7 months ago

Alabama House committee fails to advance ‘Gender is Real Legislative’ (GIRL) Act

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House State Government Committee on Thursday morning considered the “Gender is Real Legislative” (GIRL) Act, failing to advance the legislation because no motion was made to do so.

The bill, HB 35, is sponsored by State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile). Pringle is the chairman of the State Government Committee.

HB 35 would require Alabama public schools to make sure every entrant in an athletic competition is sorted by the gender on their birth certificate. The bill also forbids any state, county or municipal government/agency from providing a facility to a single-gender competition that allows a transgender entrant.

The GIRL Act exempts any event that is specifically designed to have both boys and girls as competitors.

“Gender is real. There are biological differences between boys and girls that influence athletic performance. The GIRL Bill seeks to support female student-athletes, so that they may compete against each other and not have to compete against male students with an unfair advantage,” Pringle has stated. “Liberal Democrats are always trying to accuse us of refusing science, but gender is a real biological truth. It truly defies logic that anyone would deny science and want male students to compete in female sports.”

The committee on Thursday held a public hearing on HB 35 before considering the legislation. Several opponents to the bill spoke, arguing that there is no scientific basis to say biological males have a competitive advantage in athletics over biological females.

The first opponent of the day used herself as an example, saying she played volleyball as a child against boys and was better than the boys but not as good as other girls.

A later opponent claimed that the bill could not work in practice, as there are not two genders to choose from. “Gender is a spectrum,” she explained.

The penultimate speaker asserted HB 35 is “a disgrace to our Pledge of Allegiance.” This opponent also called the bill “racist.”

You can watch a livestream of the public hearing here.

In what was the most bizarre part of the committee meeting, State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) said, “My favorite player is a transgender.”

“I don’t recall his name,” he added, asserting “about 20 football players are transgender” that he knows of.

Rogers during the meeting advised that the nameless individual he was referring to is a football player for the “North Carolina Panthers” and is about to be cut because he is transgender. This came after Rogers arrived at the meeting halfway through the public hearing. He told Yellowhammer News that people had been calling him to go “kill the bill,” so he drove “100-miles-per-hour” to arrive in time to attempt to do so after realizing it was on the agenda.

Rogers made a motion to carry the bill over after his remarks during the meeting. That motion failed on party lines.

Yellowhammer News after the meeting asked Rogers what football player he was talking about. Rogers commented that he was referring to former Auburn University star quarterback Cam Newton, whose name he had just remembered. Yellowhammer asked Rogers if he believed Newton to be transgender. Rogers responded that he misspoke, and that he believes Newton is “gay.” Rogers added that there is nothing wrong with that and that there are many football players who are gay. To be clear, there has been no credible reporting that Newton is transgender or gay. Newton and his longtime girlfriend in recent months celebrated the arrival of their newborn baby. It should further be noted that the GIRL Act has nothing to do with gay or lesbian athletes.

After the meeting, Pringle also told reporters that “confusion” caused a motion not to be made to advance the legislation. He stated that the committee vice chair, State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville), had to step out to attend another meeting, which led to State Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper) presiding over the meeting as Pringle handled his own bill. Rowe had previously agreed to make the motion to advance the bill at the end of consideration but could not do so as acting chair.

HB 35 can simply be brought back up by the committee, and Pringle expressed that he expects this to happen during a later meeting.

Pringle concluded that he is very optimistic the bill will move forward and pass the legislature in the coming weeks.

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

5 hours ago

VIDEO: Gov. Kay Ivey signals no end to mask order in sight, media trolling for Tuberville dirt, State Rep. Mike Ball appears to regret vote on Alabama Memorial Preservation Act and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Are we really looking at wearing masks in Alabama well into 2021?

— Did Sports Illustrated attempt to dig up dirt with Tommy Tuberville’s former players as part of an October surprise?

— Does State Representative Mike Ball’s shift on the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act signify a notable shift in the Alabama Republican Party?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) to discuss Confederate monuments, prison reform, the Jones/Tuberville race and 2020.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” aimed at those who refuse to accept that President Donald Trump’s peace deals in the Middle East are a good thing.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

7 hours ago

Doug Jones fundraises off of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death

Less than 24 hours after it was announced that Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday evening, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) was fundraising for his own reelection campaign off of her death.

In an email sent out at 5:46 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jones began by saying, “This is a time for us to reflect on the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – to honor the barriers she broke and those she helped break for others. She always fought for equality and civil rights, even and especially when she was outnumbered.”

Alabama’s junior senator then pivoted to politics in the second paragraph, selectively pointing fingers at Republicans.

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“I’m saddened – though not surprised – by how quickly this has turned into a political power play by Trump and McConnell,” Jones claimed. “It not only dishonors the legacy of an American icon, it distorts the Constitutional process – a deliberate process that the Senate has always used to uphold the independence of our judicial branch.”

Jones did not mention that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was the first to bring politics into this discussion on Friday evening. Before Schumer even tweeted condolences for, or honored Ginsburg, the senate minority leader wrote, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

In contrast, President Donald Trump did not mention anything about filling the seat on Friday night, and McConnell’s comments came as a rebuttal to Schumer.

Additionally, it is not clear what “process” issues Jones could already have — as a nominee has not even been named yet, nor has a confirmation process been outlined.

Nevertheless, Jones in his email continued to use Ginsburg to fit his political purposes:

She stood for what was right and for the constitutional principles of equality and democracy that she held dear, even if it meant she was in the minority on the Court. She knew we are on the verge of a crisis for our democracy:

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she said this week.

The “Constitutional process” Jones touted earlier in the email, of course, does not allow justices to dictate to the president or the Senate regarding their successors. It is unclear how this would “uphold the independence of our judicial branch,” as Jones asserted he aims to do.

Jones’ email subsequently contained a clear falsehood.

“Mitch McConnell has other plans,” Jones continued. “He is systematically dismantling the rules of the Senate. He’s changing the rules to fit his own agenda.”

To be clear, the Senate rules are not being dismantled, changed or ignored if the Senate proceeds to consideration of a nominee made by Trump in the coming days. Presidents have nominated justices to the Supreme Court of the United States 29 times during an election year previously in history.

Jones’ email concluded as follows:

So much depends on this Senate seat. Our win in November will be a defeat of Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy and cynicism.

As Justice Ginsburg said in 2015: “Waste no time on anger, regret or resentment, just get the job done.”

Immediately below Jones’ electronic signature on the email is a large, blue “Donate Now” button. This links to a donation page for Jones’ reelection campaign headlined in all caps, “PROTECT JUSTICE GINSBURG’S LEGACY.”

RELATED: Doug Jones has previously vowed to oppose Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — ‘I’ll do everything I can’

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

7 hours ago

Redistricting and Alabama’s room where it happens

No one really knows how the game is played
The art of the trade
How the sausage gets made
We just assume that it happens
But no one else is in
The room where it happens

This description of 1790s American politics in the well-known musical Hamilton echoes a still-relevant sentiment–that regular Americans really don’t know how all of this happens.

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But is that feeling accurate? Looking at our inability to pass a federal budget, the process of choosing Supreme Court nominees, and even our own recently-increased gas tax, it’s hard to say it’s not. Often it feels like we don’t know how any of this really gets decided (and that attempts to find out would be futile).

Soon enough Alabama will be dealing with another potential “room-where-it-happens” scenario, one that will have lasting impacts for residents across the state.

The scenario? Redistricting–the process of redrawing state and congressional legislative district lines.

Unfortunately, in some states the definition might more accurately be “the power of legislators to decide who they want to represent and who they want to get off their backs.”

One state where that definition has proven true is Illinois. And you need not look further than the story of President Barack Obama for confirmation.

In 2001, when the Illinois state legislature was drawing new district lines (a requirement after every census), then-State Senator Barack Obama made a decision. Set on higher office, Mr. Obama had already run and lost a congressional race in a heavily poor, heavily African-American district. He needed a stronger base. In a shrewd political move, Mr. Obama calculated that he would benefit from a district with more affluent and higher educated residents who might better identify with an academic from the University of Chicago.

As a member of the state legislature, Mr. Obama was able to draw the new lines to his exact needs. His revamped district was still majority African-American in makeup, but it now included many of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Chicago. It was this richer, more-connected demographic that Mr. Obama leveraged to launch and fund his successful campaign for U.S. Senate in 2004 and, from there, his bid for the presidency.

Now that’s Illinois. Is Alabama just as bad?

The short answer to that question is that – if residents don’t pay attention – it could be.

In 2020, the Census may strip a congressional seat from Alabama (seats are allocated based on a state’s total population as determined in the Census). That’s because, in addition to growing at a slower rate than other states, Alabama finds itself dead last in the country in responding to the Census as of mid-September. This should not be tenable to Alabamians. If more people don’t respond to the census, states like California will get both our congressional seats and the federal funding (your own tax dollars) that we otherwise would receive had more of us answered a simple form.

This means that, on top of the normal changing of district lines to account for population shifts, Alabama’s congressional delegation will be influencing hard to not end up in the district with two incumbent Members of Congress vying for one seat in the House (although that election will certainly be one of the more interesting ones of Alabama history).

As for the state legislature, the Census will also require those districts to be redrawn to account for an increasingly urban and suburban population (although there will remain 105 House and 35 State Senate districts). This promises to take up all the air in the State House, making large policy shifts in other areas even more difficult. This reality is another reason Governor Ivey should consider a special session this year to address coronavirus-related issues in which legislators won’t be distracted by redistricting.

Regardless, the redistricting process, which will occur during the 2021 regular session, is lengthy and detailed. Multiple public hearings will be held, maps will be drawn and redrawn, and the legislature will have to debate the fully redistricted Alabama in open session. Compared to other states which allow their legislatures to draw their district lines, this process is notably transparent.

As with any situation in which power is at stake, there is, however, the opportunity for corruption. Legislators looking to benefit themselves through the redistricting process, whether by following Mr. Obama’s lead and giving themselves a wealthier constituency or by ensuring their competition is in another district, will be given the chance.

Thankfully, there is a check on this power: the people. The system, in order for it to work correctly, requires residents of Alabama to understand that they have a role and a responsibility in government decisions, including the redistricting process. As transparent as the redistricting process is compared to other states, a window is worthless if it isn’t used.

When the Alabama Legislature holds its hearings across the state regarding newly-drawn district maps, the audience should be full of residents ready to look through the window and give a well-informed opinion. As the process continues, Alabamians ought to be calling their representatives with input. Believe it or not, these small efforts create real impact and reduce opportunities for smoky secret deals.

If, however, we sit back and ignore the entire process and the window into it we’ve been given, we best not be surprised when we later find out what’s gone on in the room where it happens.

To see a new report on the status of the 2020 Census in Alabama, click here or visit alabamapolicy.org.

Parker Snider is Director of Policy Analysis for the Alabama Policy Insitute.

, and 8 hours ago

College football power rankings: Bama stands ready at No. 1; Ohio State welcomed back

The big kids come back to play on Saturday. Until that happens, there is one more week of the Yellowhammer college football power rankings without the SEC having been on the field.

Yellowhammer’s rankings are determined by the combined votes of our experts. Their individual votes can be seen with an explanation of their rankings.

Here is where we are after week 3.

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Zack Shaw

1. Clemson: Clemson has badly beaten two overmatched opponents in the first two weeks. That is exactly what you expect great teams to do.

2. Alabama: Nick Saban and company deserve the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

3. Ohio State: Welcome to the party! Simply by announcing their intention to play this season, Ryan Day, Justin Fields and the Buckeyes deserve heavy consideration.

4. Oklahoma: The explosive Sooner offense and consistent success, recently, give Oklahoma the nod over the remaining teams at this point.

5. Texas: The Longhorns have one win under their belt already and are poised to add many more in 2020 led by QB Sam Ehlinger and coach Tom Herman.

6. Georgia: Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs will get their opportunity to move up on this list as the SEC kicks off this week.

7. Miami: The Hurricanes have the best resume in the country, so far. Led by explosive playmaker D’Eriq King, and a talented offense, Miami could move up this list even further if the defense improves.

8. Auburn: Gus Malzahn’s Tigers get their first chance to prove they belong in this list against Kentucky in week 1. Auburn has enough good players, will the Tigers have enough consistency?

Tim Howe

1. Alabama: Without even playing, it has become more obvious that the Alabama Crimson Tide is the best team in the country.

2. Ohio State: Complaining, threats and chest thumping was Ohio State’s reaction to ____. (Possible answers: 1) last year’s playoff loss, 2) the Big Ten cancelling its season, or 3) pretty much anything.)

3. Georgia: The D’Wan Mathis hype train picked up considerable speed this week. We are buying stock in that version of the Georgia offense.

4. Clemson: Dabo Swinney’s second team never scored against The Citadel, a team playing a four-game schedule this season.

5. Florida: Kyle Trask’s journey to become a starting quarterback on a top-5 team is not highlighted enough.

6. Texas A&M: The Aggies lost another key player to an opt-out this week. We want to believe this is the year for the Jimbo Fisher-Kellen Mond combo to break through, but we’re getting awfully anxious.

7. Texas: Same scenario in Austin as with their in-state rival…”we want to believe this is the year.” The Longhorns enjoyed a solid win against a bad team last week. Not too much else was learned.

8. Auburn: Gus Malzahn’s Tigers occupy the spot previously held by a North Carolina team which will not face an opponent between September 12 and October 3. We cannot wait to see what Chad Morris does to the Auburn offense.

Paul Shashy

1. Alabama: Game week is here! RTR. Last year was unusual because the playoff did not include Alabama. This year will be different. Alabama is reloaded and ready to roll. Linebacker Dylan Moses returning is huge, and Alabama’s defense will be back to their standard. Mac Jones, Najee Harris, Brian Robinson, and Jalen Waddle will lead the offense.

2. Clemson: Clemson will have college football’s most explosive duo in running back Travis Etienne and quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Clemson has the two best players in the ACC and one of the country’s easiest schedules; they’ll be in the playoff.

3. Ohio State: The BIG 10s sudden return has jolted projections and rankings. Look for Ohio State to be playoff contenders, especially with Justin Fields at QB.

4. Texas A&M: Texas A&M brings back nearly everyone from last year. I believe this is the year Jimbo Fisher gets his shot. They go to Auburn and Alabama, which is rough, but I think they’ll win one of the two.

5. Notre Dame: 2-0 is a good start, but they didn’t look all that strong vs. Duke. Notre Dame is one of the more experienced teams in college football this year; that’s why they hold the five spot. As usual, they have a much easier schedule than most other teams in my top 8. Notre Dame vs. Clemson in November will be one of the great games of the year.

6. Texas: They looked fine in their first game against UTEP. Texas brings back much of their talent, and I think it’s time for Tom Herman to finally get Texas back to what they once were as a powerhouse in CFB.

7. Auburn: Bo Nix is returning and should be much improved, especially considering the depth and speed at wide receiver. They should be a popular dark horse choice for the college football playoff.

8. Oklahoma: Easy cupcake game to start out, but they looked strong. Since they were stomped in the playoff last year, Oklahoma’s defense is returning eight starters. Because of this, they’ll be much improved. Oklahoma vs. Texas in October will be one of the biggest games of the year.

11 hours ago

Cheating, trust and prosperity

The Houston Astros played at the Los Angeles Dodgers last weekend for the first time since the revelation of Houston’s sign-stealing during their 2017 championship season. The biggest offseason story led to the firing of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow and two other managers. Yet, according to a saying, “If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.” When does the pursuit of self-interest imperil trust and prosperity?

During 2017, Houston used electronic surveillance to view the catcher’s signs and signaled the batter by banging on a trash can. The Astros defeated the Dodgers that year in the World Series. The Dodgers and their fans have not taken the news of cheating kindly. Earlier this season, Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly was ejected and suspended for throwing at Astros batters. Fans with trash cans (who can’t attend games this year) greeted the Astros’ bus at Dodger Stadium, and a plane circled the stadium with a banner.

Major League Baseball’s response though is somewhat puzzling. Pitchers and catchers use complicated signs to keep a runner on second base from stealing signs. Coaches and players cover their mouths to guard against lip reading. Some actions to gain competitive advantage are part of the sport.

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Standards regarding conduct to gain advantage have changed over time. In the 1970s and earlier, pitchers would throw at batters who “got too comfortable” at the plate. After back-to-back homers, the next batter would likely be brushed back.

When does the pursuit of competitive advantage become cheating, and how does this matter for business and economics? Is there any reason to expect people to follow rules except when in their self-interest?

Economics assumes that people act in their self-interest. As Adam Smith put it, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love.”

Professor Smith, though, also understood that people can follow rules due to moral and legal force, and even in conflict with narrow self-interest. Most of us do not shoplift because we believe this is wrong. We do not pay for merchandise only after we determine we could not get away with stealing.

Voluntary rule-following is enormously valuable. Still, we generally use a mix of prevention and voluntary rule-following. Stores take measures to combat shoplifting but do not strip search all customers. Shoplifting costs retailers around $20 billion annually, a significant but manageable total.

Business dealings employ a similar approach. Contracts give parties an incentive to perform as specified. But business is also conducted on a handshake basis. Parties expect each other to resolve problems, not merely rely on the exact terms of a contract.

Crime can be viewed as a type of cheating with enormous costs. America employs one million police officers and 750,000 security guards to control crime and incarcerates 2.3 million persons for their misdeeds. Expenditures on security devices like cameras, bars, and alarms increase the cost further. The costs of crime would be enormously lower if more people would never steal.

The flip side of cheating is trust. Trust that others in business will not cheat or steal is enormously important for prosperity. Business loans will not exist if investors fear that every new business is a scam. Lending occurs only within families in low-trust societies, which generally remain poor.

Good rules for games and laws for business benefit all parties and broadly align rule-following with self-interest. In games, good rules produce challenging competitions exhibiting skill which players and fans enjoy. In business, good laws support value-creating economic activity. Punishing rule-breakers reinforces the self-interest in following the rules.

Playing by the rules or following the law is enormously valuable. I cannot explain why Major League Baseball tolerates normal sign-stealing yet punished the Astros so harshly. Yet wherever we draw the line, crossing the line erodes the trust on which our prosperity depends.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.