2 months ago

Alabama Senate passes bill that would punish those who leave pets in hot cars

A bill passed by the Alabama Senate on Thursday aims to stop Alabama pet owners from leaving their companions in hot cars.

The legislation was sponsored by Senator Jimmy Holley (R-Elba) and passed through the legislature’s upper chamber 33-0.

“I’m blessed to have a district with so many people who love their pets, especially their dogs. I was asked to create a bill that paralleled the bill we previously passed that protected people who rescued children from dangerous situations in vehicles,” Holley said in a press release.

Alabama is currently without a law that punishes people for leaving pets unattended in a car.

If enacted, the bill would outlaw “owners from leaving domestic animals in a motor vehicle unattended in a manner that creates an unreasonable risk of injury or harm to the animal.”

The bill would also grant immunity from prosecution to anyone rescuing a pet in danger of being damaged due to enclosure in a car.

The American Veterinary Medical Association says that hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion every year due to being left in parked vehicles.

That group also says that leaving windows cracked provides little to no relief.

A study published in the Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society found that in summer months, the temperature inside a parked car could exceed 125°F within 20 minutes of the owner leaving the vehicle.

In the last few years, the Alabama legislature passed a law similar to Holley’s that aimed to prevent parents from leaving their children alone in parked cars.

The bill will now move to the Alabama House of Representatives for consideration.

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

18 mins ago

7 Things: Coronavirus’ effect on the Alabama economy, unemployment claims cost big money in Alabama, death projections get better and more …

7. UK leader is in the ICU

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously tested positive for the coronavirus and has now been moved to an intensive-care unit due to his symptoms worsening, but his office said that he hasn’t needed ventilation.
  • Just one day before being moved to ICU, Johnson had been admitted to the hospital for tests that his office claimed were routine. His team maintains that Johnson has remained in charge of the government despite his hospital stay.

6. Governor Cuomo agrees with Trump on hydroxychloroquine 

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  • The American media has shifted to criticizing President Donald Trump for investing in a mutual fund that invests in a pharmaceutical company that manufactures a brand name version of hydroxychloroquine after one of the coronavirus pandemic’s media darlings, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), made it clear that the anti-malaria drug was working and was being recommended for treatment of this illness.
  • One day after Trump ally Rudy Giuliani urged him to lift restrictions on using the drug, Cuomo touted the results it is having and called for more usage, declaring, “There has been anecdotal evidence that it is promising; that’s why we’re going ahead.”

5. President Trump and 3M make nice

  • A week after President Donald Trump and the CEO of 3M manufacturing publicly sparred over the availability of N95 face masks, a deal was reached to produce 165.5 million of the masks with the president’s use of the Defense Production Act being a key to the negotiation.
  • The president noted that the company and the government “reached an agreement, very amicable, with 3M for the delivery of an additional 55.5 million high-quality face masks each month.” He added that “the 3M saga ends very happily.”

4. Coronavirus found in 31 Alabama nursing homes

  • The coronavirus has been found in 31 nursing homes across 17 Alabama counties, but the names of the facilities and how many residents or staff members infected have not been released by the Alabama Nursing Home Association.
  • The association had previously reported that there’s a backlog of over 1,000 tests of residents and staff that were awaiting results last week. President and CEP of the Alabama Nursing Home Association Brandon Farmer said that they’re expecting the number of cases to “grow as more tests are administered and the results are returned.”

3. A flattening curve in NY, lower death rate in Alabama

  • America’s hotspot is actually seeing fewer infections, which gives hope to a world that is shut down by showing that social distancing worked. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo notes the healthcare system hasn’t collapsed, stating, “Have we saved everyone? No. Have we lost anyone because we didn’t have a bed, didn’t have a ventilator, didn’t have healthcare staff? No. The people we lost were the people we couldn’t save. Not for lack of trying, as a society, as a healthcare system. For the extent we can find peace in that, that helps me.” 
  • Things also look better in Alabama. University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation previously had a model that projected Alabama will be 21st in deaths per capita and 16th in deaths overall with a projected 378-1,996 coronavirus deaths. The death rate has fallen to less than two people for every 10,000. 

2. $6 million already paid in unemployment

  • Even with hopes to reopen the economy in early May, the cost of unemployment is just starting to be felt as the Alabama Labor Department paid over $6 million in unemployment benefits to 22,646 employees impacted by the coronavirus. 
  • Alabama Labor Department Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said that they’ve seen an “overwhelming” amount of people filing for unemployment, adding they are working to fix the issues others have seen with trying to apply for benefits. 

1. Alabama’s economy might not get hit too hard

  • Moody Analytics has released data on how much each state’s economy could be affected by the massive shutdowns seen due to the coronavirus, based on exposure, tourism, demographics, trade and travel distribution, commodities and finance. 
  • States that will be hit the hardest economically will likely be places like Hawaii and Nevada because of the decrease in tourism and New York and Washington due to the volume of cases they’ve seen, but Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia are in a better situation for economic recovery because those with fewer cases could recover faster. 

2 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Brooks: Democrats putting America’s interests ‘behind their quest and thirst for political power’ on coronavirus

In recent days, there has been a push for House Democrats to launch an investigation into President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The media and even some congressional Democrats have not been shy about the possibility of convening a panel for such an inquiry. However, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said such a maneuver would be par for the course for Democrats.

In an interview that aired Monday on Huntsville WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Brooks slammed his Democratic Party colleagues, accusing them of putting political ambitions ahead of the public amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“It’s very clear that the socialist Democrats will use every crisis they can to try to maintain the power they have or grab more power,” he said. “And unfortunately, they are putting the interest of Americans second behind their quest and thirst for political power. Hopefully, the curtain has been pulled where the American people can better see what exactly the Democrats are doing.”

The Huntsville GOP lawmaker likened Democrats’ efforts to investigate the Trump administration to those investigations into alleged Russian interference and Russia-Trump 2016 presidential campaign collusion, as it pertained to the 2016 presidential election.

“They did this with the fake Russian collusion argument that went amuck for over two years,” he said. “They did this with the sham impeachment effort, and now they’re going to try to blame these deaths on Donald Trump. If you want to blame somebody, blame the Chinese Communist Party. If you want to blame somebody, the Democrats should blame themselves to some degree because to a very large degree, all media eyes and eyes in Washington were focused on the impeachment proceeding that had been ongoing for a number of months and had reached ahead this year.”

“And I had warned the public that this impeachment proceeding by the Democrats was a total and complete sham, and it was diverting our attention away from a lot of other serious public policy issues that we needed to address — things like border security, things like deficit and debt, things like the battle between free enterprise and socialism,” Brooks added. “At the time, I did not realize it was diverting public attention, and for that matter, elected official attention from the threat posed by this coronavirus. But that turns out to also be an effect of the sham Democrat impeachment that the Democrats foisted on the American people for more than six months.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

2 hours ago

Food companies serve free meals, treats to those in need and front-line workers during pandemic

Mary Drennen said she didn’t really understand the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic until she and others handed out free meals March 30 on Birmingham’s Southside.

“It’ll tear your heartstrings up,” the Nourish Foods co-owner said. “It’s a greater purpose that we didn’t even realize that we could serve until this disease came about, or virus, however you call it. It is certainly rewarding for us to know that our business can step in and provide something for people that they literally have no access to.”

Nourish Foods is one of several companies – local and national – that have stepped in to help where they can to support those who are on the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus.

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1918 Catering helping others during COVID-19 pandemic from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Drennen and her business partner, Tiffany Davis, have connected with students who are not attending school for the rest of the year.

“Now that they’re without that one or two meals that they would have gotten at school, that’s obviously not an option,” she said. “We’re trying to work through that problem with Avondale, Woodlawn, Gate City areas in particular. Those are the first ones that we’re working with to find a solution for that.”

And they’re not alone. Every Monday, Krispy Kreme is giving a dozen doughnuts to each healthcare worker who visits.

Brittney Payne, a sterile surgical technician at UAB Highlands, said the sweets give healthcare providers their due.

“It’s nice,” the wife and mother of three said, “because healthcare workers don’t get enough credit for the things they do, especially when you work and go home to your family.”

Cristin Buentello said it’s not uncommon for her to pick up a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts on her way to or from her job at Brookwood Hospital and Women’s Center.

The 12 glazed rings she picked up this week at the Hoover Krispy Kreme location were for her co-workers.

“It helps us all out and gives us a little treat,” said Buentello, a surgical assistant. “Any little thing is nice, like food, getting water. Everything’s helping us right now: a little pick-me-up.”

Starbucks is giving a free tall brewed coffee – hot or cold – to front-line responders through May 3. In addition, the Starbucks Foundation is donating $500,000 to support front-line responders.

The $500,000 comes in equal donations to Direct Relief to support the delivery of personal protective equipment and essential medical items, and to Operation Gratitude to deliver 50,000 care packages and handwritten letters to first responders and health care workers.

Similarly, companies and volunteers have rolled up their sleeves to help people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, including children who might not otherwise be fed because their schools have closed for the school year.

Nourish Foods is among companies offering gifts for healthcare providers at UAB. Some community philanthropists are donating money to be used at area restaurants to provide food for health care workers.

UAB’s Food Services staff is organizing this project through its Meals For Heroes link.

Full Moon Bar-B-Que established its Feed a Friend program, accepting nominations for families to receive a free meal. That program was to have ended this week but is being extended indefinitely until the shelter-in-place order is lifted.

The barbecue restaurant chain’s Tuscaloosa location gave 180 lunches to staffers at Druid City Hospital, while its Montgomery restaurant gave 500 lunches to schoolchildren through the Mercy House nonprofit. The company also gave 100 lunches to the Levite Jewish Community Center and served lunches at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

“Serving our communities is always a top priority at Full Moon Bar-B-Que and we are dedicated to providing meals in this trying time,” co-owner Joe Maluff said in a prepared statement. “Now more than ever, people need hope and we believe a warm meal can do just that. Full Moon Bar-B-Que aims to serve the communities surrounding each of our locations the best way we can throughout this pandemic.”

Last week, J&R Bar & Grill – formerly Peyton Place Restaurant – gave free lunches to first responders. On April 2, 1918 Catering gave free lunches to healthcare workers with ID at its location in Homewood.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

Byrne: Love in the time of the coronavirus

Like many of you I “attended” Palm Sunday worship online. It was strange not to be there at St. James Fairhope physically for the Liturgy of the Palms to gather outside for prayers and walk into the church together with our palms singing “All Glory, Laud and Honor.”

I heard the words of the Passion according to St. Matthew but wasn’t there to see the faces and expressions of the readers. We said prayers for those afflicted by the disease and those caring for them. We also said the right words for the offering, the Eucharist and the peace, but there was no offering or Eucharist, and we couldn’t physically greet one another with the words, “The Peace of the Lord be always with you; And also with you.”

Worship is more than just words. It’s the act of coming together as God’s people to worship Him, sing hymns, pray, hear God’s Word and be one body. We did it apart last Sunday and will do it this Sunday for Easter. It’s strange but necessary.

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When I was a teenager, there was a novel and movie called “Love Story.” It had one of the dumbest lines I’ve ever heard: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Love means frequently having to say you’re sorry, whether or not you caused another’s trouble or hurt.

Over a million people worldwide are confirmed to have COVID-19. Tens of thousands have died from it. I’m very sorry for them, their family members and loved ones. I’m sorry so many on the front lines are working long hours, exposing themselves to danger, and that so many have lost their jobs as we practice social distancing.

All that could drive many to depression, anti-social behavior, and self-destructive acts. To avoid that we all must help one another, just as we do down here during hurricanes, except at a physical distance. And it doesn’t do any good – in fact it’s harmful – to play the blame game. While there will be a time to assess the culpability of the Chinese government, rhetoric or discrimination against Asian Americans is irrational, harmful and just plain wrong.

Congress and President Trump put aside our differences, however temporarily, to overwhelmingly pass the CARES Act, pumping over $2 trillion into our economy in a bold move to cushion the economic effects of social distancing and pay for the health care and research to defeat this disease. I and my staff are working around the clock to get information to our constituents about the disease itself and these new government programs. And, as we hear needs, we take them directly to those in charge of providing help. We aren’t on the front lines caring for the sick, but we have a supportive role to play and are determined to do our part.

During Sunday’s online service, I remembered that love isn’t a sugary, sentimental thing. It often involves sacrifice. It’s not that sacrificial for me to miss being physically in church, though I felt I was missing something. That something is a small thing compared with risking the spread of this disease.

And, listening to the Passion narrative, I remembered what real sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice, really is. And why did Jesus do it? Because He loved us that much. It wasn’t just the physical agony, but more painful to him, taking on all our sins to himself, all our collective denial of and disobedience to God. He said “I and the Father are one” and then allowed Himself to be separated from God as He took on all our sins. No wonder he cried out at that moment, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

But God did not leave Jesus to death, for the Resurrection was three days away.

God has not forsaken us. To care for us, he requires each of us to love and take care of one another. Right now, in part, that means we must be apart from one another, and for many to suffer economically and perhaps even emotionally. Let’s all be more attuned and sensitive, and helpful, to one another.

Good Friday isn’t good because Jesus was killed but because He rose again. It may seem dark now, but the light of Easter morning is just around the corner.

The last verse of an old French Easter carol called Now The Green Blade Riseth says, “When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain, thy touch can call us back to life again, fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been: Love is come again like wheat that springeth green”.

Spring is here. So is love. Pass it on.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

15 hours ago

Executive power in a pandemic

This unusual moment in history has been full of surprises. Some of those surprises raise profound questions that we will be thinking through for a long time after COVID-19 passes.

Many people have been surprised to learn how much power state and county health officials have. In a March 25 guidance letter, Attorney General Steve Marshall reminded health officials to exercise their powers lawfully. This important reminder raises many questions about the legal sources and limits of executive power to respond to a pandemic.

Right away, we should acknowledge that most Alabamians are staying home and social distancing not because they fear legal reprisals but rather because it is the reasonable and courteous thing to do. Public health experts did their job, informing us of the danger and explaining how to reduce it. The average Alabama resident responded to that information responsibly and voluntarily.

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However, not everyone is responsible, as spring break revelers recently reminded us. And some responsible people have a lot at stake in the decision to stay at home, especially small business owners, those who live alone, and people whose livelihood depends on working with their hands. For these people, law comes into play.

We all have an obligation to obey the law. And because this is America, everyone shares this obligation, including public officials. That is what it means to have the rule of law. So, as they move from advising us to directing us, public health officials must take care to exercise only the legal powers they have, and not to use their powers to deprive citizens of their fundamental rights. The ends do not alone justify the means.

Health officials are exercising two executive powers. One power is conferred upon them by statute. That is the power to quarantine. The other power is inherent in the executive prerogative. That is the power to take strictly necessary actions to preserve human life in an emergency. Both of these powers are well-established in our laws, stretching all the way back to the customary law that we inherited from Great Britain at the American founding. And both must be exercised according to law. They have inherent limits on them, and an official who exceeds those limits is acting unlawfully; his actions are legally invalid.

The power to quarantine has two, important limitations. First, it can be activated only by the legislature, not by an executive officer, such as a state or county health official. As the Alabama Supreme Court explained in a 1944 decision, the legislature proclaims a quarantine and the executive executes the quarantine.

This is analogous to the war power at the federal level. The Constitution of the United States confers upon Congress the power to declare war and on the President the power to execute the war as Commander in Chief. The Constitution does not confer upon the President power to make war in his own discretion.

Similarly, the State Health Officer does not enjoy power to quarantine anyone he thinks should be quarantined. “Quarantine” is a term of art from the common law and maritime law. In maritime law, “quarantine” refers to a particular probationary period during which a ship returning from a country infected by plague was held in isolation for forty days. On land, quarantine is proclaimed by the legislature as an exercise of its police powers to promote the health, safety, and general welfare.

The Alabama legislature purports to have delegated the power to “proclaim quarantine” to “the Governor, whenever he deems it necessary, or the State Board of Health.” But this should not be read as a blanket delegation. That would be a violation of the non-delegation doctrine, a constitutional rule that prohibits the delegation of legislative powers to the executive.

The nondelegation doctrine reinforces common sense. The legislature is in the best position to consider and balance all of the various goods and interests at stake in an emergency such as this, to take into account the importance not only of public health but also the livelihoods of Alabama’s citizens. State and local health officials are experts in medicine and public health, but are not as well situated as others to consider the competing goods at stake, to understand the economic implications of their actions, or to establish benchmarks for measuring success of a quarantine.

The second limitation is that quarantine can lawfully be imposed only on a person who is infected, reasonably suspect of being infected, or dwelling in an infected house. In other words, quarantine is a targeted remedy, and it is incumbent on officials to discern who is infected and who is not. The common law remedy for an unlawful quarantine is a writ of habeas corpus, a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It secures the ancient rights of freedom of movement and of the presumption of innocence, two of the most fundamental rights in our law.

Like everyone else, executive officials also have the right to do things that would otherwise be unlawful acts of trespass or battery, if those acts are strictly necessary to save lives. But necessity is a temporary and limited justification. A state that wants to restrain the movement of its people for an extended time must tailor the remedy to the danger under the quarantine power.

That is the job of the legislature. As this crisis drags on, it becomes more important for the people to gather in Montgomery through their elected representatives and fashion a long-term solution to the problems that we face.

Adam J. MacLeod is Professorial Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute and Professor of Law at Faulkner University, Jones School of Law. He is a prolific writer and his latest book, The Age of Selfies: Reasoning About Rights When the Stakes Are Personal, is available on Amazon.