Good morning! It is February 20th and my car is completely covered in pollen. Here’s to the impending allergy bonanza. Here is your Daily News Digest.
1. Legislature is back
The Legislature returns today for the 13th day of the 2018 Regular Session. Here is what to expect in both chambers…
- The General Fund budget will be on floor today in the upper chamber.
- As passed by committee, the budget includes a 3 percent pay raise for state employees, an extra $80 million for prisons, and money for ALEA to hire 30 more state troopers.
- It has been rare in recent years to see such an increase in General Fund revenues, slight though it may be. That was made possible in part by budget chairmen Trip Pittman in the Senate and Steve Clouse in the House not spending last year’s revenues all in one place.
- Despite some increased funding, I am hearing we could see a fight develop over prisons and mental health. Stay tuned.
- It is “Small Business Day” in the House. According to Speaker Mac McCutcheon and the Rules Committee, the House will focus on licensing and tax issues that give small business owners headaches.
- House Bill 107 by State Rep. Paul Lee would mandate that a business license is not required for a person traveling through a municipality on business if the person is not operating a branch office or conducting business in the area.
- House Bill 182 by State Rep. Steve McMillan expands the authority of the Home Builders Licensure Board and makes adjustments to the law governing home builders.
- House Bill 242 by State Rep. David Sessions would expand the state sales tax exemption for the sale of fruit and other agricultural products.
- If the House dispenses with the the small business bills, it will move to a separate calendar with general legislation.
2. Turning point for the GOP?
- This Saturday’s ALGOP State Executive Committee meeting in Montgomery could see some unforeseen drama.
- Though most expected the resolution floated by Tim Sprayberry criticizing U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby for saying he woudn’t vote for Roy Moore to go nowhere, it now looks like the resolution could come to a vote.
- That’s because, even though the ALGOP Resolutions Committee unanimously voted against the resolution, a state party bylaw is being interpreted to mean all properly-submitted resolutions are required to receive a vote by the full Executive Committee.
- This sets up a potential turning point for the Republican Party in Alabama: to move forward and learn lessons in the wake of December’s election loss or to turn back and double down on the kind of politics that led to the embarrassing defeat in the first place.
- Pushback against the anti-Shelby resolution is coming from two groups the party can ill-afford to do without: the funders and the future.
- Major contributors like Jimmy Rane are publicly and specifically calling the ALGOP to drop the resolution, and Young Republicans are ready to stand up and defend Shelby if the motion comes up.
- I wrote about all this in my column this week, which I’d appreciate you reading and sharing if you’re into that sort of thing.
3. Getting a little chippy in that Lt. Gov race…
- After last week’s tragic school shooting/massacre, a lot of discussion has focused on whether teachers and other school personnel should be trained or armed to prevent or minimize such tragedies.
- Now, that policy debate is turning political, even among those who agree on gun rights issues.
- State Rep. Will Ainsworth, who is running for Lt. Governor, quickly pounced on the issue and sponsored legislation that would authorize teachers to carry guns in school classrooms. He is set to promote the bill today at a scheduled news conference with fellow lawmakers at his children’s school in Guntersville.
- “Our children are sitting ducks in gun-free schools,” Ainsworth said announcing the legislation the day after the shooting. “I believe we must act now in order to prevent another tragedy.”
- PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, who is also running for Lt. Governor, was quick herself to call out what she saw to be politicizing the shooting, much the same way those pushing gun control do after such tragedies.
- “I find it shameful when people, on both sides of the aisle, play politics with tragedies. This is an exploitation tactic used almost exclusively by liberals, hotheads, and children,” she said. “I believe we need strong, measured leadership that puts our children and teachers first – not political pandering.”
- Cavanaugh is encouraging lawmakers to look at expanding statewide a local Franklin County law that allows teachers, administrators or local volunteers to be trained, deputized and armed as reserve sheriffs.
- Read more in my story on the subject here.
4. News briefs
- Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox rolled out his state lottery proposal Monday as part of his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor. He said it would raise $300 million for education. Maddox’s rival, Former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, also has a lottery proposal.
- Alabama lawmakers are looking at changing sentencing standards for those convicted of possession of minor amounts of marijuana. As The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman reports, the bill is the latest in a trend of bipartisan cooperation on criminal justice reform issues.
- The state law banning teachers from having sex with students is being challenged in court for is constitutionality. As ABC 33/40’s Lauren Walsh reports, the petitioners argue the statute is too broad. Rep. David Faulkner says even if the law is somehow struck down the legislature will pass a new and improved one.
- Mobile ship builder Austal has made the cut in a competition to build the Navy’s next frigate. As AL.com and Defense News report, the Navy wants to buy 20 new guided missile frigates at $1 billion a piece.
- AL-3 Democratic Congressional candidate Mallory Hagan did two profile stories yesterday, one in The OA News and one in YellowHammer.
One cool thing: State House Infographics
- Paul Shashy over at BIG Communications Public Affairs put together some good looking infographics showing the how the House and Senate races breakdown in terms of incumbents, open seats and qualified candidates.
- Take a look at both info graphics online here.
- If you are interested in products like this, give Paul a shout at Shashy@bigcom.com.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Guns, school safety rile Lt. Governor’s race
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: House holds “Small Business Day” to focus on licensing, tax issues
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS: Todd Stacy: For Republicans, a turning point on direction, identity
AXIOS: Trump reverses course on Romney attacks, endorses him for Senate
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama’s Jeff Sessions props up asset forfeiture program in address to sheriffs.
AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith: Reasonable responses to gun violence begin with reasonable people.
AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey, Sen. Doug Jones: Install metal detectors at schools.
AL.COM – Toyota-Mazda means new emphasis on Alabama 20 bridge.
AL.COM – U.S. Senator Doug Jones slams President Trump on linking Florida massacre with Russia probe.
AL.COM – Byrne on Florida school shooting: ‘Oversight’ of FBI is top priority.
AL.COM – Bill would reduce Alabama penalty for marijuana possession.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Brooks: Country can’t sustain more spending.
GADSDEN TIMES – The Gadsden Times: Too much screaming, little action on guns.
ANNISTON STAR – Bills aim to dampen cancer’s toll on firefighters.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: New kids on the block in the Alabama Legislature.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – The Opelika-Auburn News: Community College System should be ashamed of this silly yo-yo.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: School shootings are no joking matter.
WASHINGTON POST – Most Americans say Trump, Congress not doing enough to stop mass shootings, Post-ABC poll finds.
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Adds Cautious Support to Changes to Background Checks for Gun Buyers