7 Things: Cohen is a heel or a hero, 10-cent gas tax to ‘Rebuild Alabama,’ Doug Jones wants the feds to pay for Alabama’s Medicaid expansion and more …
7. State Representative Wes Allen wants to rein in regulatory power of unelected bureaucrats in Alabama
— Allen is proposing the Red Tape Reduction Act as a way to keep unelected government employees from implementing costly rules and regulations. The bill, if passed, would require state agencies to seek legislative approval before they could enact any proposed rule or rule change that would cost more than $1 million. Allen believes this will serve as a check on the state’s bureaucracy. He outlined, “With this bill, we will know what the true monetary impact of rule changes are and the legislature will have to sign off on them before they are enacted.”
— Governor Kay Ivey’s proposal for a gas tax increase appears to do more than just work on the roads and bridges of the state. It also proposes some dredging to prepare the Port of Mobile for bigger ships. But the Alabama Constitution may not allow such a move, because Constitutional Amendment 354 appears to lay out that these taxes cannot be used for these measures. The amendment appears to forbid the state from using these resources for anything other than the building, maintaining and managing motor vehicle traffic.
5. A judge appears to be getting ready to consider whether the ISIS bride can return to America
— Judge Reggie Walton agreed that he would move quickly to resolve a lawsuit filed by a 24-year-old female who previously lived in Hoover, Alabama, who ran off to join the Islamic State and now wants to come home. Hoda Muthana’s family filed a suit against the Trump administration after the government declared she could not return to the United States because she was not a U.S. citizen. Her father claims she is a citizen because he ceased being a diplomat by the time she was born. Muthana and her son are currently in a refugee camp in Syria and she faces criminal charges if she is allowed to come home.
4. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un fail to come to a deal
— The president of the United States walked away from negotiations with North Korea after the “Hermit Kingdom” demanded cancellation of all sanctions. President Trump said he wouldn’t do that. He explained, “You always have to be prepared to walk.” He added, “I’d rather do it right, than do it fast.” Talks will continue. The North Korean leader has agreed to no more missile testing and said he was open to denuclearization, but reports indicate that was not an American requirement for some sort of deal with the North Koreans. Trump denies it.
3. U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) wants the federal government to entice Alabama to expand Medicaid by covering it 100 percent
— Alabama and 13 other states have chosen not to expand Medicaid, citing the millions of dollars in additional costs of doing so. Jones wants the federal government to eat that cost. He made it clear that this is all about making the feds pay, stating, “If this passes, the federal government will reimburse for 100 percent for three years.” After those three years end, the cost to the state government will be close to $300 million dollars, which the head of the Alabama Hospital Association, using fuzzy math, says will mostly be paid for by increased growth.
— The plan to raise gas taxes is called “Rebuild Alabama” and calls for a 10-cent per gallon sales tax with six cents happening in 2019 and two-cents per year for the next two years. State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) and State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) will carry the bill that disperses the revenue amongst ALDOT, the cities and the counties. Facing headwinds, the bill is expected to be taken up in a special session to limit the ability of the opposition to stymie the bill.
— If you are a Democrat, Michael Cohen is a reformed sinner who is finally telling the truth about a large number of sins committed by Donald Trump and, “if true,” one of them is collusion. If you are a Republican, you saw a man who is looking at a prison sentence for perjuring himself multiple times and telling the world that he knows of no collusion. The most likely outcome is whatever value this hearing has is eliminated once the Robert Mueller report comes out — in whatever form it comes out.