1 month ago

Alabama Legislature update: Guns dominate the debate in Montgomery


Editor’s note: This is a round-up of the day’s major events in Montgomery.

Guns dominated Montgomery’s politics on Thursday, both because of circumstances — Wednesday’s mass school shooting in Florida — and coincidence — a previously scheduled vote in the Legislature.

Here is a look at what lawmakers in the state capital did as they closed out another work week of the session:

The big story: The state House of Representatives passed legislation that would extend the 2006 Stand Your Ground law specifically to churches and other places of worship, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

The House passed the bill on a 40-16 vote during a long session that lasted more than 12 hours and stretched late into the night.

Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville), a person can claim a defense from prosecution if he uses physical force against anyone committing or attempting a crime, attacking an employee, volunteer or member of church inside the house of worship.

“If you have someone coming into a church with a gun that starts shooting folks, you want to have someone that’s going to shoot back,” Greer said during the debate, according to the Advertiser.

Opponents cast the bill as unnecessary. State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) called it “pandering” since the current law already protects people in churches.

“We can be as irresponsible and reckless in the message we send, even when 17 people were killed in a school not too far from us,” he said, according to the paper.

Responding to Parkland: The shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, provoked ideas from Alabama legislators about how to prevent a similar tragedy in the Heart of Dixie.

One idea, offered by state Rep. and lieutenant governor candidate Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville) is to let teachers carrying guns in school — after completing a required training course.

Ainsworth told Yellowhammer Thursday he intends to draft legislation.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) would not got so far as to endorse Ainsworth’s idea, but he said at a news conference that he was urging lawmakers to “put their thinking caps on,” according to AL.com.

McCutcheon said it was too early to make a decision about Ainsworth’s proposal.

“At this point, we’re opening the door to our legislators to be creative, put their thinking caps on,” he said, according to the website. “Look at their individual school districts because they’re all a little different. Let’s see what kind of ideas come out so we can look at them.”

AL.com also reported that McCutcheon deflected a reporter’s question about whether the state should raise the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle like the AR-15 that accused Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz, 18, used to gun down his victims.

“At this point, I think we need to continue to look at the federal regulations because that will actually dictate to the states exactly the sale of weapons and firearms as to what direction we can go in,” he said. “I would encourage the discussions of those things.”

Appreciating the military: Alabama Gov. Key Ivey designated Thursday “Military Appreciation Day,” and the Senate passed five bills intended to support veterans.

The centerpiece is a bill sponsored by Rep. Dickie Drake. (R-Leeds), the Parks and Patriots Act, which would give veterans in Alabama free admission to all state parks for life. Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) praised the bill.

“More than 50,000 Alabamians serve in the military or work as employees of the Department of Defense, and it is appropriate and right that we honor their heroism and service,” Reed said in a statement. “Veterans from Alabama have fought honorably in numerous wars, defending this nation from Nazi fascists and now, radical Islamic terrorists.”

More than 25,000 soldiers and airmen in the Alabama National Guard have been deployed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Currently, about 1,000 are serving on active duty.

Thursday was the 12th day of the legislative session, which means lawmakers now are more than a third of the way through.

Tweet of the Day:


Updated at 7:16 p.m. on Feb. 16 to correct the sponsor of the Parks and Patriots Act.

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

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4 hours ago

Evidence mounts of full-scale Russian campaign to undermine American energy

The U.S. government for the first time ever blamed Russia for hacking into American energy infrastructure. The Trump administration action comes a little over two weeks after a House committee detailed Russian attempts to influence energy markets.

U.S. officials said a “multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” that began in March 2016, possibly earlier, is part of a campaign to target critical infrastructure, including energy, nuclear and aviation facilities.


The FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Thursday said hackers targeted small facilities “where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks,” Reuters reported.

It’s the first time the U.S. has directly called out Moscow for infrastructure hacking. It’s still unclear whether or not the hacks were successful or led to any damage, and the security alert did not name the companies targeted.

The Trump administration condemnation comes more than two weeks after the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology found Russian agents used social media outlets to embolden opposition to American energy production.

“Russia exploited American social media as part of its concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy,” reads the committee’s report on Russian activities.

The committee found accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, published 9,097 social media posts from 2015 to 2017 targeting energy policies and projects. Thirteen Russians connected to IRA were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change, and other divisive issues to influence public policy in the U.S.,” the House committee found.

For years, Republicans and energy industry experts have worried Russian money was being used to undermine U.S. energy policy.

Intelligence officials confirmed in early 2017 in a declassified report on election meddling that the state-owned media outlet Russia Today (RT) ran “anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health.”

The House committee began the investigation in 2017 and asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to investigate whether or not Russians were using an offshore Bermuda-based law firm to funnel money to U.S. environmental groups.

Lawmakers asked Mnuchin to investigate whether or not the U.S.-based environmental group, the Sea Change Foundation, took $23 million from a Bermuda-based shell company with ties to Russian oligarchs in 2010 and 2011.

Sea Change gave millions to U.S.-based environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. All of those groups oppose hydraulic fracturing.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

5 hours ago

VIDEO: PA-18’s lessons — dangerous teachers — student walkouts … and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories including:

— Were the results in Pennsylvania’s special election a rejection of Trump or Pelosi?

— Why did the executive director of the state’s superintendent association imply teachers were unstable and dangerous?

— Will the student walkouts bring about some real change on gun issues?

Clayton Hinchman joins Jackson and Burke to discuss his campaign for Congress in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at Hillary Clinton where he begs her never stop talking.

6 hours ago

AlabamaWorks! is holding a career event for students to learn about jobs in the state

Edie Gibson and Antiqua Cleggett talk “Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA” which will be held April 24-25 at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex.

Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA is designed to help 8-12th grade students “connect the dots” and clearly identify steps toward a college or career pathway as they enter their high school education.

More information is available here.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

7 hours ago

Wounded Warrior running for Alabama State House representing Chambers and Lee Counties

Back in 2003, while U.S. Army Specialist Todd Rauch and his buddies were patrolling the streets of Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi city made famous by its notorious prison, a remotely-detonated mortar exploded near his patrol. His right shoulder and hand were severely injured in the blast.

Rauch was eventually flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and endured 12 surgeries to save his limbs from amputation.

He is now running as a Republican for the State House of Representatives district representing Chambers and Lee Counties.

So how did this Illinois-native find himself running for office in Alabama?

While recovering at the hospital, Rauch’s roommate was from Fort Payne and “all he talked about was Auburn and Auburn and Auburn,” Rauch told Yellowhammer News.


Rauch soon recovered from his injuries, and then his plans for a transition to civilian life became all about … Auburn, Auburn, Auburn.

“I applied to Auburn and felt like it was a good place to get a fresh start,” he said

Rauch studied psychology at Auburn University, with the intention of working in veteran services or military intelligence. He then worked for a time as an intelligence analyst and then began working in veterans’ services, helping his brothers and sisters in arms receive the benefits they were promised.

He’s running on a platform strengthening communities.

Rauch has a firm conviction that a community’s representative ought to be more present in the community itself, something he said he hasn’t seen much at the 75 city and county commission meetings he has attended over the last few years.

“I realized that there was no one there who was representing us in Montgomery to take those voices and those issue and those problems to Montgomery,” he said.

Rauch has put improving jobs and education among his platform principles.

He is a stanch supporter of the community college system, of which both he and his wife are products.

“It’s a good and affordable way to get your education and to get experience in college without jumping into a four-year university,” he said.

Rauch also supports expanding broadband access to rural areas. He said it is critical to the development of rural areas that have little internet and cell service.

“You’re not able to do your banking,” he said. “Some of these people aren’t even able to have home security systems because some of that works off of cell service.”

With the campaign motto, “Community. Country. Service,” Rauch said he wants to work to improve life for his constituents, and by extension, the rest of the state and country.

“Focusing on the community creates better environment for the kids, inspires better leaders, and provides better community for our state, and provides a better state for our country,” he said.

The GOP primary is June 5.

(Image: Todd Rauch for Alabama/Facebook)

The conservative alternative to Martha Roby gains momentum as Terry Everett, lawmakers endorse Barry Moore

State Rep. Barry Moore’s campaign for Congress recently received strong endorsements from the district’s former congressman and a dozen of Alabama’s most conservative state lawmakers.

“Since I left Congress, government has grown, our representation has wavered, and District 2 values have been casted aside,” said former Republican Congressman Terry Everett, who represented the district from 1993-2009. “We need to make a change, and I am privileged to support Representative Barry Moore for Congress.”

Everett’s powerful endorsement comes days after 12 of the state’s most conservative lawmakers gathered in Montgomery to endorse Barry Moore, whose conservative record they witnessed firsthand while working alongside him in the State Legislature.

Wetumpka State Rep. Mike Holmes told reporters that the district has “an opportunity to send a strong, unapologetic conservative to Washington,” and Montgomery State Rep. Dimitri Polizos agreed, saying that Moore is a “proven conservative leader” who will “stand with President Trump and give our district the representation it deserves.”

Visit Barry Moore’s website, his Facebook page and @RepBarryMoore on Twitter to learn why Terry Everett and others believe in his vision to Make Alabama Great Again!

(Paid for by Barry Moore for Congress)