Presented by the
Alabama Municipal Electric Authority
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, May 5.
1. Storms pound Alabama; flood threat remains
- Relentless winds and rain pummeled large swaths of the South on Tuesday, causing tornadoes, sparking a flash flood emergency in Alabama and damaging homes from Texas to Virginia. The storms prompted boat rescues, toppled trees and power lines and raised the threat of flash floods elsewhere in the region.
- The National Weather Service issued the flash flood emergency for the Birmingham area at the start of rush hour, warning that torrential rains — as much as 5 inches in some areas — had already fallen and another 2 inches were possible before the storm system continued eastward.
- Jefferson County Emergency Management officials in the Birmingham area urged residents to stay off the roads because so many were flooded.
- In the Birmingham suburb of Homewood, residents huddled on the second-floor balcony of an apartment complex that became flooded. Fire department rescuers in a small boat paddled through the parking lot past submerged cars, slowly removing at least 13 people from the flooding. Some were taken out with their pets.
- Alabama Power Co. reported some 93,000 homes and businesses were without electricity statewide.
- Read more HERE.
2. Medical marijuana debate goes into the night
- It was quite a day (and night) in the State House.
- Legislation to authorize medical marijuana in Alabama stalled Tuesday in the state House of Representatives after Republican opponents used a filibuster to at least temporarily delay a vote.
- The body adjourned shortly before midnight without a vote after nearly 10 hours of debate on the Senate-passed bill. The bill is expected to return to the House floor on Thursday.
- The bill would allow people with a qualifying medical condition to purchase marijuana after getting a recommendation from a doctor. More than a dozen conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder and chronic pain would allow a person to qualify. The bill would allow marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.
- Republican Rep. Brett Easterbrook of Fruitdale said he is “as conservative as they get” but saw the positive impact medical marijuana had on his son.
- “I watched it … There is not one of you sitting in those chairs, if your child has a brain injury or cancer and this will help, you won’t give a damn what the Legislature says,” Easterbrook said.
- The bill faced a filibuster from opposed Republicans who worried that it could be a gateway to recreational use or that medical marijuana could end up in the hands of teens.
- “Don’t ever doubt it, if the state of Alabama gets into the marijuana business, the cannabis business, it will change the very fabric of who we are as a state,” said Republican Rep. Jim Carnes of Vestavia Hills.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
A Message from the
Alabama Municipal Electric Authority
- One million Alabamians depend on reliable, affordable, innovative public power.
- Public utilities employ 93,000 people in local jobs across the U.S.
- 5.6 % of electric operating revenues go back into the community.
- 2,000 communities large and small across the U.S. trust public power.
- To learn more about AMEA and public power, visit www.AMEA.com.
3. Revamped gambling package goes to House floor
- A wide-ranging gambling package advanced in the Alabama Legislature Tuesday and is expected to be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday.
- The plan, which passed the Senate in April, would institute a lottery, authorize sports betting and legalize casinos around the state. It has since been awaiting action in the House of Representatives, where previous gambling legislation has struggled in recent years.
- Three pieces of legislation: a constitutional amendment that would go before voters in November 2022 and two enabling bills fleshing out the details of gambling policy and enforcement procedures, each passed through their respective House committees Tuesday.
- State Rep. Chris Blackshear, R-Phenix City, who is carrying the legislation in the House, said his expectation is to have the package considered on the House floor Thursday, the second to last day of the session.
- Read more about the package, the differences with the Senate-passed version and where the governor stands HERE.
- A bill advanced Tuesday to delay from spring 2022 to spring 2024 the requirement that third-grade students not proficient in reading repeat the grade.
- It now has two legislative days to get final approval in the House.
- Senate Bill 92 from Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, was approved in the House Education Policy Committee Tuesday morning on a voice vote. Committee chair Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, one of the original sponsors of the 2019 Literacy Act that requires the holdback, was a “no” vote.
- “It’s very close, but I’m going to give the bill a favorable report,” Collins said after calling for the vote two times to hear it correctly.
- Smitherman has said the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly altered education delivery in the state to the disadvantage of students and the holdback requirement should be delayed two years. Otherwise, too many students will have to repeat the grade.
- Opponents argue that more data is needed before any changes are made.
- Story link.
- Meanwhile, it is the last committee day of the 2021 regular session. Bills that have passed their chamber of origin and advance in committee today still have a chance of gaining final passage.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet at 10:00 a.m. to take up several House bills sponsors hope to pass in the remaining two legislative days of the session.
- The agenda includes Rep. Merika Coleman’s House Bill 271, which would allow for the publication of law enforcement’s mugshots of people charged with soliciting prostitutes. Under existing law, a photograph of any person arrested for the crime of prostitution is not a public record. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, has been dubbed the “John Shaming” bill and is meant to deter human trafficking by deterring those who pay for sex.
- Also on the agenda is Rep. Mike Ball’s House Bill 202 to clarify existing law about grand jury witnesses and what they can say publicly.
- Watch or listen to Senate JUDY HERE.
- Also at 10:00 this morning, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris will give the House Health Committee an update on herd immunity and COVID-19. Watch or listen to that meeting HERE.
- And the Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment will meet today at 2:00 for its first gathering since receiving the initial Census information showing Alabama will not lose a congressional seat. That meeting should be available HERE.
- See you at the State House!
4. Biden, Ivey: states not using vaccines could lose them
- President Joe Biden set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by July Fourth as he tackles the vexing problem of winning over the doubters and those unmotivated to get inoculated.
- Demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their available doses unordered. Aiming to make it easier to get shots, Biden on Tuesday called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and he will direct many pharmacies to do likewise.
- His administration for the first time also is moving to shift doses from states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the shots.
- That likely means doses could be taken away Alabama due to declining demand over our vaccine hesitancy.
- Gov. Kay Ivey warned about this possibility and urged more Alabamians to get the shot.
- “Today, the federal government announced on the governors only call with the White House that states with a diminishing demand for vaccines may have their doses shifted to states with a higher demand,” Ivey said. “Y’all, we want shots in the arms and off the shelf. If you have not made it a priority to schedule a vaccine, I encourage you to go get the shot as soon as you are able. If you are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, please speak to a physician you trust and ask if he or she would recommend it for you. If we don’t use it, we could lose it. This is our ticket back to normal. The vaccine is free and could possibly save your life.”
- Read more HERE.
5. Cheney could be ‘toast’ in fight with Trump over GOP future
- House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy wants his party to stand firmly with Donald Trump, despite the former president’s false claims about the election being stolen from him.
- No. 3 GOP leader Liz Cheney is trying to steer the party far from Trump’s claims about his defeat, charting a future without him.
- The party, it became more apparent Tuesday, does not have room for both.
- Cheney’s political future was increasingly in peril as McCarthy signaled he would no longer protect his lieutenant from those seeking her ouster from House GOP leadership, opening the possibility of a vote to remove her from the job as soon as next week. One Republican aide said simply, “She’s toast.”
- What could be seen as a skirmish between minority party leaders trying to find a way back to the majority has become a more politically profound moment for Republicans and the country. The party of Abraham Lincoln is deciding whether to let Trump’s false claims about the election of Democrat Joe Biden go unchecked — or to hold him accountable, as Cheney does, by arguing the country cannot “whitewash” the former president’s role in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
- Read more HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Wind, rain pound South amid flood fears and water rescues
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House debates medical marijuana into the night
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Revamped gambling package goes to House floor
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mac Gipson: Explaining how Alabama’s new alcohol delivery laws will work
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Literacy Act requirement delay advances, needs one more vote
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden, Ivey: states not using vaccines could lose them
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Cheney could be ‘toast’ in fight with Trump over GOP future
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey: health orders to end
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judicial, DA pay changes go to governor
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 4, 2021
AL.COM – ‘Bail Out the South’ seeks to get thousands of poor people out of jail
AL.COM – Gambling in, Medicaid expansion out, with Alabama’s latest rural health care approach
AL.COM – Alabama creeks run black near Tuscaloosa County coal mine, state investigating
AL.COM – Health officials raise the alarm over overdose deaths in Birmingham area
AL.COM – Wine festivals have long been a ‘headache’ for Alabama winemakers. That could change in the fall
AL.COM – Use it or lose it: Alabama may have to send unused COVID vaccinations to other states
AL.COM – Alabama gambling legislation advances; vote could come Thursday
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama House filibuster delays medical marijuana bill despite strong support
Montgomery Advertiser – Marche Johnson sworn in at Montgomery City Council meeting
Montgomery Advertiser – Trees down, power out to thousands as storms rip through central Alabama
Decatur Daily – Judicial, DA pay changes go to the governor
Decatur Daily – Storm causes limited damage, power outages
Decatur Daily – Decatur to use $750,000 grant for small business loans, emergency equipment
Times Daily – Site clearing for ag event center nears start
Times Daily – Revamped gambling package goes to House floor
Times Daily – ShoalsFest returning after a 1-year hiatus
Anniston Star – Revamped gambling package goes to House floor
Anniston Star – Judicial, DA pay changes go to the governor
Anniston Star – State’s COVID-19 emergency status to end, but hospital staff say keep on masking
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Four dead after small plane crashes into Miss. home
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa PD on scene of fatal shooting at Fosters Ferry Road
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Use-of-force expert reacts to Desmon Ray shooting video
Tuscaloosa News – Storm alert: Severe weather risk increases in parts of Alabama; first closings reported
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama lottery and gambling bill ready for vote in House of Representatives
Tuscaloosa News – Infant who died in Mississippi police chase was son of Louisiana double-homicide suspect
YellowHammer News – New savings available for Alabamians on Affordable Care Act health insurance plans
YellowHammer News – Gov. Kay Ivey signs into law 2% pay raise for educators, state employees
YellowHammer News – Talking green on the greens at 2021 Junior Regions Tradition
Gadsden Times – CharACTers Inc. presents ‘Shrek the Musical’
Gadsden Times – Electric trains to replace gas-powered models at Noccalula Falls Park
Gadsden Times – Schools dismissing early because of severe weather threat
Dothan Eagle – US birth rate falls to lowest point in more than a century
Dothan Eagle – Trump’s Facebook fate will be decided today; US birth rate hits 50-year low; Chauvin seeks new trial
Dothan Eagle – Lawyer: Iran diplomat will not appeal bomb plot conviction
Opelika-Auburn News – The Power of Will: Auburn family starts nonprofit in memory of son lost to cancer
WSFA Montgomery – Autauga County recovering after Tuesday’s severe storms
WSFA Montgomery – Medical marijuana bill stalls in Ala. House after 9 hours of debate
WSFA Montgomery – Wind damage across much of central Alabama
WAFF Huntsville – Four dead after small plane crashes into Miss. home
WAFF Huntsville – Man found dead in Hartselle Walmart parking lot
WAFF Huntsville – General Willie Nance Jr. sworn in as new Jackson County commission chairman
WKRG Mobile – Lightning strikes home in Milton, minor damage
WKRG Mobile – Four people killed when plane crashes into Hattiesburg home
WKRG Mobile – Flood threats persist as storms continue to drench South
WTVY Dothan – Rising lumber prices impact Wiregrass Habitat for Humanity
WTVY Dothan – Wayne Farms looking to fill 280 positions
WTVY Dothan – State officials say some vaccine providers are turning down shots
WASHINGTON POST – The Pentagon wants to take a harder line on domestic extremism. How far can it go?
WASHINGTON POST – Biden to address nation on implementation of $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package
WASHINGTON POST – Giuliani evidence should be reviewed by an outside lawyer, Justice Dept. says
NEW YORK TIMES – The U.S. Birthrate Has Dropped Again. The Pandemic May Be Accelerating the Decline.
NEW YORK TIMES – Why Democratic Departures From the House Have Republicans Salivating
NEW YORK TIMES – House Republicans Have Had Enough of Liz Cheney’s Truth-Telling
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Facebook Oversight Board Is Set to Rule on Donald Trump Ban
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Rise, Pointing to S&P 500 Rebounding
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Galaxy Digital to Buy BitGo in Crypto Sector’s First $1 Billion Deal
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