4 weeks ago

7 Things: Lottery bill moves forward, Birmingham to solve crime by not enforcing the law, Biden poised to grope his chance and more …

7. If you are avoiding a measles vaccine, you might want to reevaluate that plan

— Alabama does not have a measles issue right now, but Florida, Tennessee and Georgia are starting to see cases. Doctors from the University of Alabama at Birmingham believe it’s coming to Alabama. If you need to be scared further, health officials said during a press conference, “If you take ten people who don’t have protection and never been immunized have never had it you put them next to an infectious person 9 of them or 90% will get infected.” In total, the Centers for Disease Control is warning that there are now 626 cases of this completely preventable disease and the fear is that it will spread further.

6. State Auditor Jim Zeigler doesn’t want to be left out of 2020 Senate talk anymore

— With Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville already in the race, State Auditor Jim Zeigler doesn’t want to be overlooked. Zeigler sent and deleted a tweet that said, “State Sen. Del Marsh Out of U.S. Senate Race. Zeigler: ‘Since I formed my exploratory committee assessing running against Doug Jones, I have scared out Jeff Sessions, Will Ainsworth and Del Marsh – so far.'” So, along with claiming that he’s the reason some politicians are staying out of the race, on Tuesday he also said, “I’ve been left out of columns, analysis, polls, awards and campaign contributions. My middle name is ‘left out'” Regardless of being left out, Zeigler still believes that he can win in the ballot box, and went on to say, “They just leave me out of everything. But on Election Day I got 62 percent of the vote in November in my reelection for state auditor.” Zeigler has declined to enter the race, but he’s leaving the door open for the U.S. Senate if he sees an increase in support forming.

5. The bill that would’ve removed the requirement for a permit to conceal carry a firearm was shot down

— The bill was voted down in the Alabama State Committee on Tuesday in a 6-5 vote. State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) has been sponsoring the bill for years since he believes people shouldn’t have to buy a permit to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but the bill was not received well by all groups. Before the bill was voted on, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, sheriffs and police opposed the bill and raised questions and concerns about safety issues and saying that the permit is an important law enforcement tool. Oddly enough, this bill passed the Alabama State Senate the previous two years and stalled in the State House.

4. Hillary Clinton thinks anyone else would’ve been indicted in the Russia probe, but maybe she’s forgetting about her absolutely illegal activity

— Ignoring that no one was indicted for conspiracy to collude with the Russians, Hillary Clinton claimed that President Donald Trump would’ve been indicted in the Russian probe if he wasn’t president. Her claim on obstruction of a non-crime is interesting given that Clinton herself instructed people to obstruct justice. Regardless, Clinton said, “I think there’s enough there that any other person who had engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted.” Clinton is the last person, second-to-last if we included her husband, to be talking about obstruction of justice. Clinton deleted and failed to turn over thousands of emails she kept and sent on a private server. These included “top secret,” “secret” and “confidential.” Both Clintons should sit this one out.

3. With former Vice President Joe Biden ready to make his move Thursday, a new name is on the move

— It is all but official that Biden is ready to enter the race after going through a run of bad press over multiple allegations of creepy behavior surfaced that did not affect his poll numbers. However, the former VP has a campaign account with zero dollars and he lacks a political machine at his disposal because President Barack Obama is staying out of it. Biden remains in the lead with 27 percent of those polled choosing him over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 20 percent; upstart candidate du jour, South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg with a paltry eight percent. More importantly, the poll shows Democrats are motivated to beat President Donald Trump as 87 percent don’t care who the nominee is because they will vote for any of them.

2. Jefferson County is ending misdemeanor arrests; Marijuana users will benefit

— Instead of arresting people for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses, officers will be issuing tickets. Capt. David Agee, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said, “I think this is going to help a lot of people and get a lot of people back on track. Those who want to help will be able to get help.” This criminal justice reform will also include no longer arresting citizens for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, but if any misdemeanors are tied to more serious crimes then people could face jail time. Part of the motivation for this change is to save jail space and resources. As far as marijuana possession is concerned though, anyone in possession of less than 2 ounces (57 grams) will be fined instead of given jail time, and these crimes will be classified as violations instead of misdemeanors. The premise of this approach is that fewer people will commit crimes if you don’t enforce them and that those busted for pot possession are going to seek treatment. Let’s see how it plays out. Also, other local cities aren’t interested in this and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall suggested the county may need to “rethink” this dumb plan.

1. Alabama Senate Tourism Committee approves lottery bill

— The bill by State Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) was approved in a 6-5 vote, and could be voted on by the Senate as early as this week. It’s estimated that the lottery would raise $167 million for the state of Alabama after expenses. The lottery bill will only include multi-state or intrastate games that are played with paper tickets or instant tickets, but it will not include any video gaming. Albritton has said that the bill will not change the status of any current legal forms of gambling. Gambling interests currently operating in the state in a quasi-legal status will attempt to spike this bill in the Senate. The question remains if the long-lusted for multi-state lottery will be killed by dog track owners and legislators that want to codify their actions. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians are the big winner with this bill. They would truly gain a monopoly on electronic gaming if this bill passes.

43 mins ago

Mooney requests to ‘formally censure and condemn’ John Rogers over ‘vile remarks’

MONTGOMERY — A shouting match broke out on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives on Wednesday night after State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) surprised the chamber by introducing a request to “formally censure and condemn” State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) for his comments that went viral in recent weeks regarding abortion.

Mooney’s action came immediately after Rogers killed two non-controversial bills on a consent calendar and threatened to continue that trend until midnight. Rogers did this seemingly as a measure of spite, attempting to get revenge because a bill of his has not been moved by the House.

Mooney rose to the podium, saying he wanted to object to Rogers’ bill-killing rampage.

However, Mooney then really kicked things up a notch by introducing his formal complaint against Rogers.

That complaint as follows:

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Before Mooney could read much of the complaint, shouting ensued by members of the House Democratic Caucus.

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) called the spectacle inappropriate, and House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) quickly moved to adjourn as the chaos continued.

The House did immediately adjourn for the night, prematurely ending their legislative day without accomplishing any of its consent calendar, which had some 40 bills on the agenda.

The future fate of Mooney’s request was not immediately clear.

The complaint from Mooney states that Rogers’ “vile remarks” served to “denigrate, embarrass and demean the institution that is the Alabama House of Representatives.” Mooney said the comments brought “national shame and ridicule upon the House.”

This came the same day that Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) ducked a question again from a Republican tracker regarding Rogers.

Mooney is a Republican candidate for Jones’ seat in the 2020 race, along with Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville thus far.

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

58 mins ago

Tommy Battle: ‘Way too early to tell’ if abortion ban is impacting Huntsville

The Human Life Protection Act, which was signed into law last week by Gov. Kay Ivey, has already allegedly threatened economic development in Alabama according to Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

The law bans abortions in Alabama, and some have suggested it could have offer obstacles for economic development throughout the state.

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said he wasn’t ready to say what, if any, impact the law had on his city.

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“From our side, it is way too early to tell,” Battle said.

Battle instead warned of the threat the pending trade dispute between China and the United States could have on the local economy.

Both China and the United States have levied tariffs on one another’s imports, which Battle said would be a topic on his upcoming visit to Japan set to take place next week.

“You know, we’ve got a couple of issues that are up there right now,” Battle continued. “The tariffs are an issue. Looking at the national security side of foreign automobiles coming in and facing a tariff situation is going to be something we’re going to have to have a conversation about while we’re over in Japan because, of course, Toyota and Mazda are going to be producing cars soon. And the tariffs hit them, and the national security side hits them both. I think this is a good time to probably go over and see our industries, and try to make sure we can help them in the ways they need to be helped.”

On Wednesday, nearly a week after Ivey had signed the bill, both Battle and Ivey participated in a groundbreaking ceremony to welcome Y-tec Keylex Toyotetsu Alabama (YKTA) to Alabama, which is a $220 million investment that will bring 650 jobs to Huntsville.

@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.

1 hour ago

Alabama House passes legislation to combat human trafficking

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed two bills aimed at combatting human trafficking: HB 262 and HB 264.

The bills are co-sponsored by State Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) and State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur). Coleman the assistant minority leader, on the House floor stressed that combatting human trafficking is a nonpartisan issue. She praised Collins and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) for their efforts on the issue.

“Human trafficking is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation. There are more slaves today, an estimated 27 million, than at any point in our nation’s history,” Coleman explained in a statement. “This startling fact shows why the Alabama Legislature must act to combat human trafficking and educate the public about the harsh realities of this growing business.”

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Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world, estimated at $150 billion annually. This “modern-day slavery,” as END IT Alabama monikers human trafficking, is happening here in the Yellowhammer State. This is evidenced by the recent trafficking busts at multiple massage parlors in Madison and Morgan Counties by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

“I used to purchase gift certificates for my own mother to get foot massages at the very same spas that were shut down,” Collins advised. “HB264 would have required those same owners to display a human trafficking poster with hotline information, which could have led to a quicker rescue. I think the impact of human trafficking is larger than we realize.”

HB 262 clarifies existing law to prohibit publishing photos of those charged with the act of prostitution while allowing for publishing photos of those charged with soliciting or procuring prostitution. This bill is aimed at deterring “John’s” from purchasing sex and supporting human trafficking while protecting potential victims of human trafficking from public identification.

HB 264 clarifies existing state regulations related to the posting of the Human Trafficking Hotline and awareness posters in public places and entertainment establishments by assigning a regulator and increasing fees for non-compliance.

The two bills now head to the Senate, where they face a time crunch to pass before the regular session ends next week.

HB 261, which would require all new commercial driver licensees to undergo industry-specific human trafficking training, was also slated to be passed by the House Wednesday night before the chamber abruptly adjourned over State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) intentionally killing non-controversial legislation on a consent calendar. HB 261 has the backing of the Alabama Trucking Association and Truckers Against Trafficking.

Coleman and Collins will also introduce a pair of resolutions aimed at combatting human trafficking. The first resolution encourages ALEA to continue developing curriculum to ensure that every officer in the state is trained regarding human trafficking.

The second resolution creates the Alabama Healthcare Human Trafficking Training Program Commission, which is tasked with developing a training module for all healthcare related employees to readily identify and provide trauma-centered care for human trafficking victims.

You can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 24/7 at 1 (888) 373-7888.

You can also text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733.

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

2 hours ago

Key rural broadband initiative receives final passage from Alabama Legislature

With the support of a broad coalition of legislators and stakeholders behind it, a key rural broadband initiative received final passage in the Alabama Legislature on Wednesday.

The bill, carried by State Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Cullman) and State Sen. Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) in their respective chambers, will allow electricity providers to run broadband using their existing easements.

This is expected to encourage electric providers to invest in broadband deployment and accelerate the cost-effective expansion of broadband access in rural Alabama, in many cases using existing infrastructure.

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This was one of two bills legislative leadership prioritized to grow the state’s broadband infrastructure. The other, a bill sponsored by State Sen. Clay Scofield, would increase the amount of resources devoted to building out broadband in unserved, rural areas. Scofield’s bill awaits final approval from the House of Representatives.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh previously noted the importance of both pieces of legislation.

“These are the two bills that will help us… provide for our citizens, who I believe consider the broadband infrastructure a ‘number one issue’ for the state of Alabama,” he said. “It will have great impact on all of our education… as well as economic development.”

The intent of the ongoing effort is to spur economic development and enhance quality of life for rural areas through greater access to high-speed broadband.

HB 400 now goes to the governor for her signature.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

11 hours ago

Limestone County portion of Huntsville lands 650 new jobs with $220 million YKTA facility

HUNTSVILLE — Wednesday during a ceremony just a stone’s throw from the location of the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing auto assembly plant under construction, Gov. Kay Ivey formally announced the arrival of auto supplier Y-tec Keylex Toyotetsu Alabama (YKTA) to the state.

The $220 million facility located in the Huntsville-annexed portions of eastern Limestone County will provide 650 new jobs.

YKTA is a new joint venture formed between a trio of Mazda and Toyota suppliers and will produce structural body stampings and assemblies, as well as functional and chassis parts for Mazda Toyota.

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“This is a great wonderful announcement today,” Ivey said to reporters following the event. “Over $220 million investment in a manufacturing facility in Huntsville and Limestone County. This investment is going to bring 650 new jobs for more people to go to work. This is a great day in Alabama.”

Ivey was asked to speculate on potential future parts supplier announcements and if more could be forthcoming.

“I sure hope so because Mazda Toyota is a big facility,” she replied. “They may need some more suppliers. We hope they’ll come. We’re looking forward to having them.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Gov. Kay Ivey at YKTA announcement, 5/22/2019 (Jeff Poor/YHN)

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said he expected to see a boost in the economy as the manufacturing was underway at the Mazda Toyota facility.

“As they come and start producing automobiles, we’ll see more and more come off of this — more and more jobs, more and more for the economy coming off of this. It’s a great day for us.”

He predicted there would be more announcements, but they wouldn’t solely be in Huntsville. They would be scattered throughout the northern part of Alabama.

“The future holds more of these announcements,” Battle explained. “They all won’t be right here. There will be announcements all across North Alabama — down to Jasper, to the tri-cities, over to the Sand Mountain area because every labor pool will be challenged out of this. And that’s the great thing — that we’ll provide jobs for people all across North Alabama, even into South Tennessee.”

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN following today’s announcement, Limestone County District 3 County Commissioner Jason Black discussed the announcement of the new venture and noted that the area was “flooded” with similar announcements.

“Just like all the other announcements we’ve had — it’s just fantastic that we’re able to have them,” Black said. “There are places throughout the United States that are looking for businesses to come in and we’re just flooded with them at this time. The Mazda Toyota Manufacturing deal was larger than some people can even imagine.”

@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.