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7 Things: SCOTUS obliterates Biden’s vaccine mandate, 1-in-4 Alabama students in remote learning, Alabama’s legislative Democrats lay out their plans and more …

7. Tim James coming out swinging

  • Governor Kay Ivey may have the inside track to reelection, but her most serious challenger is Greenville businessman Tim James, who announced his run this week. Fresh off that announcement, James has been campaigning in Mobile and pointing out that he believes Ivey’s failed leadership is to blame for failing to get the I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project over the finish line.
  • James appeared on “The Jeff Poor Show” and took Ivey to task for her leadership of the Alabama Department of Transportation. He said, “The way it works is the director of transportation runs the department, and that person answers directly to the governor. The DOT director serves at the pleasure of the governor. So, when the DOT director speaks, they’re really speaking for the governor. The decisions, the judgment has been lacking, top to bottom, on many fronts. And you know, I’d love to know how much money has been spent in the whole process that will never be recovered.”

6. If you got the booster, just say it

  • President Donald Trump has made it clear that if people got the booster shot for the coronavirus vaccine, then they should be open and honest about their status. It’s assumed that this was somewhat aimed at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) since he has not been clear about whether he’s received the booster.
  • Trump said not being open about the matter is “gutless,” adding, “You got to say it. Whether you had it or not. Say it.” Trump also criticized this as being an attempt from politicians to avoid angering anti-vaxxer voters.

5. Smaller projects benefitting from Rebuild Alabama Act funding

  • State Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) has spoken in favor of how the Rebuild Alabama Act has realistically helped the state. Overall, Chambliss said that there has been a lot of help to local roads and projects, but state projects are coming along much slower.
  • Chambliss credited the disproportionate progress to the size of the projects, saying, “The local entities were geared up, have smaller projects, and it is easier to get those going. On the state side, it has been a little bit slower because the projects are so big, and they take a lot more effort to get them to that point.”

4. Not sure how many times Manchin and Sinema need to say this

  • In the recent history of the U.S. Senate, 60 votes have been needed to pass legislation, and Democrats have supported this threshold as recently as when President Donald Trump suggested it be ended to pass his agenda. Now, with a Democrat in the White House, Senate Democrats have been attempting to change the rules but 50 Republicans and 2 Democrats stand in their way. It appears this has met its logical conclusion with U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) reiterating their publicly held view that they will not help Democrats end the filibuster so they can pass a “voting rights” bill. This is not being received well in the media.
  • Never taking “no, no, hell no, no” for an answer, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) decided that he is not done pushing for the end of the filibuster. Hilariously, on the same day his hopes were crushed and his party utilized the filibuster to kill a bill with sanctions on a Russian pipeline, Schumer announced Democrats would continue banging their head into this wall.

3. Democrats are pushing for health care and opposing permit-less carry

  • The Alabama House Democrat Caucus outlined its agenda for this session, and their focus is going to be pushing for Medicaid expansion and trying to keep permit requirements for concealed carry in the state.
  • They will also advocate to do away with the 4% grocery tax, raise pay for teachers including those already retired, and reform voting laws. The “Pro-Growth, Pro-Innovation, Pro-Alabama” was announced after Governor Kay Ivey advocated for some similar policies, such as pay raises for teachers, in her State of the State address.

2. We have learned nothing

  • As coronavirus cases have increased across the state, more than one in four students are now going to school virtually. More than 200,000 students are now forced to attend school virtually as 38 school systems have announced varying timelines of virtual learning.
  • Most recently, Boaz City, Decatur City, Cullman County, Lauderdale County and Lowndes County will be virtual at least until the beginning of next week, but some go on for longer. State Superintendent Eric Mackey said that he’s expecting more schools to close within “the next few weeks.” He added, “Our problem is we just don’t have enough adults to safely and effectively operate the school…in some areas, now we’re seeing up to 35% of the faculty report that they have COVID, or they’re close contact.”

1. Supreme Court denies OSHA vaccine mandate

  • The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a blow to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for private businesses through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, blocking the mandate. The mandate was blocked on the scope of OSHA’s authority since they are allowed “to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.”
  • However, the court did uphold a coronavirus vaccine mandate for those working in the medical community through the authority of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. This upholds the decision to require vaccination for those working in facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. Alabama leaders, including Attorney General Steve Marshall, applauded the OSHA ruling.