Daily News Digest – Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Daily News Digest – Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Presented by

The Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure

 

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, March 12.

1. To the floor.

  • Okay, the gas tax / infrastructure bill is headed to the Senate floor.
  • After passing with a significant 84-20 margin in the House and sailing through a Senate committee unanimously yesterday, the bill is set for a floor debate starting today at 10:00 a.m.
  • Caroline Beck and Will Whatley did some great reporting to find out what’s what as the bill comes to the floor, and you can read their story HERE.
  • What struck me the most was how confident Senate leaders are that the plan could pass without any amendments.
  • As we talked about yesterday, the Senate always seems to amend bills the House sends up. But, in this case, perhaps some of the arguments have already been made and folks are ready to move on.
  • Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said he didn’t think any particular amendments “have legs.”
  • “That doesn’t mean when we get on the floor there’s not going to be vigorous debate about the topic,” Majority Leader Greg Reed said.
  • Perhaps the most illuminating quote was from Sen. Roger Smitherman, who questioned if it would it be “worth the struggle” to alter the bill and send it back down to the House.
  • In addition to another indexing amendment debate, one thing to watch is whether Senate Democrats try to exact anything more from Gov. Kay Ivey and legislative leaders on Medicaid. House Democrats notched a win by getting a seat at the table for a conversation on expansion, but some Senate Democrats seem to want to press further.
  • In any case, there’s a decent chance this bill could be on Ivey’s desk before the end of the day. Really all the bills, but you know what I mean.
  • Full story HERE.

2. Economic numbers.

Unemployment rate
  • Good news: Alabama’s unemployment rate is unchanged at a record low 3.8 percent.
  • Probably better news: the number of people counted as employed has risen for eight straight months, setting new records along the way.
  • The Alabama Department of Labor says the state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted jobless rate for January was 3.8 percent. That’s the same as in December and slightly better than the rate from a year earlier.
  • The 3.8 rate marks record low unemployment in Alabama, representing about 83,400 unemployed people and more than 2.1 million who are working.
  • Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington says market sectors including construction, manufacturing and information all experienced significant increases from a year earlier.
Exports
  • Alabama’s exports are doing really well, too – $21.3 billion for 2018.
  • However, that was down slightly from the $21.8 billion in 2017, mostly due to the automotive industry shipping nine percent less in 2018.
  • Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said, “While Alabama exports lagged a little last year, the $21.3 billion total is still impressive and signifies the importance of exporting as a key factor in Alabama’s economy.”
  • Read more from Bill Thornton HERE.

A message from

the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure

  • The Rebuild Alabama plan’s investment in Alabama’s roads and bridges is estimated to support 9,000 news jobs and save nearly 50 lives on our roadways each year.
  • The Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure thanks the Alabama House of Representatives for their support of more jobs and increased safety through passing the Rebuild Alabama Act.
  • The Alliance urges the Alabama Senate to act on this generational piece of legislation and support Governor Ivey’s plan to Rebuild Alabama.
  • See the new TV ad “No Excuse” that is running on broadcast and cable in Alabama markets.
  • And visit the Rebuild Alabama website for more information about the initiative.

3. Supreme Court will hear Hubbard case.

  • The Alabama Supreme Court will consider former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics conviction.
  • Defense attorney Bill Baxley said Monday that justices granted review on one matter but it was the one he considered the “catch-all issue” in the case. Baxley said that was whether the law is clear and if Hubbard’s behavior constituted a violation.
  • “We are delighted,” Baxley said.
  • The allegations included that Hubbard improperly asked lobbyists and company executives for work and investments in his printing business.
  • Baxley said that Hubbard did not intend to violate the law, and took “great pains” to try to make sure that he followed it. Trial testimony showed Hubbard consulted with the then-head of the Alabama Ethics Commission to get informal guidance about his private sector work.
  • Attorney General Steve Marshall said he was confident the conviction would be upheld.
  • “Until now, the Alabama Supreme Court has only heard from Mike Hubbard. Once my prosecution team has the opportunity to brief the issues and argue the case, we feel confident the result will be the same as with the lower court rulings and justice will prevail,” Marshall said in a statement.
  • One thing to consider: being granted certiorari at the Alabama Supreme Court isn’t easy. Their process is strict and lengthy, involving a review by one judge, then a panel, then a vote of the justices.
  • It also has to be a matter of “importance” to the court, in this case probably the first impression of the state’s criminal application of the ethics code, some of which was new at the time and some of which wasn’t.
  • And just because the Court has granted cert doesn’t mean they’re actually going to issue a ruling on the case. The Court will sometimes “quash the writ” and pass on the case if after further review they decide there’s not a good reason to address the matter.
  • Read more from the Associated Press HERE, from Bryan Lyman HERE, and from Mike Cason HERE.

4. Bradford family sues for evidence.

  • The parents of Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. have joined the Alabama NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union in suing the Alabama Attorney General and the Hoover Chief of Police.
  • The suit seeks to obtain evidence in the case, including police body cam footage and the officers’ names.
  • Last month, AG Steve Marshall’s cleared the Hoover police involved in Bradford’s shooting, saying they acted reasonably. Marshall also released footage from inside the Galleria showing different angles of the incident. However, the suit maintains authorities haven’t released all the evidence about the case.
  • In the weeks and months following the shooting, protesters organized demonstrations at the homes of the Hoover mayor, chief of police, and AG Marshall.
  • Read more from the Associated Press HERE and from Ivana Hrynkiw HERE.

5. “It ain’t all about the gas tax”

  • The gas tax / infrastructure plan sure has been consuming all the political oxygen in Montgomery for the last week or more.
  • But some folks see the Regular Session’s resumption on the horizon and are ready to get to other issues.
  • Thomas Rains, VP of Policy and Operations at the A+ Education Partnership, has a piece this morning reminding readers what he heard from Gov. Ivey on the education front during her State of the State speech a week ago.
  • In particular, First Class Pre-K expansion, support for computer science education, and a pay raise for teachers.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“On the evening of March 5, Gov. Ivey stood in the Old House Chamber of the State Capitol and outlined her plan for the coming legislative session in her State of the State Address. Much of her address focused on issues like the gas tax and prisons, but education issues also played an important role.
“Since taking office, Gov. Ivey and her staff have worked to implement her Strong Start. Strong Finish education agenda. As she begins her first full term, we’re pleased that education continues to be an important focus of her administration.
Among the education items she mentioned in her speech, three in particular stood out to us at A+ as critical to building the education system Alabama students need to graduate prepared for college and career.”
  • Read Thomas’ full piece HERE.

News Briefs.

Pelosi dismisses impeachment
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “I’m not for impeachment” of President Donald Trump, a statement that is relieving some pragmatists and infuriating some radicals.
  • “Unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” she said.
  • It’s a departure from her previous comments that Democrats are waiting on special counsel Robert Mueller to lay out findings from his Russia investigation before considering impeachment.
  • That thinking among Democrats has shifted, slightly, in part because of the possibility that Mueller’s report will not be decisive and because his investigation is more narrowly focused.
  • Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said he agrees with Pelosi and Congress needs “to do our homework.” He said impeachment “has to be a bipartisan effort, and right now it’s not there.”
  • “I get the impression this matter will only be resolved at the polls,” Cummings said.
  • Read more HERE.
Phony Uber driver arrested driving unconscious woman
  • Well this is scary.
  • A Tuscaloosa man is charged with kidnapping by pretending to be an Uber driver to pick up a University of Alabama student who was found unconscious in the back seat of his car, police said Monday.
  • Investigators found multiple images on the driver’s cellphone of at least one other college-aged woman who appeared unconscious in the vehicle.
  • Tommy Beard, 61, was released on bond Friday on a first-degree kidnapping charge, court records show.
  • “It’s alarming, absolutely,” said Capt. Gary Hood, commander of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit.
  • “He had a fake Uber sign that he bought online, and he admitted that he wasn’t an Uber driver,” Hood added.
  • Read more HERE.
Timber destroyed
  • The Alabama Forestry Commission estimates timber losses caused by deadly tornadoes on March 3 at nearly $5.9 million.
  • That’s almost $1,000 per acre of timberland damaged by two or three tornadoes in Macon, Lee and Barbour counties.
  • A report posted Monday on the commission’s website says the twisters destroyed more than 149,000 tons of timber worth nearly $3.4 million on 5,888 acres. It says clearing and replanting will cost another $2.5 million.
  • Forestry says it’s important to salvage damaged timber as soon as possible, removing dead wood that could contribute to destructive wildfires or be infested by bark beetles.
  • The commission recommends landowners check with U.S. Department of Agriculture service centers about possible cost-share assistance.
  • The Lee County tornado devastated the town of Beauregard, killing 23 people.
$12 million reward for lost remains
  • The daughter of an Alabama woman whose cremated remains were lost by a funeral home has been awarded $12 million.
  • The jury verdict was announced Monday after Pine Crest Funeral Home in Mobile lost the remains of Shelley Hood’s mother, Cecille Howard Taylor Gardner.
  • Although Hood’s mother died in 2011, court documents show, Hood first inquired about the remains in 2015 and was repeatedly told by management that they would be found. In 2016, the company’s general manager told Hood that the remains hadn’t been located and no record existed of their whereabouts. Hood filed a lawsuit in 2017.
  • The funeral home is owned by Service Corporation International, a leading provider of death care services and products in North America.

Headlines.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Gas tax plan could get final approval Tuesday
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama jobless rate steady at 3.8 percent
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Family of E.J. Bradford sues for evidence
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Phony Uber driver with unconscious woman in car arrested
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pelosi waves off impeachment, says it would divide country
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tornadoes did nearly $5.9 million damage to timberland
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – $12M award after funeral home lost woman’s cremated remains
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Thomas Rains: It ain’t all about the gas tax
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Steve Flowers: Timing good for Ivey’s road plan
AL.COM  – Holman prison inmate on hunger strike to protest solitary confinement.
AL.COM  – Alabama Supreme Court to hear Mike Hubbard appeal.
AL.COM  – Magnitude 3.1 earthquake recorded in south Alabama.
AL.COM  – Tornadoes left $5.8 million damage to Alabama timber industry.
AL.COM  – TVA investigating power loss to Alabama nuclear plant.
AL.COM  – Contributor Amber Tolbert: Spain Park High School graduate disturbed, but not surprised, over racial incident.
AL.COM  – Leigh Corfman fires back at Roy Moore’s ‘personal attacks’.
AL.COM  – Rep. Mo Brooks explains ‘no’ vote; says anti-hate bill didn’t protect ‘Caucasians and Christians’.
AL.COM  – E.J. Bradford’s family sues Alabama AG, Hoover police.
AL.COM  – Alabama records 8th straight month of record employment.
AL.COM  – Alabama’s 10-cent gas tax increase advances.
AL.COM  – Contributor Dick Brewbaker: Gas tax push shows leadership believes ‘how you play the game’ doesn’t matter.
AL.COM  – Alabama exports down slightly in 2018, autos down 9 percent.
BIRMINGHAM WATCH  – Gas Tax Plan Could Get Final Approval Tuesday
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Supreme Court to review Mike Hubbard convictions
Montgomery Advertiser – E.J. Bradford family sues Alabama attorney general over mall shooting records
Montgomery Advertiser – Gas tax increase advances in Alabama Senate
YellowHammer News – Sen. Jim McClendon, Rep. April Weaver recognized by AARP Alabama as ‘Capitol Caregivers’
YellowHammer News – Former Speaker Mike Hubbard granted hearing by Alabama Supreme Court
YellowHammer News – Byrne: Giving our students the best education possible
Dothan Eagle – Dothan woman arrested on forgery charges and theft of property
Dothan Eagle – Newville woman accused of attempting to cash stolen checks
Dothan Eagle – Sentencing hearing continued for Henry County woman who pleaded guilty to securities fraud
Tuscaloosa News – State Supreme Court to review Hubbard conviction
Tuscaloosa News – Trial begins for final defendant in Samantha Payne torture death
Tuscaloosa News – Mom arrested after 2 children drown in locked SUV
Decatur Daily – Former sheriff’s third bid for immunity rejected
Decatur Daily – Family asks for help in homicide called ‘priority’ for Decatur police
Decatur Daily – Gas tax plan could get final approval today
Times Daily – Senate poised to vote on gas tax plan
Times Daily – Commission postpones vote to dissolve SEDA
Times Daily – Florence man faces 201 child porn charges
Times Daily – Shoals Spark competition set for Thursday
Gadsden Times – Family, police exploring all avenues in search for missing woman
Gadsden Times – Crossville man charged with girlfriend’s murder
Gadsden Times – Gadsden man indicted for carjackings
Gadsden Times  – The Gadsden Times: Anger over gas tax is loud, visceral
Anniston Star – Council discusses plans for Eastwood School in Jacksonville
Anniston Star – Cleburne commission seeks evaluations for three staffers
Anniston Star – Residents talk gas tax, mental health in Anniston lawmaker’s town hall meeting
Troy Messenger – TOO MANY: Animal groups offer spay/neuter programs to help control strays
Troy Messenger – Senate passes gas tax
Troy Messenger – Extension programs offer free tax prep
Andalusia Star News – 37 minors charged for alcohol
Andalusia Star News – State’s employment up for 8th month
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika police searching for fraudulent use of a credit card suspect
Opelika-Auburn News – Police reports from March 11
Opelika-Auburn News – Timber owners deal with multimillion-dollar impact
Daily Mountain Eagle – Authorities investigate bomb scare in Nauvoo
Daily Mountain Eagle – Unemployment spikes in January
Trussville Tribune – Argo City Council passes distracted driving ordinance
Trussville Tribune – Rezoning request denied for U.S. 11 development
Sand Mountain Reporter – Guntersville Museum to hold lecture on Alabama’s early musicians
Sand Mountain Reporter – Search continues for missing Geraldine teen
WSFA Montgomery – Renaissance Montgomery looking to hire additional employees
WSFA Montgomery – EJ Bradford’s parents, others file suit for release of video footage and documents
Fox 6 Birmingham – Video visitation now available for Blount County inmates
WAFF Huntsville – DeKalb County man charged with murdering girlfriend
WAFF Huntsville – Man arrested during raid at Albertville life insurance agency
WAFF Huntsville – Florence man faces 200 child porn charges
WKRG Mobile – Police presence at gas station connected to movie being filmed in Mobile
WKRG Mobile – One teen killed, four others injured in weekend wreck
WTVY Dothan – Genevians remember Michael McClendon mass shooting
WTVY Dothan – Police on the lookout for suspect in Friday morning shooting
WASHINGTON POST  – Medicare-for-all v. Medicare-for-less: Trump’s proposed cuts put health care at center of 2020 race
WASHINGTON POST  – What Trump proposed in his 2020 budget
WASHINGTON POST  – Contributors the Dalai Lama and Arthur C. Brooks: All of us can break the cycle of hatred
WASHINGTON POST  – Roy Moore supporter takes 5th dozens of times under questioning about alleged bribery attempt
NEW YORK TIMES – Reparations, Court-Packing: Once-Fringe Issues Take Hold in Democratic Primary Race
NEW YORK TIMES  – Rap Sheets Haunt Former Inmates. California May Change That

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