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1 week ago

7 Things: The State of the Union is divided, Shelby touts massive economic impact of the FBI in Alabama, VA governor defiant as his potential replacement has a #MeToo issue and more …

7. While the media reacts with glee over the Washington Post congratulating themselves for doing their job, the real story is far better

— In a Super Bowl spot that allowed the media to talk about themselves and cast themselves as victims, the Washington Post declared that “Democracy dies in the Darkness.” What most people watching this spot missed was the original spot was purchased for one of Jeff Bezo’s other companies, Blue Origin. Bezos decided to pull the plug on the spot for his spaceflight company, which his mistress helped shoot, and ran this self-aggrandizing tripe instead.

6. Wife of slain Birmingham police officer Sgt. Wytasha Carter will be attending the State of the Union as Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-Birmingham) guest

— Sewell’s office announced that Tiphanie Carter will attend as President Donald Trump delivers the address to a joint session of Congress this evening. Carter was murdered by criminals who shot him in the head while he was investigating vehicle break-ins in downtown Birmingham. Other members of Congress are bringing illegal aliens, furloughed government employees and other members of the public to highlight issues they feel are important. President Trump’s invited guests include victims of illegal immigration, pardoned criminals and a kid bullied for being named Trump.

5. The  is using Ronald Reagan to lobby for more spending on roads and bridges

— In 1982, President Reagan lobbied for more spending to fix infrastructure by saying, “The bridges and highways we fail to repair today will have to be rebuilt tomorrow at many times the cost.” Using Reagan in a red state like Alabama to call for a higher gas tax is a unique approach. The organization running the ads is made up of various Chambers of Commerce, the Business Council of Alabama and other business groups. Other states have used this tactic.

4. The governor of Virginia, who admits to wearing blackface, doesn’t want to be seen as a “racist for life” by resigning

—Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) insisted that he needs “more time” to decide whether he can cling to power after a disastrous week where he has found few allies and increasing calls to resign. In a “solemn” cabinet meeting that included his possible replacement, he told his staff that he would be branded a “racist for life” and that he needs to convince people that he is not in that photo. Reportedly, his own staff is finding that story hard to believe.

3. The potential next governor of Virginia, and the current lieutenant governor, is facing new scrutiny that the media may have actually handled correctly

— Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has denied that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2014. The denial included a now rebuked assertion that the Washington Post found inconsistencies in the woman’s story. More interestingly, he says the allegations are being pushed to the media by Northam’s supporters. He said, “Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out?” If true, that would mean Virginia Democrats and the media knew about this allegation and said nothing which is a pretty stark contrast with how those two groups handled allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

2. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) touts up to $1 billion dollars in Alabama investment by the FBI

— Shelby was speaking at a Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce event where he spoke about the potential for 4,000 FBI jobs at the Redstone Arsenal facility. These jobs will have an impact on the state that is on par with the $1.6 billion dollar investment by Mazda-Toyota project. Shelby told the crowd that “Huntsville is on fire,” and added, “The whole area is on fire economically. You’re attracting everything here. You’ve got the brainpower here.”

1. It’s State of the Union day — no one knows which President Donald Trump will show up

— President Trump is going to deliver his State of the Union address tonight, which will be his third address to a joint session of Congress. But this time, his new number one foil, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will be prominently seated behind him and next to Vice President Mike Pence. The potential of another government shutdown, border security and immigration are sure to be featured in the address. The president will call for bipartisan efforts on trade and prescription drugs, but the speech will almost assuredly touch on divisive issues like abortion and could potentially be used to announce a declaration of emergency on border security.

4 mins ago

Alabama Supreme Court reinstates Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Friday that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the state’s motion to stay a recent Jefferson County Circuit Court judgment that declared the “[erroneous]” Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 to be unconstitutional.

This means the law, which prohibits the removal and alteration of monuments more than 40 years old on public property, will still be in effect while the state appeals the decision. Marshall requested the stay three weeks ago.

“I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the State’s motion to stay the Circuit Court’s ruling,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We think that U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly demonstrates that the Circuit Court erred in striking down the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Thus, we asked the Alabama Supreme Court to preserve the status quo regarding the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park until the Court rules on our appeal.”

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It was reported that the City of Birmingham was considering removing the monument at the center of the controversy after the law was struck down. The Sailors Monument has been covered by a large black wall since August 2017, near the end of former Mayor William Bell’s tenure.

“The Supreme Court’s stay allows the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to remain in effect until the Supreme Court resolves this appeal over the Act’s constitutionality. We continue to hold that the Circuit Court erred when it ruled that the U.S. Constitution grants cities free speech rights that they can enforce against the State,” Marshall added. “For more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has held just the opposite, recognizing that ‘a political subdivision, created by the state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the federal constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator.’ We look forward to presenting these arguments to the Alabama Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court’s order Friday also stayed the accrual of any financial penalties under the law.

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

3 hours ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt announced the two major additions in an internal email sent out to the business council’s leadership Friday evening. Britt took the reigns of BCA January 2. Cagle and Cole are her first hires.

The email detailed that Cole is being named senior vice president of governmental affairs and Cagle vice president of governmental affairs.

“These two additions to our team position the BCA to serve our members and advocate effectively on behalf of the business community,” Britt wrote.

Mark Colson, who most recently filled in as BCA’s interim president after serving as chief of staff and senior vice president for governmental affairs, will continue to serve the organization in his new role as senior advisor through the transition period.

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

3 hours ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.

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“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

Cagle is being named BCA’s vice president of governmental affairs.

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

4 hours ago

It is time for the Alabama legislature to end the state-mandated subsidy to print media outlets

Who won the 2018 general election in Alabama?

You might think with all the talk of $900 prison spending bills, gas taxes, Medicaid expansion and the lottery that Democrats won in a massive landslide and were preparing to implement their agenda. But that is not what happened — Republicans actually picked up seats.

The state of Alabama, with a Republican super-majority, is preparing to spend big and grow government.

As they do this, maybe they can toss the citizens of Alabama a bone and make the government a little more efficient by saving state agencies, counties, cities and school boards a substantial amount of money every year.

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Current Alabama law requires government entities in Alabama to advertise legal notices, legislation, constitutional amendments, voter rolls and other public matters in the local print media outlets.

This is not chump change:

  • The state of Alabama spends up to $800,000 each year.
  • The city of Huntsville spends up to $115,000 each year.
  • Madison County spends up to $153,000 each year.

If we were to add up all the costs to local governments, we would find that these costs are in the multiple millions of dollars range.

In a state that has a $6+ billion dollar education budget, this may seem like something that is minuscule and irrelevant, but that is not the case when adding all the entities required by law to hand government money over to private companies to print a product that very few use and could easily be uploaded to an official state/county/city website and be more accessible to your average Alabamians.

The only counter-argument, which will be made by those working in or for the print media industry and no one else, is that there are communities in Alabama that don’t have high-speed Internet and can’t access these websites.

This is a canard that only allows legislators to do nothing and not face the wrath of people who “buy ink by the barrel.”

Keeping these laws on the books only acts to subsidize the print media. It does not benefit your average Alabamian one bit.

This print media subsidy should be ended immediately. Surely there are other things these government entities can spend this money on.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

5 hours ago

Tennessee Valley Authority selects next president and CEO

The nation’s largest public utility has picked the leader of one of Canada’s largest power companies to head the $11 billion federal corporation.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Valley Authority board announced the selection of Jeffrey Lyash as president and CEO effective in April.

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Lyash is president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation Inc. He was formerly president of CB&I Power and executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy.

He also served in management roles with Progress Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Lyash is chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute, an international nonprofit for public interest energy and environmental research.

Lyash replaces Bill Johnson, who is retiring after joining the federal utility in 2013.

TVA serves about 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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