2 months ago

‘Can’t even begin to tell you’: Marsh, McCutcheon discuss impact of Rebuild Alabama, Port of Mobile expansion, EV revolution

MONTGOMERY — Yellowhammer News on Wednesday evening held the first Yellowhammer Connection event of 2020.

The event featured a live interview with Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), who gave an overview of the legislative session so far and previewed what is still to come. Yellowhammer Multimedia owner Tim Howe moderated the comprehensive, in-depth discussion.

The gathering at the Alabama Association of Realtors also attracted some of the state’s top policymakers, including Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).

The contents of the interview with Marsh and McCutcheon will be rolled out in multiple segments. In this article, the first part of the series, we take a look at infrastructure in Alabama.

Howe introduced the subject by mentioning two important project announcements made recently.

First, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week announced the allocation of $274,300,000 in federal funds to initiate and complete construction of the deepening and widening of the navigation channel at the Port of Mobile. The federal funding was made possible by the historic leadership of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. However, this was not the only critical component of the project funding; the state match was secured last year through the enactment of the Rebuild Alabama Act.

The second project mentioned by Howe was actually announced earlier in the day Wednesday. He referenced Brookwood’s Warrior Met Coal announcing a landmark $550-$600 million investment to open a new world-class longwall mine on the Blue Creek reserves in West Alabama. The met coal industry in Alabama is the Port of Mobile’s biggest customer, and Howe mentioned how the Port project — and thus Rebuild Alabama — has paved the way for the met coal industry and others to expand their operations and grow more jobs.

“The infrastructure bill in general was a big plus for the state of Alabama,” Marsh outlined. “The House and Senate looked at all aspects of infrastructure, and in that conversation, of course, the Port came up. And we knew that if we could deepen the harbor, we could double the amount of freight coming through there. When you double the amount of goods coming in, well, they’ve got to go somewhere. They’re going to be on your roads on trucks — or rail. And it’s going to also provide opportunity to industries and businesses in the state in many cases to ship at cheaper rates because of volume.”

He continued, “There’s no doubt the harbor depth increase was critical; it was, from day one, something we wanted to do. And I can’t even begin to tell you — we don’t know all the areas it will create improvement. But it will create opportunity and improvement in the state.”

The EV future, Alabama head of the curve

McCutcheon soon thereafter discussed the electric vehicle aspect of the Rebuild Alabama Act. The legislation charges hybrid and plugin electric vehicle drivers an annual fee so that they pay their fair share to use the state’s roadways. However, a portion of those annual fees also goes towards a grant program to build electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state.

“One of the positive things that came out of the infrastructure bill, the Rebuild Alabama Act, was the fact that we addressed the electric vehicles,” McCutcheon advised. “We even had discussions about anonymous vehicles … and of course the basis for the discussion was the fact that these vehicles are going to be traveling on our roadways, and they’ll be putting wear and tear on the roads. And therefore they need to have been contributing to the expense.”

“But it was during those discussions that we were able to gain a lot of knowledge and build up relationships with the manufacturers of these types of vehicles so that we could talk about things for the future and the fact that we recognize them — they came to the table,” the speaker added. “And it was more than just talking about dollars being contributed for the use of our roadways. It was an ongoing dialogue about how could they contribute versus the future.”

He again stressed the importance of bringing “the people with the technology” (electric vehicle manufacturers) to the table during the Rebuild Alabama process.

“[A]nd they recognized that Alabama was concerned about their industry and we wanted to keep them involved in what we were doing,” McCutcheon explained. “And that was one of the positive things that happened.”

Marsh also underlined the importance of the electric vehicle portion of the legislation.

He further spoke about electric vehicles potentially being built in Alabama in the near future.

“I absolutely [could see electric vehicles being manufactured in the state soon],” Marsh remarked. “I quite honestly believe that the rate at which electric vehicles will hit the roads will be faster than people expect.”

“And I say that because the battery technology is advancing at a quicker rate,” he continued. “And that’s the key. When you can get a battery that’s charged in 30 minutes or less and you get a range of 500-600 miles, that’s when it takes off. I’m convinced that that’s coming.”

Marsh projected that all automobile manufacturers will ultimately have to get in the business of selling some electric vehicles or “they’re going to be in trouble.”

“So, yeah, I think that everybody (all automobile manufacturers) in the state will have a play in that game, and I think that it’ll be quicker than you expect,” he concluded.

McCutcheon wrapped up his remarks on the subject by noting that the electric vehicle aspect was just part of the “forward-thinking” Rebuild Alabama Act.

“When you look at the Port, and you look at the fees for electric vehicles, when you look at the growth mechanism that was put in that bill, as well as addressing the revenue — just the revenue that was needed from the actual revenue coming from the gas pump — this was probably one of the most forward-thinking bills that the legislature has addressed in several years,” McCutcheon emphasized.

He summarized further, “We didn’t just put a bandaid on a problem to fix it for a little bit. We looked to the future.”

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

2 hours ago

State Sen. Chambliss: Ivey doing ‘a great job’ on coronavirus — ‘I applaud her for just hanging in there and making those tough decisions’

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented a set of unforeseen challenges that almost no government official in the upper echelons of an executive could have imagined. Included among those are challenges deciding the whats and when of closures, which could have profound economic impacts.

In Alabama, State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), while acknowledging his reluctance to be critical, credited Gov. Kay Ivey for taking on those challenges stemming from the COVID-19 breakout.

Chambliss told Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that he thought Ivey was acting in good faith, putting what was best for Alabama in front throughout her decisionmaking processes.

411

“As a past chairman of a county commission, which is obviously small compared to this situation — you know, I was in situations where I had to make decisions about closures and that kind of stuff — and those were just for a day or two, nothing like she has done,” he said. “There is no way it is the time for us to look at that — should we do this, should we do that. I think she is doing a great job. She is doing what she thinks is best. Obviously, she has every bit of the information she can in making those decisions.”

“And you and I are a level or two removed from all that information in real-time,” Chambliss continued. “So, I applaud her for just hanging in there and making those tough decisions. After the fact, I’m sure she’ll say to herself, ‘I wish I had done this,’ or, ‘I wish I had done that.’ But now is not the time for me to do it, specifically. But there’ll be plenty of time to look at that kind of thing later, and learn from it — and do better next time.”

As to whether or not Alabamians were adhering to the guideline set by policymakers, the Autauga County Republican legislator said it took some time, but now most appear to be on board.

“I don’t think they were initially, especially some of the initial discussion was that it primarily affects older people,” Chambliss said. “We now know, at least in the United States, I think the numbers are around 40% or greater that are younger than 65. I think that gave them a false sense of invincibility, and that’s not going to be a problem for me. We see that it has been a problem for some. More importantly, they spread it around, and then it causes problems for their loved ones. I think that’s starting to sink in with people now — even the younger generation, kind of now are, ‘I need to be a little bit more careful than I was.’ I think it is starting to sink in now, although I don’t think it was initially.”

@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 Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

Get back on the road to recovery — $350 billion is now available to small businesses

Business Council of Alabama is the go-to resource to ensure your small business gets its share of the relief funds.

Join Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Boyd Britt and a panel of experts Thursday night for the Small Business Exchange on Alabama Public Television.

They’ll take your phone calls and answer your questions.

“We have to make sure that Alabama’s small businesses get the loans and support they deserve in these tough economic times,” Britt emphasized. “The first step in getting Alabama back to work is to get this loan money flowing to our businesses.”

The Small Business Exchange will air Thursday on APT from 7:00-8:00 p.m. Call 1-833-BCA4BIZ (1-833-222-4249) from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thursday and from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday to talk to a small business expert.

Let our experts help you get back on the road to recovery. We’re all in this together.

1
2 hours ago

7 Things: Guidelines on reopening the economy could come soon, everyone wants the coronavirus stimulus check, Biden the Dem nominee and more …

7. Apparently, the coronavirus only strikes at night

  • Mobile has put out a city-wide curfew from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. that prohibits anyone who isn’t going to their essential job from being out. Fairhope’s city council voted on whether to adopt this same curfew but voted it down. 
  • Council President Jack Burrell said he had “real concerns” about issuing a curfew, and the council saw that a curfew could cause raise the chances of law enforcement being exposed to the coronavirus if they have to pull over more people for violating a curfew. Councilman Robert Brown argued that he’s against “further restrictions on personal freedoms.”

6. Hyundai plant extends its shutdown

573

  • Hyundai has decided to keep their Montgomery production plant closed until at least May 4 after being suspended on March 18. 
  • The Montgomery plant has about 3,000 employees. There will be new safety measures when work does resume, but for now, the shutdown “is in the best interest of protecting the health and well-being of team members and communities, and to align vehicle production with current consumer demand.”

5. It wasn’t China, it was Europe or something

  • The American media is selling a narrative Thursday morning that the coronavirus didn’t come from China, but it came from Europe. The hook is that the travel ban to China was worthless while the travel ban to Europe came far too late.
  • This ignores a few obvious things. The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, the Chinese and the World Health Organization lied about the spread, and when the travel bans were implemented, these same outlets screeched like banshees about how wrong travels bans are.

4. Aderholt wants us to “Buy America”

  • In a letter sent to President Donald Trump, U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) advocates for more “Buy America policies,” adding how this pandemic has shown how important is it for the United States to not rely so heavily on other countries. 
  • Aderholt wrote that “we must prevent foreign control over the supply and price of health-related commodities in the United States.” He also noted the push to have more American-made medical supplies is being brought up by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

3. It’s Biden, it was Biden all along

  • U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has admitted that “Vice President Biden will be the nominee” after deciding to suspend his 2020 Democratic presidential Campaign. 
  • Even though his campaign is suspended, Sanders has said he will “stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates.” He insisted that his “movement” isn’t over and is still about “justice.”

2. Everyone wants the checks to come quicker

  • The coronavirus stimulus package that would pay many Americans $1,200 has already been approved and signed, so now everyone is waiting for their money. U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) wants the checks sent out quickly. 
  • Jones and U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) are suggesting that the Treasury Department send out debit cards to people instead of paper checks since there were plans to likely not send checks until late April. Jones said, “A slight lag between Congressional action and the support arriving to workers is understandable, the Treasury Department must act expeditiously to get these funds to their intended recipients.”

1. CDC could start relaxing guidelines soon

  • The media and the elites got it very wrong and now Americans want a chance to get back to some form of normalcy. Now, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is considering relaxing restrictions. Trump wants to give leeway to the states with “red zones” and “green zones” within the country to show where the government believes it’s safe to reopen. 
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said that if social distancing rules already in place successfully flattens the curve, then we need to “at least plan what a re-entry into normality would look like,” and we need to “be prepared to ease into that.”

3 hours ago

House Majority Ldr Ledbetter: ‘The people in our state are strong — They’re going to come back better than ever’

In recent days, some of the doom and gloom resulting from the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Alabama has given way to optimism.

Among those with an optimistic disposition regarding the state’s handling of COVID-19 and the state’s economy is Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Ledbetter laid out why he sees the state turning a corner in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

470

“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Ledbetter said of a perceived change in trends for the better. “The models indicate that. When you put everything in that they ask for — once you do that, it shows up dropping in numbers. At one time, some of the models were showing us at 5,000 deaths. I think now it has decreased down into the hundreds, and maybe even lower than that. That’s certainly been important for the people in our state. The things we look for — you know the question today was what will see when we start going back to normal?”

“That was one of the things — fewer cases and deaths, and more tests we’ll get out, the better off we’ll be,” he continued. “The curve that everybody’s talked about — hospital capacity, we’re actually in pretty good shape right now, the state of Alabama. We’ve got about 50% of our beds available. Somewhere around 36% of our ICU beds are available. We’ve got about 800 ventilators, which has increased pretty significantly. When we started out, we had 1,333 ventilators in this state, and I think we’re up to some 1,800 ventilators.”

Ledbetter credited many institutions around Alabama for getting the ventilator count up, from nursing school to the veterinarian school at Auburn University, and pointed to an effort to refurbish some ventilators that were in disrepair.

He also credited State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

“I’ve got to give credit to Dr. Harris,” he said. “I think he has done a tremendous job — him and Dr. [Don] Williamson, in my opinion very fortunate to have those two. Dr. Williamson over the hospital association, and of course, Dr. Scott Harris is over [the Alabama Department of Public Health]. Those two have worked in tandem, and I really truly believe they’re one of the main reasons we’re where we are at today and have been hit no harder than what we have been hit.”

The Dekalb County Republican lawmaker insisted the state would rally back to an even better position economically.

“If we can get this behind us, and get our economy growing — you know, our Alabama economy as growing better than it ever has in my lifetime,” he explained. “Unemployment was 2.7%. We had added some 24,000 jobs and $14 billion into the economy. You know, it almost hit a brick wall. We’ll see how it comes out, and listen — the people in our state are strong. They’re going to come back better than ever. I really believe that.”

@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 Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

3 hours ago

Yellowhammer connects your business to Alabama consumers

After nine years, our mission remains the same: reflect our state, its people and their values. As the state’s second-largest media outlet, Yellowhammer connects your business to the people of Alabama.

Online, on the radio, podcasts, events and more. What can Yellowhammer do for you?

1