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2 weeks ago

7 Things: Alabama in a State of Emergency, Doug Jones accuses Trump of not negotiating in ‘good-faith,’ Mueller probe could end soon and more …

7. As much as President Donald Trump gets blasted for his comments about NATO, it appears citizens in NATO countries support his implication that Europe isn’t pulling their weight

— President Trump has made it clear he believes the relationship with NATO and the U.S. is a one-way street. He usually cites accurate funding concerns, while public polling backs up his assertions.

— Almost all of our allies believe the U.S. would defend an attack on a NATO ally more than they believe their nation would defend a NATO ally. Only Poland and the Netherlands are the exceptions.

6. President Donald Trump gets his State of the Union on February 5

— After a conversation between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the president, an agreement was reached on a date for the speech. Pelosi wrote to Trump, “Therefore, I invite you to deliver your State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress on February 5, 2019 in the House Chamber”

— After the invitation, President Donald Trump accepted, saying, “It is my great honor to accept.” He added, “We have a great story to tell and yet, great goals to achieve!”

5. The war in Afghanistan could potentially be near a deal that may end United States’ involvement in the country

— The potential framework would mean American and Taliban officials would “guarantee” Afghanistan is never used by terrorists again, requires the Taliban to agree to a cease-fire and to talk between the insurgents and the Afghan government.

— The framework could end the war there and have American service members leaving in 18 months if the Taliban lives up to its agreement.

4. Former Yellowhammer News founder Cliff Sims continues to make news, and anger the president, with his new book about his time in the White House

— After already making news by outing counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway as a leaker, this week Sims has accused Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller of saying, “I would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil,” as well as seeking press releases anytime an immigrant committed a gruesome crime.

— When asked about his political future, Sims commented that he might challenge Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020. In a follow-up with Yellowhammer News, he made it clear that was “tongue-in-cheek.”

3. The Robert Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election is apparently almost over

— Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker told reporters he has been “fully briefed” and the probe is “close to being completed.” The end of this cannot come soon enough.

— The investigation has cast a question over every single domestic and foreign American policy decision made by the Trump administration, and that will remain until the American people receive some sort of answer about what actually happened or didn’t happen in 2016.

2. It appears Trump will not get Democrats to come around on the wall and Alabama’s Doug Jones blames the president for that

— When asked if the president and Democrats can make a deal on border security and funding the government, Trump said he believes the odds are 50-50 but Jones blames the president for the odds not being higher.

— Comically, Jones accused Trump of not negotiating in “good faith,” even though Democrats have gone from supporting hundreds of miles of border walls to calling them immoral while swing districts support the president’s offer.

1. Alabama is experiencing a State of Emergency

— Taking no chances, Governor Kay Ivey declared a State of Emergency at 3:00 p.m. Monday for the entire state of Alabama, saying, “This winter storm has the potential to affect a large portion of our state. Citizens in the northern half of the state should be especially mindful of the changing weather conditions.”

— ALDOT has a website for real-time road conditions, schools, government offices, daycares and businesses that have announced closures for the day. The weather could cause the conditions to deteriorate as the day goes on, which could make this a two-day event due to dropping temperatures.

25 mins ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.

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“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

It is time for the Alabama legislature to end the state-mandated subsidy to print media outlets

Who won the 2018 general election in Alabama?

You might think with all the talk of $900 prison spending bills, gas taxes, Medicaid expansion and the lottery that Democrats won in a massive landslide and were preparing to implement their agenda. But that is not what happened — Republicans actually picked up seats.

The state of Alabama, with a Republican super-majority, is preparing to spend big and grow government.

As they do this, maybe they can toss the citizens of Alabama a bone and make the government a little more efficient by saving state agencies, counties, cities and school boards a substantial amount of money every year.

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Current Alabama law requires government entities in Alabama to advertise legal notices, legislation, constitutional amendments, voter rolls and other public matters in the local print media outlets.

This is not chump change:

  • The state of Alabama spends up to $800,000 each year.
  • The city of Huntsville spends up to $115,000 each year.
  • Madison County spends up to $153,000 each year.

If we were to add up all the costs to local governments, we would find that these costs are in the multiple millions of dollars range.

In a state that has a $6+ billion dollar education budget, this may seem like something that is minuscule and irrelevant, but that is not the case when adding all the entities required by law to hand government money over to private companies to print a product that very few use and could easily be uploaded to an official state/county/city website and be more accessible to your average Alabamians.

The only counter-argument, which will be made by those working in or for the print media industry and no one else, is that there are communities in Alabama that don’t have high-speed Internet and can’t access these websites.

This is a canard that only allows legislators to do nothing and not face the wrath of people who “buy ink by the barrel.”

Keeping these laws on the books only acts to subsidize the print media. It does not benefit your average Alabamian one bit.

This print media subsidy should be ended immediately. Surely there are other things these government entities can spend this money on.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

3 hours ago

Tennessee Valley Authority selects next president and CEO

The nation’s largest public utility has picked the leader of one of Canada’s largest power companies to head the $11 billion federal corporation.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Valley Authority board announced the selection of Jeffrey Lyash as president and CEO effective in April.

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Lyash is president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation Inc. He was formerly president of CB&I Power and executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy.

He also served in management roles with Progress Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Lyash is chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute, an international nonprofit for public interest energy and environmental research.

Lyash replaces Bill Johnson, who is retiring after joining the federal utility in 2013.

TVA serves about 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 hours ago

Doug Jones on Medicaid expansion: ‘We’re losing out on billions of dollars … the state of Alabama damn sure could use’

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Thursday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) offered his thoughts on rumblings that policymakers in Montgomery were considering expanding Medicaid rolls.

The renewed discussion comes in the wake of Butler County’s Georgiana losing its hospital and some GOP lawmakers in the statehouse suggesting it was something to consider.

According to Jones, the expansion of Medicaid would be one of the ingredients necessary in ensuring rural hospitals in Alabama are sustainable.

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“I think it would go a long way,” Jones said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “There are a lot of factors that come into play when you’re talking about rural hospitals, including the wage index that we try to get things changed, so we get the same reimbursements as other states. But I think expansion of Medicaid would be a big help. I think it would be a huge deal for rural hospitals. It would bring in billions of dollars – billions of dollars that’s our money, by the way, that we haven’t been getting since the state refused to do that. And candidly, it was a political decision when they refused to do it. Everybody knows that. There was a legitimate concern about the cost.”

“But now that we look back, we can see that the cost-benefit – the benefit outweighs the cost tremendously,” he continued. “Plus the benefit with the good health outcomes – more people with good health care, better health outcomes. It’s just a win-win. And so I am hoping this year they can do that.”

Jones said he and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) were working on legislation to gives states that have not yet expanded Medicaid the incentive to do so, and that way the “money would start flowing in.”

When asked about the possibility of the state of Alabama being on the hook for extra cost when that initial infusion of federal money runs out, the Jefferson County Democrat said he expected the money to continue to be there for Medicaid.

“I don’t think the money will run out,” he replied. “I think the money is here to stay. It is one of those things that passed in the ‘60s. It is here to stay. I think the money is going to continue to be there. And the fact of the matter is, no one would get left holding the bag because if the Medicaid money went away, then obviously the insurance goes away. I don’t think anybody’s going to want to let that happen.”

When asked about lawmakers considering the possibility, Jones described his attitude as “hopeful.”

“I am very hopeful,” Jones said. “I think there’s a couple of dynamics in play, including the fact that we’re not really talking about ObamaCare anymore. We’re talking about the Affordable Care Act, and we’re talking about things – keeping people with preexisting conditions and making sure they have health care. And the other thing, too – now we have the evidence. No one can really say, ‘Oh, this is going to cost too much. We can’t afford it.’ We got the evidence from all the states to show that is just not the case and we’re losing out on billions of dollars that come in, and that’s billions of dollars the state of Alabama damn sure could use.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.