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Now, here’s your Daily News.
1. McCain to be honored.
- Plans are coming together for memorial services for U.S. Sen. John McCain.
- The late senator will lie in state in the Arizona capitol on Wednesday and a funeral is set at a Phoenix Baptist church on Thursday.
- On Friday, McCain’s casket will be flown to Washington, D.C. where it will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol. Another funeral will be held at National Cathedral on Saturday. He’ll be buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis on Sunday.
- Read more about the memorial arrangements HERE.
- Reactions and tributes continue to pour in for McCain.
- Paul Kane of the Washington Post has an excellent writeup on McCain’s Senate tenure that is worth your time.
- I just re-read this Tucker Carlson Weekly Standard piecefrom 18 years ago about McCain’s unique “maverick” campaign style he used to run for president twice. What simpler times.
- Of course, the politics comes before you really want it to. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is charged with appointing McCain’s replacement. He says he won’t talk about it until after this week of mourning.
- Early speculation from the Arizona Republic names the late senator’s wife, Cindy McCain, and former Sen. Jon Kyl among possible candidates. Consequential votes, including on the Brett Cavanaugh Supreme Court nomination, are coming soon. Read Jonathan Martin’s piece for a look into this “tough choice” of selecting someone in McCain’s mold or Trump’s.
- And despite a crack down on leaking, White House aides apparently couldn’t wait to get this story out that President Trump declined to send a carefully written statement honoring McCain and instead chose a tweet offering condolences to his family.
2. Let’s try again on the tax updates.
- On Friday I wrote that the IRS is implementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provisions that affect state and local taxes.
- I said it would impact state tax credits, including the Alabama Accountability Act, but didn’t really do a good job explaining how or why.
- Good news! Others more capable than me have done that, including Krista Johnson of the Montgomery Advertiser (her story here) and Jim Tankersly and Ben Casselman of the New York Times (their story here).
- “Some analysts had expected the Trump administration to try to carve out an exemption for pre-existing programs like Alabama’s, which are more common in Republican-leaning states. But by choosing not to do so, the administration may have made the new policy easier to defend.”
- Essentially, the rule limits what charitable contributions a taxpayer can deduct from their federal income taxes if they have already received a state tax credit for the donation. That’s exactly what the Alabama Accountability Act currently allows for those who donate opportunity scholarships.
- It will be interesting to see if the state challenges the proposed rule in some way.
- Better yet, it will be interesting to see if this issue comes up within Alabama’s Congressional delegation – specifically those who are considering bids for U.S. Senate in 2020.
A message from the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure
- President Ronald Reagan was a great leader for many reasons, and one was knowing how to apply common sense to big national problems.
- He’s right. If we wait too late, we will be forced to rebuild our infrastructure at far too high a cost.
- We can do better – and now is the time.
- Join the movement to improve Alabama’s infrastructure. Click HERE to learn more and get involved with the growing #FixALRoads effort.
3. AL.com podcast focuses on The Machine.
- Are you into podcasts? I’m into podcasts. They are an increasingly-popular medium for news and storytelling. I like to listen when I’m driving.
- AL.com’s Reckon brand is launching a new podcast today. It’s called “Greek Gods” and it focuses on an old political intrigue: the University of Alabama campus organization known as “the Machine.”
- I got to preview some of the episodes and interview podcast co-host John Archibald about the project. Read my full story on it HERE.
- My take? It is what it is. Stories about the Machine have been around for decades and they’ll probably be around for many more.
- It can vary from nefarious to silly, but it all demonstrates how ridiculously serious we take ourselves in college.
- Here was a great and telling quote from John that maybe encapsulates this idea:
- “You know, I think most people who have been through it over some period of time are able to look at it with a little bit of humor because, again, when you’re in college everything is so heightened. Everything is so important. You think you’re changing the world with everything you do. Everything matters so much and becomes so intense.
- “Todd, I’m 55 years old and we’re sitting here talking about this college organization. It’s absurd on a lot of levels… So I hope people can both understand that it’s something that happens and also take it with a grain of salt.”
- Read more and see about how to listen HERE.
4. Death row inmates choosing new Nitrogen execution method.
- Many Alabama Death Row inmates are voluntarily choosing a newly enacted method of execution – Nitrogen gas.
- The reasons? Though unproven, it is said to be painless, and some have described the current three-drug lethal injection cocktail as “tortuous.”
- But probably just as likely is that inmates may get to delay their executions. That’s because they have two years to challenge a form of execution.
- And because none were compelled by their agreements with the Attorney General’s office to give up that right, those opting for Nitrogen can still file legal challenges to the form of execution.
- It kind of makes you wonder where we are headed with the death penalty in this state, both from a legal and process standpoint.
- Kim Chandler has a full story on the situation, including reactions from the author of the new Nitrogen law – Sen. Trip Pittman – and the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – Sen. Cam Ward.
- Read that full story HERE.
5. News briefs, or what you may have missed.
- ADN’s Caroline Beck had a great weekender digest full of great stories.
- Don’t miss her write-up on the dueling polls from Senate District 10 where Craig Ford and Andrew Jones are facing off.
- Also she caught up with Sen. Doug Jones at “Eggs and Issues” in Montgomery and wrote a story about what all he talked about.
- My friend Cameron Smith has an excellent column out today on how and why Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to face an onslaught from President Trump.
- He argues that it is Trump’s preference for his lawyers to be “fixers” and Sessions’ inability to play that role that has him in hot water.
- Dr. Gilberto Sanchez has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role defrauding patients and the government in a medical scam.
- They keep calling it a “pill mill” operation, but Sanchez wasn’t making drugs. He was prescribing them and ordering other treatments, while bilking the Medicaid and Medicare systems.
- This is the same federal case in which State Rep. Ed Henry was also indicted.
- Read and watch more from WSFA’s Jenn Horton HERE.
Bonus: Matthew Stokes
- ADN Columnist Matthew Stokes is back starting off the week with a think piece on where President Trump’s recent legal troubles put the Republican Party going forward.
- He writes that, even though we don’t know how or when the Cohen plea might impact the Mueller investigation, Republicans would be wise to consider how real this gets over the long term.
- Here’s an excerpt:
- Republicans have tolerated Trump in order to pass their legislative agenda. As a conservative, I thought that bargain unwise, but I understood the political calculations.
- Now, the bill has come due, and the party is left with a choice between upholding the rule of law, or blissfully carrying on their support of a man who regards himself, his family, and his associates as above the law and immune to its consequences.
- Tough stuff. Read Matthew’s full piece HERE.