6 months ago

BCA’s Katie Boyd Britt spearheading ‘Keep Alabama Open’ campaign as other states shut down

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) on Tuesday launched the grassroots movement to “Keep Alabama Open.”

The new campaign, which was announced in a press release, comes in opposition to recent public calls for a nationwide mandatory shutdown, which would come from the federal government if instituted.

In the organization’s release, BCA outlined that it fully supports the State of Alabama’s ability and right to manage its own affairs when it comes to the public health and wellbeing of our people.

The release noted that throughout the pandemic, Alabama business owners and workers have worked diligently to follow State Health Orders and best practices when it comes to keeping customers and themselves safe, while continuing to earn a living and support their families.

“Nothing is more important to BCA than the safety of hardworking families across Alabama,” stated Katie Boyd Britt, BCA president and CEO.

“As this year has already shown, Alabamians are at their best when overcoming adversity,” she continued. “COVID-19 has stolen lives and destroyed livelihoods across our state, and these next few months will require all of us working together to win this fight. Now is not the time to mandate a nationwide, one-size-fits-all lockdown; instead, we must each renew our personal commitment to combatting this invisible enemy in order to safely and responsibly Keep Alabama Open. BCA commends Governor Ivey and her administration for continuing to exercise thoughtful leadership in this unprecedented time.”

Governor Kay Ivey’s administration has proven that the State of Alabama is perfectly capable and willing to make the tough decisions needed to save lives and livelihoods, utilizing Alabama solutions tailored specifically for our unique situation and needs, BCA’s release underscored.

Through Keep Alabama Open, BCA aims to unite hardworking Alabamians in the earnest pursuit of protecting jobs and safeguarding self-governance.

The message is simple: Alabama is best positioned to make decisions for Alabama.

BCA encourages Alabamians to follow all health guidelines and orders. The organization explained that COVID-19 remains a serious health threat to our citizens and communities and that personal responsibility and buy-in is needed to Keep Alabama Open. The nascent campaign spearheaded by BCA strives to highlight our shared commitment to the rest of the country. Alabama cannot afford to shut down, and, working together, we can save lives and jobs at the same time, BCA wrote.

One underreported facet of the pandemic highlighted by BCA is that many Alabamians depend upon their jobs for their health insurance and the means to support their families: to feed them, pay for medical treatment and medicines, and provide shelter. Ultimately, a shutdown could not only put Alabamians in severe financial distress, but it could also produce adverse health outcomes, even deaths. This threat is particularly acute to small businesses in the Yellowhammer State, BCA’s release outlined.

Britt also emphasized that BCA is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow pro-jobs advocates at the outset of this campaign, including the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, and Alabama Retail Association.

Jeremy Arthur, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, said, “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, businesses have found ways to innovate, allowing them to safely and responsibly keep their doors open for business. The Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama is excited to join BCA in the effort to ‘Keep Alabama Open,’ ensuring those businesses and families can continue to prosper in the great state of Alabama.”

NFIB Alabama State Director Rosemary Elebash commented, “NFIB is pleased to join the ‘Keep Alabama Open’ campaign to encourage Governor Ivey and elected officials to let businesses continue to operate as long as they continue to follow public health guidelines to protect their customers and their employees. Small businesses are determined to get through this, but they can’t keep the doors open without customers. Small businesses account for 99.4 percent of all businesses in the state and employ 47.5 percent of Alabama’s private-sector workforce. When we help small businesses, we help everyone.”

Mindy Hanan, president and CEO of the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, stated, “Restaurants and hotels have historically operated under highly regulated safety guidelines and now have taken new steps to meet additional sanitation and social distancing guidelines required by state officials.”

“As Alabama’s second largest employer it is important to us to Keep Alabama Open and its citizens employed. The National Restaurant Association estimates over 45,000 restaurants had closed due to the virus as of September. Our industry simply will not survive another shutdown,” she added.

Rick Brown, president of the Alabama Retail Association, also emphasized the critical nature of this campaign.

“Alabama retailers have been devastated during the ongoing pandemic, and a shutdown would wipe out countless local, community-oriented retailers throughout our state who are working day in, day out to keep their doors open as it is,” he advised. “Our members are proud to be operating as safely and responsibly as possible to support their employees, customers, families and communities. With the Christmas season quickly approaching, now is the time to Keep Alabama Open and shop local – not lockdown.”

Members of the public wanting to Keep Alabama Open are encouraged to join the movement on social media, as well as with new window signs and bumper stickers.

Learn more on the campaign website here.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after states such as California, Washington, Nevada, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont, as well as cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia, have chosen to impose new shutdowns or partial shutdowns on their jurisdictions.

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

2 hours ago

Alabama is open for business, but Biden administration policies are keeping jobs unfilled

Alabama is currently in position to spring forward after the COVID-19 pandemic, however actions taken by the federal government are presenting new hurdles to overcome on the path to full recovery.

The Yellowhammer State currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast and one of the lowest in the entire country; Alabama businesses are actively looking to hire, with good jobs available across a wide array of sectors.

While certain industries always have to contend with skills gaps and related workforce considerations that can leave vacancies unfilled longer than is ideal, service sectors are especially feeling the squeeze right now due to not being able to fill existing job openings.

470

The problem has been well documented in media reports, by elected officials and by stakeholders; you can also drive around just about any town in Alabama and see the posted signs at restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality arena. These businesses, many of them locally owned and/or operated, simply cannot find enough people willing to work to operate their establishments in a normal fashion. Some businesses are having to limit hours of operations due to staffing shortages, as well as service potentially suffering during open hours due to overburdened shifts. Either way, business owners, employees and customers are losing out.

Why?

Many have pointed to the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits that President Joe Biden’s administration is paying Americans to stay at home instead of working. This is persisting even with low numbers of COVID cases and hospitalizations in states like Alabama, as well as vaccines being available to all adults.

If Friday’s dismal nationwide jobs reports is any indication, the Biden administration has effectively disincentivized employment. This is not only leading to labor shortages, but also hurting the recovery of the American economy — especially some of the very sectors that were most negatively affected by the pandemic.

“The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” stated U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley. “We need a comprehensive approach to dealing with our workforce issues and the very real threat unfilled positions poses to our economic recovery from the pandemic. One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working.”

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) agrees with the call to end the $300 supplemental unemployment benefits.

“This is a scary time for our country, as the Biden administration and Washington Democrats incentivize people to stay home and collect a government check over seeking good paying jobs,” said Rogers. “Employers in the Third District have job openings and simply can’t find people willing to fill them.”

“I know folks across East Alabama take pride in a hard day’s work and would rather earn a living than sit back and collect a free check,” he added. “What liberal Democrats are seeking to do is increase government dependence through government handouts — this is how socialism starts and it’s not who we are as a country.”

To battle the ongoing labor challenges, Alabama employers are urged to report when they have extended offers of employment to unemployed individuals who refuse work. All Alabamians are also encouraged to report potential cases of unemployment fraud.

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

3 hours ago

Birmingham golfer prepares to represent Team USA

His story isn’t about losing his leg in a motorcycle accident more than a decade ago. It’s about so much more.

Birmingham resident Chris Osborne is also a champion golfer, poised to represent the United States as they take on Team Europe in one of disability golf’s premier match play events, The Cairns Cup, taking place May 2022 in London.

“We’re really excited about the Cairns Cup,” Osborne said. “Golf is one sport that really equalizes – a lot of people grew up playing it, I started at about 12 years old. I play with my daughter, my son and my wife. It’s just one of those things where you can get out there and feel some sense of normalcy.”

That sense of normalcy was felt by Osborne as he hit the greens at Greystone Golf & Country Club for the post-COVID return of the Regions Tradition Celebrity Pro-Am. He calls it a full circle opportunity.

220

“I covered this event as a news broadcaster, first as a camera guy, then I worked my way up through the ranks and worked it as a reporter, and then as a spectator when I was not in the media,” Osborne explained. “Now, to play in it, it just culminates all the years that I have been in Birmingham, so it is very special.”

Osborne notes the most special part of it all, is that it benefits Children’s of Alabama and other local non-profit organizations.

“Knowing the charities that this benefits, it is just incredible the work that they do. And for Regions to be able to put this on and make sure those sacred entities in our community are supported, is great,” Osborne said. “Being in the health industry with the health department, we work very closely with Children’s on a number of different projects and we know the work they do and certainly they deserve the utmost support.”

As the day came to an end – and Osborne looked ahead to London – he offered words of inspiration for others.

“Anybody who is disabled that is looking for an outlet – it may not be golf – but I always encourage people to find something. What is your something? And once you find that something, enjoy that something.”

(Courtesy of Regions Bank)

4 hours ago

Attorney General’s Office moves to impeach Clarke County sheriff

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that he has begun proceedings for the impeachment of Clarke County Sheriff William Ray Norris.

This comes after the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division on April 27 filed an Information of Impeachment and Prayer for Ouster in the Alabama Supreme Court pursuant to state code. It should be noted that the information is merely an accusation, and Norris is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty — at which time he would be removed from office.

Norris was reportedly served notice of the impeachment filing on Friday.

179

According to a press release, the Attorney General’s Office began investigating this matter in early 2020, resulting in the decision to seek Norris’ removal from office. The sheriff was charged with four instances of corruption in office and eleven instances of the commission of crimes involving moral turpitude. However, some of the specific allegations are alternate forms of charging the same conduct.

Norris was first elected in 2010 and has twice since been reelected. He will be up for reelection again next year. Norris has served as second vice president on the Alabama Sheriffs Association board.

The charges against Norris can be viewed here.

Under the Alabama Constitution, the Supreme Court will consider the charges against Norris. By statute, both the State and Norris may present evidence and compel witnesses to testify before the Court at trial. The Court has ordered Norris to appear before the Court and answer the charges at 2:00 p.m. on June 2.

Any possible criminal proceedings must be brought separately.

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

4 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Moore announces support for State Rep. Sorrell’s constitutional carry bill

Friday, U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) announced he was following U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) lead and supporting the constitutional carry bill sponsored by State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals).

The legislation, HB405, would allow citizens of Alabama to carry a concealed pistol on their person without a permit.

Moore also indicated his support for the State Senate version of the legislation, SB5, carried by State Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa).

236

In a statement provided to Yellowhammer News, Moore said, “More than a dozen other states have passed similar ‘constitutional carry” laws. The constitution is clear, our right to keep and bear arms ‘shall not be infringed.’ We shouldn’t need a permit to exercise our rights. The 2nd amendment IS our permit. I completely support Rep. Sorrell’s efforts to protect the gun rights of Alabamians. I’m pleased this bill has passed in committee and hope momentum for this bill and the similar Senate bill (SB5) brought by Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) will continue to grow.”

He added, “I believe it will. People are realizing that now, more than ever, we need state legislatures to step up and fight against gun grabs by the Democrats. From Biden’s executive orders to disastrous legislation being shoved down our throats, our Second Amendment rights are in jeopardy. They are coming after our guns, and the states are our last line of defense to protect this right that ensures we can protect all others. We need to send a clear message to the gun-grabbing left in the DC swamp—Alabama believes in the sacred right to keep and bear arms, and we will protect it.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

8 hours ago

Gambling didn’t happen this session — Let’s just enforce the law

Gambling failed to get passed again.

No lottery… no casinos… no sports betting. No gambling in Alaba… wait a minute.

There is still gambling in Alabama, and the current attorney general believes they are operating illegally.

The legislation that was recently attempted in the Alabama State House even lays it out:

389

Most forms of gambling have long been prohibited in Alabama, but the state has faced challenges in enforcing the law. The result is that gambling occurs in Alabama but it is not effectively regulated or taxed.

We can debate whether individual gambling operators are legal or not, and we can discuss local constitutional amendments and types of “bingo.”

I am not a lawyer, but Attorney General Steve Marshall is a lawyer, and he has made it clear that he believes the current gambling operators are operating outside of the law.

OK, so let’s shut them down.

Why?

Because these current operators are a roadblock to legal gambling in the state.

These “bingo” facilities do not want a lottery in the state unless they can get constitutional legitimacy. This should tell you a bit about their legality.

If they are allowed to do table games, they will allow a lottery to proceed. These are the facts.

But even if they are granted this legitimacy and new revenue sources, they still don’t want anyone else coming in and competing with them.

See: Random Donald Trump, Jr.’s accurate tweet

These quasi-legal facilities are supported locally, and questions of their legitimacy remain.

Yes, these gambling entities create jobs, pay taxes, support politicians and their communities; they are players in their communities and this state.

But, the AG thinks they are illegal. And the Supreme Court of Alabama has ruled electronic bingo is illegal in the state.

Let’s figure it out once and for all — if they are illegal, shut them down.

If they did not exist, the lottery as a standalone could pass. This is supported by the people.

If they did not exist, casinos and sports betting in a free (or free-er market) could pass. This is supported by the people.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians? They aren’t going anywhere.

This is the reality in which we live. We have to deal with the issues at hand and here we are again without a gambling bill because some people benefit by operating, by the opinion of the state’s top prosecutor, outside of the law.

Figure out where we stand.

Fight the legal battles.

Shut them down.

A real attempt to do so might motivate some more reasonable compromises that would lead to a bill that can pass.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.