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.

13 mins ago

Alabama Launchpad selects finalists competing for $150K in prize money

(Alabama Launchpad/Facebook, YHN)

Alabama Launchpad, a fund that invests seed money in startup companies, announced the six finalists that will compete for $150,000 in prize money.

The six companies are split evenly into two groups, those currently in the “concept stage” that are not generating revenue yet and those in the “early seed stage” that aim to ramp up their existing business.

A panel of judges will hear the pitches from the companies while a live audience watches. The event will occur in the evening on February 27 and will be located in the Warehouse at Alley Station in Montgomery.

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Three companies in the concept stage will be trying to bring home a $50,000 prize.

Those companies as follows:

  • Acclinate Genetics, a Huntsville-based company addressing the lack of diversity in clinical drug trials
  • Pure Game Sports Network, a sports media & marketing company created for high school athletic departments and fans.
  • Smart Solutions, whose products offer assistive technology allowing more living independence for persons with disabilities

Three companies at the early seed stage have bigger stakes. The winner of that competition will take home $100,000.

Those startups as follows:

  • Buolo Solutions, a company connecting professional women to talent-seeking companies with flexible jobs
  • CerFlux, a cancer-fighting company creating personalized medicine solutions to identify the best and most effective cancer therapeutics for patients.
  • MOXIE, whose engineering team is producing custom-designed IOT solutions for clients within 30 days

Alabama Launchpad is a program by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. According to their website, the EDPA “is a private non-profit organization funded by more than 60 Alabama companies, whose mission is to attract and retain world-class talent across a broad spectrum of interests and industries.”

“We are proud to support these innovative entrepreneurs,” said EDPA President Steve Spencer in a press release. “Alabama Launchpad is here to serve early stage companies all over Alabama, and we look forward to seeing these finalists compete onstage in our state’s capital.”

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

1 hour ago

Medical marijuana bill clears Alabama Senate committee

(Pixabay, YHN)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A medical marijuana bill cleared its first hurdle Wednesday in the Alabama legislature, giving hope to advocates after years of setbacks.

Audience members applauded as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-1 for the bill, putting it in line for a Senate floor vote later this session.

The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson would allow people with a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana for 15 conditions — including cancer, anxiety and chronic pain — and purchase cannabis products at one of 34 licensed dispensaries. The bill would allow marijuana in forms such as pills, gummy cubes, oils, skin patches, gels and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

Advocates crowded into a public hearing at the Alabama Statehouse to watch the debate and tell lawmakers their stories.

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“This bill is not about getting high. This bill is about getting well,” said Dr. Alan Shackelford, a Colorado doctor who described the success of using medical marijuana on people with seizures and cancer.

Cristi Cain said her son Hardy’s debilitating seizures have been helped by CBD oil, now legal in Alabama, but said the higher doses that could help him more aren’t legal in the state. Hardy had as many as 100 seizures per day before trying the oil, and now has about 20 to 30, she said

“An area code shouldn’t affect one health’s care. If Hardy didn’t live in Alabama, he could be seizure-free. We shouldn’t have to be and don’t want to be medical refugees,” Cain said.

Another woman described how patches used in another state were the only thing that relieved her husband’s leg pain from Parkinson’s

The bill drew opposition from some law enforcement and conservative groups. They expressed concern about dosing, safety and the potential for abuse.

“Just because we put the word medical in front of marijuana does not make it medicine,” Shelby County Sheriff’s Capt. Clay Hammac said.

The Rev. Rick Hagans described addicts he buried. He said that although they obviously didn’t overdose on marijuana, they started their drug use with pot.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall sent lawmakers a letter expressing his opposition that noted marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The vote was a moment of optimism for medical marijuana advocates who for years made little headway in the conservative-leaning state. A medical marijuana bill in 2013 won the so-called “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill that year in the House of Representatives.

Melson said he is hopeful about the bill’s chances in 2020. He said there are multiple steps in the process of obtaining medical marijuana that should limit the danger of abuse.

“You are going to have to go to a physician. You are going to have to get a card. You are going to be on the (state) register,” Melson said. He defended the bill’s allowance of marijuana for a variety of conditions.

“I’m sure some people look at that 15 (conditions) and go, ‘Ýeah, really, that one?’ That’s because they don’t have it or don’t know the literature,” he said.

Sen. Larry Stutts, an obstetrician who cast the lone no vote on the committee, said state medical marijuana laws circumvent the process of drug trials usually required to introduce a new medicine

Stutts said other medications have been “through the process and been through the trials that study its effectiveness and side effects” before patients get them.

Before the vote, Sen. Cam Ward described his late father’s battle with cancer.

“I would have given anything, anything, had he had a tablet to take, something to chew on, some drops to put in his food to avoid the nauseousness from the chemotherapy. That would have changed his life. As a human being, who am I to say … you can’t have that to make you feel better?” Ward said.

(Associated Press, copyright 2020)

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3 hours ago

Alabamians can buy emergency preparedness items sales-tax free this weekend

(YHN/401calculator.com)

The weekend from Friday, February 21 through Sunday, February 23 is Alabama’s ninth annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday.

As such, several items needed to help prepare for a weather-related disaster can be purchased without state sales tax across stores in Alabama.

Items that cost $60 or less like batteries, ice packs, duct tape, plywood and flashlights will all be exempt from state sales tax this weekend.

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The biggest ticket item that can be purchased without tax is a portable electricity generator, although, any generator that costs $1,000 or more will begin incurring regular taxes.

Dozens of cities and counties also exempt their local sales tax on the holiday weekend, including Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile and Tuscaloosa. A full list of those areas can be found here.

A full list of the tax-exempt items can be found here.

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

16 hours ago

Alabama’s Warrior Met Coal announces historic Blue Creek mine development

(Warrior Met Coal/Facebook, YHN)

Brookwood-based Warrior Met Coal on Wednesday announced that they will begin development on a new “world-class” longwall mine near its existing mines located on the Blue Creek reserves in West Alabama.

Met coal is the type of coal sometimes referred to as coking coal. Unlike the thermal or steam variety, met coal is used as a vital ingredient in the steelmaking process instead of being utilized for power generation.

The new Blue Creek development is expected to have the capacity to produce an average of 4.3 million short tons per annum of premium High-Vol A met coal over the first ten years of production. It is one of the last remaining large-scale untapped premium High Vol A met coal mines in the U.S.

“We are extremely excited about our organic growth project that will transform Warrior and allow us to build upon our proven track record of creating value for stockholders. Blue Creek is truly a world-class asset and our commitment to this new initiative demonstrates our continued highly focused business strategy as a premium pure-play met coal producer,” Walt Scheller, CEO of Warrior Met Coal, said in a statement.

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The company expects to invest approximately $550 to $600 million over the next five years to develop Blue Creek with expected spending this year alone of approximately $25 million to kickstart the project.

Based on the current schedule, Warrior Met Coal expects first development tons from continuous miner units to occur in the third quarter of 2023 with the longwall scheduled to start up in the second quarter of 2025.

The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange and as such must report specific financial details on the project. This included the company projecting a “net present value” of “greater than $1 billion over the life of the mine with a projected after-tax internal rate of return (IRR) of nearly 30% and an expected payback of approximately two years from initial longwall production.”

Warrior Met Coal previewed this project at a Yellowhammer News event in 2019.

RELATED: Study: Alabama coal industry has nearly $3 billion impact; met coal reserves to last centuries

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

17 hours ago

‘Gender is Real Legislative Act’ advanced by Alabama House committee

(Chris Pringle/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House State Government Committee on Wednesday advanced the “Gender is Real Legislative” (GIRL) Act.

The bill, HB 35, is sponsored by State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile). Pringle is the chairman of the committee. The vote on Wednesday was 8-4 on party lines in favor of giving the legislation a favorable report. The GIRL Act now heads to the full House for consideration.

HB 35 would require Alabama public schools to make sure every entrant in an athletic competition is sorted by the gender on their birth certificate. The bill also forbids any state, county or municipal government/agency from providing a facility to a single-gender competition that allows a transgender entrant.The GIRL Act exempts any event that is specifically designed to have both boys and girls as competitors.

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“Gender is real. There are biological differences between boys and girls that influence athletic performance. The GIRL Bill seeks to support female student-athletes, so that they may compete against each other and not have to compete against male students with an unfair advantage,” Pringle has stated. “Liberal Democrats are always trying to accuse us of refusing science, but gender is a real biological truth. It truly defies logic that anyone would deny science and want male students to compete in female sports.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, a first-grade girl from the Birmingham area called on the committee to support the bill. The girl said it was only “fair” that student-athletes be sorted by the gender on their birth certificate and that she not have to compete against boys.

A full public hearing was held on the legislation last week, when State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) made some interesting remarks about Auburn legend Cam Newton while speaking against HB 35. Rogers in a subsequent interview then called for mandatory genetic testing of all public school student-athletes.

Pringle is currently running in the competitive Republican primary race for Alabama’s First Congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).

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

17 hours ago

Jessica Taylor ‘appalled and disgusted’ at Doug Jones’ abortion comments — ‘He is unfit’

(Doug Jones for Senate, Jessica Taylor/Facebook, YHN)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) once again finds himself in a negative spotlight back in his homestate.

Jones was caught in a video on Wednesday laughing about abortion and mocking a question about the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

Jessica Taylor, a conservative Republican candidate in Alabama’s Second Congressional District, reacted strongly to Jones’ remarks.

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In a statement to Yellowhammer News, she said, “As a Christian, and as a mother, I am appalled and disgusted that Doug Jones would act this way.”

“Defending the unborn has been a pillar of my campaign since day one,” Taylor continued. “Doug Jones’ blatant disregard for the rights of the unborn further demonstrates that he is unfit to represent us in Washington. Pro-life values are Alabama values. As a conservative, I will always fight for our Alabama conservative values in Congress.”

Taylor has been endorsed by the prominent national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List in her AL-01 primary bid.

SBA List also bashed Jones’ latest comments in a separate statement.

“Senator Doug Jones has proven once again that he is no moderate when it comes to abortion on demand through the moment of birth. Alabama’s Democratic senator may think it is ‘stupid’ to question his abortion extremism, but rest assured, his constituents take respect for human life very seriously,” stated SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

“With a record of voting in favor of late-term abortion more than halfway through pregnancy and forced taxpayer funding of abortion, Sen. Jones has repeatedly betrayed Alabamians, siding with the radical abortion lobby and fellow extremist Democrats in Congress,” Dannenfelser concluded. “Their agenda is dramatically out of step with the people of Alabama and the strong majority of Americans – including 55 percent of Independents and 43 percent of rank-and-file Democrats – who support compassionate limits on abortion after five months of pregnancy, when science clearly shows unborn babies can feel excruciating pain. If Senator Jones refuses to protect innocent unborn children, he won’t be laughing come Election Day.”

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

18 hours ago

2020 Mardi Gras ships to be docked in Mobile February 21-26

(U.S. Navy/Contributed, Wikicommons, YHN)

The ships docked in Mobile for the 2020 Mardi Gras celebration will be the USS MCFAUL and the USCG CUTTER GANNETT, per an announcement from the Alabama State Port Authority on Wednesday.

The two ships will berth at GulfQuest on South Water Street in downtown Mobile. The USS MCFAUL is scheduled to arrive on February 21 at 11:00 a.m., and the GANNET is set to arrive on February 24 at 9:00 a.m.

Both ships will be available for touring by the public. The MCFAUL from February 22-25 and the GANNET on February 25-26.

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The MCFAUL is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the 24th of its kind in the U.S. Navy. Her commanding officer is Commander Rusty J. Williams. The ship gets her name from war hero Petty Officer Donald L. McFaul (1957–1989).

The GANNET is a Protector-class Coastal Patrol Boat manned by the U.S. Coast Guard. When she is not being toured by the public, the GANNET protects America’s coastal waters and fisheries after launching from her homeport in Mobile.

Full information for the public tours included below as a courtesy of the Alabama State Port Authority and the United States Navy:

USS MCFAUL (DDG 74) Welcome Ceremony and Public Tours Info

  •   Welcome Ceremony:  11:00 am, CST, Friday, February 21, 2020. Alabama State Port Authority, Pier 2.  Gates open at 9:30 am (CST).
  •   Public Tours:  February 22-25, 2020 between the hours of 8:30 am – 11:00 am and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm (CST) Pier 2 Terminal, downtown Mobile, Ala.
  •   The gate entrance is located on the north side of the Mobile Convention Center on Water Street, Downtown Mobile, Ala.
  •   The Public is welcome, but all visitors are required to wear closed toe/heel shoes and carry valid identification.  All guests will undergo security screening prior to entry to the facility.

USCGC GANNET Public Tours Info

  •   GANNET will moor at 9:00 am (CST) on February 24, 2020 at the GulfQuest Maritime Museum, 155 S Water Street, in downtown Mobile, Ala.
  •   Public Tours: February 24 between the hours of 11:00 am and 3:00 pm (CST), and February 25-26 between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm (CST).
  •   The Public is welcome, but all visitors are required to wear closed toe/heel shoes and carry valid identification.

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

20 hours ago

WATCH: Doug Jones laughs about abortion, mocks question about ‘pain-capable’ act as ‘stupid’

(Nathan Brand/Twitter)

While the public’s attention is laser-focused on the upcoming March 3 U.S. Senate Republican primary in Alabama, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) apparently wants people to start thinking about the general election, too.

While getting out of his SUV to walk into The Club in Birmingham on Wednesday morning, Jones was greeted by a tracker who is also a constituent. The exchange was caught on video.

As Jones began to walk towards the building, the tracker asked from a distance, “Do you think abortion should be banned after five months?”

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Jones did not seem to hear the initial question, as he said back, “What stupid question do you have for me today?”

The tracker again, this time at a speaking distance, queried, “Do you think abortion should be banned after five months?”

Jones then began laughing, while parroting, “Should abortion be banned after–?”

“As I said, what a stupid question,” the senator continued.

“You’re voting on it next week,” the tracker advised, referring to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

“Yeah, and I’ll vote on it next week, just like I did the last time,” Jones responded, before walking out of view.

Watch:

Jones has been a staunch pro-abortion advocate while in the U.S. Senate, previously voting against the pain-capable abortion ban. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to be considered next week would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation based on scientific research suggesting that fetuses are capable of feeling pain by that point in pregnancy, per National Review. A report released recently suggested that fetal pain is in fact possible even earlier in pregnancy than 20 weeks.

Alabama’s junior U.S. senator also previously voted against banning using federal funds for abortions.

Jones has been endorsed in his 2020 reelection bid by State. Rep. John Rogers (D-AL) of “kill ’em now or kill ’em later” infamy. Rogers has asserted that Jones privately called him to say those remarks were “right.” Jones, confronted by a tracker last year, refused to comment on that allegation.

RELATED: Video: Doug Jones’ pro-choice beliefs compared with Dem. Rep. Rogers’ viral abortion comments

Last year, Jones criticized Republican lawmakers in Alabama for pushing the nation’s strictest abortion ban. He called their pro-life views “callous” and “extreme.”

While Alabamians in the 2018 general election voted overwhelmingly to declare the official policy of the state as being pro-life, Jones has stressed in public comments that representing the majority of his constituents is not “the be all to end all.” He recently doubled down on this admission when defending his two votes to remove President Donald Trump from office.

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

23 hours ago

Alabama House okays proposed teacher retirement change

(Pixbay, YHN)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — As the state faces a teacher shortage, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that proposes changes to retirement benefits to try to lure people to stay in the classroom.

Representatives voted unanimously for the bill called the Education Workforce Investment Act, which would alter the retirement structure for public education employees hired after 2013. The changes include allowing employees to retire with benefits after 30 years even if they haven’t reached age 62.

The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate.

“We have a shortage among educators, particularly we recognize the teachers in the classroom but it goes beyond that,” Republican Rep. Alan Baker of Brewton said. Baker said there are also shortages of bus drivers and other school employees.

The bill would reverse some of the changes lawmakers implemented in 2013 when they changed retirement structure for new hires because of concerns about the long-term cost of pension benefits. “It’s been deemed that might have been a slight over-correction,” Baker said.

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Currently, participants in the teachers retirement system are classified as Tier 1, if they were first hired before 2013, or Tier 2, if they were hired on, or after, Jan. 1, 2013. The tiers have different contribution rates, formulas and service requirements to collect benefits.

The bill would create anew Tier 3 retirement level and allow employees to retire at any age after 30 years of service with up to 80 percent of their final salary, Baker said. The bill alsoproposes increasingthe multiplier used in retirement calculations and allows employees to convert unused sick leave, similar to the Tier 1 system.

The bill would raise what employees must contribute to their retirement to make it the same as the old system. Tier 2 employees would be automatically shifted to Tier 3 unless they opt out of the change.

The bill passed without a dissenting vote, although Rep. Thomas Jackson criticized Republicans’ past cuts to educators’ benefits.

“It’s you all that took all that good stuff away from these good teachers in the state … I’m glad to know that you all saw the light and see where we are losing good teachers,“said Jackson, a Democrat.

Republican Rep. Bill Poole, who chairs the education budget committee, said it is a “reasonable” action.

“We’ve looked really hard at it. It’s part of the component of teacher recruitment and retention efforts to address a teacher shortage,” Poole, a Tuscaloosa Republican, said.

(Associated Press, copyright 2020)

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23 hours ago

City of Montgomery, Tuskegee University partner on urban agriculture innovation center

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — On Tuesday, Mayor Steven Reed joined officials from Tuskegee University on an abandoned lot in Montgomery to unveil plans for a new urban agriculture innovation center.

The center, which will be managed by Tuskegee University’s College of Agriculture, will attempt to reinvigorate interest in healthy food cultivation among Montgomery residents. It seeks to build on input from local citizens gathered by Tuskegee University’s public dialogue system. The initial plans call for greenhouses, solar-powered ag systems, and public gardens.

The hope is that the site, which was formerly home to the Carlton McLendon Furniture factory, will be a positive addition to the Peacock Tract neighborhood in Montgomery just south of downtown.

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A project at the location had long been a focus of Montgomery’s Economic and Community Development Director Desmond Wilson.

“This has been a long time coming, we’ve been working on something in this area for 12 years,” said Wilson, who grew up less than a block away from the new site and remembers watching those marching for civil rights pass in front of his house.

“Everybody had a garden, that was our way of life,” continued Wilson, tying the new agricultural center to the cultural heritage of the neighborhood it seeks to revitalize.

Dr. Walter Hill, the Dean of Tuskegee University’s College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences, spoke at the event.

The professor credited the unveiled center to the “brilliant, smart, articulate young people who don’t mess around and are ready to serve.”

Dr. Raymon Shange of Tuskegee University said the center will aim to spread knowledge about what to do with the products of a harvest; methods like drying and canning. He added the center will also seek to share methods of food preparation for those that may not know how to prepare meals with healthy ingredients.

Kalonji Gilchrest of 21 Dreams Arts & Culture announced that three murals will be added to the area in coming months as part of a larger effort to reinvigorate the neighborhood.

“We’re putting the culture back in agriculture,” said Lindsey Lunsford of Tuskegee University. Lunsford will work closely on the project as part of the public dialogue system that will ensure the agriculture innovation center meets the demonstrated needs of the surrounding community.

In his remarks at the event, Reed thanked Tuskegee University for their partnership on the project. The newly-elected mayor thinks projects like the one unveiled Tuesday can help relieve food deserts in urban areas.

“Projects like these are how we create a better future for the people in Montgomery,” added Reed.

Reed believes that the Peacock Tract area “was decimated by the intentional drawing of the interstate system right through the heart of this neighborhood.”

“We hope to be able to supply homes in this neighborhood, and homes in other underserved communities with fresh food and through gardening and through urban farming,” Reed said in his conclusion.

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

1 day ago

Byrne downplays negative turn in US Senate race — ‘Everybody is trying to make their differentiation from the other person’

(Special to Yellowhammer News)

TRUSSVILLE — If you have been paying attention in recent days, you may have noticed the trend of the candidates vying for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Alabama attacking one another, noting their flaws regarding their support from President Donald Trump and other hot-button issues like immigration and veterans issues.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and his campaign have certainly been participants, putting out an ad attacking rivals former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville last weekend. He also put out another spot noting Tuberville’s remarks attacking Trump for his handling of veterans’ issues back in August 2019.

Following a meet-and-greet session at the Trussville Civic Center, Byrne discussed that trend with Yellowhammer News, downplaying it and attributing it to the natural progression of a campaign cycle.

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“I don’t consider it to be so much negative as everybody is trying to make their differentiation from the other person,” he said. “That’s natural in a campaign. So, I’m not bothered by it at all. In fact, I think it is good when people say, ‘What’s the difference between this guy and this guy?’ We’re right in the middle of that. We think that we’re winning that argument. That’s the word we’re getting back from people. And this is the time for us to be talking about that with the folks of the state of Alabama, so they get the information they need to make their decision.”

Byrne acknowledged efforts to show the candidates’ support for Trump but also said questions also remain about Tuberville’s stance on immigration.

“That’s a part of it,” he said. “But they’re also interested in some key issues, too. And I can tell you right now this issue about Tommy Tuberville’s position on amnesty is a key issue. And so we’re going to keep telling people about his position on that and let him explain why he doesn’t think that’s amnesty.”

The Baldwin County Republican said he expected to do well in Trussville and all of Jefferson County.

“We’ve been here a number of times — we’ve got a good support base here,” Byrne added. “We’ve got good support here and all over Jefferson County. We feel good about Jefferson County.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, 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.

1 day ago

Alabama Senate passes bill to grant in-state tuition to children of military service members who get transferred out of state

State Senator Tom Whatley (Tom Whatley/Facebook)

The Alabama Senate on Tuesday passed a bill sponsored by State Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) that would grant children of a military service member in-state tuition at Alabama’s public universities even if their parent(s) are transferred out of state while the student is enrolled.

The legislation was part of the Senate’s “Military Friendliness Day” where the body took up a number of bills from legislators in both parties that sought to make Alabama as favorable to the military as possible. Military Friendliness Day and its corresponding package of bills were championed by Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth, who, as part of the duties of his office, presides over the Alabama Senate.

“What this is going to do is make Alabama a more military-friendly state,” Whatley told Yellowhammer News shortly after the bill’s passage.

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He said the situation the bill aimed to alleviate is one where a “child could lose in-state tuition and have to uproot their own educational pursuits through no fault of their own.”

Whatley has served in the Alabama National Guard for many years and told Yellowhammer about how that affected his thinking in regard to the bill that passed Tuesday.

He said of his service to the country, “It made it personal for me, it made it something I understood. I understood the plight of the military families that had this going on. I appreciate Lt. Governor Ainsworth for letting me handle it.”

Other items passed by the Alabama Senate on Military Friendliness Day include:

  • Sen. David Burkette’s (D-Montgomery) bill to allow local municipalities/counties to create organizations that will develop area adjacent to active Air Force bases.
  • Sen. Andrew Jones’ (R-Cente) bill to make easier the procurement of an Alabama teaching certificate by qualified members who served in the Armed Forces.
  • Sen. Tom Butler’s (R-Madison) bill that would make necessary the alerting of military bases when a county or municipality builds a tall structure in the vicinity of the base.
  • Two bills from Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road).
    • One that would require school districts with magnet schools to accept applications from students who have transferred into the district due to their parents being stationed there by the military.
    • A second that would authorize the formation of charter schools near military facilities.
  • Sen. Donnie Chesteen’s (R-Geneva) bill making it easier for the offspring of those serving in the Armed Forces to enroll in Alabama’s virtual education options.
  • A second bill from Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) that reshapes the Armory Commission of Alabama, changing it from nine to 15 members.

Multiple state senators who were part of the effort thanked Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth for spearheading the Military appreciation effort.

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

1 day ago

Sessions begins closing argument: ‘I have the ability to help in a way a new person does not’

(G. Skidmore/Flickr)

MONTGOMERY — Yellowhammer News on Tuesday sat down for an interview with former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Alabama State House.

Sessions was in Montgomery visiting with some of the state’s most powerful elected officials and discussing many of Alabama’s most pressing issues. He advised that he met individually with Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, Attorney General Steve Marshall, Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) during the day.

“It’s important for me to touch base with friends and the leaders of Alabama,” Sessions advised.

The U.S. Senate candidate also had lunch with his longtime friend from Wilcox County, Governor Kay Ivey.

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“We were able to talk about high school things and teachers — and matters of importance,” he explained. “And she’s just fabulous.”

“Those were all good, important contacts, and they’re good people,” Sessions added.

The Sessions campaign told Yellowhammer News that none of the meetings were regarding an endorsement.

Home stretch

Asked about how the campaign trail is going with only two weeks until the March 3 primary, Sessions responded, “We’re working very hard. People are so generous and kind traveling around the state. It really makes it a pleasure. We’re asking people for their vote, committing to them that I’ll be faithful to the values that the state of Alabama believes in — that I have been throughout my career.”

He then reiterated that there is an opportunity for Republicans to have a working conservative majority throughout the next decade or so. Sessions stressed that the first two years of a second term for President Donald Trump would be especially key.

“I think he will be [reelected],” Sessions remarked. “And we’ve got to take advantage of that momentum. I know those issues — I know trade, I know immigration, I know taxes, I know judges and crime. Those are issues that we can make some real progress in.”

“Frankly, I also sense that some of our Republicans still don’t get what’s happened,” he continued. “They don’t understand the Trump movement that brought in large numbers of independent voters, more African Americans, more Hispanics than previous Republican candidates have gotten. And even Democrats he’s brought over. So what the Republican leadership in Washington needs to understand is they need to reach out with energy and strength to welcome these new voters in, continue to deliver for them as President Trump has and build a new majority that can govern America and fend off this Socialist movement that threatens the very foundations of American democracy and free enterprise.”

Sessions added, “I just think it’s an incredible opportunity. I’ve given a lot of thought about it. I think I understand it. And I think I have the ability to help in a way a new person does not.”

Sessions punches back

Yellowhammer News asked Sessions about the new ad his campaign released earlier on Tuesday. He framed the ad as a longtime-coming response to attacks (whether through ads or barbs on the campaign trail) from his top two opponents: former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01).

“I think the ad — I’ve been subject to attacks for months now,” Sessions remarked. “And I’ve always tried to be faithful and true to the people of Alabama, but it’s time to push back and ask, ‘Well, who are you? Where were you when Donald Trump was in a race for the presidency and nobody knew how it was going to come out?'”

“There were days that were good and days that were bad, but I never wavered,” he added of his support for Trump in the 2016 cycle.

“Whereas, in fact, Congressman Byrne did call for him to withdraw in [October], just a few weeks before the election,” Sessions continued. “And then, I’m not even sure Tommy Tuberville even voted for Trump. He certainly should’ve been able to make a modest contribution — he gave no contribution. So I don’t know where this comes from.”

He followed up by calling into question Tuberville’s stated support of Trump during this campaign cycle. Sessions referenced comments made by Tuberville in September about immigration, in which the former coach was talking about documented migrant workers. Tuberville’s opponents contend the comments amount to supporting “amnesty.”

Sessions outlined, “[Tuberville has] indicated to me from what he’s said [publicly] that he’s not passionately committed to the issues that the people care about and that President Trump has pushed for. Like immigration, I mean, his statement on immigration is open borders. It says, ‘They want jobs, we want them to have jobs and we want them to become citizens.’ This is a stunning thing; it is hugely stunning.”

“And then on trade, he has said that he is a free-trader, which is a signal he’s not with the Trump agenda,” Sessions further decried. “And then he said that … he didn’t agree with Trump standing up to China. Which is stunning.”

“We are in a monumental battle with China. I have talked to the president about this in the [2016] campaign more than once, on the airplane, together we talked about it,” he advised. “The president knows that if he can stand firm to China, they need us far more than we need them. They will have to come to the table. We can improve our trading situation with China substantially. And the last thing you need, the very last thing, is members of his own party undercutting his negotiating ability. That’s the only danger that we have in this negotiation. If we stand firm, we will win.”

Sessions then hit Tuberville on his remarks from August about veterans’ healthcare related to Trump.

“I was with [Trump on the campaign trial] in speeches all over this country about veterans. He made it the highest priority,” Sessions commented. “Yes, it’s a hard bureaucracy to move. But nobody’s done better in moving that bureaucracy to help healthcare for veterans than him. I just don’t see why our leader on improving healthcare for veterans ought to be attacked by a person who’s in his own party. That just makes no sense to me.”

He then again underlined his argument about experience being integral to success in the Senate.

“I just think it’s really important the next senator understands how to be helpful on day one,” Sessions stressed.

“There’s not a military base in the state I don’t know about. There’s not a city size we haven’t worked with in the past. The businesses that often need to interface with Washington and need to be supported — Alabama businesses. I don’t have to be brought up to date on them. I know that already,” he advised. “And I think somebody starting with virtually no knowledge of the Congress is a problem.”

“And finally, I’ll say it this way: I have proven that I understand Alabama values. And that I fight for them every day. I have stood up to Republican colleagues on many key issues, sometimes alone, to advance trade and immigration issues that are important to Alabama. And why would we want to take a chance on somebody — may have been a good coach but’d be totally unproven. We don’t know what his philosophy is, except that it doesn’t look like he shares the Trumpian philosophy. I would say this is a critical election, and I believe I can provide valuable leadership,” Sessions emphasized.

Romney comparison

To conclude the interview, Yellowhammer similarly asked Sessions to react to two pro-Tuberville ads released on Tuesday comparing Sessions to Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), who recently voted to remove Trump from office on one impeachment article.

“This was very irritating to me,” Sessions responded. “Mitt Romney has indeed waffled. He’s a part of the crew that’s shown weakness and a lack of passion to advance the conservative agenda.”

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

1 day ago

Alabama Dem state senator: ‘I am very offended by the military’

(APTV)

MONTGOMERY — During debate on the Alabama Senate floor on Tuesday evening, State Senator Vivian Davis-Figures (D-Mobile) expressed her frustration at the United States military.

The Senate was considering a package of bills related to making Alabama, as Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth has declared as his goal, “the most military-friendly state in the country.”

However, Figures at the end of the legislative “Military Friendliness Day” did not seem to be feeling the love.

The two specific bills that drew ire from the Democratic side of the aisle, not just Figures individually, related to education.

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First, SB 106 by State Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road) would authorize the formation of public charter schools on or within one mile of military installations with a focus on serving military and certain Department of Defense dependents. That bill as amended was ultimately passed by the Senate on a 26-3 vote after it was initially carried over due to being slowed down by Senate Democrats on the floor. Figures voted against the bill.

Barfoot on the floor — and in brief remarks to Yellowhammer News after the Senate adjourned later in the evening — explained that the genesis of his bill is tied to comments made in recent years by U.S. Air Force Lt. General Anthony Cotton, who was at the time the commander of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.

Montgomery Public Schools has been taken over by the state (via an intervention) as a failing system, and military families are very much affected by the quality of the system.

Here is what U.S. News wrote in August:

The impact of failing schools isn’t limited to the local community. Leadership at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery has voiced concerns that poorly performing public schools have made it harder to get military personnel and their families to want to come here.

About 56% of airmen coming to Maxwell for Air War College, a professional military school for senior officers, choose to leave their families behind rather than move them to Montgomery, said Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, during a community gathering to discuss education in 2018. Schools were cited as the top reason for separation, Cotton has said.

Barfoot also added that a lack in availability of quality, affordable education is an issue that Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commissions look at when evaluating facilities.

With all that in mind, another related bill followed the passage of SB 106 on the Senate floor.

SB 143 by State Sen. Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva) would provide that for the purposes of enrolling in and attending a virtual school operating in Alabama, the dependents of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces shall be considered residents of the state upon the respective member receiving orders to relocate to the state. Under existing law, local boards of education are already required to provide a virtual education option for eligible students in grades 9-12. Essentially, this bill would just expedite the process by which military dependents could enroll in these existing virtual schools after their family was ordered to locate to Alabama.

Figures initially delayed the passage of this legislation, causing it to be carried over. However, at the end of the legislative day, the bill was brought back up. She remarked that the only reason she was not continuing to slow it down was because of her respect for Chesteen.

Nevertheless, Figures then turned her attention to the basis of the bills: that military dependents need better public education options in Alabama.

“I am very offended by the military,” the state senator decried.

She expressed that she was insulted that BRAC/military leadership would believe there are Alabama public schools not “good enough” for military dependents. Figures further lamented that, in her view, the military thinks their dependents are “too good” to go to school with civilian children at Alabama public schools.

After that, Figures voted in favor of SB 143. The bill passed 30-0. Both SB 106 and SB 143 now head to the House for a first reading.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News after adjournment, Figures affirmed her comments.

“I really think I said all I needed to say at the microphone about the passage of these bills, or the introduction of those bills that made it perfectly clear that our public school education is not ‘good enough,'” she said. “So, rather than us pay the price to establish charter schools just for them — that is a federal level of government, the Armed Forces — so if that’s the way they feel, why don’t they build their own school without continuing to further deplete the Education Trust Fund of Alabama, which is supposed to be intended for public schools.”

It should be noted that charter schools are public schools. Virtual school programs related to SB 143 are also governed by public school systems.

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

1 day ago

Super PAC ad says Tuberville ‘wrong on Trump, wrong on immigration’

(Fighting for Alabama Fund/YouTube)

Yellowhammer News has learned that Fighting for Alabama Fund, Inc. on Wednesday will go up on television with a new ad ahead of the state’s March 3 primary.

Fighting for Alabama Fund is a federal independent expenditure committee, colloquially known as a super PAC, supporting Congressman Bradley Byrne’s (AL-01) Republican U.S. Senate bid.

The same PAC last month ran a 30-second ad, entitled “Kidding Me,” highlighting Byrne’s approximately 97% record of voting with President Donald Trump while in Congress. In that ad, a narrator called Byrne “one of President Trump’s strongest defenders.”

The new ad launching Wednesday follows a similar Trump-centric theme, but also contrasts Byrne with former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

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Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Tuberville and Byrne are leading the Senate primary field, ahead of other candidates such as former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

The latest spot, also lasting 30 seconds, opens with a clip of Trump giving Byrne a shoutout at the recent White House event following the president’s impeachment trial acquittal.

“Bradley Byrne: the only one fighting for President Trump with a 97% pro-Trump voting record,” a narrator adds.

The ad subsequently invokes comments made in September by Tuberville regarding migrant workers. A separate ad by the Byrne campaign released this weekend has accused Tuberville of supporting “amnesty” over those remarks. Tuberville has maintained that he does not support amnesty for illegal aliens.

“Tommy Tuberville: wrong on Trump, wrong on immigration,” the Fighting for Alabama Fund ad concludes.

RELATED: ‘Don’t let Mitt happen in Alabama’: Pro-Tuberville PAC goes on attack in Senate race

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

2 days ago

Book details how Alabama journalist broke the story on Bill Clinton’s secret meeting with Obama’s top cop

(Matt A.J./Flickr, Christopher Sign/Contributed, YHN)

As U.S. Attorney General William Barr continues to spar with Democrats in his role leading the U.S. Department of Justice, an Alabama journalist has published a book detailing the events which led to President Barack Obama’s attorney general being embroiled in her own controversy.

Christopher Sign, an anchor at ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, appeared on “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning to talk about his book, “Secret on the Tarmac,” and the events which led to him breaking the story about former President Bill Clinton’s clandestine meeting with Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton coincided with the Department of Justice’s intent to launch an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized email server during her time as Secretary of State.

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Sign told “Fox & Friends” that he immediately sensed something was not quite right about the events on the airport tarmac in Phoenix that day in 2016.

“We knew something had occurred that was a bit unusual,” he remarked. “It was a planned meeting. It was not a coincidence.”

According to a 538-page report released by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice, Clinton and Lynch held different recollections of how the meeting came about.

Clinton claimed that Lynch invited him onto her government-owned jet, while Lynch maintained Clinton boarded the plane uninvited.

“I just wanted to say ‘hello’ to her and I thought it would look really crazy if we were living in [a] world [where] I couldn’t shake hands with the Attorney General, you know, when she was right there,” Clinton said, according to the report published in 2018.

Clinton bristled at the notion that the appropriateness of the meeting was being called into question.

“I don’t know whether I’m more offended that they think I’m crooked or that they think I’m stupid,” he told investigators.

Although Lynch expressed her discomfort with the meeting to investigators, both she and Clinton denied the subject of his wife’s emails coming up.

Sign, like many others across the nation, remained skeptical that conversation in such an urgent meeting was confined to small talk.

“[Secret on the Tarmac] details everything that they don’t want you to know and everything they think you forgot, but Bill Clinton was on that plane for 20 minutes and it wasn’t just about golf, grandkids, and Brexit. There’s so much that doesn’t add up,” explained the former Crimson Tide football player.

At the time, Donald Trump joined in the chorus of those questioning the substance of the secret meeting.

“Secret on the Tarmac is available for purchase at ChristopherSign.com and other outlets, including Amazon.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 days ago

Ivey issues State of Emergency to assist with Alabama flooding recovery

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Governor Kay Ivey issued a State of Emergency, which includes all 67 counties and becomes effective at 12:00 p.m. CST on February 18, on Tuesday to assist with flooding recovery efforts across the Yellowhammer State.

“The significant amount of rain that has fallen across Alabama over the last few weeks has caused flooding in several portions of the state. We assured our citizens that we would be prepared to help however needed, which is why I have decided to issue a State of Emergency,” Ivey said.

“This will allow a continued smooth recovery for our state, and I am confident it will aid the efforts already happening on the local level,” she added.

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Ivey also activated the Alabama Emergency Management Agency State Emergency Operations Center, “as well as impacted or potentially impacted Alabama Emergency Management Divisions.”

“The recent flooding has affected the lives of Alabamians in many parts of our state,” said Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings. “This State of Emergency will assist in connecting Alabama to the resources required to respond to current and future impacts caused by recent flooding throughout the state.”

A press release from the governor’s office noted:

By declaring a State of Emergency, Governor Ivey is directing the appropriate state agencies to exercise their statutory authority to assist the communities and entities impacted by the ongoing flooding and impact of the recent flooding. Among offering other assistance, the SOE issued by the governor allows local education authorities to appeal to the State Superintendent of Education for relief in fulfilling the local school calendar with respect to student days or employee days, or both, with no loss of income to employees.

Ivey’s press release concluded by encouraging Alabamians to stay alert and always tune in to local weather channels in case of any future threat of flooding.

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

2 days ago

Alabama Senate committee carries over bill to eliminate Office of State Auditor

(Auditor Jim Zeigler/Twitter, YHN)

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday again considered a bill that would eliminate the Office of the State Auditor.

The bill, SB 83, would not affect the current officeholder, State Auditor Jim Zeigler. As a constitutional amendment, the bill would go on the November general election ballot for a referendum if passed by the legislature; upon a successful referendum, SB 83 would go into effect following Zeigler’s current term. He is term-limited.

The state auditor’s duties and responsibilities would be transferred to the existing Department of Examiners of Public Accounts; additionally, the state auditor’s duty to make an appointment to each local board of registrars would be transferred to the lieutenant governor.

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The bill sponsor, State Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre), has argued that the State Auditor’s office in recent years has been downsized to such an extent that the office only catalogs state property and that that duty could be more efficiently completed by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. That department already handles the auditing of state finances.

Zeigler argues the bill would not save money.

“The money savings simply would not be there,” he said last week. “The people of Alabama want to maintain the ability to elect their state auditors and not have all of the auditing done by an agency not subject to election.”

The bill on Tuesday was carried over to the call of the chair for the second consecutive week. A substitute is expected to be offered in committee in the coming weeks.

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

2 days ago

Two from UAB lauded as among 100 inspiring black scientists in America

(UAB/Contributed, YHN)

Two scientists on the faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have been named to a list of 100 inspiring black scientists in America by Cross Talk, the official blog of Cell Press, a leading publisher of cutting-edge biomedical and physical science research and reviews.

Farah Lubin, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology, and Michelle Gray, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurology, made the list.

The blog’s guest author is Antentor O. Hinton Jr., Ph.D., a Ford Foundation and Burroughs Wellcome Fund postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iowa.

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“There’s a plethora of black scientists who make significant contributions to science, but many of them are unknown to the masses,” Hinton said. “It’s imperative that young black scientists know about the myriad accomplished scientists from African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and African American backgrounds in the fields of life sciences, chemistry, engineering and physics.”

Lubin is the director of the NINDS-funded Neuroscience Roadmap Scholar Program. She is also a scientist in the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center, the Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics, and the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. Her research focuses on learning, memory and synaptic plasticity, epigenetics, non-coding RNAs gene transcription, epilepsy disorders, neurodevelopment, and developmental disabilities.

Gray is the Dixon Scholar in Neuroscience in the Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics, a scientist in the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center and the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, and co-director for the School of Medicine’s Summer in Biomedical Sciences Undergraduate Research Program. Her research focuses on the pathogenesis of Huntington’s disease with a specific interest in astrocytes, as well as cardiac abnormalities in Huntington’s disease and X-linked dystonia Parkinsonism.

The list includes 75 established investigators, including Lubin and Gray, who range from tenure track assistant professors to full professors and 25 scientists whom the author labels as rising stars.

Visit Cross Talk to see the list in its entirety.

(Courtesy of UAB)

2 days ago

Ainsworth unveils legislation to speed up legal process for death row inmates — ‘Justice should be swift not stagnant’

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth held a press conference on Tuesday where he detailed his legislation that would speed up the appeals process for death row inmates. He was joined at the briefing by State Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper) and State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), who will sponsor the bill in the House and Senate respectively.

Currently, those convicted of a capital offense have two different attempts to appeal at the statewide level in Alabama; one to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and one to the Alabama Supreme Court.

The main change that would occur if the legislation were enacted is that a person convicted of capital murder in Alabama would only be able to make one appeal at the statewide level, and it would be heard by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.

Ainsworth was initially drawn to the effort after the death of seven Alabama law enforcement officers last year.

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“Losing even one law enforcement officer to violence is unacceptable, losing seven in just one year just blows my mind,” he remarked at the event.

After a thorough review of the current system, Ainsworth said that the effort morphed into a change that would affect “all capital offenses.”

“This legislation still affords a thorough appeals process,” Ainsworth assured those in attendance.

A release from his office compared the effort to a similar process recently implemented in the State of Tennessee.

The bills would also direct the Court of Criminal Appeals to prioritize and expedite the hearings of those convicted of capital crimes, and it would start the clock sooner on an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

“The crime rate is down in every single category except one, murder,” warned Ward when he took the podium. “We have had an increase in murder in Alabama by 25% over the last three years, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.”

The state senator, who is seeking a place on the Alabama Supreme Court, argued that when it comes to law enforcement officers getting killed, Alabamians should not “continue to allow political correctness stop us from stopping this problem.”

Ward also signaled that the bill would be heard next week by the Senate Judiciary Committee which he chairs.

Rowe began her remarks talking about her 27-year career in law enforcement that ended with her as police chief for the City of Jasper.

Rowe then detailed the case of a woman slain in 1988 in Rowe’s native Walker County. The man convicted of killing that woman is currently still on death row.

“This shaves two years off of that process, it does not prevent the offender, the person who killed her, from any level of justice or appeals that they deserve, but it does speed this process along,” added Rowe.

“Her only sister lives to see if the death penalty is played out,” she said in her conclusion.

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

2 days ago

Sessions hits opponents in TV ad — Byrne ‘stabbed Trump in the back’; Tuberville ‘a tourist in Alabama’

(Screenshot/YHN)

Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, unveiled a new TV ad critical of his opponents, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville and U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).

The 30-second spot is critical of Byrne’s decision late in the 2016 presidential election to call for then-GOP nominee Donald Trump to step aside in the wake of unearthed audio of Trump making inappropriate remarks to then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. It also raises questions of Tuberville’s residency in Alabama, claiming “he lives, votes, and pays taxes in Florida.”

The commercial appears to be an extension of a response from Sessions a day earlier to attacks from both Byrne and Tuberville.

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“It is unfortunate that Tommy Tuberville and Bradley Byrne have resorted to desperate and false attacks on Jeff Sessions,” Sessions’ campaign spokesman John Rogers said in a statement. “Tommy Tuberville just can’t find a positive message that connects with Alabamians. He’s too busy attacking President Trump.”

Transcript as follows:

NARRATOR: Bradley Byrne and Tommy Tuberville are desperate, telling lies about Jeff Sessions.

The truth? When Trump ran for president, only one senator had the guts to support him – only ONE — Jeff Sessions.

Byrne stood with the liberals, said Trump was “not fit to be president,” and stabbed Trump in the back right before the election.

And Tuberville is a tourist in Alabama — he lives, votes, and pays taxes in Florida.

The conservative you can trust – Jeff Sessions.

JEFF SESSIONS: I’m Jeff Sessions, and I approved this ad.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, 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.

2 days ago

AL-02 GOP candidate Terri Hasdorff invites ‘out-of-touch’ Bloomberg to visit Alabama farms over controversial remarks

(Hasdorff campaign/Youtube)

In response to Michael Bloomberg’s controversial comments that resurfaced over the weekend, Republican AL-02 candidate Terri Hasdorff has invited the New York billionaire to visit farms in Alabama.

The candidate said in a release, “I am appalled at how out-of-touch Mr. Bloomberg is about how much work goes into successful farming. I’m personally inviting him to Alabama’s Second District where I would be happy to take him to one of our nearly 10,000 farms and give him a tour.”

Hasdorff added, “[M]aybe we can even get him to roll up his sleeves and put in a little bit of real work!”

Bloomberg’s remarks, which date to 2016, were widely seen as disparaging the intelligence of farmers in America because he said he could “teach anyone how to be a farmer.” The divisive comments recently made the rounds on Twitter and other social media platforms.

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Hasdorff is running to succeed U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) in Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Though she has not fared well in the polls to date, she has been endorsed by two generals and has connections in Washington, D.C. from her time working in government.

“Alabama’s farmers are the backbone of our state,” Hasdorff said in the release. “The fact that someone like Michael Bloomberg feels he is entitled to belittle their hard work is appalling – but this is what the far left really thinks of real America. This is what out of touch Democrats and coastal elites believe. Mr. Bloomberg was just the one caught on tape.”

 

Hasdorff will compete at the ballot box against Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman, Prattville attorney Jessica Taylor, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King and former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) on March 3.

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

2 days ago

Video: Look inside Blue Origin’s new Huntsville rocket engine plant

(Blue Origin/Twitter)

Blue Origin officially opened its Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. The company will use the facility to manufacture its BE-4 rocket engines.

The opening was lauded by numerous industry leaders and Alabama’s elected officials across social media platforms.

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Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine will power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket built in Decatur.

Watch this video produced by Blue Origin providing a sneak peek inside the pristine facility:

2 days ago

Alabama Democrat calls for mandatory genetic testing of all public school student-athletes

(AHDC/Facebook)

State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) is making news once again.

Yellowhammer News last week reported that Rogers in a House committee meeting said that his favorite football player is “transgender.” Asked by Yellowhammer afterwards what player he was referring to, Rogers at the time responded that he was referencing Cam Newton but that he misspoke and meant “gay” rather than “transgender.”

These remarks came during a hearing on HB 35, known as the “Gender is Real Legislative” (GIRL) Act.

In a follow-up interview to Yellowhammer’s reporting with the website “Pluralist” published on Monday, Rogers shared some more interesting thoughts on the subject.

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HB 35 would require Alabama public schools to make sure every entrant in an athletic competition is sorted by the gender on their birth certificate. The bill also forbids any state, county or municipal government/agency from providing a facility to a single-gender competition that allows a transgender entrant. The GIRL Act exempts any event that is specifically designed to have both boys and girls as competitors.

In his interview with Pluralist, Rogers reportedly once again asserted that “a lot of people in the NFL have accused Cam Newton and other players of being [transgender].”

However, he did clarify that he himself did not know Newton to be transgender or gay; Rogers stated that he was simply trying to state that others believe this to be the case.

“I brought him up because there are a lot of insinuations about a lot of people who play athletics, whether they are transgender or not, and you never know,” Rogers reportedly told Pluralist. “Why would you point at someone if you don’t know and no test has been done?”

According to the publication, it subsequently became clear that Rogers seemed to be at least somewhat confusing being “transgender” with “intersexuality,” which is more colloquially understood as being a “hermaphrodite.”

“When you’re born, sometimes people are born a hermaphrodite,” Rogers remarked. “They’re born as a boy but they have other chromosomes of a girl, or they’re born as a girl but they have other chromosomes of a boy. Sometimes, the gender doesn’t take effect until later in life. That’s science. It’s x and y chromosomes.”

While reportedly decrying that “hermaphrodites” would be singled out under HB 35, Rogers then suggested a solution that would actually go further than the original legislation, which would rely on each student-athlete’s respective birth certificate for gender identification and eligibility purposes.

Rogers reportedly advocated that Alabama public school student-athletes be mandated to undergo genetic testing that would then be utilized to sort them for eligibility purposes.

“You need to get medical proof of what they really are: a boy or a girl. They need to have more x chromosomes than y chromosomes, which gender is prominent,” Rogers said. “Go with the test. Go with the biology.”

He added, “If a person ends up being male, they can compete as male, and if they end up being a female, they can compete as female.”

People around the state — and the country — may remember Rogers for his “kill ’em now or kill ’em later” comments made last year during debate of Alabama’s abortion ban legislation.

However, Rogers took a hardline conservative stance last week in advocating for an automatic death penalty without any appeals for convicted cop killers. No matter which ideological side of an issue Rogers finds himself aligned with, he seems to be making a splash whenever paired with a microphone.

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