7 Things: Use the vaccine in Alabama or someone else will, medical marijuana bill stalls for now, gambling bill changes imperil the bill and more …
7. Derek Chauvin’s attorney wants a new trial in George Floyd’s murder
- When former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter, society was told that justice was served in a fair and impartial way. Some leaders argued the guilty verdict wasn’t justice, but it turns out they may be right but for a very different reason.
- Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, says all the pretrial publicity probably affected Chauvin’s right to a fair trial with one juror worrying about protests and another juror found to have worn a “Black Lives Matter” shirt that directly stated “get your knee off our neck,” which references the George Floyd case, prior to the trial.
6. A Trump with a blog
- Former President of the United States Donald Trump has been pretty quiet since he left office and lost his Twitter and Facebook accounts, but he is now back with a new communications platform or, as it is more commonly known, a blog.
- The site will feature the musings and notes from the desk of the former President and will be written by Donald Trump himself. Early posts include takes on U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) and her issues with her fellow Republicans as well as a post about U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) being booed at a meeting by Republicans in Utah.
5. Police vindicated in Birmingham shooting; A cop on trial in Huntsville
- Desmon Ray, Jr. was fatally shot by Birmingham police and a newly-released video shows that he was shooting at police before he was killed. Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said he released the video to combat the misinformation circulating in the community.
- During the murder trial of William Ben Darby, a Huntsville police officer accused of killing a suicidal man, former Huntsville police officer Genisha Pegues testified that she was trying to keep the man from harming himself before Darby arrived on the scene and escalated the situation. The video shown at the trial shows that Darby shot Jeff Parker less than 30 seconds after arriving at the house and Pegues said she never felt threatened by Parker while the defense argued her actions put herself and other officers in danger.
4. Ivey signs pay raises for teachers and government employees
- Governor Kay Ivey signed two bills that will provide across-the-board pay raises for public education employees and all state employees beginning October 1, 2021.
- Ivey made this an issue in her 2021 State of the State Address, specifically noting that teachers rose to the occasion during the pandemic when other states were shut down. She stated, “Alabama schools have shown the rest of the nation that it is possible to be safely back in the classroom, while carrying on the important work of providing Alabama’s children a chance for a promising future.”
3. New gambling bills will be voted on Thursday
- There are now three new bills that have changed the proposed gambling legislation that are being considered. Each one passed committees today, but the changes may imperil the whole proposal moving forward. Changes include more enforcement, higher taxes, limits on gifts and campaign contributions, 5% for rural fire protection, and 5% for teacher bonuses, because of course.
- There are many groups on both sides of this issue. On the pro side, there are many gambling interests, including the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and some existing gambling players in the state that will be included in the bill. On the con side, there are groups against gambling in general, groups against the bill because of how it was written and gambling interests that feel left out.
2. Medical marijuana debate takes place, bill stalls for now
- During a lengthy floor debate yesterday, the Alabama State House was unable to overcome a filibuster by House Republicans, and a final vote to legalize a limited medical marijuana bill is in question, even though a procedural vote to move forward signaled enough votes to pass the bill.
- Opponents noted the drug is not FDA-approved for medical purposes or fear the bill will be a gateway to recreational legalization, and it will. Proponents, like State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison), continued to argue this bill was about compassion. Reps. Debbie Wood (R-Valley), Brett Easterbrook (R-Fruitdale) and Allen Farley (R-McCalla) all told personal stories about the medical use of the drug.
1. Use the vaccine or lose it
- Alabama’s pace of vaccine is lagging while the pace of the nation is slowing, and now the federal government is warning states that if they are not going to use their vaccines they will pass them on to states that need them.
- Governor Kay Ivey continues to push Alabamians to get the vaccine, saying, “Y’all, we want shots in the arms and off the shelf. If you have not made it a priority to schedule a vaccine, I encourage you to go get the shot as soon as you are able.” She added, “If we don’t use it, we could lose it. This is our ticket back to normal. The vaccine is free and could possibly save your life.”