Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, January 28.
1. General Fund looks okay; law enforcement agencies ask for funds
- The outlook for the state’s current General Fund budget is good, according to state lawmakers meeting this week for budget hearings.
- Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, who chairs the General Fund budget committee in the House of Representatives said he did not expect any large COVID-19-caused cuts in the current budget as lawmakers look to begin crafting next year’s budget in the upcoming legislative session.
- Last year, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a $2.3 billion General Fund budget, which pays for non-education state agencies. In the first three months of fiscal year 2021, revenues in the state’s General Fund grew about .67% over 2020.
- Revenue projections for the fiscal year 2022 General Fund budget won’t be released until next week, but Clouse said pay raises for state employees are not out of the question given the relative health of state coffers.
- Wednesday in the State House, lawmakers heard from law enforcement agency heads who were asking for budget increases to pay for more personnel and mitigating issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Director Cam Ward, ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor and Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn each testified before lawmakers.
- Read more about their discussions from Caroline Beck HERE.
- More specifically on the Dept. of Corrections front, lawmakers repeatedly questioned Dunn about the ongoing plan to lease three new prisons to replace as many as 13 existing, dilapidated prisons.
- Reps. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, and Arnold Mooney, R-Indian Springs, raised concerns about the proposal during the Corrections portion of the hearing. They said lawmakers deserve to see more information including numbers on the claim that the state can pay for the leases with savings generated by consolidating prisons and reduced maintenance costs.
- In closing, Clouse told Dunn that “there are a lot of questions that the Legislature would like answered.”
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
2. Mental health services in schools improving, more help needed
- Mental health support in Alabama schools has improved since the Alabama Legislatures appropriated $4.5 million toward the effort last year, but state leaders say more help is needed.
- Education and mental health leaders held a joint press conference in the State House Wednesday announcing a renewed push for more funding from the Legislature.
- With money appropriated in the fiscal year 2021 budget, ALSDE was able to fund 102 mental health coordinators across the state. The coordinators help facilitate mental health services within their district to best help the student, teacher or family that is in need.
- State Superintendent Eric Mackey is asking the Legislature for a $2 million increase in its 2022 budget request specifically to provide for more mental health coordinators in schools.
- State Mental Health Commissioner Kim Boswell said her department supports the development of multi-tier services as part of its School-Based Mental Health Collaboration.
- “With 50% of mental illness beginning by age 14, and 75% by age 24, comprehensive school-based mental health services are critical to prevention and early intervention with students,” Boswell said.
- Read more from Caroline Beck HERE.
3. Alabama becomes latest state to detect COVID-19 variant
- The more highly transmissible COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom has infected three people in Alabama, state health officials said Wednesday.
- The variant was found in two children and one adult, the state heath department said in a statement. Two cases are in Montgomery County and one is in Jefferson, the statement said.
- Infectious disease experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have indicated that the current vaccine should be effective against the U.K. strain, but it is still being studied, state health officials said.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
4. The latest from Washington
COVID relief package a first test for Biden, Congress
- More than a sweeping national rescue plan, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package presents a first political test — of his new administration, of Democratic control of Congress and of the role of Republicans in a post-Trump political landscape.
- For Biden, the outcome will test the strength of his presidency, his “unity” agenda and whether, after decades of deal-making, he can still negotiate a hard bargain and drive it into law.
- For House and Senate Democrats with the full sweep of power for the first time in a decade, drafting, amending and passing a recovery package will show Americans if they can lead the government through crisis.
- The immediate challenge is whether Biden will be able to muscle bipartisan support in Congress, achieving a type of unifying moment he aspired to in his inaugural address, or if opposition from Republicans or even some from his own party will leave him few options but to jam it into law on a party-line vote.
- Read more HERE.
Biden goes all in on climate
- President Joe Biden signed executive orders Wednesday to transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy into a clean-burning one, pausing oil and gas leasing on federal land and targeting subsidies for those industries.
- The directives aim to conserve 30 percent of the country’s lands and waters in the next 10 years, double the nation’s offshore wind energy, and move to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet, among other changes.
- But his effort also carries political risk for the president and Democrats as oil- and coal-producing states face job losses from moves to sharply increase U.S. reliance on clean energy such as wind and solar power.
- “We can’t wait any longer” to address the climate crisis, Biden said at the White House.
- Biden has set a goal of eliminating pollution from fossil fuel in the power sector by 2035 and from the U.S. economy overall by 2050.
- The oil industry said curtailing domestic production will lead to an increase in imported oil.
- “I don’t think any American wants to go back to the days of being held hostage to foreign entities that don’t have America’s best interest at heart as we lose American energy leadership,” said Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute.
- Full story HERE.
Census Bureau says full redistricting data could be delayed until July
- The U.S. Census Bureau is aiming to deliver the long-delayed numbers used for divvying up congressional seats by the end of April, but a holdup on redistricting data could disrupt several states’ abilities to redraw their own legislative maps, an agency official said Wednesday.
- The new goal for finishing data processing for the apportionment numbers used for congressional seats is now April 30. But a separate set of data used for redrawing districts for states and local governments won’t be ready until after July in the most likely scenario, Kathleen Styles, a top bureau official, said during a presentation for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
- The delay in the release of redistricting data could be problematic for states that have deadlines this year for redrawing their districts.
- And it almost certainly means the Alabama Legislature will need a special session later this year to deal with redistricting.
- Read more HERE.
With Trump conviction unlikely, some float Congressional censure
- Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said Wednesday that he’s discussing with colleagues whether a censure resolution to condemn former President Donald Trump for his role in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol could be an alternative to impeachment, even as the Senate proceeds with a trial.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said the impeachment trial will move forward. But Kaine’s proposal is an acknowledgement that the Senate is unlikely to convict Trump of inciting the riot.
- A censure would not hold the power of a conviction, but it would put the Senate on record as disapproving of Trump’s role in the insurrection, which came as Congress was counting electoral votes to confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.
- Talk of finding a punishment that more senators could rally around flared a day after just five Republicans joined Democrats in a Senate test vote over the legitimacy of Trump’s trial. It was unclear, though, whether other Democrats, or any Republicans, would sign on to Kaine’s proposal.
- Read more HERE.
5. Colson: Truckers help combat trafficking
- January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and, as it comes to a close, Alabama’s trucking industry is taking part in raising the issue.
- The timing isn’t accidental. Some say the Super Bowl is the single event most associated with human trafficking.
- In a column for ADN, Alabama Trucking Association President and CEO Mark Colson writes that the logistics industry is key to combatting this problem.
- Here’s an excerpt:
- Read Colson’s full piece HERE.
Bonus for Insiders: First look at Melson’s medical marijuana bill
- We are getting our first look at a bill to legalize and regulate medical marijuana in Alabama.
- Sen. Tim Melson was the author and lead sponsor of the last year’s bill that passed the Senate 20-11 before COVID-19 shut down the session.
- ADN’s Mary Sell spoke to Melson about his new bill for the 2021 session, which begins on Tuesday.
- ADN Insiders can read her story HERE.
A message from
- Auburn is proud to celebrate the recent confirmation of Auburn alumnus Gen. Lloyd Austin as our nation’s secretary of defense.
- We applaud your incredible achievement, and thank you for your continued service to protect our country.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medical marijuana: first look at Melson’s bill for the 2021 session
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – General fund budget looks OK; law enforcement agencies ask for increases
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers want details of Ivey’s prison lease plan
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mental health services in schools improving, more help needed
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama becomes latest state to detect COVID-19 variant
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Long-awaited incentives package to be filed as session nears
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Virus aid package tests whether Biden, Congress can deliver
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State redistricting data won’t be ready until July
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Democrat floats Trump censure as conviction grows unlikely
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden moves ambitious climate agenda via executive order
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Images, stories tell of Fultondale tornado’s destructive path
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama schools ask for COVID-19 enrollment funding fix in 2022
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers discuss education pay raises, a focus on literacy and learning loss
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 27, 2021
AL.COM – 4,000 COVID-19 doses in Alabama ‘relocated’ by health officials
AL.COM – Alabama lawmakers press Jeff Dunn to reveal more about cost of new prisons
AL.COM – Fultondale tornado did not come without warning, weather service, EMA says
AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey tours tornado-ravaged Fultondale: ‘This is beyond heartbreaking’
AL.COM – Alabama hospital offers tickets for COVID vaccine
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Here’s the scariest thing about Mo Brooks
AL.COM – ‘Amtrak Joe’ and ‘Mayor Pete’: New administration vows Gulf Coast visit
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Black doctor shares vaccine experience, sees ‘slaughter of our people’ if avoided
Montgomery Advertiser – Feds seize electronics in Lonnie Coffman case as D.C. Molotov cocktail investigation continues
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery woman dies at hospital after Meadow Ridge Lane shooting
Montgomery Advertiser – Chicken chain Huey Magoo’s plans four Montgomery locations
Decatur Daily – COVID deaths rise as hospital runs out of first doses of vaccine
Decatur Daily – JWEMC looks to use TVA power lines for power from other sources
Decatur Daily – Alabama schools ask for COVID-19 enrollment funding fix in 2022
Times Daily – Pay raises for teachers a possibility
Times Daily – Man serving 20-year sentence gets parole
Times Daily – State launches Alabama Family Central website
Anniston Star – As homeless crisis worsens, volunteers count those living on the streets in Anniston, Oxford
Anniston Star – General fund budget looks OK; law enforcement agencies ask for increases
Anniston Star – Mental health services in schools improving, more help needed
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Moderna, Pfizer working on vaccine booster
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Should pregnant women and those breastfeeding get the COVID-19 vaccine?
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ‘Losing a young soul to a storm like this is heartbreaking’: Gov. Ivey visits Fultondale to see tornado damage
Tuscaloosa News – After nearly 190 years, department store chain Belk will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama coronavirus vaccine allotment expected to increase, though details are sparse
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa’s District 1 gets third council candidate as municipal qualifying ends
YellowHammer News – Three cases of more contagious U.K.-originated coronavirus strain confirmed in Alabama
YellowHammer News – Mazda Foundation awards grants to two North Alabama programs serving locals in need
YellowHammer News – Ivey tours Jefferson County tornado damage, receives call from Biden
Gadsden Times – After nearly 190 years, department store chain Belk will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Gadsden Times – Alabama coronavirus vaccine allotment expected to increase, though details are sparse
Gadsden Times – Pilgrim’s Pride manager: ‘Blatant misinformation’ being spread about proposed rendering plant
Dothan Eagle – Defeated Alabama congressional contender launches conservative PAC
Dothan Eagle – Chinese app TikTok cuts jobs in India following ban
Dothan Eagle – French police face sanction for Macarena party amid virus
Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 death toll rises in east Alabama, Lee County
Opelika-Auburn News – Polish ombudsman: Abortion ruling condemns women to torture
Opelika-Auburn News – Global shares drop after US stocks’ worst day since October
WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery doctor explains new UK COVID-19 variant found in Alabama
WSFA Montgomery – ‘Losing a young soul to a storm like this is heartbreaking’: Gov. Ivey visits Fultondale to see tornado damage
WSFA Montgomery – Educators rally for funds to expand mental health services
WAFF Huntsville – Crime Stoppers: Stolen credit cards and spending sprees
WAFF Huntsville – Schools in the Tennessee Valley continue to navigate COVID-19
WAFF Huntsville – Alabama lawmakers name three main bills for upcoming legislative session
WKRG Mobile – NW Fla. community raises over $4K for teen facing possible deportation
WKRG Mobile – Pace High School teacher back at work following ethics probe
WKRG Mobile – Hobby Lobby to end 40% off coupon at the end of February
WTVY Dothan – Valerie Cunningham named one of the Women Who Shape the State in 2020
WTVY Dothan – Dothan Pediatric Clinic offers Moderna vaccine to those eligible
WTVY Dothan – Cottonwood pre-K collecting items for Wiregrass Humane Society
WASHINGTON POST – As Biden vows monumental action on climate change, a fight with the fossil fuel industry has only begun
WASHINGTON POST – Biden embraces order and routine in his first week. How will that fit this moment of crisis?
WASHINGTON POST – Biden to reopen federal ACA insurance marketplace for three months
NEW YORK TIMES – Extremists Emboldened by Capitol Attack Pose Rising Threat, Homeland Security Says
NEW YORK TIMES – ‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game
NEW YORK TIMES – Vaccination Day at Dodger Stadium: Hours of Traffic and 7,730 Shots
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Point to More Losses on Wall Street; GameStop in Focus
WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Economy Set to Regain Most of 2020’s Losses
WALL STREET JOURNAL – WallStreetBets Founder Reckons With Legacy Amid Memes, ‘Loss Porn’ and Online Threats
Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)