7 Things: Still hope for a gambling deal, Literacy Act delay could face a veto, gas prices expected to rise and more …
7. Iran is threatening stability in the Middle East
- As fighting between Israel and Hamas continues, former President George W. Bush has made a statement on the issue, saying what “you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel.” Bush added that Iran’s “influence is dangerous for world peace.”
- Current President Joe Biden has made it clear he wants a “path to cease-fire” in the conflict, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be ready to continue punishing Hamas until their aggression stops.
6. Dale Strong is starting strong
- Madison County Commission Chair Dale Strong, a candidate for the Fifth Congressional District, announced that he’s raised more than $300,000, and with time still left in this quarter of fundraising, he could break the record of $395,000 for an Alabama congressional candidate. The quarter doesn’t end until June 30.
- Recently, Strong also hosted a campaign event with 400 invited guests that included the mayors of Huntsville, Madison, Scottsboro, Rogersville, and Decatur, and other prominent names to the area such as Britt Sexton, Phil and Lisa Williams, Linda Maynor, Joe Ritch, Frank Callazo, Bill Roark, and Carl Gessler. Representatives from the Business Council of Alabama and Alabama Farmers Federation were also on the list, but haven’t made an endorsement of Strong yet.
5. Rogers: Address the political bias in the Department of Defense
- In a statement, U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks) expressed his concern over the reported political bias within the Department of Defense. Rogers said he’s concerned about “conservative voices being silenced in the Department of Defense while Departmental leadership defends and protects left-leaning voices.”
- This concern somewhat comes after the case of Lt. Colonel Matthew Lohmeier being removed from the U.S. Space Force for making statements about the political bias within the U.S. military. Rogers added that he’s hearing “regularly from active duty and retired service members that even holding conservative values is now enough to endanger a servicemember’s military career.”
4. CDC director doesn’t know how to take her own advice
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already advised that those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can go without a mask, but CDC Director Rochelle Walensky hasn’t taken this advice and appeared at a Senate subcommittee hearing masked.
- Walensky is fully vaccinated, as she received her first dose of the vaccine on January 7, and at the time she said, “I’ve never had more faith in the promise of science and the power of hope to get us through this.”
3. Higher gas prices — thank Biden
- It’s expected that gas prices across the United States are going to be at an average of $2.98 by Memorial Day, which is the highest it’s been since 2014. This is $1.02 more than it was the same time last year.
- In 2014, the average gas price was at $3.66. Some of this increase is due to the Colonial Pipeline being shut down, but President Joe Biden’s approach to the energy industry has certainly not helped the situation. The average gas price in Alabama is currently at $2.85.
2. Veto in the Literacy Act is possible
- Multiple entities have called for Governor Kay Ivey to veto a piece of legislation that would delay a law that requires third graders know how to read before they are promoted to the fourth grade because of the pandemic. Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said they are reviewing requests for a veto. She advised, “The governor is certainly taking a hard look at this and is exploring all options. Education policy is important to the governor, and as we review, we will provide an update on where she leans on this decision.”
- One of the sponsors of the Literacy Act in 2019 made the argument that the delay of this bill is detrimental to the governor’s own stated desires, saying, “In my opinion, it doesn’t support her Strong Start, Strong Finish initiative and I know she’s been a big supporter of the Literacy Act”.
1. Gambling is not completely dead in Alabama, yet
- After yet another legislative session has come and gone, Alabama continues to lack a conclusion on the matter of gambling in the state. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate on federal land, the various “bingo” operators and the proponents of both a simple lottery and comprehensive gambling bills have been unable to secure a passable deal.
- But with a special session expected, the chairwoman and CEO of the Poarch Creek Indians isn’t giving up on a comprehensive gambling deal yet, writing at Yellowhammer News, “We support a regulated gaming plan that will bring millions of dollars in tax revenue to the state and most importantly allow our Tribal Government and the existing pari-mutuel gaming operators the opportunity to increase jobs, providing sustainable employment that will support thousands of families.”