1 week ago

7 Things: Local mask mandates up in the air, tax hikes could doom Biden infrastructure plan, politicians criticize businesses’ involvement in political issues and more …

7. Arkansas governor will veto transgender treatment bill

  • The Alabama Legislature is considering legislation that would ban gender conversion treatments for transgender youth, and in Arkansas, the state legislature passed a similar bill. Despite this, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) has vetoed the legislation.
  • Hutchinson said his reason for vetoing the bill is because they would be “creating new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people.” It’s likely that the Arkansas Legislature will override this decision with a majority vote in the House and Senate.

6. Report: Occupational licensing costs jobs

  • The Alabama Policy Institute (API) has released a report called the “Not-So Sweet Home Alabama” that shows occupational licensing laws have cost Alabama about 21,000 jobs and around $56 million per year. Occupational licensing laws require that members of some professions be certified through the government.
  • The national average for jobs that require a government license is at 31, but Alabama has 36 jobs that require those licenses. The main issue with this is that there are some low-income professions where these licenses become a burden, such as athletic trainers, massage therapists and manicurists.

5. Tuberville: Stop politicizing the military

  • In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, U.S. Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) highlight how new training within the United States military is too political and they need to refocus on being non-partisan.
  • The letter says “examination of the stand-down training materials reveals a disappointing partisan slant and poorly defined First Amendment rights for military members.” They go on to say that “some of the training materials imply only certain political thoughts are welcome.” The letter ends by asking Austin to “personally review the stand-down training material disseminated by the services and other subordinate headquarters in order to ensure that these materials comply with the guidance issued by your office. We cannot allow our military to be politicized.”

4. Majority of Americans support union at Amazon plant in Alabama

  • Data for Progress has released new polling data from AFL-CIO, which shows that a majority of registered voters support Amazon workers at the Bessemer fulfillment center unionizing. Of likely voters, 69% support the workers while 16% oppose the move to unionize.
  • The results were also divided by political party, as 55% of Republicans, 79% of independents and 96% of Democrats were in support of unionizing. A spokesman for Amazon said, “Our employees know the truth – starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace.”

3. Politics and sports continue to mix while McConnell warns businesses to stay out

  • President Joe Biden faced criticism after saying that the voting laws in Georgia are “Jim Crow on steroids” and urging Major League Baseball to move the All-Star game to Colorado, which has the same restrictions, When asked about this, White House press secretary Jen Psaki shied away from giving a strong answer and said that Biden “supports them being able to make the decision.” Then when asked if Biden would support moving the Masters Tournament from the state, she said, “[O]ur focus is on doing what we can to advocate for making voting easier and more accessible around the country and that’s where our efforts are going to be from the White House.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is warning businesses about getting involved in politics, saying that businesses “will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.” McConnell went on to point out how New York actually has less availability for early voting than Georgia and added that there’s an agenda at play as “Democrats want to pass a sweeping bill that would let them rewrite all 50 states’ election laws and turn the Federal Election Commission into a Democrat-run partisan body.”

2. Infrastructure bill with big tax hikes loses the Democrat support it needs

  • President Joe Biden is working on a $2 trillion dollar infrastructure program, but it will require 100% Democrat support in the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately for Biden, the tax increases in the bill have cost the bill the support of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and others needed to get the bill across the finish line, even if they attempted to use a process that would avoid a filibuster and only requires a simple majority
  • As the White House’s tax plan seems to be hitting a brick wall, they are sending Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin out to suggest that other nations should raise taxes across the board to eliminate tax havens and competitions between the nations for businesses.

1. Decatur mask order remains as the shaming of businesses starts

  • The City of Decatur failed to remove its mask mandate ahead of the expiration of the statewide mask requirements expiration on April 9. The vote to immediately consider the move to repeal the order failed to pass 4-1 after council member Billy Jackson declared, “This mask ordinance was no different. It was done by the previous council for the safety of our community so I will not support this tonight.” There is no science that backs this up. For example, Michigan is seeing a virus surge with a mask mandate and Texas continues to see its cases fall three weeks after going wide-open. Birmingham will consider extending its order today.
  • In what should be seen as amazing news, Alabama only saw 89 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, but some in the state are still not comfortable with the mask mandate ending. It is expected that the media will be curating and printing lists of businesses that will continue to require masks, which gives those who are angry about it the ammunition to complain online without actually going to these businesses.
12 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers: ‘Shameful’ Pelosi blocking Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act — ‘Simply supporting infanticide’

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) on Wednesday released a scathing statement regarding House Democrats blocking consideration of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

Rogers announced that he has signed onto a discharge petition that would force Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to bring this legislation — H.R. 619 — up for a vote in the House.

“As a father of three children and a Christian, this legislation is so important to me,” stated Rogers, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.


All six Alabama Republicans in the U.S. House are cosponsors of H.R. 619, which was was introduced by Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) in January. The bill would ensure any baby born that survives an abortion would receive the same standard of medical care as a baby born under normal circumstances.

“I will never understand how any human would not support caring for a tiny, living baby that survives an attempted abortion,” he continued. “Anyone who is okay with not helping these babies is simply supporting infanticide. I will always stand up for the rights of the most innocent among us, and it’s shameful that Nancy Pelosi will not even bring this critical legislation up for a vote.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Alabama Senate passes bill banning biological males from competing in female sports

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday passed HB 391, which would would prohibit biological males from competing in public school female sports — and vice versa.

The legislation, which only applies to public K-12 schools, would prohibit competition by one gender against another, unless the event specifically is intended to include both genders.

HB 391 was carried in the Senate by Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) and is sponsored by Rep. Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle).

“A public K-12 school may not allow a biological female to participate on a male team if there is a female team in a sport. A public K-12 school may never allow a biological male to participate on a female team,” says the amended version of the bill passed by the Senate.


In sports where there are not separate competitions for females and males, such as football, both genders would still be able to participate together.

“This bill is significantly important to protecting the integrity of women’s sports,” stated Gudger. “Our sisters, daughters and granddaughters deserve to compete in fairly organized sports without being put at a disadvantage. I appreciate Representative Stadthagen for having me carry this bill in the Senate, and I commend him for his diligent work on this critical issue.”

More than a dozen states are considering similar restrictions on high school athletes to prevent what they view as an unfair advantage in competition.

The Senate’s vote on HB 391 was on party lines, 25-5. This comes after two Democrats supported and one Democrat abstained in a committee vote on the bill just two weeks ago. View a tweet thread from Thursday’s Senate debate here.

HB 391 now heads back to the House for concurrence or nonconcurrence. It originally passed the lower chamber in a bipartisan 74-19 vote.

“It is unreasonable for biological males to compete against females in high school sports,” Stadthagen commented. “Allowing this to happen does not put female athletes on a fair and level playing field with their biological male counterparts, and that is what this bill aims to resolve. I was pleased to hear that my colleagues in the upper chamber value the integrity and justness of female sports, and I thank Senator Gudger for handling this bill in the Senate.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Senate passes Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday passed SB 358, which would create the Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act.

Sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the bill would outlaw state and local governments — including law enforcement agencies thereof — from enforcing any federal firearms act, law, order, rule or regulation that becomes effective after January 1, 2021.

The party-line vote by the Senate was 22-5.


“I took an oath of office when sworn into this body to defend the Constitution of this country and this state,” stated Allen. “As an elected official, I will do everything in my power to preserve the rights of Alabamians, especially those granted by the Second Amendment, and I will always push back on any proposals that seek to limit the freedoms bestowed upon us.”

“The Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act ensures the people of Alabama are protected from any unnecessary overreach by the federal government and is meant to be a check on proposals that infringe on our right to self-defense coming from the Biden Administration or the Democratic controlled Congress,” he continued. “SB358 is about safeguarding our God-given rights to protect our families and homes. The Second Amendment says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed upon, and with this piece of legislation, Alabamians can feel confident that their rights are being protected.”

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) argued that SB 358 would violate the Supremacy Clause. The Democrats said the act, as a result, would ultimately be ruled unconstitutional by the judicial system after costing the State of Alabama significant money to defend it in court.

“We don’t need a ‘Second Amendment Preservation Act’ in the state of Alabama,” said Singleton. “The constitution does that already.”

He noted “the bill really does no harm,” before adding that he does not like the message it sends.

You can view a tweet thread on Senate debate regarding SB 358 here.

The Alabama Senate’s vote came after President Joe Biden last week began rolling out executive orders on gun control.

RELATED: Speaker Mac McCutcheon: As Biden attempts to roll back Second Amendment freedoms, Alabama House Republicans stand in the breach to protect them

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Tim Vines confirmed as newest Auburn University trustee

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama CEO Tim Vines as an at-large member of the Auburn University board of trustees.

He will complete the final three years of the unexpired term of Gen. Lloyd Austin, who resigned from Auburn’s board in January after he was confirmed as the nation’s secretary of defense.

Vines has worked at BCBS of Alabama since 1994. He rose through the management ranks at Blue Cross until he was elected to his present position in 2018. The LaFayette native graduated from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business in 1988 with a degree in finance. He was also a member of the Auburn baseball team.


“In addition to his business and management credentials, the Trustee Selection Committee nominated Tim Vines for the position because of his dedication to Auburn University and its students,” stated Wayne Smith, who serves as board president pro tem.

This dedication includes Vines giving an annual scholarship to the Harbert College of Business. He is an Auburn Alumni Association lifetime member, a member of the James E. Foy Loyalty Society and a member of the 1856 Society. The Birmingham Auburn Club awarded Vines its 2019 Distinguished Auburn Alumnus Award.

He also served as the 2018 Auburn University summer commencement speaker, where he encouraged graduates, “Serve well by serving others. In life or in your chosen profession, ask what you can do to help others. … Whatever you do, make sure you do it with excellence.”

Vines’ term will expire on February 8, 2024.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

Alabama State Parks launching historic corporate giving, improvement campaign

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday joined the Alabama State Parks Foundation, local corporate leaders and other stakeholders at Oak Mountain State Park to announce unprecedented efforts aimed at investing millions of dollars into park improvements.

The governor spoke about an $80 million bond issue for park improvements that must be approved by voters through a constitutional amendment in the 2022 general election if the state legislature approves it this session. House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) and Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-Arab) are sponsoring this legislation, which passed the House on Tuesday and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“Alabamians love and cherish the State Parks, and we must make sure they are maintained and available for generations to come,” Ivey remarked. “I support the use of state bonds to make the needed enhancements throughout the state parks system.”

Additionally, the non-profit Alabama State Parks Foundation (ASPF) on Thursday announced the launch of its corporate giving campaign with a goal of raising an additional $14 million in the next five years for needed park improvements.


ASPF kicked off this campaign with pledges of $250,000 by Buffalo Rock Company and $100,000 from the Alabama Power Foundation.

“Since the creation of the Alabama State Parks Foundation in 2018, we have worked to improve and enhance our State Parks, and our corporate giving campaign is another significant and important step for our organization,” ASPF president Dr. Dan Hendricks stated. “I also applaud and thank Governor Ivey for her visionary leadership and support of the State Parks system.

“We believe this innovative public-private partnership will maximize our efforts to help the Alabama State Parks system maintain its place as one of the state’s true treasures,” he added.

The prospective bond issue and ASPF’s fundraising would fast-track projects to expand campgrounds, add cabins and improve internet connectivity, among other priorities.

A majority of funding for Alabama State Parks – 80-90% annually – is generated through user fees for rental, lodging, golf and other amenities in the parks. The system’s finances can also be impacted unexpectedly, such as the tornado that damaged Oak Mountain last month, Hurricane Sally damaging Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores last fall, and another tornado wreaking havoc on the campground and day-use areas at Joe Wheeler State Park in December 2019.

State parks attracted a record 6.27 million visitors in fiscal year 2020, and enhancing facilities or building additional ones should help that number continue to grow.

“Our state parks system is run as efficiently as ever, but there are plenty of needs in every one of the 21 parks — both the small and larger parks,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation. “What Governor Ivey and the Alabama State Parks Foundation have done is create a funding framework for how we can modernize and enhance an already dynamic State Parks system and make it better than ever.

“We plan to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, as well as funds so generously donated by the corporate community,” he concluded. “Our state parks offer so many amazing outdoors adventures for all Alabamians, and we appreciate so many people working so hard to help us continue that legacy.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn