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2 weeks ago

Byrne advocates for full Alabama red snapper season

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) Monday sent a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) urging support for a full 2019 red snapper season in Alabama.

In a statement, Byrne explained, “Alabama showed last year that we can successfully manage our own recreational Red Snapper season, and I hope NOAA will soon approve the 2019 season to ensure our fishermen are given an adequate opportunity to fish for Red Snapper.”

“As I have said repeatedly, this issue is about more than just fishing,” he said. “A full Red Snapper season helps boost our coastal economies due to everything from fuel sales to hotel and condo rentals. We must continue pushing for greater state control over our fisheries, and approving Alabama’s 2019 Red Snapper season would be a major step in the right direction.”

Last year, NOAA Fisheries approved an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) for Alabama and other Gulf Coast states to allow them each to set their own red snapper seasons within federal catch limits. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) spearheaded this important effort to establish the state-led pilot program for red snapper in the 2017 appropriations process.

Congressman Byrne’s full letter as follows:

Mr. Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator
NOAA Fisheries
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Dr. Roy Crabtree, Regional Administrator
NOAA Fisheries
Southeast Regional Office
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Dear Mr. Oliver and Dr. Crabtree:

I was pleased to see the draft rule to increase the Red Snapper Annual Catch Limit (ACL) and Annual Catch Targets issued by NOAA late last year. Your efforts continue to show exactly what those of us on the Gulf Coast have known for years: the health of the Red Snapper fishery is incredibly strong. With that, I write today in support of Alabama’s 2019 Red Snapper season. As you are well aware, fishermen along the Gulf Coast have faced increasingly short fishing seasons for Red Snapper.

As with the Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) you approved in 2018 that also covers this upcoming 2019 season, I encourage you to approve Alabama’s 2019 EFP Updated Terms and Conditions which will allow for the monitoring of in-season daily Red Snapper landings to maximize season length and benefit anglers, while ensuring harvests stay within set limits. I have always been an advocate for states using innovative methods to manage local fisheries and encourage you to grant Alabama’s application. Approving the 2019 terms and conditions would be consistent with congressional intent, as authored by Senator Richard Shelby in the Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018 Appropriations bills, directing the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement a state-led pilot program to allow states to take the lead in managing Red Snapper.

I enjoy working with you and am grateful for the Department’s help with the 2017 and 2018 Red Snapper seasons. Given the Red Snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico is healthy and continues to grow, I hope you will approve the Alabama 2019 EFP Updated Terms and Conditions with the increased ACL to allow fishermen access to the fishery. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Bradley Byrne
Member of Congress

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Byrne to make ‘special announcement’ Wednesday

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) is set to officially announce his candidacy for the United States Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL).

Byrne and his family are welcoming friends, supporters and interested members of the public to attend a “special announcement” 5:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Wintzell’s Oyster House in downtown Mobile.

The primary election will be held just over 12 months from now — March 3, 2020.

State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is strongly considering entering the race. He and Byrne would start at the head of the pack of potential Republican contenders.

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Additionally, State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R-AL) has launched an informal exploratory campaign for the Senate seat, and Col. Lee Busby, a former military aide to General John Kelly, is weighing a Republican candidacy.

Busby, who has conducted 2020 primary polling, mounted a 2017 write-in campaign during Jones’ general election fight with Republican nominee Roy Moore.

The Alabama Republican Party will hold its annual winter meeting Saturday. Ongoing preparations to defeat Jones will be the center of focus for the attendees.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Powerful Alabama-based legislative tracking platform, Dragonfly, offers digital workspaces for governmental affairs staffers in the Yellowhammer State

With the 2019 Alabama legislative session set to begin on March 5th you can be sure governmental affairs staffers and consultants across the state are rushing to prepare for a busy season. Fortunately for these politicos, Dragonfly, an innovative and affordable legislative tracking platform, is prepared up to make life in the state house a breeze.

Dragonfly is the digital component of BillStatus, the legislative tracking service established in Alabama in the mid-’90s. Initially known as the Alabama Legislative Reading and Research Service, the software was created as a response to the need for organized information coming from the Alabama Legislature.

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With Dragonfly you can quickly and easily produce detailed custom reports and critical legislative updates for your stakeholders. Whether you need a play-by-play of the action as it unfolds on the floor or a 10,000-foot view of politics in Montgomery, this platform will keep you informed with constant alerts and notifications.

According to Dragonfly owner Stephen Morris, the platform is best described as a “one-stop shop” for all legislative tracking and research needs.

Clients can immediately access all the information needed from the platform’s dashboard. In addition to receiving information, Dragonfly allows clients to save time and energy by enabling them to email custom reports to stakeholders directly from the platform.

Say goodbye to missing important votes, hearings and committee meetings with the powerful digital platform available right at your fingertips. All the information you need can be accessed on a mobile device, freeing you to travel freely without the extra weight of a laptop.

For anyone working in a group, Dragonfly’s Team Workspace feature takes the stress out of coordinating with your team. Bill amendments and daily to-dos can be seamlessly shared with your colleagues.

“No matter what the person’s role, every tool is there – track bills, create and email reports and bills, notifications, it’s all there,” Morris said.

With 25 years’ experience in Alabama legislative tracking as BillStatus, Dragonfly’s staff knows exactly what you need, when you need it. Whether it’s a special-order calendar, a bill’s status, committee schedules, or automatic reporting, Dragonfly will keep you up-to-date, all in one powerful platform.

Find out how Dragonfly can simplify your legislative life and take the platform for a test drive at www.billstatus.com/tracking.

Have questions? Email (trackbills@billstatus.com) Dragonfly or call and speak to a member of their staff at 844-50-TRACK.

13 hours ago

Elected Alabama officials condemn ‘Democrat-Reporter’ KKK editorial

Prominent Alabama Republicans Tuesday unequivocally denounced the Democrat-Reporter’s recent editorial advocating for the return of the Ku Klux Klan.

The editorial was written by the longtime publisher and editor of the newspaper, Goodloe Sutton, who then doubled down Monday by telling The Montgomery Advertiser the KKK “didn’t kill but a few people.”

Sutton added, “The Klan wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”

He also called for lynchings as his preferred method to “clean out D.C.”

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “There is no place for that kind of rhetoric in today’s society. Alabama has thankfully moved beyond that dark chapter in our past.”

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“Comments like this do not reflect the views of our good people even though an isolated comment, such as this, is a reminder that there is still more work to be done,” she added.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) called Sutton’s words “disturbing, disgusting, and entirely unacceptable.”

“The rhetoric displayed by the Democrat-Reporter is disturbing, disgusting, and entirely unacceptable,” the senator emphasized. “I urge the newspaper to issue an apology and the publisher to resign from his duties. We cannot tolerate this sort of repulsive speech, particularly from our fourth estate.”

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) remarked, “This shouldn’t be complicated: there is no place for bigotry, racism, and hatred like this. Not in Alabama, and not anywhere in the United States. Bottom line.”

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-3) said, “This type of language is abhorrent and has no place in America today. Anyone that peddles such hate should not be in a position of influence.”

“I don’t know Mr. Sutton, and I’ve never read the Democrat-Reporter, but I do know that his views do not represent the beliefs most Alabamians hold today toward the Ku Klux Klan,” Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) commented.

State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) advised he was “disgusted” by Sutton’s words.

“There is no place for rhetoric of this type, I am disgusted and find Mr. Sutton’s words deeply disturbing,” he said. “I would ask that the Democrat-Reporter as well as Mr. Sutton issue an apology and call on Mr. Sutton to step down from his role immediately.”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan stated, “This editorial is repulsive. Anyone that has written or published such horrific diatribes, opinions or stories should be relieved of their duties. Shame on the individuals that believe this hateful and ignorant rhetoric is acceptable.”

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7) have also condemned Sutton’s editorial and related comments to The Montgomery Advertiser. They both called for his resignation from his family newspaper.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Scholarship now available for Alabama community college students pursuing iron, steel manufacturing careers

Alabamians who want to pursue a high-paying career in iron or steel manufacturing have an exciting new opportunity to earn an industry-sponsored scholarship to one of the state’s many community colleges.

The Alabama Iron & Steel Council (AISC) announced Tuesday that it has launched a new scholarship initiative that will award two community college students a $2,000 scholarship each to begin classes in the summer or fall 2019 semesters.

Maury D. Gaston, chairman of the AISC and manager of marketing services at AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, said the scholarship initiative is a strong foundation for students seeking to work in the resurgent iron and steel manufacturing sector.

“Creating opportunities for young people to start a rewarding career in Alabama’s iron and steel manufacturing sector is the reason we decided to create this scholarship,” he said. “We hope it will be a source of inspiration to Alabama students, and will create an avenue for them to continue their education and earn a very meaningful living.”

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According to the AISC, the average wage earned at its core member facilities is more than $95,000 per year, and career iron and steel manufacturing employees in the Yellowhammer State routinely earn more than $100,000 annually.

New scholarships will be awarded in subsequent years, and existing scholarships will be eligible for renewal until the student’s coursework is complete.

Scholarship applicants, even if not selected, may have rewarding opportunities to meet and interview with AISC member company representatives for co-ops, internships, apprenticeships or full-time employment.

Students who apply for the scholarship must enroll at an Alabama community college and should select a mechanical or electrical industrial maintenance program, or similar course of study, that pertains to iron or steel production.

Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, echoed Gaston’s support for programs that provide avenues for Alabama’s residents to train in high-quality careers.

“We believe that community colleges have the best chance and the best vehicle to change the state. Our workforce partners, such as AISC, work closely with us to prepare generations for an excellent class of workers who build strong careers that subsequently build strong communities,” Baker advised. “This scholarship is another opportunity for residents to affordably learn a skill that will benefit their families for years to come.”

The AISC is affiliated with Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners.

Interested students should go here to learn more and apply. The application deadline is May 1.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

State Sen. Sam Givhan lays out the current state of the gas tax debate — Proponents should be worried

State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) is sponsoring a gas tax in the State House, but still doesn’t have a number for the increase he will propose, leading many people to question how much support the bill actually has.

During a Tuesday conversation on Huntsville’s WVNN about the impending gas tax debate, State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) called in to provide a little clarity about the status of the debate that is happening behind the scenes.

According to Givhan, the proposal will be for a 12-cent gas tax.

Givhan offered the following numbers for the potential increase in gas taxes:

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12 cents total
8 cents to Alabama Department of Transportation to continue using at their current discretion
3 cents to counties
1 cent to cities

It is important to note that these taxes do not stay in the cities/counties in which they are collected. The counties share will be divided in two ways: Half will be divided by population, the other half will be divided equally amongst the 67 counties in the state with Dale County and Jefferson County receiving the same amount, Givhan explained.

Givhan made it clear this current strategy was going to have a hard time finding support in the Alabama legislature, adding he is a “no” vote on this proposal as outlined.

The state senator from Huntsville explained that building roads as an economic stimulant is a waste of money and instead wants the state to focus on the state’s major arteries and Interstates that are “largely overcapacity,” mentioning I-10, I-65, I-20, I-565 and more by name.

Givhan said he wants a strategy that is not based on geography, but rather on need.

“The most important thing we can do for our state is expanding capacity on the Interstate. You know building new roads in new parts of the state is just folly in my mind,” he outlined.

Additionally, Givhan mentioned a “sunset” clause, which would set the desired goal (dollar figure or time period) for the revenue raised and then end the gas tax after that is accomplished.

My takeaway:

Givhan’s concerns offer the first public look into the ongoing gas tax debate and should lead us to believe that this is not as much of a slam dunk as most seem to believe.

Listen:

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN