The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    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 workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    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.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

6 years ago

Alabama senator introduces ‘Duck Commander’ resolution

Phil Robertson

Alabama State Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, on Thursday announced he would be introducing a bill to honor embattled “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson during the upcoming legislative session, which begins next month.

“Phil Robertson’s family values are shared by the vast majority of Alabamians, who are rightfully concerned by the vitriol aimed at his Christian stance,” Fielding said. “There’s a clear double standard in the media favoring a liberal worldview. When it’s used to silence and punish Christians for stating their beliefs, that’s when we must defend the rights of individuals to exercise their free speech without fear of politically-motivated repercussion. I join thousands across Alabama and our country by standing with Phil Robertson, and urge A&E to reverse their action against him.”

Alabama State Senator Jerry Fielding
Sen. Jerry Fielding

Robertson was “indefinitely suspended” by A&E after he discussed his position on homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine. Since that suspension, Robertson has received an outpouring of support from conservatives around the country, including figures like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn.

Fielding represents Senate District 11, which includes parts of Calhoun, Coosa, Elmore, and Talladega Counties. He was elected in 2010 as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party in October 2012. He is currently facing primary opposition from State Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville.

Resolution as follows:


WHEREAS, renown entrepreneur, Louisiana outdoorsman, and reality television star Phil Robertson has positively impacted countless lives through the powerful testimony of his steadfast faith in Jesus Christ and how it has transformed his life; and

WHEREAS, Phil Robertson, along with his family, who are featured on the reality television show, Duck Dynasty, have served as ambassadors of the love and grace of the Heavenly Father through their exemplary lives on and off the camera; they have used their fame as a platform to promote wholesome ideals involving family and home life and worship of the Lord; and

WHEREAS, recently, Phil has received backlash for expressing his personal views on homosexuality that were based on scripture in the Bible in an interview with GQ Magazine; ultimately, the Arts and Entertainment Network (A&E) punished him for his beliefs and suspended him indefinitely from the reality television show, Duck Dynasty, even though he did not address his views in correlation with the program; and

WHEREAS, a portion of the politically correct populous, which strongly encourages tolerance and open-mindedness, is now contradicting themselves with extreme intolerance and close-mindedness towards Phil and his personal beliefs, which stem from his rock-solid Christian faith; and

WHEREAS, while Phil does not condone certain lifestyles or behaviors, he issued the following profound statement abounding with love and tolerance: “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me; we are all created by the Almighty, and like Him, I love all of humanity”; and

WHEREAS, Phil should not be penalized in any way for practicing freedom of speech, but should be celebrated as a hero for courageously revealing his self-truth and Christian ideals in a world that can be unkind towards those with a conservative mind-set; and

WHEREAS, Phil Robertson and his family’s admirable stance on marriage, family, and faith reflects the meritorious ideals of the fine citizens of the entire State of Alabama, and it is a tremendous privilege to express our utmost solidarity for them; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That this chamber of persons stand united in support of Phil Robertson and his family, and in opposition to the A&E Network’s deplorable action of suspending Phil indefinitely from Duck Dynasty for relaying his Christian beliefs.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Byrne runs up the score in AL-01 victory

Congressman-elect Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, and family celebrate at Byrne's victory party in Mobile.
Congressman-elect Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, and family celebrate at Byrne’s victory party in Mobile.

Back in June, Bradley Byrne was one of the first candidates to announce his intention to run for the Alabama first congressional district seat to be vacated by then-Rep. Jo Bonner. On Tuesday, Byrne was officially the last man standing.

With 93 percent reporting, Byrne defeated Democratic nominee Burton LeFlore by a 32,506-13,989 margin.

Byrne addressed his supporters at his victory party at Moe’s BBQ in downtown Mobile and touted himself as a “conservative problem solver.”

“Tonight, the voters of South Alabama have sent a resounding message that they want a conservative problem solver with a proven track record of achieving results to represent them in Congress,” Byrne said. “They’re tired of the name-calling and political gamesmanship in Washington. They want a conservative leader who will fight to represent our principles, but who also knows how to sit around a table and work out our differences. We here in southwest Alabama know the great and simple truth from the Pledge of Allegiance, that we are, indeed, ‘One Nation, Under God’ – and that, working together, we can be a great nation.”

“As a community, we have such a bright future ahead of us – the potential to be an economic leader in our state and throughout the Gulf Coast region, bringing good-paying jobs and a better quality of life to South Alabama,” he continued. “But we can’t get there alone. We need a leader who will forge partnerships and promote pro-growth policies that will attract more investment and jobs to our community. That’s exactly what I plan to do as your Congressman. This has been a hard-fought campaign, but the real work is just beginning. I want to hear from you. Our door is always open – let us know how we can help. This is your seat, and I will work hard to build on the trust you’ve placed in me with your vote, one person at a time.”

In addition to a big victory at the polls, Byrne overwhelmed LeFlore in the campaign fundraising department by a $1.1 million-to-$7,000 margin.

Both the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee congratulated Byrne for his Tuesday night victory.

“Congratulations to Congressman-elect Bradley Byrne on his victory tonight,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “He will join the Republican majority in the House of Representatives as they continue their work to support job creation and to grow the economy. I am confident he will represent his constituents well as he fights to undo the damage of ObamaCare and Democrats’ disastrous agenda.”

“Congratulations are in order for Representative-Elect Bradley Byrne as the victor in Alabama’s special election for Congress,” NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said in a statement. “Bradley’s strong conservative principles and dedication to his community will be a welcomed addition to the halls of Congress. He has a history of working hard for Alabamans for almost two decades, and I know he will continue that precedent as a United States Representative.

Byrne will be sworn into office at the beginning of the second session of the 113th Congress on January 7, 2014.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Door opens for former Rep. Artur Davis to run for congress in Virginia

Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis
Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., announced he would not be seeking reelection for in 2014 for his 10th congressional district of Virginia seat.

“I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014,” Wolf said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon. “It has been an honor to serve the people of northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.  I thank my constituents for giving me the privilege of representing them in Congress for 34 years.”

This could be the long-awaited opening for former Rep. Artur Davis, who represented Alabama’s 7th congressional district as a Democrat, but swapped parties last year to become a Republican.

Other potential candidates reportedly eyeing the seat are Democrat Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust and Republicans State Del. Barbara Comstock and State Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel.

Earlier this year, Davis commissioned a poll in Virginia’s 10th congressional district that showed no obvious front-runner among a handful of potential Republican candidates that included Davis, Vogel and Comstock.

Since Davis’ failed bid for the Alabama Democratic gubernatorial nomination, the former Alabama congressman has not sought public office, although he did speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Davis’ bid to be elected to Congress in two different states would be something that hasn’t been accomplished since Republican Texas-turned-New Mexico Rep. Ed Foreman did it in the late 1960s.

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6 years ago

Brooks only ‘no’ vote among Alabama delegation on Ryan-Murray budget deal

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville

Late Thursday, the U.S. House approved a budget deal brokered between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., by a bipartisan 332-94 margin.

Alabama’s congressional delegation reflected that vote, with the lone “no” vote coming from Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville.

“While parts of the Murray-Ryan spending deal are attractive, its two-year effects are financially irresponsible,” Brooks said in a statement released Friday morning. “America suffers from a $17 trillion debt and five years of deficits averaging more than $1 trillion/year. Interest on America’s debt exceeds $250 billion/year and is projected by the CBO to reach $800 billion/year within a decade, thus jeopardizing our ability to pay for national security, Social Security, and every other federal program.”

“Over the next two years, America’s projected deficit approximates $1.5 trillion,” he continued. “The Murray-Ryan spending deal piles another $60 billion in debt onto an already bad deficit situation, making America’s finances worse, not better.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen warns that debt is our greatest national security threat.  America’s Comptroller General Gene Dodaro warns that America’s deficit and debt path is ‘unsustainable’.  Prudence and common sense dictate that America heed these warnings and act responsibly.  The Murray-Ryan spending deal does neither and is the wrong path to follow.”

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, the state’s lone Democrat, voted along with her Republican colleagues, but qualified her support for the budget resolution by saying it fell short in some areas.

“Today, I voted in favor of H.J. Res 59, the bipartisan budget agreement because it represents an important first step towards fiscal responsibility while mitigating the effects of sequester cuts,” Sewell said in a statement. “After more than three years of partisan brinkmanship, Democrats and Republicans have come together to pass a budget that replaces almost two-thirds of the sequester without cutting Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits. This bipartisan budget compromise sends an important message to the American people that we can and should work together. While I am optimistic about this progress, I am very disappointed that this agreement fails to extend unemployment insurance for the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”

Republicans are preparing to procedurally filibuster the bill in the Senate, leaving it’s passage in question.  Ranking Senate Budget Committee Republican Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, criticized the agreement for not doing enough to curb spending levels.

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6 years ago

Sessions opposes Ryan-Murray budget deal

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced a breakthrough on what could be the first federal budget passed by Congress since April 29, 2009.

However, Murray’s counterpart on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, won’t be supporting the agreement. In a statement released by his office late Wednesday afternoon, Sessions laid out his reasons for not supporting the Ryan-Murray deal.

“A series of concerns, on balance, cause me to be unable to support the legislation produced by Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray, including:

  • While I favor reorganizing elements of the Budget Control Act to smooth the impact, I do not favor increasing total discretionary spending above what was agreed to over the 10-year BCA period (exchanged for the already-exhausted $2.1 trillion debt increase in 2011).
  • I specifically do not favor using trust fund savings to increase discretionary spending.
  • Much of the spending increase in this deal has been justified by increased fees and new revenue. In other words: it’s a fee increase to fuel a spending increase—rather than reducing deficits.
  • Disappointingly, CBO’s analysis states that $47 billion out of the $85 billion in offsets occur outside the original BCA window, and the spending cut portion of those outyear offsets are of dubious validity. It is not disputable that net spending in the BCA window is increased.”

According to Sessions, previously budget resolutions passed by the two chambers were not acted upon in this agreement. Sessions also said the agreement doesn’t constitute a budget. He did, however, praise the members for their work.

“Senate and House budget resolutions were committed to Conference,” Sessions added. “They were not acted on. The result is legislation from Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray, leaving Congress without a budget resolution for the fourth straight year. This legislation is not a budget and was never formally considered, crafted, or voted upon by the conferees. I appreciate the hard work Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray put into their deal, but I am not able to support it.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Bachus co-sponsors bill to protect volunteer fire departments from ObamaCare


WASHINGTON – On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, announced he is co-sponsoring legislation that would protect Alabama’s 75 volunteer fire departments from a provision of ObamaCare that would threaten their staffing levels.

The Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act was introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.

Currently, the IRS defines volunteer firefighters as employees for federal taxation purposes. Should this bill be passed into law, volunteers would be redefined as non-employees and therefore remove the burden of ObamaCare that would require the fire departments to pay for their volunteers’ health insurance benefits.

“It is unwise and a threat to public safety to place this costly mandate on our volunteer fire departments,” Bachus said in a statement. “They provide an essential service to our communities and run on very tight budgets as it is. Requiring volunteer companies to comply with the employer mandate might not have been an intended goal of Obamacare, but it is yet another example of a possible adverse consequence from its implementation.”

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Volunteer Fire Council and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Mo Brooks: President is ‘deceiver-in-chief,’ ObamaCare ranks among ‘biggest con games’ ever

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, on Monday let it be known in no uncertain terms that he views President Barack Obama as one of history’s greatest con artists.

In an appearance on Steve Malzberg’s radio show on Monday, Brooks blistered the president’s controversial healthcare law, criticizing both the way it was sold to the American people prior to becoming law and its subsequent rollout.

Last week, Brooks advised his constituents to avoid because of the risks associated the website’s security. He specifically warned that site visitors ran the risk of having of deception, fraud and having their identity stolen.

On Monday, Brooks remained steadfast in those claims.

“There are serious security risks associated with and some of the ancillary ObamaCare program websites, such that I encourage American citizens to not go onto any of those websites until such time as they are secure and they have been fixed,” Brooks said. “[I]f you give those websites your personal data, particularly data relating to credit cards, debit cards, you’re at risk of those things being stolen, which in turn means you’re at risk of being financially injured by cyber-security thieves.”

In addition to the security concerns, the congressman for Alabama’s 5th congressional district asserted that the White House has actively worked to deceive the American people throughout the current administration.

“I hope the American people are starting to figure out that the only reason we have the individuals in the White House that are in the White House is because [Obama] has been very good at deceiving the American people into thinking one thing, when he actually means another,” Brooks said. “ObamaCare is a good example. There was obvious deceit that was used to create the public support to get it passed back in 2009 and 2010.”

“There was deceit again going into the election where the mantra was ‘if you want to keep your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period,’” he continued. “And, ‘If you want to keep your doctor, you can keep your health care doctor.’ And to boot, it’s going to cost you less … this guy is the deceiver-in-chief. I don’t know of a more accurate way to describe it. It’s very disappointing. It’s very frustrating. We’ve got Democrats on Capitol Hill who are going to defend ObamaCare no matter how bad it is.”

Brooks later took it a step further, calling the entire Affordable Care Act “one of the biggest con games” ever played on the American people.

“It should be quite clear that this is one of the biggest con games, one of the biggest instances of deception that has ever emanated from the White House and from the United States Congress on the American people,” Brooks concluded.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorYH Mo Brooks

6 years ago

House passes Bachus-cosponsored ‘Innovation Act’

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3309, also known as the “Innovation Act.” The bill had 16 cosponsors, including Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, and passed overwhelmingly by a 325-91 vote.

According to a release from Bachus’ office, the bill aims to thwart abusive litigation practices of so-called “patent trolls,” who claim intellectual ownership of products and services developed by legitimate inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses.

“This is a jobs and competitiveness issue for our economy,” Bachus said. “Every dollar drained from inventors and entrepreneurs by frivolous and abusive litigation is a dollar that cannot be used to develop a new idea and grow.  We have to be concerned about how many potential ‘Apples’ will never get past the seedling stage because of these unwarranted costs.”

The bill came out of the Judiciary Committee, where Bachus serves as the chairman of the Regulatory Reform, Commercial, and Antitrust Law subcommittee.

The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has a competing version of the bill that is currently pending.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Brooks introduces bill to protect funding for three key NASA programs

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, introduced a bill to secure funding for several key NASA programs that impact Alabama’s fifth congressional district.

The bill, H.R. 3625, would ensure funding for the Space Launch System, Orion Crew Capsule, and International Space Station, which according to Brooks “reflects congressional priorities.”

“H.R. 3625 is multi-faceted,” Brooks said in a statement. “It bars NASA from unilaterally canceling SLS, Orion, or the Space Station without express congressional consent. As of October 2013, NASA forces SLS, Orion, and Space Station contractors to withhold and not use $507 million in appropriated funding to cover potential termination costs should NASA unilaterally terminate these programs. H.R. 3625 frees up that $507 million for productive work on SLS, Orion and the Space Station.”

NASA has regularly been a target for budget cuts and the Obama administration has not indicated it sees the agency as a priority. Brooks cited the White House’s decision to cancel the Constellation moon exploration program back in 2010 as a basis for action to protect these three NASA programs.

“Withholding scarce funds for termination liability slows development and hence increases the total cost of a project. This in turn makes it even more likely that a program could be terminated. According to NASA reports to Congress, as of October 2013, $192 million from SLS, $226 million from Orion, and $89 million from the Space Station are being held to cover termination liability costs that would otherwise be used to timely complete these scientific efforts.”

“The issue of limiting funding to account for potential termination liability costs contributed to the Obama Administration’s decision to cancel the Constellation program,” Brooks continued. “Regardless of whether Constellation should, or should not, have been cancelled, I believe it unwise to subject America’s Space Launch System, Orion Crew Capsule, and International Space Station to similar risks.”

Brooks has been a staunch defender of the agency during his time in Congress. In 2012, NASA had an estimated $2.8 billion impact on Alabama’s economy according to Gene Goldman, then-Acting Director of Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center. According to Lee Roop of the Huntsville Times, 2,374 civil servants were employed at NASA’s Huntsville facilities as of Sept. 30.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Sessions blasts ObamaCare, calls out Democrats for resisting food stamp reform in wide-ranging interview

(Above: WTVY’s Tessa Darlington interviews Sen. Jeff Sessions)

While traveling across Alabama this week, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, made an appearance on Dothan CBS affiliate WTVY’s evening newscast to discuss ObamaCare, the current state of the Farm Bill and the tension between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

Sessions wasted no time getting into his opposition to ObamaCare, which he believes is weakening the quality of healthcare in America and will be “devastating” to the medical profession.

“I definitely think we have got to return and rethink what we’re going to do about health care in America, and we can do it,” Sessions told WTVY’s Tessa Darlington. “We have had a lot of good ideas for a long time like allowing interstate competition, allowing you to keep your health policy, preexisting illnesses are a problem that can be overcome. There is bipartisan support for that. But this plan will not work. It was never on the right track. It’s going to weaken the quality of health care in America. And you know, Dothan is especially blessed for a town its size to have the health care facilities and skill and surgeons and so forth and I’ve been always citing this as just an example of the wealth of good health care throughout America. So I do think we got to be careful we don’t kill that off.”

“Computer glitches — maybe they can get those fixed,” he continued. “But the fundamental financial and structural problems exist and will remain and could drive doctors out of medicine and that would be a real devastating long-term problem.”

Darlington then turned her attention to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, commonly known as the Farm Bill.

Sessions has been one of the loudest voices in D.C. calling for reforms to the Farm Bill, which he says includes a disproportionate amount of food stamp spending compared to what is being spent on agriculture programs. Bad blood between competing commodity groups lobbying for their own interests in the bill is becoming a threat to getting the legislation passed before year’s end. But Sessions says he’s optimistic about the House and Senate reaching a compromise.

“There’s support for a Farm Bill,” Sessions said. “One will pass. I don’t think it’ll be much longer… But fundamentally, 80 percent — $80 out of every $100 spent on the Farm Bill — goes to the food stamp program. Farmers only receive about 20 percent of that. And the reductions in spending, the majority of [them], have fallen on the farmers… So the House, the Republican House, has done a good job looking at the food stamp program. It’s gone up four times since 2001. Four times as much is being spent on it. It needs to be reformed… So that’s a sticking point. Right now there has been a real resistance to that by the Democratic Senate.”

RELATED: Rogers & Roby among Reps. tasked with negotiating Farm Bill

Darlington pointed out that the Farm Bill is far from the only point of contention in the Senate, which has been plagued with unusually high levels of tension and partisan rancor in recent months. Sessions blasted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his decision to use the “nuclear option” of changing Senate rules to make it easier for Democrats to advance their agenda, specifically when it comes to certain presidential appointments. Because of the tension, Sessions isn’t optimistic about reaching any near-term agreements on reducing the deficit and spending.

“Things are tense right now, Tessa,” Sessions explained. “In the Senate, you know, they used a nuclear option to change the rules of the Senate by a simple majority. For the rules to be changed, it takes a two-thirds vote. It [states] plainly you have to have 60 votes to shut off debate. They changed that by a parliamentary maneuver, violating the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate. So this is pretty tense right now, I got to say.”

“And we’ve got a deficit problem to confront,” he continued. “We’ve got spending problems to confront. And so I got to say, it’s a tense time. Can we work through this? We’ve got to. We owe the people of the United States a good government that manages. And I believe we can reach the agreements necessary to keep us going a decent way in the coming months. But we’re not going to be moving, unfortunately, to the kind of financial reforms I would like to see and I think most Americans would like.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorYH Tessa Darlington Jeff Sessions

6 years ago

Local politics will play role in fate of south Alabama’s massive steel mill

ThyssenKrupp's recently sold Calvert, Ala. steel mill
ThyssenKrupp’s recently sold Calvert, Ala. steel mill

Last week, ThyssenKrupp announced the $1.55 billion sale of its Calvert, Ala. plant to a 50-50 joint venture owned by Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal and Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.

ThyssenKrupp spent about $5 billion to build the now three-year-old plant that provides steel for auto manufacturers with production facilities in the southeastern United States.

According to The Wall Street Journal, ThyssenKrupp’s venture in Alabama, which was bringing raw steel from Brazil to Alabama for finishing, was crippled by the the combined forces of a strengthening of Brazilian currency and weakening global steel demand.

The direction of the new ArcelorMittal-Nippon Steel joint venture could now have a significant impact on global steel prices and, according one analyst, local Alabama elected officials will play a big role in what happens next.

One possible outcome is that the mill will be closed altogether. The reduced production capacity brought on by the mill’s closing could spike global steel prices, which is something the industry as a whole would obviously welcome. But a source tells Platts, which is McGraw Hill Financial’s trade publication for commodity markets, that local politics could keep that from happening.

“I think closing steel mills is not the easiest thing to do,” a source told Platt’s Dan Hilliard. “There’s a lot of political implications and what not. Local politicians will scream and yell and offer the world [to keep local jobs].”

Back in March 2007 at the behest of then-Republican Gov. Bob Riley, state legislators took unprecedented action to clear the way for ThyssenKrupp to build the Calvert facility by providing a $400 million increase of the state’s Capital Improvement Trust Fund. That hike was meant to sweeten the pot for ThyssenKrupp to locate its facility at south Alabama site, which at the time was in a competition with another site in Louisiana.

After a long wait, ThyssenKrupp was able to sell its mill, albeit at a huge loss. What happens next will be the source of a lot of handwringing among south Alabama politicians and economic developers, as well as among workers whose jobs will be a constant point of speculation in the months ahead. Approximately 1,400 Alabamians currently work at the mill.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Sessions: ‘There is not a labor shortage, there is a jobs shortage’

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile

WASHINGTON – On Monday, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, blasted President Obama and a small group of CEOs who have allied with him to push comprehensive immigration reform, and urged the GOP-controlled House to stand strong against them.

“House leaders must lay out clearly to the American people the President’s dismal record on immigration,” Sessions said in a statement. “During his time in office, the President has systematically dismantled interior enforcement, handcuffing immigration officers and bypassing Congress. These facts—drawn from the testimony from immigration officers themselves—should be clearly documented before the whole nation. No agreement should be entered into while such lawlessness continues.”

Sessions particularly warned against the economic impact of comprehensive immigration reform, expressing concerns that a flood of new workers into the labor force would be damaging to the economy.

“[T]he President must be asked — by media and lawmakers alike — how he can possibly justify a plan that will double the flow of immigrant workers at a time when 91.5 million Americans are outside the labor force?” Sessions continued. “Indeed, as the President makes his immigration remarks he is preparing to hold a fundraiser with Silicon Valley executives, a group clamoring for more guest workers at a time when nearly half of recent college grads are underemployed. Wages are flat and falling for U.S. workers — the clearest evidence that there is not a labor shortage, but a jobs shortage.”

As The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro pointed out earlier today, progressive and business groups have spent more than $1.5 billion since 2007 “on advocacy and lobbying” for a comprehensive immigration bill at a time when the unemployment rate is through the roof. Sessions urged his congressional colleagues to resist these efforts to manipulate U.S. immigration policy to be tailored to these very narrow interests.

“America is not an oligarchy,” Sessions added. “Congressional leaders must forcefully reject the notion, evidently accepted by the President, that a small cadre of CEOs can tailor the nation’s entire immigration policy to suit their narrow interests. A Republic must answer to the people.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Tickets moving swiftly for upcoming Palin event in south Alabama

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, is scheduled to make an appearance at the Orange Beach Event Center at the Wharf in Orange Beach, Ala. on April 25, 2014.

The event was originally announced back in June by Baldwin County GOP Chairman Matt Simpson. Simpson told Yellowhammer that some ticket levels have sold out, but there are still tickets available for the event.

“We are excited to bring Gov. Palin to Baldwin County,” Simpson told Yellowhammer. “We have had an amazing response already and sold out of our gold sponsors the first day. This event is a little more than one month before the June 2014 primary election so we are expecting a large turnout from all over the state.”

Individual tickets are $125, which includes one ticket for the dinner and keynote presentation. An entire table for 10 can be reserved for $1,500 and a “Silver Sponsorship” table for 10 can be purchased for $2,500. The Silver Sponsorship also includes a photo opportunity with Palin, recognition during the program, in addition to the reserved table for 10 for the dinner.

Those interested in purchasing tickets for the event are encouraged to visit the Baldwin County Republican Party’s website.

This will be Palin’s second stop in the solidly Republican county since hitting the national stage. In 2011, she was the featured speaker at a dinner hosted at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Alabama delegation lays out case for Boeing to locate facility in Alabama

Boeing 777x
Boeing 777X

WASHINGTON – On Friday, the Alabama congressional delegation sent a letter to Boeing Chairman, President and CEO, James McNerney, Jr., touting Alabama as a potential location for its 777X aircraft manufacturing facility.

Huntsville is among the finalists for the coveted facility, along with Charleston, S.C., Long Beach, Calif., Philadelphia and St. Louis.

The letter points out Boeing’s existing footprint in north Alabama and also touts the state’s “high-tech aerospace expertise, low taxation and cost-of-living, rational regulatory regime, right-to-work laws, low utility rates, and excellent infrastructure.”

All of Alabama’s congressional delegation signed the letter, including Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, along with Reps. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, Mike Rogers, R-Saks, Martha Roby, R-Montgomery and Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham.

A copy of the letter is embedded below.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Shelby, Sessions rail against ‘dictator’ Harry Reid and Dems for ending filibuster

(Above: Sen. Jeff Sessions blasts Senate Democrats for destroying the rights of the minority party)

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Senate Democrats voted to do away with the filibuster as a method to block presidential judicial appointments, delivering a blow to minority party rights on nominations within Congress’ upper chamber.

Among those who opposed Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move on the filibuster were both Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile.

Shelby castigated Senate Democrats and warned it would lead to President Barack Obama appointing radicals to the bench.

“Senate Democrats voted to force ObamaCare on the American people,” Shelby said in a statement provided to Yellowhammer.  “Despite that disastrous exercise of power, they have now voted to give themselves even more of it. If Democrats think that they deserve more power, they should earn it from voters at the polls in 2014, not swipe it with a drastic rule change in the Senate today.”

“Unfortunately, this radical move will allow President Obama to stack the executive and judicial branches with radical individuals who will do anything to preserve the terrible legislation that bears his name,” he continued. “And make no mistake; today’s power grab is just the beginning.”

Sessions took to the Senate floor to voice his opposition. Alabama’s junior senator declared Reid’s rule change one of the most historically significant in the history of the body.

“I think it’s fair to say, without dispute, that the significance of this rule change today dwarfs any other appeal of the ruling of the chair that we’ve seen, maybe in the history of the republic,” Sessions said. “This is a big event and it changes what goes on here because we deal with power and the exercise of power. And this whole thing is simply Majority Leader Reid… but he’s not a dictator. He does not get to dictate how this Senate is operated.”

“He does not have the right to come in and change the rules because he wants to fill three judgeship slots that are not needed — no way close,” he continued. “There is no way you can justify filling these court slots, as based on simple need, caseload, or judge. So he’s unhappy about that. Maybe he wants to change the mood of the country from ObamaCare and the overreach that was executed here to pass that bill on December 24, to ram it through the Senate on a straight party-line vote. I suspect that’s part of it. But this is not the way to do business here.”

Sen. Reid and President Obama have argued that new judicial appointees are critical to accomplishing the work of the American people. Sessions responded to that argument directly, saying that Republicans were holding up the appointments of D.C. circuit because they would be a waste of money due to the D.C. circuit’s small caseload.

“The only reason those judges were blocked — the only reason they did not get a confirmation — was because we didn’t need them,” Sessions said. “This country is going broke. There are districts in America that need judges. The D.C. Circuit does not need more judges. It doesn’t need the eight they have. Yes, they have three vacancies, but with the current eight judges, their average caseload per judge was 149. And they’ve been continuing to drop. My circuit, the 11th circuit, madam president, you’d be interested to know, has an average caseload per judge of 740. The next-lowest caseload per circuit is twice 149.”

“The average is well above that per circuit,” he added. “Well above twice that. The judges themselves say they don’t need any more judges. They take the whole summer off. These judges would not have been rejected if we’d needed them. But the president is so determined to try to leave a legacy of friends on that court, that he just shoved them anyway and demanded that the Senate pass them. And Sen. Reid demanded that we confirm these judges. The judges say they don’t need any more judges on that court. They don’t need them, whether they say they need them or not.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorYH Jeff Sessions

6 years ago

Huntsville woman suffers ObamaCare ‘sticker shock’

Last night, Huntsville NBC affiliate WAFF aired a segment (above) about a Huntsville woman who has seen her family’s health insurance premium double and deductible skyrocket under ObamaCare.

Mary Elizabeth Comulada explained her situation to WAFF’s Charles Molineaux.

“People aren’t going to be able to afford this,” Comulada said bluntly.

Comulada took her situation to BCBS and was told the hikes were a direct result of the ObamaCare provision that requires insurers to accept anyone who seeks to buy insurance through them, regardless of the risk.

“Well, then how can my premium double per month?” Comulada asked. “How can our deductibles go up on every single family member and yet you’re providing me the same plan? They said, ‘Well, the answer is we now can’t turn anybody down.'”

Molineaux went to BCBS for a response to Comulada’s problem, asking if she could receive any relief from the so-called “fix” President Barack Obama unveiled earlier this month that would allow providers to continue offering plans to customers in spite of the plans not meeting all the ObamaCare requirements.

“A statement from Blue Cross Blue Shield says it’s been calculating its plans to follow the Affordable Care Act for three and a half years,” Molineaux said. “At this point even ‘the temporary reinstatement’ of the policies banned by the law could ‘destabilize the state’s insurance market’ and ‘create significant legal and financial risks to our policyholders, the state and our company.’”

Comulada even used the president’s own words, “If you like you plan, you can keep your plan,” in her conversation with BCBS. That didn’t get her anywhere, either.

“I asked about that,” Comulada said. “And they said it did not meet the new Affordable Care Act guidelines.”

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said the damage from ObamaCare has already been done.

“The reason that the insurance companies cannot offer the same plans for the same price is that ObamaCare changed the cost equation,” Aderholt said in a statement. “Despite whatever the President wants to say, the actual numbers don’t add up.”

(h/t RNC Research)

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorObamaCare Sticker Shock

6 years ago

Banking Committee recommends Yellen for Fed chair despite Shelby’s objections

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa

WASHINGTON — The Senate Banking Committee voted by a 14-8 margin earlier today to proceed forward with Janet Yellen’s nomination to chair the United States Federal Reserve. The full senate will now vote on her confirmation.

Yellen, who is currently the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman, is expected to win confirmation in the Senate and will fill the void left by Ben Bernanke when his second term expires next year.

Yellen would become the first woman to head the Federal Reserve, but her vote in the Senate Banking Committee earlier today came with the objection of Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa.

[READ: Shelby expresses concerns in private meeting with Obama’s fed nominee].

Shelby was one of the eight “no” votes, adding that he was not confident Yellen would shift course from Bernanke’s monetary policy, which many economists predict could ultimately lead to out-of-control inflation.

“Since 2008, the Fed’s printing presses have generated a backdoor stimulus nearly four times greater than the $787 Obama stimulus,” Shelby said in a statement provided to Yellowhammer. “The Fed is the world’s largest holder of U.S. Treasury bonds and the biggest enabler of our exploding debt.  These actions also present massive risks for sharp price increases on every single product that Americans buy.  I voted against President Obama’s nominee because I have no confidence that she will change course.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Former Democrat congressman: all our ObamaCare concerns in 2009 were ignored

Former Democrat Congressman Artur Davis
Former Democrat Congressman Artur Davis

Back in 2009 and 2010, former Alabama Democratic Rep. Artur Davis was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which would later become known as ObamaCare.

Davis suffered politically and endured searing criticisms from his fellow Democrats at the time. Jesse Jackson went as far as to say that he could not see how Davis could vote against the law and still call himself a black man.

Yellowhammer News contacted Davis this week, almost three years after he voted against the president’s signature piece of legislation, to see if he felt vindicated in his opposition to ObamaCare now that its rollout has been such a disaster.

According to Davis, who has since become a Republican and now resides in northern Virginia, some Democrats predicted serious problems with the president’s healthcare law. However, their concerns were ignored by House Democratic leadership.

“Look, most of the failings in the Affordable Care Act were easily foreseeable in 2009 and in 2010 when the legislation was passed — every single one of them,” Davis said. “I remember being on the Ways & Means Committee when a lot of the bill was drafted. I remember there being a lot of policy discussions with Democratic members of Congress and Democratic staffers about what this legislation would look like and how it would play out in the real world. Virtually everything that has gone wrong with this act was not only foreseeable, it was something that was talked about and something that was anticipated. But for a variety of reasons — political and otherwise — Democratic leadership chose to go ahead with the bill anyway.”

When congressional Democrats asked their leadership what would happen to people who had existing health insurance plans, Davis said they were fed the now infamous line, “If they like their plan, they can keep their plan.”

“In 2009 when the bill was being drafted, a number of Democratic members raised the basic question, ‘what’s going to happen to people who have existing insurance plans?’ The response from advocates of the bill was, ‘Well those people will be able to keep their coverage,’ but that never quite made sense,” Davis said. “One of the elements of the bill specifically said every private insurance plan would be measured by this new government test to determine whether it was adequate or sufficient. All of a sudden this would become one of the few consumer products on the market where the federal government was deciding your choice as a consumer as to whether something was right or not for you and your family.”

“If you’re going to put a provision in a plan that says that some insurance plans will be deemed not qualified, well, what’s going to happen to a plan that’s deemed not qualified?” he continued. “An insurer is going to drop coverage. They’re not going to automatically reenroll you in some magic new plan. They’re going to drop coverage and make you have to select a qualified plan. That was foreseeable in 2009 and 2010. The notion that some companies would drop coverage because it would make more economic sense for them to do that than to sustain coverage — that was easily foreseeable in 2009 and 2010. The notion that the Cadillac tax in the plan might push companies to downsize the scope of the plan they provided or to charge higher premiums to their employees — that was something that was easily foreseeable and something that was discussed in 2009 and 2010.”

Davis also said the concerns were raised inside the Democratic caucus as the whether the website would be able to handle all of the new enrollees converging on the site on the day enrollment opened.

“Questions were even raised about what would happen when all of these people become eligible for the exchanges on a certain date and all try to enroll. Could we guarantee that it would happen in a seamless fashion? That question was raised in 2009 and 2010 and I vividly recall there being a lot of uncertainty among Democratic members. ‘What happens if people don’t figure this out? What happens if people don’t get on the exchanges? What happens if they don’t participate?’

“So I don’t actually view any of these developments as some unexpected consequences that have fallen out of the sky,” Davis said in conclusion. “Virtually every one of them was anticipated and discussed and ultimately ignored.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Sessions: SolarCity might be the next Solyndra

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama

WASHINGTON – On Monday, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew regarding tax credits to SolarCity, a solar energy company that has lost over $300 million since 2008.

The inquiry was sparked by an August 31 story in the financial publication Barron’s about SolarCity, a company that is the U.S. leader in leasing solar panels to consumers.

“Like other renewable- energy companies, SolarCity is dependent on government subsidies to make a profit,” Barron’s noted. “The higher the reported value of a panel, the larger the taxpayer subsidy. In part because of uncertainty over those subsidies, Barron’s urged investors to be wary of SolarCity’s high-flying shares.”

Barron’s also said that the Treasury Department’s inspector general is investigating whether SolarCity “misrepresented the fair market value of the solar systems it installed.”

In Sessions’ letter to Lew on Monday, Alabama’s junior senator questioned whether SolarCity could survive on its own without being propped up by U.S. taxpayers.

“Over-inflating the cost of solar products is not only detrimental to the government, but to investors as well. Barron’s questioned whether SolarCity’s economic outlook or market value was adequately reflected through its stock prices, raising the question of whether its survival is reliant on political support, rather than investors’ belief in the company’s prospects,” Sessions wrote in his letter to Lew.

SolarCity employees install solar panels on a house.
SolarCity employees install solar panels on a house.

“In simple terms, there is concern that SolarCity might become the next Solyndra—a company propped on the back of the taxpayers, not the product produced,” he continued. “Barron’s summarized the company’s financial state in this way: ‘[SolarCity] has lost $322 million since 2008, including $91.6 million last year, on $128.7 million in revenue. Analysts expect SolarCity to lose $1.84 a share this year on $146.1 million in revenue.’ The article notes that although there is a divide on SolarCity’s net worth, ‘what analysts can agree on is that SolarCity will need more financing, particularly as federal tax credits fall to 10% in 2017.’”

Solyndra was a solar panel maker that received over half a billion dollars in U.S. Energy Department loan guarantees before it went bankrupt. It was the very first company to garner a government loan guarantee during President Barack Obama’s stimulus program.

Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, has asked Treasury Secretary Lew for a response to his SolarCity letter no later than December 18.  The entire text of the letter can be found here.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor

6 years ago

Alabama Republicans unanimous in support of ‘Keep Your Health Plan Act’

(Above: the final moments of the House vote on the “Keep Your Health Plan Act”)

On Friday afternoon, the U.S. House passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act, allowing individuals to keep their private health insurance plans even if those plans don’t meet the ObamaCare coverage requirements. Every Republican in Alabama’s congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill, which ultimately passed with bipartisan support by a 261-157 vote.

“America is over six weeks into the ObamaCare rollout and things are just a mess,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, said on the House floor prior to the vote. “Families are being forced into different and oftentimes more expensive plans… One person contacted me and said their premiums went up $200 a month. Another family contacted me and their policy premiums are going up $740 per month. The president promised from the beginning, quote, ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period,’ closed quote. But that’s turned out not to be the case and he knew it all along.”

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, called ObamaCare “one of the biggest political fiascos that I have ever seen.”

“The President made a promise to the American people,” Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, added. “And now the House of Representatives has moved to provide legislative reassurance that if Americans like their health care plans, they will truly be able to keep them.”

Support for the GOP’s bill was so overwhelming that even some Democrats — 39 to be exact — were eager to go on record voting in favor of it. But President Obama had already issued a veto threat before the vote, meaning the legislation is very unlikely to become law.

The president has proposed a “fix” that would allow only individuals whose health insurance was cancelled this year to re-enroll in their plans next year. But the GOP’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, allows insurers to continue offering the same plans that were available before ObamaCare rules went into effect. Upton’s bill is also not only limited to a single year.

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, was the only member of the Alabama delegation to vote against Upton’s bill.

Cliff Sims & Adam Thomas contributed to this report
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamYHN

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims
Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorUnited States Capitol

6 years ago

Roby shares Alabamians’ ObamaCare horror stories on floor of US House

(Above: Rep. Martha Roby shares constituent’s ObamaCare horror stories on the floor of the U.S. House)

WASHINGTON – After asking constituents to send her their ObamaCare horror stories last week, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, this morning took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and detailed some of the stories to her colleagues.

Roby began by recounting some of the promises that President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on.

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away no matter what,” Roby said, quoting the president. “Mr. Speaker, we now know this wasn’t true.”

She then offered proof from Alabama’s second congressional district.

“Allison Strickland, a wife and homeschooling mother of four writes: We are a family of six with one income, and our premiums doubled from $420 to $940 a month. We are already under great financial strain, and this is not helping relieve any of the tension. At this point, we are unsure about what we are going to do. With four growing children we know insurance is vital, but at what cost to the daily needs of our family? We are very disappointed in the Obama administration.”

“Sean Cunningham of Montgomery writes: I am a married father of two beautiful little girls. My jaw dropped when I found out my family’s premium was going from $400 a month to $722. I called Blue Cross first thing Monday morning, but I was told I needed to contact for assistance. After six hours with them on the phone trying to apply for a subsidy, I did manage to find out that there was a cheaper premium. I could choose the ‘blue-saver bronze at a rate of $545 per month, which was still an increase over the plan I liked. The other problem? My individual deductible would be $6,350. And my family deductible would be $12,700. I fail to see anything affordable about this.”

“Chris Dukovich of Montgomery was notified that my policy was not ACA compliant. Paying $390 for family coverage. Just found out comparable plan, silver, would be $704. My out-of-pocket went up, so did deductibles and co-pays. We make too much money and will not qualify for, nor do I want, a subsidy.”

“Lee Hayswhite of Montgomery: Our premium went up to $1,374 a month.”

“Angela Zacchini of Greenville: Our family of four is paying $417 a month and it is going to $765 a month.”

“Jim Harroll of Prattville: My doctor retired and told me that he was not going to deal with the changes in the Affordable Care Act. So I could not keep my doctor. Both of my adult daughters got letters indicating their policies were canceled due to not meeting all the requirements of the new law. New policies being issued will be will 33 percent more expensive. One has a specialist doctor who is now going to charge patients a costly fee upfront each year and pay for services rendered. All of these effects are negative to my family.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorYH Martha Roby

6 years ago

Mystery solved: Young supporter claims credit for ‘Boycott Byrne’ signs

(Above: Dr. Ben George takes credit for the “Boycott Byrne” signs lining the Mobile causeway)

The runoff election between Republican congressional hopefuls Bradley Byrne and Dean Young was held over a week ago with Byrne winning by a solid margin. Calls for unity among south Alabama Republicans have grown louder in the wake of Byrne’s victory — highlighted by the Alabama Patriots Tea Party endorsing Byrne — but some Young supporters remain bitter over accusations the Byrne campaign made against Young during the runoff.

Mobile CBS affiliate WKRG on Monday aired a report about “Boycott Byrne” signs appearing on the Mobile Bay Causeway, but WKRG reporter Debbie Williams was unable to verify who was behind them.

Various sources told Yellowhammer News that the signs were the work of Saraland veterinarian and political activist Dr. Ben George, an avid supporter of Mr. Young. In a phone call to Uncle Henry’s WNTM 710 AM radio show on Monday morning, George indicated he and “a small band of people” were indeed behind the signs.

“[S]ome of the people driving to work this morning in Mobile are seeing some new signs and they are saying ‘Boycott Byrne,’” George said. “Mr. Byrne told lies. He told more than one lie … This man’s lies still anger me so a small band of people has put some signs out with a new thought that say ‘Boycott Byrne.’ The man, because he is lying about that and about Democrats, appealing to Democrats and taking part in the primary and about his deal with the Chamber of Commerce. He’s lying about all that. Mr. Byrne will not use my vote to get a ride to Washington, D.C. and we’re just putting that thought out there for people and there’s a lot of complications involved with that and a lot of conversations about what to do.”

George said he wasn’t going to write in Young for the December 17 general election that has Byrne pitted against Democratic nominee Burton LeFlore. But he wouldn’t rule out voting for Leflore.

“I have never in my life voted for a Democrat,” George said. “I’m not putting it beyond me to do that here.”

George has been active in Mobile area politics throughout the years. In 2006, George was a Republican candidate for the Alabama House of Representatives. He eventually lost a runoff election to current State Rep. Chad Fincher.

He was also very engaged in the debate over whether or not to leave the Confederate flag in Mobile’s City shield. The Mobile City Council voted to remove the flag in 2001, a move that George continued to fight long after the council’s decision.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorBoycott Byrne

6 years ago

Yet another broken ObamaCare promise for Alabama families

(Above: President Obama gives a pitch to Congress to pass ObamaCare in 2009, uses Alabama as an example)

Before a joint session of Congress back in September 2009, President Barack Obama made a final push for passage of his healthcare reform bill now commonly known as ObamaCare.

That speech is better remembered for South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson’s “you lie” outburst. But immediately after that incident, Obama said his law would bring competition into the health insurance marketplace in states where the market was controlled by only a few companies. The example he held up — Alabama.

“So let me set the record straight here,” Obama said. “My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition.  That’s how the market works. Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies.  In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company.  And without competition, the price of insurance goes up and quality goes down.  And it makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly — by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest, by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage, and by jacking up rates. Insurance executives don’t do this because they’re bad people. They do it because it’s profitable.  As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill, they are rewarded for it.  All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called ‘Wall Street’s relentless profit expectations.’”

But now that ObamaCare is the law of the land, the insurance market in Alabama has hardly become more competitive. In fact, it has become less competitive.

An analysis from the Heritage Foundation’s Alyene Senger finds that 96 percent of the state’s counties will have only one insurer offering coverage in the exchange. Only three counties according to Senger have more than one insurer on the ObamaCare exchange — Jefferson, Madison and Shelby.

“By the standards of the President’s own ‘guiding principle,’ his law largely fails,” Senger wrote. “Obamacare’s overregulation of insurance is to blame for the lack of competition in the exchanges. The flawed policies contained in Obamacare neither foster competition nor increase consumer choice, and they will continue to negatively impact American consumers and increase costs.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorObama on Phone

6 years ago

Roby seeks ObamaCare horror stories from Alabamians

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery

WASHINGTON – Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, is encouraging her constituent to tell their ObamaCare horror stories to her and her staff.

In a release put out on Thursday, Roby laid out her view of the law and presented the challenge she and her colleagues face in fighting it.

“House and Senate members from both parties recognize the basic unfairness that has occurred, and legislation to allow Americans to keep their health insurance is gaining traction,” Roby said in a release. “However, even though Republicans and Democrats support fixing this problem, we are fighting an uphill battle because this is President Obama’s signature law. Right now, the White House is still resisting the idea of actually allowing Americans to keep the health insurance they like, even though that is exactly what President Obama promised for years.”

With that in mind, Roby is asking her constituents to send her office their personal problem stories so that she can use them to fight back.

“I’m asking Alabamians who have been impacted by ObamaCare to share their stories. If your rates have increased, if the plan you like got cancelled or altered, if you won’t be able to see your doctor – tell me about it,” she continued in her release. “Tell me your story so I can be your voice in Congress and push for change. The more we highlight specific examples that demonstrate the real-life consequences of ObamaCare, the more pressure we can put on the White House to accept commonsense, bi-partisan reforms.”

Roby’s office created a special online form to make it for constituents to share these stories. But her office also encourages individuals to tell their ObamaCare stories with on Facebook or Twitter, by email, or by phone to the Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-2901.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Poor