Good morning! This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Friday, January 19, 2018.
1. Shutdown fever – catch it!
- [ takes deep breath ]
- The House acted to avert a government shutdown late Thursday by passing a Continuing Resolution extending current government funding for four weeks. Importantly for Alabama, the bill also contained a six-year, fully-funded extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
- If you’re a state employee, this buys you your pay raise.
- Good news, right? Not so fast.
- Democrats are against the bill. In fact, Senate Democrats are bragging to the media that they have enough “no” votes to block the bill from receiving a vote.
- Why are Democrats against it? The bill does not contain an overhaul to immigration law essentially codifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought here at a young age.
- The bill does not contain this immigration policy change because – unlike with CHIP, where most everyone agrees – there hasn’t been an agreement reached on DACA. Negotiators from the House, Senate, and White House are still deliberating a DACA-for-border security deal.
- [ one more deep breath ]
- In Washington, funding deadlines make for intense pressure points that allow lawmakers to press their demands. In 2013, Ted Cruz and many Republicans attempted to use the threat of a government shutdown to defund Obamacare. This time, Chuck Schumer and most Democrats are doing the same thing with a policy demand even more unrelated to government funding – codifying DACA.
- If you want a good laugh, go watch Schumer’s interview from 2013 in which he says shutting down the government over their demand for immigration reform would be “governmental chaos.”
- Democrats smartly point out that Republicans control both Houses of Congress and the Presidency so their inability to pass legislation is on them. That argument works right up yo the point until people realize that Senate Democrats are filibustering and actively BLOCKING a vote, not just voting no.
- Late last night, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer floated the idea of passing a shorter, days-long government funding extension – get this – without the six-year CHIP extension.
- Seriously, you can’t make this up… REPUBLICANS propose a four-week government extension that fully funds CHIP for six years. DEMOCRATS vote against it in the House, block it from coming up in the Senate, and instead demand a three-day extension of government funding that DOES NOT reauthorize CHIP.
- That logic may work for many in Washington who believe that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. The politics at play may also work for Democrats whose base demands a DACA deal. But, it poses a big problem for the newest lawmaker Congress, begging the question…
2. What will Doug Jones do?
- Sen. Doug Jones made funding CHIP a centerpiece of his successful special election campaign. Even when reporters were offering up home run softballs on the latest Roy Moore allegations, Jones often brought the conversation back to funding CHIP.
- Now, with a full, six-year extension of CHIP on the table and state budget writers biting their pencils, Alabama’s newest senator faces a fascinating test: work with Republicans to get the thing he wanted done, well, done, or demonstrate loyalty to Schumer and the Democratic base?
- I contacted Jones’ office Thursday to see where the senator stood. Through a spokesman, Jones was critical of the bill but stopped short of saying he would vote against it. When I asked if the critical statement meant he would be a no vote, the spokesman did not respond.
- Game respects game, spokesman.
- What really complicates things for Jones is Schumer’s sudden shift to accepting a days-long CR with no CHIP funding. That means Jones is probably being pressured by Democrats to vote to BLOCK a bill that fully funds CHIP for six years in order to ALLOW a bill that doesn’t contain any CHIP renewal at all.
- As I pointed out in my write up on this situation last night, at least one Senate Democrat seems to be working with Republicans to pass the funding bill. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told reporters he would vote to keep the government open and fund CHIP.
- The government is set to run out of money at midnight.
- Here’s a refresher on what happens when the government shuts down.
- Word on the street is that Gov. Kay Ivey is set to appoint Houston County Presiding Circuit Judge Brad Mendheim to the Alabama Supreme Court.
- Associate Justice Glenn Murdock resigned on January 16 in order to potentially pursue other political office in an ethical way.
- Weeks ago, many speculated that leading candidates to receive Gov. Ivey’s appointment to the bench were Birmingham attorney Jay Mitchell and Mobile Circuit Judge Sarah Stuart – both of whom are Republicans currently running for the Supreme Court. Stuart is running for this very seat.
- What makes this appointment so interesting is that it comes in the middle of candidate qualifying for the 2018 elections – and this Supreme Court seat is on the ballot.
- Some say Gov. Ivey wants a placeholder who would not pursue the seat in an election. Others say, regardless of an appointee’s political ambitions, the governor doesn’t want to appoint anyone already pursuing the seat to avoid anything close to a Bentley-Strange scenario.
- It is unclear whether, if appointed, Mendheim would immediately be a candidate for the Supreme Court in his own right.
- As presiding judge in Houston County, he has been outspoken about state judicial issues in the past, disagreeing with then-Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb about how to handle funding shortfalls back in 2011.
- State Rep. Mike Ball has introduced legislation that would make Alabama’s elections “open” or “jungle” primaries in which the top two vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, would go to a runoff. Brian Lyman of The Montgomery Advertiser has a full story that is worth your time. He interviews Ball and other interested parties, including ALGOP Chairman Terry Lathan. Louisiana has a similar system and it produces some fascinating results.
- Cities and counties are squaring off in the Legislature over online sales tax. AL.com’s John Sharp reports that cities are concerned that companies with both an online and brick-and-mortar presence (Walmart, Amazon) could be allowed to avoid higher sales taxes that those with only brick-and-mortar locations pay. A Senate committee met to discuss the bill Thursday but took no action, as Mike Cason reports.
- Speaking of Amazon, Birmingham did not make the shortlist of cities the retail giant is considering for its second American headquarters. That stinks. But, there is good news! The Magic City avoided the acute, penetrating mockery of Twitter’s David Burge, who unleashed his one-of-a-kind wit evaluating the odds of the cities who did make the cut… “Chicago. Pros: beautiful mid September to late mid September weather, deathbed-level desperation Cons: Building costs 5x national average due to bribery and kevlar. Odds: 20-1”
- More details about the project Alabama DID win – Toyota/Mazda – are still emerging. AL.com’s Lee Roop has a great read about the lead up to the largest economic development project in Alabama history.
- Speaking of North Alabama, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle officially qualified to run for governor yesterday.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Rep. Martha Roby to Democrats on CHIP: This is not time for political games.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama “out” of Amazon second HQ consideration.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers: How could anyone with a heart not support what this pro-life bill will do?
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Sen. Del Marsh: School choice empowers parents in Alabama.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – SPLC to sponsor voter-focused Women’s March in downtown Montgomery.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Thomas Main: Air traffic control privatization would hurt Union Springs.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Keep marriage licenses intact.
AL.COM – Bombardier: Planning for Alabama jet plant ‘at an advanced stage’.
AL.COM – Execution drug may have been named in court filings from Alabama AG’s Office.
AL.COM – Trump, who once called himself ‘pro-choice,’ steps to forefront of anti-abortion movement
AL.COM – Toyota CEO on Alabama plant: ‘The site itself was important’.
AL.COM – Birmingham received ‘tremendous value’ from lost Amazon bid.
AL.COM – Airbus, Emirates finally seal critical A380 deal.
AL.COM – Alabama father of child from one of ‘those’ countries addresses Trump.
AL.COM – Trump’s ‘Fake News’ award winners: Full list.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Clayton Hinchman is challenging Mo Brooks.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Columnist Josh Moon: The Medicaid work requirement isn’t what it seems.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Thetford announces candidacy for Court of Civil Appeals.
DECATUR DAILY – Paying the bill: Utilities try to be flexible during freezing times.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – David Black is running for state treasurer
ANNISTON STAR – Local judge in running for Alabama Supreme court.