Good morning! Thank God the “Go To Church or the Devil will Get You!” sign is being replaced. I was beginning to worry we had gone soft. This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Tuesday, January 30, 2018.
1. Could Alabama have two Appropriations Chairmen?
- With so much news coming out of Washington, it might have been easy to miss a huge development on Capitol Hill: the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee – Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen – is retiring at the end of this term.
- (Set aside for a moment the problems it portends for Republicans that a powerful senior member is electing not to run again even as his tenure as chairman had not expired.)
- It’s potentially BIG NEWS for Alabama, as Congressman Robert Adherholt is expected to vie to become Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
- He’ll have some competition, namely from Congresswoman Kay Granger of Texas, who now chairs Defense Appropriations, and Congressman Tom Coleof Oklahoma, who chairs Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations.
- Should Adherholt be successful in his bid, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees could be led by Alabamians beginning next year.
Sweet Home Appropriations
- It is well known that Alabama’s Senior Senator Richard Shelby is expected to become Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee next year, making him arguably one of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C.
- Considering how much Shelby has managed to deliver for Alabama from his years of not being chairman, it is pretty exciting to think about what he could do from the top job.
- Now, augment that with having a friend and fellow Alabamian chairing the House side? It’s enough to make a Bankhead blush.
Knock on wood
- It’s not a sure thing. In fact, a lot would have to go right.
- Aderholt’s competition is not insignificant. And, unfair as it may be, the idea of having two Alabamians chairing the appropriations committees on both sides of the Capitol might be unpopular and work against him.
- Perhaps the biggest hurdle isn’t the horse race within Washington, but the one without: Republicans could very well lose their majorities in Congress during the 2018 elections, making the whole thing moot.
- The latest Cook’s Political Report ratings had Democrats gaining at least the 24 seats they need to win the House majority. Granted, that was before tax reform wins started boosting GOP hopes.
- The Senate is a lot less likely to flip because the map – or the particular states where Senate seats are up – is favorable to Republicans this year.
- It’s one more reason why the 2018 midterm elections are so incredibly consequential.
2. Russia mania
Okay, try to keep up here…
- Late yesterday, Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to make public a classified, committee-drafted memo about the FBI’s Russia investigation.
- That memo, drafted by committee staff who reviewed FBI source materials, supposedly reveals bias within the FBI’s Russian election interference investigation.
- It is now up to the President to declassify the memo. If he decides not to, then the full House could vote to declassify it.
- Why wouldn’t he declassify it? Department of Justice officials say they need to first review the material and make sure there isn’t any sensitive information released that could harm national security interests.
- MEANWHILE, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe – long the object of President Trump’s disdain – is retiring post haste. The New York Timesreports that McCabe’s exit may be in anticipation of a forthcoming Inspector General report about of the FBI’s handling of both the Russia election probe and the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s reckless email server use.
- It has been suggested that McCabe should have recused himself from the investigations because his wife ran for political office as a Democrat and received campaign contributions from Clinton allies.
Wait, we’re not done…
- The Treasury Department has released its list of 114 politicians and 96 oligarchs who have profited from the Putin regime. The list was required by an act of Congress and its release has infuriated Putin and his friends.
- But, just in case you are a Russian oligarch or, say, Vladimir Putin, there is good news! The Trump Administration also notified Congress that it will not impose new sanctions on Russia.
- The State Department says it’s confident that just by its enactment, the new sanctions law is deterring Russian defense sales and convincing foreign governments to abandon planned Russian purchases.
What’s the point?
- Is all that confusing? Is the water muddy? Does it seem kind of overwhelming, too much to really understand so why even bother? That’s the point.
- Trump and his team have succeeded at making a large number of Americans believe the federal investigators looking into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election are biased and out to get him. Or, at the very least, a lot of folks think it’s pretty complicated and there is probably blame to go around.
- That will soften the blow of any potential charge or criticism from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
- In a purely political sense, it’s pretty impressive. It is, dare I say Clinton-esque.
- Just like Bill Clinton his team during the Lewinsky scandal, Trump isn’t taking this Russia investigation lying down. He’s fighting back and many believe he’s winning.
- What a backdrop for tonight’s high Washington theatre: the State of the Union address.
3. Day Care Licensing, other bills up this week
The Alabama Legislature returns to work today. Here are a few items on its docket…
Day Care Bill
- Rep. Pebblin Warren’s bill to require church day care centers to be subject to the same health and safety standards and inspections as state-licensed facilities will get a hearing today.
- You may remember the sickness outbreak that occurred among 85 children at the Sunnyside day care center in Montgomery, a facility that was not subject to state inspections due to its affiliation as a religious organization.
- Read Brian Lyman’s story in The Montgomery Advertiser for more details about the bill’s history and what to expect this session.
House Moves to Special Order
After working off the Regular Order Calendar for the first few weeks, the House today will start working off a Special Order Calendar. That means instead of bills being taken up in the chronological order they were introduced and approved by committee, legislation is prioritized into a list by the Rules Committee and agreed to by the full body.
Some bills on today’s announced special order calendar include:
- A bill by Sen. Cam Ward and Rep. Matt Friday brining Alabama’s family trust law into compliance with federal Social Security requirements.
- Sen. Arthur Orr’s local tax abatement bill that is part of the Mazda-Toyota incentives package.
- Rep. Jack Williams’ bill aiming to make youth sports safer by requiring volunteers coaches to receive training
- Rep. Kyle South’s bill allowing for weight increases of trucks that have installed energy-efficient Compressed Natural Gas or Liquified Natural Gas conversion systems.
Rep. Todd Retiring
- State Rep. Patricia Todd announced yesterday that she will not seek reelection.
- Her announcement cited the difficulty making a living under the constraints Alabama’s ethics law puts on public officials. Rep. Todd had been the state director for the Human Rights Campaign – a national organization that has pushed for the legalization of same sex marriage.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama day care bill to get public hearing
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump to herald economic progress in State of the Union
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Republicans vote to release classified memo on Russia probe
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – U.S. issues “Putin list”of Russian politicians, oligarchs
AL.COM – $13 million data center planned for Huntsville: ‘An excellent addition to our city’.
AL.COM – Birmingham abortion clinic bombing was 20 years ago today.
AL.COM – New ‘Go To Church or the Devil Will Get You’ sign being erected on I-65
AL.COM – Recy Taylor’s granddaughter attending State of the Union with Rep. Terri Sewell.
AL.COM – Alabama scientists win America’s top prize in high-energy astronomy.
AL.COM – ‘No evidence’ of cancer cluster along Tennessee River, Alabama health department says.
AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith: Democrats win if Trump fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
AL.COM – Patricia Todd, Alabama’s first openly gay lawmaker, will not seek re-election.
AL.COM – Former Miss America Mallory Hagan mulls run for Congress in Alabama as a Democrat.
AL.COM – Roy Moore aide Rich Hobson qualifies for Alabama congressional seat, slams Roby.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Zeigler decides not to run for governor.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Most of the renewable energy from this big solar project will go to a superstore … but there are leftovers for interested customers.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Interracial cohabitation ban turns 135, settled by little known Alabama case.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Human trafficking in Alabama — How victims are lured in and what state lawmakers are doing about it.
GADSDEN TIMES – The Gadsden Times: Get state out of wedding business? OK
ANNISTON STAR – State bill would require licensing for medical imaging, radiation therapy professionals.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: Corruption cleaners needed in Alabama politics.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Day care oversight bill set for House committee hearing.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Dem gov hopeful Walt Maddox visits Dothan.
WASHINGTON POST – Names of campaign donors to be flashed during live stream of Trump’s State of the Union speech.
WASHINGTON POST – As Trump prepares to unveil State of the Union, Congress struggles to do its job.
NEW YORK TIMES – Hyundai Hopes Bigger, Revamped Santa Fe SUV Will Reverse U.S. Sales Slump
NEW YORK TIMES – How Amazon Benefits From Losing Cities’ HQ2 Bids