9 months ago

7 Things: Tuscaloosa police officer killed on duty, Doug Jones is a loyal Democrat soldier, more jobs for Alabama and more …

7. Three states target vaping

  • Even though the Center for Disease Control has downgraded the number of people impacted by vaping-related illnesses, we are still in the middle of a full-blown moral panic with California, New York and Michigan getting in on the action to solve the crisis.
  • Michigan and New York have targeted all flavored vaping flavors, while California is targeting black market vape sales, instituting a $20 million state-run advertising campaign and looking to raise taxes on it.

6. Iran could be to blame for Saudi Arabia attack

  • President Donald Trump has said that he wants to “avoid” a war with Iran, but it’s likely that Iran is responsible for the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil supply.
  • Iran has denied any involvement with the attacks, and Trump said that there won’t be any retaliation from the United States until there’s “definitive proof” that Iran is at fault.

5. Tommy Tuberville says he is running for the right reasons — Bradley Byrne disagrees

  • While appearing on Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.” former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville said that in Alabama, “they trust football coaches a heck of a lot more than they trust politicians,” and he emphasized that he’s running for Senate “for the right reasons.”
  • His primary opponent U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) disagrees and believes voters will as well because he is trying to draw a contrast between Tuberville’s reasons for running and his saying, “I’m not running for this seat because I got bored and needed something to do,” and, “I’ve spent most of my life serving. I want to help the people of this great state.”

4. More jobs for Alabama through Lockheed Martin

  • On Monday, Lockheed Martin announced that its Courtland facility will get two new buildings for assembling and testing hypersonic programs, which will add 72 new jobs in Courtland.
  • Huntsville will see 200 new management and engineering jobs through Lockheed Martin for the new hypersonic programs, and it’s expected that there will be more jobs created in the future through this program.

3. Tommy Battle has made a new case for Space Command

  • After it was announced that Lockheed Martin will be locating its hypersonic defense program in Huntsville, Mayor Tommy Battle reemphasized why Redstone Arsenal is the best choice for the new U.S. Space Command.
  • Battle said that Redstone has the “world’s most advanced capabilities in aerospace, space and missile defense, and space exploration are already here.” He added that Huntsville has “become the nation’s epicenter for rocket engines, cyber security, and soon – hypersonics.”

2. Doug Jones silent on New York Times correction on Kavanaugh

  • U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) eagerly appeared on MSNBC where he said that the push for impeaching Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh is “inevitable” but he has been silent on the issue since the New York Times corrected their story to add that the alleged victim doesn’t think the allegation is true. Both of the earlier allegations against Kavanaugh were sketchy as well.
  • Though Jones hasn’t been shy about expressing his support of nearly every far-left Democratic effort, Jack Panel, the communications director of the Senate Leadership Fund, said that Jones’ support for impeachment on uncorroborated accusations “demonstrates Jones is merely a faithful soldier for Chuck Schumer and national Democrats, not a Senator for the people of Alabama.”

1. Tuscaloosa police officer killed on duty

  • Army veteran and 13-year Tuscaloosa Police Department veteran Dornell Cousette was shot and killed while serving a warrant, which marks the ninth police officer to be shot and the fourth police officer killed in Alabama this year.
  • The unnamed 20-year-old suspect fled after the shooting and was later arrested when he showed up at the hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound he received. He was being persuaded for failure to appear in court on previous felony charges for robbery and assault.
33 mins ago

Alabama Democratic Party chair calls on Jefferson Davis state holiday to be abolished

State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), the chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, on Thursday sent a letter to Governor Kay Ivey in support of ending the state holiday that recognizes Jefferson Davis’ birthday.

The holiday this year was on Monday, June 1; it is recognized on the first Monday in June of every year in accordance with state law (Section 1-3-8, Code of Alabama 1975).

In his letter, England requested that Ivey include amending this section of state law if she calls a special session this year. The 2020 regular session of the legislature ended last month.

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A spokesperson for Ivey’s office told Yellowhammer News in response to England’s letter, “That is a conversation that would have to begin with the Legislature. However, Governor Ivey is certainly open to sitting down with lawmakers to discuss this proposal.”

England has been a member of the state legislature since November 2006.

Yellowhammer News’ search of online legislative archives found that no bill has been introduced during England’s tenure in the legislature to end Alabama’s state holiday recognizing Jefferson Davis’ birthday.

Before Republicans took control of the legislature in 2010, both the Alabama Senate and the House had been majority-Democrat since 1868.

State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and State Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) brought a bill in 2015 that would have made both Jefferson Davis’ birthday holiday and Confederate Memorial Day unpaid state holidays, unless decided otherwise by the governor each year. The holidays are currently paid. That bill passed out of committee but never received a vote on the Senate floor.

Jefferson Davis, a member of the Democratic Party, served as president of the Confederacy from 1861-1865.

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

2 hours ago

Legislation easing restrictions on PPP loan payback supported by Alabama congressional delegation

Each member of Alabama’s congressional delegation voted in support of a bill to ease restrictions on businesses receiving loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that passed Congress this week and now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The bill extends the time businesses have to spend their loans from eight to 24 weeks. Additionally, to qualify for loan forgiveness, borrowers would now be required to spend 60% of the loan on payroll where it had been 75% previously.

The Trump administration told Politico that the program has saved 50 million jobs across the country. The Birmingham Business Journal is reporting that $6 billion in PPP funds have been distributed in Alabama.

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The PPP was created as part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus packages known as the CARES Act that Congress passed in March as an attempt to alleviate the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The program proved so popular that legislation to replenish the funds proved necessary later in April.

The initial rollout of the program saw overwhelming demand that swamped many loan providers and led to some small businesses not receiving their loans in a timely fashion.

The kinks were later ironed out, and currently, the federal government holds $120 billion in PPP funds still available for a small business in need.

The initial eight-week deadline to pay back the loan for businesses that did not qualify for loan forgiveness was rapidly approaching for many PPP recipients.

Both payroll and rent/mortgage costs are eligible for forgiveness under the program.

Politico reported that some lenders expect an amount of renewed interest in the loans given the extended time available for repayment.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

3 hours ago

ALDOT awards latest round of local road, bridge grants

Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) on Thursday announced that $1.7 million in funding is being awarded to cities and counties for various local road and bridge projects.

The funding is part of ALDOT’s Annual Grant Program, which was created under the Rebuild Alabama Act enacted in spring of 2019.

The annual program by law sets aside $10 million off the top of the state’s share of Rebuild Alabama gas tax revenues for local road and bridge projects. This accounts for a small portion of the overall tax revenues that are put towards infrastructure improvements across the state.

A total of $7 million was already awarded earlier this year, with approximately $1.3 million to be awarded later this fiscal year.

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“Alabamians across the state are continually seeing the progress made on our roads and bridges. These projects now nearing a total of $9 million are going to go a long way in improving our state and the daily lives of every Alabamian,” Ivey said in a statement.

“Having a modern and safe infrastructure system will help Alabama continue to advance, and I remain committed to ensuring that this is a reality for us,” she concluded.

This latest award cycle sees six projects added to the 31 projects announced earlier this year. It is anticipated that all projects will be under contract by the end of the calendar year, after bids are taken.

You can view a list of the six new projects awarded grants here.

In addition to the Annual Grant Program, local governments can also apply for infrastructure funding under the ATRIP-II program, also created by the Rebuild Alabama Act.

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

3 hours ago

Huntsville mayor: ‘People who were not part of our community’ led Wednesday protest which resulted in tear gas usage, police officer injury

Huntsville has made the news after law enforcement officers on Wednesday used tear gas to break up a crowd who reportedly refused to comply with orders to disperse.

At least one police officer was injured Wednesday evening by the so-called protesters, and a reporter on the scene said objects were thrown at law enforcement vehicles. One local business was damaged.

On Thursday morning, Mayor Tommy Battle released a statement about what occurred, noting that “people who were not part of our community” were responsible for the unpermitted gathering that led to the clash.

“Yesterday, our city saw two separate protest events. The first was organized by the local chapter of the NAACP who worked with the City and Huntsville Police to organize a thoughtful event filled with hope and a call for justice,” the mayor said. “We gathered to mourn the tragedy that occurred in Minneapolis. We came together in supporting a First Amendment right to voice a call for change throughout our country. I saw families and small children. Students and seniors. Black and white. Our community has a shared mission – more must be done.”

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However, Battle outlined that a separate gathering from the permitted NAACP event subsequently occurred.

“What occurred after the NAACP event was disheartening,” he noted.

“A second event occurred, structured by people who were not part of our community,” Battle advised. “They gathered at the courthouse to block the square and protest.”

The mayor explained, “This was not part of a permitted event, and there were no local organizers in charge, which becomes a public safety issue. Even so, police allowed the protestors time to express themselves before asking everyone to leave. Most complied, but others did not. Police were clear in their instructions and worked with the remaining protestors for more than an hour before using non-lethal irritants. The protesters had every opportunity to peacefully leave and they chose otherwise. The leadership of this second group is not our community.”

“It is a hard thing for us to see in Huntsville, but we’ve worked too hard to grow this city as a place of respect and opportunity,” Battle concluded. “Let us turn pain into purpose and do the hard work to create meaningful change. We won’t let people and organizations from outside our community turn us against each other. This is a time for us to unite, to protect the city we love and to move forward in a way that is more equitable and just.​”

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

4 hours ago

State Sen. Elliott tabbed as ’emerging legislative leader’ by national foundation

State Senator Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) has been selected by a national group to be a member of the 2020 Emerging Legislative Leaders Program.

The national group choosing Elliott is the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF) in partnership with the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Elliott is one of 50 state legislators from across the United States taking part in the program. Participation is limited to lawmakers in their first or second term.

“This leadership program provides an opportunity for collaboration with colleagues from across the country to share ideas and best practices to address complex public policy issues,” Elliott said in a release about his selection.

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The selection process included a nomination by Alabama State Senate leadership followed by a personal application from Elliott himself.

The application form on the SLLF site asks those applying for the program to be thorough in giving their responses because “this is a very competitive application process.”

Elliott commented, “I am humbled and honored to have been nominated by Senate Leadership and selected by SLLF to represent Alabama in this prestigious program.”

The program in which Elliott will take part is held in Charlottesville on the campus of the University of Virginia. The foundation’s website describes the proceedings as “4 days of challenging classroom discussions, led by a team of professors at the Darden School.”

Alabama legislators who have been selected as an “emerging leader” in years past include then-Rep. Greg Canfield (R-Vestavia Hills), Rep. Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville), Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn), Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Birmingham) and Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster).

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95