The Economic Development Association of Alabama
Good Morning! The NCAA Basketball Tournament starts today, so please forgive those of us who are trying to work while also intently watching four games. Auburn tips at 12:30 Central on TNT.
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, March 21, 2019
1. Changes coming for Common Core bill.
- Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s bill to repeal Common Core standards and prohibit the state from participating in national standards was approved in committee yesterday and will be on the Senate floor today.
- The Senate Education Policy Committee approved the bill without opposition, with Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, noting that her support was contingent on the understanding that the bill would be amended.
- Marsh said Wednesday he’s willing to work with concerned education groups to amend the legislation. The Alabama Superintendents Association and the Alabama School Boards Association expressed concerns about the bill during the committee meeting. In an email alert, the A-Plus Education Partnership warned the legislation could prohibit students from taking Advanced Placement courses and earning career technical credentials. It could also prohibit teachers from achieving National Board Certification, for which they’re offered monetary bonuses. Those programs are tied to national standards, which Marsh’s bill prohibits.
- “That’s not my intention,” Marsh said afterward. “Common Core is my objective, and in fact we are going to have an amendment on the floor (Thursday) to make sure that’s very clear.”
- It is not known whether Marsh’s planned amendment will address educators’ concerns about reverting back and forth between standards.
- The bill currently requires the state to revert to the previous standards developed and adopted during the 1990s and 2000s for the upcoming academic year, and then adopt new ones for the 2020-2021 school year. Educators say that’s a burdensome and costly task.
- A fiscal note on the bill said switching standards twice in two years will cost the Alabama State Department of Education $6.1 million. The cost to local school systems would be about $4.8 million.
- The bill has plenty of support (27 co-sponsors!) so it’s pretty much a lock to pass the Senate. The only question is what Marsh’s amendment will do and whether education groups will be happy.
- Full story with reaction from lots of senators HERE.
- Meanwhile, some business groups are speaking out saying repealing Common Core amounts to “dumbing down” Alabama.
- Senate gavels in at 9:00 a.m. Gonna be an interesting debate. Bring your Snicker’s bars.
2. Greer’s church defense bill advances.
- A bill extending Alabama’s “stand your ground” law to churches was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, and could be considered by the full House soon.
- This is the fourth time State Rep. Lynn Greer, R- Rogersville, has proposed the bill. He says many churches have repeatedly requested this law change to allow them to better protect their members during worship services.
- “It’s probably the most popular piece of legislation that I have ever introduced since I’ve been in the legislature,” Greer told Alabama Daily News.
- Greer explained that his bill would essentially extend Alabama’s “stand your ground” law that was passed in 2006 to also apply in places of worship.
- Last year the bill passed out of the House but died in the Senate. This time, Greer says he thinks there is strong support for it in the Senate.
- During the committee meeting, some lawmakers said that they did not see the need for this kind of bill in Alabama since the “stand your ground” law already allows citizens to defend themselves wherever they are.
- Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said that adding on stipulations was unnecessary and may ultimately cause more damage in the end.
- Read the full story from Caroline Beck HERE.
A message from Jim Searcy, executive director of the
3. Wall diversion could cost Alabama.
- A $5.2 million allocation to Anniston Army Depot is on a list of military construction projects that could be cut in order to divert U.S. Department of Defense dollars to construct the wall on the U.S.’s southern border.
- The Pentagon this week sent a 20-page list of military construction projects to Congress that might be slashed to pay for President Donald Trump’s wall along the Mexican border.
- $5.2 million for Anniston Army Depot to build a weapons maintenance shop that was due to be awarded in March 2020 could be cut.
- Also on the Pentagon’s list are a $38 million allocation to build a training support facility at Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass and two Maxwell Air Force Base projects: a $15.5 JAG school expansion and the much-anticipated $18 million air traffic control tower. However, because the Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base projects are due to be funded in 2019 and not 2020, they would not be impacted, the document indicated.
- Read the full story from Mary Sell and me, including reactions from Sen. Richard Shelby and Sen. Doug Jones HERE.
4. Burkette battling back.
- It has been nice to see Sen. David Burkette around the State House the last few weeks.
- After he suffered a stroke over the holidays, many wondered if Burkette would be physically able to return to work in time for the session.
- Considering all he went through to win the office – winning four different elections – that would have been a shame.
- But return he has and Burkette is in fine spirits.
- WSFA’s Rosanna Smith sat down with him to discuss the stroke, his recovery efforts, and what it’s like to finally serve.
- Watch her full story HERE.
5. News Briefs.
- The wife of an Ozark man charged with capital murder in the slaying of two teenage girls nearly 20 years ago said Wednesday that he’s innocent of the killings that terrified the small southern city.
- Jeanette McCraney defended her husband, 45-year-old Coley McCraney, during a news conference not far from the jail where her husband is being held without bond charged with the 1999 slayings of Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley.
- Jeanette McCraney said she met her husband, who was previously married, in 1998 and was dating her husband at the time of the killings. She said at the time, he was a good family man to his older children and already working as a truck driver.
- The 1999 slayings rocked the small city. Hawlett and Beasley, both 17, disappeared after setting off for a party in southeastern Alabama on July 31, 1999. They never returned. Their bodies were found the next day in the trunk of Beasley’s black Mazda along a road in Ozark, a city of 19,000 people about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Montgomery. Each had been shot in the head.
- The case sat for decades until police hired a company to run crime scene DNA through an online genealogy database called GEDMatch. Police said they identified an extended family and then asked McCraney to submit a DNA sample which they said matched the crime scene DNA.
- Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.
- Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says GE Aviation is planning a $50 million expansion at its Auburn facility.
- The governor says the expansion will create about 60 jobs and install new 3D-printing machines at the plant.
- The Department of Commerce says the company has already invested more than $100 million at the Auburn plant, which currently employs about 230 people. The expansion will allow the plant to start producing a 3D-printed bracket for an engine program.
- GE Aviation opened a $200 million factory in Huntsville last year.
- Read more from Bill Thornton HERE.
- Alabama officials say a gun maker is losing $3 million in incentives from the state.
- State Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said Tuesday that Remington Arms has failed to meet hiring and payroll targets at its Huntsville plant, costing it $3 million in incentives.
- Remington emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last year. In November, the Huntsville City Council agreed to relieve the company of its obligation to gradually increase its workforce, and allowed it to maintain at least 415 employees with the goal of having 1,868 workers in 2023.
- Canfield says the Commerce Department is confident that Remington will recover from its situation. He says talks will be pursued to better understand the company’s business plan.
- Alabama promised more than $38 million in incentives to Remington.
- Story link.
- Reigning national champion Villanova will be in action along with Michigan, the runner-up from a year ago, while Belmont and Murray State open the NCAA Tournament as trendy upset picks.
- There’s Kansas and Michigan State to provide some blue-blood flavor, and Murray State’s Ja Morant and Marquette counterpart Markus Howard some star power. There’s the big-name coaches such as Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim and the under-appreciated in Wofford’s Mike Young.
- What more could you want on the first real day of the dance?
- Other than Zion Williamson, of course. Duke doesn’t get started until Friday.
- But there is still plenty of intrigue as the first round gets going Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, with a matchup in the East Region between seventh-seeded Louisville and No. 10 seed Minnesota — the school coached by Richard Pitino, the son of Rick Pitino.
- Some say the University of Alabama is eyeing the younger Pitino as a replacement for head coach Avery Johnson.
- More HERE.
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