7 Things: Gas tax increase looks inevitable in Alabama Senate, Democrats say Trump’s budget is DOA, no impeachment if Speaker Pelosi has her say and more …
7. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) hit plenty of issues at an appearance in Montgomery, including infrastructure, immigration and President Donald Trump
— While speaking at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Eggs and Issues” event, the state’s senior senator spoke on important issues in Alabama and where he sees the nation going forward. Comments included pointing out that China is America’s largest economic and military foe, and he called Russia “dangerous” and Vladimir Putin “ruthless.” Domestically, he praised the economy and discussed the benefits of legal immigration. Without mentioning the state’s current gas tax issue, he mentioned that we need a “huge infrastructure deal,” but lamented that no one is saying, “I want to put a 25-30 cent per gallon of gas tax or diesel fuel [tax] on the American people,” so there is that.
6. Former Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) wins the right to appeal his case at the Alabama Supreme Court
— The saga involving the former Alabama speaker of the House could be entering the beginning of the end as the Alabama State Supreme Court has agreed to hear his appeal on ethics law convictions that could see him go to prison. Fellow Republican, Attorney General Steve Marshall, issued a statement that appeared to show the AG’s office is eager to defend the conviction. It read, “Until now, the Alabama Supreme Court has only heard from Mike Hubbard. Once my prosecution team has the opportunity to brief the issues and argue the case, we feel confident the result will be the same as with the lower court rulings and justice will prevail.”
5. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) joined Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) as she ripped her state without evidence
— After Jones ripped Alabama nationally without evidence on “Face the Nation” and said Republicans don’t want minorities voting, Sewell wanted to get in on the act as well by declaring Republican are for “making it harder for folks to vote, or certain segments of the population, most vulnerable parts of our population, harder to vote.” She also referred to her state as one of the “old states of the Confederacy” in response to a question from MSNBC’s Joy Reid where she asked, “Do Republicans believe if more people get to vote, they won’t win?” Sewell apparently is ignorant to the fact that Alabama had record turnout in 2018.
4. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says she is a “no” on impeachment
— In a statement that angered the media and their Democrats, Pelosi came out against impeachment unless “there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.” In an attempt to soften the blow, she declared that Trump is “not worth it.” Democrats aren’t having any of this. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) marched with people who want impeachment, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) talked about impeaching Trump in numerous interviews, Reps. Al Green (D-TX) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) have articles of impeachment ready and Democrat billionaire Tom Steyer, who considered running for president, has been pushing impeachment in TV ads for over a year.
— The president’s proposed budget would cut domestic spending, slow entitlement growth and increase spending on the nation’s military while cutting discretionary domestic programs by $1.1 trillion over a decade, which never happens. With Democrats controlling the House, and having already won a budget showdown with President Trump, they seem unlikely to be on board with massive cuts, new military spending and expenditures on wall buildings. This story has played out already when Trump signed a budget that ignored his rhetoric on plans to massively cut in spending and instead expanded spending when Republicans controlled the House and the Senate.
2. A new round of polling indicates Alabama voters are not in line with the decisions being made by the Alabama legislature and Governor Kay Ivey
— The polling released by Alabama First, led by former Tuscaloosa County Commissioner Don Wallace shows that a vast majority (78 percent) of Alabamians believe we need to spend more on roads and bridges. In spite of this, those surveyed don’t like how this is being done, with 82 percent saying the Alabama legislature should use money from the Alabama Trust Fund, 85 percent opposing the vote plan to increase taxes and 83 percent opposing the automatic indexing that will lead to higher taxes. The belief that there is other spending to cut to get the money for road construction permeates the thinking of Alabamians; 79 percent think there is excess waste at the Alabama Department of Transportation with 84 percent wanting a full audit of the agency. Incorrectly, 71 percent of Alabamians believe Governor Ivey “purposefully concealed” her desires to increase the gas tax.
— It looks all but inevitable that Alabama’s State Senate will vote to raise the gas tax by 10-cents on Tuesday. The act passed the Alabama Senate Transportation and Energy Committee unanimously, as did the companion accountability pieces. Don’t expect the bill to change much in the debate on the floor, according to Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston), who said, “I think that everybody should have the ability to offer amendments. I’m going to encourage that, but I do believe that you’ll see the [final version of the] bill pretty close to where it is. I have not heard of any amendments that, as I would say, have legs on them. So I think right now the bill is going to end up passing pretty close to where we see it now.”