Daily News Digest – March 5, 2019

Daily News Digest – March 5, 2019

Presented by

The Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure


Good morning. Today is the first day of the Alabama Legislature’s Regular Session. See you at the State House.
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, March 5.


1. The Aftermath.

  • Just read this lede from Kim Chandler and Jeff Martin:
“Picking through the twisted debris that had been her Alabama mobile home, Carol Dean found her wedding dress and a Father’s Day note to her husband reading, ‘Daddy, I love you to pieces.’ But the storm took the 53-year-old husband and father.”
  • The community of Beauregard is trying to pick up the pieces two days after a massive tornado ripped through this rural corner of Lee County killing at least 23.
  • The National Weather Service now rates the storm an EF-4 with winds estimated at 170 mph. It was on the ground for almost a mile, smashing mobile homes and houses alike.
  • Lost souls include children aged 6, 9 and 10.
  • Sheriff Jay Jones said dozens of people remain missing and rescue crews are resuming their searches this morning.
  • Read more and see more video and images from the damage HERE.
  • Brian Lyman, Krista Johnson, Mickey Welsh, Josh Vitale, and Kirsten Fiscus also did yeoman’s work reporting from Lee County and you can read their stories HERE.
  • An outpouring of support has come statewide and from around the country, so much so that Lee County EMA said it has put a hold on drop-off donations at its headquarters.
  • One donation to consider is the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, run by the United Way, which provides funds for the construction of life-saving community storm shelters across the state. ServeAlabama also has a list of other groups organizing support.
  • We made a big push for constructing more storm shelters in the wake of the April 27, 2011 tornadoes, and Bo Jackson’s Bo Bikes Bama campaign is still raising money and awareness about the need for more shelters.
  • Take a look at these before and after images from a house and trailer in Beauregard that demonstrate the magnitude of this “monster storm.”


2. First day of Session(s).

  • The 2019 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature begins today.
  • They’ll gavel in at noon and take care of perfunctory business for a few hours before adjourning to get ready for Gov. Kay Ivey’s State of the State address. Speech starts at 6:30 Central Time. WSFA will have a live feed if you want to watch.
  • Look for Ivey to call lawmakers into a Special Session to deal with the gas tax / infrastructure issue.
  • Wait, why a Special Session when the Regular Session is just starting? Two reasons.
  • First, using her constitutional authority to call a Special Session, Ivey can focus lawmakers’ attention on the issue at hand and limit the ability of other matters from intermingling and threatening her plan.
  • Second, in a Special, the House and Senate aren’t burdened with that pesky little procedural hurdle called the Budget Isolation Resolution that lingers throughout the Regular Session until the budgets are passed. Without the BIR, the governor and legislative leaders need only win a simple majority vote – 53 in the House and 18 in the Senate – to pass the bill.
  • So, how is this Special Session within the Regular Session going to work? On Wednesday, lawmakers will begin the Special Session and simply won’t convene another Regular Session day until the Special is finished.  An email circulating around the Senate from leadership staff asked that lawmakers be prepared to extend their hotel stays through the weekend. It takes a minimum of five legislative days to pass a bill, but don’t expect them to come in on Sunday.
  • Under this scenario, the Regular Session would be essentially delayed for a week – or however long it takes for the bill to pass or fail – while lawmakers deal with the gas tax proposal. So, instead of having 104 days in which to complete the remaining 29 legislative days, they’ll have 95-99, depending on how long the Special lasts.
  • You’re all caught up!
  • [Just saying, IAP subscribers read about all this yesterday]


A message from

the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure

  • When you and your loved ones hit the road, safety is a top priority. Unfortunately, it’s also a higher risk.
  • In the state of Alabama, there were 1,089 traffic fatalities in 2016 alone, and a third of those were caused by deficient roadways. That amounts to one person killed every day.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey’s “Rebuild Alabama” plan will address our infrastructure problem by infusing needed revenue to build, repair, and replace roads and bridges.
  • See the new TV ad “No Excuse” that is running on broadcast and cable in Alabama markets.
  • Visit the Rebuild Alabama website for more information about the initiative.
  • And follow Rebuild Alabama on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest.


3. State Budget fun.

  • One sticking point in the gas tax / infrastructure debate is how, for the last ten years, the Legislature has redirected as much as $63 million from the road and bridge fund to pay for public safety needs, namely the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Alabama Judicial System.
  • Those are two agencies that have had funding issues for years, and a trooper or judge shortage would be pretty bad for the state.
  • Still, many have argued that this diversion of funds is unseemly when asking lawmakers to raise more gas tax revenue.
  • So, to allay those concerns, Gov. Kay Ivey is proposing cutting that diversion in half.
  • “I have cut that amount of diversion in half in my budget,” the governor said. “But we’re still going to protect the courts and we’re still going to protect ALEA.”
  • How will she protect ALEA’s and the courts’ funding? By getting clever with the budgets.
  • Ivey recently told reporters her budget will propose plussing up General Fund allocations to ALEA and the Alabama Judicial System and making up the difference by using Education Trust Fund dollars to pay for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • To be clear, the governor’s budgets haven’t been submitted/released so we don’t know the specifics. But, doing the math, that could be about a $30 million line item transfer from the General Fund to the ETF.
  • That’s news. Mary Sell and I fleshed that story out a bit with some reaction from lawmakers in our latest story HERE.
  • You’ll want to read it all, including the very last line.


4. ISIS bride loses first round in court.

  • A Hoover woman who joined the Islamic State lost a first round on Monday in a legal fight to return to the U.S. with her toddler son, even as a judge seemed to support at least one argument made by her lawyer for her U.S. citizenship.
  • U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton denied a request for “expedited” proceedings for Hoda Muthana, whose lawyers sought to have her lawsuit litigated on an emergency schedule so she could get out of a refugee camp in Syria and back to the U.S.
  • Walton said Muthana’s lawyers failed to establish that the woman and her 18-month-old son face imminent danger in allied custody as the U.S. prepares to withdraw most of its forces from the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a radio interview that she is not a citizen, and it would be a “risk” to let her back into the United States.
  • “In fact, she’s a terrorist, and we shouldn’t bring back foreign terrorists to the United States of America,” Pompeo said in an interview with WOC Radio in Iowa.
  • Muthana, who married three Islamic State fighters during her time with the group, says she now regrets joining and wants to return to the U.S. for the sake of her child, even if that means facing criminal charges.
  • Read more HERE.


5. House Dems start Trump inquiry.

  • Congressional Democrats launched a sweeping new probe of President Donald Trump and his associates.
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Monday his panel was beginning the probe into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power and is sending document requests to 81 people linked to the president and his associates.
  • The broad investigation could be setting the stage for an impeachment effort, although Democratic leaders have pledged to investigate all avenues and review special counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming report before trying any drastic action. Nadler said the document requests, with responses to most due by March 18, are a way to “begin building the public record.”
  • “Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms,” said Nadler, D-N.Y. “Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee.”
  • Trump dismissed the Nadler probe and others as futile efforts “in search of a crime.”
  • “Ridiculous!” he exclaimed on Twitter.
  • White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the House probe “a disgraceful and abusive investigation into tired, false allegations.”
  • “Chairman Nadler and his fellow Democrats have embarked on this fishing expedition because they are terrified that their two-year false narrative of ‘Russia collusion’ is crumbling. Their intimidation and abuse of American citizens is shameful,” she said.
  • Full story HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey’s budget will seek to meet competing needs via funding transfers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Beauregard struggles with the devastation caused by tornado
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Heavy lifts.’ Gas tax, lottery, teacher pay raises are issues to watch 2019 legislative session
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matthew Stokes: On the gas tax
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House panel opens sweeping probe of Trump, his associates
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hoover woman who left US to join Islamic State loses round in court
Inside Alabama Politics : A Special Session? Gas Tax rumblings; How serious is talk of a lottery? Sen. Shelby sets the record; Bentley in DC; Worley playing chicken with the DNC?
AL.COM  – Search still on for possible victims of ‘monster’ tornado in Lee County
AL.COM  – Roy Moore, Leigh Corfman reach deal on deposition terms
AL.COM  – Trump accused of playing favorites with Alabama ‘A Plus treatment’ FEMA tweet
AL.COM  – Judge denies expedited consideration in Hoda Muthana lawsuit
AL.COM  – Watkins trial: Masada lawyer testifies Waste Management negotiations were real
AL.COM  – Bernie Sanders blames climate change for Lee County tornado death toll
AL.COM  – Alabama high school students filmed using racist slurs
AL.COM  – Columnist Roy Johnson: U.S. legislators, presidential hopefuls trek to Selma again, leave nothing behind…again?
Montgomery Advertiser – Resident in rural Alabama community hit by twister: ‘I thought I was gone’
Montgomery Advertiser – In 30 seconds, Beauregard tornado takes family’s home, business, but spares their lives
Montgomery Advertiser – ‘A child of God’: Fourth-grade girl among victims of Alabama tornado
YellowHammer News – Mitch McConnell: ‘Alabama has benefited from the devoted leadership of Senator Richard Shelby’
YellowHammer News – UAB Proton Therapy Center set to install 90-ton cancer-fighting cyclotron
YellowHammer News – Bernie Sanders: ‘Climate change’ to blame for Alabama tornado deaths
Dothan Eagle – Alabama Tornadoes: How You Can Help
Dothan Eagle  – U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby stresses infrastructure improvements in Dothan visit
Dothan Eagle – Dale County Sheriff’s Office asks for public’s help in locating missing woman, reward offered
Dothan Eagle – Dothan’s First Class Pre-K program accepting applications through March 10
Tuscaloosa News – Northport City Council considers program to control feral cats
Decatur Daily – Decatur council has to OK trips above $2,500
Decatur Daily – Police: Decatur man found with pound of meth, 8 grams of crack
Times Daily – Grand jury charges man with attempted murder
Times Daily – Colbert Commission hosts retirement party for Kathy Polk
Times Daily – Residents warned to check out unfamiliar contractors
Gadsden Times – Authorities: Driver had photos of unconscious women in car
Gadsden Times – Christopher Wayne Madison charged with capital murder in 11-year-old Amberly Alexis Barnett’s death
Gadsden Times – Woman indicted for stealing volunteer fire department funds
Anniston Star – Police: Anniston man attacked woman, stole her phone
Anniston Star – Cleburne commission hears request on cancer grant funding
Anniston Star – Woman charged with dealing drugs to former Jacksonville police dispatcher
Troy Messenger – Felony indictments served
Troy Messenger – Suspects in multiple murder cases indicted
Andalusia Star News – State issuing new debit cards for unemployment benefits
Andalusia Star News – EMA director: Sunday tornado reminds residents to plan ahead
Opelika-Auburn News – TORNADO–LIVE UPDATES: 5:20 p.m. MONDAY: Trump adds new comments; Injury count climbs to 63 in Lee County
Opelika-Auburn News – Killer tornadoes strike: Death toll expected to rise as searches resume
Opelika-Auburn News – ‘I’m a really, really lucky man’; Smiths Station business owners recount Sunday’s weather events
Daily Mountain Eagle – Commission offers to help Lee County
Daily Mountain Eagle – Reed wants to work on teacher shortage
Daily Mountain Eagle – Curry alumnus accepts new role as SRO
Trussville Tribune – WBRC will host Together for Alabama tornado relief telethon, Trussville Tribune to partner in effort
Trussville Tribune – Moody woman died from injuries sustained in assault, homicide investigation underway
Athens News Courier – Woman arrested in connection to fatal crash
Athens News Courier – Dozens missing in tornado-blasted Alabama community
Athens News Courier – Sunday the deadliest day of tornadoes in nearly six years
Sand Mountain Reporter – Man charged in DeKalb County murder
Sand Mountain Reporter – Boaz improves vehicle fleet | Aims to buy 6 for BPD, 9 city vehicles total
WSFA Montgomery – Arrest made in 11-year-old girl’s murder in DeKalb County
WSFA Montgomery – Tornado caused significant damage in Macon County
WSFA Montgomery – First Alert: Cold temperatures continue through Wednesday
Fox 6 Birmingham – Fake Uber driver accused of photographing unconscious women
Fox 6 Birmingham – After worker accused of throwing toddler, Missouri daycare’s state license revoked
Fox 6 Birmingham – Questions still surround Rock the South road study
WAFF Huntsville – 23 dead in preliminary EF-4 tornado in east Alabama
WAFF Huntsville – Arrest made in 11-year-old girl’s murder in DeKalb County
WAFF Huntsville – Austin Junior High School closed Monday due to water main break on campus
WKRG Mobile – VIDEO: Lee County tornado captured on bar surveillance cam
WKRG Mobile – Alabama man speaks out after losing 6-year-old grandson in tornado
WTVY Dothan – Multiple-vehicle crash leaves one in critical condition
WTVY Dothan – Severe damage left behind in Eufaula; no fatalities
WTVY Dothan – Tornado destroyed multiple homes in Slocomb
WASHINGTON POST  – White House works to limit GOP defections, criticism ahead of vote to nullify Trump’s emergency declaration
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump vowed ‘A Plus’ relief for Alabama. That’s not what California and Puerto Rico heard
WASHINGTON POST  – 21 states to file suit to block Trump administration’s abortion ‘gag rule’ in family planning program
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump’s Grip Shows Signs of Slipping as Senate Prepares to Block Wall Emergency
NEW YORK TIMES  – A Well-Meaning Job Training Bill That May Hurt More Than Help

Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)