1 month ago

All adults in Alabama are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines

Every person in Alabama age 16 and over is now eligible to receive a vaccine that protects against the coronavirus.

All coronavirus vaccines are being provided for free, regardless of whether a person has health insurance.

Governor Kay Ivey announced on Friday that all adults would be eligible on April 5, more than three weeks ahead of the May 1 date requested by the federal government.

Close watchers of the pandemic in Alabama hope the expansion of eligibility increases the rate of people getting vaccinated. For the last 14 days before Monday, various web portals where eligible citizens could sign up to get a vaccine showed many unfilled appointments.

Alabama’s State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris admitted on Friday that a major factor in expanding eligibility to all adults is that the state had an “available supply” of doses.

RELATED: How to find your nearest COVID-19 vaccine provider in Alabama

Since the middle of February, Alabama’s vaccination numbers had fallen into a routine of about 28,000-35,000 doses every weekday and around 12,000-16,000 doses given over the weekend.

(BamaTracker)

In that time period, Alabama’s percentage of vaccine doses received to doses put in arms has stayed around 80%.

For the last three weeks, the rate of doses being administered stayed largely the same even as supply gradually increased.

Harris has said previously that the task in front of the state for April and beyond will largely be “to get people to take [the vaccines].”

Data distributed by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and many national polling groups have shown vaccine hesitancy to be a widespread issue, present in minority communities and among white evangelical Christians.

The United States has now given out more than 145 million doses of the vaccines, products that were extensively studied for months by many of the world’s best scientists.

A constantly updating comprehensive examination of the data shows the vaccines have been linked to zero deaths, while the nation’s current death toll from COVID-19 stands at about 555,000 people, including 10,638 Alabamians.

“[I]t is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine, and it is something that works,” former President Donald Trump told Fox News in March.

Virtually every doctor in the United States has now received one of the vaccines.

AFC Urgent Care clinics had many COVID-19 vaccine appointments available on Monday, as did Walgreens.

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

8 hours ago

Alabama Democrats speak against resolution supporting Israel, condemning Hamas

MONTGOMERY — State Reps. Thomas “Action Jackson” (D-Thomasville) and Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) on Monday evening spoke against a resolution “expressing solidarity with Israel in its defense against terrorism in the Gaza Strip.”

SJR 138 was introduced and passed by a voice vote in the Senate earlier the same day.

The resolution reads as follows:

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WHEREAS, Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel; and

WHEREAS, Hamas has been designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization; and

WHEREAS, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and mortars against Israeli population centers, since Israel
withdrew its civilian population and its military from Gaza in 2005; and

WHEREAS, Palestinian terrorists of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas have launched over 1800 rocket and mortars against Israeli civilian areas in 2021; and

WHEREAS, Hamas has increased the range and payload of its rockets, reportedly with support from Iran and others, putting hundreds of thousands of Israelis in danger of rocket attacks from Gaza; and

WHEREAS, Hamas locates elements of its terrorist infrastructure in civilian population centers, thus using
innocent civilians as human shields; and

WHEREAS, the democratic, Jewish State of Israel is a key ally and a strategic partner of the United States and
friend and partner of the State of Alabama; and

WHEREAS, the State of Alabama plays an important role in the production of the Iron Dome missile defense system
which has saved countless lives against rocket attacks by Hamas onto population centers in Israel; and

WHEREAS, Israel, a fellow democracy, has an inherent right to self-defense in the face of terrorist attacks; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That the State of Alabama:

(1) Expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against Hamas’s unceasing aggression.

(2) Reiterates that Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, agree to abide by previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and verifiably dismantle its terrorist infrastructure.

(3) Encourages the Administration to work actively to support a durable and sustainable cease-fire in Gaza, as soon as possible, that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding its terrorist infrastructure, including the capability to launch rockets and mortars against Israel, and thereby allowing for the long-term improvement of daily living conditions for the people of Gaza.

(4) Condemns Hamas for deliberately embedding its fighters, leaders, and weapons in private homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, and otherwise using Palestinian civilians as human shields, while simultaneously targeting Israeli civilians; and to lay blame both for the breaking of the calm and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas.

Givan spoke first on the resolution, which was being carried in the House by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur).

“What in the slam-chiggity is this?” Givan asked.

“I think there are a lot of Alabamians who want to commit to solidarity with Israel,” Collins said.

“[Y]ou’re talking about in the Republican Party, because I know ain’t nobody from not one of my neighborhoods told you that,” Givan argued. “I know ain’t nobody — and I’m using Ebonics right now — ain’t nobody told you that in my neighborhoods. … Now, if all y’all ‘Dumplicans’ want to do it, that’s up to y’all.”

“I have heard much support of Israel, regularly, all around the state,” Collins reiterated.

“Well, I hear a lot of support for Africa and South Africa, but I don’t see you bringing not one resolution — nor would you be willing to support one,” Givan retorted.

She continued to say that SJR 138 is an example of the type of “agenda” that causes “a lot of grief and a lot of strife and heartache here in this chamber.”

“I don’t want to be a part of this,” Givan added. She said she wanted “five or six votes” in opposition to the resolution recorded next to her name.

“Because I am embarrassed tonight to even stand in this chamber,” she lamented. “And I’m hoping that the media is listening to me about the foolishness and foolery that goes on in this chamber. And the sensitive things that you people — and yes, I am saying you people — do in the name of whatever agenda that you are trying to push.”

Jackson, the Democrat from Clarke County, spoke next. Observers may remember Jackson from 2018, when he came out in support of the assertion that “the biggest terror threat in this country is white men.”

On Monday, Jackson began, “I was hoping that the lady (Collins) would include the opposite side, that Israel would start restraining itself.”

He subsequently argued that Hamas and the Palestinian people were justified in their stance.

“Now, Israel is not the Israel that the Bible was talking about,” commented Jackson, a preacher. “That little piece of land over there — these people do so much damage to so many people. … And the United States always funded them. Isn’t that wrong?”

Jackson claimed Israel is “just as bad” as Hamas, which is classified by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.

“So, let’s not have a one-sided resolution,” Jackson continued. “Let’s include them both. … Let’s not make them feel worse than what they already feel.”

“Ask the question, ‘Why is Hamas doing what they’re doing?’ But you’re not asking that question,” he remarked. “They’re gotten in a situation that we’ve been in for over these 400 years in this nation. So, when do people stand and be themselves? When do they say, ‘Enough is enough.’? And the fight continues.”

“Israel is just as guilty as some of this stuff,” Jackson claimed, speaking to the motivations that he attributes to Hamas.

He soon thereafter accused Israel of “taking advantage” of Gaza residents.

“And that’s the situation that they’re in,” Jackson said. “We’ve been there. And we’re still fighting. But we don’t have rockets to — I don’t know where Hamas is getting their weapons from. Could be getting them from us.”

“I don’t think so,” Collins responded.

Jackson concluded his remarks after accusing Israel of committing “terror” and “crimes.” He called for peace on both sides of the conflict.

In the face of mounting vocal Democratic opposition, Collins then requested the House carry the resolution over at the call of the chair so other business could proceed. Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said the resolution could come back up later in the night. Monday is the final legislative day of the 2021 regular session.

Minutes after the resolution was carried over, House Minority Leaders Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) took to the floor to do some apparent cleanup work.

“I felt that the resolution (SJR 138) was a positive resolution,” he stated. “And so I just want to make sure that that is clear, regardless of the messages that individuals received. Because I think we all are in support of that resolution. And I thought it was a positive resolution. I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea about Democrats being anti-Semitic. That’s certainly not the case.”

Israel is a significant trading partner with the state of Alabama, a beneficial relationship which Governor Kay Ivey’s administration and private sector partners have been trying to strengthen even more in recent years.

UPDATE 10:00 p.m.

SJR 138 has been called back onto the floor, and Republicans have filed cloture in order to force a vote on the measure in less than 10 minutes time from now.

Right before that occurred, Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) spoke to the resolution.

She said President Joe Biden is “taking his time” in order to ascertain the facts of the conflict involving Israel and Hamas.

“But I know you don’t respect that,” Moore said. “You want somebody to go and say, ‘Shoot ’em up, bomb ’em up, kill ’em up.’ Regardless who it is. ‘Babies, if you bomb them now you won’t have to deal with them later.’ And that’s exactly what’s going on over there in Israel.”

UPDATE 10:10 p.m.

After cloture ended debate, the resolution passed 89-0, with 10 Democrats abstaining.

UPDATE 11:00 p.m.

Later in the evening, speaking on an unrelated matter, Rep. Givan referenced the earlier debate on SJR 138.

“I’m not anti-Semitic in any way,” she underscored.

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

13 hours ago

Senator Shelby again introduces flat tax proposal

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Monday re-introduced legislation, known as the “Simplified, Manageable, and Responsible Tax (SMART) Act,” that would establish a federal flat tax on all income.

This continues Shelby’s consistent advocacy for the flat tax since he was first elected to the Senate in 1986. Alabama’s senior senator has introduced legislation to support it during each Congress since the 100th Congress. This is now the 117th Congress.

“Our nation’s current tax code is complex, unclear, and costly to hardworking Americans. Every year on Tax Day, we are reminded of this unfortunate reality,” stated Shelby. “If my legislation, the SMART Act, was in place instead of current law, taxpayers would file a simple, self-explanatory return that’s the size of a postcard. Should Congress pass my bill, every American would be taxed equally and at the same rate.”

The SMART Act establishes a flat income tax of 17% on all income.

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The only exception would be personal exemptions of $14,590 for a single person; $18,630 for a head of a household; $29,190 for a married couple filing jointly; and $6,290 for each dependent.

These allowances would also be adjusted to the consumer price index to prevent inflation from raising our tax burden. To prevent the double-taxation of income, earnings from savings would not be included as taxable income, resulting in an immediate tax cut for virtually all hardworking taxpayers.

By closing loopholes for individuals and businesses, Shelby’s office says the SMART Act would create broad-based, lower tax rates that would give American individuals and businesses a competitive edge, create and retain jobs in the United States, and curb offshoring.

“The recent success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act have helped improve our tax code, but I believe the SMART Act would go a step further, resulting in an immediate tax cut for nearly all taxpayers and reducing the size, scope, and complexity of the IRS – rather than broadening and expanding it as our sitting President would prefer. I urge my colleagues to consider and support this legislation for the good of our nation,” Shelby added.

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

15 hours ago

ALGOP chair Wahl: ‘Proud,’ ‘excited’ to support pro-constitutional carry Rep. Stringer; Calls Mobile Co. Sheriff Cochran decision ‘disappointing,’ ‘cancel culture’

On Friday, the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office announced it was terminating State Rep. Shane Stringer’s (R-Citronelle) employment as a captain within the agency, citing a “difference of opinion” with Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran on the so-called constitutional carry issue.

Stringer was the lead sponsor of HB618, which would allow Alabamians to carry or conceal a pistol without first obtaining a permit from their local sheriff’s office, an effort that the state’s sheriffs have vociferously opposed in the past. Shortly thereafter, the Alabama Republican Party declared on social media it was backing Stringer in the disagreement, even though both Stringer and Cochran were elected to their posts as Republicans.

During an appearance on Monday’s broadcast of FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl explained his party’s decision to side with Stringer. He called Stringer someone to be “proud” of.

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“The erosion of our constitutional rights is one of the areas that is most dangerous to our country,” he said. “We feed this just classic disregard for people’s rights and people’s freedoms. And I think the Second Amendment is this area that is under attack right now. To have a state representative that is willing to stand up for people’s God-given rights and constitutional rights to a point he is willing to stand up and lose his job over it is incredibly impressive to me. I think we have a representative that we can all be proud of, and we have a representative that we should all be proud of and we should be excited about. This guy gave up his job to defend the people of Alabama. I hate he had to do it, but I am so impressed, and we are 100% behind him.”

Wahl called Cochran’s decision to terminate employment “disappointing,” and the move “cancel culture.”

“I think it’s disappointing,” Wahl replied. “But for me, there are two issues here. One, the party always has to stand on its party platform. We passed a resolution in support of constitutional carry as the state executive committee. The platform of the party is ‘we defend the Second Amendment. We are pro-gun.’ We want people to have their right to carry. That platform is our base. It is like our constitution. And so, we must remain true to that. It’s sad to me that Republican officials do not agree with that principle. But it is our duty to defend that and to support people who support the right to carry. That’s our top priority.”

“Another thing that I really hate that has come about with this situation is this whole cancel culture,” he continued. “I think if I’m going to challenge that with Democrats on the national level, I have to be consistent. And I think that’s unfortunate that we’re seeing a cancel culture that’s creeping up into every area in our life. But that’s just a reality of politics today.”

@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 Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

15 hours ago

Carl: Supporting Israel

Over the course of the past few days, Hamas has fired several thousand rockets at Israelis – both Jews and Arabs alike. Hamas has long been Iran’s proxy in the region, promoting conflict, hatred and violence in deliberate attempts to kill Israeli civilians.

Let’s be clear – Israel absolutely has a right to defend itself against these unwarranted and evil attacks. Additionally, the United States must continue supporting Israel and ensuring further cooperation between our two countries. For years, the United States has committed to supporting Israeli defense programs such as the Iron Dome. What we’ve seen in the past few weeks has highlighted how important these defense programs are and how important it is for the United States to provide continued support to Israel’s defense.

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A strong and secure Israel is critical to peace in the region, but Iran’s continued aggression in the Middle East is a significant threat to the region and the rest of the world. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the horrible Iran Nuclear deal, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was a huge step toward ensuring Iran and the terrorist groups it supports (such as Hamas) never get their hands on nuclear weapons.

During his first days in office, President Biden began taking steps to rejoin the deeply flawed Iran Nuclear Deal, which gives Iran the opportunity to continue growing their nuclear program while supporting and promoting terrorism around the world. I was proud to take immediate action by cosponsoring legislation to prevent President Biden from rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal. Iran poses a significant threat to regional and global security, and it would be a grave mistake for President Biden to rejoin the Iran Nuclear Deal without ensuring United Nations (UN) nuclear inspectors have access to all of Iran’s nuclear sites and the ability to finalize a comprehensive report on Iran’s nuclear activities.

The United States must continue leading to promote peace in the region, which will only happen by continuing to support Israel’s security and standing against the aggression of Iran and terrorist groups such as Hamas. Israel is a crucial ally in the war on terror and they continually provide us with key intelligence against terrorist activity around the globe. A strong and secure Israel is critical to regional and global security, and I will continue doing all I can to support and defend Israel.

Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.

16 hours ago

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs bill into law legalizing medical marijuana

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday officially signed into law SB 46, which legalizes the permitted medicinal use of cannabis in the state of Alabama.

The bill establishes the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee and manage a comprehensive regulatory system related to medical marijuana in the Yellowhammer State; the cultivation, processing, transporting, testing and dispensing of medical cannabis would be licensed and regulated. Patients with a listed qualifying medical condition could be granted a valid medical cannabis card for the medical use of marijuana.

The regulatory system created by the legislation will not be fully set up until late 2022, so medical marijuana will not practically be legal in Alabama until that time.

SB 46 was sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) and carried in the House by Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison). The bill is entitled the “Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall Compassion Act,” named after Rep. Laura Hall’s (D-Huntsville) late son.

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Ivey met with Melson on Monday morning, when she affixed her signature to paper.

“Signing SB 46 is an important first step,” said Ivey. “I would like to again thank Sen. Tim Melson and Rep. Mike Ball for their hard work over the last few years and their willingness to address the legitimate concerns.”

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” the governor continued. “On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days.”

“As research evolves, Sen. Melson and I discussed how critical it is to continue finding ways to work on this to ensure we have a productive, safe and responsible operation in Alabama,” Ivey concluded.

Under SB 46, medical marijuana cannot legally be “administered by smoking, combustion, or vaping.”

Also specifically outlawed is any “food product that has medical cannabis baked, mixed, or otherwise infused into the product, such as cookies or candies.”

“It is not the intent of this chapter to provide for or enable recreational use of marijuana in the State of Alabama,” the act stresses, adding that “the recreational use of marijuana remains a significant threat to public health and safety.”

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