FYI: a new issue of Inside Alabama Politics comes out tomorrow, so be sure to send me your potpourri.
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, May 27.
1. Ivey on the clock
- A few of the more controversial bills of the 2021 legislative session will die at 11:59 tonight if Gov. Kay Ivey doesn’t sign them.
- Among those still awaiting Ivey’s approval are bills to give more legislative oversight of executive branch spending, and delaying until 2024 a requirement that third-grade students not reading proficiently be held back. Legislation to change teachers’ benefits also still needs Ivey’s signature.
- The legislative session ended last week so lawmakers have no recourse on what’s known as a pocket veto. A bill dies if not signed by the governor within 10 days of the end of session.
- What’s likely to be signed? House Bill 93 from Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, which seeks to erase some of the “disparity” between Tier I and Tier II benefit recipients.
- What’s likely to be vetoed? House Bill 392 from Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, which would give a legislative panel a chance to examine state agency or department spending of more than $10 million or 5% of their annual appropriation from the General Fund, whichever is less.
- What’s up in the air? Senate Bill 94 from Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, which would delay for two years the accountability provisions of the Alabama Literacy Act.
- Read more about the legislative oversight and teacher retirement bills from Mary Sell HERE.
- Read more about the Literacy Act delay bill from Kim Chandler HERE.
- And read my column advocating for a veto of the Literacy Act delay bill HERE.
2. Curbside voting ban now law
- Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed legislation to ban curbside voting in the state.
- Ivey’s office announced she signed the bill by Republican Rep. Wes Allen of Troy that would forbid election workers from setting up curbside areas for people to vote as well as forbid the setting up of voting machines outside a polling place.
- The action codifies the view held by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill who argued in a court case last year that existing state law did not allow curbside voting.
- Read more HERE.
3. AG: Sheriff resigns amid impeachment probe
- An Alabama sheriff has resigned ahead of an impeachment proceeding that sought to remove him from office, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office announced Wednesday.
- Clarke County Sheriff William Ray Norris turned in his resignation to the governor on Monday, Marshall’s office announced in a news release. The resignation is effective beginning June 1. That is a day before Norris was to appear in a hearing at the Alabama Supreme Court to respond to an impeachment complaint, according to the attorney general’s office.
- Marshall in April filed impeachment papers against Norris seeking to remove him from office.
- The attorney general’s office accused Norris of multiple acts of malfeasance, including filing false financial disclosure forms and taking thousands of dollars from a company whose owner got payments from the sheriff’s office.
- Marshall commended the staff of his Special Prosecutions Division and thanked other agencies for their assistance in this matter, including the Alabama Securities Commission, the Alabama Department of Revenue’s Investigations Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Mobile Field Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.
- “It is more important than ever that the public be able to trust elected officials, especially when they occupy leadership positions within law enforcement,” Marshall said. “It was my judgment that Sheriff Norris could no longer be trusted as a public servant or as a law enforcement official, and his resignation should be a welcome relief to the public. Sheriff Norris’ decision to resign from office, however, does not foreclose the possibility that criminal charges will be filed against him.”
- Story link.
4. US pipelines ordered to increase cyber defenses after hack
- U.S. pipeline operators will be required for the first time to conduct a cybersecurity assessment under a Biden administration directive in response to the ransomware hack that disrupted gas supplies in several states this month.
- The Transportation Security Administration directive being issued Thursday will also mandate that the owners and operators of the nation’s pipelines report any cyber incidents to the federal government and have a cybersecurity coordinator available at all times to work with authorities in the event of an attack like the one that shut down Colonial Pipeline.
- Pipeline companies, which until now operated under voluntary guidelines, could face financial penalties that start at $7,000 per day if they fail to comply with a security directive that reflects an administration focus on cybersecurity that predates the May attack on Colonial, senior Department of Homeland Security officials said.
- Criminal syndicates, often based in Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe, have unleashed a wave of ransomware attacks in which they scramble a target’s data with encryption and demand a ransom. Victims have included state and local governments, hospitals and medical researchers and businesses large and small, leaving some victims unable to perform even routine operations.
- The hack that targeted Colonial Pipeline prompted the company to shut down a system that delivers about 45% of the gasoline consumed on the East Coast for about a week. It led to panic-buying and shortages at gas stations from Washington, D.C., to Florida.
- Read more HERE.
5. Biden orders more intel investigation of COVID-19 origin
- President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.
- After months of minimizing that possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is joining worldwide pressure for China to be more open about the outbreak, aiming to head off GOP complaints the president has not been tough enough as well as to use the opportunity to press China on alleged obstruction.
- Biden on Wednesday asked U.S. intelligence agencies to report back within 90 days. The Democrat directed U.S. national laboratories to assist with the investigation and the intelligence community to prepare a list of specific queries for the Chinese government. He called on China to cooperate with international probes into the origins of the pandemic.
- Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have promoted the theory that the virus emerged from a laboratory accident rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal in Wuhan, China.
- Biden in a statement said the majority of the intelligence community had “coalesced” around those two scenarios but “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” He revealed that two agencies lean toward the animal link and “one leans more toward” the lab theory, “each with low or moderate confidence.”
- His statement came after weeks of the administration endeavoring to avoid public discussion of the lab leak theory and privately suggesting it was farfetched.
- Read more HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Legislative oversight, Literacy Act delay bills die today unless Ivey signs
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey faces decision on promotion requirement for 3rd graders
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AG: Sheriff resigns amid impeachment probe
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey signs bill to ban curbside voting
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US pipelines ordered to increase cyber defenses after hack
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden orders more intel investigation of COVID-19 origin
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ag Commissioner Rick Pate seeking reelection
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP senators ready $1T infrastructure counteroffer to Biden
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judge: Man charged with bringing guns to DC had militia ties
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senators try to salvage legislation on Jan. 6 commission
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Source: Biden to name Tom Nides ambassador to Israel
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Earmarks’ are back, but not all Alabama lawmakers are participating
AL.COM – Alabama truckers question constitutionality of I-10 toll bridge
AL.COM – Fraternal Order of Police issues historic no-confidence vote against Birmingham Chief Patrick Smith
AL.COM – Ivey signs resolution creating commission to remove racist language from Alabama Constitution
AL.COM – Southwest Alabama sheriff resigns amid impeachment proceedings
AL.COM – Nearly a dozen striking Alabama coal miners arrested at protest
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Vaccine passport ban deserves a trophy (for hypocrisy)
Montgomery Advertiser – Family, city hold separate press conferences on death investigation of Gary Moncrief
Montgomery Advertiser – Family, district attorney dispute the death of Gary Moncrief
Decatur Daily – Decatur police: Moulton man stole vehicle from Home Depot parking lot
Decatur Daily – UPDATE: Sheriff: 16-year-old girl and her alleged abductor found
Decatur Daily – Court: Falkville defendant in Jan. 6 riot had ties to militia, reached out to Cruz
Times Daily – Helen Keller Festival returns with full line-up of activities
Times Daily – Sheffield council approves repairs for garbage truck, takes action on public nuisances
Times Daily – Sidewalk to connect Florence High with the YMCA among mixed-use project
Anniston Star – Ohatchee students, families hold farewell party for Tittle
Anniston Star – Oxford may take pass on next vaccine shipment as demand wanes
Anniston Star – Business boon from Iron Mountain Road could take time
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Fraternal Order of Police issues unanimous no confidence vote against B’ham Police Chief Patrick Smith
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Covid-19 still causing new hospitalizations across the state
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Hospitalizations down across the state, some with zero COVID-19 patients
Tuscaloosa News – Gov. Kay Ivey signs Alabama curbside voting ban. Here’s what this means for future elections.
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama football kickoff and TV time set for 2021 Florida game
Tuscaloosa News – How much will your school district get from the latest round of COVID-19 education funding?
YellowHammer News – Blanchard campaign suggests Mo Brooks bought Stephen Miller’s endorsement — Miller: ‘I have never been hired or paid by Mo Brooks or his campaign at any time’
YellowHammer News – 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl Week to feature inaugural HBCU Combine in Mobile
YellowHammer News – Alabama Forestry Association endorses Ag Commissioner Rick Pate for reelection
Gadsden Times – New life at old apartments? City may rescind nuisance abatement to make it possible
Gadsden Times – Amber Alert: Morgan County girl, 16, abducted, in extreme danger, authorities say
Gadsden Times – Gov. Kay Ivey signs Alabama curbside voting ban. Here’s what this means for future elections.
Dothan Eagle – Global shares advance as investors await US growth data
Dothan Eagle – AP PHOTOS: Malaysian cemeteries face coronavirus surge
Dothan Eagle – WHO asked to review spiked Italy report, whistleblower case
Opelika-Auburn News – Ex-Johnson aide says UK government failed public over COVID
Opelika-Auburn News – Belarusian leader defends his action to divert flight
Opelika-Auburn News – Stocks edge higher as investors weigh growth, inflation
WSFA Montgomery – Family, city officials dispute events of fatal shooting near Montgomery hotel
WSFA Montgomery – Alabama governor signs bill to ban curbside voting
WSFA Montgomery – Ala. House Republicans have ‘Plan B’ for new prisons
WAFF Huntsville – Fayetteville High School graduate killed in tragic lawn mowing accident
WAFF Huntsville – TVA to begin aquatic treatment on eel weeds in Lake Guntersville
WAFF Huntsville – Crime of the Week: Items stolen from a soft-top Jeep
WKRG Mobile – Struggling businesses hopeful about Pensacola Bay Bridge reopening
WKRG Mobile – Crestview police investigating shots fired on West Field Avenue
WKRG Mobile – Prichard’s annual Memorial Day parade happening Saturday
WTVY Dothan – Ashford teacher charged with theft will avoid conviction
WTVY Dothan – Long-time fire chief recognized with retirement ceremony
WTVY Dothan – Dothan man charged with abusing child
WASHINGTON POST – White House to face key decisions on climate, elder care if bipartisan deal with GOP emerges
WASHINGTON POST – China pushes back against Biden administration for raising pressure on coronavirus origins
WASHINGTON POST – The Wuhan lab-leak theory is getting more attention. That’s because key evidence is still missing.
NEW YORK TIMES – A Wave of Afghan Surrenders to the Taliban Picks Up Speed
NEW YORK TIMES – Why Apple and Google’s Virus Alert Apps Had Limited Success
NEW YORK TIMES – ‘Lions Led by Donkeys’: Cummings Unloads on Johnson Government
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Jobless Claims Expected to Fall to Another Pandemic Low
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Slip Ahead of Jobless Claims, GDP Data
WALL STREET JOURNAL – HSBC to Exit Most U.S. Retail Banking