Weekend Digest – December 13, 2020

Weekend Digest – December 13, 2020

1. Ivey extends economic incentives, clears up tax issue

  • Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday extended the 2020 expirations of some major economic incentives used by the state to attract businesses and clarified that Alabamians won’t have to pay taxes on certain benefits they received under the CARES Act.
  • Through an emergency proclamation, Ivey took care, temporarily, of two of the major reasons some lawmakers and lobbying groups wanted the Legislature to meet for a special session this year. This month, it became clear a special session, which would have to be called by Ivey, wouldn’t happen.
  • “In coordination with the Alabama Legislature, we are pleased to address items that were delayed due to COVID-19,” Ivey said in a written statement. “This action is a short-term solution until these items can be considered by the full legislative body during the 2021 Regular Session. In the meantime, the people of Alabama need clear guidance prior to filing their 2020 taxes. Therefore, the state will not be collecting taxes from individuals or businesses who received benefits from the CARES Act because these benefits were designed to help our citizens survive the pandemic’s strain on the economy. It is both my intent, and the will of the Legislature, to ensure CARES Act payments extend their full value to the people who need it the most.”
  • Several lawmakers plan legislation to clear up the tax issue, Alabama Daily News previously reported. The Legislature adjourned in May without passing a bill to clarify that federal relief funds are not to be considered taxable income.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.

 

2. COVID-19 vaccine shipments begin in historic US effort

  • The first shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use in the United States headed Sunday from Michigan to distribution centers across the country, with the first shots expected to be given in the coming week to health care workers and at nursing homes.
  • Shipments of the Pfizer vaccine will set in motion the biggest vaccination effort in American history at a critical juncture of the pandemic that has killed 1.6 million and sickened 71 million worldwide.
  • Initially, about 3 million doses were expected to be sent out, and the priority is health care workers and nursing home residents as infections, hospitalizations and deaths soar in the U.S. With numbers likely to get worse over the holidays, the vaccine is offering a bright spot in the fight against the pandemic that’s killed nearly 300,000 Americans.
  • Federal officials say the first shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine will be staggered, arriving in 145 distribution centers Monday, with an additional 425 sites getting shipments Tuesday, and the remaining 66 on Wednesday. The vaccine, co-developed by German partner BioNTech, is being doled out based on each state’s adult population.
  • Alabama state health officer Scott Harris said on Wednesday he expects just under 41,000 doses for Alabama in the first shipment.
  • Read more HERE.

 

3. ADOC rejects DOJ lawsuit

  • A Justice Department lawsuit over conditions in Alabama’s prisons for men ignores progress the state has made to improve the lockups, the Department of Corrections said.
  • The agency said it disagrees with Trump administration allegations that the men’s prisons violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
  • “The complaint filed by the DOJ plainly ignores the years’ worth of information provided by the ADOC regarding the substantial and impactful reforms it continues to undertake,” said a state prison system statement released Thursday night.
  • The Justice Department lawsuit, filed on the heels of two scathing reports, said Alabama prisons are plagued with inmate-on-inmate violence, a pattern of excessive force by staff and an indifference by state officials to address the problems.
  • The prisons agency acknowledged past problems, but said the Justice Department “continues to mischaracterize these limited instances as sweeping patterns. “
  • Read more HERE.

 

4. Health Officials: Please skip holiday gatherings as virus surges

  • Medical officials on Friday pleaded with people to forgo Christmas parties and large gatherings as the state faces a record-setting surge in COVID-19 cases that looks to only get worse.
  • Dr. Mark Wilson, the health officer for Jefferson County, delivered the plea in a press conference with doctors from UAB Hospital in Birmingham as the state set multiple COVID-19 records in the wake of Thanksgiving gatherings.
  • “Holiday parties are just not a good idea right now,” Wilson said. ”This Christmas please have a small gathering with just those people who live in your household.”
  • Wilson said he understands this is an additional sacrifice after people have already changed so much of their daily lives, but said it is needed to keep people alive until there is access to the vaccine.
  • Alabama this week hit record highs for daily cases and the number of COVID-19 patients in state hospitals and as well as a jump in the number of reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Alabama has risen over the past two weeks from nearly 22 deaths per day on Nov. 26 to almost 37 deaths per day on Dec. 10.
  • Read more HERE.

 

5. Trump, Congress avert shutdown, buy time for COVID-19 talks

  • President Donald Trump signed a temporary government-wide funding bill into law on Friday, averting a federal shutdown at midnight and buying Congress time for on-again, off-again talks on COVID-19 aid.
  • The short-term measure passed the Senate just hours earlier by a unanimous voice vote without much drama and sent senators home for the weekend without a clear picture of what awaits next week. The bill sets a new deadline of midnight next Friday. The House passed the bill Wednesday.
  • The talks are stalled but there is universal agreement that Congress won’t adjourn for the year without passing a long-delayed round of pandemic relief. An emerging $900 billion aid package from a bipartisan group of lawmakers hit a rough patch after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., swung against the effort. Still, negotiations are ongoing and pressure remains intense.
  • The House has recessed for a few days, with leaders warning members to be prepared to return to Washington to vote on the year-end deals.
  • Negotiators on a separate $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill appeared to be moving in a positive direction, said the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. This bill would serve as a vehicle to carry any year-end virus assistance.
  • Read more HERE.

 

Headlines

INSIDE ALABAMA POLITICS – December 3, 2020
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey uses emergency proclamation to extend incentives, clear up tax issue
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 vaccine shipments begin in historic US effort
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama prisons agency says federal suit ignores progress
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Official: Please skip holiday gatherings as virus surges
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump, Congress avert shutdown, buy time for COVID-19 talks
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 11, 2020
AL.COM – As vaccine arrives in Alabama, healthcare workers divided on whether to take it.
AL.COM – Alabama on track to add over 100,000 coronavirus cases in December: Week in review.
AL.COM – Alabama ABC Board to consider resuming emergency ‘to-go’ alcohol sales.
AL.COM – 2 more Alabama schools go remote amid COVID surge.
AL.COM – Dr. Michael Saag made a difference as a doctor and a patient.
AL.COM – Trump supporters rally in Alabama after Supreme Court’s decision: ‘It’s not over until it’s over’.
AL.COM – Hangout Fest: ‘Too early to tell’ if May 2021 event is feasible.
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Virus isn’t a myth or media creation; ‘I’m in it’.
AL.COM – Columnist Amanda Walker: As goes Wilcox County, so goes the rest.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Scofield: ‘Unprecedented times’ warrant Ivey’s emergency executive action on taxation, economic development incentives.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Hobson City has historic distinction as Alabama’s first official Black town.
AP NEWS – Alabama ranks fourth for prison virus deaths.
AP NEWS – New book focuses on ‘America’s Amazon,’ Mobile River basin.
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: Time is up for Alabama prisons.
DECATUR DAILY – Schools expect relief from revised state quarantine requirements.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – More funding sought for prison, workforce education.
GADSDEN TIMES – Attalla closes City Hall to public as a precaution.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: Alabama’s success with adoptions leads to more tears of joy.
ANNISTON STAR – Silent nights: As virus blossoms, churches ponder Christmas changes.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – CARES Act reimbursement requirement major headache for Alabama’s Black Belt.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – The FDA approved the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine. What does this mean for Alabama?
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Senate District 26 profile: John Knight leans on experience in Democratic primary.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Senate District 26 profile: Kirk Hatcher emphasizes education, economic development.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Steven L. Reed: Let Montgomery’s community improve policing through civilian review board.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Marshall’s distraction.
WASHINGTON POST – In challenging election defeat, Trump cements his control over the Republican Party.
WASHINGTON POST – As coronavirus vaccine begins to roll out, FDA seeks to reassure the public on safety.
WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post: Republicans faced a simple choice: For or against democracy.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Christopher Blackwell: Covid-19 is spreading wildly in prisons like mine. We should get the vaccine early.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Joe Davidson: The coronavirus took her mother. Now this woman, like millions of others, fears she’ll be evicted.
WASHINGTON POST – Multiple people stabbed after thousands gather for pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington.
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Allies Eye Long-Shot Election Overturn in Congress, Testing Pence
NEW YORK TIMES – Contributor Al Gore: Where I Find Hope
 NEW YORK TIMES – Female Workers Could Take Another Pandemic Hit: To Their Retirements
USA TODAY – Students are falling behind in online school. Where’s the COVID-19 ‘disaster plan’ to catch them up?
THE HILL – Committees reach bipartisan deal to protect patients from surprise medical bills.
THE HILL – Sanders, Hawley vow fight next week over stimulus checks.