8 months ago

Speaker Announces Committee Changes in the Alabama House of Representatives

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) announced several committee reassignments on Monday after conducting what many expected to be a routine review.

“Committee assignments are often changed in order to bring new ideas, fresh perspectives, and renewed enthusiasm to the various legislative panels,” McCutcheon told the Alabama News Network. “We work hard to pair each member with a committee assignment that reflects their particular skill set, district, and constituencies.”

The latest committee changes will stay in place for the remainder of the current legislative quadrennium or four-year cycle. The next organizational session of the legislature will not convene until 2019.

The assigned changes are:

• Rep. Alan Boothe (R–Troy) has been moved from the House Rules Committee to the House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee

• Rep. Prince Chestnut (D–Selma) will no longer serve on the State Government Committee and has been moved to the House Judiciary Committee. He will still sit on the Military and Veterans Affairs and Urban and Rural Development committees.

• Rep. Danny Crawford (R–Athens) will now serve on the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee in addition to his service on the County and Municipal Government, Health and Urban and Rural Development Committees.

• Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D–Birmingham) has been moved from the House Judiciary Committee to the House County and Municipal Government Committee. She will maintain her seat on the Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee.

• Rep. Kelvin Lawrence (D–Hayneville) will sit on the House State Government Committee in addition to the Boards, Agencies, and Commissions and Economic Development and Tourism committees.

• Rep. Tim Wadsworth (R–Arley) was moved from the House State Government Committee to the House Judiciary Committee. He will maintain his seat on the Children and Senior Advocacy and Local Legislation committees.

• Rep. Jack Williams (R–Wilmer) has been moved from the Agriculture and Forestry Committee to the House State Government Committee.

While these changes will stay in place until the start of 2019, McCutcheon said that more changes could come before the Legislature meets again at the start of next year.


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30 mins ago

Storms strike college, leave trail of damage across South

Daybreak Tuesday revealed widespread damage after a night of violent weather in the Deep South, with a college campus shattered by an apparent tornado and thousands of buildings and vehicles battered by hail as large as baseballs.

The area around Jacksonville State University was among the hardest hit as storms swept across the South, part of a large system that prompted tornado warnings Monday in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.


Using couch cushions for protection, Richard Brasher hid in the bathtub with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren as the storm passed near the college. The roar was terrifying, said Brasher, 60.

“I thought we were gone,” he said. “It happened so fast.”

Several shelters opened, schools were closed, trees and power lines were down, and Jacksonville State advised people to avoid traveling near campus Tuesday morning. Most students were away for spring break.

Part of the roof was ripped off the nursing school and Pete Mathews Coliseum, a 3,500-seat basketball arena. Pieces of lumber and bent metal covered the ground along with insulation that looked like yellow cotton candy.

To the west in Cullman, the lots of automobile dealerships were full of cars and trucks that no longer had windows. The sheriff shared a photo of a county jail bombarded by hail but said the prisoners were fine.

Schools were closed in several counties because of damage. Alabama Power Co. said more than 9,000 homes and businesses were without electricity.

Forecasters had warned that the storms would threaten more than 29 million people, raising the risk of powerful tornadoes, damaging winds and hail the size of tennis balls.

Cities in northern Alabama reported power outages and the National Weather Service in Huntsville reported at least three confirmed tornadoes in the area.

Officials suspected a tornado was to blame for the damage in Jacksonville, where Brasher said he was standing in his hall when the kitchen windows exploded.

With electrical transformers exploding and trees crashing down all around, Brasher said, it felt like wind “picked up and shook the whole house.”

“We were scared to death. It blew the paint off my house,” Brasher said.

The National Weather Service said five teams were out in Alabama assessing storm damage.

The weather service was also sending survey crews to at least two Georgia communities to investigate whether tornadoes caused widespread damage to homes there.

In Haralson, Georgia, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta, the Haralson County School District said schools would be closed Tuesday due to storm damage “throughout our community.” Damage was also reported in Fairburn, Georgia, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta.

The same storm system that battered Alabama and Georgia was taking aim Tuesday at a large part of Florida and coastal communities in Georgia and the Carolinas.

Much of north Florida and the entire Georgia and South Carolina coasts would be at an “enhanced” risk for severe storms Tuesday, which could include damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes, the National Storm Prediction Center. A small part of the North Carolina coastline was also included in the area most likely to see severe weather.

The area most at risk for Tuesday’s storms is heavily populated, with more than 10 million people and major Florida cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

1 hour ago

Sen. Shelby’s ascent to Appropriations chair has Georgians worried over decades-long water war with Alabama, Florida

With Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) departure from the U.S. Senate on April 1, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) is set to become the next chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

That has some on the Georgia side of the long-running water war over the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa, and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basins between Florida and Alabama worried Congress will enact legislation to give Alabama an edge according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tamar Hallerman.

“The 83-year-old has kept Georgia’s lawyers and congressional delegation in a constant state of paranoia over the past two decades by quietly using government spending bills and other must-pass legislation to aid Alabama’s position in the tri-state water fight,” Hallerman wrote. “Georgia lawmakers have mostly thwarted Shelby’s under-the-radar moves by banding together and going over his head to party leaders. But Shelby’s likely promotion could change the political dynamic on Capitol Hill, where committee chairmen have outsized power to look out for their interests.”


The population explosion of the Atlanta metropolitan area has led to an increased demand for water, which it has met by drawing from the Chattahoochee River. That according to those on the Alabama and Florida side of the issue crying foul given it means less downstream flow from the Chattahoochee. It has especially impacted oyster harvesting in the Apalachicola Bay of Florida.

Hallerman wrote that Shelby has attempted to insert language into government spending legislation for what he has referred to as “equity in the distribution of the water,” but those efforts have been thwarted by Georgia lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

With Shelby’s new role, it may be harder for Georgia’s congressional delegation to continue to resist his efforts, Hallerman explained.

“Ever since a 2015 blowup, the Georgia delegation has been able to contain Shelby’s efforts. But that could all change in the months ahead,” she wrote. “Shelby’s promotion is all but assured in the seniority-focused Senate, and he has backup on Senate Appropriations from Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, since the two states frequently work together on the issue. No Georgia lawmaker sits on that Senate committee.”

Shelby joined the Environment and Public Works Committee in 2017, which is the committee that authorizes projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as laid out by the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  The Army Corps of Engineers’ activities are traditionally authorized every two years by Congress through the WRDA and are funded annually in appropriations bills, which will give Shelby significant influence.

Neither of Georgia’s two U.S. Senators, Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson have a seat on the Environment and Public Works or Appropriations committees.

In a statement provided to Yellowhammer News, Shelby urged a solution at the state level, but maintained he would seek to “preserve” Alabama’s interests.

“It is my continued hope that the Alabama, Florida, and Georgia governors will work this out at the state level,” Shelby said. “However, I will carefully consider all options to preserve our state’s interests.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

1 hour ago

10 million southerners remain under storm threat

The Latest on storms and damage across the Southeast (all times local):

8 a.m.

Forecasters say a storm system that battered Alabama and Georgia will threaten a large part of the Florida and coastal communities in Georgia and the Carolinas.

The national Storm Prediction Center says much of north Florida and the entire Georgia and South Carolina coasts will be at an “enhanced” risk for severe storms, which could include damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes.


A small part of the North Carolina coastline is also included in the area most likely to see severe weather.

The area most at risk is heavily populated, with more than 10 million people and major Florida cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina.

Forecasters said storms could strike some communities Tuesday morning, and others Tuesday afternoon and evening.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 hours ago

The only solution to gun violence in schools is … more guns in schools

As I drove my five children to school this morning I heard on the radio that the bill allowing teachers to carry guns might be debated today on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives.

I’ve had my share of serious concerns about the proposal — training, oversight, unintended consequences — and have remained mostly unsure how we should proceed.

Until a few minutes ago.


My youngest wanted me to walk him to class, and when his little hand passed from mine to his teacher’s — and I felt that familiar sense of worry that all good fathers feel when leaving their children — I imagined … just for a moment … that his teacher was wearing a holstered sidearm.

And I felt a genuine sense of relief.

It’s time for our lawmakers to turn that fantasy into reality so parents across Alabama can feel that same sense of relief, knowing that if some insane shooter tries to harm our children they’ll at least stand a fighting chance because some of their teachers will be armed.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville), will need as much flexibility and local control as possible to avoid becoming a hinderance rather than a help, though. It already allows local school systems to determine if they want to arm their teachers, and that’s a good start. That way, if a community doesn’t like how their system decides, they can take it up with their locally-elected school board.

Still, lawmakers will likely need to make further adjustments next year once we’ve seen how the would-be law is implemented. There will surely be some tweaks tomorrow, but that should not be cause for complete inaction today.

Listen folks: In sane world I’d rather see a pencil-packing teacher rather than a pistol-packing teacher, but we don’t live in a sane world.

The neo-Marxist left, with the help of libertarians and the acquiescence of lazy conservatives, has attacked and weakened our traditions and promoted fifth and disorder everywhere, especially in our government-run schools. What we saw in Parkland, Florida, is a direct result of their campaign to reshape our society … and it’s certainly being reshaped.

There’s nothing left for those who seek to live in peace but to arm ourselves, and those who watch over our children.

I hate it, but that’s the reality we face.

And just as the only solution to hate speech is more speech, because we’re not getting rid of the First Amendment, the only solution to gun violence is more guns, because we’re not getting rid of the Second Amendment, either.

Whatever emerges from this legislative session, if it doesn’t end with more guns in schools — either by arming teachers, a volunteer security force, or more campus cops — then we’d have failed.

And the left would take our society another step down the road to ruin.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter.

(Image: File)

2 hours ago

Karrie Webb gets US Women’s Open spot at Alabama

Two-time champion Karrie Webb has received a special exemption to the U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

Webb won consecutive U.S. Women’s Open titles by a combined 13 shots when she was at the top of her game. She beat Cristie Kerr and Meg Mallon by five shots at The Merit Club outside Chicago in 2000 and Se Ri Pak by eight shots at Pine Needles in North Carolina a year later.


The U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek starts May 31.

Webb received a 10-year exemption for her 2001 victory, and she has remained exempt through other categories every year since then.

The Australian is the first player to receive a special exemption to the Women’s Open since Pak in 2016 at CordeValle.

(Image: Keith Allison/Wikicommons)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)