It’s official. The holidays are over. Time to come back to reality.
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, January 2.
1. Budget hearings preview: Mental health a priority in 2020
- The Alabama Legislature’s 2020 Regular Session is [checks notes] 33 days away.
- But coming up in just a few weeks are the annual budget hearings that always precede the legislative session. If the first day of session is like the first day of school, then budget hearings are like the awkward orientation/open house the week before when you’re in school, but not really.
- The annual hearings are a chance for agency leaders to highlight their priorities and make the cases for more funding in the next budget year. They are also a chance for lawmakers to hold state agencies accountable for their spending.
- The hearings are scheduled for Jan. 22 and 23, with the Education Trust Fund entities going the first day and General Fund agencies going the next. (Also, it sounds like there is going to be a separate education budget hearing for House appropriators. More on that in the story.)
- Both budgets appear to have more money for Fiscal Year 2021, so department heads will be seeking increases.
- One issue at the forefront this year will be mental health, particularly as it pertains to schools. State Superintendent Erik Mackey says his budget request will include plus ups to expand mental health initiatives, including a partnership with the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
- Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.
2. Trump to sign ‘phase one’ trade deal
- The first phase of a U.S.-China trade agreement will be inked at the White House in mid-January, President Donald Trump has announced, adding that he will visit Beijing at a later date to open another round of talks aimed at resolving other sticking points in the relationship.
- The so-called “Phase One” agreement is smaller than the comprehensive deal Trump had hoped for and leaves many of the thorniest issues between the two countries for future talks. Few economists expect any resolution of “Phase Two” before the presidential election in 2020.
- Trump said high-level Chinese government officials will attend the signing on Jan. 15 of “our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China.”
- “At a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!” Trump said in his tweet. He did not announce a date for the visit.
- Global stocks rose on optimism about a U.S.-China trade deal as regional markets opened trading Thursday.
- Full story HERE.
A message from AlabamaWorks!
Success Plus is Alabama’s program for improving the statewide level of education beyond high school.
Whether it’s a degree earned in a four-year or community college, a professional certification or a credential, this additional preparation creates improved opportunities for Alabamians to better their lives by participating in the workforce.
It also ensures that Alabama businesses can continue to grow with the highly-skilled workforce they need.
Learn more at AlabamaWorks.com/SuccessPlus.
3. Fight brewing over immigrant license laws
- Some states are passing and implementing new laws that allow immigrants to obtain a driver’s license without proof they are in the United States legally. Some are also restricting the sharing of related data with federal authorities.
- That has prompted the Department of Homeland Security to intervene, setting up another potential showdown between state and federal authorities over immigration.
- Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf has asked each component of the department – from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard to the Transportation Security Administration – to study and report back on how these state laws affect their enforcement efforts for both immigration and other investigations into human trafficking, drug smuggling and counterterrorism.
- Thirteen states have such laws (Alabama does not). State officials say they are intending to lower the number of uninsured people, improve traffic safety and allow immigrants better opportunity to obtain work. DHS says the laws make it easier for criminals and terrorists to obtain fraudulent documents.
- Full story HERE.
4. Some flavored vapes could be pulled from market
- Congress has already raised the age for buying tobacco and e-cigarette products. Now, authorities could be moving to restrict the sale of some flavored vapes.
- President Donald Trump said the federal government will soon announce a strategy to curb underage vaping, suggesting that “certain flavors” in cartridge-based e-cigarettes would be taken off the market “for a period of time.”
- The Wall Street Journal reports that the Food and Drug Administration would ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes. E-cigarette pods formulated to taste like tobacco or menthol would still be allowed.
- The Journal also reported that tank-based vaping systems, which are less popular among teenagers, would still allow users to custom-mix flavors. The Journal report cited anonymous “people familiar with the matter.”
- In September, Trump and his top health officials said they would soon sweep virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market because of their appeal to young children and teens. But that effort stalled after vaping lobbyists pushed back and White House advisers told Trump the ban could cost him votes with adults who vape.
- When the tobacco and vaping industry backed legislation to raise the legal purchase age to 21, some speculated that it was partly to put the issue to rest and lessen the push for more federal restrictions.
- Read more HERE.
5. Roberts: Judges working to promote civics, impartial courts
- Federal judges are taking up the challenge to educate Americans about how their government works at a time when false information can spread instantaneously on social media, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his annual year-end report.
- With the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump looming, Roberts, who will preside over the trial in the Senate, focused on the independence of the judiciary and the role of judges in promoting civic education in the United States.
- “In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital,” Roberts wrote.
- Judges must continue promoting public confidence in the judiciary, through their rulings and civic outreach, he said.
- Read more, including the year-end report itself, HERE.
Bonus: the new weight loss fad
- Did you resolve to lose a little weight in the new year? I think most of us probably did.
- The renewed desire to get in shape is big business for the fitness and nutrition industry, and there’s no shortage of “lose weight quick” diets.
- There was the low-fat diet. Then there was the low-carb diet. Now, the new fad is not eating at all. At least for some periods of time.
- Intermittent fasting is the newest diet trend, and it’s taking hold in gyms and yoga studios across the country.
- Like other diets, intermittent fasting helps you lose weight by setting boundaries around food. But instead of limiting what you eat, it restricts when you eat.
- “It’s really another way of fooling your body into eating less calories,” said Krista Varady, who studies intermittent fasting at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
- Proponents say intermittent fasting helps with weight loss in other ways. For instance, they say it forces your body to start burning its own fat for fuel after depleting the energy it normally gets from food. But any effects would depend on the specific approach you take, and Varady said there isn’t strong evidence yet that intermittent fasting has any unique effects compared with other diets.
- I don’t know. It sounds a lot like Emily Blunt’s diet from “The Devil Wears Prada,” where she’s just one stomach flu away from her goal weight.
- Anyway, read more about the new fad HERE.
Golden eagles find winter home in Alabama, other southern states
- About 5,000 golden eagles have flown south for the winter, migrating from Canada to Alabama and other Southeastern states.
- Unlike bald eagles, golden eagles prefer remote forests and mountains. And their camouflage feathers make them hard to spot with the naked eye. Conservationists conducting a study in Alabama and Tennessee have used box-shaped nets and bait to catch birds for tagging and tracking.
- Four tagged birds have returned to Alabama, and a fifth is on its way, Mercedes Bartkovich, in charge of Alabama’s golden eagle research, said Tuesday.
- There are certainly more golden eagles, but their elusiveness makes it hard to estimate how many winter in Alabama, said Bartkovich, a nongame wildlife biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
- The first to return to Alabama this year was a female dubbed Coosa, at the Talladega National Forest. Keeton is at the Oakmulgee Wildlife Management Area and Trace at the Freedom Hills WMA. A female dubbed Natchez was in Illinois at the start of the week and a male named Coon Dog had just made his way from Tennessee into Alabama, Bartkovich said.
- Alabama’s tagging so far has been in the north, but this January’s tagging trip will focus on the southern part of the state.
- Read more HERE.
Auburn University to offer dual enrollment to local students
- AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn University is launching a partnership with Auburn City Schools to offer dual-enrollment classes to high school students.
- The partnership will allow Auburn High School students to begin taking Auburn University classes to help prepare them for college, The Opelika-Auburn News reported.
- The program allows students to earn high school and college credits at the same times, officials said.
- Auburn University calls the dual-enrollment program Auburn First.
- Auburn High School has been participating in dual enrollment with Southern Union since 2015 and the University of Alabama since 2018.
3 killed in Elmore County crash
- WETUMPKA, Ala. (AP) — An early morning crash claimed three lives in Alabama and injured one person, authorities said Wednesday.
- The crash occurred shortly before 2:30 a.m., about five miles (8.04 kilometers) east of Wetumpka, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said in a news release.
- State troopers said Ladarious Antonio Griffin, 25, of Montgomery was killed when the 1997 Lexus ES300 he was driving left the road, hit a tree and overturned. Two passengers in the car also were killed: Charnavia Lashay Hinkle, 22, of Montgomery and Lamisha Nicole Avera, 22, of Wetumpka.
- None of the deceased was wearing seatbelts, authorities said. The only survivor was a passenger, who was using a seatbelt. That passenger was being treated at an area hospital.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Budget hearings preview: Students’ mental health a priority in 2020 session
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jones discusses impeachment ahead of Senate trial
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Golden eagles fly south to Alabama, other Southeastern states
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump says he’ll sign first-step China trade deal on Jan. 15
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Feds seek review of state DMV laws on immigration enforcement
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump suggests some flavored vapes may be pulled from market
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In a 24/7 food culture, periodic fasting gains followers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump deploys more troops to Mideast after US embassy attack
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stocks close out best year since 2013; S&P 500 soars 28.9%
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawsuit: Asbestos, mold, fumes make fire station hazardous
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 1, 2020
AL.COM – UAB gets grant for first in-human study in type of pediatric brain tumor treatment
AL.COM – Elusive golden eagles make Alabama home
AL.COM – What’s ahead for the Birmingham Business Alliance in 2020?
AL.COM – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calls US sanctions ‘gangster-like,’ promises look at new weapon soon
Montgomery Advertiser – 3 killed, 1 hurt when car wrecks near Wetumpka
Montgomery Advertiser – Renaissance Hotel and Spa in Montgomery wants to hire 38 at job fair
Montgomery Advertiser – Prattville’s Robert Trent Jones golf course, Marriott hotel get new leaders
YellowHammer News – Vigil held to pray for return of missing Trussville woman
YellowHammer News – Watch the ball drop into 2020 with Can’t Miss Alabama festivities
Dothan Eagle – Candlelight vigil & balloon release honors Geneva accident victims
Dothan Eagle – 2019 Year in Review: Positive components highlight economic growth
Dothan Eagle – Following fatal Geneva wreck, ALEA reminds parents about Alabama’s Graduated Driver’s License Law
Tuscaloosa News – Heavy rains on the way for central, north Alabama
Tuscaloosa News – Woman fatally shot in Lake View
Tuscaloosa News – Three killed, one injured in Alabama crash
Decatur Daily – Long life for Lucky: Once-mistreated dog still beloved years after being found in dumpster
Decatur Daily – EF0 tornado Sunday was 3rd in 2 weeks to hit Limestone
Decatur Daily – Mayor, council president outline 2020 goals for Decatur
Times Daily – 2 cities vote for new waste authority
Times Daily – 4 arrests made in Florence burglary cases
Times Daily – Greer to refile church ‘stand your ground’ bill
Gadsden Times – City Council discusses Los Arcos ahead of public hearing
Gadsden Times – Body found in Lake Guntersville identified
Gadsden Times – 42 narcotics cases made in DeKalb Co. in last month
Anniston Star – Ben Nunnally: A peek behind the curtain of a telemarketing scam
Anniston Star – Kitty Stone students climb into safe, healthy activities
Anniston Star – A year’s work: Stories we told in 2019
Troy Messenger – Police say no reports of attempted abduction in response to social media post
Troy Messenger – OLD CHRISTMAS: Pike County tradition tells wise men’s story
Troy Messenger – Flu having significant impact in Pike County
Opelika-Auburn News – Amid football festivities, bowl trip also a deserved reward for Auburn’s marching band
Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC enacts additional flu restrictions
Daily Mountain Eagle – Opening of I-22 among top stories of decade
Daily Mountain Eagle – East Walker officials look at 2020 goals
Daily Mountain Eagle – DME unveils new front page
Trussville Tribune – Trussville To Go announces recurring scholarship for high school seniors
Trussville Tribune – St. Clair County High School ‘Sound of the Saints Marching Band’ performs in London’s New Year’s Day Parade 2020
Trussville Tribune – Lawsuit: Asbestos, mold, fumes make Birmingham fire station hazardous
Athens News Courier – Call about unconscious couple leads to arrests, seizure of drugs, pistol, cash
Athens News Courier – Man accused of murder after body found in Alabama well
Sand Mountain Reporter – Body found at Lake Guntersville Sailing Club identified
WSFA Montgomery – Man shot on Montgomery’s South Holt Street
WSFA Montgomery – 3 dead in early morning Elmore County crash
WSFA Montgomery – Paighton Houston’s family reacts to social media conspiracy theories on what happened to her
Fox 6 Birmingham – Two fatalities after New Year’s Day shootings in West Al
Fox 6 Birmingham – Two of the first babies born in 2020
Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham man feeds community every New Year’s Day
WAFF Huntsville – 5 arrested following stolen property investigation in Madison County
WAFF Huntsville – Gas prices climb in Alabama amid record number of holiday travelers
WAFF Huntsville – New fees for Alabama electric, hybrid cars to make up for lost gas taxes
WKRG Mobile – Father of murdered 10-month-old in Monroe County talks about loss
WKRG Mobile – Welcome Ollie! First baby born at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in 2020
WKRG Mobile – Fishermen reel in 13-foot great white shark off Fort Lauderdale
WTVY Dothan – Geneva first responders handle house fire on New Year’s Eve
WTVY Dothan – Fourth Annual Downtown Countdown reigns in the New Year in Dothan
WTVY Dothan – Dothan gym members start tackling New Year’s resolutions
WASHINGTON POST – Supporters of Iranian-backed militia end siege of U.S. Embassy in Baghdad
WASHINGTON POST – Federal government in 2020 to raise ceiling on amount buyers of expensive homes can borrow
WASHINGTON POST – North Korea’s Kim threatens to resume nuclear, long-range missile tests
WASHINGTON POST – Trump accuses Democrats of avoiding Senate trial to protect Bidens
NEW YORK TIMES – Pro-Iranian Protesters End Siege of U.S. Embassy in Baghdad
NEW YORK TIMES – Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Talking Much About ‘Medicare for All’ Anymore
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Bet He Could Isolate Iran and Charm North Korea. It’s Not That Easy.
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