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.

3 hours ago

Illegal immigrant charged in death of Mobile woman

Sonya Jones (NBC 15/Twitter)

Domingo Francisco Marcos, a Guatemalan immigrant in the United States illegally, has been charged with vehicular homicide and fleeing the scene of the accident with injuries in the Monday death of Mobile’s Sonya Jones on US 98.

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According to WKRG, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office said Marcos, 16, hit Jones’ vehicle head-on and then tried to run away. However, he was injured too badly to do so and collapsed after leaving the immediate scene.

Marcos was then taken to USA Women’s and Children’s Hospital for surgery. Prosecutors plan on asking the judge not to grant him bond.

He reportedly entered the country via Mexico and was apprehended in Arizona by federal law enforcement officials in 2017. Before he could be deported, he claimed asylum and was released awaiting a hearing. Marcos never showed up in court to speak to his claim, so it was denied. However, authorities had no way to locate him so he was never deported.

In a statement, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1), who represents the Mobile area, decried yet another illegal immigrant allegedly responsible for the death of an Alabamian.

“Yet again we have someone who is in our country illegally taking the life of an American citizen,” Byrne said. “How many more Americans have to die before we take action to crack down on illegal immigration, secure the border, and keep the American people safe? Enough is enough!”

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

6 hours ago

Bill to repeal Common Core in Alabama passes Senate

(YHN, Pixabay)

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama passed the State Senate as amended by a 23-7 vote on Thursday afternoon, despite a passionate filibuster by Democrats in the chamber.

The bill, SB 119, now heads to the House to take up after the legislature’s spring break next week.

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SB 119 was given a unanimous favorable recommendation on Wednesday by the Education Policy Committee.

State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) introduced a friendly amendment that was adopted by the Senate before they passed the bill. The amendment would move Alabama away from Common Core standards directly to new standards adopted by the state school board in 2021-2022 (instead of using transition standards next school year and then new standards in 2020-2021).

Gudger’s amendment also addressed concerns that the bill would inadvertently bar Alabama from utilizing things like AP tests and national certifications and exams.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL), who presides over the Senate, told Yellowhammer News Wednesday that he strongly supports the repeal of Common Core.

Update 4:20 p.m.:

Marsh released the following statement:

In the past I have made it clear that we have an elected school board who should dictate policy when it comes to education in Alabama. However it is clear that we have a dysfunctional school board who is incapable of making decisions that give our students and teachers the best chance at being successful.

We have used the Common Core standards in Alabama for nearly a decade and while we do have some blue-ribbon schools, the vast majority are severely behind. We are still ranked 46thand 49thin reading and math according to National Assessment of Educational Progress. This is unacceptable so it is time to try something new.

I have worked and will continue to work with the education community in developing high standards so that we have the most competitive and rigorous course of study in the country, we cannot accept the status quo and this is a good first step.

I want to thank the Senate for their support and their work as we ended up with a piece of legislation that went through the legislative process to become the best possible bill we could pass and addressed everybody’s concerns. This was a fantastic first step as we move to address sweeping education reform in Alabama.

RELATED: Ivey on Common Core: ‘We should be deliberate in determining a course of study for our state’

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

6 hours ago

Marsh’s bill to help build Trump’s wall passes Senate

(D. Marsh/Facebook, CBP/Flickr)

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’ bill (R-Anniston) that would voluntarily allow a taxpayer to divert a portion or all of their own state income tax refund to We Build the Wall, Inc. passed the Senate by a vote of 23-6 on Thursday afternoon, overcoming an organized Democrat filibuster.

The bill, SB 22, now is set for a first reading in the House, which can take up the legislation after the legislature’s spring break next week.

“I thank the Senate for their support on this matter and I look forward to working with the House to give Alabamians a voice and are able to express their desire to support President Trump and stronger border security,” Marsh said in a statement.

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After Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) started a filibuster Wednesday, Marsh carried the bill over.

On Thursday, the bill was named to the Senate special order calendar and was again filibustered when it came up, this time with multiple Democrat senators joining in the effort. Republicans, seeing the filibuster was set to continue for hours, successfully adopted a cloture petition to end the filibuster so the Democrats would not continue blocking the chamber from conducting business.

“People I talk to across Alabama are sick and tired of politicians in Washington D.C. talking and nothing being done about the crisis on our borders. This bill is about sending a message to Washington that we support President Trump and his mission to secure our southern border,” Marsh advised.

He added, “Alabamians overwhelming favor securing our borders, protecting our citizens and their jobs and supporting President Trump. This bill simply allows citizens, if they choose, to send a message that they want to see our borders secured by sending a portion of their tax refund to donate to build the wall.”

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

10 hours ago

Alabama legislature honors Mike Spann, opposes releasing of ‘American Taliban’ responsible for his murder

(S.Ross/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — Both chambers of the Alabama legislature on Thursday passed a joint resolution honoring Winfield native Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann, who was the first American known to be killed in “The War on Terror” in Afghanistan after 9/11.

The resolution also condemns the early release of John Walker Lindh, commonly known as the “American Taliban,” who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2002 but is now set to be released from a federal penitentiary on May 23.

Spann’s mother, Gail, was present at the State House on Thursday, escorted by her local state representative, Tracy Estes (R-Winfield), and state senator, Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia). She delivered a powerful speech on both the Senate and House floors, speaking to members of the press in between. Estes added that he thinks Lindh should have been executed for his crimes.

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Gail Spann speaking on the Senate floor (S.Ross/YHN)

Gail believes that Lindh bears responsibility for the death of her son, who was killed in the line of duty during a prison riot at Mazar-e Sharif. The charges originally filed against Lindh included a murder conspiracy role in the slaying of Americans, including Spann, in an uprising at this Afghan prison where Lindh and others had been sent after their capture.

Gail explained that Spann interviewed Lindh shortly before the riot broke out, and that Lindh did not warn him that the prisoners had weapons and were primed to attack both him and another American operative, as well as allied guards.

“I want him to spend the rest of the three years [his remaining sentence time]. I do not want him out,” she said, adding, “I would [ideally] like him to spend the rest of his life in prison, but that’s not possible.”

“He could have saved my son’s life, he knew [of the weapons and prisoners’ plan] and Mike had brought him out because he thought he was a prisoner [being held wrongly] and he was going to save John Walker Lindh’s life. John Walker Lindh had the opportunity to tell Mike right there… he chose not to because he was working [with them], he was a Taliban [member]. He’s a traitor to our country,” Gail advised.

Despite the odds, Spann managed to kill seven terrorists before being overrun by the rioting masses. He was executed “cowardly” shortly after, as the Alabama legislature’s resolution explains.

The resolution said Lindh’s release is an affront to American values and everyone who has ever served under the nation’s flag.

Spann’s mother also warned that Lindh is still a threat to Americans domestically and abroad if allowed to go free.

She described the level of support she and her family have received from state and federal government officials – as well as the citizens of Alabama – since Spann’s death as “amazing.”

“America’s the greatest country in the world,” Gail emphasized.

Spann was also an Auburn University graduate and Marine Corps captain when he joined the CIA as a paramilitary officer. He was a father of three at the time of his death at age 32.

Gail explained that now-CIA Director Gina Haspel had served as Spann’s partner on many occasions.

The two women spoke recently, and Gail shared an emotional moment from that visit.

“When I went last year to her first [appearance as director], she said, ‘You know [Spann] would have been director now instead of me if he had been here.’ That’s how good of an agent that he was,” Gail outlined. “They loved him. They still love him. They honor him all the time.”

You can read more about his life and heroism here.

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

11 hours ago

Gun maker Remington loses $3M in Alabama state incentives

(Remington Arms/Facebook)

Alabama officials say a gun maker is losing $3 million in incentives from the state.

State Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield told AL.com in an email Tuesday that Remington Arms has failed to meet hiring and payroll targets at its Huntsville plant, costing it $3 million in incentives.

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Remington emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last year.

In November, the Huntsville City Council agreed to relieve the company of its obligation to gradually increase its workforce, and allowed it to maintain at least 415 employees with the goal of having 1,868 workers in 2023.

Canfield says the Commerce Department is confident that Remington will recover from its situation.

He says talks will be pursued to better understand the company’s business plan.

Alabama promised more than $38 million in incentives to Remington.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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14 hours ago

Alabama Church Protection Act, bill to allow Bible elective classes in public schools advance in legislature

(Pixabay)

MONTGOMERY — Respective bills to extend “stand your ground” law to churches and allow the Bible to be taught as an elective social studies class in Alabama public schools each received a favorable recommendation from a legislative standing committee on Wednesday.

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HB 49, by State Rep. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville), would explicitly provide legal justification for a person to use deadly force in self-defense or in the defense of another person on church premises under certain circumstances. The House Judiciary Committee is proposing a substitute to the original filed version of HB 49 that makes it clear the legislation would function supplementally to current state “stand your ground” law instead of amending the existing statute.

This bill, nicknamed the “Alabama Church Protection Act,” has received a second reading and can now be placed on the House calendar for a third reading, debate and consideration.

Greer sponsored a similar bill with the same moniker last year that was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee before passing the full House with 40 “yes” votes, 16 “no” votes and 43 members not voting. However, the bill died in the Senate.

SB 14, by State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), was unanimously given a favorable recommendation by the Senate Education Policy Committee with two amendments. This bill would allow elective courses on the study of the Bible from grades 6-12 in state public schools and allow the display of artifacts, monuments, symbols and text in conjunction with these courses.

State Sen. President Del Marsh (R-Anniston) expressed his support for SB 14 back when it was prefiled.

“If students choose to study Biblical literacy as an elective in school, then there is no reason why that should not be allowed,” Marsh said in a statement. “This bill simply allows students to study artifacts, monuments, symbols, and text related to the study of the Bible.”

This is a policy supported by President Donald Trump.

“I applaud Senator Melson for sponsoring this bill and I thank President Trump for bringing this issue to national attention. I look forward to working on the passage of this bill,” Marsh added.

SB 14 has received a second reading and can now be placed on the Senate calendar for a third reading, debate and consideration.

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

1 day ago

Marsh’s bill to help build Trump’s wall filibustered by Dem Senate minority leader

(VOA News/YouTube)

MONTGOMERY — A bill authored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) that would voluntarily allow a taxpayer to divert a portion or all of their own state income tax refund to We Build the Wall, Inc. was filibustered by Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, SB 22, has been carried over to a later legislative date yet to be decided.

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Singleton conducted several “small” filibusters, as he called them, leading up to debate on SB 22 when the chamber was confirming some of the governor’s various nominations.

Singleton said he wanted to slow down the bill’s passage and has managed to do so by at least one day.

When SB 22 came up as the first item on Wednesday’s special order calendar, Singleton launched into a mini-filibuster of just a few minutes before the Senate adopted a budget isolation resolution (BIR) on the bill, but in doing so, he threatened to filibuster for four hours on consideration of passage of the bill itself. He then began to appear to do just that after the BIR was adopted.

During his speech, Singleton claimed more “drugs and crime” come into the United States from Canada than Mexico. He also proposed that the federal government simply print more money to build the wall if it is needed and that walls should be built on both the southern and northern borders, rather than just the southern one.

After about 20 minutes of Singleton speaking passionately against SB 22, Marsh offered to carry the bill over to a later date so the rest of Wednesday’s legislation would not be adversely affected.

He emphasized that his bill does not divert tax money to help build the wall, but instead deals with money that taxpayers would be getting back anyway from the state. Individuals would voluntarily be able to send money already owed back to them by the state to a nonprofit named We Build The Wall, Inc.

Marsh also said SB 22 allows Alabamians to easily and directly send a message (through their monetary contribution) to the federal government and people around the nation – and world – that they support border security and President Donald Trump’s efforts. Marsh himself has made such a contribution previously, but his bill would make it easier for citizens to do the same.

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

1 day ago

Ivey on Common Core: ‘We should be deliberate in determining a course of study for our state’

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Governor Kay Ivey has released a statement on Senator Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama, saying, “I support Senator Marsh’s efforts to ensure that headlines about Alabama ranking last or close to last in education become things of the past.”

Marsh’s bill, SB 119, was advanced unanimously from committee Wednesday and will come before the full Senate on Thursday, with passage in that chamber expected. All 27 Republican state senators support the bill.

The legislature’s spring break is next week, and substantial discussion from the education community is expected to occur with Marsh over the break and heading into the House committee process.

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“Alabama has some of the greatest teachers anywhere, they do a fantastic job each and every day laying a strong educational foundation for the children of Alabama,” Ivey said. “I have supported our teachers by proposing pay raises each of the last two years and expanding programs that have proven successful. As a former educator and president of the Alabama State Board of Education, I know how important it is to have good course materials to teach.”

The governor concluded, “Efforts like this should not be taken lightly, and I believe we should be deliberate in determining a course of study for our state. I support Senator Marsh’s efforts to ensure that headlines about Alabama ranking last or close to last in education become things of the past.”

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

1 day ago

Ainsworth looks forward to Common Core repeal – ‘Damaging legacy of the disastrous Obama administration’

(YHN, Pixabay, W. Ainsworth/Facebook)

Count Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth as an adamant supporter of eliminating Common Core in the state of Alabama.

After Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) filed a bill to do just that, Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News that he “look[s] forward to dropping the gavel when the repeal of Common Core passes the State Senate.”

This is expected to occur Thursday after the bill unanimously was advanced from committee on Wednesday.

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Ainsworth said in a statement, “I believe Alabamians should determine the curriculum and standards for our schoolchildren based upon our available resources, our needs, and our first-hand knowledge of what makes Alabama great. We should not rely upon some out-of-state entity or liberal, Washington, D.C. bureaucrats to determine our standards, and we certainly should not continue embracing this most damaging legacy of the disastrous Obama administration.”

“Sen. Marsh and the co-sponsors of his bill should be commended for working to end this unnecessary Obama-era relic, and I look forward to dropping the gavel when the repeal of Common Core passes the State Senate,” he concluded.

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

1 day ago

Ex-Auburn assistant basketball coach Chuck Person pleads guilty

(Auburn Tigers)

Former Auburn University assistant coach and 13-year NBA veteran Chuck Person pleaded guilty Tuesday to a bribery conspiracy charge in the widespread college basketball bribery scandal, ensuring that none of the four coaches charged in the probe will go to trial.

Person, 54, of Auburn, Alabama, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court, averting a June trial.

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He and his lawyer declined to speak afterward and made a quick exit from the courthouse.

Prosecutors said Person accepted $91,500 in bribes to steer players with NBA potential to a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser.

As part of the plea, he agreed to forfeit that amount.

Person said he committed his crime in late 2016 and early 2017.

The plea deal has a recommended sentencing guideline range of two to 2½ years in prison, though the sentence will be left up to Judge Loretta A. Preska.

The sentencing is scheduled for July 9.

In a release, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Person “abused his position as a coach and mentor to student-athletes in exchange for personal gain.”

“In taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes, Person not only placed personal financial gain above his obligations to his employer and the student-athletes he coached, but he broke the law,” he said.

Person’s plea falls in line with those recently entered by three other former assistant coaches at major college basketball schools.

Tony Bland, a former Southern California assistant coach; ex-Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson; and former Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans are awaiting sentencing.

Their prison terms are likely to be measured in months rather than years.

Person, former associate head coach at Auburn, was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1986 and played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.

In court papers, prosecutors said Person arranged multiple meetings between the financial adviser and Auburn players or their family members.

Prosecutors said he failed to tell families and players that he was being bribed to recommend the financial adviser.

In one recorded conversation, the prosecutor said, Person warned an Auburn player to keep his relationship with the financial adviser a secret.

According to prosecutors, Person said: “Don’t say nothing to anybody. … Don’t share with your sisters, don’t share with any of the teammates, that’s very important cause this is a violation … of rules, but this is how the NBA players get it done, they get early relationships, and they form partnerships.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 day ago

Marsh bill to repeal Common Core approved by Senate committee

(YHN, Pixabay, D. Marsh/Facebook)

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama was given a unanimous favorable recommendation by the Senate’s Education Policy Committee on Wednesday.

The bill, SB 119, is now set to be debated and considered on the Senate floor Thursday.

Marsh spoke about this bill during Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “News Shaper” event in Montgomery Tuesday evening after he filed the bill earlier that day.

He acknowledged that he has been a proponent of letting the state school board set education curriculum and standards policy in the past and even stopped an effort to repeal Common Core a few years ago. However, in Marsh’s view, Common Core has been given a chance now and it is time for the legislature to step in.

“It’s not working. I think we have to have some radical change with education policy in this state. And y’all know me, I’ve pushed a lot of things –  public charter schools, the Accountability Act. We’ve got to address this issue and it’s critical for this state,” Marsh said.

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He said eliminating Common Core would “clear the field” so the state could then move forward to better education outcomes.

Alabama would come up with its own high standards, premised on local control, under Marsh’s proposal.

He said his bill is cosponsored by all 27 of his Republican Senate colleagues and he expects SB 119 to pass the chamber and then receive similarly strong support in the House.

“I am committed to moving to a different standard that’s right for Alabama and moves us forward,” Marsh emphasized.

He also advised that there is a high level of politics involved in education decisions in the state but that sound policy must come first.

“[T]he education community, who I’ve asked to get this fixed, who have not addressed this, quite honestly I don’t think has put us in shape to move forward to address the problem at present. But I’m going to do all I can to see that it happens,” Marsh added.

Democrats on the Senate Education Policy Committee spoke in favor of keeping Common Core on Wednesday.

A career public school teacher from Lee County spoke in favor of eliminating Common Core at the hearing, while representatives from the state school superintendents association and the school boards association had concerns about the implementation of new standards.

Marsh said his bill will be amended before final passage to allow another national standard to be used if found to be best for Alabama, as the current language in his bill would ban any national standard from being adopted by the state school board.

Update, 11:35 a.m.:

State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) released a statement in support of Marsh’s bill.

“I strongly support Senator Marsh’s bill,” Givhan said. “The Common Core standards just haven’t worked for Alabama’s students, and the proof is evident in the data. In 2017, Alabama’s 8th grade math scores ranked 49th among the 50 states, and math scores for 4th grade students were 45th in the nation, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Common Core’s curriculum standards and guidelines have been in place for nine years, and they have failed Alabama’s students. It’s clear we need to look at alternative educational methods, with an emphasis on returning as much control as possible back to the local school districts.”

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

1 day ago

Marsh, McCutcheon talk lottery, ethics clarifications at Yellowhammer ‘News Shaper’ event

(S.Ross/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — Speaking Tuesday evening at Yellowhammer Multimedia’s first “News Shaper” event of 2019, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) provided their insight on some of the hot-button topics expected to be debated during the legislature’s ongoing regular session.

Yellowhammer owner and editor Tim Howe, who moderated the discussion, outlined uncertainty in the state’s ethics laws brought on by recent court and ethics commission decisions. Howe then asked the two leaders how they think the legislature can provide certainty and codified clarification moving forward, especially when it comes to defining a “principal.”

“There is no doubt that there’s a lot of uncertainty in the ethics legislation,” Marsh said. “The [Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission] was set up to look over this, but in addition to that, both the Senate and the House – in the Senate you have Greg Albritton and in the House [you have] Mike Jones – working throughout the entire break on how we address this.”

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“And remember,” Marsh continued, “it’s not about 140 legislators, there are 50,000 people in the state of Alabama affected by the ethics law. I’m going to make a plea to my colleagues, some of whom are in this room tonight: If it’s going to be fixed, we’ve got to fix it.”

He emphasized, “[I]t’s not going to get any easier. You’ve got to face the issues. You’ve got to address it and realize this is about much [more] than the legislature. So, I’m hopeful.

Marsh also noted that the uncertainty in the ethics law has “affected economic development.”

“There’s a section there where the economic developers are having problems keeping the [confidentiality] in the process of recruiting industries. We’ve got to address this,” he advised. “And I’m hopeful that we will address it this year.”

Marsh added, “I know that both Senator Albritton and Representative Jones have been in conversation with the attorney general and the ethics commission, as well. So we’re going down a path to try and get everybody on the same page. But we have got to -trust me, ladies and gentleman – we have best fix this. It’s got to be done.”

Howe then asked Marsh to articulate why certainty in the ethics law for economic development professionals is important not just for them, but for the entire state and each of its residents.

“[I]t’s important for the state, because we’re competing with all of the other states,” Marsh said.

He used the example of a piece of legislation passed out of committee that very day largely dealing with Polaris vehicles built in north Alabama and explained that the site selection process requires confidentiality, with most economic development recruitment projects being given code names.

“Because we’re competing against other states. And if we’re not able to keep that degree of secrecy at that stage of the game, we’re at a disadvantage to our neighbors,” Marsh explained.

He concluded, “So this is something that we have got to address. But I’m going to say this: that’s [only] a piece of it. And there’s going to be an attempt by the business community and economic developers to pass the piece. But I think it’s [incumbent] upon us to pass the big picture, solve all the problems, because you want as many people with you, supporting you, to make the changes. Every time you carve off a little piece, you lose some support. So, as I said, I want to help everybody, but I’m committed to the big picture.”

Lottery

Howe later asked the speaker if the time has come for a lottery proposal to pass the legislature and reach a referendum of the people.

“I think so,” McCutcheon responded. “I think it’s been coming for several years. I know that the districts, House districts, that are [bordering other states], most of those districts have seen a significant shift over the last seven or eight years because they see Alabamians driving across the state line to buy lottery tickets.”

He continued, “And people are starting to talk about it, and they’re starting to make it part of their discussion around the dinner table. … At the end of the day, there’s a good push from the people.”

McCutcheon did emphasize what he viewed as key to a successful lottery discussion.

“If we’re going to put this to a vote of the people, and I think it has a good chance of passing, we need to make sure that people understand what they’re voting on,” he outlined. “That’s very, very important. We don’t want to cloud the issue with the definition of a ‘lottery’ and try to sneak something in the back door. Let’s make sure the people understand in their minds what a lottery is and we define it in such a way that they know what they’re voting on.”

“Then, I think the next big debate will be, ‘Where’s the money [lottery revenue] going to go?’ And that will be something that we’ll have to contend with,” McCutcheon concluded.

This came the same day that Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) filed a lottery proposal that was soon after called not “clean” by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who said McClendon’s legislation would legalize slot machines in a select few places in the state.

Watch the entire discussion:

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

1 day ago

Bipartisan bill to regulate vaping set for House committee hearing

(S. Johnson/Flickr)

MONTGOMERY — Alabama is currently one of only three states to not regulate vaping, but that could soon change.

HB 41, sponsored by Republican Rep. Shane Stringer and Democrat Rep. Barbara Drummond, both of Mobile County, is on the House Judiciary Committee’s agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would regulate the sale, use and advertisement of vaping – or “alternative nicotine products” – in the state.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, both Drummond and Stringer emphasized that their bill is intended to protect the health and wellbeing of Alabama minors.

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“The motivation is simple,” Drummond emphasized. “We are trying to safeguard the teens in the state of Alabama.”

She outlined, “Vape shops, as it stands right now, are not regulated at all… And the bill came about because our drug education council locally brought it to our attention, but [Stringer and I] have both seen ourselves, as well as throughout the whole state, the rise of vape shops. They’re popping up everywhere in the state of Alabama.”

While it is too early to tell what vaping is directly doing to users’ health, Stringer and Drummond emphasized there is an objective gateway effect from vaping use and to smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Right now, there is no data that says what is the [direct] effect that these products are having on our young people. What we are seeing, and this is a national trend, is that you’re seeing smoking not going down, but increasing, among young people,” Drummond explained.

Stringer, a career law enforcement officer with stints as chief of multiple local police departments, said educators from every corner of Mobile County have voiced their concerns with the lack of state oversight on vape products and retailers “saying this is an epidemic and a problem what we need to address.”

“The products haven’t been out long enough to know the problems we could face in five, ten, 15 years from now,” he said. “It’s pretty similar to when smoking came out. There was basically no risk at that time, according to everyone. Now, look at all the data that we have to go with smoking… this is a new product we’re learning every day about.”

Stringer said statistics they were shown from the drug education council show an approximately 34 percent increase in children under 19-years-old that tried smoking after vaping.

“In Alabama, we don’t want to wake up one day and see the effects, negative effects on our kids,” Drummond added. “Right now, we’re trying to be responsible legislators to make sure that we look out for the welfare of our children.”

The two lawmakers also stressed that not only do vape shop operators have no restrictions on them, but the state has no way to even keep track of them currently.

Their bill would make it illegal to sell or give vape products to anyone under 19-years-old. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would regulate retail sales of the products, just as they do tobacco products. Retailers would have to obtain an annual permit, which includes an application fee of $300. Retailers would also have to comply with relevant FDA regulations and post signage warning of the dangers of nicotine usage.

Using vape products in certain places, including schools and child care facilities, would be prohibited.

‘This is something that is nonpartisan, it’s not anything that is about Republican or Democrat. This is something about our young people,” Drummond said. “Because if you look at the amount of nicotine that is showing up in these products, when they first hit the market, the nicotine levels were very low – like five percent. Now, it’s gone up to about ten percent. They’ve got other chemicals in there, like formaldehyde. What is the effect of that upon the brains of our kids? So, this is more of a public wellbeing bill for us.”

Stringer advised that he foresees widespread support in the legislature for the bill.

“Everyone agrees that there has to be some checks and balances [oversight] in place,” he concluded.

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

1 day ago

House Majority Leader Ledbetter predicts Alabama to ‘move to number one’ nationally in automotive production after Port of Mobile expansion

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Tuesday on Huntsville’s WVNN radio, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said he did not think it would be very long before Alabamians started to see tangible benefits of the Rebuild Alabama Act.

The legislation that was recently signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey after she called a special session will raise the gasoline tax six cents in September, then add an additional two cents in 2020 and 2021.

According to the DeKalb County Republican, road projects could start as early as the summer given the bill will allow for counties to bond half of the revenue the additional tax will generate that is distributed to the counties.

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“I really think it will be this summer,” Ledbetter said. “I think we’ll see it immediately, and the reason I say that is inside that bill there is a mechanism that the counties can use half of their money to bond with. So, I know there’s mine – I talked to the president of my county commission, and we’re looking at bonding half of that money. So if that happens, you’re going to see a lot of paving going down, and I think it will be significant, especially on those roads we can’t get buses across, or you know, the transportation has been limited due to the fact of the road conditions.”

Ledbetter also predicted one of the aspects of the law, which is to expand the Port of Mobile, will generate a positive impact statewide, especially with regards to the automotive industry.

“I don’t think there is any question about that,” he said. “The thing I think we’ll see – Alabama rank third as far as automotive manufacturing in the country. I think we’ll move to number one. I really do. I think this is that big of a game changer. I think aerospace engineering, and some of those jobs going to the port, building airplanes and building the ships – we’re going to move up the ladder because we got availability in the port to bring the ships in and out, the post-Panamax ships we hadn’t seen.”

“You know, the sad part about it is we build all these automobiles in Alabama – a lot of those were being shipped out of Savannah because we can’t get them out of our port,” Ledbetter added. “I think once this happens, we’ll see the roll off-roll on where we’ll be carrying cars to Mobile from Huntsville, from Lincoln, from here in Montgomery to see them delivered, or shipped out from Mobile.”

@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

Del Marsh files bill to give immunity for saving animals from hot car deaths

(A. Magill/Flickr, D. Marsh/Facebook)

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) announced Tuesday that he has filed a bill that would give immunity to any person in Alabama who rescues an animal from a car if they believe that the life of that animal is at risk.

“This is a simple bill, but one that is critical especially as the weather begins to warm up here in Alabama,” Marsh said in a statement. “As I travel around my district and even across the state, I have heard from many people that this is an issue that is very important to them.”

If enacted, this bill, SB61, would only allow for immunity from prosecution if a person believes the life of the animal in a hot car is in danger and breaks into the car to rescue them. Before attempting the rescue, a person must contact police or animal control to inform them of the situation and remain at the scene until authorities arrive to investigate.

“This bill is to protect people who are doing the right thing and trying to rescue an animal whose life is in danger,” Marsh added.

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The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

RELATED: Marsh’s bill to help build Trump’s wall receives committee approval

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

2 days ago

Del Marsh moves to end Common Core in Alabama

Sen. Del Marsh, President Pro Tem, Alabama Senate

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) filed a bill Tuesday that would repeal Common Core in the Yellowhammer State.

In a video, Marsh explained his bold move, which had not been anticipated by state political observers.

He said the bill would “eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama.”

Marsh said, “In the past, I have let our [state] school board, who dictates education policy, have Common Core in place. But after ten years, the state of Alabama is 49th in math and 46th in reading. We can’t keep going in that direction. So today, I will introduce this bill and ask my colleagues to support it so we can eliminate Common Core and start a new direction for education in the state of Alabama.”

Watch:

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

2 days ago

Poarch Band of Creek Indians: McClendon lottery not ‘clean’

(W. Donohue/Flickr, Poarch Band of Creek Indians/Facebook)

MONTGOMERY — After State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) Tuesday morning announced he was filing legislation to implement a lottery in Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) advised that they do not view the proposal as a “clean lottery.”

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In a statement to Yellowhammer News, the PCI’s division of governmental and public affairs outlined that they would support a “clean lottery bill,” but believe McClendon’s proposal would rob the people of Alabama of being able to properly vote on the lottery.

“We appreciate Sen. McClendon’s efforts to bring the question of whether the state should have a lottery to the forefront of this legislative session. However, the bill introduced today does not fit the definition of a ‘clean’ bill,” the PCI statement said. “It does not give citizens an opportunity to cast one vote on one issue — whether we should have a traditional lottery in our State. Instead, the bill is cluttered with provisions that will expand private gaming operations in a few parts of the state owned by a handful of individuals. It also demands that any vote on a lottery include a vote on video lottery terminals, which are also commonly known as ‘slot machines.'”

“We continue to support a truly ‘clean’ lottery bill that gives the citizens of Alabama the opportunity to decide a single issue — whether or not to have a lottery — by casting a single vote. The bill that was introduced today is not that,” the statement concluded.

PCI Tribal Chair Stephanie Bryan recently penned an op-ed advocating that the people of Alabama should be allowed to vote on a lottery-only proposal.

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

2 days ago

Court: Alabama can’t keep its lethal injection method secret

(Wikicommons)

A federal appeals court sided with news media organizations Monday in ruling that Alabama cannot keep its lethal injection protocol secret from the public.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected Alabama’s argument that its execution method is not a court record and thus should remain secret.

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“Judicial records provide grounds upon which a court relies in deciding cases, and thus the public has a valid interest in accessing these records to ensure the continued integrity and transparency of our governmental and judicial offices,” the court stated in its ruling.

At issue is what the court described as the botched execution of Doyle Hamm on Feb. 22, 2018.

The court said that after several failed attempts to insert a needle into his veins, the execution was called off as midnight approached.

The Associated Press and other news outlets then sought the state’s execution protocol and related records.

“Alabama is the most secretive state in the country with respect to its protocol,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

“The intense secrecy has obvious problems,” he said. “The Doyle Hamm case is one classic example of that because the difficulties in finding a vein all happen out of the view of the public.”

Representatives of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday’s decision, so it was not known whether they would appeal.

Alabama could ask the appeals court for reconsideration of the case, or appeal to the United States Supreme Court, Dunham said.

The state also could ask for a stay of Monday’s ruling as appeals play out, he said.

Monday’s decision upheld a federal judge’s ruling last year that the public has “a common law right of access” to the records.

In that May 2018 ruling, U.S. Judge Karon Bowdre decided that some information can remain secret in the interest of security, such as the names of low-level prison employees involved in executions.

Last year’s ruling found that the execution protocol and related records “clearly concern a matter of great public concern, i.e., how Alabama carries out its executions,” the appeals court wrote in Monday’s ruling.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Marsh’s bill to help build Trump’s wall receives committee approval

(D. Marsh/Facebook, U.S. CBP/Flickr)

MONTGOMERY — A bill authored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) that would voluntarily allow a taxpayer to divert a portion or all of their own state income tax refund to We Build the Wall, Inc. received a favorable recommendation by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Tuesday afternoon.

Designated SB 22, the bill would simply add We Build the Wall, Inc. to the list of various programs and organizations that currently receive funds from income tax check-offs under existing law. It would take effect in the 2020 tax year.

A fiscal note on the bill advised that the legislation would not have any administrative cost to the state because obligations of the Alabama Department of Revenue should be offset by the allowed cost of administration of up to tax refund 5 percent of collections. This is not a tax rebate or exemption but a way for citizens to send money already being refunded to them by the state to building the wall.

We Build the Wall Inc. is the non-profit created by Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage to raise money to build the wall along the United States’ border with Mexico for national security purposes.

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The bill will now head to the full Senate for a second reading, after which it can be placed on the calendar for consideration.

In a previous statement on SB 22, Marsh explained, “It is obvious that many people in the Federal government have little desire to address border security, so this is an easy way for people in Alabama, if they choose, to check a box and make a donation in support of building a border wall.”

“As I talk to people in my district and around the state, border security is the number one thing I hear about,” he added. “This is obviously an issue that has people very concerned and one that needs to be addressed.”

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

2 days ago

Lottery bill filed in Alabama Senate

(S.Ross/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) Tuesday filed legislation that would implement a lottery in Alabama.

With the regular session of the state legislature back underway for the first time since the special session focused on the Rebuild Alabama Act adjourned, legislators were back on Goat Hill with a bevy of issues to address.

One of the most talked about topics around the state, and in the capital city, has been the lottery. In a press conference, McClendon explained that he is proposing a constitutional amendment that would legalize a lottery. He is simultaneously bringing a regular bill that would allocate the lottery revenue. The constitutional amendment would go straight to a referendum of the people if passed by the legislature, while the bill would go to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk.

While McClendon called the lottery plan his bill proposes “clean,” there will be debate over the very definition of what constitutes a “clean lottery.”

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McClendon’s legislation would establish the Alabama Lottery Commission, with members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, Senate president pro tem and speaker of the House. The commission would issue a request for proposal, and a private company would then be chosen to manage the lottery, with oversight from the commission. The lottery management company would not be allowed to contribute money to political PACs or candidates.

The legislation would mandate that a person must be 18 years or older to purchase a lottery ticket. McClendon emphasized that he was not bringing the legislation to solve financial problems in Alabama, but that he did not want Yellowhammer State residents to have to travel and spend their money out-of-state if they want to participate in a lottery.

“For too long, the people of Alabama have been forced to drive to Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia to buy lottery tickets,” he explained in a statement. “Alabama dollars are being spent in neighboring states, funding their schools and their infrastructure projects. It is overwhelmingly clear that the people of Alabama want to vote on a lottery.”

During the press conference, McClendon said his proposal would explicitly maintain that casinos and card or table games of any kind are still illegal in the state.

He added that his legislation would mean increased job security for employees at GreeneTrack and similar existing facilities in the state that have been known to conduct pari-mutuel betting. The commission would license these facilities, which would have exclusive rights to video lottery terminals after a one-year transition away from electronic bingo.

As proposed, the lottery’s proceeds would go evenly to the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund. That is expected to be a major point of discussion and debate in the legislature, as members haggle over where the funds should go and how much of it should be earmarked.

McClendon welcomed this inevitable discussion and stressed that he wants the process to play out in public. Not handling the revenue allocation side of the equation in a constitutional amendment will allow the flexibility in future years for legislators to make changes as warranted.

The legislation would also offer new programming through the Alabama Department of Public Health to help gambling addicts. This would be funded from unclaimed lottery winnings, according to the state senator.

McClendon acknowledged that “it’s a fact” that lottery revenues decrease over time, but once his proposed lottery would get up and running, the initial annual revenue he estimates is $250 million. This is contingent on the commission allowing a flexible range of lottery games, including multi-state games like Mega Millions and Powerball and scratch-offs. His bills have not been given fiscal notes yet, meaning the state’s legislative services office has yet to confirm or rebut that revenue estimate or what expenses would be incurred by the state.

McClendon noted that since the commission would contract with a private company to administer the lottery, new state employees would not be needed.

He expressed confidence that the makeup and attitude of the legislature have changed now to benefit the chances of a lottery passing out of both chambers. If this happens, he wants the referendum by the people of Alabama to occur when turnout will be at its highest.

“It’s time we let the people vote,” McClendon said.

He identified the 2020 primary date of March 3 as his ideal date for that referendum to occur. This could have the added benefit of driving turnout up in the Republican contest to face Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL).

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

2 days ago

Ainsworth: Workforce development ‘number one crisis facing our state from the business standpoint’

(S.Ross/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — Speaking Tuesday morning to a group of industry leaders assembled at the Business Council of Alabama, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) explained that he is helping lead the charge on workforce development in the state.

Ainsworth identified getting Alabama students qualified and ready to fill good, high-paying jobs as a passion of his and a primary policy priority for his office.

“I think the number one crisis facing our state from the business standpoint is workforce development,” he advised.

The lieutenant governor then outlined why the issue is so important.

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“When I talk to businesses all over the state, it doesn’t matter where I was when I was traveling campaigning, the common theme I heard was, ‘Will, the number one factor limiting growth is people.’ And I think that’s such a shame because we have a lot of great people. It didn’t matter whether I was in Scottsboro talking to a car dealer who needed an auto tech there or if I was in Boaz, Alabama, talking to Pinnacle Manufacturing… [who] need more welders and painters,” Ainsworth said.

He reiterated, using the example of Pinnacle, that companies not being able to hire the number of skilled workers they need is prohibiting growth of 20-30 percent in many cases.

Ainsworth and his office are already hard at work doing everything they can to help bridge the skills gap.

“We’re working with the governor and … [the governor’s education policy advisor] Nick Moore, the two-year college system, k-12 and then we need the business community to step up to the plate on this and let’s solve this problem. Because here’s our vision on workforce development: our state should be the workforce development capital of the southeast,” Ainsworth emphasized.

He outlined that the goal can be met with the right initiatives in place, naming “Project Graduation” in Marshall County as something that is working on a smaller scale, because Alabama “has great people.”

“Taking that model, and the premise behind it is this — everyone has a God-given ability and a skillset that they can use. We need to figure out what that is,” Ainsworth said.

The Marshall County program centers on mentoring, but Ainsworth stressed that statewide workforce development efforts also need to efficiently utilize technology.

“One of the things we want to do – and a part of what Nick Moore is working on – is developing an app that will list all the jobs within a 60-mile radius of where a student lives,” he explained. “Because here’s what we found out: the same kids that need pre-k because their parents aren’t doing the job they need to do, guess what? Those same parents aren’t telling them about the job opportunities that are out there. So, kids really do not understand what jobs are out there, the education level needed, the skill set needed and the training needed – what these jobs pay. Part of what we need to do is educate people about what opportunities are out there, [ask] what are you passionate about, what do you want to do with your life and let’s get people ready for the workforce.”

“Our office is going to take a big lead on that… but we need the entire business community united to make sure we solve this problem for our state,” Ainsworth added.

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

2 days ago

Reality TV star ‘Mama June’ arrested in Alabama

(WE tv/YouTube)

Reality television star June “Mama June” Shannon has been arrested on drug charges in Alabama.

News outlets report that Shannon and a friend, Eugene Doak, were arrested March 13 at a gas station in Macon County where he was heard threatening her.

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The reports say that in the course of the investigation authorities found drugs and drug paraphernalia.

AL.com says the criminal complaint states the two had crack cocaine and a crack pipe.

Both are charged with felony drug possession and misdemeanor unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

The 39-year-old Shannon is the mother of Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, who starred in a reality TV show on TLC.

Shannon later starred in her own show documenting her weight loss.

The reports did not say whether she had a lawyer.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

AG Marshall on border security: Sinaloa Cartel responsible for ‘almost all’ imported drugs in Alabama

(AG Steve Marshall/Twitter)

MONTGOMERY — While speaking to the Montgomery Rotary Club Monday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall shared more insight into his White House visit last week when he briefed President Donald Trump on the impact of drug trafficking at and between points of entry at the nation’s southern border.

“It was really kind of an interesting week last week because I got a call about 2:00 Tuesday that asked if I could meet with the president at 1:00 the next day,” Marshall explained. “We made plans and were able to go up to Washington, but it was really about this issue – and I appreciate them reaching out – for me to be able to share with the president the link between border security and drug trafficking.”

He continued, “I firmly believe that, although we are not a border state, we are impacted by what crosses our border. If you look at Alabama’s drug problem, almost all the drugs that come into this country are imported by the Sinaloa Cartel — whether it be our cocaine, whether it be our methamphetamine, whether it be our heroin, and now the cartel is, along with the Chinese, allowing fentanyl to enter across our borders.”

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“So, what I not only had a chance to do was share with the president some of the data I was aware of involving our drug trafficking cases and those who’ve entered this country unlawfully, but also to be able to share with him some very personal stories,” Marshall advised.

In his words, these examples included “a 13-year-old girl up in Madison County who was autistic, lost her grandmother – stabbed to death – and then she was beheaded by two members of the cartel because they were exacting revenge.”

“Or a juvenile in Shelby County who was raped by a gentleman who was previously convicted of drug trafficking,” Marshall added.

He outlined that this illegal immigrant “was deported, came back simply a few months after he left this country to the same place and committed a rape involving a young girl.”

Marshall also shared with the president a very recent story from the attorney general’s home county, Marshall County.

A guy that was deported three different occasions came back to the same community and now is charged with the rape of a juvenile,” he explained.

“Those are stories that [the president] needs to hear,” Marshall said. “And that needs to be a little bit of a discussion when we’re talking nationally about the security of our border, recognizing that it’s not just simply an issue for California or for Texas or for Arizona. It’s also an issue for the people of Alabama.”

He then transitioned into talking about how his and Congressman Mo Brooks’ (AL-5) lawsuit against the U.S. Census Bureau focuses on illegal immigration pitfalls of a different kind.

“If you’re not here legally, you can’t vote in a federal election,” Marshall emphasized. “So I don’t understand why it is [illegal immigrants] oughta be counted in the census data for determining how many members of Congress a state has.”

He concluded, “Our experts say that if in fact those who are in this country unlawfully are counted, then Alabama’s going to lose a congressional seat… and a vote in the electoral college. One of the states that’s going to benefit from that is the state of California. And y’all, I don’t feel really good about giving California your vote for president. So, we’re going to continue to push that litigation, because we feel our constitutional basis for that argument is righteous but also that it is a matter of common sense.”

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

3 days ago

Rep. Gary Palmer on 2020 U.S. Senate run: ‘We’re praying about it’

(Screenshot/YouTube)

As the race for the Republican nomination for the 2020 U.S. Senate is starting to get underway, speculation is rampant about who might consider a bid for the shot to go head-to-head against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) next year.

One of the names sometimes mentioned has been Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), who is presently chairing the House GOP Policy Committee.

During an appearance on WVNN radio in Huntsville on Monday, Palmer addressed the speculation about a potential run for U.S. Senate.

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“We’re praying about it,” Palmer said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “But I think we got a chance to get the House back and that’s extremely important. My wife and I have an attitude that we don’t want to be anywhere that we’re not supposed to be. So, we’re just praying about it. If we hold the Senate in the next election when we don’t have the majority in the House, we’re going to have two more years of not getting anything done. You can’t do anything on taxes. You can’t do anything revenue related.”

“I don’t see us making any significant effort to get appropriations back in order,” he added. “I think it’s extremely important for the country that we get the House back and any other issues personally should be secondary to that.”

On his role as House GOP Policy Committee chairman, Palmer said to expect to see the committee offer some things that will help members of the House Republican caucus, which include the highlighting of billions of dollars in misappropriated funds.

“I think it’s going well,” he replied. “We’re working on some stuff I think is really going to help our guys on a broad range of issues. I was talking about that report from the General Accountability Office on the funds sitting in agency accounts. We’re actually bringing the head of the GAO to brief our members of the policy committee on several issues, including improper payments, which I think will really be helpful to our guys. Most of them know a little bit about it, but they don’t know how big of a deal it is. We sent out $141 billion in improper payments two years ago, and it goes up every year.”

@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.