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.

6 hours ago

Ad challenges Doug Jones on assertion that Boston Marathon Bomber should be allowed to vote while in jail

(Doug Jones for Senate/Facebook)

Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) partisan pledge to back whomever the Democrats nominate against President Donald Trump in 2020 is already manifesting itself as a major political – and policy – blunder by the incumbent from Mountain Brook as Jones seeks re-election of his own.

Hours after the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) erected an Alabama billboard tying Jones to far-left “socialist” healthcare plans, a new video ad was released challenging Jones to answer whether he agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), two leading contenders for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination, when they said during a CNN town hall Monday evening that the Boston Marathon Bomber and all other U.S. citizens currently serving domestic prison sentences should be allowed to vote.

Watch:

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This is not the only radical policy issue that Jones has tacitly promised to support with his blanket presidential pledge, nor could it be the last.

Expect to see Republicans continue to tie Jones to national Democratic ideas that the clear majority of Alabamians disagree with. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton 62.9 percent to 34.6 percent, which was a difference of almost 600,000 votes.

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

7 hours ago

Major bills to get committee hearings on Tuesday

(State of Alabama)

MONTGOMERY — Tuesday is expected to be an interesting day in the Alabama legislature, as respective bills dealing with the lottery and constitutional carry are set to receive committee consideration.

State Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Range) lottery bill – SB 220 – and State Sen. Gerald Allen’s (R-Tuscaloosa) bill eliminating firearm permit requirements – SB 4 – are on the Senate Tourism Committee’s meeting agenda for 2:00 p.m. You can listen live here.

Additionally, State Sen. Cam Ward’s (R-Alabaster) open records reform bill, SB 237, is on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee’s meeting agenda for 1:00 p.m. Listen live to that here.

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Both meetings are in room 825 of the State House.

SB 220 and SB 4 have each received a public hearing in recent weeks.

SB 4’s public hearing was in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 220 is the only clean lottery legislation that has been filed this session.

SB 237 is known as the “Alabama Open Records Act.” State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) is carrying the bill in the House.

The House will gavel in at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, while the Senate will begin its legislative day at 3:00 p.m.

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

Another state legislator looking at 2020 U.S. Senate bid

(YHPN)

Episode five of “The Insider with Sean Ross” has the scoop on a new potential candidate looking at mounting a Republican 2020 U.S. Senate bid. This time, it is a state legislator who voted against the Rebuild Alabama Act, Gov. Kay Ivey’s infrastructure package that will raise the state fuel tax 10 cents over three years.

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Join Sean Ross for the inside scoop on all the latest from Goat Hill to Capitol Hill as he hosts “The Insider,” a podcast on the new Yellowhammer Podcast Network.

Episodes will be released as news breaks, so subscribe now to stay in the know on all things political in Alabama.

19 hours ago

Del Marsh not running for U.S. Senate in 2020

(Del Marsh/Facebook)

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has confirmed to Yellowhammer News that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

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This came after The Anniston Star published an interview Monday evening with Marsh saying, “I’m not running.”

Marsh, who has been one of Alabama’s most powerful people since the Republican takeover of the state legislature in 2010, was rumored for months to be a leading contender for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination this cycle.

However, Yellowhammer News had reported in recent weeks online and on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that Marsh had become significantly less likely to mount a bid.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) also confirmed recently that he will not run for Jones’ seat in 2020.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville are the only announced Republican candidates thus far.

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

20 hours ago

Report: Doug Jones hires prominent pro-choice adviser as campaign manager

(J.Poor/YHN)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has picked a campaign manager for his 2020 re-election bid.

According to National Journal’s Zach Cohen, Jones has hired Cory Warfield, a Democratic operative known best perhaps for being a former adviser to Emily’s List.

Based in Washington, D.C., Emily’s List succinctly describes its mission as, “We ignite change by getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office.”

The group lobbies for “abortion rights,” spending tens of millions in major election cycles to advance its cause.

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Warfield confirmed the report on Twitter, while also using the opportunity to fundraise for Jones.

The new campaign manager also formerly ran Nevada’s 2016 Democratic presidential caucus.

This comes after Jones only raised 12 percent of his funds from Alabama donors in the first quarter of 2019.

The incumbent junior senator continues to draw heavy criticism for his coziness with D.C. special interest groups and national Democrats.

RELATED: Doug Jones touts support of abortion rights — ‘I am in favor of a woman’s freedom to choose’

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

1 day ago

Billboard slams Doug Jones’ pledge to support ‘socialist’ Dem candidates against Trump

Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate election is off and running.

On Monday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) put up the first billboard in the Yellowhammer State during this important cycle, as they look to oust the incumbent from Mountain Brook, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL).

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The billboard can be found in Birmingham along I-59, near Roebuck Plaza where the interstate crosses over Highway 11.

It reads, “Doug Jones silent as 2,472,100 Alabamians would lose their private health insurance.”

This builds off of Jones’ blanket pledge to support the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nominee, despite many of the candidates embracing far-left policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. The billboard specifically references Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) plan that would end private health insurance for 2,472,100 Alabamians.

“Doug Jones will not get a pass from voters as he has pledged to support socialist candidates for president who would eliminate private health insurance for 2,472,100 Alabamians,” NRSC spokesperson Nathan Brand told Yellowhammer News. “Alabama voters will retire Doug Jones because they know he has consistently opposed President Trump and his agenda when it matters most.”

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville are currently the only announced Republican candidates against Jones.

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

1 day ago

Alabama House passes bill to toughen sexual abuse sentencing

(S.Ross/YHN)

The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed State Rep. Matt Simpson’s (R-Daphne) bill that would alter certain sexual abuse sentencing in the Yellowhammer State.

HB 237 deals with second-degree sexual abuse, which is currently a Class A misdemeanor. Simpson’s bill would elevate the crime to a Class C felony if the victim is 12 to 15 years old and is at least 15 years younger than the offender. A Class C felony carries with it a penalty of between one year and 10 years in jail.

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As a former assistant district attorney for Baldwin and Mobile Counties who dealt with child sex crimes, Simpson explained that his bill came from his full, firsthand understanding of the necessity for stricter sentencing for those who commit sexual abuse on young people.

“This is a simple bill to understand – if you commit sexual abuse on someone 15 years younger than you, there are going to be serious additional consequences,” he said in a statement.

“This bill helps protect our children and makes sure we’re punishing people who would seek to harm them,” Simpson added. “Keeping them behind bars for the crimes they’ve committed against children keeps our streets safer and helps give all of us greater peace of mind.”

The bill is on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s meeting agenda for Wednesday. Simpson said he is working with senators from around the state to make sure the bill passes through that chamber.

“This is common sense legislation that helps keep all of our children and grandchildren safe,” Simpson concluded.

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

4 days ago

State Rep. Wes Allen sponsors resolution calling for citizenship questions in 2020 census

(W. Allen, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services/Facebook)

As the Supreme Court of the United States considers whether the Trump administration may follow through with plans to ask about citizenship as part of the 2020 census, one Alabama state representative is leading the effort among state policymakers to support the requirement.

State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy) has sponsored a resolution in the Alabama legislature urging the court to allow questions pertaining to citizenship status to be included on the upcoming 2020 census.

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“The census taking place in 2020 will help determine important issues like the number of seats each state will hold in the U.S. House of Representatives and the amount of population-based federal funding that will be awarded,” Allen said. “While Alabama has taken a hard stance against illegal immigration, liberal states like California, New York, and Massachusetts have thrown open their borders to those who break our laws with their simple presence. In essence, they stand to benefit by thumbing their noses at long-standing federal immigration law.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Congressman Mo Brooks have both been part of the lawsuit as they seek to prevent illegal immigrants from counting toward the nation’s population.

Marshall recently spoke to “The Jeff Poor Show” about the negative effects of counting illegal immigrants and his reason for joining the lawsuit.

“It won’t surprise anybody that means that our electoral vote will go to the state of California,” Marshall said. “And I’m not willing to sit idly by and let that happen.”

Brooks has been out front on the issue for much the same reason.

“Congressional seats should be apportioned based on the population of American citizens, not illegal aliens,” Brooks explained. “After all, this is America, not the United Nations.”

Allen pointed out that the position of his caucus and the Trump administration is backed by long-standing precedent.

“Questions regarding citizenship have been included in the U.S. Census as far back as 1820, and Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom are among the counties that routinely ask them,” he noted. “Including questions about citizenship on the census should be common sense, not controversial.”

Allen fears not asking about citizenship will end up rewarding areas of the country which ignore America’s immigration laws.

He warned that federal dollars and increased representation in Congress would go toward areas that harbor illegal immigrants.

The resolution has been adopted by the House Republican Caucus and will be sent to the court prior to oral arguments in the Department of Commerce v. New York case.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

5 days ago

ALGOP chair on Mueller report: ‘Shame on all who participated in this deplorable charade’

ALGOP Chairman Terry Lathan

After FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released on Thursday morning, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan concluded that it “confirms what we’ve known all along – no Russian collusion, no conspiracies and no White House interference.”

In a statement, the ALGOP chair continued, “In fact, the report shows complete cooperation by the White House which declined to use its executive privilege.”

Lathan said, “Since President Trump was elected by our nation’s citizens, Democrats and the mainstream media have spent their time making endless attacks on the president, spreading irresponsible propaganda and trying to manhandle a false narrative that they wanted. It’s been a shameful and despicable display of their agenda – destroy this presidency at all cost. No president, regardless of their party affiliation, should ever be put through these inexcusable actions.”

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“Shame on all who participated in this deplorable charade,” she concluded. “It’s time to stop focusing on these baseless accusations and get to work making America great again. President Trump’s policies are working and our historic economy shows it.”

RELATED: Alabama’s congressional delegation reacts to Mueller report: ‘Time to investigate the investigators’

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

5 days ago

Mueller report shows why Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself

(U.S. Southern Command, Aaron Harber/YouTube)

Even though President Donald Trump gave Jeff Sessions a lot of flack during his tenure as attorney general for recusing himself from the FBI special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election cycle, the Robert Mueller report’s release on Thursday shows why Sessions had an incontrovertible conflict of interest: He was personally under investigation by the special counsel’s office.

Pages 197-198 of the report detailed that the special counsel’s office investigated Sessions’ interactions with Russian Ambassador Kislyak in April, July and September 2016 when Sessions was still Alabama’s junior senator. Not only did they look into the interactions themselves, which Sessions has maintained did not relate to the Trump campaign, but the special counsel’s office examined whether Sessions committed perjury or made false statements to Congress in regards to these interactions.

Ultimately, they found Sessions’ explanation of his statements to be “plausible,” so there was “insufficient” evidence “to prove that Sessions was willingly untruthful in his answers.” Therefore, consistent with DOJ policy, the special counsel declined to prosecute Sessions and informed his attorney of that decision in March of 2018.

Read the relevant portion of the report for yourself:

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

5 days ago

Alabama’s congressional delegation reacts to Mueller report release: ‘Time to investigate the investigators’

(Wikicommons, (WH/Flickr, US DOJ/Facebook)

Republican members of Alabama’s congressional delegation are celebrating after the public release of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, with Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03) calling the investigation “tantamount to an attempted coup.”

Meanwhile, the two congressional Democrats from Alabama were silent immediately following the report’s release.

“It is worth reiterating that during the first two years of President Trump’s time in office, a witch hunt was led by the Mainstream Media and Deep State Democrats,” Rogers said in a statement. “Now that the Mueller Report has been publicly released, the truth can come to light. There was no collusion or obstruction.”

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He concluded, “It is time to investigate the investigators and see who was really behind what was tantamount to an attempted coup that was a waste of time and tax dollars.”

Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) stated, “The full report from Bob Mueller’s investigation just reaffirmed the original summary report: there was no collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russian Government. It must be remembered, this was the sole purpose of this investigation in the first place and the conclusion of that report is clear and unequivocal.”

Remainder of Aderholt’s statement as follows:

Even though many of my Democrat colleagues are grasping at straws as they try to relitigate this two year, 25-million-dollar, taxpayer funded investigation; it is clear by what we have learned today, that no credible evidence for any criminal wrongdoing was found.

There’s an old saying that the Democrats are proving true today: ‘if you cannot argue substance, then you argue process.’ The same Democrats who claimed Russian collusion was a ‘slam dunk,’ are now arguing that they don’t like the way the report that proves them wrong is being released.

I’m sure this full report will not end Democrat denial of the 2016 outcome. President Trump was elected in 2016 because candidate Trump’s message resonated with the American people. As President Trump moves forward, I hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle won’t continue to try to manufacture other investigations. We have a strong economy and Congress and the President need to work together to make it even stronger.

Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), who is one of two declared Republican candidates against Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020, said, “President Trump and Attorney General Barr should be commended for their unprecedented transparency in releasing Special Counsel Mueller’s report today. Finally, every last justification for Democrat grandstanding over imagined Russian collusion has been eliminated.”

“The charade is up. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And there was no coverup. Robert Mueller had the full resources of the Department of Justice and was unable to find criminal activity. It is time to move on. I hope the Democrat majority in the House will move past this embarrassing chapter in our history, call off their phony investigations, and stop the partisan political messaging so we can address issues that truly will benefit the American people,” he added.

Update 2:15 p.m.:

Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) released a statement, saying, “The perpetrators of this scam and fraud should be prosecuted and convicted to the full extent of the law. Further, they should be sued and forced to repay American taxpayers the tens of millions of tax dollars that were diverted from helping America citizens to investigating a crime that never occurred. Compared to Socialist Democrats and the Fake News Media, Jussie Smollett is a mere rookie and babe in the woods.”

Brooks’ full statement as follows:

As with the summary report of Attorney General Barr, today’s redacted Mueller Report once again debunks and exposes the Big Lie Propaganda Tactics of the Fake News Media and Socialist Democrats. The Mueller Report states, ‘The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’ Simply put, case closed. President Trump has been totally vindicated of “Big Lie” claims that he illegally colluded with Russia in the 2016 elections. The American public has been subjected to this fraud and false reporting for 2 ½ years. The American public deserves better.

The Fake News Media’s coverage of the Russia Collusion delusion was endless, it even resulted in the staffs of the New York Times and The Washington Post receiving the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for National Reporting into the so-called ‘Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign.’ It’s a shame that the media will not be held accountable for their lies and fraudulent reporting. After today’s release of the Mueller Report, the Washington Post and New York Times should be forced to return their 2018 Pulitzer Prize because Robert Mueller has now confirmed the non-existence of any Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign or any other American.

If any of the Fake News Media’s allegations were credible then Special Counsel Mueller would have been able to substantiate those claims because he had massive and almost endless resources. For emphasis, the Special Counsel ‘employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, . . . and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.’ After tens of millions of wasted American tax dollars, the finding is succinct. ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’

This Socialist Democrats and Fake News Media’s scam and fraud has undermined public faith in our republic. The perpetrators of this scam and fraud should be prosecuted and convicted to the full extent of the law. Further, they should be sued and forced to repay American taxpayers the tens of millions of tax dollars that were diverted from helping America citizens to investigating a crime that never occurred. Compared to Socialist Democrats and the Fake News Media, Jussie Smollett is a mere rookie and babe in the woods.

This story may be updated as statements are released.

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

6 days ago

Dem state senator: Second Amendment advocates have ‘mental problems’

(Senator Vivian Davis Figures Campaign/Facebook)

MONTGOMERY — During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s public hearing on a constitutional carry bill on Wednesday, a Democratic state senator accused Second Amendment advocates of wanting people with mental illnesses to be able to purchase and possess firearms, leading the senator to assert that these same advocates themselves have “some mental problems.”

State Sen. Gerald Allen’s (R-Tuscaloosa) SB 4 would get rid of the requirement that a gun owner has to have a permit to carry a lawfully owned firearm. It would not affect any existing legal requirements for someone to lawfully obtain that firearm.

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Sheriffs from across the state came to Montgomery to oppose the bill, saying it would get rid of a useful law enforcement tool and source of revenue. They advised that gun permitting requirements give them probable cause to ask for permits when making a multiple-occupant vehicle stop and often later find that weapons then confiscated have been stolen but not previously recorded as such.

Members of Moms Demand Action also opposed the bill.

Proponents of the bill, including BamaCarry’s Eddie Fulmer, pointed to data from states that have implemented the same type of policy. They said law-abiding citizens continue to get permits when purchasing or otherwise legally obtaining weapons and that non-law-abiding citizens will continue to illegally obtain and possess firearms. They also said that law enforcement concerns about safety are not backed up by the data from these other states and added that similar concerns when Alabama moved from a “may issue” state to “shall issue” in 2013 did not come to fruition.

However, none of this testimony was new or particularly noteworthy. The same debate happened last year when the bill passed the Senate but stalled in the House.

The fireworks started when the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Todd Adkins was speaking in favor of SB 4. Afterward, State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) used her opportunity to ask questions of Adkins to launch into a diatribe that had nothing to do with the bill at hand, or any bill that has been filed in the Alabama legislature.

“[W]hy would you want to do certain things that really put people at greater risk?” Figures asked, not pausing for an answer.

She said, “You even want to repeal a part of the law that’s in place now about carrying weapons into a demonstration, where everyone knows that the emotions are high … and we also know Congresswoman (Gabby) Giffords (of Arizona) was actually shot during that time, during a demonstration. Why would you want to take away the presumption of intent? That somebody could just shoot someone else and not even have intent, to repeal that. I really don’t understand it. I’ve always gotten an ‘F’ from the National Rifle Association and that’s a proud ‘F’ that I receive… I just don’t understand the mentality of what you guys or – or what you guys continue to push to do. Particularly, with all the gun violence that is happening, to allow a person to be able to get a gun who has mental problems – to me that says the person who’s pushing that has some mental problems. They don’t understand why people with mental issues shouldn’t have a weapon.”

State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), the chairman of the committee, then kindly warned her, “Let’s keep it close now, Senator.”

“Well, it’s just fact,” Figures responded, then saying, “I didn’t call any names.”

“But you are talking to me,” Adkins said.

“Well, I’m talking to you because you are representing the National Rifle Association, but I’m also talking about all of the people who keep pushing this,” Figures admitted. “I don’t understand why you all don’t understand that part of it. It just – I don’t understand.”

Speaking to Yellowhammer News after the hearing, Adkins explained that Figures’ assertions were sadly indicative of devolving American discourse, as scare tactics and smears now reign above substantive debate.

“Well, obviously I understand that this is a controversial issue for folks on both sides… so I understand that people can get excited and rather dramatic about this,” Adkins said. “But I’m the NRA. And we have members throughout this state, and I can assure you that we believe in the right to self-defense. We believe in the Second Amendment. That certainly doesn’t mean we have any issues that she was attempting to associate with us.”

He continued, “I’ve seen it become more and more common in the public square unfortunately these days that such attacks are made. And I will say: I respect her right to voice her opinion certainly. That’s what these types of hearings are all about, but I won’t characterize why necessarily she made them. I’ll just say I know all the people I work on behalf of – our members in this state – are good, law-abiding citizens.”

Ward said the committee will vote on the bill next week.

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Ainsworth: ‘I don’t think you should have to have a permit to carry’

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

6 days ago

Poll: Alabamians approve of Ivey’s, Shelby’s job performance more than Trump’s

A new poll released Wednesday morning by a non-partisan national research firm showed that Governor Kay Ivey, President Donald Trump and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) enjoy varying degrees of positive job approval ratings in the Yellowhammer State.

The poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, which has offices in Washington, D.C. and Jacksonville, FL, was conducted April 9-11 and surveyed 625 registered Alabama voters by telephone. The margin of error is four percent.

Ivey has an eye-popping 32-point net job approval rating, with 60 percent approving versus 28 percent who disapprove. Trump’s job performance is also popular, as 52 percent approve and 44 percent disapprove. Shelby has the same percentage who approve as Trump, but enjoys a significantly larger net rating because only 35 percent disapprove.

This is the first publicly released polling data after Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama infrastructure package was passed. Her new numbers from the Mason-Dixon largely are not a significant swing from her pre-Rebuild Alabama numbers in Morning Consult’s poll that covered the final quarter of 2018.

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In that previous Morning Consult survey, 63 percent of Alabamians said they approved of Ivey’s job performance, while only 19 percent disapproved and 18 percent either do not know or had no opinion. The margin of error in that polling was one percent.

Additionally, the new Mason-Dixon polling generally mirrors Shelby’s Morning Consult data from the final quarter of 2018. That survey had 47 percent of Alabamians approving his job performance and 27 percent disapproving.

However, Trump’s numbers in the Mason-Dixon poll represent a sizable deviation from Morning Consult data from March 1, which said 61 percent of Alabamians approve of the president’s job performance and 35 percent disapprove. Alabama has consistently been one of the highest three states for Trump’s approval ratings, often coming in at the top.

Moving back exclusively to the new Mason-Dixon polling, demographic breakdowns show that Ivey has a positive net approval rating with both Republicans and Democrats.

Comparatively, even though she enjoys a much bigger net approval rating, Trump scores considerably better amongst Republicans than the governor does. This is explained by Democrats even approving of Ivey’s job performance 45-41, while they disapprove of Trump’s by 93-4.

Trump is approved 87-9 by Republicans while Ivey scores a 75-16 score in the same metric.

Shelby, while certainly popular with his own party, has relatively balanced support, too. Republicans approve of Alabama’s senior senator 65-22 while Democrats disapprove 57-29.

Ivey also is approved by both white (66-24) and black people (46-37) alike.

This was the same poll that showed Sen. Doug Jones’ (D-AL) re-election bid faces huge demographic barriers. The polling was just released in two parts between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mason-Dixon CEO & Managing Director Brad Coker told Yellowhammer News that this polling was done in conjunction with public policy research for several private clients.

“We did an omnibus issue poll for about a dozen public policy clients in the state. Then we added the election questions for our own use,” Coker explained.

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

7 days ago

UA System chancellor has different view than Auburn of Ivey’s proposed budget

(Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John has countered recent remarks by Auburn University Trustee Jimmy Rane, who said Friday that Governor Kay Ivey’s proposed Education Trust Fund budget is “not kind to Auburn.”

As chair of the Auburn Board of Trustees’ governmental affairs committee, Rane outlined, “With record revenues and the largest budget education ever, Auburn received the lowest percentage increase among colleges and universities. While our increase is 5 percent, the University of Alabama’s increase is more than 7.5 percent.”

However, in a statement to Yellowhammer News, St. John pointed out that Auburn historically has and still is getting more operations and maintenance (O&M) funding than the University of Alabama. In fact, Auburn got 34 percent more O&M dollars per full-time enrolled student in FY 2018.

“We remain grateful for the taxpayer funding we receive through state appropriations and will always do our best to be responsible stewards of those resources,” St. John said.

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“In recent days, we have seen comments suggesting that Auburn University’s proposed budget allocation is not fair in comparison to that for The University of Alabama. For decades, and for reasons we have never understood, Auburn University has received a far larger state appropriation than The University of Alabama. The per student funding advantage for AU over UA is even wider. We embrace any conversation, today and in the future, about equitable and fair funding for our State’s great universities and the students we serve,” he emphasized.

Auburn’s full-time student enrollment was recorded as 27,468 in the fall of 2018 while the University of Alabama’s full-time enrollment was 33,038. These are the most recent available numbers.

UA got $146,089,724 in operations and maintenance funding from Ivey’s FY 18 budget, while Auburn received $162,700,206. This breaks down to $4,421.87 per full-time student for UA and $5,923.26 for Auburn.

This trend has generally continued, with UA’s FY 2019 O&M funding being $151,862,111 vs. Auburn’s $168,472.593. For Ivey’s proposed FY 2020 budget, UA’s O&M funding is $164,087,170 while Auburn’s is $177,192,494.

Sources with direct knowledge have also stressed that Ivey’s budget proposal was based on data-centric recommendations from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE). Sources emphasized that Auburn has been the only university not to accept ACHE’s proposed accountability measures.

This comes as the University of Alabama is set to freeze in-state tuition rates for the second consecutive year; in fact, the University of Alabama System’s trustees in June are expected to approve a historic system-wide in-state tuition freeze.

“The University of Alabama System is committed to accountability. In response to the needs of Alabama students, we have frozen tuition at the University of Alabama for two years. Last week, we announced a System-wide tuition freeze for UA, UAB, and UAH. To our knowledge, no other university in the state has frozen tuition,” St. John advised.

He concluded, “Our System is committed to improving education in Alabama at every level, from pre-K to Ph.D. and every level in between. We pledge to work together across the State to serve our citizens and improve the future for every student.”

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

7 days ago

State Sen. Elliott pushing bill to better protect law enforcement officers, punish violence against them

(Contributed/State Sen. Chris Elliott)

MONTGOMERY — State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Spanish Fort) is continuing his strong advocacy for legislation that would allow for harsher penalties against those who commit acts of violence against a law enforcement officer.

Yellowhammer News has previously reported on SB 36, Elliott’s bill that essentially makes employment as a law enforcement officer a protected class, just like race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability. This could make targeted violence against a law enforcement officer a hate crime, which would be subject to heightened criminal penalties for perpetrators.

“Every day, our law enforcement officers risk their lives to serve and protect Alabamians,” Elliott said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s vital that we do everything we can to ensure their safety and to punish, to the fullest extent of the law, those who target them. This bill extends that justice even further, and hits even harder, the criminals who attempt to do harm to police officers and sheriffs.”

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The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 5, the first day of the regular session, however, it has still not received consideration by the committee and is not on the schedule for this week.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) previously told Yellowhammer News that he is supportive of Elliott’s bill and believes it will gain significant traction in the chamber.

He called SB 36 “a reasonable approach.”

“I think [Elliott’s] bill is balanced and it’s also justified,” Ward advised.

SB 36 was introduced in the wake of the shooting death of Mobile Police Department’s Sean Tudor.

“We must honor the sacrifice of Officer Tudor and others who have lost their lives in the line of duty, and ensure that these crimes never happen again,” Elliott emphasized. “That goal starts with punishing, to the greatest possible degree, those who commit violence against law enforcement officers.”

On Tuesday, Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack commended Elliott for sponsoring the legislation.

“We are immensely grateful for Senator Elliott’s support of our law enforcement officers,” the sheriff said. “Our community is deeply saddened by the loss of Officer Tudor. Senator Elliott and I have been closely working together on this plan to bring greater justice to criminals who target police officers and sheriffs, and I urge the Alabama Legislature to pass this much-needed bill.”

State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville) is carrying the House companion bill to SB 36.

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

1 week ago

Gen. Ed Crowell wants to bring military, leadership experience to Montgomery mayor’s office

(Gen. Ed Cromwell for Mayor/Contributed)

MONTGOMERY — The August 2019 mayoral race in Alabama’s capital city is heating up and already features a highly competitive lineup of candidates.

Perhaps most well known among the motley field are former Congressman Artur Davis, Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed and WCOV’s David Woods. Reed is the son of Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) head and liberal political powerbroker Joe Reed.

However, it is two political outsiders that are taking the race by storm thus far: Brigadier General Ed Crowell (Ret.) and local attorney JC Love.

Yellowhammer News recently sat down with Crowell at his downtown campaign office, right off the historic Court Square Fountain, and discussed his decorated background, leadership style and motivation for entering the race and policy goals.

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‘On the shoulders of giants’

Quiet but commanding, Crowell’s nickname could very well be “The Genteel General.” As he dove into the interview, his background in military logistics was not easy to miss. For each topic that came up, I could see the wheels turn in Crowell’s mind as he thoughtfully considered his response. Genuine yet measured, everything he said fit together neatly.

“We have the old saying in the military: ‘we stand on the shoulders of giants,'” Crowell said. “Well, the backbone of our services is the enlisted force … but there always has to be a leader. And when you’re thrusted into a leadership role, you don’t become a leader just because you’re thrusted into that role. You’ve got to earn your keeps. You’ve got to demonstrate your mettle.”

“And you do that by, first of all, being a good listener,” he explained.

This was a theme throughout the interview — his emphasis on listening as a leader. Whether it was heeding the advice of enlisted sergeants in the Air Force, subject matter experts in the private sector or other community leaders involved with the countless board and organizations Crowell has served, he stressed the importance of operating from a place of knowledge – and how to get there.

This skillet, and mentality, earned Crowell the reputation as being a fixer in the Air Force. He would go into dysfunctional units, listen to the service members, assess the situation and meticulously and personally work solutions.

This kind of experience served him well in his parallel career trajectory in the corporate world. Crowell served both as an active and reserve duty officer at various intervals, which allowed him to build quite the legacy at Blount International and then VT Miltope, where he eventually became president and CEO before retiring.

Whether at one of these distinguished Alabama companies, in a civic or charitable organization or in the military, Crowell has always led by example. One of his core tenets of leadership is that you never ask of someone what you yourself would not be willing to do. It was that frontline mentality that sometimes got him derided by fellow officers in the Air Force, as Crowell would do chores normally reserved for enlisted men and women. However, the same attribute also garnered the respect of the people he was meant to lead, with Crowell noting that troops would walk through fire for him because they knew he would first walk through himself.

“We’re a team, and we’re going to work this as a team,” he added.

Giving back

For someone who has always been on the civil service side of public life, dipping his toes into politics is not necessarily a natural thing. However, when members of the community started approaching Crowell to run, his modus operandi kicked in.

“I made a decision years ago that I was going to be on the giving end rather than the receiving end,” he explained.

And Crowell has been doing so ever since he came to Montgomery in 1968. His work in the community is renowned, best exemplified by his being named the city’s “Man of the Year” in 2018. From the YMCA to the Shakespeare Festival, Crowell has served on the board or been chairman of just about every civic or philanthropic organization possible in Alabama’s capital city. Each step along the way, his leadership style and dedication to bettering the community one cause at a time has earned him the respect of his peers, which just kept getting him recruited to serve in more and more ways.

He sees being Montgomery’s mayor as the last recruitment destination on his journey — one final, hugely impactful way to give back to the community he and his family love.

Crowell also views his longtime service as a personal investment into the community and future generations. In his opinion, Mayor Todd Strange’s administration has the city moving in the right direction, and the retired general wants to keep this momentum going and protect his investment the best way he knows how – through serving.

“I feel I’ve made a sizable investment in this community, and I think the train is on the right tracks right now,” Crowell shared. “And I don’t want to see any regression in it. The only way I can be assured that it continues, because I’ve never been one to be on the sidelines: if you’re not in the game, you can’t play.”

“So, I made a decision that I’m going to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And you do that by being in the game. If I’m in the game, I can ensure that my investment does not go astray. … I’m pretty passionate about helping. And I’m pretty passionate about making certain that there is follow-through on whatever we decide we want to do,” he continued.

‘Neighborhood mayor’

While noting there are several policy issues and goals he has, Crowell stressed that there are two priorities that stand above the rest for Montgomery right now.

“[T]hey’re visible … education and crime,” he said. “I think the root of crime is education. If individuals are not educated, or they don’t feel like they can be educated, then we’ve got a problem.”

Crowell said he will be a “neighborhood mayor,” visible and personally engaged with each area of the city. He wants to restore hope to the neighborhoods that are in a state of decay — both by addressing vacant buildings and cleaning up overgrown, neglected lots, as well as instituting tangible programs that ensure opportunity is accessible for hardworking people in Montgomery, regardless of their lot in life.

He also said he is “not going to be defensive about crime.” Crowell openly acknowledged the problem and explained that he wants to tackle the problem head-on.

“I’m going to lay the gauntlet down where it is,” Crowell advised.

He also noted that government alone cannot be the solution to Montgomery’s present or future. He urged others to get involved just as he has been for the last half-century: volunteerism. Crowell also shared some advice for those looking to make a difference.

“You learn that you’ve been given opportunities that others may not think that they have, although they were there – they didn’t take advantage of them,” he said. “You should be a spark for some of these others who’ve given up, who feel like they can’t excel. They need somebody like you to show them the way.”

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

1 week ago

Bill Hightower running for AL-01 congressional seat

(B. Hightower/Facebook)

Former State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) is running to represent Alabama’s First Congressional District on Capitol Hill.

Hightower made the announcement in a fundraising email on Tuesday morning. He ran in the Republican gubernatorial primary in the 2018 cycle, finishing fourth with five percent of the vote.

The seat is currently held by Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), who is running for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl have already announced their Republican candidacies for the southwest Alabama congressional seat.

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In his email, Hightower said, “South Alabama has given me and my family so much, I cannot sit on the sidelines as our nation is facing so many challenges.”

“Radical liberals like Nancy Pelosi and AOC are taking us down a dangerous path of socialized medicine, open borders, and socialism. We cannot allow them to fundamentally transform our great country,'” he continued.

“The people of South Alabama need a conservative congressman who will fight for us each and every day in Congress to make sure our priorities and our values are represented,” Hightower concluded. “I will proudly stand with President Trump’s efforts to continue growing our economy, cut wasteful government spending that is bankrupting future generations, and defend the sanctity and dignity of each and every life.”

He has also launched a campaign website.

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

1 week ago

Poll: Demographic barriers to Doug Jones re-election bid

(SenateDemocrats/YouTube)

A new poll released Tuesday morning by a non-partisan national research firm confirms that Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is facing nearly impossible demographic barriers to re-election.

The poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, which has offices in Washington, D.C. and Jacksonville, FL, was conducted April 9-11 and surveyed 625 registered Alabama voters by telephone. The margin of error is four percent.

While the survey surprisingly found Jones to hold a positive net job approval rating of one point (45 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved), his re-elect numbers went sharply downhill from there.

Overall, 50 percent are set on replacing Jones, while 40 percent want to re-elect him. Yet, demographic breakdowns foreshadow a rough 2020 general election for the Democrat, especially with President Donald Trump up for re-election.

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Men answered by a margin of 59-34 percent that they want to replace Jones, while women said 46-42 percent that they would re-elect him.

Jones is underwater with both people under and over the age of 50. The more reliable, older voting group would replace him 54-37 percent. His job approval rating was actually worse than his re-elect numbers in this older group, which disapproved by 55-36 percent.

Then, when it comes to race, white people would replace Jones 70-20 percent while black people would re-elect the junior senator from Mountain Brook by 84-5 percent. Only 27 percent of white people approved of Jones’ job performance.

This key demographic statistic potentially bodes worst for Jones, as the survey was the best case scenario for him considering it was weighted to account for 64 percent of voters being white and 29 percent being black, while an estimated 74 percent of Alabama voters were white and 24 percent black in the 2016 general election.

Independents would replace Jones 49-35 percent.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, renowned pollster and consultant Jim McLaughlin said, “In the general election, it tells you what many of us have expected, Doug Jones is done, and this is with no one having laid a glove on him and a very friendly mainstream press.”

… ‘Unless Roy Moore’

However, the one possibility that could still save Jones’ hide – the specter of Roy Moore being the Republican nominee again – was also polled. Mason-Dixon’s polling conclusion warned, “Jones’s re-election chances will be affected by who he draws as his Republican challenger in 2020.”

The survey separately tested a hypothetical Republican primary ballot between Moore, Reps. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Mo Brooks (AL-05) and Gary Palmer (AL-06), Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and former gubernatorial candidate Tim James. Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville was not included.

Moore led the primary ballot with 27 percent of the vote, trailed by Brooks at 18 percent, Byrne at 13 percent, Palmer at 11 percent, Marsh at 4 percent and James at 2 percent, while 25 percent were undecided.

Adding a name recognition question to that information tells the whole story. Moore essentially has maximized that metric, with only 4 percent (within the margin of error of zero) not recognizing his name. He only has a five percent net favorability rating, at 34-29 percent. In contrast, his potential opponents (Byrne is the only one polled that has actually announced) have a lot of room to grow in name recognition while not having the baggage and set ceiling that Moore does.

Byrne’s 23 percent was the highest net favorability at 25-2 percent, followed by Brooks’ 19 percent (27-8), Palmer’s 17 percent (18-1), James’ 12 percent (13-1) and Marsh’s 8 percent (15-7).

Again considering only 4 percent did not recognize Moore’s name, note that 23 percent had never heard of Brooks, 46 percent Byrne, 53 percent Palmer, 57 percent Marsh and 70 percent James. A factor at play here is that Brooks, like Moore, ran in the 2017 Senate special election primary. Byrne’s high net favorability while having so much room for growth in name recognition is very much an encouraging sign for his campaign.

McLaughlin advised, “I wouldn’t feel good if I were Roy Moore in the primary. Yes, at first blush he is the leader with 27%, but he has almost full name recognition with the voters, and he seems to be capped out at a quarter of the vote. Moore is what I would call the pseudo incumbent in the primary, and we have a saying: usually what the incumbent’s got, that’s all they are going to get. Moore has high negatives among the primary voters (29%), whereas the other candidates have a lot more room to grow and have virtually no negatives.”

McLaughlin, president and partner of McLaughlin & Associates, is considered the “gold-standard” when it comes to political polling, strategy and public opinion surveys. He is a nationally recognized expert, appearing on major network and cable news programs and being quoted in the country’s biggest print publications. The firm was widely accredited for its accurate polling in predicting a 2016 Trump victory while other national pollsters floundered.

McLaughlin concluded, “Bottom line, Jones appears to be a goner against any Republican unless Roy Moore became the nominee, which doesn’t seem likely.”

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

1 week ago

Brooks leads Alabama House delegation in fighting for state’s aerospace industry

(Wikicommons)

Led by Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), members of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation are fighting simultaneously on behalf of Alabama’s aerospace industry and to maintain the military’s commitment to its national security space launch program.

On Friday afternoon, a bipartisan group of 27 representatives of the U.S. House of Representatives signed onto Brooks’ letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson supporting the National Security Space Launch Program’s Phase 2 acquisition strategy. The group included Reps. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Martha Roby (AL-02), Robert Aderholt (AL-04) and Terri Sewell (AL-07). Reps. Mike Rogers (AL-03) and Gary Palmer (AL-06) did not sign the letter.

This letter was first reported by Yellowhammer News when it was being drafted and circulated to potential signatories. Now delivered to Wilson, the letter represents a major stand for the Yellowhammer State and for modern national security interests.

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The signatories called on the Air Force to refrain from weakening any performance requirements and emphasized the importance of limiting Phase 2 missions to two launch providers.

The program, called Launch Services Agreement (LSA), originally awarded three companies the opportunity to develop launch vehicles for use in national security space missions under public-private partnerships.

News of the award to carry national security payloads brought praise from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and others.

The companies entered into LSA with the understanding that certain performance requirements were necessary to participate in a second phase of the program where the Air Force would only call on the top two providers.

As a result, companies became incentivized to make substantial investments for the opportunity to participate in the second phase.

Not proceeding as planned has some in the industry concerned that companies who fell behind, or were not willing to invest the necessary resources, could end up getting rewarded.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Brooks reiterated the importance of ensuring Phase 2 gets down to two providers from three on schedule.

“America’s military relies heavily on space to defend America,” the congressman from north Alabama said. “Therefore, America must have reliable and affordable space access options. The Air Force conducted a robust and competitive launch provider selection process open to all U.S. launch providers. National security requires that the Air Force’s launch provider acquisition must remain on schedule.”

He further explained, “Current law mandates that America stop relying on Russian rocket engines. If launch provider acquisition is delayed, America cannot ensure we can reliably launch space assets on time. The Air Force should not weaken performance requirements, particularly for America’s most sensitive national security missions, because doing so risks mission loss caused by lesser quality rockets.”

State and federal leaders have positioned Alabama as a key player in the national security space race.

However, Brooks outlined that there could be negative effects on the state’s aerospace industry if Phase 2 remains open to three providers.

“The Air Force has determined that there are enough launch missions to support two providers but not three. Having only one launch provider is costly and risky,” Brooks advised. “Costly because, with just one provider, there is a monopoly and no competition. Historically, monopolies result in much higher consumer prices. Risky because, if there is only one provider and that one provider goes out of business, America no longer has launch capabilities for military, commercial or space science launches. That would be very bad for America, particularly since an overwhelming majority of America’s national security weaponry relies on space assets to properly function.”

He continued, “While three or more launch providers are an option, there simply are not enough missions available to profitably allow three or more providers to co-exist. More launches equals fewer launches per provider which, in turn, means higher taxpayer cost resulting from the loss of economies of scale that reduce prices.”

“Essentially, one launch provider is not enough and three providers are too many. Two providers is the sweet spot, and the sooner we get to two providers, the better off America and its taxpayers will be,” Brooks concluded.

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

1 week ago

Richard Shelby continues to push for national flat tax

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

With Monday being Tax Day, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) continued his longtime advocacy for a national flat tax, re-introducing a bill in Congress known as the “Simplified, Manageable, and Responsible Tax (SMART) Act.”

Shelby has introduced the SMART Act in each congressional session since his election to the U.S. Senate in 1986, strongly pushing for a flat tax on all income.

“Every year, Tax Day is a reminder to the American people that our nation’s tax code is complex, confusing, and costly,” Shelby said in a statement. “The recent success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is certainly progress, but if the SMART Act was in place now, taxpayers would file a return the size of a postcard, and every American would be taxed equally and at the same rate. I believe this legislation would result in an immediate tax cut for virtually all taxpayers, while also reducing the size, scope, and complexity of the IRS.”

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The SMART Act establishes a flat income tax of 17 percent on all income.

The only exception would be the following personal exemptions:

$14,480 for a single person;
$18,490 for a head of a household;
$28,960 for a married couple filing jointly; and
$6,250 for each dependent.

The above allowances would also be adjusted to the consumer price index in order to prevent inflation from raising the tax burden. To prevent the double-taxation of income, earnings from savings would not be included as taxable income, resulting in an immediate tax cut for virtually all hardworking taxpayers.

Additionally, by closing loopholes for individuals and businesses, the SMART Act would create broad-based, lower tax rates that would give American individuals and businesses a competitive edge, create and retain jobs in the United States and curb offshoring.

Shelby has previously advised, “The SMART Act would also allow businesses to redirect resources away from tax compliance and instead focus on expanding their businesses and creating jobs.”

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

1 week ago

Latest disclosure shows Doug Jones only raised 12 percent of funds from Alabama

(YHN, Screenshot/YouTube)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) just filed his Federal Elections Commission (FEC) financial report for the first quarter of 2019, and the contents of the disclosure are only going to fuel the criticism that Jones is beholden to out-of-state – and even international – interests.

First, only 12 percent ($107,122) of Jones’s itemized individual donations came from Alabama residents.

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This was less than Alabama’s junior senator raised individually from California, New York and Texas. Seventeen percent ($152,544) of Jones’ itemized individual donors were California residents, while 16 percent ($148,458) were New York residents and 13 percent ($119,122) were Texas residents.

One notable individual donation was from George Soros’ son, Jonathan, who contributed the federal maximum on March 20. Jonathan Soros is the CEO of JS Capital Management LLC, a private investment firm in New York City. He previously served as co-deputy chairman of his father’s company, Soros Fund Management.

Another stark comparison to his paltry home-state percentage is the fact that $425,360 of Jones’s $1.6 million in total receipts came from PACs.

The PACs giving the most to Jones included Hawaii PAC, Follow the North Star Fund and Vermont’s Green Mountain PAC, along with many other leadership PACs of Democrat elected officials. Out-of-state corporations and special interest groups were also prevalent throughout the list of PACs.

Jones again received contributions from Thailand, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Belgium during the quarter, although the total amount of these overseas donations was much less than the final quarter of 2018.

You can browse the report here.

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

2 weeks ago

Jimmy Rane: Ivey budget recommendation ‘not kind to Auburn’

(J. Rane/Contributed)

In an address to Auburn University’s Board of Trustees on Friday morning as chair of the board’s governmental affairs committee, Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc. founder and CEO Jimmy Rane lamented that Auburn received the lowest percentage increase among all colleges and universities in Governor Kay Ivey’s proposed Education Trust Fund budget.

The proposed budget has not yet gone through the committee process in the Alabama Senate but is expected to as soon as next week.

“On Tuesday, March 19th, Governor Ivey introduced her budget recommendations for FY 2020,” Rane told the trustees. “The good news is that the proposed Education Trust Fund is the largest education budget in state history totaling $7.1 billion, including $1.2 billion for higher education. The bad news is that her budget was not kind to Auburn. Let me repeat – it was not kind to Auburn.”

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He continued, “With record revenues and the largest budget education ever, Auburn received the lowest percentage increase among colleges and universities. While our increase is 5 percent, the University of Alabama’s increase is more than 7.5 percent. Athens State University received the largest increase at more than 11 percent. It’s important to note that Athens State is in the district of State Senator Arthur Orr, who chairs the Finance and Taxation Education Committee.”

Rane then outlined that efforts are underway to increase Auburn’s proposed slice of the budget.

“President Leath and other administrators have met with the governor, her chief of staff and the Senate pro tem, Senator Del Marsh, about our concerns. Our plan is to continue to work aggressively to improve Auburn’s appropriation for a more equitable treatment among the state’s colleges and universities. This week President Leath, Provost Hardgrave, CFO Shomaker and Steve Pelham met with Education Budget Chairman Orr and Senator Marsh to present our message. After the meeting, Senator Marsh pledged his support to help improve our appropriations while Chairman Orr indicated he had a solution to help improve funding for higher education,” Rane advised.

Ivey is an Auburn graduate. Rane was the co-chair of her gubernatorial inaugural committee.

Rane’s remarks came just over an hour before the University of Alabama System announced it will propose a historic tuition freeze for in-state students for the 2020-2021 academic year.

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

2 weeks ago

Rumors and Rumblings, 2nd Ed. Vol. III

(YHN)

“Rumors and Rumblings” is a regular feature on Yellowhammer News. It is a compilation of the bits and pieces of information that we glean from conversations throughout the week.

Enjoy.

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1. Got Trump? We now have one candidate in, for sure, and one candidate out, for sure, since our last Rumors and Rumblings. Former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville announced he’s running. Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth announced he is not.

But a common approach developing in the campaigns of Tuberville and Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) is an attempt to demonstrate a connection to President Donald Trump through his political operation. Tuberville has engaged former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer for his campaign.

Now, it sounds as if Byrne’s team is in talks with former Trump official Andy Surabian to help Byrne with his bid to join the U.S. Senate. Steve Bannon has said Surabian was a “one man war room” during Trump’s campaign.

As one political observer told Yellowhammer News, “Hiring former Trump team members is the quickest way to establishing Trump street cred in a Republican primary.”

2. Congressman Mo Brooks (R-05) sent out invitations to a fundraiser in Huntsville taking place in two weeks, and it’s what is not on the invitation that has people talking. The invitation, a copy of which Yellowhammer News has seen, does not specify the office he is seeking. A candidate for federal office may utilize funds raised should they decide to seek a different federal office.

3. The confirmation of Finis E. “Fess” St. John, IV as chancellor of the University of Alabama System has opened up a seat on the board from Alabama’s fourth congressional district. Look for much jockeying to occur in the coming weeks for that coveted seat on the board.

The board is composed of three members from the congressional district in which the Tuscaloosa campus is located and two members from each of the other six congressional districts. The governor and the state superintendent of education are ex-officio members of the Board.

4. The anticipation of reprisal against those voting against the Rebuild Alabama infrastructure funding bill continues to emanate throughout the Alabama statehouse. The House of Representatives shifted around some committee assignments this week. Among the moves were Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan) replacing Rep. April Weaver (R-Alabaster) as chair of the House Health Committee and Rep. David Wheeler’s (R-Vestavia Hills) removal from House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure. Both Weaver and Wheeler voted “no” on the Rebuild Alabama bill.

Members of the legislature have also noted to Yellowhammer News that lobbyists have shied away from having legislators who voted “no” on the infrastructure package sponsor bills for them. Lobbyists are said to fear that bills sponsored by “no votes” will have little chance of passing this session. This apparent fear has left some members sponsoring more bills than usual.

2 weeks ago

Ainsworth will not run for the U.S. Senate in 2020

(Contributed)

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) has confirmed to Yellowhammer News that he will not seek the Republican nomination for the United States Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

In a statement, Ainsworth said, “Over the past few months, I have been touched and honored by the citizens across Alabama who have encouraged me to run for the U.S. Senate. Their support and enthusiasm means more than they can ever know.”

However, he explained that the timing is not right this election cycle.

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“After deep discussions with my wife, Kendall, and prayerful guidance from above, I have determined this is simply not the right time for me to serve our state and our nation in Washington, D.C.,” Ainsworth advised.

He continued, “With twin, 9-year-old boys and a 7-year-old daughter, I cannot be the absentee father that service in Washington demands. The memories we can make together at their ages are too important to sacrifice.”

Ainsworth anticipates serving his full term as lieutenant governor and emphasized that he will enthusiastically work to help replace Jones in 2020 with a strong Republican nominee.

“I also swore an oath to serve as Lieutenant Governor when my fellow Alabamians elected me to this office, and I plan to keep that commitment by fulfilling my term,” Ainsworth concluded. “Best of luck to my fellow Republicans who enter the race, and let’s make sure our current senator becomes known as ‘One and Done Doug.'”

This comes as Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) is set to campaign in Ainsworth’s home city of Guntersville on Wednesday, April 17.

Byrne will hold a town hall “regarding issues ranging from illegal immigration to health care to veterans’ issues,” according to a press release.

Byrne and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville are the only announced Republican candidates against Jones thus far.

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