Daily News – March 23, 2018

Daily News – March 23, 2018

Good morning! This is your Daily News for Friday, March 23. 

1. Trump Tariffs Take Toll

  • “This is what a trade war looks like.”
  • Stock markets took a tumble Thursday, in large part due to fears that President Trump’s new trade policies will spark a debilitating trade war with China.
  • The Dow fell by more than 700 points – it’s fifth largest one-day decline in history.
  • One ray of hope for many U.S. companies is that the president announced there will be a 30-day comment period before his steel and aluminum tariffs go into effect.
  • That means two things: (1) companies can officially tell the government why and how tariffs will hurt them, and (2) the White House will have time to figure out some kind of face-saving deal to back out of this pretty bad idea.
  • Read more from AXIOS here.

2. Data breach bill passes

  • It has been somewhat overshadowed by other issues, but Alabama looks poised to finally enact major legislation aimed at protecting consumers from data breaches.
  • HB 318, the Data Breach Notification Act, passed the House unanimously Thursday. It now goes back to the Senate, where a quick concurrence is expected.
  • The bill requires entities doing business in Alabama to disclose to consumers if their personal data has been compromised in a data breach.
  • It comes in the wake of high-profile data breaches like Target and Equifax, which left hundreds of thousands of Alabamians’ personal data vulnerable.
  • Alabama would be the LAST state in the union to enact such a law. South Dakota, once our buddy in the caboose, had its data breach notification bill signed into law yesterday.
  • The bill’s passage is a big win for sponsors Sen. Arthur Orr and Rep. Phil Williams, but particularly for Attorney General Steve Marshall, whose office wrote the bill.
  • Former Attorney General Luther Strange tried multiple times to get similar legislation passed going back as far as 2015, but each time it got eaten up in the political process.
  • Read more from WSFA HERE.

3. What else happened at the State House?

Bills becoming law

  • The General Fund budget has been signed into law. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the budget along with various accompanying legislation, including the three percent pay raise for state employees and a one-time lump-sum bonus of $1 per month for each year of service for retired state employees.
  • Also now law is a 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers and other education employees, though the actual education budget is still awaiting a conference committee report.
  • Sen. Trip Pittman’s bill authorizing the use of nitrogen gas to execute death row inmates was also signed into law.

Bills going to the Governor

  • Rep. Arnold Mooney’s Ten Commandments bill (This actually bypasses the governor and goes straight to the ballot as a constitutional amendment, but that can’t be a whole category, you know?)
  • Sen. Vivian Figures’ bill creating a state Rosa Parks Day. It won’t be a state holiday, but cities and counties will have the option of making it one.
  • Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter & Sen. Jabo Waggoner’s data center economic incentive bill.
  • Sen. Dick Brewbaker & Rep. Will Ainsworth’s adoption tax credit.

Key Bills Still in limbo

  • Rep. Bill Poole & Sen. Trip Pittman’s bill freeing up $46 million from the Rolling Reserve account for school security. It passed the House easily and should have no problem in the Senate.
  • The Department of Commerce’s bill to make sure economic developer site selectors and local chambers of commerce personnel don’t have to register as lobbyists. It is through a Senate committee but extended floor debate is expected next week.
  • Sen. Cam Ward & Rep. April Weaver’s bill stiffening fentanyl penalties. An amendment was added before House passage, and now it goes back to the Senate.

4. Speech police swing at Mike Rogers, miss

  • The reactionary speech police came after Congressman Mike Rogers this week.
  • Rogers had FEMA Director Brock Long testifying before the Homeland Security Committee. Alabama folks will remember Brock from his time as Alabama’s EMA director in the Riley Administration.
  • “It’s refreshing to finally have a witness that doesn’t have an accent before this committee,” Rogers joked to Long.
  • Of course, by that he meant the two of them share a Southern drawl, but it’s everybody else who really has an accent, you know?
  • Yeah, kind of a dumb joke. But it wasn’t mean spirited or racist, for heaven’s sake.
  • Predictably, Politico tried to make it a thing (they eventually removed the video and said their interpretation was incorrect). Other outlets – The Weekly Standard, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Free Beacon and YellowHammer – came to Rogers defense and called false smear for what it was.
  • Rogers’ 2018 opponent Mallory Hagan tried to jump on it as well. I guess you gotta do what you can in a campaign like that, but it’s not a good idea to choose issues that put you on the other side of the culture war from the majority of your would-be constituents.
  • Dumb joke. Dumber stories. And. you know what nobody is talking about? The substance of the committee hearing, namely our country’s preparedness for natural disasters and other emergencies.

5. Congress passes omnibus; lots of goodies for Alabama

Congress passed a $1.3 trillion appropriations plan Thursday. Most expected President Trump to sign the bill, but this morning he issued a veto threat over his displeasure with the lack of DACA-for-wall deal.

The bill is a big deal for Alabama, and Alabama’s appropriators – Sen. Richard Shelby, Rep. Robert Aderholt and Rep. Martha Roby – scored some major wins in the bill. Sen. Doug Jones, Reps. Bradley Byrne, Mike Rogers and Terri Sewell all voted for the bill.

Reps. Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer voted no, citing concerns over too much spending.

Military

The bill contains the largest increase in military spending in 15 years. In total, $654.3 billion will be spent on national defense, and military personnel will get their largest pay raise in eight years.

Specific to Alabama, the bill contained key funding for defense programs throughout the state

  • $10.2 billion for 90 F-35 aircraft (Dannelly Field in Montgomery)

  • $1.1 billion for 56 new Blackhawk/Seahawk helicopters (Sikorski in Troy)

  • $23.8 billion for 14 new Navy ships, including three Littoral Combat Ships (Austal in Mobile).

  • $9.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (Lockheed designs missiles systems in Huntsville and manufactures them in Troy). 

Huntsville 

  • The bill includes $110 million for building a new federal courthouse in Huntsville.
  • NASA gets $20.7 billion, which is more than a billion more than the president’s budget request.
  • Sen. Shelby chairs Commerce Justice and Science Appropriations, where this funding originates (of course, Shelby’s fingerprints can be seen on most every appropriations measure that benefits Alabama.)

Rural Broadband

  • The bill includes $685 million for the expansion of broadband internet. It will be a pilot program administered by the USDA.
  • Rep. Aderholt, who chairs Agriculture Appropriations where the funding originated, said the funding can work alongside a newly-passed state program to expand broadband into rural areas.

Medical Research

  • The bill contains $37.1 billion for the National Institutes for Health, a $3 billion increase over last year. Alabama has many hospitals and institutes involved in NIH research, including the Richard C. and Annette N. Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building at UAB.

School Safety

  • $2.3 billion is set aside for  for mental health, training, and school safety programs.

Infrastructure

  • The bill includes $21.2 billion in new funding for long-overdue improvements to the nation’s infrastructure.

Headlines

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Austin bombings revive trauma of explosion that killed Alabama federal judge.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House approves money for school safety measures.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House approves stiffer fentanyl penalties. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama voters to vote on Ten Commandments measure.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – China targets $3 billion in U.S. goods in tariff.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – 15 people arrested on federal gun charges.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Ten Commandments bill approved, goes to Alabama voters

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Ivey signs bill authorizing nitrogen executions.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Stephen Cooper:  Fighting the death penalty with James Baldwin.

AL.COM – Inside Etowah County jail: ‘Nightmare’ conditions may have helped sheriff buy beach house.

AL.COM – Alabama’s tragic ties to Martin Luther King’s murder.

AL.COM – Zuckerberg: ‘Significant number’ of fake news attempts during Alabama Senate election.

AL.COM – Census shows Huntsville metro still growing rapidly, now state’s No. 2.

AL.COM – Alabama’s proposed coal ash plan has too many loopholes, critics say.

AL.COM – Former Alabama lieutenant governors say keep the office strong.

AL.COM – Census: Shelby County drives growth in metro, Jefferson County stagnant.

AL.COM – Alabama lawmakers pass bill to designate Rosa Parks Day.

AL.COM – Alabama House rejects bill to track racial profiling.

AL.COM – Alabama Senate delays vote on church ‘Stand your Ground’ law.

AL.COM – Alabama House passes school policies for juvenile sex offenders.

AL.COM – Alabama voters to decide on school Ten Commandments displays.

AL.COM – Tax for stadium, renovations at BJCC signed into law.

AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey signs bill to allow execution by nitrogen hypoxia.

AL.COM – UAB Health System to launch resource center for rural hospitals.

AL.COM – Bill would let schools use technology funds for security.

AL.COM – Alabama Senate votes to track civil asset forfeiture cases.

AL.COM – Bill to exempt economic developers from ethics law advances.

FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Alabama 3rd state to allow execution by nitrogen gas.

FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Bible elective bill moves to Senate floor.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – When racism surfaces, a response is required.

GADSDEN TIMES – Jail food fix dies; Butler, Ford trade barbs.

WASHINGTON POST – In late-night drama, Senate passes $1.3 trillion spending bill, averting government shutdown.

WASHINGTON POST – China threatens to raise tariffs on about $3 billion of U.S. imports.

WASHINGTON POST – Dow closes down more than 700 points on fear of U.S.-China trade war.

NEW YORK TIMES – Democrats Banking on Suburban Discontent in 2018.

NEW YORK TIMES – After Florida Massacre, Pockets of NRA Country Weigh Gun Law Reform.

NEW YORK TIMES – Austin Bombings Revive Trauma of Alabama Explosion Death.

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