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.

1 hour ago

Steve Marshall travels to D.C. to urge Senate to reject Trump impeachment articles

(Fox News/YouTube)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday traveled to Washington, D.C. to file a blistering 14-page “friend of the Senate” letter urging the upper chamber to reject the two articles of impeachment filed against President Donald J. Trump.

The Senate on Tuesday began the impeachment trial of Trumps, and Marshall joined 20 of his Republican attorneys general from across the nation in signing the letter.

However, Marshall was only one of six of the attorneys general invited to the U.S. Capitol to attend a press conference Wednesday commenting on their letter and the impeachment trial.

Of the letter, Marshall remarked, “It is thorough. It is a full examination of both the facts and the law that the Senate has to apply. But despite that significant analysis, fundamentally what that letter is about is the idea of fairness — or maybe better said, the lack of fairness.”

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“As a prosecutor for 20 years, what I’ve seen is an unfair process brings about an unjust result,” Marshall advised. “And that is what the Senate now has an opportunity to stop.”

“I also find it remarkable, as somebody who has stood before juries and judges, whose brought charging instruments against defendants, to now hear the House say that they are not prepared. And that they are not ready. What that simply shows is not that they are not prepared but that they have no case,” he continued. “Our letter demonstrates the various reasons why the Senate should reject this effort, and we need to return the president back to the work of this country…”

Watch:

In a tweet referencing the letter, Marshall called the articles of impeachment passed by House Democrats against Trump “unfounded and fundamentally flawed.”

The letter states, “If not expressly repudiated by the Senate, the theories animating both Articles will set a precedent that is entirely contrary to the Framers’ design and ruinous to the most important governmental structure protections contained in our Constitution: the separation of powers.”

Read the letter below:

State AG letter to Senate o… by Fox News on Scribd

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

2 hours ago

Jerry Carl releases first TV ad in AL-01 GOP primary, significant buy forthcoming

(Carl for Congress/YouTube)

MOBILE — The race to succeed Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) in Coastal Alabama is heating up.

Yellowhammer News on Wednesday obtained Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl’s first television ad of the cycle.

Entitled, “Just Jerry,” the video ad utilizes an off-screen narrator throughout its 30 seconds of run time.

Transcript as follows:

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Raised by a single mother, Jerry Carl headed to college but left to start a business. Then another. And another.

He married and raised a family and was saved by grace.

A tough upbringing and business struggles made Jerry the man he is.

Like President Trump, Jerry Carl’s got a backbone. He’s tired of political correctness and will fight ‘The Squad.’

He’s never the loudest, but he’s the toughest.

He’s just Jerry.

A source directly familiar informed Yellowhammer that the ad buy will be “substantial,” falling “well into the six figure range.”

The ad will run across several standard mediums in the district, including both cable and broadcast television, as well as digital. The buy is expected to last 10 days.

Carl has built a significant cash advantage in the race, both through money raised and money he has loaned to his own campaign. As of the end of the third quarter of 2019, Carl had $741,307 cash-on-hand. This compared favorably to the other top contenders in Alabama’s First Congressional District. Former State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) had $447,611 on hand, while State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) reported $215,437 available. Fundraising reports covering the final quarter of 2019 are due January 31.

Watch:

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Carl campaign manager Zach Weidlich said, “Jerry Carl was raised by a single mother and that upbringing made him the man he is today. He’s built several businesses by relying on his Christian faith and rolling up his sleeves and getting down to work.”

“Like Trump, Jerry is tough, he has a backbone, and he won’t back down to political correctness. If south Alabama wants someone who will protect our values and stand with Trump, Jerry Carl is their guy,” he concluded.

The primary will be held on March 3.

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

9 hours ago

Aderholt: ‘I look forward to the day when there are no more abortions’

(Rep. Aderholt/Twitter)

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) recently spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives about his staunch pro-life views.

Wednesday marks the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling.

Aderholt’s remarks can be seen in a video posted to his Twitter account.

“I stand here today as pro-life, pro-family and pro-child,” he began.

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“No matter what your faith is, everyone understands that life is very precious and that life is a gift,” Aderholt continued. “I believe that as members of Congress and really as all citizens, we’re called to protect the vulnerable — and this is one of my core beliefs.”

“Being pro-life means not just pro-birth but being interested in the welfare of the child during his or her entire formative years,” the dean of Alabama’s House delegation advised. “That’s why I’m not only a longtime member of the pro-life caucus but also the co-chair of the congressional coalition on adoption.”

He showed appreciation for the Trump administration’s work on pro-life issues.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank this administration for the work they have done to defend the unborn, including changing the rules for Title X and expanding the Mexico City Policy. I look forward to continuing to work with the administration on these issues as we come to the time of January [22], where we remember the ruling of Roe versus Wade,” Aderholt remarked.

“I look forward to the day when there are no more abortions because there’s no more unwanted children,” he concluded.

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

10 hours ago

Jones votes with Schumer, Democrats every time to begin Trump impeachment trial

(YHN, Screenshot/YouTube)

Six-for-six. No, it is not the new deal at Wendy’s fast-food restaurants. That was Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) 100% record of voting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Tuesday, the first day of the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump.

Jones has emphasized that he does not view impeachment through a partisan lens, however, all six of his votes fell along strict party lines to start off the impeachment trial.

The votes were on tabling Democrat amendments to the trial rules proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). All 53 Republicans all six times voted to table the amendments, while all 47 Democrats voted against tabling the amendments.

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This comes after an ad was released earlier in the day accusing Jones of “siding with them” on impeachment, meaning siding with “the radical left.” A Jones spokesperson on Tuesday night blasted the ad as containing “blatant lies.”

RELATED: Jones vows to not be swayed by political forces on right or left on impeachment — ‘It is not worth their time’

Jones recently claimed in a CNN interview that he will be reelected in November even if he votes to remove Trump from office.

Additionally, Alabama’s junior senator recently said he is “not trying to please Chuck Schumer” nor is he “trying to necessarily please anyone” during the impeachment trial.

The “anyone” part of that statement may very well remind Alabamians of his infamous line during the Kavanaugh confirmation process, when Jones declared that representing the majority of his constituents is not “the be all to end all.” Jones ultimately voted against the confirmation.

Editor’s note: As of this writing, Jones shortly after 12:00 a.m. ET Wednesday voted with the Democrats on another impeachment trial rules amendment, making his record seven-for-seven.

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

1 day ago

Alabama voting rights activist jailed on drug charges while on bond for capital murder charge

(Dothan Police Department)

An Alabama activist is jailed on assault and other charges.

Records show 54-year-old Kenneth Glasgow was being held without bond at the Houston County Jail on Tuesday.

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He was arrested Saturday on charges including drug possession, assault and evidence tampering.

Police tell news outlets that Glasgow struggled with an officer who tried to arrest him after finding crack inside his pocket.

Glasgow has worked for years to register prisoners to vote inside Alabama jails and prisons.

He was charged with capital murder in 2018 after a fatal shooting but was out on bond.

He’s the half-brother of nationally known activist Al Sharpton.

 (Associated Press, copyright 2019)

RELATED: Al Sharpton’s half-brother, already facing Alabama capital murder charges, arrested again

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1 day ago

Watch: Jessica Taylor touts ‘humble roots’, takes aim at ‘The Squad’ in first TV ad

(Jessica Taylor/Youtube/YHN)

Jessica Taylor, an attorney in Prattville seeking the Republican nomination for Alabama’s second congressional district, released her first television advertisement on Tuesday.

The ad, which is titled “My Squad,” is mostly composed of footage and soundbites from Taylor’s viral announcement video that garnered national attention.

The video begins by touting Taylor’s “humble roots,” and the candidate goes on to say she wants “to protect life, the Second Amendment, our borders and President Trump from socialists in the swamp”

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Taylor’s competitors in the March 3 Republican Primary will be former Alabama Attorney General Troy King, former State Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman.

According to Taylor’s campaign, the spot “will air on broadcast and cable over the next two weeks in the Montgomery media market beginning this Wednesday.”

Predictably in an ad titled “My Squad,” the spot makes references to “The Squad” while displaying images of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

The Squad” is a group of four U.S. Representatives that are new to Congress, female and represent the furthest left wing of the Democratic Party. Cortez and Omar are two members of “The Squad” that have generated particular ire among Republican primary voters.

As a response to “The Squad,” Taylor led the effort to create the “Conservative squad,” which is composed of four female conservative Republicans currently seeking election to the House.

In a statement sent to reporters that accompanied the ad, Taylor said one of her goals in Congress would be to “fight back against radical socialists like AOC and Ilhan Omar.”

The spot also continues to use the language and iconography of basketball, which Taylor grew up playing.

“Alabama, put me in the game!” proclaims Taylor to conclude.

Watch:

1 day ago

Pro-Trump super-PAC launches ad attacking Doug Jones for his refusal to oppose impeachment

(Youtube/YHN/America First Policies)

Super-PAC America First Policies launched an ad Tuesday that highlights Sen. Doug Jones’ (D-AL) refusal to oppose the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The ad frames impeachment as a project of the “radical left” and uses a clip of Jones saying “this is not a witch hunt, this is not a hoax” as evidence that he stands with controversial figures like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Both Omar and Schiff are used as examples of the “radical left” in the ad, and both heavily pushed the Democrats’ impeachment effort.

Jones has maintained that he is undecided on whether he will vote to convict Trump on the articles of impeachment passed by the House.

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Recently, Jones railed against the proposed rules for the Senate trial. Alabama’s junior senator said in a tweet, “The American people deserve a fair trial, and so does President Trump — but this ain’t it, folks.”

Jones is seen by most political observers as the least likely Democratic senator to win reelection in 2020.

The junior senator remains bullish on his reelection chances. He recently told CNN that he believes he will be reelected even if he votes to remove Trump.

Jones has a history of confident statements with regard to his election chances. He told political website fivethirtyeight.com he “would have won by a larger percentage had those allegations not come out,” in reference to the sexual misconduct allegations against his 2017 opponent Roy Moore.

America First Policies, which is run by Republicans loyal to Trump, apparently sees an opportunity to use the heightened attention brought by the impeachment trial to further damage Jones’ chances at winning election to a full term.

The end of the ad urges Alabamians to call Jones’ Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-4124 to urge him “to stop standing with the radical left and end impeachment.”

Watch:

UPDATE 9:30 p.m.

Caroline Stonecipher, the spokesperson for Jones’ Senate office, responded to the ad in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

“This ad is an attempt to distract from Senator Jones’ record of getting things done on behalf of the people of Alabama,” she stated. “Anyone who has followed Senator Jones in recent months knows that he is committed to upholding his oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and he has approached this impeachment trial with the seriousness it demands. Contrary to the blatant lies in this ad, he has also supported over 70 percent of President Trump’s judicial nominees and has voted at least five times for additional border security funding. Regardless of pressure from outside groups, Senator Jones will remain focused on being an independent voice for Alabamians.”

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

1 day ago

Sessions ‘uneasy’ about parts of Trump’s criminal justice reform bill — ‘Some of the sentence reductions went too far’

(WH/YouTube, Wikicommons, YHN)

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared in Montgomery on Monday, where he discussed the criminal justice reform bill President Donald Trump has repeatedly championed.

Sessions was asked by Yellowhammer News what he thought of the bill. At first, the candidate for his old seat in the U.S. Senate said he supported parts of the bill, but he also told the assembled reporters, “I did think some of the sentence reductions probably went too far.”

“I was uneasy about that,” he added on the question of some of the sentencing reforms.

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Sessions, who was speaking at a press conference flanked by law enforcement officials who had just endorsed him, praised some aspects of the bill that is formally known as the First Step Act.

“I supported much in that bill, particularly funds for education pre-release, preparation for people to be more successful when they leave,” Sessions remarked.

“There were some reductions in sentences that were legitimate. I previously supported two bills that reduced crack-cocaine sentences,” Sessions intoned.

Sessions’ support for crack-cocaine sentence reduction presumably refers to his vote in favor of bills like the Obama-era Fair Sentencing Act that alleviated disparities in the penalty for possessing crack-cocaine and powder cocaine.

“People shouldn’t serve any more time than necessary,” Sessions told the audience.

One of the statistics Sessions cited as relevant was the pre-existing drop in federal prison populations from 2013-2018, the year the bill was passed by Congress. In 2013, the federal government held 219,298 incarcerated people, and by 2018, it had reduced that number to 179,898, an 18% reduction in the five years before the First Step Act became law.

In just a few months after the First Step Act was made law, the federal government released an additional 3,100 inmates due to a change in how good behavior is calculated.

Proponents of the bill point to the immense bipartisan support which the bill garnered in Congress and the fact that America still has a higher percentage of citizens in prison than other developed countries.

“I hope we don’t find that to be true,” Sessions said of his suspicion that the sentencing reforms went too far. “We’ll see how it plays out.”

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

1 day ago

Sessions endorsed by eight Alabama sheriffs

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — Sheriffs of eight Alabama counties and Jeff Sessions appeared jointly at a press conference in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, on Monday. The sheriffs announced their support of Sessions’ candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL).

The announcement coincided with the Winter Conference of the Alabama Sheriffs Association. Sessions, who as U.S. Attorney General was America’s top law enforcement official, also received the support of several out-of-state police associations.

Two of the sheriffs who announced their support of Sessions on Monday were Kevin Turner of Madison County and John Samaniego of Shelby County, who together represent and protect over 574,000 Alabamians.

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Sheriffs, who are often respected and widely known among their constituencies, are highly sought after endorsements in Republican primaries. According to Pew Research, 86% of Republican voters view officers of the law “warmly.”

After news broke of the Sessions endorsements, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), one of Sessions’ competitors for the Republican nomination in the Senate race, quickly tweeted about the support he has received from law enforcement across the state. Byrne has been endorsed by five sheriffs that represent Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Lauderdale and Calhoun counties.

“Law enforcement leaders from across the state are lining up to support Bradley Byrne because they know he has their back. Bradley has a track record of supporting additional funding and resources for Alabama police officers and first responders,” Byrne’s campaign manager Seth Morrow said in a statement to the media.

Sessions today was endorsed by:

Kevin Turner of Madison County;
John Samaniego of Shelby County;
Jonathon W. Horton of Etowah County;
Don Valenza of Houston County;
Shannon Oliver of Franklin County;
Ray Norris of Clarke County;
Billy Murray of St. Clair County;
Heath Taylor of Russell County, who also serves as president of the Alabama Sheriffs Association.

The counties from which Sessions received support span the state geographically, including counties that touch every state Alabama borders. The eight sheriffs protect approximately 981,000 Alabamians combined across their counties.

“Law enforcement officers trust Jeff Sessions because we know that he has our back,” said Sheriff Kevin Turner of Madison County, who represents more people than any other sheriff that has made an endorsement.

“Let me tell you. There is not one person across this state that can ever say Jeff Sessions is not there for law enforcement. What he does for sheriff’s offices across this state, what he does for the police departments, is absolutely what we need in Washington,” Turner added.

The endorsements come as the Senate race is getting heated. The Tuberville campaign on Monday went after Jeff Sessions for being, in their view, insufficiently loyal to President Trump while Sessions was Attorney General.

Additionally, a staffer on one of the Senate campaigns competing against Sessions told Yellowhammer News, “To be the former AG who gave grants to these sheriffs over the years, it’s sad he could only get 8 of 67 to endorse him. Shows a real problem.”

At the press conference Sessions also received support from Bill Partridge, who is the City of Oxford’s police chief and president of the Alabama Association of Police Chiefs.

“Jeff Sessions’ door has always been open to Alabama law enforcement officers — whenever there has been a need, he has answered the call, which is why I am proud to support his campaign for the U.S. Senate,” said Partridge.

“I have their backs and America says thanks,” Sessions said of law enforcement officers during his remarks.

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

2 days ago

White House highlights Ivey, Marsh support of ‘phase one’ trade agreement with China

(Del Marsh/Facebook, Governor's Office/Hal Yeager, YHN)

President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday signed the “phase one” trade agreement with China, and in the following days, the White House highlighted two prominent Alabama elected officials for supporting the big announcement.

The agreement includes a commitment from China to buy more American agricultural goods, including soybeans and pork. China has also reportedly pledged to increase its spending on all American goods by $200 billion over the next two years compared to 2017 levels. At least $40 billion of that total will be spent on U.S. farm goods, according to the administration.

The deal was praised by Alabama Farmers Federation president Jimmy Parnell and, as the White House underlined, Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) and State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston).

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In an official release from the White House entitled, “WTAS: Support for President Donald J. Trump’s Phase One Trade Agreement With China,” the administration picked out reactions about the trade agreement signing from across the country. WTAS stands for “what they are saying.”

A tweet from Ivey was included in the compilation. She mentioned that Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield was personally on hand to witness the signing ceremony Wednesday at the White House.

Marsh was featured as saying, “This agreement is a major win for our economy and should be applauded by all Americans, regardless of political party, as a great first step in creating a more level playing field for the United States. I commend President Trump for his leadership and commitment to negotiate better trade deals which will benefit not only farmers in Alabama but across America.”

RELATED: Alabama Farmers Federation members hear from Trump at national ag conference

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

2 days ago

Alabama Farmers Federation members hear from Trump at national ag conference

(Alabama Farmers Federation/Twitter)

Members of the Alabama Farmers Federation were on hand Sunday at the American Farm Bureau’s (AFB) annual convention in Austin, Texas, to hear from President Donald Trump.

The Alabama Farmers Federation is the state’s largest farm organization with over 330,000 member families and is Alabama’s affiliate of the AFB.

The 2020 convention began Friday, and Alabama Farmers Federation president Jimmy Parnell proudly paraded the Yellowhammer State flag across the stage at the AFB’s opening general session.

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Sunday marked Trump addressing the national agriculture group for the third consecutive year.

According to the federation’s Twitter account, the president took the stage to “sustained cheers and a standing ovation” as “God Bless the USA” played in the background. You can view a tweet thread of Trump’s remarks here.

His speech came in the wake of two monumental victories on trade policy.

The United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) was approved by the U.S. Senate this past week after already having been approved by the House; this trade agreement would replace NAFTA. Additionally, Trump signed the “Phase One” trade deal with China in recent days. Both trade deals were praised by industry and agricultural groups, including the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Citing deals like those two as well as regulatory reform, Trump reportedly said, “We are winning for our farmers, and we are winning like never before.”

The president also was said to have received a standing ovation for emphasizing his support of reduced estate taxes.

“The best days for America and the best days for America’s farmers and ranchers are yet to come,” Trump commented.

The Alabama Farmers Federation has endorsed Trump in his 2020 reelection bid.

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

5 days ago

Mo Brooks: GAO ruling is routine — The media’s reaction is nothing but bias

(White House/Flickr, YHN)

This is it — the smoking gun.

The Government Accountability Office found that the Trump administration broke the law, technically.

This is the “bombshell” you have been waiting for; this is the “high crimes and misdemeanors” we have heard so much about.

This is where they get Trump.

Never has an American president been accused of such vicious acts by the GAO.

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[T]he GAO found President Barack Obama’s Pentagon in violation of the law, thanks to the Bowe Bergdahl swap.

[…]

As the GAO found, the move violated the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act and the Antideficiency Act.

Fine, forget it. It is still super-important and impeachable, according to the media and their Democrats.

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) laid out what is really going on with all of this during a radio appearance on WVNN in Huntsville.

When asked if this was a serious violation worthy of impeachment, Brooks said, “No, it’s not any crime at all.”

He added that this happens often at the federal level.

“This is routine,” he advised. “We have so many laws at the federal government level, that nobody can possibly understand all of them. So, as a consequence, you have to go to court every now and then to figure out what’s what.”

He also noted the previous administration did this stuff as well, saying, “The Obama administration went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ruled against the Obama administration more than 100 times.”

My takeaway:

The attempt to paint this latest “offense” as a big deal and the “turning point” against the president is nothing new. The people doing this told us all of the following would destroy the Trump presidency.

Tax Returns
Russia
Inauguration crowd size
Calling the media the “enemy of the people”
Stormy Daniels
Michael Avenatti
Charlottesville
The media’s “very fine people” lies
Firing James Comey
Brett Kavanaugh
Meeting with Vladimir Putin
Meeting with Kim Jong-un
Ending NAFTA
Ending China trade deal
Michael Cohen
Paul Manafort
Complaining about Robert Mueller
Roger Stone
The whistleblower
Ukraine
Alexander Vindman
Gordon Sondland
Marie Yavonovich
Trump’s Benghazi
Killing Soleimani
Iran’s response
Lev Parnas

This GAO ruling is just the latest in a long list of things that will finally accomplish the media and their Democrats’ goal of overturning the 2016 election and avenging Hillary Clinton.

But if they want everyone to take this seriously, they should show us they are taking it seriously, reopen the impeachment investigation in the United States House of Representatives and put this GAO ruling (and Lev Parnas’ accusations) in yet another flimsy article of impeachment so the United States Senate can strike it down.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

 

5 days ago

Sessions, Byrne continue to tangle with atheist group

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook, Jeff Sessions/YouTube, YHN)

Two Republican Alabama Senate candidates continue to battle the out-of-state Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), which describes itself as the nation’s largest association of atheists and agnostics.

Earlier this week, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions joined in the defense of Notasulga’s Reeltown High School against the FFRF and detailed his long-running feud with the foundation. This came after Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) had previously leapt to the defense of the school against the FFRF, which prompted the atheist group to publicly attack Byrne.

Now, the FFRF has responded similarly to Sessions’ intervention.

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In a press release reacting to Tuesday’s Yellowhammer News article detailing Sessions’ defense of Reeltown and opposition to the FFRF, the organization stated, “The Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking exception to inaccurately disparaging statements ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made about the national state/church watchdog.”

The release referenced a letter the FFRF sent Sessions in response to his statements; that letter was released by Sessions’ campaign to Yellowhammer News and can be read here.

The letter, which was written by FFRF co-presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, seemingly mocks Sessions for polishing his “Christian persecution credentials.”

“Secularism in government is a precious founding American principle, and an American original at that,” the letter claims.

“Mr. Sessions, you’ve been monumentally wrong [on religious issues],” the letter later asserts, after bashing his time as attorney general for being pro-Christian.

The letter came the same day that the FFRF broadcast a television advertisement featuring Ron Reagan during the latest Democratic presidential primary debate.

Both Sessions and Byrne took issue with the FFRF ad.

Sessions released a statement responding to both the FFRF letter to him and the ad.

“Christians and people of all faiths are under attack in America,” Sessions decried. “Ron Reagan’s atheist group is spending millions of dollars attacking Christians in the name of religious liberty. I can promise you that we will not be intimidated by some leftists from Hollywood. My message to people of faith is this: ‘I HAVE YOUR BACK.’ I have spent my whole life fighting to make sure that Christians and people of all faiths can boldly live out their faiths. That is what religious liberty means.”

“The Constitution explicitly guarantees the right for every American to freely exercise their religious beliefs. They don’t have to ask the FFRF for permission,” he continued. “The FFRF were constant critics of me and our work at the Department of Justice to protect religious liberty, using unjustified and extreme arguments that have no basis in the Constitution.”

Sessions concluded, “This group, and others, continually write threatening letters to public institutions to frighten and intimidate them from allowing Constitutionally-protected expressions of faith. They have gotten away with it for too long. I will never back down from this fight.”

Byrne reacted to the FFRF ad in a tweet.

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

5 days ago

View your county’s sample ballot for Alabama’s March 3 primary election

(Pixabay, YHN)

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill’s office has now released county-by-county sample ballots for the state’s upcoming March 3 primary election.

Major races to watch across all counties include the Democratic presidential primary, the Republican senatorial primary and Republican congressional primaries in AL-01 and AL-02.

Statewide, eligible Alabamians will also have the opportunity to cast their referendum vote on Amendment One, a proposed historic overhaul of educational governance in the Yellowhammer State.

You can view your sample ballot, broken down by county and political party, below or here:

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Autauga
Democrat
Republican
Baldwin
Democrat
Republican
Barbour
Democrat
Republican
Bibb
Democrat
Republican
Blount
Democrat
Republican
Bullock
Democrat
Republican
Butler
Democrat
Republican
Calhoun
Democrat
Republican
Chambers
Democrat
Republican
Cherokee
Democrat
Republican
Chilton
Democrat
Republican
Choctaw
Democrat
Republican
Clarke
Democrat
Republican
Clay
Democrat
Republican
Cleburne
Democrat
Republican
Coffee
Democrat
Republican
Colbert
Democrat
Republican
Conecuh
Democrat
Republican
Coosa
Democrat
Republican
Covington
Democrat
Republican
Crenshaw
Democrat
Republican
Cullman
Democrat
Republican
Dale
Democrat
Republican
Dallas
Democrat
Republican
DeKalb
Democrat
Republican
Elmore
Democrat
Republican
Escambia
Democrat
Republican
Etowah
Democrat
Republican
Fayette
Democrat
Republican
Franklin
Democrat
Republican
Geneva
Democrat
Republican
Greene
Democrat
Republican
Hale
Democrat
Republican
Henry
Democrat
Republican
Houston
Democrat
Republican
Jackson
Democrat
Republican
Jefferson
Democrat
Republican
Lamar
Democrat
Republican
Lauderdale
Democrat
Republican
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Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

Poll: Coleman could win AL-02 GOP primary without runoff

(Jeff Coleman for Congress, Troy King for Congress, Jessica Taylor/Facebook, Henry Otto/Flickr, YHN)

New polling obtained Friday morning by Yellowhammer News shows a potential blowout on the horizon in the March 3 Republican primary to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02).

We Ask America, a national polling firm based in Illinois, conducted a survey January 14-15 of 600 likely GOP primary voters. The margin of error was ±3.99%. Of the responses, 240 were recorded via cell phone text message, while 360 were conducted via automated landline calls.

The survey measured the popularity of President Donald J. Trump among the Second Congressional District’s Republicans, as well as the favorability ratings and ballot test (when voters are asked who they would vote for if the primary were held today) in the congressional primary race.

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On the ballot test, a whopping 43% chose Wiregrass businessman Jeff Coleman. Next came former Alabama Attorney General Troy King at 16%, followed by former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) at 8% and Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor at 5%. Finally, 25% were undecided and a total of about 4% chose lesser known candidates.

When respondents were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion about each candidate, Coleman again rose above the rest. The results showed 57% answered favorable, compared to just 9% unfavorable. Of the respondents, 33% had no opinion (which could include having never heard of the candidate). It should be noted that 30% specified they view Coleman “very” favorably as opposed to 27% choosing “somewhat” favorably; 5% marked very unfavorable compared to 4% somewhat unfavorable.

King and Moore seemed to have relatively similar name identification levels as Coleman, just with lower favorability.

For King, 46% responded favorable (13% very, 33% somewhat) and 23% answered unfavorable (14% very, 9% somewhat), while 31% had no opinion.

When it came to Moore, 39% viewed him favorably (13% very, 26% somewhat) and 23% chose unfavorable (15% very, 8% somewhat), while 39% had no opinion.

Taylor, a first time candidate who has spent little money in the race, trailed when it came to name identification, which also explains her fourth place position on the ballot test. For Taylor, 22% of respondents marked favorable (7% very, 15% somewhat) compared to 13% unfavorable (9% very, 4% somewhat), while 65% had no opinion.

Coleman, also a newcomer to running for political office, has had success raising money in the race while also investing personal funds into the campaign. He has been advertising on television, radio, digital and billboards, and his campaign’s strategy appears to be paying off. The We Ask America polling comes on the heels of a new internal poll which also showed Coleman with a major lead.

Additionally, the We Ask America polling asked respondents who their second choice would be on the ballot test if they could not vote for their first choice. For that question, Moore performed best, garnering 19%, followed by King at 18%, Coleman at 17% and Taylor at 7%, while 34% were undecided.

On a weighted combined ballot, factoring in both the first choice and second choice questions, that would mean Coleman came in at 53%, with King at 26%, Moore at 20% and Taylor at 9%.

Finally, 76% of respondents stated that they strongly approve of Trump’s job approval, 14% somewhat approve, 6% strongly disapprove and 2% somewhat disapprove.

You can view the poll toplines here and crosstabs here.

We Ask America also released a polling memo to Yellowhammer News featuring their main takeaways about the survey.

One bullet point stated, “Jeff Coleman has a massive lead and could avoid a runoff. Riding his impressive image with likely Republican primary voters, Coleman receives 43% of the vote, 27-points higher than his next closest opponent, Troy King, who sits at 16%. Barry Moore at 8% and Jessica Taylor at 5% come in a distant third and fourth, respectively. While 25% of voters remain undecided, Coleman is best positioned to capture a large portion of that vote. 22% have a favorable opinion of Coleman versus 12% having an unfavorable opinion (net +10). If Coleman can convince just a quarter of those undecided voters to vote for him, he should win outright and avoid a runoff.”

“If Coleman fails to clinch outright, Barry Moore could sneak past Troy King for second place. While King leads Moore by 8% overall (16%- 8%), Moore is better positioned to capture some of the remaining undecided voters. Of the 25% who say they are undecided, Moore has an image of net +7% (22% Fav/17% Unfav), while King is underwater at net -2% (24% Fav/26% Unfav). While it ultimately won’t matter if Coleman eclipses 50%, the race for second should be a close one,” the memo continued.

The final point read, “In a runoff, Jeff Coleman will still be the overwhelming favorite. If Coleman is forced into a runoff, he is well positioned to immediately capture the votes of those who failed to advance. 53% of voters list Coleman among their top two choices, while the next highest is Troy King at just 26%. Additionally, 31% of King voters and 27% of Moore voters choose Coleman as their second choice, higher than any other candidate.”

Fundraising disclosures for the fourth quarter of 2019 are due on January 31. Those FEC reports should indicate which, if any, candidate(s) will have the funds to force and make a runoff with Coleman.

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

5 days ago

Rep. Sewell endorses Joe Biden for president

(Rep. Terri Sewell, Joe Biden/Facebook, YHN)

U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) endorsed Joe Biden for president on Friday.

The endorsement continues Biden’s dominance of support from Alabama’s most prominent Democrats. The former vice president received Senator Doug Jones’ support in April and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s in December.

The representative for Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District, now in her fifth term in Congress, told the Associated Press, “Joe has a special combination of vast experience, respectability and authenticity that is well-received by Republicans and Democrats and globally by our allies and foes.”

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Sewell argued that President Donald Trump “has given people a license to be racist, sexist, misogynistic — out loud.”

When asked by the AP about the timing of her endorsement so close to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Sewell said, “The No. 1 threat to my district is Donald Trump. The No. 1 threat to Martin Luther King’s legacy is Donald Trump.”

Black voters make up more than 50% of the electorate in Alabama’s Democratic primary and more than 60% of the voters in Sewell’s district. According to a recent national poll, 48% of black voters in America are supporting Biden in the ongoing Democratic primary.

Sewell is the 11th member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Biden, and she will campaign with him in South Carolina ahead of that state’s primary on February 29.

“My district longs for a normality and stability again, and they know Joe Biden. He is a well-worn shoe we are comfortable with and who we know will fight for our values,” Sewell added.

Alabama’s Democratic primary will be held on March 3.

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

6 days ago

Seven LSU football players from Alabama are heading to the White House

(LSU Football/Twitter, WVUA 23/YouTube)

Neither the University of Alabama nor Auburn University were represented in the latest College Football Playoffs, however the state of Alabama will be well represented when the national championship-winning LSU Tigers visit the White House on Friday.

According to a release from LSU Athletics, the Tigers arrived in Washington, D.C. on Thursday evening.

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Their itinerary in the nation’s capital began with a dinner with Louisiana’s congressional delegation at the Kennedy Center. Following the dinner, LSU was scheduled to take a bus tour of the city.

On Friday, the Tigers will reportedly start the day with a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, to be followed by a tour of the White House and then a meeting with President Donald J. Trump.

The team will subsequently take a team photo on the steps of the United States Capitol before being welcomed to the floor of the Capitol.

LSU’s roster of national champions includes seven players who graduated high school in the state of Alabama.

These players are: freshman cornerback Cordale Flott, from Saraland, graduated Saraland High School; freshman outside linebacker Desmond Little, from Prichard, graduated Vigor High School; freshman quarterback Peter Parrish, from Phenix-City, graduated Central High School; junior defensive end Neil Farrell Jr., from Mobile, graduated Murphy High School; junior defensive end Justin Thomas, from Daphne, graduated Spanish Fort High School; junior offensive lineman Jakori Savage, from Bay Minette, graduated Baldwin County High School; and sophomore kicker Avery Atkins, from Auburn, graduated Auburn High School.

This comes after President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended Monday’s national championship game. LSU beat Clemson 42-25.

RELATED: ‘USA’: Trump’s national championship reception rivals Alabama-LSU game in Tuscaloosa

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

6 days ago

After vowing not to politicize impeachment, Doug Jones now fundraising off of Trump trial

(White House/Flickr, APTV/YouTube, YHN)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has decried the political nature of the impeachment process for months. However, on Thursday, Jones began fundraising for his 2020 reelection campaign off of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.

In an email sent out by his official campaign, the Doug Jones for Senate Committee, Jones himself writes, “I believe this is one of the more important emails I will send.”

“Many of you have asked me for my thoughts as the trial progresses. I am going to try to give periodic video updates about my thoughts on the day’s proceedings without spin or any political campaigning,” Jones said. “Many have also asked what this means for my re-election campaign. This trial will have my full and complete attention. Remember, while I am doing my duty the candidates seeking the nomination against me are going to stay on the attack.”

Jones then solicited the email recipients to donate to his Senate reelection campaign “now.”

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“I can’t tell you how important your help will be over the next few weeks,” he added. “While I likely won’t be doing fundraising events or campaigning myself, Joe Trippi, Doug Turner, and my campaign team will keep you updated and make appeals for your help when it’s needed. If you are able, I need you to have my back and help when they ask.”

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The Jones campaign has even created a unique fundraising page about impeachment that the email directs people to.

“While Doug is doing his duty, we’ve got to have his back,” the page states. “His opponents are taking every opportunity to divide and attack, but Doug is focused on impartial justice and real leadership.”

“Impartial justice” is a phrase that Jones and his campaign appear to be utilizing frequently now regarding impeachment trial. Both his campaign and his official U.S. Senate office tweeted out clips from the same Thursday interview with CNN.

The fundraising email comes on the heels of Jones in a recent Fox News interview admitting he is “not trying to necessarily please anyone” with his conduct during the impeachment trial, including his constituents.

That remark may very well remind Alabamians of his infamous line during the Kavanaugh confirmation process when Jones declared that representing the majority of his constituents is not “the be all to end all.” Jones ultimately voted against the confirmation.

In the first three quarters of 2019, Jones respectively received 88%, 88% and 77% of his individual campaign contributions from donors outside of Alabama. Full Q4 reports are not due until January 31. However, Jones’ campaign already announced that he raised approximately $1.9 million total in the last quarter.

RELATED: Schumer deputy fundraising for Doug Jones

In Q4 of 2018, Jones actually raised more from overseas alone than Alabama.

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

6 days ago

Ivey announces $7M in road projects funded by new gas tax money

(Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Transportation announced 31 road and bridge projects on Thursday that would be receiving grants from the state.

Together, the 31 grants are worth $7 million. The money for the projects comes from the Annual Grant Program, a new pool of funds established under the Rebuild Alabama Act that is intended for local projects municipalities/counties cannot pay for on their own. The Annual Grant Program is a small portion of the overall revenue generated by Rebuild Alabama.

The Rebuild Alabama Act is the name of the bill championed by Ivey that the Alabama legislature overwhelmingly passed in the spring of 2019. The act raises the gas tax in Alabama by ten cents over three years in order to pay for infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. A six-cent increase to the gas tax happened in September 2019, with a two-cent increase to follow in 2020 and 2021.

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“An investment in our roads and bridges is an investment in the future of Alabama. These $7 million in funds will go a long way in helping communities across the state address various road and bridge projects,” Ivey said.

The Annual Grant Program is composed of $10 million each year. The remaining $3 million will be awarded later in 2020. According to the governor’s office, “all projects will be under contract by the end of the calendar year, after bids are taken.”

“I am proud to see the continuing positive ramifications from the Rebuild Alabama Act. Soon, every Alabama citizen will feel the benefits from this additional investment in our infrastructure,” Ivey concluded.

For the approved projects, click here.

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

6 days ago

Legislation introduced to protect Alabama’s critical infrastructure, such as its energy grid

(State Representative Chip Brown District 105, Cam Ward/Facebook)

State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and State Rep. Chip Brown (R-Mobile) on Thursday announced the filing of important legislation to bolster the protections of critical infrastructure assets in Alabama.

Companion bills filed in each chamber, Senate Bill 45 and House Bill 36 respectively, aim to amend a 2016 law which defined critical infrastructure in Alabama and created criminal penalties for unauthorized trespassing on such property.

The legislation filed Thursday adapts language from a variety of other states’ laws and adds the unauthorized use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to the trespassing statute which is a Class A misdemeanor. The legislation also imposes a Class C Felony for individuals who “injure, remove, destroy, break or otherwise interrupt or interfere with the operations of a critical infrastructure asset” during the commission of unauthorized entry.

“This legislation is an important step in enhancing a bill I sponsored and passed in 2016,” Ward said in a statement.

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Ward is the chairman of the Alabama legislature’s Committee on Energy Policy.

“Critical infrastructure assets are the backbone of our quality of life in America and we must do everything we can to have the proper legal protections in place,” he continued. “Damaging critical infrastructure is a serious offense which can lead to significant safety and environmental hazards as well as disrupt economic activity across the state, region and even the entire country. With this legislation, we will ensure we continue to provide the necessary protections for our domestic energy security in Alabama. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate on this important issue.”

Brown reinforced the importance of the legislation.

“Alabama is blessed to be the home of a variety of critical infrastructure assets across the state,” he stated. “Not only do these assets provide jobs to Alabamians, but they also support our day-to-day lives with the resources we often take for granted.”

“We must continue to be vigilant with our efforts to combat any potential threats to our critical infrastructure both domestically and abroad and that is why I am pleased to sponsor this legislation. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to ensure we are leading the way towards protecting one of the very pillars of our society – our critical infrastructure,” Brown concluded.

Reaction comes in from stakeholders

The legislation authored by Ward and Brown was met with immediate and effusive praise from industry leaders.

Seth Hammett, chairman of the Energy Institute of Alabama, remarked, “The Energy Institute of Alabama commends Senator Ward and Representative Brown for taking the proactive measure to ensure Alabama’s critical infrastructure assets are protected. In times of uncertainty, domestically and abroad, measures like this legislation are a welcome sign from our political leaders who are taking a proactive and logical approach to ensure our domestic energy security.”

“Manufacture Alabama is thankful for the leadership of Senator Ward and Representative Brown in sponsoring this vital piece of legislation,” Manufacture Alabama president and CEO George Clark said. “Protecting the state’s critical infrastructure is extremely important to not only our members, but the people of Alabama. This bill will further provide law enforcement and the Judicial Branch the tools that it will need to deter individuals bent on destroying private property and disrupting the flow of energy.”

“We applaud Senator Ward and Representative Brown for their commitment to protecting our state’s critical infrastructure. Pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure are instrumental in delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy to Alabama’s working families, and this bill provides an important mechanism to deter those who would hope to interrupt our state’s flow of energy and create a potential safety risk to communities, first responders, and the environment,” Alabama Petroleum Council executive director Jon Barganier commented.

The Alabama legislature will gavel in for its 2020 regular session on February 4.

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

6 days ago

Watch it here first: Jeff Sessions releases latest TV ad — ‘I won’t back down’

(Sessions for Senate/YouTube)

Yellowhammer News on Thursday obtained the latest television advertisement for former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ 2020 U.S. Senate campaign.

Sessions is running in a crowded Republican primary field to reclaim his former Alabama Senate seat, the one currently held by Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

The new ad is entitled “Won’t Back Down” and contrasts Sessions’ record and conservative principles with far-left policies being pushed by prominent Democrats across the country.

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The ad will start running as soon as Friday. The television buy will cover all major markets in Alabama and run for two weeks.

The ad begins with a narrator saying, “Socialism. Open borders. Free healthcare for illegal immigrants. That’s the Democrats’ plan for America. And they plan to gut our religious freedom and our freedom of speech. These radicals always blame America First.”

Sessions then speaks directly into the camera, commenting, “Today’s Democrats want to redefine America, and they mean business. They don’t want me in the Senate, because they know I won’t back down.”

“Jeff Sessions, the man the Democrats fear, the conservative you can trust,” the narrator concludes.

Watch:

In a statement, Sessions campaign manager Jon Jones remarked, “Jeff Sessions is a nightmare for the left-wing socialists who run the national Democratic Party. Not only does his entrance into this race make it likely that Alabama will once again be represented by Republicans in the U.S. Senate, but the Democrats also know that Sessions will relentlessly fight for conservative principles and the implementation of President Trump’s agenda. Senator Doug Jones’ days in the U.S. Senate are numbered. Every day, the momentum generated by Mr. Sessions as he travels the state is building.”

Sessions is competing in the March 3 GOP primary with former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

RELATED: Trump tax cuts architect: Trump probably would not be president without Jeff Sessions

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

6 days ago

Historic USMCA approved by Senate with support of Shelby, Jones

(Wikicommons)

President Donald Trump’s historic United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was approved overwhelmingly by the U.S. Senate on Thursday, with both Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) voting to support the trade deal.

The implementation act for the USMCA passed the Senate 89-10.

The trade deal, which is set to replace NAFTA, has been praised by major industries in Alabama, including agriculture and manufacturing.

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The U.S. House already approved the agreement, which will now advance to Trump’s desk for his signature. Alabama’s entire federal delegation ended up supporting the USMCA.

“Passage of this important trade pact is a significant win for our state and nation’s farmers, manufacturers, workers, and businesses,” Shelby said in a statement.

“The agreement not only improves our trade policies, but it also counteracts many of the negative effects of NAFTA. I commend President Trump on this legislative victory and look forward to the job creation and robust economic growth that will result from implementing USMCA,” he continued.

In 2018, Alabama exported $6.6 billion in services and commodities to Canada and Mexico. The USMCA is expected to continue boosting trade throughout the Yellowhammer State and the nation while serving the interests of Alabama’s workers and job creators. It will also support mutually beneficial trade leading to free markets, fair trade and continued economic growth in North America, according to Shelby’s office.

The vote by the full Senate on Thursday came after the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Shelby serves as chairman and Jones serves as a member, advanced the agreement the day prior by a vote of 29-2.

After that committee vote, Jones stated, “I have consistently supported the idea of a new strategic trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, especially as businesses and markets are desperately seeking stability and reassurance due to the numerous global trade disputes the United States has entered over the past few years. Canada and Mexico are Alabama’s top trade partners and we are an exporting state, so this deal will provide much-needed stability and continued access to those markets that will benefit many industries in Alabama.”

“I hope once the agreement is signed in to law, we will work with other allies around the globe and remove the threat of tariffs on our farmers and automakers once and for all,” Jones concluded.

Shelby stated, “The President is dedicated to improving our nation’s trade policies and benefiting hardworking American taxpayers. I look forward to the future job creation and investment this pact will foster.”

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

6 days ago

Ala. House Minority Leader Daniels: Poarch Creek compact proposal is ‘appealing’

(Anthony Daniels/Twitter, YHN)

In a television interview this week, Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) discussed the historic compact with the state proposed by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI).

PCI, based in Atmore, is the only federally recognized tribe in the Yellowhammer State.

In late 2019, the tribe unveiled a compact plan that could pay billions to the state and rolled out “Winning for Alabama,” a public awareness campaign related to the proposal.

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Speaking to WHNT, Daniels seemed open to the plan, which also expresses PCI’s continued support for a clean, traditional lottery in the state.

When asked about what he thinks about the proposal, Daniels responded, “Well, Alabama is certainly a state that needs more revenue, and our constituencies are not in favor of any more taxes – whether it’s a property tax or whatever it is – and so it’s appealing to me, but in all fairness, they’ve brought an offer to the table and we have to look at that very seriously.”

Daniels then added that he expects “other operators” of gaming in the state to bring their own proposal forward.

“But understand that also there are other operators in the state that will also be — moving forward will bring a proposal to the table,” he said. “But right now there’s only been one proposal made public, and so when you see that you have to look at that. Because at the end of the day, it is about generating more revenue. I think that the plan that you described (the PCI plan), that’s no secret. I think that it’s certainly appealing to the legislature when we’re talking about more revenue and more dollars.”

State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) sponsored a clean lottery bill that passed the State Senate last spring but was defeated in the lower chamber. Albritton had estimated annual revenues for the state through his legislation at approximately $170 million. Daniels voted against Albritton’s lottery legislation advancing.

Speaking to WHNT, Daniels continued, “But I think, on your point about the lottery, Democrats have always been in support of an education lottery. I think that when we start having these conversations, we have to make certain that we’re talking about it in more details. When we’re talking about an education lottery, and I think that’s what the people of Alabama want as well, and so right now we’re not receiving any revenue for the General Fund or the Education Trust Fund from gaming, so it’s always appealing. But that’s just a starting point.”

It should be noted that Albritton’s lottery bill as considered by the House last year would have split revenues 75% to the General Fund and 25% to the Education Trust Fund.

After the bill failed in the House in 2019, State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) told Yellowhammer News that she intended to bring an amendment to the lottery legislation to make the revenue be split equally between education and the General Fund.

However, Daniels at the time then told Yellowhammer News that merely giving more of the revenue to the Education Trust Fund would not win over his party’s votes, saying their opposition was “much broader than that.”

House Democratic Caucus leaders subsequently called for lottery revenues to be earmarked, expressing specific concern that un-earmarked General Fund lottery revenues could go towards the construction of new prisons in the state.

Later in his interview with WHNT this week, Daniels specified that potentially being able to pay for Medicaid expansion and increased investments in Pre-k education makes the PCI compact proposal especially “appealing.”

He also acknowledged that there are members of the legislature that represent “places where there are some [gaming] operators that said that they want to make certain that their operators get their voices heard as well.”

Daniels may very well be referring to operators of electronic bingo halls across the state. Electronic bingo and similar “slot machine” type games have been deemed as illegal gaming by the Alabama Supreme Court under current law.

“[O]nce we see a proposal from those operators, I think at that point we can start moving forward,” Daniels added.

Daniels subsequently singled out the licensing fees in the PCI proposal as being especially “appealing,” due to that revenue being consistent and not determined by the level of gaming occurring in the relevant facilities.

The 2020 regular session of the Alabama legislature gavels on February 4.

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

1 week ago

Byrne: Hunter Biden should be ‘very first name’ on impeachment trial witness list

(Congressman Byrne/YouTube)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) on Wednesday took to the U.S. House of Representatives floor, implying Democrats will regret demanding that Senate Republicans bring in more witnesses for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial than the House interviewed during its impeachment inquiry.

While speaking on the floor, Byrne stood next to a poster showing a picture of former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer on a golf outing.

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Archer served as a board member along with Hunter Biden at Burisma, a Ukraine energy company. Trump’s interactions with the Ukrainian president regarding potential wrongdoing by the Bidens related to Hunter’s foreign business dealings in the country are at the center of the impeachment case.

Democrats, including Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), have been calling on Senate Republicans in the majority to hold an impeachment trial featuring witnesses not heard from by the House. Jones in an op-ed recently named names he wants to hear from and has especially harped on the importance of former Trump administration National Security Advisor John Bolton testifying.

Jones stated, “The evidence we do have may be sufficient to make a judgment, but it is clearly incomplete.”

“There are four witnesses who could help fill those gaps: the president’s former national security adviser, his acting chief of staff, the senior adviser to his acting chief of staff and a top national security official in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Each has direct knowledge regarding the charges against the president and should testify under oath at a Senate trial,” he added.

However, Jones has supported the original impeachment whistleblower remaining secret and not having to testify in the Senate. The whistleblower did not testify in the House process.

RELATED: Jones doubles down on keeping whistleblower secret: ‘People’s lives could be in jeopardy’

Additionally, while Jones has maintained in recent months that the Bidens do not need to be investigated for Hunter’s foreign business dealings, Byrne has consistently called for increased scrutiny on the Biden family. Byrne even recently introduced a House resolution directing three House committees to begin investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings during his father’s tenure as vice president.

That trend continued in Byrne’s Wednesday floor speech.

“After a long, embarrassing month, the House will finally transmit the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the United States Senate,” Byrne remarked. “Yet, I understand Speaker Pelosi and her managers will continue to push for witnesses in the Senate trial because, in their words, they want the facts.”

Referencing the poster, he continued, “That claim is nonsense! House Democrats blocked the testimony of the whistleblower, DNC staffer Alexandra Chalupa, Nellie Ohr with Fusion GPS, and of course the two gentlemen pictured to my left, Devon Archer and Hunter Biden!”

“I remind my friends in the majority, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I predict House Democrats will not fare as well blocking these witnesses in Mitch McConnell’s Senate,” Byrne added.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News later in the day, Byrne emphasized that if Democrats want more witnesses during the Senate impeachment trial, Republicans should oblige by calling Hunter Biden to the stand.

“If Democrats are going to demand all these witnesses, then Republicans should do the same and the very first name on the list should be Hunter Biden,” Byrne said.

“Democrats have manufactured this entire conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2016 election, but they ignore the blatant corruption with the Biden family. If they want answers, let’s start with Hunter Biden,” he concluded.

Byrne is running in Alabama’s crowded GOP Senate primary field. Along with former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), Byrne is vying to face Jones in the November general election.

Jones has endorsed Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, defending him at controversial moments throughout this campaign cycle, including on “senior moments,” when Biden came under fire for remarks about former segregationist Democratic senators and deeming sexual misconduct allegations against Biden as distractions from beating Trump.

Jones has vowed to back whomever the Democrats ultimately nominate against Trump in 2020, no matter how radical that individual is.

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