I look forward to joining the Alabama Association of Realtors for Realtor Day in the Capital City later this morning.
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, January 18.
1. What’s on tap
- The Legislature’s regular session could be put on hold as early as today with an expected special session call from Gov. Kay Ivey to focus on allocating about $772 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.
- But before that, there’s plenty of regular session activities on tap today in the State House. As of early this morning, there were four Senate committee meetings scheduled and some meaty bills set to be discussed.
- First up at 12:15 p.m. is the education budget committee with two tax-reduction bills from committee chair Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.
- Senate Government Affairs Committee meets at 1 p.m. with a 16-bill agenda, including two protecting historic monuments.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee meets at 2:30 to consider Senate Bill 23, which would alter a 2021 law sponsored by Rep. Tim Melson, R-Florence, that allows local police to issue citations for certain crimes, rather than make arrests.
- The Senate Tourism Committee is set to meet at 2 p.m., but its agenda is not available.
- The House convenes at 2:00 and the Senate convenes at 3:00. There are only a few bills in position to pass, so expect a few votes before lawmakers adjourn until Feb. 1 to allow for an expected special session.
- Read more from Mary Sell HERE.
2. Draft bill shows ARPA spending on health care, broadband, water and sewer infrastructure
- Draft legislation obtained by Alabama Daily News shows a plan to spend some $772 million in federal relief funding on expanding broadband internet, assisting hospitals and nursing homes and building out water and sewer infrastructure in communities where service lacks.
- Alabama received more than $2 billion in American Rescue Plan funds. Lawmakers are currently drawing plans for about $580 million from a tranche received last year and about $192 million in a separate capital projects fund, which must be directed at more specific infrastructure needs.
- About $1 billion is expected later this year, but lawmakers aren’t yet allocating it.
- ADN Insiders can read the full rundown of how the bill allocates money HERE.
- Not an ADN Insider? You’re missing out! See subscription rates HERE.
A message from
- Have you taken the 2022 Governor’s Survey of Employer Competencies?
- As Alabama moves forward with designing an education and workforce training system aligned to the demands of business and industry, obtaining a clear picture of the skills and credentials required by Alabama companies is essential.
- The survey will identify the competencies and credentials required for occupations that are critical to growth and a competitive landscape.
- It asks employers to provide information about high-demand occupations and occupations that are the most difficult to find qualified workers to fill. In addition, the survey seeks employers’ comments on education, licenses, credentials and competencies required.
- Take the survey HERE.
3. Harris: ‘We hope’ omicron is peaking in Alabama
- State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says he and his staff have hope that the fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19 has peaked in Alabama, but that more time and data is needed to know for sure.
- The rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations had slowed a bit ahead of the three day weekend at only about 40 new per day but on Monday the state reported a 126-increase to 2,404 hospitalized statewide.
- On Friday’s episode of Capitol Journal on Alabama Public Television, Harris acknowledged the positive trend but said it’s too early to say if omicron is close to running its course.
- “I’d say we hope we are, but we really don’t know for sure,” Harris said when asked if the state could be peaking or plateauing with the latest outbreak.
- He referenced the trend lines from the northeastern United States as well as South Africa and England showing a crest.
- “If that’s any guide then we could expect to see some improvements in the next couple of weeks – we hope. But these numbers surely just can’t keep going like this for much longer. These (case) numbers are just mind boggling.”
- Read more HERE.
4. Schumer to push for vote on filibuster change
- The Senate returns to action today in Washington , but instead of moving on to other issues on President Joe Biden’s and Democrats’ agenda, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pressing forward again on eliminating the filibuster in order to pass a bill overhauling the American election process.
- The effort is doomed to fail as Democrats don’t have all their own senators on board.
- Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are unwilling to eliminate the filibuster, arguing the 60-vote threshold to advance most legislation is important for fostering bipartisanship. They also warn of what would happen if Republicans win back majority control, as is distinctly possible this election year, and could easily pass GOP-backed bills.
- Also, for what it’s worth, both Biden and Schumer have in the past opposed eliminating the filibuster.
- So, expect a week full of heightened rhetoric on Capitol Hill as Democrats attempt to raise the voting bill’s profile even amid almost certain defeat. And expect Republicans to accuse them of distracting attention away from a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic complete with testing inadequacies and a largely stalled Biden agenda.
- Read more HERE.
5. Auburn up to No. 2 in AP poll, but some smell disrespect
- Auburn has steadily moved up the rankings this season, climbing from No. 22 in the preseason to No. 2 in this week’s AP Top 25.
- Coach Bruce Pearl believes the Tigers, with their quality wins and strength of schedule, should be even higher.
- “We should be No. 1 based on our resume,” Pearl said on Monday. “But that doesn’t mean we’re the best team in the country, and I’m not saying that. I think we’re one of the top 20 teams in the country.”
- In fact, in this week’s AP, the Tigers got more first place votes than No. 1 Gonzaga at 36 to 25, but surprisingly low rankings from a few sportswriters gave the Zags the overall points advantage.
- Auburn could use the disrespect as fuel this week as it hosts rival Georgia on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. on ESPNU and perennial power Kentucky on Saturday at noon on CBS.
- Read more and see the full AP poll HERE.
A message from the
Alabama Port Authority
- The Alabama Port Authority has unveiled its new website and a harmonious family of new brandmarks aimed at highlighting the capabilities and connectivity at one of the nation’s largest deep-water seaports.
- We are embarking on telling the story of the Port of Mobile to a wide audience – locally and statewide, but also nationally and internationally.
- Learn more HERE.
Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)