7 Things: Voting started in Alabama, Trump downplayed coronavirus concerns in public, gas tax funding more roads and more …
7. The Big Ten still not ready for football
- After a letter to the Big Ten conference was written and signed by statehouse leaders from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan arguing that college football can take place this fall safely, the conference has responded by saying they aren’t ready yet.
- The letter from the Big Ten reinforced that they’re following the science of the situation. The conference started, “Return to Competition Task Force is tapping into those resources as it prepares for a safe return to competition,” adding they will continue to “identify opportunities to resume competition as soon as it safe to do so.”
6. Pay raises in Huntsville
- Despite cities and counties across Alabama facing budget cuts, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle has introduced his city’s 2021 fiscal year budget, which would include a cost-of-living raise for employees, even though there have been $15 million in unexpected expenses for the city.
- Within the budget is funding for 369 part-time employees and 2,435 full-time employees. The city council will go over the full budget on September 15, but it is clear that Huntsville has fared better than most municipalities in the state.
5. Can’t do much about prison plan
- Governor Kay Ivey has released her plan for three new prisons in the state, which has already gained criticism from some like State House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) who would like to see some prison reform, too.
- State Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) has said that there might not be much the legislature can do about Ivey’s plans, and instead suggested that those in the legislature “introduce a bill” if they want to get a vote on the issue.
4. Alabama judges are on Trump’s shortlist
- In the event of another U.S. Supreme Court seat becoming available, President Donald Trump has said that he will select a nominee from his already announced list of candidates. He recently added 20 more names to the list.
- On the list of candidates are two judges from Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom and U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Chief Judge Bill Pryor.
3. More roads funded by the gas tax
- There will be six road and bridge projects across the state funded by the gas tax, as announced by Governor Kay Ivey. These are the last projects to be funded by this year’s version of the Annual Grant Program as part of a $10 million expenditure.
- The projects will total $1.5 million. In her announcement, Ivey said that when she “signed the Rebuild Alabama Act into law, I assured the people of Alabama that all areas of our state would see a benefit, and we are delivering on that promise.”
2. Trump was just trying to avoid panic
- A new book by Bob Woodward says that President Donald Trump knew the severity of the coronavirus, but purposefully downplayed the situation in public. However, Trump has said that this book is “just another political hit job,” adding, “[Y]ou cannot show a sense of panic.”
- Media darling and White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci has come to the president’s defense by saying, “I didn’t get any sense that he was distorting anything.” He continued, “I mean in my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had. We related that to him. And when he would go out, I’d hear him discussing the same sort of things.”
1. Voting has started in every county in Alabama
- Believe it or not, Alabama voters can go cast their votes in-person as of yesterday at county courthouses all over the state. The expected number of absentee ballots requested is expected to be as much as five times higher (150,000) than the 2016 election (31,000).
- The benefits of voting via absentee ballot in-person are clear: you avoid the line on Election Day and you don’t have to worry about getting proof of identification into the envelope or finding witnesses to sign the envelope. There are drawbacks to it, however, including casting your ballot before the debates take place if you think you may change your mind.