1 month ago

5 questions with Katie Britt — Immigration, court packing, rural Alabama and more

Enterprise native Katie Britt earlier this month launched her bid for the Republican nomination to fill Alabama’s next open U.S. Senate seat.

Only 11 months out from what will undoubtedly be a hotly contested primary election, Britt is joined by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and former ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard in the quest for a seat in the nation’s deliberative legislative body.

As a new face in Alabama politics who has never run for office before, Britt agreed to take part in a five-question interview with Yellowhammer News.

Here are Britt’s views on national security, America’s future in space, immigration, agriculture, the courts and more.

YHN: President Biden said recently that climate change was the biggest threat to America’s national security. In your view, what are the most serious threats?

BRITT: Joe Biden is flat wrong. I will be a champion for our nation’s security against the most serious threats, which are at our physical borders, abroad, in cyberspace and supply chains.

The federal government’s foremost duty is ensuring our national security. This is a comprehensive task that starts with strong border security and certainly includes a wide range of defense, military, intelligence and diplomatic responsibilities.

Some of the most serious security threats are obvious: radical Islamic terrorism, China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, to name a few. I firmly believe in the principle of peace through strength. We can only keep our nation and allies safe if our military remains the strongest and most technologically superior fighting force ever known.

Unfortunately, we’re already seeing the sharks circling after sensing weakness in the Biden Administration. Recently, this has been perfectly exemplified by Iranian-backed Hamas’ violent attacks on Israel – our closest friend and partner. Hamas launched over 4,000 rockets into Israel, and instead of backing our ally, Bernie Sanders and AOC moved to block selling arms to Israel. Support for Israel used to be, and still should be, purely bipartisan. What we’re witnessing now is some on the left putting political pandering over our national security interests – just like what’s happening at our porous Southern border under the Biden Administration.

Additionally, we cannot forget that modern national defense also mandates that we have the best cyber security — and offensive — capabilities and personnel in the world.

In the past month, Americans have suffered as a result of supply interruptions to both the gas supply and the food supply by foreign cyber attacks. The U.S. House and Senate must take meaningful steps immediately to protect Americans from the types of supply chain disruptions and financial losses that are resulting from these attacks. Simply put, cyber security must be a top priority.

This is also true for ensuring domestic manufacturing and supply chains are strong and independent, including our food supply and the Alabama farmers who make that possible. The COVID-19 pandemic underlined the reality that we cannot rely on countries like China for vital goods and materials. Made in America is not just about supporting our economy and jobs – it’s a national security imperative.

YHN: Alabama’s role in America’s space program and national security effort has been a point of pride for the state and a vital part of our economy. What can be done on the federal level to support and grow Alabama’s aerospace and defense industries?

BRITT: It is vital that we have a Senator FOR Alabama – one who will work tirelessly to defend, grow and protect our existing military, defense and aerospace sector footprints in Alabama, including through any future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) rounds. In the Senate, I will do just that.

Growing up near Fort Rucker with the ever-present sound of helicopters overhead, I knew from an early age what the military and extended defense community mean for Alabama – and what Alabama means for them.

Our great state plays a vital role in defending our nation from foreign threats, both domestically and abroad, and ultimately keeping all Americans free.

Alabama is a national epicenter for research, development, and modernization efforts, advancing new capabilities, weapon systems, technologies, and testing to combat the many evolving threats that we face in the 21st century. From the program that protects our homeland from intercontinental ballistic missiles, the nuclear triad that deters such strikes, the next-generation weapons and defense systems that keep our troops safe on the battle field, the ships that are powering our 21st century Navy, the modern helicopters and planes our Armed Services need, and the world-class education and training that give our troops a needed edge, Alabama is leading across countless critical military, defense and aerospace sectors.

Of course, this prowess isn’t limited to here on Earth, either. Alabama is a leader in the cutting-edge research, development, manufacturing and services that power deep-space exploration, as well as national security space missions intended to combat aggression from countries like China. From the Moon to Mars, everywhere between and beyond, Alabama can play a leading part across our Solar System for years to come.

The federal government plays an important role and must continue investing its scarce resources in the research and development needed to combat the many threats we as a nation face in the modern world.

I am also intently focused on several factors that are directly tied to the ability of the modern defense and aerospace sectors to thrive, including workforce development. To have good-paying 21st century jobs in 21st century industries like these, we must have a 21st century skilled workforce to match.

The federal government, as well as the State of Alabama and localities, plays an integral role in ensuring that we have the skilled workforce trained and able to compete against adversaries like Russia and China. In addition to our men and women in uniform, this also means that we must invest in preparing and advancing our nation’s manufacturing sector and skilled workforce to support the warfighter.

And this all starts with our education system. I will be a conservative champion of the things that make Alabama the best possible place to earn a living and raise a family.

YHN: The Biden administration announced this month that it was returning the funds set aside for border wall construction back into the Pentagon budget because they say it was not a worthwhile project. How important is securing our border and what action would you support in order to do so?

BRITT: I am disgusted by what’s happening right now at our Southern border.

In May alone, encounters by our courageous U.S. border patrol agents at our Southwest Border were up 675% year-over-year. This is a direct result of the Biden Administration reversing the policies that were working and signaling that our border was open.

I wholeheartedly believe we must put a stop to this siege and build the wall. Securing the border will take a combination of physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, resources, and closing legal loopholes that are routinely exploited. We must empower the Department of Homeland Security to comprehensively fix the problem. And we must clearly and loudly dissuade illegal immigration. This means being clear about upholding the rule of law, including these three unequivocal words: no amnesty, ever.

We must also immediately reinstate the Trump Administration’s public charge policies and the “Remain in Mexico” program that compelled migrants to wait in Mexico while their claims were being adjudicated. The Biden Administration has us back to failed Obama-era catch-and-release procedures which must be stopped.

Biden’s border crisis is also unfair to those that come to America the right way – legally – in pursuit of the American Dream. I support legal immigration that promotes growth for Alabama families, jobs and communities.

YHN: Rural communities matter so much to our state. Agriculture is the largest industry in the state. How would you support rural Alabama and its economy?

BRITT: As a daughter of the Wiregrass, I know firsthand the greatness of rural Alabama, as well as the challenges and opportunities our rural communities face.

One of my ultimate prides at the business council was working to ensure rural Alabama wasn’t forgotten. And I’ll be proud to bring that same focus to the U.S. Senate.

Modern life requires high-speed broadband internet service. Unfortunately, Alabama ranks nearly last in the nation when it comes to broadband connectivity. The damaging digital divide is most pronounced in our rural communities, as was especially underscored during the pandemic. I will be a staunch supporter of efforts to expand affordable broadband service to all Alabamians, so zip codes don’t define opportunity for our citizens.

Connectivity is also important for agriculture, which is Alabama’s largest industry and acts as the economic engine for communities in every corner of our great state. Considering 21st century precision agriculture and the ever-evolving technology necessary to compete, our farmers need access to high-speed broadband internet.

I will be an unwavering champion of farmers, cattlemen and everyone in the forestry sector as the Senator FOR Alabama.

I will fight senseless federal regulations, overreach and red tape and stand up for family farmers. Our farmers have been conserving Alabama’s land for generations, and they don’t need federal bureaucrats telling them how to earn their livelihood.

Farmers also rely on exports for their livelihood, and I will work tirelessly to ensure all of Alabama’s industries are getting a truly fair shake in foreign trade.

YHN: What traits and judicial philosophy make up your ideal nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court?

BRITT: During my time working on behalf of the people of Alabama, I had the tremendous privilege of helping identify and confirm fellow constitutional conservatives to the federal bench across Alabama and the 11th Circuit.

I also had the unique opportunity to play a role in getting Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch confirmed. Judges and justices like these, who interpret laws instead of writing new ones from the bench, are key to maintaining the fabric of our nation.

Working to preserve the integrity of our judicial system has been one of the highlights of my career thus far. And it would be an incredible honor to continue that work as Alabama’s next senator.

I will be an unwavering advocate for pro-rule of law, originalist and textualist judges and justices in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who rightly said, “The judge who always likes the results he reaches is a bad judge.”

On a related noted, we must preserve the integrity of our judicial system. I unabashedly stand against court packing and will fight with every fiber in my being to keep nine justices on the Supreme Court of the United States. This is vital for the stability of the rule of law and our system of checks and balances.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

13 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

13 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

14 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

15 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL