Good morning from Tuscaloosa! I’ll be speaking to the ladies of Girls State this morning, so wish me luck.
Remember: today at 10:30 Central, WBRC Fox 6 and the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project are hosting a live Q&A panel discussion on vaccine hesitancy. Alabama Daily News has been proud to partner with these organizations to develop the event, which you can participate in via the Fox 6 Facebook page.
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, June 9.
1. State of the State House: Officials consider what to do with building in disrepair
- When replacement parts are needed for the Alabama State House’s electrical system, they have to be “scavenged” because the system is so old that new parts are no longer available.
- Meanwhile, the HVAC system has outlived its intended lifespan and is contributing to mold issues in the nearly 60-year-old, eight-floor building, according to a recent facility condition assessment by a Georgia-based engineering firm.
- The report has renewed discussions about the health and safety conditions of the building and the need for a new building, or at least significant renovations. The report and springtime presentation to the Legislative Council outlined some concerning conditions in the building and about $51 million in renewal costs needed in the next 10 years.
- Those repairs would fix many of the system problems – HVAC, electrical, roofing – but wouldn’t address access and space issues in the building that was never intended to be a permanent meeting place for the Legislature and the public.
- The bottom line is that lawmakers need to act on the condition of the State House and the costs will be significant, Rep. Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, told Alabama Daily News on Tuesday. Gaston is chair of the Legislative Council, the body that owns the State House.
- “For cost effectiveness and to serve the public, we need a new building,” Gaston said. He also acknowledged that’s a hard sell.
- Read the full feature story from Mary Sell and see the 186-page report for yourself HERE.
2. Another COVID side effect: Many kids head to summer school
- Across Alabama and the nation, more children than ever before could be in classrooms for summer school this year to make up for lost learning during the outbreak. School districts nationwide are expanding their summer programs and offering bonuses to get teachers to take part.
- Under the most recent federal pandemic relief package, the Biden administration is requiring states to devote some of the billions of dollars to summer programs.
- The U.S. Education Department said it is too early to know how many students will sign up. But the number is all but certain to exceed the estimated 3.3 million who went to mandatory or optional summer school in 2019, before the pandemic.
- Alabama has ramped up summer learning efforts, a spokesman for the Alabama State Department of Education said. From reading camps and free books to online math and science challenges, the state is encouraging parents and caregivers to take advantage of more summer resources being offered than ever before.
- However, most summer school programs are still being coordinated by the local school district. In Montgomery, for example, more than 12,000 of the school system’s 28,000 students signed up before the June 1 deadline. Typically about 2,500 go to summer school.
- Also, not all summer programs offer a full day or full week of school, potentially creating problems for working parents.
- Even before the pandemic, the state had been working to set up reading camps designed to reach early grade students who need help catching up. In addition to regional literacy specialists and greater teacher training, the Alabama Literacy Act, passed in 2019, provided summer reading camps to all K-3 students identified with a reading deficiency.
- Read more HERE.
3. Biden ends GOP infrastructure talks
- President Joe Biden ended talks with a group of Republican senators on a big infrastructure package on Tuesday and started reaching out to senators from both parties as he strives to build bipartisan compromise while laying the groundwork for a potential Democrats-only approach on his top legislative priority.
- The president is walking away from talks with lead Republican negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito after the two spoke Tuesday. While Biden expressed gratitude to the West Virginia senator for her “good faith” efforts, he also shared his “disappointment” with the GOP senators’ latest offer, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
- “The President is committed to moving his economic legislation through Congress this summer, and is pursuing multiple paths to get this done,” Psaki said in a statement.
- The breakdown comes as the two sides failed to broker the divide over the scope of the president’s sweeping infrastructure investment and how to pay for it.
- The Republican senators offered a $928 billion proposal, which included about $330 billion in new spending — but not as much as Biden’s $1.7 trillion investment proposal for rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, highways and other infrastructure, including Veterans Affairs hospitals and care centers.
- Biden has proposed raising the corporate tax rate, from 21% to 28%, and rejected the GOP senators’ suggestion of tapping unspent COVID-19 money to fund the new infrastructure spending.
- In a statement, Capito said she was disappointed Biden ended the talks.
- “While I appreciate President Biden’s willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept the very robust and targeted infrastructure package, and instead, end our discussions,” she said. “However, this does not mean bipartisanship isn’t feasible.”
- Read more HERE.
4. In Mexico, Harris defends against criticism over border
- Vice President Kamala Harris brushed off questions about her decision not to go to the U.S.-Mexico border as part of her work to address the spike in migration, declaring Tuesday that while it was “legitimate” to be concerned about the situation at the border, it wouldn’t be addressed with a simple visit.
- Speaking to reporters traveling with her in Mexico, Harris was asked about the prospect that her decision not to visit the border may be overshadowing her focus on the very issues prompting migrants to flee their homes for the U.S.
- “You can’t say you care about the border without caring about the root causes, without caring about the acute causes” of migration, she said.
- Harris and her aides have sought to make clear that her mission is narrowly focused on finding diplomatic solutions to the problem at the border. But during her trip this week she and the Biden administration were dogged by questions on the issue. During an NBC interview, she dismissed a question on why she hadn’t yet visited by responding, “and I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making — I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”
- Read more and watch that interview HERE.
5. Feds gauging interest in Gulf of Mexico wind power
- President Joe Biden’s administration wants to know whether offshore wind companies want to move into the Gulf of Mexico.
- The agency that oversees offshore leases will publish a request for interest Friday in the Federal Register, for areas off Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, the Interior Department said Tuesday.
- Those areas are largely in shallower waters where many wells have played out rather than the deep seas where the Gulf’s offshore oil and gas industry is now focused.
- Biden has said he wants enough wind-generated electricity for more than 10 million homes nationwide by 2030.
- Read more HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State of the State House: Officials consider what to do with building in disrepair
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Another COVID side effect: Many kids head to summer school
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In Mexico, Harris defends against criticism over border
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden ends GOP infrastructure talks, starts new negotiations
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate passes bill to boost US tech industry, counter rivals
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Feds gauging interest in Gulf of Mexico wind power
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Doctor: Alabama’s lagging vaccination rates a concern
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Katie Britt announces run for U.S. Senate
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New testing, ‘implied consent’ law changes target drugged drivers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Harris to Guatemalans: ‘Do not come. Do not come’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama, Saban agree to new 8-year deal through 2028 season
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – June 8, 2021
AL.COM – America’s uber-rich pay almost no income tax, according to IRS records from anonymous source
AL.COM – Judge blocks Gadsden from approving Pilgrim’s Pride rendering plant construction
AL.COM – Colonial Pipeline CEO: Paying hackers $4.4 million ransom ‘the right thing to do’
AL.COM – Lynda Blanchard welcomes Katie Britt to Senate race, says she remains only ‘political outsider’
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Alabama deserves a better AG than Steve Marshall
AL.COM – Facebook spending tops $1 billion at its Huntsville data center campus
Montgomery Advertiser – Why critics say a gun law passed by Pa. House encourages NRA to sue municipalities
Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Circumstances have changed’: Mayor announces resignation of Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley
Montgomery Advertiser – Councilman CC Calhoun speaks on the resignation of Police Chief Ernest Finley
Decatur Daily – Rental cars scarce, expensive this summer
Decatur Daily – In the community: Two years and counting
Decatur Daily – Tell us about your Fourth of July event
Times Daily – Muscle Shoals advertising Cypress Lakes golf pro position
Times Daily – Shoals proclaims Race Amity Day on June 13
Times Daily – Demolition of 23 Tuscumbia properties to cost $354K
Anniston Star – Heflin woman charged with meth trafficking
Anniston Star – Carver branch of Anniston public library opens new recording studio
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – New CDC report: Vaccines offer 91% protection from COVID-19.
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Crews nearing end of construction on Shelby County services building
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Low COVID vaccination rate in East Alabama County
Tuscaloosa News – PHOTOS: Homewood Suites Grand Opening Celebration
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama softball team welcomed home after season to remember
Tuscaloosa News – Earth Wind and Fire to play Tuscaloosa Amphitheater Oct. 19
YellowHammer News – Alabama Farmers Federation endorses Kenneth Paschal for House District 73
YellowHammer News – Small business survey: ‘Labor shortage is holding back growth for small businesses’
YellowHammer News – State Rep. Rex Reynolds selected to participate in elite national ‘Emerging Legislative Leaders’ program
Gadsden Times – Carver Community Revitalization Committee sets Juneteenth event, will honor Donald
Gadsden Times – Gadsden rendering plant ruling gives new details on who knew about Pilgrim’s Pride proposal
Gadsden Times – Preliminary injunction granted against rendering plant project; trial on tap in July
Dothan Eagle – EU lawmakers OK virus pass, boosting summer travel hopes
Dothan Eagle – Vatican’s financial crimes prosecution hurt by inexperience
Dothan Eagle – World shares mixed as China reports jump in inflation
Opelika-Auburn News – Mongolians voting for president amid biggest virus outbreak
Opelika-Auburn News – The Latest: Pakistan administers 10M doses as cases decline
Opelika-Auburn News – Ferrari taps European chip-maker executive as new CEO
WSFA Montgomery – Alabama man pulled from Hawaii Island waters after possible drowning
WSFA Montgomery – Tallassee mayor says some PPP loans went to ‘fraudulent businesses’
WSFA Montgomery – Pandemic EBT benefits start going out to eligible children this week
WAFF Huntsville – Alabama Department of Labor updates portal to help ease unemployment demand
WAFF Huntsville – Limestone County woman wanted in connection to multiple car thefts
WAFF Huntsville – Facebook expanding investment to $1B for Huntsville data center
WKRG Mobile – OCSO asking for help in sexual battery cold case
WKRG Mobile – Florida man facing multiple charges for child pornography
WKRG Mobile – US goal of 70% vaccination by July 4 in doubt
WTVY Dothan – City of Opp loses mainstay after over night fire
WTVY Dothan – GBI, ECSO investigate possible human remains at Blakely home
WTVY Dothan – Flowers Hospital adds upgraded MRI machine
WASHINGTON POST – Biden’s global vaccine strategy draws scrutiny ahead of G-7 pandemic talks
WASHINGTON POST – Black female professors voice solidarity with journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones in UNC tenure showdown
WASHINGTON POST – E.U. to back U.S. call for new, more thorough study of coronavirus origins
NEW YORK TIMES – Biden Aims to Bolster U.S. Alliances in Europe, but Challenges Loom
NEW YORK TIMES – Covid Live Updates: Hospitalizations Rise in Less Vaccinated U.S. Areas
NEW YORK TIMES – New York’s Vaccine Passport Could Cost Taxpayers $17 Million
WALL STREET JOURNAL – A Herd of Wild Elephants Wandering Across China Captivates Millions
WALL STREET JOURNAL – China’s Surging Manufacturing Prices Put Pressure on Beijing to Do Something About Them
WALL STREET JOURNAL – China Puts a Roof on Housing Prices to Contain a Red Hot Property Market