Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.
Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.
“The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.
Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.
Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.
Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
Del Marsh: Doug Jones does not represent Alabamians, protect unborn
(D. Jones, D. Marsh/Facebook)
Last week, as the Democratic governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, voiced his support of doctors being able to legally refuse to treat newborn babies depending on the circumstances and whether the mother wanted an abortion. As a result, Americans across the political spectrum rightly condemned infanticide. But our Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) was particularly vague on the topic, saying people needed to sit down and talk about the issue.
It was a dodge typical of the Washington establishment, and yet another indication that our senator does not share our values.
Last year, Doug Jones voted against the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act effectively stopping the bill in its tracks. The legislation is a thoughtful, sensible measure to protect innocent human life. It would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks while providing exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.
Two other Senate Democrats supported the measure, but our senator was clear in his opposition of the bill.
During his campaign, Doug Jones said, “[T]he law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity. That’s what I support. I don’t see any changes in that. It is a personal decision.”
That obviously was untrue. What could have changed? He could have lied to Alabamians to get elected. He could be finally showing us just how radically liberal he is. He could have sold us out to impress the Washington, DC abortion lobbyists. He could have made a political move in an attempt to be reelected. He could be showing that he just does not share our values.
Whatever his motives, one thing is abundantly clear in this vote: Doug Jones does not represent us, and he will not protect the right to life. Period.
We fought to get a Constitutional amendment on the ballot affirming that Alabama is a pro-life state. In November, Alabamians voted overwhelmingly in support of that amendment. The people of this state support the right to life, and they want to see that right safeguarded. They want to protect the most vulnerable among us. There should be no confusion.
If Doug Jones were serious about serving Alabamians, he would have supported this measure. Even further, he would stand up for every piece of pro-life legislation that comes before the Senate. Make no mistake — he is not standing up for us, and he certainly is not standing up for the unborn.
This is a horrific and morally reprehensible trend that is sweeping our country. It is clear that the precious right to life is under attack. We need to speak out and fight to protect this inalienable right from the Washington liberals who seek to impose their radical values on all of us.
Jones’ behavior is morally wrong and must be forcefully condemned. The Senate voted to condemn Jones’ support for late-term abortion. I am not afraid to stand up to the Washington establishment, and I will never shy away from calling out wrongs when I see them.
But more importantly, I will always stand up for the right to life – it’s the will of the people I serve and it’s the right thing to do. It’s that simple.
Marsh: Washington politicians toy with American security
(Del Marsh/Facebook, ICE/Flickr)
Over the past several weeks, squabbling over the border wall has filled the airwaves and newspaper pages. Washington politicians have bickered endlessly about how much our sovereignty and our security is worth, but outside of the Washington bubble the need for the wall, and an immigration system rooted in the rule of law, is clear.
Alabamians were again reminded of the serious consequences of our open border and broken immigration system.
Last week, we learned Amancio Betancourt Martinez, who has been charged with raping a young girl in Shelby County, is in this country illegally. In fact, he has a criminal record that includes drug trafficking and giving false information to law enforcement. He was previously deported in 2015 and re-entered our country illegally.
Unfortunately, crimes like this are all too common, and they are preventable.
According to the White House, in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested approximately 235,000 illegal aliens on various criminal charges or convictions inside the United States. It is estimated 60,000 illegal and inadmissible aliens seek to cross our southern border each month.
Securing our southern border would have prevented this horrific crime and other crimes committed by illegal aliens. Failure to secure our border and fully enforce immigration law undermines our sovereignty, our economic security, and most importantly, the safety of American citizens. Our nation is failing to meet its most basic obligations.
America is a nation of laws, and Alabamians want an immigration system that is rooted in the rule of law. They want criminals, like Amancio Betancourt Martinez, deported, and they want to be sure they cannot return to the United States. They want their state and their country to be free of sanctuary cities that welcome illegal aliens.
Washington politicians are to blame for the massive failure. They have played politics with our national security, and the American people have suffered because of it.
But no one holds more responsibility than Washington Democrats who are willing to shut down the government because they care more about satisfying their liberal base, protecting illegal aliens and pandering for votes than they do about our national security. Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats balk at the cost of a wall, but she gave over 10 times the amount the president is asking for to foreign governments. These out of touch Washington liberals put other countries’ interests before our own to the detriment American citizens. That’s just plain wrong.
Washington should take our national security seriously, provide the small amount of money for the border wall and end this needless government shutdown. Alabamians deserve better than to be treated like players in a political game of football, they deserve to feel safe in their homes. One Amancio Betancourt Martinez is one too many. He should never have been in this country.
In Alabama, we put the interests of our citizens first and foremost. We have worked to keep Alabamians safe and uphold the rule of law. In the state senate, I led the fight to implement sweeping immigration reform that stops Alabama cities from harboring illegal immigrants and protects our families from violent criminals.
We will always look for opportunities to strengthen immigration laws and keep our citizens safe. We will always put Alabamians first.
Del Marsh is president pro tempore of the Alabama Senate, representing the 12th District
National Hunting and Fishing Day: Celebrating Alabama’s sportsmen and women
Saturday, September 22 is our nation’s 46th annual National Hunting and Fishing Day. As Co-Chair of the Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and as a member of the 48-state National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, I am proud to take time to celebrate the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling. I am also pleased to recognize the historical and ongoing contributions of our state’s original conservationists — sportsmen and sportswomen.
Alabama hunters and anglers are the primary source of conservation funding for the Yellowhammer State. Through the purchase of licenses, tags and by paying self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel and other equipment, hunters and anglers drive conservation funding in Alabama and the United States, through the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays public benefits” system.
Last year alone, this system, combined with hunting and fishing license sales, contributed over $47 million to fund state conservation efforts administered through the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). All Alabamians benefit from these funds through improved access to public lands, public shooting ranges, improved soil and water quality, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research, private and public habitat management, hunter education, boat access area construction and many other DCNR projects funded through this system.
Hunting and angling are also a significant economic driver for our state. Alabama sportsmen and women spend roughly $2 billion per year on their outdoor pursuits, supporting nearly 40,000 jobs in the state and contributing over $165 million in state and local taxes.
Hunting produces countless benefits for our state’s conservation funding and economy, therefore it is important that Alabama sportsmen and women invest time and effort to encourage future participation by the next generation in these time-honored traditions. This effort to increase hunter participation is called recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) and over 450 individual R3 programs nationwide have had regional success. R3 programs, as well as many others, need your support and it’s going to take the involvement of every Alabama hunter, regardless of age, to ensure the future of the outdoor pursuits we celebrate on National Hunting and Fishing Day.
Our hunting and angling heritage should not be taken for granted, and getting the next generation of Alabama’s sportsmen and women involved in the outdoors will help ensure the conservation of our abundant natural resources for the future.
More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at this link or on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation website.
Del Marsh, a Republican from Anniston, is the President Pro Tem of the Alabama State Senate.
Del Marsh: Judge Kavanaugh’s record is clear — He deserves to be confirmed
When the name Brett Kavanaugh was first mentioned to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, like many of you, I did not know who he was or much about him. I began looking into him for more information as to what kind of Supreme Court justice he would be, should he be confirmed by the United States Senate. What I found was a fair, mainstream judge who believes in the United States Constitution, who has dedicated his life to public service and a judge who shares our conservative Alabama values.
His academic record is just what you would want to see from someone who sits on the highest court. He graduated from Yale for both his undergraduate studies and for law school. He has been a clerk for judges on the Third and the Ninth Circuit courts, as well as a clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court. Since 2009, he has been a lecturer at Harvard’s law school.
Judge Kavanaugh has published over 300 opinions in his career and his decisions show a judge who will apply the law as written and enforce the text, structure, and original understanding of the Constitution. His opinions have been cited as law by over 200 judges from across the country. He is no stranger to the current make-up of the Supreme Court as many of those who
have clerked for him have gone onto work in the Supreme Court, and dozens of his opinions have been endorsed by the current members of the Court.
As impressive as his professional career has been, his personal character seems to be impeccable. He serves as a coach for youth basketball, is a leader in his church, serves meals to needy families, and is a tutor for children at local elementary schools in the Washington D.C. area.
All of this has led me to believe that Judge Kavanaugh is the most qualified person in the country to serve on the Supreme Court. In his current role in the D.C. Circuit Court, he was confirmed with bipartisan support – and nothing will have changed from that confirmation until now.
Unfortunately, this vote will be a very close vote and many experts believe that the confirmation could come down to the decision of Alabama’s Senator Doug Jones. If Senator Jones wants to represent the people of Alabama, he will take a look at Judge Kavanaugh’s record, as I have, and vote to confirm him to the Supreme Court. Alabama should not have a Senator that shares the same values as far-Left extremists such as Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren. Since he has been in the Senate, Senator Jones has a history of deferring his opinion on important issues until they have been decided by others (confirming the Secretary of State and the CIA Director are the first issues that come to mind). He has vowed to have an “independent review” of Judge Kavanaugh’s record. If he is serious about his slogan of Country over Party, I believe that the record speaks for itself and he will have no choice but to vote to confirm President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
Senator Shelby has already said that Judge Kavanaugh has “impressive credentials” and that “This nomination is one of the most important items that we will consider this year.” I completely agree and I hope that the Senate will do the right thing and confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
We need a justice in the Supreme Court who will uphold and apply the laws of the Constitution, not an activist judge who will re-write our laws to gain political points from those who have an extreme agenda. It is clear that Judge Kavanaugh is the kind of high character public servant we need.
Del Marsh is president pro tempore of the Alabama Senate, representing the 12th District.
Alabama Senate leader: school choice is about putting parents over bureaucrats
With the election of President Donald Trump, school choice has been at the front of every discussion affecting education policy in the United States. I am pleased to say that the Alabama Legislature has been opening up choice for students and parents long before it was part of the national discussion. I am proud to have introduced sweeping legislation that allows for the creation of public charter schools and the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA), which makes it easier for parents to send their children to different schools when they have no option.
Let me be clear, the school choice discussion is not an attack on teachers, support staff, and administrators. I truly believe that on the whole we have some of the best teachers in the country who show up every day to work hard and follow their passion for educating children.
I do have a problem with those special interest groups who are more interested in maintaining a status quo in education that favors them rather than actually doing anything to make sure our schools and children are consistently improving and growing as students. With every reform I have promoted, I have welcomed any and all interested parties to help craft legislation so that it meets the needs of everyone involved. Many of the organizations entrusted to represent the values of our professional educators have little interest in assisting with reforms of any kind and work overtime to kill any change no matter how positive it may be to parents or students. Especially if those changes involve giving parents a choice.
Recently I filed SB123 in the Alabama Senate to amend the Alabama Accountability Act. The AAA provides parents of children in failing schools the ability to transfer to non-failing schools. The most popular is through the use of a refundable income tax credit made by Alabamians to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO), which in turn pays the tuition for children in a failing school to attend a non-failing or private school.
Survey after survey shows a majority of Americans support school choice. Those with means exhibit school choice by moving to areas where their public schools excel or pay for a private school, as I am sure the directors and bureaucrats of those opposed already do. However, for far too many, access to a quality education is solely determined by their ZIP code.
The Alabama Accountability Act is a success. Ask the parents. Ask the children. Now, in a small effort to modify the bill at the cost of zero dollars to this year’s education budget, the entrenched special interest groups who have overseen Alabama’s slide into the bottom of nearly all education achievement rankings want to deny the thousands of parents and children on waiting lists a choice, and force them to stay in schools they do not want to be in. They want children in foster homes to lose their scholarships if they are moved to a new home by the system. That is unconscionable. It is wrong. It is immoral.
I do not support school choice to make teachers look bad, nor do I support school choice to so that anyone may profit from it. I support school choice for the parent who wants their child to have a better life that starts with quality education and for the student who is looking for a hand up to get where they want to go in life. Even if only one child is able to achieve their potential and realize their dreams because they were able to improve their situation, it will be well worth the vicious political attacks launched by the defenders of the status quo.
I want every Alabamian to have a quality education. I agree with President Trump that for some, it is in public schools, for others, it is in private schools and home schooling. But only the parent knows best, and I trust them over Montgomery bureaucrats and lobbyists.
Sen. Jeff Sessions discusses Trump's past and policies on ABC's "This Week" (Photo: Screenshot)
With the announcement that President-elect Trump was going to nominate Alabama’s own Senator Jeff Sessions, the hysteria from the far left has reached an all-time high. More than 63% of Alabamians voted to elect Donald Trump as our next President, whose win defied all polling and conventional wisdom in the media. The message sent is simple: Alabamians and countless Americans are tired of business as usual and the status quo in Washington. Sadly, the liberal national media just doesn’t seem to get it.
Selfishly, I would like nothing more than to see Jeff Sessions remain in the US Senate and guide that body through the confirmation of one or more Constitutional Conservative Supreme Court justices. However, I am excited for the future of our country to have a conservative stalwart like Senator Sessions taking over as the United States Attorney General – because I know what his leadership on issues such as immigration, protecting the second amendment and going back to respecting the rule of law will mean for our state and our entire nation.
The response from the mainstream media has been, if not predictable, disappointing and a distortion of facts. Since his appointment Senator Sessions has been accused of supporting some of the most despicable moments in United States history. Not only are these accusations false, they are accusations made without merit.
Take for example, the exchange between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Roll Call columnist Jonathan Allen. Allen calls Sessions “unfit” to be Attorney General and accuses him of being a racist despite providing no evidence to support his claim. Allen goes on to call Senator Sessions views on immigration “fringe” when his views (as Mr. Carlson points out) are shared by a majority of Americans. In fact, many of the views portrayed as fringe are laws already in the books that will simply require enforcement, and as Attorney General I am confident Jeff Sessions will do just that. The Senator Sessions portrayed as an extremist is far from the Senator Sessions I know, and that portrayal is a myth created by the mainstream media.
The truth is that as Attorney General, Sessions will fight to uphold the law – as he always has. His record as a US Attorney is remarkable– he filed cases to desegregate Alabama schools, and successfully investigated and helped to secure the ultimate punishment, the death penalty, against one of the leaders of the KKK for a 1981 murder of an innocent African American man in Alabama.
I have had the honor of working with Senator Sessions and he has always kept an eye on Alabama with his door open and our traditional Christian values firm in hand. He has long been a supporter of the reform-minded Republican Legislature and has remained a solid fiscal and social conservative voice in Washington. In speaking with him personally, his views on immigration reform are based only in the interest of protecting all people whether they are U.S. citizens or those who wish to legally immigrate into this country.
Senator Sessions has devoted his entire life to public service. He has served as a captain in the Army Reserve, as United States Attorney, as Alabama’s Attorney General, and has been our Senator in Congress since 1997. Liberals like Mr. Allen may believe Jeff Sessions beliefs are fringe, but here in Alabama we call him a friend.
I am proud to support Senator Sessions as he continues his next chapter in fighting for our conservative values and defending the Constitution against the liberal special interests.
The political newspaper Politico has reported that President-elect Trumps favorability has risen 9 points while his unfavorability has dropped 15 points. It is clear that the American people are willing to give their newly elected President and his appointees a chance, perhaps now it is time for the far left elites to do the same. Maybe the appointment of a Constitutional Conservative like Jeff Sessions has contributed to the rise in those favorable numbers- I would like to think so.
In Alabama we know the real Jeff Sessions, the media does not. Perhaps if they took the time to investigate the truth, they would also know the Jeff Sessions that you and I know so well.
Marsh: Let Alabamians vote on a lottery and gaming (opinion)
Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston)
Five years ago we came to Montgomery on a simple promise: to streamline state government, to cut waste, to bring efficiency and a business-like approach to state services.
We went to work and we did our job. While there is still work to be done, we delivered on that promise for the taxpayers of Alabama.
But in 2015 there are hard truths and new budget realities that must be faced. There are serious funding problems that cannot be solved only through additional budget cuts. Health care and prisons costs continue to rise, while we struggle to meet the obligations of essential state services for our children and seniors. And that’s the key word: essential state services.
We now face a hard, but clear choice: face the threat of raising taxes on the people of Alabama, or find new sources of revenue for essential state services. Essential state services.
One or the other. Raise taxes? Find new sources of revenue?
This is a big question, one so big it should not be made by the Alabama Legislature alone. I believe this decision, this choice, should be made by the people of Alabama. Let them decide the basic question: Higher taxes or new sources of revenue. I trust their wisdom and judgment on this matter.
What new sources of revenue should we consider? One fact is indisputable. Hundreds of millions of Alabama dollars are going to Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia to play in their lotteries, their casinos. Hundreds of millions of Alabama dollars give their children pre-k, their children scholarships, and their seniors’ benefits. And it gives their state governments funding for essential state services. They receive those benefits while creating new jobs for their people, new investments for their towns and cities, new hotels, restaurants, entertainment facilities, new tourism dollars. All for them and none for us. With our money.
Folks, that makes no sense. It is time that Alabama gambling dollars stayed right here in Alabama, creating new jobs for our workers, creating new investments for our businesses, expanding tourism and opportunities for our towns and cities, and creating new funding for our seniors and school children. Without raising taxes.
It is time we gave the people of Alabama a simple plan, a simple choice. Higher taxes or expanded gaming? Let the people decide.
It is time to for the people to vote on a comprehensive gaming plan that would keep these dollars at home. We need a plan that addresses all of gaming: a lottery, expansion of casino gaming at four existing tracks in Mobile, Macon County, Greene County and Birmingham, and a gaming pact with Native American casinos. All in one, simple plan.
My proposed constitutional amendment does exactly that. This amendment creates an Alabama lottery and allows casino gaming – slot machines and table games — at Native American casinos. It will also permit casino gaming at the four existing non-Native American casinos as well. And it will keep Alabama gaming dollars in Alabama, working for Alabama.
As a constitutional amendment, is must be passed by a vote of the people to be enacted.
Alabama lottery and casino gaming would create a $1.2 billion annual economic impact for the state of Alabama, and generate almost $400 million in new revenue for state programs, according to a new research study by the Institute for Accountability and Government Efficiency at Auburn University of Montgomery. In addition, the study found that more than 11,000 new jobs would be created if casino gaming were allowed at the current facilities located in Mobile, Birmingham, Macon and Greene County.
Do you want a lottery to help fund essential services for Alabama? Let the people decide.
Do you want to keep the casino dollars now going to other states in Alabama? Let the people decide.
I think they will vote ‘Yes.” ‘Yes’ to new jobs and new investments. ‘Yes’ to hundreds of millions of dollars for our school children, our seniors. ‘Yes’ to hundreds of millions of dollars to fund essential state services. All without raising taxes.
Let’s keep Alabama gaming dollars in Alabama, working for Alabama.
Without raising taxes.
Let the people vote.
Sen. Del Marsh is the President Pro Tem of the Alabama Senate.