Daily News – March 20, 2018

Daily News – March 20, 2018

Good morning! This is your Daily News for Tuesday, March 20. 

1. Spring storm packs a punch

  • Alabama and much of the southeast got walloped overnight by tornado-producing thunderstorms.
  • The damage is most severe in Jacksonville and Calhoun County, where an apparent tornado destroyed homes, apartment buildings, businesses, and caused significant damage to JSU campus facilities.
  • There is no reported loss of life at the moment. Thank God Jacksonville students are currently on Spring Break.
  • Read more about Jacksonville and other reported damage across the state here.
  • AL.com has a good list of school closings here.

2. Here we go: final stretch of session

If all goes according to the Legislature’s plan, there are five days left in the regular session – three days this week and two days next week – adjourning sine die on Thursday the 29th.

There are a lot of major bills to be dealt with by then. Here’s what to expect today…

HOUSE

The House has four (FOUR!) special order calendars – or legislative agendas – prepared to work off of today.

  • One is specifically for Jefferson County, including the car rental tax dedicated toward a new Downtown Birmingham stadium. The floor fight over that alone will likely be long and drawn out.
  • One two-bill special order has Rep. Will Ainsworth’scontroversial bill to arm trained teachers at the tippy top (more on that in a minute) followed by Rep. Chris Sell’s bill to crack down on telemarketing.
  • One special order contains only Sen. Livingston and Rep. Hanes’s bill for community development districts.
  • Then, there is one very substantive special order calendar that includes: Rep. Donnie Chesteen & Sen. Clay Scofield’s Rural Broadband bill, Sen. Cam Ward’s human trafficking bill, Sen. Trip Pittman’s execution by nitrogen bill, Sen. Jim McClendon’s DUI interlock bill, Sen. Rusty Glover’s bill allowing a gubernatorial appointment for short-term legislative vacancies, Sen. Greg Reed & Rep. Randall Shedd’s bill creating the Rural Hospital Resource Center at UAB,  Sen. Clyde Chambliss’ & Rep. Paul Beckman’s school sex offender notification bill, and Sen. Arthur Orr’s & Rep. Danny Garrett’sbill reducing the number of weeks people can receive jobless benefits during times of low unemployment.
  • That’s a lot of major legislation.
  • *Remember that we don’t know what order in which they may be adopted*
  • Read the entire calendar complete with bill numbers here.

SENATE

  • It should be a short day in the Senate. Expect the upper chamber to take up the General Fund Budget and concur, sending it to the governor’s desk.
  • As I wrote in my column, I don’t see the Senate wanting to re-open that can of worms and try to amend the General Fund when what the House passed is likely agreeable to most everybody.

3. What’s going to happen on the guns bill?

  • At the risk of over-hyping this thing, the armed teachers bill is probably the most-watched legislation this session.
  • So, what happens when it comes to the floor today?
  • The last few weeks many – including me – have assumed that most any guns-for-teachers bill would pass easily on the floor given how well the general idea polls among the GOP electorate.
  • But, not so fast. I’m hearing there is significant disagreement on moving forward on this bill from House GOP members.
  • Some see it as political posturing, others as a bill that is almost certain to go nowhere in the Senate and, therefore, a waste of valuable floor time.
  • Remember that, because the budgets have yet to be transmitted to the governor,  the House still has the procedural hurdle known as the Budget Isolation Resolution in place. That means three fifths of the voting House, or around 63 members, have to vote to move forward on the bill.
  • That BIR vote will be very close today.

4. Montgomery makes a big move to convert struggling schools to charters

  • The Montgomery Education Foundation has filed a charter school application proposing the conversion of five struggling Montgomery schools into a charter feeding system.
  • The schools proposed for this feeder system: Floyd Elementary, Davis Elementary, E.D. Nixon Elementary, Bellingrath Middle School and Sidney Lanier High School.
  • The conversion would be eventual, starting with the elementary schools and feeding upward over time to the junior high schools and high school.
  • Read Andrew Yawn’s complete report with quotes and details in The Montgomery Advertiser.

5. Congress teeters with shutdown

Did you know the federal government is scheduled to run out of money on Friday?

It’s not making a ton of news, mostly because this time there isn’t as much brinksmanship and most expect a deal to be done without much drama this week.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LAST FUNDING BILL?

  • If you’re thinking, “I thought Congress passed a big giant budget deal like a month ago to stave off shutdown disasters?” Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
  • What Congress passed on Feb. 8 was a budget resolution, which is essentially a framework for how to fund the government (how much can be spent where, etc).
  • That framework set basic funding policy for the next two years, but it only included about six weeks of actual appropriations, which are the specific spending provisions that fill in the agreed-upon budget framework.
  • Right now Congress is trying to pass a full-ish appropriations plan.

WHAT’S NEXT 

  • Expect the final appropriations legislation to be unveiled today.
  • Most reports say lawmakers on both sides are dropping their controversial riders (protect DREAMers, defund Planned Parenthood, defund sanctuary cities, etc) in order to get a deal passed. That might cause a few votes to drop off, but ultimately make it more likely for a bill to pass.
  • One interesting issue to watch: whether Obamacare stabilization funds are included in the final bill. Sen. Lamar Alexander is trying to make sure funds are in place to prevent  further erosion of the insurance market. The President has reportedly said he wants an agreement on this issue to be part of the deal.
  • One tidbit: the White House and Congressional Republicans reportedly offered Democrats a deal protecting DREAMers from deportation for two and a half years in exchange for $25 billion in border wall funding, but Democrats said no.
  • Read more from the Associated Press here.
  • Read more from POLITICO here.

Headlines

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers head into final days of session. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama House to debate arming teachers

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Talks on $1.3 trillion catch-all spending bill near completion.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Fear mounts in Austin as serial bomber uses tripwire.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Severe storms spawn tornadoes, cause home damage across southeast.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Self-driving car strikes, kills pedestrian in Arizona.

​ALABAMA DAILY NEWS –  Martha Roby: highlighting positive discussions with military leaders.

​ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bradley Byrne: protecting our children. 

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Ivey signs prison health care contract.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Fatal deer disease would impact more than hunters

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Tensions over Democratic leadership ease after Doug Jones win.

AL.COM – U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear case of Alabama inmate who wished to die by hanging, firing squad.

AL.COM – Alabama storm damage: Jacksonville State hit hard; more school closings.

AL.COM – Etowah sheriff at center of jail food money controversy to hold news conference Tuesday.

AL.COM – Alabama legislation could stop Etowah sheriff from keeping jail food money.

AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith:  Will state legislators render teachers ‘improper’ sex cops?

AL.COM – Former county administrator pleads guilty to using position to steal more than $700,000.

AL.COM – Alabama high school student punished over Tweets criticizing school walkout plan.

AL.COM – New law can send Alabama owners of vicious dogs to prison.

AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey signs contract for health care in Alabama prisons.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Scandal, blue dogs and the fickle public could change the 2018 election, maybe.

DECATUR DAILY – Budgets nearly done, lawmakers move this week to guns, broadband.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Bill takes aim at sales taxes.

GADSDEN TIMES – Butler seeks change in Etowah inmate feeding funds.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump shakes up team of lawyers as legal threats mount.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump prepared to hit China with $60 billion in annual tariffs.

WASHINGTON POST – Congressional negotiators work to finalize massive spending bill.

WASHINGTON POST – The White House wants to kill this popular energy program, but Rick Perry calls it ‘impressive’.

NEW YORK TIMES – Extensive Data Shows Punishing
Reach of Racism for Black Boys

NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist David Brooks:  What Holds America Together

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