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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.

53 mins ago

Auburn Police officer shot in the line of duty

(Pixabay)

An Auburn Police Department officer was shot in the line of duty Friday evening.

Sources reportedly confirmed the shooting to WVTM. The condition of the officer was not immediately known.

The shooting occurred at the Dollar General near Niffer’s Place off of Opelika Road.

WSFA was on the scene live in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which resulted in a massive police presence. The suspect is believed to still be at-large, with a “manhunt” underway.

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This comes after Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter and Mobile Police Department Officer Sean Tuder were shot and killed in the line of duty in recent weeks.

This is breaking news and may be updated.

Update 8:00 p.m.:

WSFA posted a new live stream.

Update 8:15 p.m.:

Police administrators told reporters the incident occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m. as the officer pulled the suspect’s vehicle over responding to an armed robbery call. The officer was talking and alert when he left the scene. More on his condition was not released by law enforcement on the scene. The officer was shot “multiple” times. His name has also not been released.

The suspect is Christopher James Wallace. He is 38 years old. A female was in the vehicle with Wallace at the time of the shooting. Her name is not being released at this time.

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

2 hours ago

Del Marsh on Trump declaration: ‘It is an emergency — It is about protecting this country’

(Del Marsh/Facebook, ICE/Flickr)

Alabama Senate leader Del Marsh (R-Anniston) voiced his support for President Donald Trump’s latest action on border security while blaming Democrats for their inability to fix the long-standing issue.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Marsh said he supports Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency along the Mexican border.

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Marsh explained that the urgency of the threat made it necessary.

“It is an emergency,” Marsh stated. “It is about protecting this country. That’s where the threat is. The threat is the southern border. All our borders should be secure. But the threat right now is the southern border. No one can deny that.”

When asked where border security should rank among the country’s priorities, Marsh said border security should be number one.

And he expressed frustration at how policy-makers have approached the issue.

“I cannot for the life of me understand how people in Congress can put people who are not citizens of this country above our citizens’ welfare, and that’s what I see happening,” he remarked.

He cited a single reason why, in his mind, the issue of border security has gone on for so long without resolution.

“Politics,” Marsh declared.

Specifically, he believes Democrats view illegal immigration as providing a pool of potential new voters and that has threatened national security.

“They have put that above the safety of the citizens of this country,” he said. “Democrats are basically saying, ‘Don’t worry about a process. Come on! We’re your buddies!’”

Marsh also pointed out the fact that he has already filed a bill in the Alabama legislature to allow Alabamians to help build the wall.

The legislation would provide taxpayers the option of checking a box on their tax returns should they want to donate to We Build the Wall, Inc.

Marsh has already donated to the fund himself.

“It’s about sending a message to this president, President Trump, that we support him and by sending these dollars to build the wall, showing our support for him,” he explained. “I believe it and I think the people of Alabama believe that security is the most important thing, the most important issue at this point in time. We want to support the wall, and we want to see the wall built.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 hours ago

Alabama Supreme Court reinstates Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

(Facebook)

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Friday that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the state’s motion to stay a recent “[erroneous]” Jefferson County Circuit Court judgment that declared the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 to be unconstitutional.

This means the law, which prohibits the removal and alteration of monuments more than 40 years old on public property, will still be in effect while the state appeals the decision. Marshall requested the stay three weeks ago.

“I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the State’s motion to stay the Circuit Court’s ruling,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We think that U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly demonstrates that the Circuit Court erred in striking down the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Thus, we asked the Alabama Supreme Court to preserve the status quo regarding the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park until the Court rules on our appeal.”

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It was reported that the City of Birmingham was considering removing the monument at the center of the controversy after the law was struck down. The Sailors Monument has been covered by a large black wall since August 2017, near the end of former Mayor William Bell’s tenure.

“The Supreme Court’s stay allows the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to remain in effect until the Supreme Court resolves this appeal over the Act’s constitutionality. We continue to hold that the Circuit Court erred when it ruled that the U.S. Constitution grants cities free speech rights that they can enforce against the State,” Marshall added. “For more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has held just the opposite, recognizing that ‘a political subdivision, created by the state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the federal constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator.’ We look forward to presenting these arguments to the Alabama Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court’s order Friday also stayed the accrual of any financial penalties under the law.

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

5 hours ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

(ALFA Farmers/Twitter)

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt announced the two major additions in an internal email sent out to the business council’s leadership Friday evening. Britt took the reigns of BCA January 2. Cagle and Cole are her first hires.

The email detailed that Cole is being named senior vice president of governmental affairs and Cagle vice president of governmental affairs.

“These two additions to our team position the BCA to serve our members and advocate effectively on behalf of the business community,” Britt wrote.

Mark Colson, who most recently filled in as BCA’s interim president after serving as chief of staff and senior vice president for governmental affairs, will continue to serve the organization in his new role as senior advisor through the transition period.

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

5 hours ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

(YHN, Manufacture Alabama)

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.

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“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

Cagle is being named BCA’s vice president of governmental affairs.

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

7 hours ago

Tennessee Valley Authority selects next president and CEO

(TVA/Facebook)

The nation’s largest public utility has picked the leader of one of Canada’s largest power companies to head the $11 billion federal corporation.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Valley Authority board announced the selection of Jeffrey Lyash as president and CEO effective in April.

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Lyash is president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation Inc. He was formerly president of CB&I Power and executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy.

He also served in management roles with Progress Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Lyash is chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute, an international nonprofit for public interest energy and environmental research.

Lyash replaces Bill Johnson, who is retiring after joining the federal utility in 2013.

TVA serves about 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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9 hours ago

Doug Jones on Medicaid expansion: ‘We’re losing out on billions of dollars … the state of Alabama damn sure could use’

(MSNBC/YouTube)

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Thursday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) offered his thoughts on rumblings that policymakers in Montgomery were considering expanding Medicaid rolls.

The renewed discussion comes in the wake of Butler County’s Georgiana losing its hospital and some GOP lawmakers in the statehouse suggesting it was something to consider.

According to Jones, the expansion of Medicaid would be one of the ingredients necessary in ensuring rural hospitals in Alabama are sustainable.

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“I think it would go a long way,” Jones said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “There are a lot of factors that come into play when you’re talking about rural hospitals, including the wage index that we try to get things changed, so we get the same reimbursements as other states. But I think expansion of Medicaid would be a big help. I think it would be a huge deal for rural hospitals. It would bring in billions of dollars – billions of dollars that’s our money, by the way, that we haven’t been getting since the state refused to do that. And candidly, it was a political decision when they refused to do it. Everybody knows that. There was a legitimate concern about the cost.”

“But now that we look back, we can see that the cost-benefit – the benefit outweighs the cost tremendously,” he continued. “Plus the benefit with the good health outcomes – more people with good health care, better health outcomes. It’s just a win-win. And so I am hoping this year they can do that.”

Jones said he and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) were working on legislation to gives states that have not yet expanded Medicaid the incentive to do so, and that way the “money would start flowing in.”

When asked about the possibility of the state of Alabama being on the hook for extra cost when that initial infusion of federal money runs out, the Jefferson County Democrat said he expected the money to continue to be there for Medicaid.

“I don’t think the money will run out,” he replied. “I think the money is here to stay. It is one of those things that passed in the ‘60s. It is here to stay. I think the money is going to continue to be there. And the fact of the matter is, no one would get left holding the bag because if the Medicaid money went away, then obviously the insurance goes away. I don’t think anybody’s going to want to let that happen.”

When asked about lawmakers considering the possibility, Jones described his attitude as “hopeful.”

“I am very hopeful,” Jones said. “I think there’s a couple of dynamics in play, including the fact that we’re not really talking about ObamaCare anymore. We’re talking about the Affordable Care Act, and we’re talking about things – keeping people with preexisting conditions and making sure they have health care. And the other thing, too – now we have the evidence. No one can really say, ‘Oh, this is going to cost too much. We can’t afford it.’ We got the evidence from all the states to show that is just not the case and we’re losing out on billions of dollars that come in, and that’s billions of dollars the state of Alabama damn sure could use.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

11 hours ago

Birmingham seeks to maintain Confederate monument ruling

(Facebook)

The city of Birmingham is asking a judge to maintain his ruling that overturned a state law protecting Confederate monuments.

In a court filing last week, city attorneys opposed a motion by the state attorney general to stay the decision while Alabama appeals.

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A judge last month ruled a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments violates the free speech rights of local communities.

The state argued that staying the order would prevent cities from removing monuments while the state appeals.

Birmingham lawyers said the city has made no suggestion that a Confederate monument would be removed during the appeal.

Alabama sued the city of Birmingham in 2017 after officials erected a wooden box that obscured the view of a 52-foot-tall obelisk honoring Confederate veterans.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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12 hours ago

i-Ready could help reinvigorate Alabama’s public education system

(S.Ross/YHN)

BOAZ — Boaz City Schools produced Alabama’s current lieutenant governor. And now, thanks to the system’s participation in a cutting-edge program, Boaz could be paving the way for not just the next generation of students in Marshall County, but young Alabamians statewide.

While the Yellowhammer State boasts the nation’s best state-run pre-k program, surging workforce development programs through AIDT and public-private partnerships and world-class universities, it is no secret that Alabama has been desperately needing a renaissance in K-12 public education for years.

That awakening might just be on the horizon. Last week, Yellowhammer News attended the annual community appreciation breakfast at Boaz High School. In attendance were Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, state Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and state Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-Arab), who all got a firsthand look at i-Ready – a program new to the state that might just be one of the missing pieces in Alabama’s public school puzzle.

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i-Ready

A program of Curriculum Associates, i-Ready is a virtual assistant of sorts for teachers, providing a toolkit of resources and delivering differentiated instruction. The online, data-driven program functions in two main ways: diagnostic and instructional.

The first aspect of this is assessment based. Through an initial evaluation to see where a student is academically (identifying both their strengths and weaknesses), i-Ready plots a unique learning pathway just for them. This is where the instructional component comes in, as the program provides online lessons and teaching resources designed to fit that individual student’s pathway.

And, just as importantly as the two aspects themselves, the diagnostics and instruction are intertwined. The online program is keeping track of a student’s progress daily, so teachers can adjust in real time to what is working and not working in the classroom.

In a tour of Corley Elementary School, i-Ready can already be seen making a difference firsthand in second- and third-grade classrooms.

One of the biggest takeaways, after speaking with school system and Curriculum Associates leaders, is that i-Ready is custom designed to help teachers, not supplant them.

A Powerpoint presentation delivered by the school system emphasized, “We know and believe that the classroom teacher is at the center of [success]. The teacher is making instructional decisions based on his/her knowledge of the students.”

i-Ready and the constant individualized data it puts in teachers’ hands only increases their ability to help students succeed.

Still, in schools where some students are at or above grade level while others are varying degrees of playing catch up, teachers cannot possibly reach each individual in the best way for their unique situation just by teaching to the group and going over lessons in front of the class as a whole. This is where differentiated instruction and custom pathways are so important.

“We know realistically that kids are at all different places when they start each grade level,” a school administrator explained. “You have some kids that are accelerated learners that have learned a lot of their grade level skills and standards. And you have some that are grades behind. Well, we can’t sacrifice one for the other. And we understand the importance of choice, we understand the importance of flexibility, and that’s something, in a public school, that typically has not always occurred in the past. We have to learn how to meet the needs of individual students in a setting where you teach multiple students.”

Boaz’s implementation

In practice, at least in the classrooms observed, the teachers would split the class into three groups after introducing the lesson of the day to all of them. The groups would rotate between three stations. The group on the i-Ready station would go online and work their pathway. A second group would work a more traditional assignment or project related to the lesson. And the final group would work with the teacher to add another layer or reinforcement level to the lesson; tactile or visual activities are good examples of this.

Another of the points of emphasis of the program is building skills, as opposed to teaching to a standardized test. Curriculum Associates, through i-Ready and Ready (traditional printed math and reading instruction the company also specializes in), stresses high standards. Yet, the curriculum is flexible and uniquely designed not just for the individual students, but for the differing needs and wants of states and localities, too.

Take Boaz City Schools, for example. The school system has major demographic challenges that Curriculum Associates has helped with. From 2014 to 2018, Boaz City Schools’ percentage of Hispanic students went from 1.57 percent to 32.70 percent. Instead of working around challenges and leaving various subsets of special needs students behind, i-Ready carves out roads to success. In this case, this meant not only English as Second Language (ESL) students, but students who are proficient in English conversationally but still struggle with it academically.

Boaz City Schools, which has approximately 70 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch, began implementation of i-Ready strictly at the Tier III level (at-risk students) in the 2017-2018 school year. Now, they are in the first full year of a two or three-year scale-up of the program to the core level.

The results have already been off the charts.

Last school year, Boaz City Schools achieved 148 percent in math and 162 percent in reading of its targeted growth on average across all students. These remarkable results spanned from kindergarten to eighth grade, which is especially impressive considering it is harder for students to make up lost ground after their first few years of school.

Take the teachers’ perspectives into account.

While on classroom tours, Ainsworth pulled multiple veteran educators aside, who each raved about i-Ready. His conversations left him to conclude, “[T]he proof’s in the pudding.”

One third grade teacher, who had taught various elementary and middle school grades over 14 years, confidently said the program should be implemented statewide.

“As a teacher, it’s the best thing that I’ve seen,” she told Ainsworth.

How can other school districts benefit?

While Boaz City Schools was able to implement i-Ready through an at-risk student grant from the state, Ainsworth said he would like all public school districts to have the funds to use the program if they see fit — and not just for Tier III.

It might take some work in Montgomery to make this possible, but Boaz City Schools Superintendent Dr. Shannon Stanley is such a believer in the program and what it has already done for her district that she is willing to personally travel to the state capital to share the success story with legislators and executive branch leaders.

Currently, Curriculum Associates is working with 15 districts in Alabama between Ready and i-Ready, with some districts running small-scale trials and others enjoying more widespread implementation. Until the time that all districts have the funding option to utilize the program, applying for at-risk grants and being able to show positive results of trial runs seems to be an advisable move for districts across Alabama.

However, this is still not ideal.

“One of the things that I think is kind of a shame is that y’all have to use [i-Ready] through at-risk funds,” Ainsworth told Stanley and other school district leaders. “Because to me, there’s tremendous value and for not just at-risk students… what I’d like to see y’all do is be able to have the money to do this and then use the at-risk money for just at-risk kids.”

Speaking to Curriculum Associates representatives in attendance, Ainsworth reiterated the thing that impressed him most was what the teachers thought of i-Ready.

“Y’all have a product that the people that use it every day [love it]. To me, the value’s not in what I think, it’s the value that the actual teachers think. They love it,” he said.

“You can’t argue with people that are using it, and the fact that it’s actually changing lives. That’s important,” Ainsworth added.

Scofield, speaking to Yellowhammer News after the school tour, emphasized that he is “proud” of the schools in his district, including the Boaz City Schools system.

“They’re doing the right things to make sure our students are achieving and coming out workforce-ready. Boaz is on the frontline of that, and I’m very proud of this system and very impressed by this product,” Scofield remarked.

He continued, “I would like to see us really focus on trying to move [i-Ready] beyond the city limits of Boaz. I’d like to see this not only all over my district but statewide. Listening to these teachers – when you have 14-, 15-, 20-year teachers tell you that this is the best thing that they’ve seen, it’s had the biggest impact on their students – that’s what we need to listen to.”

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

15 hours ago

Roby on New York, Virginia late-term abortion, infanticide trends: ‘I have never been as disturbed as I am now’

(M. Roby)

Thursday on WVNN, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) hammered the alarming efforts by statehouses around the country to lessen abortion restrictions.

Two states, New York and Virginia, are making efforts to move toward the legalization of on-demand abortions allowed in the late stages of the pregnancy, or even after birth.

Roby expressed her astonishment regarding this “unfathomable” trend.

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“[I]’m unapologetically pro-life,” Roby said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “I count it a tremendous privilege to be a voice for the unborn, those that do not have a voice. I want you to know in all the years the people of Alabama have given me the opportunity to represent them in Congress, in all the years that I have been on the floor, pounding my fist and defending the unborn, I have never been as disturbed as I am now that this country requires legal provisions to protect living babies. And the fact that the babies are being born alive as a result of an abortion gone bad, that there are those in our country who are suggesting that they ought not be given every bit of medical attention that a child born live outside of the womb would otherwise have is just unfathomable to me.”

The Montgomery Republican explained to listeners that legislative efforts to curb these practices have been stymied, given the Democrats control the House of Representatives.

“We have been working tirelessly to force a vote,” she said. “Now remember, we’re in the minority. We do not control the actions on the floor, but there are rules in place that we can use to force the majority to take up our legislative priorities. And we have been working and pushing tirelessly to force a vote on the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act. I’m a co-sponsor of this bill, and this bill does advance legal protections for babies that are born alive during a failed abortion and implement criminal penalties for doctors that fail to provide the medical care necessary to care for that living infant.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 day ago

Jones backs challenge resulting in increased DNC ‘supervision’ of Alabama Democratic Party

(D. Jones/Twitter, AlabamaTV/YouTube)

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) credentials committee voted to call for new elections for chair and vice chair of the Alabama Democratic Party.

According to The Associated Press, the resolution approved by the committee would have the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) hold new elections for the top two spots within 90 days.

The full DNC voting body is expected to approve the recommendation, which would also see the national Democratic Party oversee the re-do elections in Alabama.

The action arose after challenges were filed contesting this past summer’s election of Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Vice Chairman Randy Kelley.

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Allegations have been made that the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) run by the state party’s vice chair for minority affairs, Joe Reed, has stacked the composition of the SDEC so as to control the outcome of the party’s internal elections.

Worley said last year that “there could be a tiny bit of racism” behind the challenges, which were backed by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). Jones helped lead the charge for the candidate running against Worley in the summer and spoke against her at the DNC credentials committee meeting Thursday.

Jones and other critics of Worley and Reed want less African Americans on the state party’s executive committee.

Worley will remain chair until the re-election is held, however, that decision was barely approved by the credentials committee via a 12-11 vote on an amendment to the main resolution.

Worley said that she disagrees with the decision to hold the re-election. However, she looks “forward to the opportunity to lay any concerns to rest.”

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

1 day ago

Byrne: ‘Anti-semitic’ Dem Rep. Omar ‘should not be allowed to continue serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’

(B. Byrne/Facebook, Omar.House.Gov)

President Donald Trump is not the only one who thinks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) should face consequences for recent anti-semitic comments and other “absurd” behavior.

Now, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) is joining in on the call for Omar to face real consequences for her actions.

Omar came under “justified criticism” over the weekend after a tweet that has widely been condemned as anti-semitic, including by members of her own party. Trump called on the freshman congresswoman to resign, and Vice President Mike Pence called her remarks “a disgrace.”

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Omar received further criticism for claiming to “unequivocally apologize” while continuing to equivocate in the same statement, with her second paragraph beginning, “At the same time…”

To make matters worse, Omar used her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday to berate a Jewish-American, well-respected diplomat.

Byrne said he is “outraged” by Omar’s “absurd comments.”

“I am outraged by the continued absurd comments from Rep. Omar, as I think most Alabamians are,” Byrne told Yellowhammer News. “Frankly, they show just how radical the Democrat Party has become.”

He concluded, “Given her anti-semitic views, she most certainly should not be allowed to continue serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

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

1 day ago

Mo Brooks: Dems prioritizing illegal immigrants ‘the worst betrayal of America in history,’ ‘9/11 deaths pale in comparison’

(Rep. Brooks/YouTube)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) Thursday delivered a powerful speech on the U.S. House floor urgently calling on President Donald Trump to “declare a national emergency, and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our southern border, build the wall and protect and save American lives.”

The congressman from north Alabama explained that over 2,000 illegal immigrants were arrested for homicides on American soil the last fiscal year alone. Additionally, Brooks said, “[O]ver 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels.”

As critical a threat as Brooks views the issue of border security, he lamented that Congress is not currently in a position to solve it.

“[A]n extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance,” he summarized.

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He called “Socialist Democrats” elevating illegal immigrants over American citizens “the worst betrayal of America in history.”

“Inasmuch as socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths, and America’s porous southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers,” Brooks stated.

He then outlined the president’s legal authority to order the military to assist in this “fight,” warning that “a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border.”

Brooks added, “While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border.”

Full text of Brooks’ speech as follows:

Mr. Speaker, in Fiscal Year 2018, more than 2,000 illegal aliens were apprehended by federal agents for homicides committed on American soil.

In addition, over 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels!

Stronger border security, which must include wall construction, will save thousands of American lives every year.

Unfortunately, in the worst betrayal of America in history, Socialist Democrats, motivated by a lust for political power, selfishly elevate illegal aliens over American citizens because illegal alien families overwhelming rely on welfare, thus making them highly reliable Democrat voters who elect Socialist Democrat politicians by diluting the votes of American citizens.

Inasmuch as Socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths, and America’s porous southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers.

For example, Title 10, Section 284 of the United States Code empowers presidents to order America’s military to assist federal drug and law enforcement agencies in the fight against drug and transnational organized crime.

Pursuant to this law, the president may deploy active military and National Guard troops to:

• Establish and operate bases of operations;
• Detect and monitor surface traffic in Mexico and in the United States within 25 miles of the southern border;
• Construct roads, fences, barriers and lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across the southern border; and
• Use aerial and ground reconnaissance.

For emphasis, this federal law empowers President Trump to order America’s military to construct walls and barriers to block drug smuggling corridors, with the side benefit of stopping illegal aliens.

Mr. Speaker, another example of existing presidential authority is the power to declare a national emergency and divert Congressionally appropriated money to border security and wall construction.

America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan based on 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people. In response, America spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border.

For emphasis, a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border! That is a minimum of 15,000 dead Americans each year!

That death rate easily justifies a presidential declaration of a national emergency. In fact, not one of the 58 national emergencies declared by a president since 1979 is supported by a worse death rate or threat to America and American lives!

Mr. Speaker, an extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance.

As such, I urge President Trump, as America’s commander in chief, to invoke Title 10, United States Code Section 284, to declare a national emergency, and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our southern border, build the wall, and protect and save American lives!

America’s military protects the borders of, and lives in, South Korea, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Europe, and many other countries.

America, and Americans, deserve no less protection!

Update:

After Brooks’ speech, the White House on Thursday afternoon announced that Trump will indeed declare a national emergency and “take other executive action” to help secure the border. The president also will sign the border security and funding deal negotiated largely by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).

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

1 day ago

Forbes magazine editor-in-chief sees strong economy leading to Trump’s re-election

(WH, G. Skidmore/Flickr)

In an interview with Huntsville’s WVNN, Steve Forbes touted his new TV special on PBS and the strengthening economy.

Forbes said Thursday on “The Dale Jackson Show” that he believes President Donald Trump will be re-elected, saying the president “will win re-nomination from Republicans, and he will beat the Democrats” because of a multitude of factors, including a new trade deal with China and the massive tax cuts.

He dismissed fears of a slowing economy or even what some economists call an “overheating” economy and praised the economy as the president’s strongest asset.

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Forbes also explained that the Democrats’ lurch leftward and their focus on liberal policy dreams like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and 70 percent tax rates will doom their chances of regaining the presidency in 2020.

When asked about how Republicans should handle these extreme policy proposals, Forbes laid out a plan for Republicans in Congress to fight these proposals that include humor and grim reality.

He praised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) plan to “put it up for a vote and let them squirm.”

Forbes suggested highlighting the absurdity of these views by asking the Democrats, “[W]hat do you have against cows?”

He also hit the real world danger of their implementation.

“You’re not going to get the healthcare you need any more. You think you have problems now, wait until you just can’t get it for months or years on end,” Forbes stated.

My takeaway:

The former Republican Presidential candidate is clearly optimistic about his party’s future and re-election chances of Donald Trump, both because the economy is doing and because the Democratic Party has adopted the policies of its most extreme members.

Listen:

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

1 day ago

Hillary Clinton to receive ‘International Unity Award’ at annual Selma march

(Hillary for America/Flickr)

Hillary Rodham Clinton is headed to Alabama in the coming weeks, with activists set to honor the former secretary of state, senator and first lady, in Selma.

Leaders with the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee and the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation held a press conference in the Statehouse Thursday, confirming that Clinton will be “headlining” the 2019 jubilee, which runs January 28 – March 4.

While in Selma, she will also announce her support for the national initiative “Lift Our Vote 2020.” Several candidates running to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020 will also be in attendance during the annual event.

A press release outlined that Clinton will receive the “International Unity Award” and be inducted into the National Voting Rights Museum Women’s Hall of Fame while in Selma. She is also scheduled to speak at the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast on the Wallace Community College Selma campus the morning of March 3.

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Clinton, who has previously participated in the annual Bloody Sunday March, will do so again and also speak at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church.

Recently retired State Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), who was at the center of racially charged controversy this past election cycle in Alabama while spearheading the “Vote or Die” campaign, said that Clinton’s attendance could result in “one of the best” jubilees ever.

“This will be a great Jubilee with Secretary Hillary Clinton, the kickoff of the national Lift Our Vote 2020 initiative, a number of presidential candidates coming to speak, and various other powerful speakers and so many events,” Sanders remarked. “It could be one of the best of many great Jubilees.”

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

1 day ago

Man charged in Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter’s murder

(Birmingham PD)

A suspect was arrested and charged Thursday in the January shooting death of Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter.

Jeremy Owens, 31, is charged with one count of capital murder, one count of murder of a police officer and two counts of attempted murder.

He has been under guard while receiving medical treatment since the shooting. He was taken into custody at Spain Rehabilitation Center Thursday morning, with officers using Carter’s handcuffs to take the alleged murderer to Jefferson County Jail.

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This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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

1 day ago

Fairfield mayor removed from office by city council

(WVTM 13 News/YouTube)

A Birmingham-area mayor has been removed from office for failing to attend city meetings.

AL.com reports that members of the Fairfield City Council voted to remove Ed May II as mayor.

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City Council President Eddie Penny says the vote follows a law that says a mayor can be removed if absent from council meetings for 90 days.

Penny says May has missed at least 135 days.

May posted a video on Facebook claiming opponents have been conspiring to remove him from office. He says the decision will wind up in court.

May was elected mayor in 2016.

The council voted last year to hire a manager to run the financially plagued city of about 10,600 people.

May vetoed the decision, but council members did not recognize his decision.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers on 2016 election: ‘Undisputed’ that no evidence exists of tampering, hacking election machines that would have changed votes

Rep. Mike Rogers (C-Span.org)

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) explained what has inspired the House Democrats’ push for HR1, a bill that he described as a Democrat “wish list” on voting so that “Republicans can’t win.”

Rogers is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, which held hearings this week on the legislation and included testimony from Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

According to Rogers, much of what Democrats are doing regarding H.R. 1 comes out of the 2016 election defeat of Hillary Clinton. However, Rogers contended as far as the actual elections are concerned, so-called Russian hacking did not result in a single vote being altered after it was cast.

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“That’s exactly what started Democrats talking about it,” Rogers said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “They’re still in denial that Donald Trump won the election and they’re pushing this theory, ‘but for Russian interference, he could not have won.’ But the fact is, and that is undisputed testimony in our hearing today, both the [Department of Justice], … and [Department of Homeland Security], I think, have studied the election systems in the 2016 and 2018 election, and there is zero evidence of any tampering with or hacking into the election machines that would change a single vote.”

“What there is evidence of, and it is undisputed, is evidence that Russia placed ads on social media – about $20 million – trying to spread disinformation,” he said. “But as I made the point in today’s hearing, there’s nothing new about that. Russia has been meddling disinformation in our elections for decades. They’ve been doing it all over the world, whether you’re in the Middle East or Western Europe or Eastern Europe. They’re very aggressive in Eastern Europe in spreading disinformation. There’s nothing new about that, and I expect that’s going to continue.”

The Calhoun County Republican argued for vigilance regarding entities hostile to the United States infiltrating social media platforms to influence election outcomes, in addition to guaranteeing the “mechanics of voting” are protected.

“What we have to make sure of is when there is disinformation being spread on social media that we pointed out it being what it is – we’re getting help from the social media platforms to do that – after 2016, but we’ve still got work to do on that front,” Rogers outlined. “We have to make sure when it comes to actually the mechanics of voting that there is no doubt when those elections take place, the accuracy of the count is confirmed as being valid.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

Roby: ‘I call born-alive abortion what it is: Infanticide’

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

Rep. Martha Roby (AL-2) Thursday spoke on the House floor to voice her staunch opposition to the recent pro-abortion efforts in New York and Virginia and to express her unwavering support for the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” a bill she is cosponsoring to protect infants who are born alive during failed abortion procedures.

Roby emphasized that she was stunned to hear boisterous cheering upon the New York state legislature’s passage of a bill that would significantly loosen restrictions on late-term abortions. She also forcefully denounced the comments recently made by Virginia’s Democrat governor, calling them a “horrific defense of born-alive abortions.”

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“I call ‘born-alive abortion’ what it is: Infanticide. No matter how our stances on abortion might vary, I hope we can all agree that if an abortion fails and a child is born alive, the child must be given the same medical care that any other living, breathing infant would otherwise be given,” Roby said in a statement.

She added, “I cannot express how strongly I support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill I cosponsor that would protect babies who are born alive during botched abortion procedures. I cannot fathom how any person would oppose it, but every single member of Congress should be forced to vote either for or against infanticide. The American people deserve to know where each of us stands on this humanitarian issue.”

The full text of Roby’s remarks, as prepared, follows:

Good evening. I’d first like to thank you, Congresswoman Walorski, for leading this Special-Order tonight. This topic is critically important, especially in light of the heartbreaking news that has come out of New York and Virginia in recent weeks.

Truly, I was stunned to hear the boisterous cheering upon the New York state legislature’s passage of a bill that would significantly loosen restrictions on late-term abortions.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, the Democratic Governor recently threw his support behind similar legislation and made comments that served as a horrific defense of born-alive abortions. For the purpose of tonight’s discussion, I’ll call “born-alive abortion” what it is: Infanticide.

Here in Congress, part of our job is to debate the issues. Our dialogue surrounding legislation is a critically important component of the democratic process in this country. Still, no matter how our stances on abortion might vary, I hope we can all agree that if an abortion fails and a child is born alive, the child must be given the same medical care that any other living, breathing infant would otherwise be given.

I want to take this opportunity to reassure the people I represent in Alabama that I remain unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and am opposed to abortion at any stage. I understand that not everyone shares my views, but still, I am severely disturbed that this country now requires written legal provisions to protect living babies.

But sadly, in the aftermath of the news coming out of New York and Virginia, it is clear that this step is immediately necessary.

That’s why I am proud that House Republicans have wasted no time in acting. I especially appreciate my colleagues Mr. Scalise and Mrs. Wagner who have been working tirelessly to force a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill I cosponsor that would protect babies who are born alive during botched abortion procedures.

I cannot express how strongly I support this measure, and I cannot fathom how any person would oppose it. Every single member of Congress should be forced to vote either for or against infanticide. The American people deserve to know where each of us stands on this humanitarian issue.

Thank you.

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

2 days ago

State Sen. Elliott: Consider reopening empty 700-bed Riley-era facility in Perry County before spending $900 million on prisons

(Contributed/State Sen. Chris Elliott)

Earlier this week, Gov. Kay Ivey unveiled her plan to address the problems facing the state’s prison system, which has been threatened with a takeover by the federal government after a federal judge made a ruling mandating the state make improvements.

Ivey’s plan could cost $900 million according to some estimates and require the construction of three new men’s prisons to replace existing facilities.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday to promote his proposal to do away with municipality police and planning jurisdictions, State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Fairhope) suggested the state take a look at reviving an existing prison facility in Perry County built during Gov. Bob Riley’s administration and is currently vacant.

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“The Riley administration did something similar to this, and there is a 700-bed facility in Perry County right now sitting empty,” Elliott said. “I’m not sure the governor is wrong on this. I haven’t seen the details of the plans. It was just announced yesterday. But I would think the first step might be using existing facilities that we have in this state to do just that prior to entering into an agreement like this.”

Another alternative the Baldwin County Republican lawmaker suggested was to house some inmates at county jails and compensate the sheriffs of those respective counties for the housing.

“And I’ll also submit, and I am a former county commissioner – sometimes I go back to these roots – but I also say that we have a lot of empty jail beds in this state, hundred of empty jail beds in this state right now,” he added. “And they are located in our county jails. If the Department of Corrections were willing to pay the sheriffs a minimum daily rate of $30 a day to house a prisoner, I think a lot of our county jails would be willing to take those prisoners on and say, ‘You can put 50 of them here. You can park them here for a couple of months.'”

“That’s fine,” Elliott continued. “If you need to move, if this is at the end of their sentence, and you want to put them back in Madison County, or put them in the Limestone facility, or put them in Etowah County, as they assimilated back into their daily life, closer to their families for the last year of the sentence, or something like that. I think there are some nice, easy ways to solving that problem as opposed to riding into an $800-to-900-million plan.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

State Sen. Waggoner: Bed tax to finance Medicaid expansion ‘a rumor,’ ‘May be a possibility’

Sen. Jabo Waggoner, Chairman, Senate Rules Committee

Over the last week and a half, State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) has spoken out about the possibility of the state of Alabama expanding Medicaid rolls, which is an idea up until this point that most Republican lawmakers have vehemently opposed.

In remarks to ABC 33/40 earlier this month, Waggoner said the legislature was going to take a “closer look” at the issue this year.  In an appearance on Alabama Public Television last Friday, Waggoner clarified his remarks by saying that was not an endorsement of the policy.

In an appearance Wednesday on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Waggoner acknowledged a bed tax had been mentioned as a means to help finance Medicaid expansion, a move that could mean federal dollars coming into the state to prop up the state’s ailing hospitals.

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“That’s a rumor in Montgomery,” Waggoner said on “The Dale Jackson Show.” “That may be a possibility. That’s part of the research and the study that I’m talking about. I’ve never ever waffled on my opinion about Medicaid. I’m just saying let’s sit down like grown men and women and look at it and see if we can prevent these rural hospitals from closing.”

The Vestavia Hills Republican said he was not sure whether or not it was an actual possibility.

“I don’t know if it is a possibility – that’s part of the studying we sought out from day one,” he said. “It’s just something we need to look at. I don’t know if that’s a good option or not.”

“All I’m saying is grown men and women need to sit down and look at it and see what we can do to prevent the closing of rural hospitals,” he added. “All sick people in Alabama do not live close to a hospital. And I don’t feel like they need to travel to Mobile or Huntsville or Tuscaloosa. We need to keep some of these rural hospitals open.”

Host Dale Jackson pressed Waggoner on other options, to which Waggoner replied there might be no other options but that it was something for policymakers to explore.

“It may be the only option,” Waggoner replied. “It’s not probably a good option. We’re going to rely primarily on Medicaid. It may not be a good option. Medicaid is eating up our general fund the way it is now. It may not be a good option. My comments are let’s see if there is any other options.”

“[I] don’t know if a bed tax is an option or not,” he added.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

Merrill in Capitol Hill testimony: Alabama absentee voting fraud happens ‘frequently,’ prosecutors letting it slide

(House Homeland Security Committee/YouTube)

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill testified in front of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday, warning against “federal overreach” and advising that absentee voting fraud occurs in the state “frequently” but is seldom prosecuted in local jurisdictions.

Merrill was invited by committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (AL-3) to lend his expertise on an election security panel and advise on the merits of H.R 1. This legislation championed by the leftwing of the national Democratic Party, entitled the “For the People Act,” proposes a massive overhaul of the federal election and campaign finance systems. H.R. 1 has the support of Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7) in the Yellowhammer State.

In his opening statement, Merrill warned that the Democrat-backed legislation is an attempt at “federal overreach” on the rights of states and localities to administer their own elections.

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“[T]here are some serious concerns and issues with H.R. 1 in our opinion,” he cautioned.

Merrill outlined, “Number one: significant federal overreach has been indicated through the introduction of this legislation. And it appears to provide certain things that need to be done but the lack of resources in order to be able to do those effectively. There’s strictly underfunded or unfunded mandates. Number two: there are many prescriptive requirements that have been indicated that states that would accept these funds would face significant difficulty in enacting those new programs without the resources necessary to do that… Number three: the amount of time that the states have to meet the requirements is not something that is going to be able to be met…”

He added that H.R. 1, if it was to pass against all odds, would not be able to be adhered to on the timeline mandated by the legislation because the federal government and most state agencies across the nation “move at the speed of government.”

In his first question during this panel hearing, Rogers asked Merrill if there is anything in H.R. 1 that he would find helpful to securing elections in Alabama.

“No, congressman,” Merrill answered.

The Alabama secretary of state recommended that Congress alter the bill to allocate election security funding to the states that included guidelines but not mandates so states and localities could decide how to best utilize their resources in their unique situations.

Responding to a later question by a Democrat on the committee, Merrill warned that election laws can only help so much when local prosecutors are not willing to charge violators.

Merrill said that since he became secretary of state four years and 25 days ago, 874 unique instances of alleged voter fraud have been reported to his office.

Out of the 870 of these cases that have been investigated fully already, six have resulted in convictions, with three elections being overturned, according to Merrill. However, this does not mean that only six of 870 cases were found to have violated the law.

“I think it’s important to know that we have a number of prosecutors in our state that are not really interested in advancing investigations into voter fraud because they think the penalties are too stiff,” he advised.

In a follow-up, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) asked Merrill if he was suggesting that there has been “much more voter fraud” in Alabama than has been prosecuted.

“Yes, sir,” the secretary of state responded. “We have some – I actually have two instances that I can share with you just briefly: one, 119 absentee ballot applications were mailed to one location and nobody lives in that home. In another jurisdiction, 109 absentee ballot applications were mailed to the mayoral candidate’s mother’s home. And neither one of those have been prosecuted yet.”

Cleaver asked, “Were there many more such cases?”

“Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir, we have them frequently,” Merrill emphasized. “And they’re not just related to certain parts of our state, either.”

He added, “The main instances we see are in the area of absentee balloting, not in walk-up, in-person voting.”

Watch:

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

2 days ago

California Senator Dianne Feinstein joins the fray against Alabama aerospace companies

(D. Feinstein, M. Rogers/Facebook)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has joined Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) in objecting to the competitive bid process that resulted in pioneering opportunities for two Alabama aerospace companies.

In a letter dated February 4 and addressed to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Feinstein and a colleague called for modifications to a process which resulted in major contracts for United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Alabama’s newest aerospace company, Blue Origin.

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The letter contends that the requirements included in the process have prevented other companies from qualifying as launch providers.

Rogers cited many of the same concerns in a similar letter to Secretary Wilson in November 2018.

Feinstein’s objection was reportedly on behalf of a California-based launch company.

These calls for revisions in the process could create obstacles for future participation by the Alabama companies.

The U.S. Air Force awarded the contracts in October 2018 for the development of new space vehicles for use on American national security missions.

The contract award resulted in ULA receiving the go-ahead to begin manufacturing the Vulcan Centaur rocket at its Decatur plant.

Blue Origin broke ground this year on a massive new facility in Huntsville that will represent a $200 million investment by the company in the state and create more than 300 jobs.

The company plans to manufacture engines capable of powering ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) previously praised the award as “great news” for Alabama.

At the Blue Origin groundbreaking, Governor Kay Ivey paid tribute to the leading role Alabama and companies like Blue Origin and ULA will play in shedding the nation’s dependence on foreign rocket components.

The competitive bid process at the center of the controversy had been put in place as a response to a congressional mandate to move away from foreign-made rocket engines.

“We built the rocket that took man to the moon and returned him safely,” Ivey said. “And now it’s going to be Alabama that takes men and women into deep space and returns them safely. The United States will no longer be dependent on other countries. Now we will be leading space exploration and it will start right here in Sweet Home Alabama.”

She also highlighted the partnership between Blue Origin and ULA as an example of Alabama’s manufacturing success.

“Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, they represent what we are all about in Alabama: growing opportunities for our people, being innovative and finding success when we work together,” Ivey concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 days ago

Brooks: Climate scientists should admit humanity doesn’t know nearly as much about climate change as it claims

(AL Legislature)

Representative Mo Brooks (AL-05) on Wednesday argued that climate scientists should admit humanity does not know nearly as much about climate change as it claims to know, pointing to sea levels rising at a lower rate now than they have over the past 21,000 years.

During the Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on climate change Wednesday, Dr. Robert Kopp, a climate change “expert,” was called on by Democrats as a witness. Throughout the questioning, Dr. Kopp admitted that sea levels are rising at rates less than one-third the average of the past 21,000 years and that human beings did not cause global warming and the rise of sea levels that has taken place since the last glacial maximum.

“The one thing every climate scientist should admit is that humanity does not know nearly as much about climate change as some like to claim they know. The only certainty is that the Earth’s climate is always changing, either cooling or warming. Rarely is the Earth’s climate constant. Earth climate data suggests Earth was once ‘planet snowball,’ where all or almost all of Earth was covered by ice, and, in other periods, has been far warmer than it is today,” Brooks said in a statement.

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He added, “Today’s SST Committee hearing on climate change was just the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ The truth is that the Earth’s sea levels have averaged rising two feet per century over the past 21,000 years. That average long-term sea level rise rate is three times greater than the eight-inch sea level rise the Earth has seen over the past 120 years. Not surprisingly, climate change alarmists, aiding and abetted by a partisan media, never share this historical scientific data with the public!”

Brooks also made it clear that he opposes the increase in gasoline costs.

“Most importantly, despite the uncertainty and inadequacy of our climate change knowledge, Socialist Democrats insist on raising gasoline costs to at least $8.70 per gallon,” Brooks said. “Perhaps I am in the minority, but I adamantly oppose raising gasoline prices to an exorbitant $8.70 per gallon that erodes the ability of Americans to pay for their families’ food, clothing, health care, home and education costs.”

Full exchange between Congressman Brooks and Dr. Kopp as follows:

BROOKS: Dr. Kopp, I’m looking at your written testimony as opposed to your oral testimony. On page three, you state, “Climate change is real. It is here now, and humans are responsible for it.” Is that an accurate statement of your quote?

KOPP: Yes, it is.

BROOKS: And, on page five of your written testimony, you state, “Global average sea level has risen by about eight inches since 1900” citing the Climate Science Special Report Earth National Climate Assessment. Is that an accurate reading of that quote?

KOPP: Yes, it is.

BROOKS: Are you familiar with the Earth’s last glacial maximum roughly 21,000 years ago?

KOPP: Yes, I am.

BROOKS: And, is it fair to say that sea levels during the last glacial maximum were roughly 400 feet lower than they are today?

KOPP: Yes, it is.

BROOKS: And, would it also be fair to say then that sea levels over the last 21,000 years— 400 divided by 21,000 or 210 centuries— sea levels have risen on average over that 21,000 year period of time at roughly two feet per century?

KOPP: Well, it was concentrated in the first half of that time, but yes.

BROOKS: From the 21,000 to the 7,000 years ago period is the concentration, then it still increased, sea levels did, but at a much lower rate during the last 7,000 years?

Kopp: When they stopped rising is a scientific uncertainty but certainly by 7,000 years ago the giant ice sheet that was sitting in North America was gone and so the contribution to sea level that came from that ice sheet ended.

BROOKS: So apparently somewhere between 21,000 and 7,000 years ago we had a very significant rise in sea levels much more than the two feet per century average of the overall 21,000 year period. Did humans cause that?

KOPP: No, they did not.

BROOKS: They did not. So there are other causes to sea level rises other than humans, and at least in this instance, over the last 21,000 years, we’re looking at an average sea level rise of two feet per century on average — 210 centuries a little over 400 feet total. What was the cause of that?

KOPP: Well, if you go back 21,000 years ago, my home state was sitting at its northern edges under about a mile of ice, and that ice sheet which we call the Laurentide ice sheet had a whole lot of water locked up in it so as that ice melted sea levels rose. We’re now in a very different world where there’s the ice on the planet is almost exclusively in Antarctica and Greenland and so what we’re concerned about now…

BROOKS: OK, I’m not asking what we’re concerned about now, I’m asking what caused the 400 feet in sea level rise over the last 21,000 years. Would it be fair to say that it was global warming?

KOPP: Yes, it would be.

Brooks: And what is it that caused that global warming that began roughly 18,000 to 21,000 years ago?

KOPP: So, we were in an ice age roughly 18,0000 years ago and the differences between the ice ages and the periods like we’re in now, which are called the interglacials because we’re not in a glacial period, are paced by changes in Earth orbit and amplified by changes in carbon dioxide.

BROOKS: OK, so there have been fluctuations in orbit, perhaps changes in carbon dioxide, and perhaps also some change in the actual tilt?

KOPP: When I talk about changes in orbit on that frequency we’re talking about where Earth is pointing, what we call a precession.

BROOKS: OK, and during the last glacial maximum, is it fair to say that almost all of Canada was uninhabitable along with New England, New York, everything north of the Ohio River was, in effect, uninhabitable?

KOPP: Certainly on the East side of the country, yes.

BROOKS: And would it also be fair to say that, certainly, at least in that instance, global warming was a desirable thing if you’re a Canadian?

KOPP: Well, there weren’t many Canadians, but yes.

BROOKS: Well there weren’t any back then.

KOPP: Over in the West there were, but yea.

BROOKS: Now, let’s talk about the remedy for a second. You may recall that in 2008 Dr. Steven Chu, who later became President Obama’s secretary of energy, stated that to combat climate change, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” which was about $8.70 cents per gallon. Do you agree with Steven Chu that that is a remedy that the United States should implement?

KOPP: Well, there’s lots of policy solutions…

BROOKS: I’m asking about this one. Yes or no?

KOPP: We are dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. One way of dealing with the problem would be to put a price on carbon that reflects the cost of that carbon dioxide is imposing on the world.

BROOKS: Is that a yes or a no?

KOPP: I’m going to give you the scientific answer and say it depends. It is one of the solutions that would work.

BROOKS: Alright, thank you madam chairman. Appreciate the time. 

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.