1 month ago

Byrne gets additional Austal ship added to FY21 NDAA, joins Brooks and Rogers in advancing key defense bill

All three of Alabama’s U.S. House of Representatives members who sit on the House Armed Services Committee voted to advance the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of committee on Wednesday night.

Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) touted an amendment he added to the bill that authorizes $260 million for the construction of an additional Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel at Austal USA’s plant in Mobile.

Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) sent out a statement alerting the public to negotiations on which he had worked that helped authorize millions in military aviation funding that would benefit Redstone Arsenal and the military community in North Alabama.

Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03) stated that he was “pleased the bill included several provisions to support the further set up of the Space Force, as well as language to further the use of commercial satellite capabilities and to prioritize the hypersonic and ballistic missile tracking space sensor.”

All three congressmen expressed some reservations with the bill, which was controlled by the committee chairman, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA).

The committee ultimately advanced the bill on a vote of 56-0.

Rogers was the most forthright in his frustrations, saying on Thursday, “This is not the bill I would have written… I have particular concerns about the shortsighted change to the national emergency authority. I shared my strong opposition with this provision because it would upend the progress President Trump has made to help secure our border.”

However, he added that he did “appreciate the hard work of Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry to get us to this place.”

On the subject of the additional ship authorized to be built at Austal, Byrne commented, “It is great news for Southwest Alabama and our entire nation that the committee accepted my amendment to authorize the construction of an additional EPF at the Austal shipyard in Mobile.”

“Passage of this amendment acknowledges the critical role the 4,000 men and women at Austal Mobile play in supporting our nation’s military readiness and moving us closer to our goal of a 355-ship fleet,” Byrne continued.

Brooks expressed pride in the work done by the committee, saying, “Despite COVID19 and shutdown disruption, the Armed Services Committee successfully produced an FY21 NDAA that strengthens national security.”

He also gave out a detailed list of 27 local policy requests he helped work into the bill, which can be viewed here.

Additionally, Brooks and Rogers both highlighted the 3% pay raise to be received by all American troops as something they were quite happy with in the bill.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration, and the NDAA will need to work its way through the Senate process as well. Items authorized by a final NDAA signed into law by the president have to be separately funded through the appropriations process, as well.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

Register Now! A free virtual conference for Alabama’s business community

Alabama businesses of all sizes will have the opportunity to connect and learn from industry experts on a wide array of topics from economic development to marketing your business in a post-COVID world. The Business Council of Alabama is excited to present Engage Alabama: A Virtual Business Summit on August 26-27, 2020.

The two-day virtual summit is open to all Alabamians and will provide tangible takeaways and practical advice on doing business in the current climate.

Speakers include Governor Kay Ivey and the state’s leading subject matter experts on topics such as diversity in the workplace, employee resources, small business development and optimizing Alabama’s transportation and broadband infrastructure.

Register Now for Engage Alabama as we continue to make Alabama a sweet home for business.

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3 hours ago

7 Things: Trump signs executive order for economic relief, Jones is ready to test Tuberville, the college football season is on shaky ground and more …

7. This would make more sense if there was a VP pick for Biden

  • Even though presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden hasn’t made, or announced, a final decision on who his running mate will be, the defense of that pick is already underway, referring to the coming criticism as sexist and racist with “women’s groups” already gearing up to call all detractors names.
  • According to NBC News, the groups are putting news outlets “on notice” and then ridiculously saying, “We’re not saying any attack on a woman is sexist. We’re not saying that any criticism of a woman is unfair,” as Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications at Emily’s List is quoted.

6. Child care facilities have remained open

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  • Of the 2,410 child care facilities throughout Alabama, 63% have stayed open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. That’s compared to the 12% that stayed open in the initial shut down, and there has been no reported outbreak among children.
  • The department also reported that 501 child care facilities or providers have received a total of $7 million in financial aid through Temporary Assistance for Stabilizing Child Care grant program, but 58% of facilities have had financial challenges during the pandemic.

5. Coastal cities behind in Census

  • Alabama has a statewide average response rate of 60.7% for the 2020 U.S. Census, but Gulf Shores at 35.9%, Orange Beach at 18.3% and Dauphin Island at 27.7%, are all surprisingly far behind in their responses. This is a trend being seen in other parts of the country, too. 
  • In other tourist cities, responses for the Census are well below state averages, like in Gatlinburg, TN, where participation is at 18.5%, and Destin, FL, is at 31%. Florida and Tennessee have statewide averages over 60%, but these low response rates have been attributed to the higher volume of rental homes in the area and owners have likely not responded to the Census yet. 

4. Viral Georgia school closed

  • The Georgia high school, North Paulding High School, that gained national attention after a picture of a crowded hallway was posted to social media, has decided to close the school for in-class learning and will change to virtual classes since nine students and staff have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
  • The virtual classes will only be until Tuesday at least, and the school district will notify parents if in-class learning will continue after that, but the closure is being used to sanitize facilities.

3. College football had a bad weekend

  • Much to the pleasure of the American media (even the sports media), college football appears to be headed towards more cancellation this week after last week saw both the MAC and Connecticut football both cancel their seasons. according to giddy reporting, more conferences are ready to follow suit.
  • According to CBS Sports, “prominent athletic directors spoke to CBS Sports” and told them that the season is all but done. The cancellation of the season was painted as a “when not if” situation with PAC-12 and Big Ten allegedly inching towards a delay.

2. Jones doesn’t think Tuberville has been tested

  • During this week’s edition of “Capitol Journal” on Alabama Public Television, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) said that during the primary, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn’t “hardly touch” on important issues with former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville and he hasn’t been tested on issues that matter. 
  • Jones also said that when it comes to the recent polling data that shows Tuberville 17 points ahead of Jones, he doesn’t have a lot of “stock” in that data, mentioning how the polls were incorrect during the special election when Jones was elected in 2017. 

1. Unemployment extended

  • As the House and Senate couldn’t come to an agreement, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to extend unemployment benefits of $400 per week, a deferral on student loan payments and payroll tax, and a hold on select evictions, with Trump saying that “if Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need.”
  • Democrats have voiced displeasure with President Donald Trump’s most recent executive order, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has warned that if Democrats decide to challenge the order legally, there would likely be a delay in assistance to Americans that many deem necessary.

3 hours ago

TVA reverses course on outsourcing plan after Trump’s intervention

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has abandoned plans to outsource employees after President Donald Trump interceded on their behalf last week.

The authority earlier this year announced its intentions to outsource one out of every five of its information technology jobs, resulting in at least 200 in-house IT jobs being shipped out.

President Trump last Monday removed the TVA’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, and one other board member — citing the outsourcing plans. The president also warned the other board members that they would be next if the plans continued and called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

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On Thursday, Tupelo, MS-based Daily Journal reported that the TVA had scrapped its outsourcing plans in the wake of the the president’s opposition, as well as a related executive order he signed.

“This is certainly a win for American workers, for TVA ratepayers, and for everyone who relies on the U.S. electrical grid,” said Gay Henson, president of the Engineering Association/IFPTE Local 1937. “Our members will get their jobs back. TVA ratepayers will benefit from having skilled U.S. workers providing quality service. And the entire U.S. electrical grid will be more secure, with critical information remaining on U.S. soil.”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) reacted to the news.

“TVA is an agency of the United States government,” he stated. “The federal government, or any entity thereof, should always, whenever absolutely possible, hire American workers to do American government work. So, I’m happy that TVA reversed its decision.”

“It is unfortunate for TVA that the President had to get directly involved for them to understand that hiring Americans first should be the highest priority,” he added.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) also reacted to the TVA reversal in a Facebook post. He pointed to a letter he sent to the TVA in March about the issue.

“Thanks to an executive order from President Trump, TVA finally did the right thing yesterday and reversed their decision to replace American IT workers with foreign workers,” Brooks said on Friday. “I wrote to TVA on this issue in March demanding answers. TVA is tasked with spurring economic development. Outsourcing IT jobs is the complete opposite of what TVA should be doing. TVA should put ratepayers and Americans first.”

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent months also had been vocal opposing the TVA plans. Jones’ office did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

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

19 hours ago

VIDEO: Alabama coronavirus numbers drop, 200,000 students will be tested before class starts, Tuberville and Trump have huge leads and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Are the masks working?

— How will the state react to the numbers after 200,000 college students are tested before school starts back?

— Are President Donald Trump and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville sitting on insurmountable leads in Alabama?

Jackson and Handback are joined by Alabama Arise’s Jane Adams to discuss Medicaid expansion and progressive politics in Alabama.

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Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” directed at all the education officials who want to cancel classes without thinking about the long-term ramifications of that decision and how people will respond politically to this in the future.

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

19 hours ago

UAB employee Tara Bowman: Empowered by loss, committed to cancer education

Tara Bowman knows the statistics by heart. She can also recite health manuals nearly from memory when it comes to cancer awareness, health disparities and the need for early screening and treatment.

Bowman’s own family history is a painful lesson in the urgency of cancer screenings and health awareness, which she generously shares.

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“I do it both from the book and, personally, from the heart,” said Bowman, program manager in the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. “When you are real with people, they listen to you better.”

Bowman knows the devastating effects of cancer at its deepest levels after the deaths of her own father, stepfather, stepmother, aunt and uncle, all from 2015 through 2017. Bowman recalls that she later flipped through her calendar and was shaken by all the notations made for funerals within such a short time.

Bowman is not defined by her loss. Instead, she has become empowered by it in her daily mission to provide essential information about cancer to help save lives.

“At first, it made me numb,” Bowman said. “At the same time, it gave me an internal drive for the job that I was doing. When I started telling people about my stories, they wanted to know, in detail, what happened. They wanted to know more about it, and that has led to them wanting to get screened.”

Bowman’s official job title understates her multiple roles in the office where she works with individuals in the community to remove barriers related to cancer screenings. She is responsible for developing and implementing several cancer outreach and research programs that focus on increasing cancer screening rates and healthy lifestyle efforts.

Bowman is especially passionate about creating awareness for lung cancer, the illness that claimed the life of her father, Joseph Henry Bowman III, who died in 2016.

Her father’s death came just six weeks after her stepfather died from bone cancer following previous bouts with prostate cancer and throat cancer.

On June 16, Bowman took part in the 2020 Virtual Lung Cancer Voices Advocacy Summit, where she helped deliver messages to members of Congress about the importance of federal funding for lung cancer research.

“Our voices were powerful, and without a doubt, our personal stories helped their offices understand what it’s like to live with or care for someone with lung cancer,” Bowman said. “My drive now is to get as many people screened for all of these cancers because early detection saves lives.”

At the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bowman manages six coordinators who oversee more than 178 Community Health Advisors. She also coordinates 44 CHAs on her own in Jefferson County.

Claudia Hardy, program director of the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, called it remarkable that Bowman could channel her own loss into an even greater determination to promote cancer awareness.

“Tara is a good health educator because she knows the information and how to deliver it to audiences of all sizes and varieties,” Hardy said. “What makes her an exceptional educator is her ability to connect one-on-one with individuals and explain on a deeply personal level why cancer awareness and cancer screenings are so essential.”

Bowman doesn’t mind sharing her stories of family loss and said she hopes that they motivate others to take action for themselves and their own families.

“When we had a breast and cervical project, I did pretty well to share the message and say, ‘Hey, my stepmom ignored the signs. Take advantage of the opportunity,’” Bowman said. “I think I got a lot of people to sign up for testing because I shared my story. It was my calling to come to the O’Neal Cancer Center.”

While Bowman is known to dispense her own style of awareness and education, she said her energy comes from everyone around her and their shared vision of reducing cancer deaths and cancer disparities.

“They trickle down energy, and I feed off positive energy,” she said. “Any time they ask me to do something, I know it’s a good project. I don’t realize how much work I’m doing because there’s so much energy surrounding it.”

Bowman said she never anticipated changing her path to focus on cancer awareness and community outreach. She was originally trained as a social worker and spent years working with children and families, but she said she’s found her niche at the O’Neal Cancer Center, where her skills are being used and expanded to include health advocacy.

“In this field, it’s like you are doing some social work because you refer them to resources, and it’s a personal conversation. It’s about relationships,” Bowman explained. “It’s something that has to come from the heart. If you don’t have a natural heart for this, you can’t teach it.”

Bowman remains excited about her work to spread the message of healthier living, whether she’s doing so in person or virtually, and to ensure that the people of Alabama have access to life-saving health care and educational information.

“There’s so much to be done. I don’t have time to get tired now,” Bowman said. “My dad always said that he would rest when he dies, and that’s literally what he did. He would be proud of me.”

To learn more about services offered by the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, contact Claudia Hardy, director of Community Outreach, at chardy@uab.edu or 205-975-0003.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s UAB News website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)