Daily News Digest – January 16, 2018

Good morning! This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Tuesday, January 16, 2018. 

1. It’s going to snow!

Photo credit: Hal Yeager

2. On tap this week

Speaking of the Legislature, here’s what’s on tap for the second week of the 2018 Regular Session…

SENATE

  • The upper chamber is expected to work on Sunset bills out the gate today. Sunset refers to the process of renewing state boards and commissions, whose charters automatically expire or “sunset” under Alabama law. It is meant as a check on executive power and a safeguard against superfluous government bureaucracy.
  • The Senate is expected to consider Sen. Arthur Orr‘s SB-98, which authorizes county commissions to reduce ad valorem taxes for economic development under the Alabama Jobs Act. This legislation is considered essential to the Mazda-Toyota project because it authorizes the local incentives offered as part of the deal.

HOUSE

  • Today is Military and Veterans Day in the House, with a special ceremony planned to honor Alabama’s living Medal of Honor recipientsCommand Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins of Opelika, Gary Michael Rose of Huntsville, and James Michael Sprayberry of Titus
  • Legislation will also be themed around military and veterans, including Rep. Connie Rowe’s HB-83, the Veterans Employment Act, which would provide incentives to businesses that hire honorably discharged veterans who are currently unemployed.
  • Also up is Rep. Dickie Drake’s HB-58, the Parks for Patriots Act. This bill would provide free, year-round admission to all Alabama state parks for all active military personnel and veterans, including members of the National Guard and Reserves.
  • Rep. Steve Clouse’s bill clarifying Alabama’s special election law is expected to be before the House this week. This bill would require the governor to set a special election to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy at the next regularly scheduled election, clarifying the “forthwith” business that caused such a problem with last year’s vacancy. Read more about Chairman Clouse’s bill in The Montgomery Advertiser.

3. Government shutdown forecast: Possible

  • Like the townspeople in “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” we have grown deaf-eared to media hyperbole portending the shutdown of the federal government.
  • However, this is the first time since September 2013 that such talk actually has merit.
  • Why? A continuing resolution extending government funding at previously-authorized levels expires Friday at midnight. That means in order to make the government operational, Congress needs to do one of two things:
    1. Pass a full appropriations package setting new funding levels, or;
    2. Extend current funding levels again in the form of another stop-gap continuing resolution (CR).
  • A full appropriations package isn’t going to happen this week. Typically, passing a CR to buy more time wouldn’t be a problem. However, things have gotten complicated… 
  • Many Democrats are refusing to vote for ANY spending deal (full appropriations package or CR) that doesn’t address the DACA immigration situation to their satisfaction.
  • A number of Republican Freedom Caucus members (15-30) will be “no” votes on any spending agreement as well. But, there’s a growing number of Defense Hawks threatening to vote against a CR because they are fed up with temporary spending deals that don’t adequately fund the military. 
  • It’s worth noting that the military often winds up the biggest loser of these spending skirmishes. It makes it very difficult for the Pentagon to plan for the years ahead when its budget is based on two-year old funding levels.
  • So, between immigration hold outs, Freedom Caucusers, and Defense Hawks, there are plenty of votes that would stop Leadership from getting to the 218 votes needed to pass a stop gap spending measure. If that happens, the government shuts down.
  • ONE CAPITOL HILL INSIDER tells me that, ironically, the harder the Freedom Caucus and Defense Hawks dig in their heels, the more likely that Leadership will look for votes on the other side and make a DACA deal happen. 
  • Remember that, as it concerns Alabama, CHIP funding is still very much a part of this negotiation. I maintain that most everyone in Congress is committed to fully funding CHIP. However, gaps in funding wouldn’t be fun for Alabama state lawmakers to deal with, especially considering one of the election year goodies they’d like to hand out (a state employee pay raise) is riding on it.
  • For your best situational awareness on the state of play in Congress, read Jonathan Martin and Michael Shear’s story in today’s New York Times,Mike DeBonis and Ed O’Keefe’s story in today’s Washington Post, and Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman’s rundown in POLITICO Playbook.
  • Will the government shut down? Probably not. As the Playbook notes, always listen to Mitch McConnell.

Headlines

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Montgomery to erect life-sized Martin Luther King Jr. statue this summer.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Chief Justice Lyn Stuart will run for reelection.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama State Legislature could increase DUI punishments.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Law of unintended consequences: McConnell’s meddling in Alabama Senate election may have cost Kentucky Toyota-Mazda.

AL.COM – Ivey declares state of emergency ahead of winter storm.

AL.COM – Sen. Doug Jones calls Trump’s ‘shithole’ remark ‘antithesis’ of American values in MLK speech.

AL.COM – ‘Impeach Trump,’ nation’s race relations looms on minds of MLK Jr. Day marchers.

AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson:  Thanks to Trump, who’s really the shithole country?

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Columnist Josh Moon:  MLK statue long overdue at State Capitol.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Week One Legislative Report: 373 bills introduced in the first week of the 2018 Regular Session

ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star:  Censure for Sen. Shelby? No way.

ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star:  A better age limit for smoking in Alabama.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – The Opelika-Auburn News:  Our Alabama lawmakers should consider lobbyist role to get CHIP help.

WASHINGTON POST – Shutdown looms as Republicans seek short-term spending deal for government.

WASHINGTON POST – The Senate’s push to overrule the FCC on net neutrality now has 50 votes, Democrats say.

NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Comments, Infuriating Africans, May Set Back U.S. Interests

NEW YORK TIMES – Democrats Add Momentum to G.O.P. Push to Loosen Banking Rules

Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites)