Good morning! This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Thursday, January 18, 2018.
1. Still cold, still dangerous
- Snow, ice and record cold gripped the South Wednesday, and at least ten people were reportedly killed in weather-related accidents.
- Even Dale Jr. got in a wreck.
- Central Alabama was in the BOOM range of the winter storm, receiving 2-3 inches of accumulation. Because freezing temperatures have extended the dangerous conditions, state offices remain closed throughout the morning and will open at noon today, per Gov. Ivey’s order.
- Lots of schools remain closed as well.
- Scroll down for some pretty great snow day front pages, and don’t miss the spread from ace Montgomery Advertiser photographers Mickey Welsh and Albert Cesare (John Mazyck and family in a make-shift sled really is must-see).
2. Congress on the brink
- They’re cutting it awfully close. The federal government will run out of money Friday at midnight and Congress has yet to come to an agreement on a short-term funding extension.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership are trying to build support for a continuing resolution that extends funding at current levels for four weeks and reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for another six years.
- In negotiations past, this so-called “clean” funding extension would be a HUGE WIN for Democrats, even without the CHIP sweetener. It’s what they would negotiate toward.
- Not this time. Emboldened by President Trump’s bad poll numbers and division within the GOP, Democrats are withholding their support and betting voters would blame Republicans for a shut down of government services. They are also betting their base will reward them more for fighting for progressive priorities (DACA, resisting Trump) than for going along to get along.
- Today is probably a good time to read this helpful explanation of what actually happens when the federal government shuts down.
- Republicans are calling out Democrats for putting national priorities like CHIP and military funding at risk by refusing to support a clean CR. Democrats are all, “you guys control Congress and shouldn’t need our votes.“
- In any case, it looks like the four-week continuing resolution is coming to the floor today. Leadership is furiously whipping votes from within its conference and the White House is engaged as well.
- Will they pass this stop-gap funding measure, keep the government running, save CHIP, and buy time to negotiate on other issues like DACA/wall/immigration? We’ll see. I’d keep an eye tuned to C-SPAN for a fun day on the House floor.
- By the way, what will Doug Jones do? Alabama’s newest U.S. Senator campaigned on compromise and said repeatedly he wanted to vote for Alabama’s best interests, not toe the party line. Working with Republicans to save CHIP, fund the military, and prevent a government shutdown would be one way to show he is truly interested in “getting things done.”
- Read fresh reporting in today’s Washington Post and Politico for excellent situational awareness going into today’s shutdown showdown.
- In case you’re wondering, these maddening, unproductive, unnecessary high-stakes showdowns are a big reason why Members of Congress are electing to retire in droves.
3. Lots of churn in Montgomery
- Just like disfunction and dissatisfaction in Washington is causing congressmen call it quits, scandal fatigue, self-imposed term limits and promising opportunities are contributing to a particularly high number of retirements within the Alabama Legislature this year.
- Read Brian Lyman’s report in The Montgomery Advertiser for the full story on the unusually high percentage of lawmakers not running for reelection in 2018.
- Qualifying for the 2018 election remains open through February 9, so we may yet see more reelection/retirement decisions in the next few weeks.
4. Bring him home
- While Alabama was buried in snow Wednesday, one of our state’s favorite sons was making international headlines.
- Robertsdale-native, Auburn graduate and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the tech giant will invest more than $350 billion in the U.S. economy over the next ten years, including by building another American campus that could employ as many as 20,000 people.
- “Apple is a success story that could only have happened in America, and we are proud to build on our long history of support for the US economy,” Cook said. “We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness. We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”
- Part of its giving back is a repatriation tax payment of approximately $38 billion under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Yes, that means jobs and revenue coming back to the United States partly due to the new tax law.
- More tax reform crumbs!
- If Tim Cook wants spend several billion dollars and hire 20,000 people for a new Apple campus, why not do it in Alabama?
- AL.com’s John Hammontree suggested Birmingham should get a look. On the other hand, John Archibald isn’t too fired up about Birmingham’s economic prospects in general as compared to Huntsville and Mobile.
- It is probably a long shot. Our state doesn’t produce nor could we easily recruit the volume of technical expertise needed to fill such a campus.
- But, why not give it a shot? Alabama is riding a wave of economic momentum, and don’t forget that Apple is already partnering with the Alabama Community College System on the SWIFT coding project.
- Either way, good on Tim Cook and Apple for bringing jobs and opportunity back to the United States.
5. Photo of the day
THE MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Alabama Legislature could see high number of retirements
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: No, Harley Barber, you and your giggly friends can’t say that word ‘in the South’.
AL.COM – Limestone County approves $80 million incentive package for Toyota-Mazda.
AL.COM – Bill would ban smoking in vehicles with minors in Alabama.
AL.COM – Tommy Battle has 1.6 billion reasons why he hasn’t qualified for governor’s race yet.
AL.COM – Alabama’s gunfire death rate jumps 22 percent in 7 years, according to new report.
AL.COM – ‘Little Zoo that Could’ faces tax exempt roadblock set by Alabama Legislature.
AL.COM – PeopleTec awarded $33 million missile defense contract.
AL.COM – North Carolina governor speaks on state’s 2nd place Toyota-Mazda finish.
AL.COM – Alabama may require some Medicaid recipients to work.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Alabama set to move forward with Medicaid work requirements on Gov. Kay Ivey’s orders.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Sen. Doug Jones co-sponsors legislation to push back against FCC’s vote on net neutrality.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: The good news, bad news about mental health and guns in Alabama.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist George Will: There’s nothing more depressing than a cheerful liberal.
WASHINGTON POST – New HHS civil rights division to shield health workers with moral or religious objections.