed by pitbulls last year.


  • It looks like legislation authorizing a state employee pay raise and a bonus for state retirees is ready for the floor. Senators have been negotiating over the details for the last week, and now appear to ready to put a bow on the General Fund budget package and send it to the House. Read Mike Cason’s story for more details.
  • Sen. Arthur Orr’s Medicaid work requirement bill is expected to be considered this week. This would require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work at least 20 hours a week, with exceptions for minors, seniors, those with young children, those with disabilities, and so on.

2. Ethics bill discussed this week

Expect to learn more this week about the major ethics code update written by Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office and filed by Senate President Del Marsh.

I first reported on the bill filing late last week. The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman did a deeper dive that is worth your time this morning.


  • One developing point of discussion is over how to deal with economic development. State law has always allowed for some flexibility to make sure EcDev pros can do their jobs and we don’t miss out on big projects, but there are concerns over public officials using economic development as a cover for unethical behavior.
  • Squaring those two competing concerns legislatively is not easy.
  • Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton takes issue with how the AG’s bill creates an exemption for economic development professionals so they don’t have to register as lobbyists.
  • Several weeks ago I wrote about how the economic development community was backing legislation to deal with that problem more specifically. Under their bill, the solution would be making the definition of economic development contingent on working on a project that includes state-authorized incentives. In other words, you couldn’t arbitrarily claim to be an economic developer to get out of having to register as a lobbyist. Well, you could, I guess, but you could also go to jail.
  • It will be interesting to see how the economic development portions of the AG’s ethics bill jive with the state’s existing legislation going forward.


  • Expect a news conference later this week in which the AG, Marsh and others will explain the legislation and chart a path forward.
  • Given that they are half way through the session in an election year, a major ethics code update seems like a tall order.

3. Election watch

Two vacancies for seats in the Alabama Legislature are on the ballot today.

Senate District 26

House District 4

What are we doing?

  • Both races are all academic, really. By that I mean the winner won’t be elected until after the Legislature has adjourned and wouldn’t cast a vote in this term unless a special session is called.
  • In both races, the primary runoff winner faces a general election challenge, which would take place on May 15, less than a month before the primaries for the next (full) term are scheduled.
  • And, in both races, each of the runoff finalists are qualified for those June 5 primaries.
  • So, again, what are we doing?
  • These races seem to be prime examples of why State Sen. and Lt. Governor candidate Rusty Glover wants to allow the governor to appoint replacements to fill late-term legislative vacancies.
  • Glover’s bill would authorize the governor to fill a vacancy in the Alabama House or Alabama Senate when it occurs with less than two years left in the term. It would save taxpayers the cost of a special election and ensure constituents had a voting member of the legislature from their district.

Photo of the day 

Twitter user @tcoley1 got this beautiful picture of the sky over Cheaha State Park and was rewarded with a retweet from the one-and-only James Spann. We live in a beautiful state.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Supreme Court hears case of man convicted of kill Mobile police officer

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Man arrested after crash killing lawmaker’s daughter 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Defense: man innocent of exhibitionist wife’s death

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump says he’s willing to buck NRA; Congress not so sure

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – The Latest: Florida considers gun proposals 

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Alabama legislative leaders hesitant on post-Parkland gun bills.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Senate bill backed by AG would revise Alabama ethics laws.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Alabama legislative leaders hesitant on post-Parkland gun bills.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Senate bill backed by AG would revise Alabama ethics laws.

AL.COM – AG candidate Alice Martin’s ethics bill attack baffles ethics director.

AL.COM – Alabama state employees’ first COLA in decade could advance.

AL.COM – Supreme Court will hear case of Alabama death row inmate, convicted of killing Mobile cop.

AL.COM – Richard Shelby included in ad asking Trump to reverse transgender military ban.

DECATUR DAILY – Bill would allow end-of-life directives for terminally ill minors, access to school.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Simply arming teachers won’t solve the problem.

ANNISTON STAR – Analyzing Alabama’s schools.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – The good, the bad, and the ugly at school; we still have work to do.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump stops short of full endorsement of gun proposals.

WASHINGTON POST – Supreme Court decision on ‘dreamers’ puts pressure back on Congress to act.

WASHINGTON POST – DeVos delays Obama-era rule on minority special-education students.

WASHINGTON POST – Supreme Court to hear case where man can’t remember killing.

NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist Roger Cohen:  Death Penalty Madness in Alabama

NEW YORK TIMES – The 52 Places Traveler:  In Montgomery, a City Embedded With Pain, Finding Progress

NPR – Same-Sex-Marriage Flashpoint Alabama Considers Getting Out Of The Marriage Business

Front pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)