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 days ago

Byrne, Brooks slam House Democrats for politicizing national defense

(M. Brooks/Facebook, Jeff Poor/YHN)

Congressmen Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and Mo Brooks (AL-05) on Thursday voted against what they criticized as a hyper-partisan Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee.

The vote occurred at approximately 6:30 a.m. EST in the morning, coming after an all-night debate and markup session. The committee advanced its version of the NDAA by a 33-24 vote, with all Democrats voting in the affirmative compared to all but two Republicans voting against the measure.

This comes in stark contrast to recent precedent. The NDAA has been signed into law for 58 consecutive years, and the House Armed Services Committee usually passes the NDAA by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. For example, that committee passed the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA on a bipartisan 60-1 vote when Republicans held the majority last year.

This time around, Republicans like Byrne and Brooks are calling out Democrats for putting politics over the safety of the American people.

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By reducing the overall topline, the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA reduces the total resources available to improve and maintain the nation’s defense readiness. The bill also expressly prohibits the use of funds to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the United States’ border with Mexico.

“National security and military programs are critical to Alabama, so I could not support the Democrat-written defense authorization bill that did not include the resources necessary to support our military men and women and restore our defense readiness,” Byrne said in a statement.

Byrne introduced amendments during the committee meeting to prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees to the U.S. and to eliminate prohibitions on President Donald Trump modernizing Air Force One. However, Democrats defeated those amendments.

“Despite growing threats to our national security, Democrats used what has traditionally been a bipartisan defense bill to weaken our border security, harm our nuclear posture, and ease the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the United States,” he lamented. “Democrats included a provision to block President Trump from picking the paint in the new Air Force Ones, but they couldn’t even provide the base amount of resources Pentagon leaders say is necessary to defend our country.”

“The defense of our country is too important an issue, so I hope Democrats stop with the political games and decide to work together to ensure our military has the policy and resources necessary to keep the American people safe,” Byrne concluded.

‘Blinded by their hatred for President Trump and crass love for political power’

Brooks also released a statement after the committee meeting, explaining that “on the whole, the FY20 NDAA undermines America’s border security and national security.”

“It’s unfortunate Socialist Democrats on the committee in bad faith refused to consider or support constructive Republican amendments that were repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted down on party-line votes,” he decried.

Brooks opined that in its current form as advanced by the House committee, the FY 2020 NDAA would be vetoed by the president.

“While the FY20 NDAA has good parts, 24 Republican Members of Congress, including myself, concluded that this FY20 NDAA draft simply puts too many American lives at risk,” the north Alabama congressman advised.

Remainder of Brooks’ statement as follows:

For starters, Socialist Democrats blatantly used the FY20 NDAA to promote open borders by attacking, thwarting, and undermining President Trump’s existing yet rather meager border security powers and policies. To be clear, border security IS national security. The FY20 NDAA blocks President Trump from using existing law and existing funding to build a border wall or otherwise promote border security that protects and saves American lives. In so doing, Socialist Democrats supported the deaths of over 30,000 Americans each year (2,000+ American deaths/year via homicides by illegal aliens on American soil [per Immigration and Customs Enforcement data] plus another 30,000+ American deaths/year from overdoses on poisonous drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border [per Center for Disease Control and Drug Enforcement Agency data]). To be absolutely blunt and clear about America’s border security threat, more Americans have died as a result of America’s porous southern border than have been killed in any American conflict or war, excepting World War II and the Civil War. Yet, HASC Socialist Democrats, blinded by their hatred for President Trump and crass love for political power over country, not only blocked ANY new, effective border security measures, they also voted to deny President Trump the use of some of the few border security powers he has under existing law to save and protect American lives.

Further dangerous weaknesses in the FY20 NDAA include, but are not limited to:

  • The FY20 NDAA is significantly below President Trump’s defense budget request for Fiscal Year 2020. Socialist Democrat spending cuts include: hypersonic weapons development, ballistic missile defense, and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program— all of which are vitally important to America and the Redstone Arsenal defense community;
  • The FY20 NDAA endangers American lives by making it easier to move Guantanamo Bay terrorists to American soil;
  • The FY20 NDAA weakens America’s nuclear capabilities by eliminating funding for the deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons needed to deter attacks by near-peer adversaries; and,
  • The FY20 NDAA takes aim at Redstone Arsenal’s Missile Defense Agency (“MDA”) by preventing MDA from developing the space-based ballistic missile intercept layer that helps protect America from nuclear missile attacks. A space-based intercept capability is likely the best, and perhaps only, opportunity America has to employ boost-phase missile defense measures for nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (or hypersonic weapons) fired from nations with strong anti-access/area denial systems (including Russia and China). MDA should have the option to pursue a wide range of technologies in missile defense, and must have the flexibility to research and develop systems that work, no matter if the platform is air-based, sea-based, land-based, or space-based.

Notwithstanding that this FY20 NDAA draft has an overall detrimental effect on both America’s border security and national security, I am pleased my office helped successfully insert into the FY20 NDAA provisions beneficial to both America and Redstone Arsenal, to-wit:

  • $38 million is authorized for construction of an Aircraft and Flight Equipment Building on Redstone Arsenal;
  • $40 million is authorized for construction of a new air traffic control tower and airport terminal on Kwajalein Atoll (a key component of America’s missile defense assets);
  • A Department of Defense report to Congress on progress made to enable accelerated integration of new missile capabilities into the Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense (AIAMD) program;
  • Full funding for the development of the Army’s Precision Guidance Kit – Anti-Jam (PGK-AJ);
  • A Department of Defense briefing to defense committees regarding on board vehicle power technology; and,
  • A Department of Defense report (validated by MDA) to the defense committees on the conduct and results of the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) sense-off.

Other plusses include authorization of the Space Corps (popularly known as the Space Force), lifting of the prohibition on standing up U.S. Space Command, support for the MDA’s request to develop a space sensor layer to detect and track hypersonic weapon threats, and a provision ensuring the Phase 2 National Security Space Launch program remains on schedule.

It is unfortunate HASC Socialist Democrats refused to work in a bipartisan manner— as Republicans did when we held the House majority— to craft a bill that both Republicans and Democrats could support. I’m hopeful the FY20 NDAA is improved in the House floor amendment process and the eventual Senate-House compromise bill is worthy of a ‘Yes’ vote. Such is life in a House of Representatives governed by radical Socialist Democrats who too often complain that Nancy Pelosi is ‘too conservative’ to be House Speaker.

The FY 2020 NDAA approved by the House Armed Services Committee would authorize the “Space Corps” being formed. Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) spearheaded that aspect of the legislation.

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

3 days ago

Muscle Shoals mayor endorses Byrne for Senate

(City of Muscle Shoals/Contributed, B. Byrne/Facebook)

Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford on Thursday endorsed Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) in Alabama’s 2020 Republican U.S. Senate primary.

The endorsement came in a video released by Byrne’s campaign on social media.

“Bradley Byrne’s heart is in economic development and job creation,” Bradford said.

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“He’s worked with the state of Alabama, he’s worked with municipalities all of the state of Alabama, and he’s served in the Unites States Congress for several years now,” he added. “Bradley Byrne would make an excellent United States Senator and have Alabama values, Alabama quality of life and work for job and economic development.”

Watch:

Bradford’s endorsement came after Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller endorsed Byrne last week.

Tracie West, Alabama State Board of Education member for District 2, also endorsed Byrne this week. She is the former president of Auburn City Schools.

An early primary poll first reported on Wednesday by Yellowhammer News showed former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville leading the field (including potential candidates Roy Moore and John Merrill) in all media markets except Mobile, as Byrne represents southwest Alabama in Congress and enjoys high name identification and favorability there.

Byrne’s campaign team could very well be trying to show that his support is growing outside of his congressional district by rolling out endorsements like Fuller’s, West’s and now Bradford’s.

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

4 days ago

Roby introduces amendment to block taxpayer funded abortions in D.C. — ‘Helps guard the innocent’

(Rep. Roby/Twitter)

Representative Martha Roby (AL-02) continues to make her staunch pro-life bonafides well known across the nation.

During a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee this week, Roby offered a pro-life amendment to a Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill during markup that would prevent taxpayer funds from being spent on abortion in Washington, D.C.

Known as the Dornan Amendment, the policy introduced by Roby has been in place in some form since 1979. However, some members of Congress over the years have partially nullified the policy by insisting it should only govern federal funds and claiming that all locally-collected revenues, such as taxes and fines, are local and not federal.

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Since the District of Columbia is a federal territory and is uniquely controlled by Congress, all locally-collected funds in D.C. go to the U.S. Treasury. Those funds must then be appropriated by Congress as laid out in Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

“Calling some federally-appropriated money ‘local’ and therefore eligible to be spent on abortion and some ‘federal’ and not eligible for abortion is just an accounting gimmick to allow the District of Columbia to disregard Congress’ authority and fund abortions, which the District currently permits during all nine months of pregnancy for any reason,” Roby said in a statement.

“Because of the authority given to Congress by the Constitution, pro-life members are necessarily involved and would be complicit if we allowed the District to fund abortions using ‘local’ funds,” she continued. “I can’t begin to express my concern with these policies and laws surrounding taxpayer dollars being used for the destruction of human life. My amendment upholds the basic duties of government and helps guard the innocent.”

This comes as prominent Democrats around the country, including leading presidential candidates, are coming out against the Hyde Amendment, which is the longstanding policy that prohibits federal funds from being spent on abortions, with certain exceptions.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has performed a complete flip-flop in the matter of days, going from supporting the Hyde Amendment his entire career to now being against it in a primary field that continues to lurch further and further to the left.

Biden is being supported by Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in his presidential bid. Alabama’s junior senator has become known as a loyal supporter of abortion in the Senate.

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

Madam Chair, my amendment prevents taxpayer funds from being spent on abortion with the same exceptions as the Hyde Amendment.

The Dornan Amendment has been in place in some form since 1979. Over the years, opposing members have nullified it by insisting the ban should only govern “federal” funds and then claiming that all locally-collected revenues, such as taxes and fines, are “local” and not “federal.”

Due to D.C.’s status as a federal territory, like a federal agency or department which might collect money in the form of sales and fines, all the District’s funds go to the U.S. Treasury, whether collected locally, contributed by the federal government, or from other sources. Those funds must then be appropriated by the normal federal appropriations process, as stipulated in the first article of the Constitution.

Therefore, calling some federally-appropriated money “local” and eligible to be spent on abortion and some “federal” and not eligible for abortion is just an accounting gimmick and would allow the District to disregard Congress’s authority and fund abortion, which D.C. permits in all nine months for any reason.

Because of the authority given to Congress by the Constitution, pro-life members are necessarily involved and would be complicit if they allowed D.C. to fund abortion using “local” funds or by turning over all budgetary control to the District.

Again, I can’t begin to express my concern with these policies and laws surrounding taxpayer dollars being used for the destruction of human life.

Our nation was founded on the belief that every human being has rights, dignity, and value. Each and every child should be welcomed into life and protected by the law.

My amendment upholds the basic duties of government and helps guard the innocent. I ask that you support this amendment.

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

4 days ago

Early poll sets the stage for possible Alabama GOP U.S. Senate primary field

(Republican Women of Huntsville, B. Byrne, Stand with Judge Roy Moore, J. Merrill, A. Mooney for Alabama/Facebook)

Yellowhammer News has obtained an early Republican primary poll for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

The poll was conducted by a prominent national pollster, Erik Iverson of The Moore Information Group, who is working for former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s campaign in the race. The survey polled 650 likely Republican voters on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The margin of error was four percent.

This early in the race, with only light social media advertising having taken place, the poll is almost entirely based off of pure name identification.

The survey measured a ballot test between the credible candidates who have already announced their candidacy (Congressman Bradley Byrne, Tuberville and State Rep. Arnold Mooney) as well as former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and Secretary of State John Merrill.

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Tuberville is leading with 23% of voters choosing him, followed by Moore at 18%, Byrne at 16%, Merrill at 7%, “Other” at 6% and Mooney at 2%, with 28% undecided.

The former football coach led in all media markets except Mobile, the area Byrne represents in Congress.

The poll went deeper than that, measuring those candidates’ and potential candidates’ name identification and favorability, along with at least one biography test on Tuberville and the popularity of President Donald Trump.

The survey showed 80% of respondents having a favorable opinion of Trump, with 18% responding unfavorably.

Tuberville had a 49%-17% favorable-unfavorable rating, compared to Byrne at 35%-16%, Moore at 38%-48%, Merrill at 28%-13% and Mooney at 12%-13%.

Tuberville performed best both among respondents who identified as “very conservative” and as Trump supporters, two demographics key in the 2020 Republican primary.

Moore has a “very favorable” rating of 17%, while his 32% “very unfavorable” mark shows the deeply rooted opposition to his candidacy even within the GOP grassroots.

Only 1% of respondents never heard of Moore, while the rest of the candidates have significant room to grow in name identification and strengthening soft favorability and unfavorability.

One question showed that 65% of respondents preferred an “outsider like President Trump who has never been a politician.” 17% percent preferred a “career politician who has spent the last two decades in office.”

The eventual Republican nominee will go on to likely face Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in the general election.

President Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr. and other allies of the president have warned that a possible Moore-Jones rematch could once again hand this ruby-red seat to the Democrats in 2020.

This polling should give observers some sense of relief that if the other GOP candidates do not tear themselves apart during the primary, Moore’s built-in unfavorable numbers give him a huge hill to climb out of the gates in seeking the nomination.

You can read a memo from Iverson on the poll here.

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

4 days ago

Doug Jones cosponsors bill forcing Trump to support Paris climate agreement, falls in line with far-left environmentalists

(Office of Sen. Doug Jones/Facebook, WH/Flickr, Pixabay, YHN)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has signed onto a bill supported by far-left environmentalist groups that would force President Donald Trump’s administration to adhere to the Paris Agreement, which was reached in 2016 through the United Nations to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump announced in June 2017 that the United States would exit from this global climate deal, citing losses in American energy production and independence, as well as significant job losses, as some of the economic disadvantages of the Paris Agreement.

Since then, the president has often celebrated his decision to leave the agreement as a boost to the nation’s economy, especially manufacturing and energy sector jobs.

However, as reported by Oregon’s KTVZ Channel 21 News,  Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have now introduced legislation directing the Trump administration to fall in line with the Paris Agreement.

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The legislation – the International Climate Accountability Act – would reportedly prevent Trump from using funds to withdraw from the Paris climate deal. Jones joined most Democratic senators in signing up as cosponsors on the bill.

House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), last month passed their version of the legislation, entitled the “Climate Action Now Act.”

The International Climate Accountability Act has been officially endorsed by the BlueGreen Alliance, Earthjustice, Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Sciences, Green The Church, GreenLatinos and additional special interest groups listed here in a letter of support.

“No matter how much Trump tries to bury his head in the sand, climate change is real and it’s here. Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement will only set back America’s environmental leadership and quicken the destruction of our planet,” Wyden said, according to KTVZ. “If Donald Trump continues to deny science, Congress must force his hand.”

“We can’t stop President Trump from holding bizarre, anti-science climate denial beliefs, but we can work to make sure those beliefs don’t damage Americans’ health and livelihoods,” Merkley added. “Climate chaos is a global crisis, and we need every nation on the front lines of this battle. America can and should lead the world to meet this challenge.”

Wyden and Merkley were the two senators who joined Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in introducing the Green New Deal.

Jones was undecided on how he would vote on the Green New Deal just hours before a procedural vote occurred on the legislation in the Senate earlier this year. That floor vote has become synonymous with Jones, as he memorably looked to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) right before voting.

Alabama’s junior senator has vowed to back whomever the Democrats nominate against Trump in 2020, no matter how radical that individual is, including on climate activism like the Green New Deal.

It is estimated that up to 271,000 Alabama manufacturing jobs could be wiped out by this proposal. Tens of thousands of agricultural jobs would also be on the chopping block, along with high-paying jobs in the aerospace, defense and automotive sectors.

Additionally, it should be noted that Jones has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential primary. Biden has come out with his own climate plan that has been called a “radical Green New Deal knockoff.”

The United States cannot officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement until next year, raising the stakes of the 2020 election cycle even more.

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

4 days ago

State Rep. Matt Fridy running for Court of Civil Appeals

(Fridy campaign/Facebook)

State Rep. Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo) on Wednesday officially announced that he is running in 2020 for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals seat being vacated by Judge Scott Donaldson.

Fridy filed his paperwork with the secretary of state’s office last week to form his campaign committee. He starts the judicial race out with over $73,000 on hand already just from money transferred from his House campaign account.

“The law has always been a passion of mine,” Fridy said in a statement. “Having spent years in private practice as an appellate lawyer, and having served for several years as a staff attorney for the Court of Civil Appeals and the Supreme Court, I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve as a Judge on the Court of Civil Appeals.”

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Fridy describes himself as a life-long Republican and Reagan conservative. He has served in the state House of Representatives since 2014, serving in various leadership roles, including vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Committee on Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections.

Drawing on his estimable background in constitutional law, Fridy has prominently fought to uphold our rights to free speech, due process and the rule of law. A recent example is Fridy shepherding his campus free speech bill through the legislature to becoming law this year.

“I have always stood up for the constitution, and I will bring a fair-minded, conservative judicial philosophy to the bench,” he added. “I have helped pass a number of judicial reforms to the Alabama Court system, and I have a deep understanding of how the courts work.”

Fridy is an attorney with the distinguished law firm of Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff, and Brandt, a full-service law firm, where he focuses on appellate practice with an emphasis on constitutional law, agricultural law, critical motions and corporate litigation.

He is a magna cum laude graduate of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, where he served as the executive editor of the Cumberland Law Review. Following graduation, Fridy served as a federal law clerk to United States District Judge Edwin Nelson. Fridy has served as an adjunct professor of business law at the University of Montevallo.

He and his wife Kimberly, a pharmacist, have five children: Jack, Beth, Cate, Emily and Caroline. They attend Spring Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church, where Fridy serves as an elder.

You can visit his campaign website here.

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

5 days ago

Mo Brooks honored with United States Capitol Police Medal of Merit award

Wednesday, Representative Mo Brooks (AL-05) was awarded the “Medal of Merit” by the United States Capitol Police for his behavior during the baseball field shooting that occurred in 2017.

The award states as follows:

Medal of Merit presented to The Honorable Mo Brooks for your bravery in the face of an active shooter, and for the immediate response in aiding the wounded and injured following the Alexandria Shooting Incident at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park on June 14, 2017.

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In a statement, Brooks, who said he was “honored” to receive the award, reflected on what occurred that day.

“I am honored by the U.S. Capitol Police award of their Medal of Merit,” Brooks stated. “Quite frankly, I did little more than anyone else did on the baseball field that fateful day when five innocent people were shot in a hail of gunfire that saw well over 100 bullets fired in roughly seven minutes.”

“When I saw Zack Barth dive into our dugout with a bullet hole in his leg, it seemed only natural to take off my belt for use as a tourniquet,” he continued. “When the ‘shooter down’ cry went out, it seemed only natural to run onto the field to help a colleague and friend, Congressman Steve Scalise, by applying pressure to the bullet hole in his hip to slow down his blood loss. I am confident that, had the situations been reversed, they would have done the same for me.”

Brooks also discussed who he believed to be the “real heroes” on that horrific day, which left Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) severely wounded.

“To me, the real heroes of the baseball field assassination attempt are U.S. Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey, both of whom exposed themselves and defended our lives against vastly superior firepower, even after being wounded,” Brooks said. “To me, the real heroes are Alexandria Police Department officers Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen and Kevin Jobe, who did not hesitate to rush into a chaotic scene of rapid-fire gunfire.”

“Each of these officers showed true bravery, helped slow down and kill the assassin as he was working his way into position to shoot into a first base dugout full of Congressmen and staffers, and saved dozens of lives,” Brooks added. “I will never forget all these officers did to prevent a political assassination attempt from being much, much more deadly and worse. I am forever grateful for their courage and bravery.”

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

5 days ago

Ivey signs equal pay act into law

(Governor's Office, Sydney A. Foster)

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday held a signing ceremony for HB 225, entitled the “Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act,” which was passed by the Alabama legislature near the end of the 2019 regular session.

The new law mandates that employees in Alabama cannot be paid less solely based on their sex or race than another employee of a different sex or race for performing the same job.

Objective reasons allowed under the law why pay could be different include when an employer uses a seniority system, a merit system or a “system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.”

“This bill is important to ensure equal pay is given for equal work,” Ivey said in a statement to Yellowhammer News on Tuesday.

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HB 225 was sponsored by State Rep. Adline Clarke (D-Mobile). A Senate Republican amendment attached to the legislation named the law after Clarke and State Sen. Vivian Davis-Figures (D-Mobile).

Clarke has previously said that she believes most businesses in the Yellowhammer State are paying employees equitably.

However, she emphasized that it is important to have a state law for when problems arise. Clarke called it “a great day in Alabama” when HB 225 was approved by the legislature.

Mississippi is now the only state without a pay equity law.

HB 225 passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously. The bill becoming law came as many national media and some state media figures, along with Democratic politicians, accused Alabama’s leaders of being “anti-women.”

Lilly Ledbetter and legislators from both parties were on hand Tuesday for the ceremonial signing.

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

6 days ago

Byrne introduces amendment blocking Democrats’ congressional pay raise proposal; House Dems back down

(Rep. Byrne/YouTube)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) appears to have successfully led the charge against a proposal by House Democrats that would have raised pay for members of Congress at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Byrne on Monday evening announced that he had introduced an amendment to block that proposed congressional pay raise, which would have been $4,500 per member.

Byrne’s amendment to H.R. 2740, which funds the legislative branch for Fiscal Year 2020, would prevent any funds from being used to implement a cost of living adjustment for members of the House of Representatives. Language similar to his amendment has been included in appropriations bills since 2009 but was eliminated by the Democrat-controlled House this year.

“I refuse to look the other way while Democrats attempt to sneak through a Congressional pay raise inside a massive government funding bill,” Byrne said in a statement.

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“With Democrats controlling the House, this Congress has been one of the least productive in memory, yet Democrats feel their endless flow of radical, liberal bills warrants a pay raise,” he continued. “They may think pandering to their extremist base makes good politics, but it does not make them deserving of a pay raise.”

Byrne also called for an up-or-down, on-the-record vote on the pay raise issue.

“I call on Speaker Pelosi to allow a vote on my amendment and put all Members of the House on record on this issue,” he concluded.

Less than an hour after Byrne’s public announcement, it was reported by Politico that House Democrats had folded on their proposal, at least for the near future, over worries about the political ramifications of Democrats pushing to raise their own salaries ahead of 2020.

When the House Democrats’ congressional pay raise proposal was first reported last week, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) immediately pumped the brakes on the idea.

“I think the American people would think that Congress ought to earn it first,” Shelby said, according to Politico.

Byrne quickly released a statement last week when the Democrats’ proposal first surfaced, too.

“The list of accomplishment by the Democrat-controlled House is next to nothing, but it seems Democrats have a new item on their agenda: giving themselves a pay raise,” he remarked. “It is outrageous that six months into one of the least productive Congresses of all time Democrats think they deserve a raise.”

“We have real issues on our plate like addressing the immigration crisis at our southern border, reducing high healthcare and prescription drug costs, and passing new, strong trade agreements. Let’s prioritize the security of American workers and their families before padding our own pockets,” Byrne concluded.

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

6 days ago

Special election primary Tuesday for Montgomery’s HD 74 seat

(W. Miller/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — A primary will be held Tuesday in the special election race for Alabama House District 74, which became vacant upon the tragic passing of beloved State Rep. Dimitri Polizos (R-Montgomery) in March.

There is only one Democrat on the ballot.

Michael Fritz, Tobias Grant, Jesse Caleb Heifner, Jay King, Charlotte Meadows and Daniel Sparkman are running for the Republican nomination.

Polling has consistently shown Meadows leading, boosted by her relatively high name identification in the district given her prior run for this seat and her service on the Montgomery County Board of Education.

However, Yellowhammer News has seen polling leading up to Tuesday that pointed to Sparkman closing the gap.

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Yet, as in all special elections, turnout will determine who leads the only poll that matters at the end of Election Day. The primary has been pretty tame thus far, but things heated up a little bit on the last day of campaigning when Meadows’ campaign posted on Facebook that she had been endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) Political Victory Fund (PVF), despite the fact that the NRA has not endorsed anyone in the race.

Meadows quickly took the post down and replaced it with a new message that reflects the reality of her having received an “AQ” grade, which is the highest possible for a non-incumbent. The “Q” stands for the NRA questionnaire that these non-incumbent grades are based off of.

Sparkman has also received an “AQ” grade. Grant and King both received a “F” grade. Heifner and Fritz both received a “?” grade.

The NRA-PVF describes a “F” grade holder as: “True enemy of gun owners’ rights. A consistent anti-gun candidate who always opposes gun owners’ rights and/or actively leads anti-gun legislative efforts, or sponsors anti-gun legislation.”

The “?” grade is explained as: “Refused to answer the NRA-PVF candidate questionnaire or a candidate who has made contradictory statements or taken positions that are inconsistent with the candidate’s answers to the NRA-PVF candidate questionnaire or previous record. A rating of ‘?’ often indicates indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners’ and sportsmen’s rights.”

Monday’s Facebook incident came after Meadows’ campaign recently sent out a mailer that says she is the “only candidate ever endorsed by NRA” in the race. This is alluding to her 2014 primary runoff endorsement by the NRA when she was running against Polizos.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Sparkman said, “It’s an honor to receive the highest rating possible by the NRA-PVF. I’m also thankful for a 100% Pro-Gun rating from the National Association for Gun Rights.”

He added, “Once elected, I will continue to fight for the rights of gun owners and will always protect the second amendment.”

Meadows is endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Forestry Association in the race.

HD 74 residents can find their polling place here.

Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

A Republican primary runoff, if necessary, will be held on the same date as Montgomery’s mayoral election – Tuesday, August 27 – and the general election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 12.

If a Republican candidate in Tuesday’s primary gets over 50% and a runoff is not necessary, the general election will be August 27.

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

7 days ago

State Rep. John Rogers says he is still primarying Doug Jones (VIDEO)

(James Anderson/YouTube)

Notorious State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) says he still intends to primary U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

Yellowhammer News was the first to report on Rogers’ intentions in the wake of his viral abortion comments during the Alabama legislature’s 2019 regular session.

Now, with the session over with, Rogers has had time to think more about the potential candidacy and, at least so far, he has not been dissuaded from running against Jones.

While at the Alabama Democratic Conference’s (ADC) meeting Friday in Montgomery, Rogers spoke with a tracker and said financial considerations would probably decide his potential campaign’s fate.

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“Well, I haven’t filed with the [Federal Election Commission] yet,” Rogers said when asked if he still intends to primary Jones. “But I am going to do it.”

Rogers then added that he was trying to reach a certain monetary threshold of campaign contribution commitments before making the final announcement on his candidacy and filing with the FEC. He mentioned Jones’ “war chest,” which has almost entirely been stockpiled with out-of-state contributions and donations from overseas, as the obstacle to a Rogers victory.

Speaking of the need for funding, Rogers emphasized his commitment to being “a credible candidate” if he does run. He has previously said he would run to win, not just to make a statement.

Watch:

Rogers has previously challenged Jones to a public debate, but the junior senator from Alabama has ducked public questions on the potential primary challenger.

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

1 week ago

AG Marshall: Alabama Supreme Court justices’ questions not necessarily ‘significant’ in Hubbard appeal oral arguments

(Screenshot/APTV)

Last week, questions during oral arguments before the Alabama Supreme Court for the appeal of former State House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics conviction drew the attention Alabama media elite.

Some were concerned that the line of questioning from the justices was a sign that Hubbard could “walk.”

However, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall cautioned against reading too much into the questioning. During an interview with Alabama Public Television “Capitol Journal” host Don Dailey, Marshall said those questions were not necessarily significant.

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“It may grab headlines,” Marshall said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean it is significant. You know, I’ve been trying cases for an awful long time. One of the things is in courtrooms, juries ask questions. And we’ve learned not to read too much into what those jury questions are as it relates to the result. This is simply courts trying to probe the issues that have already been briefed by the parties. There were no questions that we didn’t anticipate. And again, we gave very specific answers in which we believe not only [Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob] Walker ruled correctly on the law, but that jury was correct in the verdict that they reached.”

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

1 week ago

Doug Jones hires former Democratic gubernatorial nominee on government payroll

(D. Jones, R. Sparks/Facebook, YHN)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has hired 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ron Sparks as his office’s regional director for the Middle District of Alabama, which includes Montgomery and Dothan.

“Ron has a long record of distinguished service to Alabama, and I know he’ll be an invaluable asset to my team,” Jones said in a statement, according to Alabama News Network. “I look forward to having him lead our outreach efforts in the Middle District and to continue to provide first-class constituent service.”

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Sparks is the former Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, having gained elected in 2002 and re-election in 2006.

He lost to Republican nominee Robert Bentley in the 2010 gubernatorial race, after which Bentley hired Sparks to be director of the state Office of Rural Development. He served in that position from 2011 until Governor Kay Ivey assumed office and abolished the position in 2017. That move made Sparks the second state official to lose his job under Ivey, the first being Rebekah Caldwell Mason’s husband.

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

1 week ago

‘Culverwho?’: University of Alabama System returns $21.5 million donation, strips name from law school

(S.Ross/YHN)

TUSCALOOSA — Hugh F. Culverhouse, Jr.‘s $21.5 million donation to the University of Alabama has been returned and his name has been permanently removed from the university’s law school.

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees on Friday morning unanimously approved a resolution at the recommendation of Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John, IV to restore the school’s name to “The University of Alabama School of Law.”

The portion of Culverhouse’s total $26.5 million law school gift he had already paid, $21.5 million, will be returned to the Floridian. His was the largest donation in university history, but Lockheed Martin CEO and UA alumna Marillyn Hewson and her husband will now reclaim that distinction.

The university moved swiftly to remove Culverhouse’s name from the law school, sending a facilities crew within minutes of the board meeting ending to chisel “Hugh F. Culverhouse, Jr.” off of an exterior sign and taking down his portrait inside the law school.

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In adopting the resolution, Board of Trustees President Pro Tem Ronald Gray of Huntsville said the board routinely deals with complicated matters that require a lot of debate.

However, “This decision was not difficult or complex,” he emphasized to the meeting attendees.

The resolution stated that it became “apparent in recent months that the parties (Culverhouse and the university) do not share the same vision and expectation for the use of the funds.”

In a prior press release, the System had advised Culverhouse was making operational and structural demands of university and law school administration. This came after he attempted to disguise the rift between the parties as being related to his pro-abortion stance, effectively trying to publicly martyr himself to cover the real reason he was at odds with the university.

It should also be noted that Culverhouse first claimed he was not asking for the return of any of his money when he came out against Alabama’s new abortion law, but it was soon revealed he had demanded $10 million be returned by the university over unmet demands having nothing to do with abortion. Despite that, in a statement Friday, he once again asserted he had not asked for the return of his donation.

The resolution approved Friday said that St. John recommended returning the donation after “numerous conversations and communications” with University of Alabama President Stuart Bell and law school Dean Mark Brandon.

According to the resolution, the law school foundation board of governors on May 30 approved the return of Culverhouse’s gift and all related accumulated earnings.

During the meeting, St. John said since Culverhouse made his record donation last year, it became increasingly clear that Culverhouse’s expectations related to his gift were “inconsistent with the essential values of academic integrity.”

St. John said despite “good faith efforts” by university and law school administration, the disconnect between Culverhouse’s expectations and how the university operates based on “those values” ultimately meant there was “no path forward.”

One of the reported demands Culverhouse made was increasing the number of students admitted to the law school, which is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best.

“Donors do not dictate to administration at the University of Alabama,” St. John stressed.

Gray concluded, “This decision is clearly the right one and is in the best interest of the University of Alabama, this system and this board of trustees. It is one of our top priorities as a board to protect the integrity of these great institutions, and we will continue to do so with every decision we make now and in the future.”

Friday’s action does not affect the Culverhouse family’s other, non-law school contributions to the university.

However, after the board’s vote on Friday, he released a statement, asserting, “I will not allow my family’s name to be associated with an educational system that advocates a state law which discriminates against women, disregards established Federal law and violates our Constitution.”

To be clear, neither the University of Alabama System or the University of Alabama has advocated in any way for the abortion law Culverhouse continues to refer to.

Culverhouse earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida in 1971, an MBA in corporate finance from New York University in 1972 and a law degree from the University of Florida law school in 1974 – the same year he became a CPA in Florida.

His parents were his only ties to the University of Alabama.

An observer at the removal of Culverhouse’s name from the law school signage joked that the former namesake will now be dismissively known as, “Who F. Culverhouse, Jr.”

Update 12:40 p.m:

The University of Alabama System issued the following statement:

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

1 week ago

Alabama campus free speech bill signed into law

(YHN, Flaticon)

Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday signed into law State Rep. Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) HB 498, a bill intended to safeguard freedom of speech on public college campuses in Alabama.

This came after the legislation received final passage last week. The new law takes effect July 1, 2020.

In statements on Thursday, Fridy and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) applauded the governor for signing the bill into law.

“I commend Governor Ivey for signing this important bill into law,” Fridy said. “Alabama’s university campuses should be places where ideas are freely debated and students are exposed to a variety of viewpoints.”

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“Unfortunately, across the nation—occasionally even here in Alabama—college administrators have used unfair, arbitrary speech codes to silence speech that is deemed ‘offensive.’ Oftentimes, politically and religiously conservative groups are targeted. This law will protect all speech, wherever it may fall on the political spectrum,” he continued.

HB 498 requires taxpayer-funded, public colleges and universities in the Yellowhammer State to adopt speech policies for their campuses that will protect the free and open exchange of ideas.

In particular, the speech policies must make clear that the outdoor areas of a public higher education institution’s campus shall be deemed a public forum for members of the campus community.

“Free speech is the cornerstone of our rights as Americans,” Fridy advised. “This law protects free speech at our colleges and universities, prohibits shout-downs and other behavior that inhibits the free exchange of ideas, and prohibits discrimination against student groups and invited speakers because of their beliefs — all the while still allowing schools to implement viewpoint-neutral regulations that protect the safety and welfare of students.”

Waggoner said explicit protections for free expression on Alabama’s college campuses were long overdue.

“I am glad to see that Governor Ivey has signed HB 498 into law. We are committed to ensuring that freedom of speech is not just a slogan, but a reality that will be equally and fairly applied to all students on Alabama’s public college campuses,” Waggoner commented. “Allowing our students to listen to a variety of viewpoints, and without bureaucratic harassment, is long overdue.”

The new law stipulates that public colleges and universities may not establish so-called “free speech zones,” which are small areas on college quads to which students are confined if engaging in speech activity that administrators deem to be controversial.

HB 498 will also ensure that if hecklers choose to protest and intimidate invited guest speakers on campuses, the institutions cannot capitulate to the hecklers by forcing the speaker to pay for security costs that have arisen from the protest.

In a separate release, Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Kellie Fiedorek praised Alabama’s new law.

“Public colleges and universities are meant to be free and open to the exchange of ideas—a place where our future teachers, lawyers, doctors, judges, community leaders, and voters can exercise their constitutionally protected freedom of speech,” she outlined. “This new law ensures that public universities remain places where intellectual diversity flourishes and all students are able to engage in the exchange of ideas rather than being censored on campus or banished to tiny so-called ‘free speech zones.’ We commend Gov. Ivey and the Alabama Legislature for protecting students’ First Amendment freedoms.”

Thursday marked a flurry of bills being signed into law, including several that received a signing ceremony: HB 380, SB 38, HB 540, HB 11, SB 254, SB 57, SB 110 and HB 41.

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

1 week ago

University of South Alabama names Nick Lawkis executive director of governmental relations

(USA/Contributed)

The University of South Alabama (USA) has named Nick Lawkis as the university’s executive director of governmental relations.

According to a release to Yellowhammer News, Lawkis has been associate director of governmental relations since 2015 and was named interim executive director in February. Prior to his work in the university’s office of governmental relations, he served in several roles in USA’s office of development and alumni relations from 2011 to 2015.

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The university’s governmental relations shop serves as the liaison with local, state and federal governments and agencies. Special emphasis is placed on monitoring the Alabama legislature and actions related to USA’s appropriation from the Education Trust Fund.

Lawkis holds two degrees from USA: an undergraduate degree in business and a master’s degree in public administration.

He is a graduate of the Alabama Leadership Initiative, has been named to Mobile Bay magazine’s 40 Under 40 and serves on a number of internal and external committees and boards. Lawkis is also a member of the Coastal Alabama Partnership’s Coastal 150 and serves as vice chair of Alabama Council of Government Affairs Representatives and as chair of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce State Governmental Affairs Committee.

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

2 weeks ago

Doug Jones bashes Trump’s Mexico tariff threat — ‘Largest tax increase that Americans have seen in two or three generations’

(New Day/Twitter)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is continuing to be a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, this time slamming the president’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexico if the country does not stem the flow of illegal aliens into the United States.

During the same CNN “New Day” interview in which Jones expressed his openness to impeaching Trump, Alabama’s junior senator was directly asked about why he is “so opposed” to the potential tariffs on Mexico.

“Well, because they’re a tax,” Jones, who has actually spoken in opposition to the 2017 Trump tax cuts, said matter of factly. “This could be the largest tax increase that Americans have seen in two or three generations.”

Jones has pledged to back whomever the Democrats nominate against Trump in 2020, no matter how radical that individual is. Additionally, Jones has announced his support of former Vice President Joe Biden in the primary. Biden has already promised to repeal the Trump tax cuts as the “first thing” he would do if elected, and far left Democrats running for president have proudly exclaimed that they want to raise taxes to new highs.

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Continuing his denunciation of the Trump tariff threat to CNN on Wednesday, Jones remarked, “[The potential Mexico tariff] is purely a tax on the American people.”

“Mexico’s not paying for it anymore than China’s paying for it,” he continued. “Alabama, in particular, will be hurt a lot by Mexican tariffs. We’ve already been hurt by the Chinese retaliatory tariffs. … It will be a huge burden on the Alabama taxpayer, the American taxpayer.”

“Mexico is not going to pay for these tariffs. They don’t do that,” Jones said. “The American taxpayer pays for these.”

He emphasized that Trump following through on Mexico tariffs would have “devastating effects.”

Watch:

Jones has previously called Trump’s China trade policy “another administration disaster.”

Alabama’s Democratic senator has also claimed that the situation at the United States’ border with Mexico is not an “emergency.”

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

2 weeks ago

Aderholt moves to continue ban on FDA approving embryo gene editing research

(House Appropriations Committee/YouTube)

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) on Tuesday successfully attached an amendment to Congress’ fiscal year 2020 agriculture spending bill that would bar the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from approving research that involves gene editing of human embryos.

Roll Call reported that the move came during a meeting of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, of which Aderholt is a leading Republican member.

The ban on human embryo gene editing research has been included in this same spending bill since fiscal year 2016, however, the language was left out of the draft bill approved last month by the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

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While the top Democrats on the committee voiced opposition to Aderholt’s amendment, he was able to convince them to accept the measure on a voice vote, successfully inserting the language back into the draft bill approved by the full House Appropriations Committee.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Wednesday, Aderholt emphasized his support for responsible scientific research.

“Science provides the hope my colleagues and I seek to perpetuate in providing funding to find cures for terrible diseases,” he said. “But first we must ensure that the science and the bio-ethics move forward together before scientifically altering the heritable gene-pool. I believe that we must proceed with the utmost caution.”

“I also want to point out that, even under this provision, science continues to move forward,” Aderholt added of his amendment.

“Clinical trials of gene therapy are already either underway – or have been proposed – to treat suffering patients now,” he concluded. “Diseases such as sickle cell anemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, aplastic anemia, cystic fibrosis, and multiple types of cancers are all being targeted through gene therapy. This important work will continue.”

Another hot-button Aderholt amendment was rejected during the committee meeting.

On a 23-27 vote, the Alabama congressman’s amendment to raise the minimum federal age restriction to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 failed.

This amendment would have included e-cigarettes, defined as electronic nicotine delivery systems. Online or other remote tobacco sales would have been mandated to require sellers to check a buyer’s age using commercially available databases.

This mirrors language in Aderholt’s “Stopping Consumption of Tobacco by Teens” (SCOTT) Act, which he introduced earlier this year.

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

2 weeks ago

Doug Jones open to impeachment — ‘Congress needs to do their duty’

(CNN New Day/YouTube)

Appearing on CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) called on the U.S. House of Representatives to start issuing “subpoenas” and “see where that goes.”

Host Alisyn Camerota mentioned ongoing efforts by House Democrats to drum up impeachment proceedings and asked Jones if the House should begin formal impeachment hearings.

However, the junior senator from Alabama then performed some verbal gymnastics.

“Well, you know the Senate has a different role in the impeachment inquiry,” Jones quibbled. “We sit in judgment, so I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to make that judgment.”

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“What I do believe is this: I do think that Congress needs to do their duty, their constitutional duty, of oversight,” he continued.

Despite the unprecedented Mueller investigation into President Donald Trump, his campaign and his administration, along with the constant scrutiny by the media and previous investigations and hearings by both the Senate and the House, Jones then claimed that the president’s administration has had it easy.

“For two years, the administration has enjoyed Republican majorities who absolutely refuse to do any oversight of the administration. Congress – the House and the Senate – have a constitutional obligation for oversight. They need to issue the subpoenas, they need to see where that goes,” Jones said. “And I know it’s frustrating when you [have] an administration who blocks every single path for oversight. But I think that that’s the way to go right now.”

This comes a few months after Jones refused to answer a question on impeachment while at a book tour event in Birmingham.

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

2 weeks ago

Opelika mayor endorses Byrne for Senate

(G. Fuller/Facebook, Wikicommons)

Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller has endorsed Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) in Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, becoming one of the first major local officials in the Yellowhammer State to publicly pick a candidate in the Republican primary.

In an endorsement video posted by Byrne’s campaign on Tuesday, Fuller said, “I’ve known Bradley for many years, back when he served in the Alabama legislature and then later I got to know him very well when he was Chancellor of the community college system. And of course our great college here in Opelika, Southern Union.”

“Bradley was conscientious,” the mayor said. “He was honest. He has integrity. Exactly the kind of person that I want representing me in the US Senate.”

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“I want a person in the Senate that’s going to reflect Alabama values. Values that I believe in. I want border protection. I want to ban abortions. I want our economy to continue to grow and proposer, here in Opelika, East Alabama, and the state of Alabama,” Fuller emphasized. “And I think we’ll have that with a person like Bradley Byrne in the U.S. Senate. I know that he will speak for me and many, many other Alabamians when he is on the floor of the U.S. Senate. So, I hope you’ll join me. Let’s vote for and let’s elect Bradley Byrne to the Senate.”

The endorsement is the latest in a line of local leaders endorsing Byrne, but it carries the significance of being the first publicly announced endorsement of Byrne by an official outside of his southwest Alabama stronghold. Robertsdale Mayor Charlie Murphy, Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day, State Rep. Matt Stimpson (R-Daphne) and Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack have previously endorsed Byrne.

Additionally, the added optics of this endorsement will not be lost on keen political observers, as Fuller’s support comes from former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s backyard.

Fuller’s endorsement came the same day that Yellowhammer News reported that State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) has been endorsed by the Washington, D.C.-based “Senate Conservatives Fund.”

Over the summer months, Alabamians can expect the 2020 Senate primary to begin picking up more steam as more candidates potentially enter the race and current candidates become more and more active on the campaign trail.

State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) is close to entering the race, as reported by Yellowhammer News last week. Secretary of State John Merrill and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore could also announce candidacies in the near future, and State Auditor Jim Zeigler has set a self-imposed deadline of October to make a decision as he continues his exploratory campaign.

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

2 weeks ago

Roby, Alabama Farmers Federation praise passage of disaster relief bill with aid for the Wiregrass

(M. Roby, Alfa/Contributed)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday gave final passage to a $19.1 billion disaster package that is especially considered crucial for the Wiregrass in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

The measure previously passed the Senate, with Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Doug Jones (D-AL) voting in the affirmative. Shelby was the lead negotiator on the legislation, securing a deal after months of grueling negotiations between several factions.

Only Reps. Mo Brooks (AL-05) and Gary Palmer (AL-06) voted against the disaster relief package in Alabama’s House delegation.

President Donald Trump has agreed to sign the legislation, and after final passage on Monday, the Alabama Farmers Federation and Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) celebrated the long-awaited, much-needed aid for rural south Alabama.

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“Alabama farmers were hit hard by hurricanes, and families also have been devastated by tornadoes,” Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell said in a statement. “Passage of disaster relief is long overdue. We thank Sen. Richard Shelby, Rep. Martha Roby and other members of Alabama’s congressional delegation for keeping these concerns at the forefront and President Trump for agreeing to sign this legislation.”

Roby has been an outspoken advocate for the disaster assistance, with her district bearing the brunt of Hurricane Michael damage in the Yellowhammer State.

“For eight long months, farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout the Southeast have waited for disaster relief aid after Hurricane Michael devastated the region last October,” she said. “I am very proud that Congress has at last delivered this long-overdue assistance, and I am eager to see President Trump sign this bill into law to finally help the many Americans who have suffered extreme devastation in the wake of natural disasters across the country.”

The disaster relief bill provides aid for states affected by disasters in 2018 and 2019, as well as ongoing relief for disasters that occurred in 2017, including: agriculture disaster relief for farmers; development grants for small, rural communities; assistance for veterans’ health facilities and military construction projects; emergency funds for timber, watershed and wastewater infrastructure needs; and resources to restore highways, aviation facilities and other transit projects.

Shelby, who serves as the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, expressed disappointment in the time required to pass disaster relief, with hardliners in each party blocking a deal for a long period of time.

“A lot of people were waiting too long,” Shelby said. “I think we could do better. I don’t think it was our best show.”

Trump had wanted border security funding included in this legislative package, which was a sticking point for Democrats, who control the House.

The final deal, agreed to by the president and overseen by Shelby, resulted in an agreement that the border funding would be taken up in separate, non-disaster relief legislation.

Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, voted in favor of the disaster relief package but expressed the urgent need for border security funding.

“This legislation will provide much needed relief for communities that have been hurt by natural disasters, from hurricanes, to wildfires, to tornadoes, like the ones that hit Alabama hard earlier this year,” he said in a statement.

Rogers continued, “While I supported this bill to help disaster victims, I am deeply disappointed that it did not include any of the administration’s requested $4.5 billion in emergency funding to address the humanitarian crisis at our southwest border.”

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

2 weeks ago

D.C.-based ‘Senate Conservatives Fund’ endorses Mooney in Alabama’s 2020 primary

(A. Mooney/Facebook, Wikicommons)

Washington, D.C. based “Senate Conservatives Fund” (SCF) has endorsed State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) in Alabama’s upcoming U.S. Senate race.

In a fundraising email sent out Tuesday morning, SCF made the endorsement announcement and asked members of the organization’s national mailing list to contribute to Mooney’s campaign.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News after the email went out, Mooney said, “SCF has a long history of backing conservative outsiders who have taken on the Washington establishment and won. I am proud to have their endorsement.”

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SCF was founded in 2008 by then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). The PAC has raised millions each election cycle since, helping elect candidates including Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2010, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in 2012 and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) in 2014.

DeMint in 2012 left SCF, which was then run by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli until he was nominated by the president to be the director of ICE in the last two weeks.

Cuccinelli and Lee were “Never Trumpers” who led the unsuccessful “Free the Delegates” campaign at the 2016 Republican National Convention in a last minute attempt to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the party’s nominee.

Lee endorsed Mooney late last month.

The SCF fundraising email for Mooney contained implicit jabs at the top candidates currently in Alabama’s Republican primary field, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

“There are other candidates seeking the Republican nomination, but they either have liberal, pro-establishment records or have no record at all, which makes them unreliable,” the email claimed.

Byrne has a 97% lifetime record of voting with Trump and a 100% record of doing the same so far this year.

Tuberville has been a staunch vocal supporter of the president, coming out strongly on conservative religious liberty and pro-life issues thus far.

The SCF email stated, “We don’t have to guess with Arnold Mooney. He has a proven record that shows us exactly what he will do in the Senate. He will relentlessly fight for our principles and values.”

Full SCF fundraising email as follows:

We have found an outstanding candidate for conservatives to support for the U.S. Senate in Alabama.

Businessman and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-AL) is running for the Senate against incumbent Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), and the Senate Conservatives Fund is proud to endorse him.

Arnold Mooney has deep roots in Alabama and has a proven record of fighting for limited government and personal responsibility. He’s a strong supporter of President Trump and he will fight to cut spending, secure our borders, reduce taxes, give patients more control over their health care decisions, and protect human life.

“Too many people go to Washington and forget their principles. I want to be the same guy when I walk out that I was when I walked in,” Mooney said when announcing his campaign earlier this month. “I’m not a politician – I’m just a conservative with a backbone. I think that’s what Alabamians want.”

He’s right and we hope you will join us in supporting him by making a contribution to his campaign today.

There are other candidates seeking the Republican nomination, but they either have liberal, pro-establishment records or have no record at all, which makes them unreliable. Conservatives have been burned many times by candidates who say one thing when they’re campaigning, but then do another after the election.

We don’t have to guess with Arnold Mooney. He has a proven record that shows us exactly what he will do in the Senate. He will relentlessly fight for our principles and values.

Mooney has already earned the support of conservative leaders in Alabama like Congressman Mo Brooks who said, “He’s been an excellent legislator from the Shelby County area. He’s got the intellect to understand a lot of these threats that face our country. And in my judgment, he has the backbone to do the right thing in the face of tremendous pressure in Washington, D.C. to do the wrong thing.”

And Mooney is winning support from conservatives across the country like Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) who called him “a strong constitutional conservative and the best candidate to beat Doug Jones.”

Click here to support Arnold Mooney.

This race is perhaps the most important Senate race in the country because it gives us the best pick-up opportunity.

Alabama is a deep red state and Senator Doug Jones has shown his liberal colors in the past year and a half, endorsing Joe Biden for President and voting against Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. He even voted against the effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

Doug Jones has next to no chance of winning if Republicans nominate a strong conservative candidate like Arnold Mooney.

Please help conservatives win this important U.S. Senate seat by making a contribution to Arnold Mooney’s campaign.

SCF will pay all processing costs and transfer 100% of your donation to Mooney’s campaign so he can spend all of it on voter contact.

Mooney has only one month before the 2nd quarter fundraising deadline. If he raises a substantial amount, it will attract more endorsements and more financial supporters. So if you give now, it will have a major multiplier effect later in the year.

Thank you for being part of the SCF team and for considering this urgent request.

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

2 weeks ago

Exclusive: Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh running for re-election at PSC

(T. Cavanaugh Campaign)

MONTGOMERY — Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh is running for re-election as president of the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC), she confirmed in an interview with Yellowhammer News on Monday, stressing that the “Green New Deal is the most dangerous policy proposal of our lifetime.”

Cavanaugh, the former chair of the Alabama Republican Party and one of the most prominent conservative Trump-allies in Alabama, had raised some eyebrows on Friday with a tweet that implied she would be a candidate in 2020 but did not list an office.

Enjoying some of the highest name identification and favorability of any potential conservative candidate in an Alabama Republican primary field, Cavanaugh would have entered the U.S. Senate race as a favorite to make a run-off.

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However, as she told Yellowhammer News on Monday, her place supporting President Donald Trump on the 2020 ticket will come defending her important role as head of the PSC, where she has been a staunch advocate for Alabama jobs, lowering utility rates, fighting for the coal industry against out-of-state special interest groups, cutting government waste and overhauling burdensome regulations.

“The 2020 election will be historic for so many reasons,” Cavanaugh said. “I look forward to being a part of it as I run for re-election to the Alabama Public Service Commission. I’m running because it is critical that we support President Trump’s agenda at all levels of government.”

She continued, “His energy and economic policies, which have brought about unprecedented prosperity in our country, are under attack from the liberal elite who see it as a threat to their control over our lives.”

Cavanaugh’s fight on behalf of the tens of thousands of Alabamians who rely on the coal industry for their livelihood became nationally recognized during the Obama administration, and the next radical environmentalist attack on Yellowhammer State jobs has already begun — this time in the form of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) so-called “Green New Deal.”

“We can fight AOC and Bernie Sanders right here in Alabama, at the PSC, by holding the line on an agenda that values life, freedom and our right to earn a living to take care of our families,” Cavanaugh told Yellowhammer News.

“AOC’s Green New Deal is the most dangerous policy proposal of our lifetime,” the PSC president emphasized. “She is attempting to take our country back to the dark ages for no other reason than to allow government to rule our lives. At the same time, our state is under attack from those who want to deny babies their basic right to life. There is so much at stake in 2020. I’ll fight AOC and her radical following every step of the way.”

Most recently, Cavanaugh has been leading the charge against robocalls at the PSC. After calling on the federal government to mandate the adoption of advanced call blocking technology and other anti-robocall measures earlier this year, the U.S. Senate last month passed a bill that would do just that. Additionally, AT&T and Comcast recently announced a major milestone in the fight against fraudulent robocalls and spoofing after Cavanaugh’s call-to-action.

Last year, Cavanaugh served as co-chair of Alliance for a Pro-Life Alabama when the organization spearheaded the passage of the pro-life Amendment Two on the state’s general election ballot in November. She has long been known for her work fighting on the frontline for conservative causes, even before her tenure as the first female chair of the ALGOP; from pro-jobs policy issues to defending religious liberty, Cavanaugh’s conservative bonafides have been well established.

“President Trump needs our help to hold the line here in Alabama, and I plan to support him every way that I can,” Cavanaugh concluded.

She defeated Democrat Lucy Baxley in 2012 to take over the presidency of the PSC. At the time, Baxley was the last-remaining Democrat to hold statewide office.

Cavanaugh and her husband, Jeff, are longtime small business owners. They have three children and two grandchildren.

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

2 weeks ago

‘Pathetic’: Alabama native, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales flees UK because of Trump’s visit

(J. Wales/Twitter, YHN)

Jimmy Wales, an Alabama native and the founder of Wikipedia, is catching heat after he dramatically left his country of residence just because of President Donald Trump’s diplomatic visit to the United Kingdom.

Just hours before Air Force One touched down on Monday morning, Wales tweeted that he was en route to the airport and fleeing the UK.

“I will be back when he leaves,” Wales said.

The tweet has drawn some rather witty rebukes, but the most succinct commenters have summarized the event as “childish” and a “top level tantrum.”

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Wales’ tweet has drawn over 1,600 direct responses while only garnering 68 retweets as of 9:00 a.m. CST Monday.

Cliff Sims, the founder of Yellowhammer Multimedia and former director of White House message strategy, told Yellowhammer News, “It must be strange for Trump to realize he’s living rent free inside the heads of people on multiple continents.”

“Imagine being so triggered by the presence of any other person that you’d rearrange your entire week to make sure you were out of the country when they arrived,” Sims emphasized.

Wales is a Huntsville native, where he graduated from Randolph School before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance from Auburn University and the University of Alabama respectively. He has previously been named to Times’ “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” list.

Later on Monday, Wales retweeted several off-the-wall tweets, including one accusing Trump of being “a traitor and an enemy of the United States.”

That tweet continued to claim of Trump, “When you see Londoners’ disdain for you, just remember it’s because, unlike you, they love America.”

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