2 months ago

Yellowhammer Radio: Joel Blankenship makes his weekly visit on The Ford Faction


(Sponsored) Xtreme Concepts very own Joel Blankenship returns for his edition of The Man Hour and he brings the heat.  Blankenship and the guys touch on 30 songs that are turning 30 this year.  The guys discuss what were the best songs on the list and debate what was Michael Jackson’s best song.  Of course with every Joel Blankenship visit, the guys discuss the “Man Movie of The Week”, Slap Shot.  Ford gives his review and score of the movie and the next flick on the list is “Smokey and The Bandit.”  Joel even touches base on the Alabama Legislative Update and what he took away from it and what it will do for this state.

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9 mins ago

Gun control, arming teachers bills dead for Alabama session

Gun control proposals failed in the Alabama Legislature after most Republican committee members skipped out on Wednesday debate on the bills, including a proposal to raise the age to buy an AR-15 or similar rifle.

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee canceled a scheduled meeting after only four members, mostly Democrats, attended. The committee has 11 members.

The lack of action likely kills the bills for the session. The committee inaction came a day after the House of Representatives failed to bring a Republican bill to arm teachers up for vote, also signaling the demise of that proposal.


Rep. Juandalynn Givan, a Birmingham Democrat, said the lack of attendance for the gun control debate shows that Alabama lawmakers are not serious about discussing substantive changes to gun laws.

“Vote it up or vote it down. Don’t be cowards. …. You can’t show up at the meeting to at least have a conversation?” Givan said.

Givan referenced how students walked out of high schools across the country last week in national protests against gun violence. “Our kids walked out of school last week to take a stand, and we can’t come to a meeting to take a vote. What does that say about the leadership in the state of Alabama?”

Givan’s bill would have raised the age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21. At least two legislatures, including Florida’s, approved similar measures after last month’s shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.

The committee was also scheduled to debate two other gun control bills by Democrats. One would allow judges to temporarily take firearms from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. Another was a long-shot proposal to ban sales of AR-15’s and similar weapons.

The separate Republican proposal to arm teachers — another idea introduced in the wake of the Florida shooting __ also stalled in the legislative session expected to wrap up next week.

The House of Representatives adjourned Tuesday without debating a bill by Republican Rep. Will Ainsworth of Guntersville that would allow designated teachers and school administrators, to carry, or access, firearms in school after undergoing training.

Republican lawmakers appeared divided over the proposal that got pushback from some educators and groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It would have also likely faced a filibuster by Democrats. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, in a statement signaling the bills demise, said that: “I can offer a personal guarantee that this issue will be revisited when the Legislature convenes its next session.”

Ainsworth said Wednesday that he believed he had the votes to narrowly clear a procedural hurdle and pass the legislation, but it faced time constraints and an expected filibuster.

Ainsworth said many schools cannot afford to keep an armed law enforcement officer, known as a school resource officer, on campus. He said he and other lawmakers will sign a petition urging Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to call a special session this summer on school safety.

“We’ve got over 500 schools in our state that don’t have any armed protection. In my opinion, that is an urgent need that needs to be addressed,” Ainsworth said.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

1 hour ago

Baldwin County leads Alabama in latest population estimates; most counties stagnant or shrinking

Another year, another census report showing blistering growth in Baldwin County.

The Census Bureau population estimates released Thursday show that the coastal Alabama county added another 5,119 people from July 2016 to July last year. That was the most of any Alabama county, ahead of the 4,734 increase posted by second-place Madison County.

Since the 2010 census, Baldwin has added 30,363 residents, also the most in the state.


Baldwin’s growth rate also leads the state — 2.47 percent year over year and 16.66 percent since 2010.

What’s more, Baldwin’s overall population of 212,628 puts it just 977 people behind it’s fast-growing cousin, Shelby County. And since the census estimates offer a snapshot from almost nine months ago, it is likely that Baldwin already has passed Shelby and moved into fifth place among the state’s most populous counties.

Considering that Montgomery County — population 226,646 — has experienced a net decrease of 2,717 residents since the last census, Baldwin has an outside shot to move into fourth place by the next census in 2020.

“It’s a great place to live,” Baldwin County Commission Chairman Frank Burt said when asked to explain why so many people keep moving in. “I’ve been here since 1941.”

For the most part, the counties that have experienced strong growth during the past decade continued to lead the way between 2016 and 2017. Only one of the top 10 growth counties since 2010 lost population in the most recent year. That was Russell County near the Georgia border, which shrank by nearly 2 percent.

Population growth continues to be concentrated in a handful of counties in the largest metropolitan areas —Baldwin, outside of Mobile; Madison and Limestone, near Huntsville; Shelby and St. Clair, in the Birmingham area; and Coffee County, in the Dothan metro area. The counties with the two largest state universities, Tuscaloosa and Lee, also have enjoyed rapid growth.

Most of the rest of the state has been stagnant or shrinking, though. Only 25 of Alabama’s 67 counties posted any growth at all from mid-2016 to mid-2017.

For the decade, that number is even smaller. Only 21 counties have increased in population since the 2010 census.

“Essentially, there’s no surprise this time,” said Viktoria Riiman, a socioeconomic analyst with the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce. “It’s a continuation of the trends that we’ve seen the past six years.”

Riiman noted that Baldwin’s growth primarily has come from migration — particularly from other counties within the United States. Baldwin ranks only 11th in so-called natural population growth — births minus deaths — with a net gain of 1,769 people since the beginning of the decade. That compares with Jefferson County, which ranked first with a net gain of 12,936.

Baldwin led the state in net migration during that time, however, with 28,363 more people moving in than moving out. The next closest was Madison, with a net gain of 17,235 from migration.

The vast majority of Baldwin’s newcomers have come from other Alabama or counties or other states. The net gain of 1,156 in international migration trails, Jefferson, Lee, Mobile, Madison, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Shelby counties.

Fueled by Birmingham residents seeking a suburban lifestyle, Shelby County led Alabama in population growth for decades. It doubled in population from 1960 to 1980 and doubled again over the next two decades.

Although it still is experiencing the fourth-fastest growth, the pace has slowed somewhat in recent years.

“It’s been growing for a while,” Riiman said. “It’s expected to grow, just not at this huge rate Baldwin County has been experiencing.”

The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, using 2015 data, projects that Montgomery County will hang on to its fourth spot by the 2020 census. But it’s only a matter of time; by 2025, the center projects, both Baldwin and Shelby will have passed Montgomery.

To Burt, the Baldwin County commissioner, it’s not a surprise. He said he saw it coming when he first took office 30 years ago and the county had only about 78,000 residents.

“When I came on the commission, I was predicting at that time … I just knew that some day, not only would we be bigger than Montgomery, we’d be bigger than Mobile,” he said. “I just knew it in my heart. I don’t know that I’ll live to see it.”

On the other side of the coin, many rural Alabama counties continued to struggle as they have for years. Macon, Perry, Lowndes and Dallas all have experienced population declines of more than 10 percent since the last census year.

Riiman said the pattern is familiar. A lack of economic opportunities scares off potential newcomers and drives out younger natives. With so many younger people leaving, it leaves fewer women of child-bearing years to replace the population naturally, leaving the counties demographically older.

Since the 2010 census, deaths have outnumbered births in 38 Alabama counties. And most of them are not making up the difference through in-migration.

“That is the trend that has been visible throughout the U.S.,” she said. “Rural areas are losing population.”

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.


2 hours ago

Alabama Rep. Rogers clears the air about his “failed joke” on The Ford Faction

Congressman Mike Rogers called into The Ford Faction on Wednesday to clear the air about a joke he made about accents and discusses his views on Alabama politics.

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14 hours ago

End the shutdown politics

For far too long, Congress has relied on short term, stop-gap funding bills to keep the federal government open and running — and have done so when up against holidays and midnight deadlines.

Take the most recent continuous resolution: last month, as a member of the House of Representatives, I voted around 5:30 AM on a Friday morning against a massive spending bill that raises America’s deficit next year to about $1 trillion.


Yes, you read that right. While you and your family were sleeping, a handful of your duly-elected representatives were making deals in the middle of the night. For the last 40 years — but increasingly more so in the last decade — this has been and is the way Washington operates. It needs to end now.

Put simply, this is how it works: time is running out as Congress approaches a funding deadline. In exchange for their votes, appropriators demand more money for “insert name of pet project” and the spending bill balloons as more and more wish list items are added. Inevitably, one party demands more or they’ll threaten to walk from the deal.

A small leadership team from both sides then hammer out a deal behind closed doors — with Republicans agreeing to spend even more money America does not have, has to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back. This is what Washington did in February with its “debt junkie” spending bill and what it’s poised to do again this week.

Moreover, these last-minute side deals for unrelated, often deemed “must-pass” legislation, have no business being in a continuing resolution and should be voted on as stand-alone bills. But because of threatened government shutdown risks, the bulk of Congress is subject to the spending demands of the powerful few.

The party in power almost always loses in the game of shutdown politics, as it suggests the party does not know how to govern and does not deserve to govern. In the late-night rush to negotiate a deal, the powerbrokers eventually concede, bad policy is enacted, and Congress is pressured to vote for the deal to please some segment of their constituency. It’s a loss on both sides of the aisle.

Perhaps even worse, the country loses — big time — as bills are introduced and voted on before the public has time to digest them and submit their views to their elected officials. Transparency in government becomes nonexistent. And the deficit increases exponentially.

Let’s take a quick look at previous short-term continuous resolutions.

Remember the cromnibus back in 2013? At the time, the last-minute Christmas bill seemed monstrous with the approved $63 billion increase in spending authority over two years. That’s pocket change compared to the McConnell-Schumer Deal that passed last month and busted the discretionary budget spending caps by $296 billion over two years. All this adds up to trillions of dollars, and as a result of the February continuous resolution vote, deficits will blow through the $1 trillion mark annually and indefinitely.

While Congress seems hell-bent on passing unaffordable spending bills and adding trillions to America’s debt, eventually the gravy train is going to an end and become a train wreck because America simply can’t afford these expensive deals.

That’s why last week I introduced H.R. 5313: The End Federal Shutdowns Act. This legislation automatically requires continuity of spending at the previous year’s levels should Congress fail to pass spending bills on time. Hence, government shutdowns become a thing of the past.

The concept is simple: whatever the spending level was for the previous year becomes the spending level for such time as it takes Washington to pass legislation that changes priorities and reallocate different spending amounts. If this legislation were enacted, leadership of both parties would have no choice but to aggressively seek timely regular order agreement and passage of appropriations bills to achieve new funding and policy objectives. A flat-spending alternative would be a strong incentive for constructive compromise involving a majority of representatives.

Providing for an automatic continuous resolution should be the easiest vote most of us in Congress make this year. It provides stability for the federal government and prevents rank and file members from being held hostage to the demands of special interest groups, leadership, and powerful appropriators.

I’m urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together and do what’s right for the Congress and for the country. A vote for H.R. 5313 is common sense — something that seems to be lacking in Washington these days.

Let’s stop shutdown politics once and for all.

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks is a Republican from Huntsville

14 hours ago

Christy Swaid is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

When pro sports star Christy Swaid first moved to Alabama in 2002, she said she immediately fell in love with her new home, but it broke her heart to learn that the state ranks in the top three nationally for diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and hypertension and that Alabama children are developing type 2 diabetes at one of the fastest-growing rates in the nation.

Swaid, a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, is a six-time world champion professional jet ski racer, the winningest female in the history of the sport, and was twice named “One of the Fittest Women in America” by Competitor Magazine in 2000 and by Muscle and Fitness in 2001.


After years advocating for marine safety, Swaid channeled her extensive fitness experience and passion for service into launching a nonprofit in 2006 named HEAL (healthy eating active living) with a mission to use evidence-based methods and education to “measurably improve children’s health and reverse the growing epidemic of childhood obesity,” according to HEAL’s website.

“My heart and mission is to help children prevent diseases before they get established, but then follow them throughout their school experience with more healthy eating, active living techniques and encouragement,” Swaid said in a January Alabama Public Television interview.

Swaid tested her curriculum-based fitness and nutrition program in a six-month pilot program that measured results in fifth grade PE classrooms at 10 Alabama schools and found promising results among participating children: 75 percent showed improved fitness, 57 percent of overweight and obese children reduced their body mass index (BMI), and all participants reported improvements in healthful eating.

The program has steadily expanded, serving 130 Alabama schools in 27 counties and reaching 27,000 students across multiple grade levels. There are 175 schools on a waiting list pending funding; HEAL raises their own funds to offer the program to schools at no cost.

Last year, four Alabama schools using the HEAL curriculum earned an “America’s Healthiest School Award” from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, whose judging standards include the healthiness of meals and snacks served, how much students move at school, and the quality of physical and health education.

“I am so proud of our state,” Swaid told APT. “Ten years ago, this was a kitchen table conversation, and I was able to glean the brightest and the best minds who also have big hearts to help put their fingerprints in making the most progressive solution to our nation’s worst epidemic, and that is what HEAL is … a genius cluster.”

Swaid developed her research-based curriculum in partnership with professors from UAB and Samford University.

“It is all science-based and it’s friendly, and it includes every child, including children with special needs,” she said.

Swaid will be honored with Gov. Kay Ivey in an awards event March 29 in Birmingham. The Yellowhammer Women of Impact event will honor 20 women making an impact in Alabama and will benefit Big Oak Ranch. Details and registration may be found here.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.