7 Things: Kay Ivey wins big, Alabama State Senate overwhelmingly votes for Rebuild Alabama, Alabama Democrats expect to be heard moving forward and more …
7. Remington Arms is about to go through layoffs after receiving incentives to come to Huntsville
— The question about whether there would be layoffs in Alabama in light of Remington’s layoffs announcement has been answered, and the answer is “yes.” It is unknown how many jobs will be lost in Alabama, but media reports out of New York indicate that 200 jobs will be lost. The signs of Remington’s financial issues are apparent. They had to rebate some of the funds that were used to bring the manufacturer to North Alabama.
— The big story out of a massive enrollment scandal involving some of the nation’s top schools is that actresses from “Desperate Housewives” and “Full House” have had warrants for their arrests issued in an investigation called “Operation Varsity Blues.” The scheme had parents paying to arrange for a college prep service to take the test or correct students’ answers to help them get better scores and, additionally, the organization in question is alleged to have bribed college coaches to pretend students with little athletic ability were to be part of their teams. Those arrested include two SAT/ACT administrators, an exam proctor, nine coaches, a college administrator and 33 parents who just cared too much.
5. President Donald Trump is prepared to label Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations
— As he lamented the Mexican government’s inability to control the border violence and also called it one of the most unsafe countries in the world, Trump stated, “They’ve totally lost control of the cartels. Mexico last year had 42,000 deaths — murders — 42,000. It’s considered one of the most unsafe countries in the world.” The Center for Immigration Studies’ Todd Bensman pointed out that the declaration could have a real impact on how the war on drugs is fought on the border. He said, “A foreign terrorist organization designation opens a whole new armory of American weaponry that can be used to debilitate the cartels and all who lend support and assistance to them, just like ISIS, and this includes immigration restriction and strong penalties to those who provide assistance to the groups.”
— Biden is already leading most polls, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on his heels. He told a group of firefighters to save their energy for a few weeks because he may need it if he runs. Most reports indicate that Biden is all but decided and he will run, with some saying he is 95 percent certain. Recent polling of a head-to-head race between Biden and President Trump show Biden with a six-point lead, while Trump beats or ties the other Democratic challengers.
— At a listening session, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) made it clear that his caucus has priorities beyond the gas tax increase and it was made clear that they would receive a hearing. The big items include, according to Daniels, “Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, a lottery, remove the tax off of groceries. Those are the things that they committed to working with us on.” Daniels rationalized this trade-off to Yellowhammer News by saying, “You get in there for four years, and you can’t deliver anything. But at least you’re getting a commitment to be able to have some discussion about the priorities and the issues that are a priority for your community.” Daniels also added, “We look forward to moving on to human infrastructure. You will see more bipartisan efforts to address the tough issues in the state, as we move forward.”
— It was very non-controversial after all the hand-wringing. The vote wasn’t even close and an overwhelming number of state senators voted for the gas tax increase. The situation mirrored the State House vote where the outcome was never really in doubt, but Governor Kay Ivey and the legislative leadership ran up the score, got bipartisan support and rendered the calling of the special session unnecessary drama.
1. Governor Kay Ivey has signed the Rebuild Alabama Act
— The governor accomplished an amazing task here, whatever you think about the gas tax. She got a bipartisan super-majority of the legislature dominated by Republicans to approve a gas tax increase in a red state. Ivey praised the legislature for getting the job done, saying, “[Today] is a historic day for the state of Alabama. … I am so proud to have watched the legislature in its finest hours of operation.” The overwhelming passage with Democrats and Republicans removes the ability of Democrats to pound her Republican allies in future elections, but leaves those who voted “yes” vulnerable to primary challengers. Most importantly for politicians, the time between this action and the next election is significant and memories are short.