7 months ago

Alabama Senate delays vote on abortion ban after commotion on the floor

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama State Senate on Thursday began debate of a bill to ban abortion, however a vote will have to wait until at least Tuesday after Democrats resorted to shouting down the chair after losing a procedural vote.

Sponsored by State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur), HB 314 is intended to get the U.S. Supreme Court to re-examine Roe v. Wade on the basis of personhood.

The bill as passed by the House last week only would have banned all abortion except when the life of the mother is in danger. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday tacked on an amendment by State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) adding exceptions for rape and incest.

Collins and State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), who is carrying the bill in the Senate, argued that adding exceptions for rape and incest takes away from the legal challenge the bill is trying to mount, as the question at hand is whether the baby in the womb is a person and should have rights as such, regardless of how that baby was conceived.

Thus, after one successful 23-6 procedural vote (on the bill’s Budget Isolation Resolution), Chambliss moved to table the committee amendment regarding rape and incest.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) heard the motion, asked for the “yeas” and “nays” separately, and announced that the motion to table the Whatley amendment was successful. That is when chaos erupted, with Democrats beginning to yell into one of the two microphones on the floor.

State Sens. Vivian Davis-Figures (D-Mobile) and Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) followed Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) in protesting Ainsworth’s decision.

Afterward, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) said he agreed with the sentiments expressed by his Democrat colleagues, demanding a roll call vote on the tabling motion. However, this came after Ward rejected a request for a roll call vote the day previous on the very same amendment when it was in his committee, a point that Ainsworth noted from the chair.

“Yesterday, we had a fair hearing, it was calm, it was deliberate, and I thought it was very respectful of both points of view. Today however, I did not think the process in which we just tabled that amendment was a fair thing to do,” Ward asserted.

Ward said he supports the bill but threatened to filibuster until what he viewed as the “fair” thing be done for the Democrats.

“I’m a pro-life Republican,” Ward added. “But I’m also a fair procedure Republican.”

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) then took to the podium to calm everyone down and moved that the members adjourn until Tuesday so tensions could settle down and real debate resume. He also emphasized to Ainsworth that he had done things by the book.

“Mr. President, first let me just say that you did follow the rules. That’s the process,” Marsh advised.

He explained Democrats were not quick enough to react after the motion was made and the votes were asked for to properly trigger a roll call vote.

“You have to be on your toes sometimes,” Marsh noted.

The Senate will take the bill back up on Tuesday after they gavel in at 4:00 p.m.

Marsh, who said he personally supports the rape and incest exceptions amendment, after the Senate adjourned reaffirmed to reporters that he believed the process followed by Ainsworth was correct procedurally and fair. Marsh also said the Senate Secretary had confirmed to him a motion was made by Chambliss.

“I believe the lieutenant governor followed procedure,” Marsh said. “I think people maybe had their guard down a little, maybe didn’t expect a voice vote. But he has every right to do that.”

He added that the amendment “was stripped in a fair way” through the process.

Marsh said adjourning until Tuesday will allow that amendment to be represented on that day by someone like Singleton, who vowed to do so in a gaggle with reporters.

“We’re back in a good place,” Marsh noted.

Whatley told Yellowhammer News that he wants the amendment tacked back onto the bill.

Singleton is actually on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which adopted the Whatley amendment by a contested voice vote when Ward denied a request for a roll call vote. However, Singleton was absent for that Wednesday meeting.

Yellowhammer News asked the minority leader if he felt the same way about that committee voice vote as the floor voice vote.

“I wasn’t there, I wasn’t there yesterday so I can’t talk about [that], I can only talk about when I was here today,” Singleton said.

Following the meeting, Ainsworth released a statement, saying, “Since taking the gavel, I have always followed both the spirit and letter of the Senate rules, and I will continue that practice as long as I am presiding officer.”

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

47 mins ago

Watch: Alabamians line up with American flags to welcome slain Naval ensign home

As seen in a video posted on Twitter, people lined the streets of Enterprise on Friday to welcome home Navy Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson.

Watson, a 23-year-old Coffee County native who also spent many of his formative years in Blount County, was killed in last week’s shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The hero’s body arrived at Dothan Regional Airport on Friday and then a procession took him to Searcy Funeral Home in Enterprise.

Considering Fort Rucker’s presence, the area has a high percentage of military families, making Watson’s murder that much harder on the Wiregrass community. People lined the procession route with American flags, honoring his service, sacrifice and life.


A public memorial service for Watson will take place at the Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center at 11:00 a.m. next Saturday, December 21.

Burial will be the following day at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. Governor Kay Ivey has ordered flags to half-staff on that day of internment: Sunday, December 22.

RELATED: How the hometown of a NAS Pensacola shooting hero is paying tribute to one of their own

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

1 hour ago

‘God loves you. Jesus paid the price’: Secret Santa pays off all layaways at Alabama Walmart

Christmas came a little early for several shoppers with layaway purchases at the Walmart in Anniston.

As reported first by ABC 33/40, an anonymous Alabama man came into the store recently and paid off the entire layaway balance at the time. The total value of the items he paid off was reportedly $65,000.

All the Secret Santa requested in return?

That each customer with a layaway item he paid off received a note, each with just the same seven words:

“God loves you. Jesus paid the price.”


While the man’s tremendous act of generosity was greatly appreciated by customers ABC 33/40 interviewed, that seven-word message seemed to touch people powerfully in and of itself as well.

“That really topped it off,” Kandy Ward explained. “I really loved the message that he put out there and I think that’s what he wanted to do.”

Another shopper, Hannah Haynes, agreed.

“Everyday I wish I could thank the anonymous person for being so obedient (in his faith),” she said.

Haynes added that she stuck the note on her refrigerator and plans to keep it there, letting it serve as a motivator.

“Everyday I’m gonna wake up like, ‘How can I bless someone?'” Haynes remarked. “How can I show someone that type of love?”

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

2 hours ago

Byrne introduces bill allowing cartels to be treated as terrorist organizations under federal law

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) is leading the charge in the U.S. House of Representatives to be able to officially treat international drug cartels as terrorist organizations under federal law, something that President Donald Trump has recently expressed as a priority of his.

Byrne announced on Friday that he, along with Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), has introduced the Significant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act.

This legislation would create a new federal designation, “Significant Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs),” which has more stringent sanctions than the existing transnational criminal organization designation. The penalties for Significant TCOs would mirror many of the penalties for entities currently designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), including sanctions on organization members and their families, travel restrictions and increased penalties for American citizens who grant them material assistance.


In a statement, Byrne said, “We should not have to tolerate transnational criminal organizations exporting drugs and violence into our country.”

“This bill will enhance our ability to come after these groups and keep our communities and citizens safe at home and abroad. Congress should rally behind this effort and show these groups that there are severe consequences for their actions,” he advised.

This comes after nine dual U.S.-Mexico citizens were viciously slain by cartel members in northern Mexico on November 4.

Sanctions the federal government would be able to impose on Significant TCOs under Byrne’s legislation include:

  • Barring organization members and their immediate families from admission into the United States
  • Freezing assets
  • Seeking civil and criminal penalties against individuals providing material assistance or resources to the organization.

The bill also would require the president to submit a report to Congress detailing the government’s findings from the November 4 attack, including whether the cartel responsible should be designated as a Significant TCO.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has introduced the Senate version of Byrne’s bill.

Alabama has also had its problems with cartel-related violence and crime.

Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL) has advised that the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for “almost all” drugs imported into the Yellowhammer State. That cartel is headquartered in Culiacán, Mexico.

Just two weeks ago, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office took down two suspected Mexican cartel members in a major firearms and drug bust in the Birmingham metropolitan area.

Then, of course, there are the more shocking examples from the recent past, such as when cartel members in Alabama stabbed a grandmother to death and then beheaded her 13-year-old Huntsville granddaughter.

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

5 hours ago

Ivey orders flags to half-staff honoring slain Navy ensign

Governor Kay Ivey announced Friday that she is ordering all flags on government grounds to be flown at half staff on Sunday, December 22 to honor the life of Navy Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson.

Watson, an Enterprise native who spent many of his formative years in Blount County, was killed in the shooting at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL, on December 6.

“Let us remember the life and service of Ensign Watson, who died as a hero trying to protect his fellow service members. We offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family, friends and community,” the governor said in her directive.


According to reports relayed to the media by his family, the 23-year-old Watson saved many lives with his actions on the day of the shooting. His heroic actions drew praise from many of Alabama’s political leaders.

“After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable,” Adam Watson, the victim’s brother, told the Pensacola News Journal (PNJ).

Watson’s father, Benjamin, said of his son, “His mission was to confront evil, to bring the fight to them, wherever it took him. He was willing to risk his life for his country. We never thought he would die in Florida.”

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

You’re invited!

The biggest birthday party in Alabama’s history is taking place on December 14, and you are invited! Join us in Montgomery for the grand finale celebration of our state’s 200th birthday.

Watch the parade, listen to concerts and performances, visit open houses and much more.

This is sure to be a day you don’t want to miss. The event is free to the public and lasts all day starting with an elaborate parade at 10:00 a.m. The parade will travel from Court Square Fountain in downtown Montgomery up Dexter Avenue to the State Capitol. There will be marching bands, city floats and unique displays of Alabama history on wheels, such as the USS Alabama and U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The parade is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the celebration together – and it’s only the beginning of a packed day. Following the parade, Governor Kay Ivey will dedicate Bicentennial Park. The afternoon will offer performances, exhibitions and open houses throughout downtown Montgomery. The day will conclude with a concert featuring popular musicians from Alabama and the history of Alabama presented in a never-before-seen way.

Visit Alabama 200 Finale for a complete rundown of the day’s events.