The Wire

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

    Excerpt:

    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

    Excerpt:

    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

    Excerpt:

    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.

4 weeks ago

Alabama can help stop Democrats’ radical immigration agenda

(Doug Jones for Senate, The Scott Beason Show, Tommy Tuberville/Facebook, YHN)

The Democrats’ radical immigration agenda poses an existential threat to the United States.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support amnesty, citizenship, and public benefits for illegal aliens. They want a big increase in the number of green card allotments for the relatives of naturalized citizens and current green card holders. They want to keep the so-called diversity visa lottery, which favors low-skilled foreigners, and they want more visas for non-agricultural guest-workers. On top of all that they want to increase the number of refugee admissions by fivefold.

If President Trump loses in November, the U.S. Senate will become the only check on these catastrophic ideas. Just that should be a compelling reason for Alabamians to vote for Republican Tommy Tuberville over Democrat Doug Jones.

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Some folks see “illegal” immigration as the problem and leave it at that. Many people on the conservative side see the need to control our borders and believe we should send those here illegally home, but the immigration problem is bigger than that.

Liberal pieties to the contrary notwithstanding, and conservative efforts to sound “understanding and welcoming” also not withstanding, a library of research shows that excessive legal immigration has harmful economic and social consequences. Excessive immigration pushes down wages and puts a strain on social services. Excessive immigration does not allow sufficient time or pressure to bring about assimilation into American culture.

Consider just a few examples.

Wages and job opportunities for citizens decline when large numbers of foreign workers move into an area. The toll on low-skilled workers is particularly heavy. An analysis published in American Affairs on employer labor preferences found that businesses have a strong bias for immigrants when filling low-skilled positions. Regardless of the reasons for that bias, American citizens deserves those opportunities to be employed and flourish.

Meanwhile, a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that younger, lower-skilled native workers suffer significant income loss as immigrants enter the workforce — so much so they often have to leave friends and family behind to find work.

A paper published in the journal, Labour Economics, concluded that immigrants depress employment levels and wages for native-born citizens, especially in states like Alabama where the wages are sometimes relatively low.

Not only does unrestricted legal immigration have dire economic effects for native-born citizens, it also strains the social fabric: A study by researchers at the University of Oslo found that immigration from low-income regions stifles social mobility, which in turn can leave native-born workers poor and demoralized. It is difficult to climb the ladder of success if a young person can’t get on the first step because the jobs are taken by people who just recently entered the country.

As for assimilation to their new environment, an article in the American Economic Journal notes that descendants of immigrants tend to remain in economically depressed and culturally isolated enclaves for generations, effectively outside the American mainstream. The United States has pushed the pause button on legal immigration before in order for the ingredients of the melting pot to meld together. It is not a new or harsh idea. It is the smart thing to do for the nation’s health.

There is no issue more critical to a country’s identity and security than sovereignty. Border security and rigorous immigration standards are foundational to national sovereignty. Under the Trump administration, we have finally regained some control over the unrestricted flow of immigrants, both illegal and legal, into the United States. Let’s not turn back the clock.

Tommy Tuberville has stated his support for President Trump’s immigration policies, while Doug Jones seems to care more about the interest of foreign nationals than he does about our fellow Alabamians. Doug Jones is against building a border wall. Doug Jones wants to declare the clear and ongoing emergency on the southern border over, and he wants to expand visa quotas when so many Americans are still unemployed.

The difference between these two positions is profound, and the correct choice for Alabamans is obvious. Alabamans must work to elect Tommy Tuberville and keep the Senate red. The patriots living in less conservative states and the country as a whole are depending on us.

Scott Beason is a former Alabama state senator and representative. He hosts the Scott Beason Show on FM 92.5, AM 1260, FM 95.3 and online at ScottBeason.com.

3 years ago

Payday lending isn’t necessarily predatory lending, but it can be necessary for the working poor

On my radio program last week, a regular contributor mentioned that a bill to eliminate payday lending had passed the Alabama Senate, and I was surprised.

Having dealt with the issue back when I was in office, I think payday lending gets a bum rap out in the mainstream media. These short term loans are an important part of the financial lending community and are often the only access to credit that some people have.  I also wondered what special interest group is driving an agenda for which the general public nor the so called “poor” is clamoring.

The answer is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). 

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Republican supermajorities do not — or used to not — kowtow to the SPLC.  If there is a more liberal group in the United States, this conservative is not aware of it.  Maybe the legislators have bought into the SPLC propaganda that they are protecting the poor, but by eliminating the only means for credit the poor have? By eliminating the jobs of the 5,000 people in the state who work in the industry?

That doesn’t make sense.

Helping the poor is a noble cause, in the generic sense of the words, but how does eliminating payday loans actually help the poor? How does making it more difficult for someone with limited means and bad credit to get the money they need to make it to the next paycheck help the poor?

This question is the one that made it difficult for me to legislatively pursue the total destruction of the payday lending industry.

If a poor person needs $100 dollars on Wednesday to make it to Friday, where can he get it?  The answer is nowhere … if there is no such thing as short term lending.

These loans are simply too risky and too small for banks or credit unions to handle. If payday loans were workable at a lower interest rate, then someone would be doing it right now.

You don’t have to change the law to do that. Just let capitalism work. I suggest that those who believe they can run a better business model for short term lending get out in the market and do so.  Show us how to help the poor the right way.

What happened to free market Republicans in the Alabama legislature?

There used to be enough to make up an entire caucus. Does the term “free market” mean nothing when the Southern Poverty Law Center says jump?

In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama tried to crush the payday loan industry, and now Republicans gleefully further Obama’s agenda in Alabama. Regulating a whole sector of the financial services industry out of existence is not the free market.

Another person on the radio show described working at his job and loaning his buddies $20 on Wednesday to help them make it to Friday. On payday they gave him back $25. He called it 20 for 25, and his friends appreciated being able to buy gas and food for those couple of days.  20 for 25 seems reasonable and harmless, but the cost to the borrower is more than is charged in Alabama’s payday lending industry. I know, it’s weird — 20 for 25 did not seem predatory at all.

The working poor will continue to need small cash loans from time to time. That will not change, but we cannot help people by not allowing them to help themselves.

All of our freedoms come with the risk of excess and of getting into trouble. Payday lending is simply another market based, regulated, and lawful financial service that replaced the mob supported loan sharks of days gone by.

My friend, Senator Tom Whatley, who was apparently one of the few willing to talk about the free market on the Senate floor made a great point: the people who cannot get short term loans in Alabama will now get them online, or from people who want more than an interest rate. They want an arm or a leg. Well said, Mr. Whatley.

To help the poor, the legislature should stop helping.

Prior legislation has straightened up the industry, and lawmakers should leave well enough alone. Let the payday lending legislation die a quiet death. It is not needed, and it hurts regular folks who are thankful that they have the option of a short term loan when they need one to make ends meet.

(Image: Alison B./Flickr)

Scott Beason is a former state senator and now hosts a talk show on WYDE 101.1 FM in Birmingham and Huntsville.

4 years ago

Obama gone, mandates may stay (opinion)

ObamaCare premiums and deductibles continue to rise in Alabama.

It is always fascinating to see which bills in the Alabama Legislature become this year’s “for the children” bills. (Side note: I always wonder why so many “for the children” bills ensure that money keeps flowing to adults.)

One of this years “for the children” bills is House Bill 284, commonly known as the autism bill. AL.com says HB284 is “a bill calling for mandated health insurance coverage for behavioral therapy for eligible children with autism.” Any legislator daring to question this legislation or the specific requirements of the bill is considered a jerk at best and a heartless, hater of challenged children at worst. This is exactly why HB284 passed the House of Representatives with an almost unanimous vote. Legislators with questions and concerns knew that people back home would not understand why anyone would not help children, and the media was not going to present the other side. Even legislators opposed to the legislation ended up voting for it.

I understand what happens on this type of legislation. If the bill ever makes it to the floor of the House or Senate for a final vote, legislators are told “you have to vote for it.” The name of the bill, and the emotions driving the bill, are so strong that the details no longer matter. That is why we need to discuss the legislation itself.

According to an AL.com article written by Trisha Cain: “About 50,000 families in Alabama are affected by autism, a developmental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate and interact.” HB 284 would require therapy/classes to be paid for by insurance companies. The AL.com article continues: “The gold standard for autism therapy is applied behavioral analysis or ABA, and there has been a dramatic increase in its use over the past decade, according to Autism Speaks, a national advocacy organization working to improve the lives of those with autism. In people with autism, ABA therapy fosters basic life skills like reading and interacting appropriately with others.” This therapy is basically classes or training sessions for these life skills.

When our feelings are put aside, HB284 is simply a mandate on insurance coverage exactly like the ones found in Obamacare. Why would Alabama pass insurance mandates at the same time that President Trump is trying to repeal such mandates? I thought Republican legislators were against Obamacare mandates. Mandated coverage forces costs to go up and premiums rise. That is a fact. There is no way around it. Supporters of the legislation simply say that the costs will not go up much. Many Alabamians are already paying more than they can afford so that their family can have insurance. Being flippant about taking a few more dollars a year from working families should not happen in the legislature.

The second big problem with the legislation is that there is no limit on the accumulated cost of the coverage or the age of those receiving the benefit. Usually “for the children” diminishes when it is no longer for children, but not in HB284. The benefits go on through life regardless of the total cost. AL.com in the same article mentioned earlier reports that one of the supporters of the legislation administers these classes/therapy sessions, and she currently charges as much as $75 per hour. What will the cost be when the state law mandates that she be paid? HB284 does not say. If it has to be paid regardless of the cost, cost will inevitably go up.

I know. Don’t ask questions. It’s for the children.

The third, but by no means the last, problem with this legislation is that it is a hidden tax. When government uses its power take money out of your pocket it is a tax. It does not matter what they call it. This legislation with all of its good and noble intentions on the hard working families of Alabama who are trying to pay their own way. Their insurance rates will just go up, and they will never know why. They may even blame it on Obamacare. They will never think their Republican representative did it to them. The legislator can go home and claim to oppose taxes, but he cannot claim that he did not make insurance more expensive.

I am not saying that the Alabama Legislature is wrong to want to help families dealing with the expenses of Autism therapy. Maybe the legislature will decide that it is something that all Alabamians must pitch in to provide. However, I am saying that HB284 is not the right way to do it. Hopefully the Senate will get this one right.


Scott Beason can be heard on Superstation 101.1 WYDE Monday – Friday, 9am to 11am.

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4 years ago

Local Alabama radio show host weighs in on small short term loans (opinion)

Some Republican lawmakers in Montgomery are locking arms with the Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”), one of the most liberal and militantly anti-traditional values groups in the world, to do what is “right and just” in the eyes of the SPLC.  The SPLC is the same liberal group that opposed former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be U.S. Attorney General because of what they claimed were his “extensive ties to both anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim extremist groups.” On the SPLC website today is the following quote:

    “The GOP has become America’s white-nationalist party, as racists once confined to fringes take charge.”

The simple fact that the SPLC is so out of the mainstream on so many issues should be enough for Republicans to be wary of any SPLC initiative, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in Montgomery this session.

The SPLC and their allies in the Alabama legislature have proposed legislation to “fix” a sector of Alabama’s financial services economy dealing with small loans, a part of which is commonly known as the check cashing industry.  Yes, the same check cashing industry that we have all been led to think poorly of, and, frankly, we don’t know why.  We have heard how the industry preys on the poor, and that the interest rates are so high that bondage ensues and there is no getting out. 

I felt the same way a few years back, and even sponsored legislation concerning the issue. My uninformed “feelings” led me to want to “do the right thing” even though it seemed to violate my core belief in limited government. I began to look at the facts regarding the issue and, as with any issue, I weighed both sides of the argument. Rational thought and observation began to weigh more heavily than the “do good” feelings, and I came to the conclusion that the industry was actually providing a needed service to thousands of Alabamians. Since then, additional safeguards have been put into place and they’ve been successful. It’s easy for legislators to fall into the “do-gooder” trap and unknowingly pave certain roads with good intentions.  This column is a warning not a tongue lashing. It’s a reminder for Republicans to stick to their core values of free-markets and personal responsibility – not the “nanny-state” policies advanced by Barack Obama and his liberal cohorts.

Three quick thoughts/questions that changed my view on small short term loans or check cashing:

    1. If you had no family to help and no savings, and the water pump went out on your car, how would you get the money to fix it before you got paid on Friday?  Remember: You cannot get to work without a car.

    2. What is the annual “interest rate” on that two dollar check at the convenience store that bounced (sorry, was “returned”) because your big checks went through first and you didn’t watch closely enough? Or what is the interest rate on the late payment on any other bill?

    3. If check cashing is a $700 million a year business and people are being abused, shouldn’t or wouldn’t you and I, or someone, start a business and offer better deals on interest and fees and make a fortune at the same time?

Three quick answers:

    1. There really aren’t many other places for people to go.  Banks don’t do walk in and walk out small loans for people with no credit. If you are poor and have no help, you are pretty much out of luck. The moral high ground cannot be leaving people without a way to help themselves.

    2. There are always fees on financial transactions.  Many times it is very high like $30 for that $2 check. What is that percentage? 1500% and you still owe the $2.  Everything costs money to borrow or buy.  It is unavoidable.

    3. The free market will fill that void IF it is doable or feasible.  The fees in the industry represent reality, but the industry serves a need. Without a legal industry, maybe we can return to the good ol’ days of loan sharks and “back alley lending”.  The idea has been floated to some of the activists to “do good” and step into that market and compete, but so far no one has decided it is worth their time or money.

The SPLC has tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars that were donated to them to defend the poor. They should get in the game and put their money where their mouth is and defend the poor by providing accessible small loans at a rate that the Southern Poverty Law Center thinks is just and fair. That would be a private sector entity fixing a problem it believes exists instead of the government doing their bidding for them.

Nationally, Donald Trump is trying to roll back financial services regulations and some Alabama Republicans are trying to add new and unnecessary ones that will actually make life harder for Alabama’s working poor.  Alabama Republicans should stick with limited government, personal responsibility, and the free market, and avoid legislation that inadvertently hurts the poor on behalf of the SPLC. 

Seems like a win-win to me.


Scott Beason can be heard on Superstation 101.1 WYDE Monday – Friday, 9am to 11am.

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6 years ago

Don’t fall for Bentley’s tax-somebody-else scheme (opinion)

(YHN/401calculator.com)

YH Alabama Tax

The so-called mainstream media in Alabama is almost over its euphoria sparked by the governor’s “bold” tax hike proposals and the debate, in their minds, has moved on to exactly which taxes should be raised. Most Alabamians, meanwhile, are correctly discussing whether tax increases are necessary at all. But for the sake of argument, let’s discuss which taxes to raise.

First, we need to quickly get ourselves into the right mindset.

Close your eyes and repeat after me: Taxes are good. Taxes are good. Taxes are good.

Now let’s gather a group of citizens who support raising taxes and get our ideas from those good and caring people. (Just in case you haven’t realized it: people who support tax increases are automatically good and caring.)

The girl with no plans of buying a car is for raising sales tax on new automobiles. She says she can’t afford a new car anyway.

The college kids who don’t own a home yet and work at the frosty mug in the afternoons are for raising property taxes on the “rich” lady who owns the store and works there eighty hours a week… presumably for her health.

The guy who owns the hardware store is for raising taxes on the banks.

The woman at the bank is for raising taxes on the insurance companies.

The insurance man is for raising it on the the big retail stores.

The folks from the senior center are for raising income taxes, as long as their retirement income is exempt.

The guy living in government housing says, “Let’s get rid of that federal mortgage deduction thingy. That would raise a ton of money, and I don’t have a mortgage anyway.”

Oh, and I suggest a tax hike for the big newspapers because… well let’s just say I think it would be good for them.

Everyone seems to be in support of raising the taxes they don’t pay, which is why cigarette taxes may actually have a chance of passing this legislative session. Raising this “sin” tax is easier on politicians because there are fewer smokers now than there used to be. There will be less blow back, and we can all just pretend we support it for health reasons. (Forcing others to be healthy also makes you good and caring.) If you don’t believe raising cigarette or tobacco taxes is easier because fewer people partake, ask yourself, where is the proposal to raise taxes on alcohol statewide?

Let’s be honest, many people are tolerant of raising cigarette taxes because they don’t smoke, and will not pay the taxes at all. How is that any different than the guy in government housing who supports doing away with homeowners’ mortgage deductions?

We should not be so hasty about raising the taxes we don’t pay. After all, avoiding tax increases on ourselves by supporting taxes on others doesn’t sound quite so virtuous when we say it slowly, does it? Alabama taxpayers should circle the wagons and fire outward at the tax-raisers instead of inward on our fellow conservatives for a change.

Let’s not fall for the tax-somebody-else scheme.


Scott Beason is a former Republican member of the Alabama Senate and is currently Senior Policy Adviser at the Alabama Free Market Alliance.

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6 years ago

Beason: Enviro-militants targeting coal again, want Alabama left in the dark (opinion)

Environmental Protesters

Last week a new “study” was released by three left-wing environmental groups: Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and the Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP), who are once again attacking coal-fired power plants and coal jobs in Alabama.

These three groups released their 25-page propaganda piece attacking the first conservative leaning Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) in decades for working to protect affordable electricity in Alabama and the jobs associated with producing that energy. The groups call for the PSC to explain why coal is a viable energy source for the long term. This report, paid for by groups who have ties to President Obama and his radical environmental activist friends in DC and San Francisco, has the audacity to suggest that while coal provides Alabamians with “cheaper energy,” we should shut the coal-fired plants down due to the cost of maintaining them under the Obama EPA mandates.

So, lets get this straight, Alabama should shut down its coal-fired plants and put 15,000 men and women out of work because Obama and his band of enviro-militants have pushed costly mandates down to the states? They have used the power of the federal government to hurt the people of Alabama economically, and then claim that since they have made coal-produced electricity more expensive, we should give it up. Any Alabamian, conservative or liberal, should find this tactic offensive and shameful.


RELATED: War on Coal hits home, Alabama Power forced to shut down coal units


We have all worked together to build a better economy and produce jobs in this state so that more of our citizens have the opportunity to succeed. Affordable energy is a big part of the progress we have made, and now that things are improving these folks come in and begin meddling in our affairs. I have had about all I can stand of folks from other states doing all they can to force us to do what they think is best for us. If they want to make it impossible for a working family to get ahead in life because of increasing regulations and government involvement in their lives, let them do that to their own people in their own states. When I was a legislator the same type of people opposed our efforts to protect your Second Amendment rights. It was the same type of folks who opposed our efforts to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Conservatives in the legislature joined me and together we said, “YES” to Alabama values, and we said, “NO” to the out-of-state liberal efforts that are purposely designed to destroy Alabama’s burgeoning prosperity.

It is amusing that this so-called “study” should be titled “left in the dark” because that’s exactly what these groups want to do to Alabama. They want to shut down our ability to use our natural resources and produce energy that families can afford. They want to “leave Alabama in the dark” while they move on like locusts looking for the next field to destroy.

Are these out-of-state groups meddling in Alabama because they care so much about you and your family, or are they here because of an agenda that could not care less what happens to you? Who are SELC, SACE and GASP, anyway?

In 2013, they received a collective $2.5M from one San Francisco based environmental group with the directive to use those dollars to “accelerate the retirement of coal fire plants in the southeast (including Alabama).” These are groups that are led by some of the most liberal and extreme factions of the national Democrat Party movement. The people who are helping Obama “fundamentally transform” America.

Recently, I read the article in Forbes magazine discussing a report entitled “How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.” This report specifically names the San Francisco group who directed the $2.5M against Alabama as one of those groups directly tied to Obama and the radical left.

What we need is more open and honest discussion of the environmental issues and the economic damage being done by Obama’s EPA. The people of Alabama have a right to make an informed decision and plot their own course, without outside coercion. Maybe a little more of our “cheaper” energy should be used to shine a bright light on the real agenda of groups like the SELC, SACE, and GASP.


Scott Beason is Senior Policy Advisor for the Alabama Free Market Alliance.

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