The Wire

  • Historic Inauguration Day in Montgomery heralds continued growth for Alabama

    Excerpt:

    It was a day of celebration, unity and tremendous optimism as Governor Kay Ivey and other statewide elected officials were officially sworn into office on Monday.

    The weather played into the symbolism of the occasion, as a cold, overcast day – a storm almost certainly imminent – gradually became sunnier and sunnier as the afternoon pushed on, much like the outlook of the state under Ivey’s steady guidance.

    Political insiders and everyday Alabamians from every nook and cranny of the state gathered in front of the Alabama State Capitol steps for the inauguration ceremony, which began promptly at 10:00 a.m. From the state’s richest man to the single mom who checked her little girls out of school just to see Ivey’s historic oath of office, it was a day that transcended the lines that divide us.

    Because Ivey’s inauguration message of “Keep Alabama Growing” is a theme meant for all. It is a message of hope – that even a little girl from Camden, Alabama can rise to be duly elected as the state’s chief executive through hard work and perseverance.

  • Ivey orders flags lowered to half-staff to honor fallen police Sgt. Wytasha Carter

    Excerpt:

    Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff to honor Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter, who was killed in the line of duty on Sunday.

    “I am directing flags be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for Birmingham Police Sergeant Wytasha Carter who was killed in the line of duty early Sunday, January 13, 2019,” Ivey said in a statement. “Sergeant Carter laid down his life protecting the people of Birmingham, and the entire state of Alabama mourns this tremendous loss.”

  • Mo Brooks calls on President Trump to declare a national emergency to fix border

    Excerpt:

    As the partial government shutdown drags into the 24th day, members of Congress on both sides are seeking a way out of the quagmire.

    Most observers seem to believe that there are few options that are possible at this point. Democrats have little reason to cave while the media has provided them cover for their inaction. The polling is indicating that is working.

    President Donald Trump believes this is his last chance to get any real movement on his core campaign promises of building a wall. Neither side’s supporters are going to punish them for sticking to these positions.

1 week ago

Are our highways less safe?

(YHN/Pixabay)

Highway fatalities have increased from under 33,000 in 2014 to 37,461 in 2016, before declining slightly in 2017. Many have speculated whether drivers distracted by smartphones have caused this increase. Before further restricting driving, we should examine the problem.

The recent increase in fatalities is unsettling because driving has become safer over time. Fifty years ago, over 50,000 Americans died annually on the highways; the worst year was 1972 with 54,589 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Vehicle miles driven have increased dramatically as the death toll has fallen. Indeed, fatalities per mile driven have fallen by 80 percent since 1966. If we still had 1966’s fatality rate with today’s 3.2 trillion miles driven, we would have had 176,000 highway deaths in 2017.

Has driving truly become more deadly since 2014? The increase in fatalities might seem to answer this in the affirmative, but real world data never lies exactly on a smooth curve. Could the recent increases in fatalities just be random variation?

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The two largest year-to-year percentage increases in highway fatalities were in 2015 and 2016, a total 14 percent increase. And yet multi-year fatality increases have occurred since 1966, including four consecutive years in the late 1970s and five consecutive years in the 1990s. The 1970’s fatalities increase was 15 percent. The recent increase in fatalities is not entirely unprecedented.

Thankfully, a very small percentage of accidents produce fatalities. If roads are more dangerous, we should also see increases in injuries and accidents. NHTSA injury totals go back only to 1988 and are much less accurate than fatalities data. Still, reported injuries increased 34 percent, or 800,000, between 2014 and 2016, including a 28 percent increase in 2016. The largest previous one-year increase in injuries was only 6.5 percent. Reliable nationwide totals on accidents are not available.

Not all states have seen fatality increases. In Alabama fatalities rose 26 percent between 2014 and 2016. Rhode Island had a 63 percent increase in fatalities, and eight other states saw increases of 30 percent or more. Yet fatalities declined in three states and increased less than 5 percent in four more. Are cell phones more distracting in some states than others?

Substantial differences in fatality rates exist across states. Between 2014 and 2017, South Carolina’s rate was more than two and a half times higher than Massachusetts’. Factors like rural vs. urban driving, highway type, and speed limits explain much of this variation, but making driving in all states as safe as in the safest states could save thousands of lives annually.

The NHTSA also reports fatalities by vehicle type, which have increased by 12 and 13 percent for cars and light trucks. Motorcyclists and bicyclists (15 percent each) and pedestrians (22 percent) saw larger increases, even though drivers of cars and trucks seem more likely to be distracted by cell phones. The fatality increases for cyclists and pedestrians suggest another cause, or may combine drivers’ distractions and these individuals’ vulnerability.

Cell phone use and texting have been around longer than we perhaps remember; Washington state banned texting and driving in 2007. According to NHTSA statistics, drivers’ cell phone use has fallen over the past decade, and fatalities fell 20 percent nationally between 2007 and 2014. New phones provide more ways to distract drivers, but why did cell phones start increasing fatalities only in 2015?

Many scholars from different disciplines study highway safety, including yours truly. To date, published research has not really addressed the recent jump in fatalities. World events drive academic research, so research should soon start offering concrete insights.

Highway fatalities continue to impose a heavy toll on the U.S. Even though the fatality rate has fallen 80 percent since 1966, the modest increase in fatalities since 2014 should concern citizens and experts. Fortunately, fatalities fell three percent during the first half of 2018. Perhaps the increase from 2014 to 2016 was only a pause in the long-term improvement in highway safety.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University.

2 weeks ago

The battle against inflation

(YHN/Pixabay)

Inflation fears rose briefly during 2018, as the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) approached three percent. In 1980, three percent annual inflation would have set off celebrations. Our success in reducing inflation provides a lesson about policy-making by elected officials.

To avoid confusion we should be clear about the meaning of inflation. Americans often mean the cost of living when they say inflation. Economists, by contrast, specifically mean an increase in the overall price level.

A pure five percent inflation would be exactly a five percent increase in every price. Salaries and wages are prices and would be included. Inflation should not reduce the ability of households to buy goods and services, as income and expenses both increase equally. Economists call an increase in the price of gasoline or housing a change in relative prices, not inflation, even though either raises living costs.

Housing costs more in New York or San Francisco than in Alabama. That the cost of living in Manhattan is more than double that in Montgomery matters for weighing job offers. Differences in living costs, however, are also not inflation.

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The CPI does not include wages and rises even for relative price increases, yet still measures inflation pretty well. The annual change in the CPI exceeded 10 percent in 1974 and 1979-1981, hitting 13.5 percent in 1980. By 1983, inflation was below 5 percent and has only topped this level once since.

The U.S. has not been the only nation to bring inflation under control. U.S. inflation fell from 8.5 to 1.7 percent over 1974-83 and 2008-17. Yet over these decades, inflation fell from 11.3 to 1.1 percent in France and from 16.7 to 1.1 percent in Italy and Spain. Even Latin America has experienced progress; inflation fell from 33 to four percent in Mexico and from 112 to 6 percent in Brazil.

International success argues against a uniquely American explanation for our decline in inflation. For instance, I might wish to credit Ronald Reagan for defeating inflation. While President Reagan undoubtedly deserves some credit, a “great person” story would require great leaders in many nations, which seems less likely.

During the 1970s, many blamed inflation on rising world oil prices. A decline in oil supply would raise oil prices and hike the CPI, but would be a relative price change, not inflation as defined by economists. And significant oil price increase last decade did not produce double-digit inflation.

One economist who never wavered about the cause of inflation during the 1970s was Milton Friedman, who insisted that “inflation is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon.” Governments and their central banks, like our Federal Reserve, inflate the money supply, driving up prices. Behind the focus on oil, the Federal Reserve did indeed fuel the 1970s inflation with money supply growth. With Paul Volcker as Federal Reserve chair and Ronald Reagan in the White House, the brakes were put on the money creation and inflation fell accordingly. The economics profession now largely accepts that Professor Friedman was right on inflation.

Why then did so many nations cause themselves the pain of inflation? And what has changed? Monetary economists have identified central bank independence as a key. A central bank is like a bank for the nation’s banking system, and generally controls the money supply. Politicians find easy money and credit irresistible, particularly when running for reelection. If politicians have too much control, they will inevitably inflate the money supply.

The Federal Reserve has always had some political independence. When the Fed chair and governors want monetary stability, as Mr. Volcker and his successor Alan Greenspan did, they can often prevail over the president and Congress. Other nations increased their central banks’ independence, based on economists’ advice. The European Central Bank was modeled on Germany’s independent Bundesbank.

People are imperfect and face problems of self-control. Our elected officials are human, and the potential to shift blame in politics exacerbates self-control problems. The world’s success battling inflation shows that elections alone do not always ensure wise economic policy.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University.

and 3 months ago

Should the progressive movement become pro-life?

(YHN/Pixabay)

Blind spots. We’ve all got them. Some, for example, believe their singing voice to be a divine blessing although it might more accurately be described as a curse. Others assume their Facebook friends want to see their every meal. Still others ignore that they do, in reality, need deodorant.

Not all blind spots are this trite, however. History makes that much clear.

Alabama is, unfortunately, host to one of the most obvious and horrid of blind spots: the slavery of the Antebellum South. The fact that many slave-owners were faithful church-goers, Sunday school teachers, and reputable members of the community ought to remind us of how even the most evident evils can be hidden from our moral view.

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Historical blind spots aren’t limited to Alabama, of course. Worldwide aversion to women’s right to vote, German justification for the Holocaust, and even the Pharisaical rejection of Jesus are examples of blind spots in both recent and distant past.

The common thread of a moral blind spot, it seems, is this: generally decent people, earnestly desiring to know and act on what is right, completely missing it.

That’s the thing about blind spots. We miss them. By their nature we are ignorant of their existence. That means that, without someone pointing them out, I won’t know mine and you won’t know yours.

Illuminating these blind spots is a compassionate and worthwhile goal––as long as we are open to confronting our own blurs in vision.

Knowing this, we are obligated to point out a major blind spot in the progressive movement: the endorsement of abortion.

The progressive movement has prided itself on its support for the historically marginalized and voiceless: women, immigrants, African Americans, etc. There is a real care, a genuine passion, within their ranks to right wrongs that should be encouraging to us all. They desire justice and fairness and, although we may not agree when it comes to the raw policy, that desire should be applauded.

When it comes to the most voiceless population, the unborn, the progressive movement fails. Strangely enough, the very rhetoric they decry when levied against minorities is used to justify the killing of yet-to-be-born human beings.

In some ways, it makes sense that this blind spot exists within the progressive movement. The battle to ensure women’s voting rights was hard-fought and one that progressives have not forgotten. There is, unfortunately, a lingering suspicion that this battle continues––that men want to control women in whatever ways possible. This suspicion, it seems, has led to an overcorrection in which attempts to eliminate abortion are perceived as anti-women instead of pro-child.

Progressives, let’s be clear, this is not a rerun of the right for women to vote. This is about the lives of innumerable unborn children who cannot speak for themselves. This is, in many ways, right in your wheelhouse.

Fortunately enough, recent scientific progress makes it easier than ever for progressives to join the pro-life movement. New technologies and scientific studies are consistently showing how early on in development a fetus appears and acts as it is: human.

Colleen Malloy, a neonatologist at Northwestern University, stresses this in a recent Atlantic article. She argues that years of study made it “so obvious that these were just developing humans.” Dr. Farr Curlin, a professor of medicine and medical humanities at Duke University, likewise described science’s recent contribution to the debate by saying “ I don’t see any way it’s not an ally to the pro-life cause.”

It’s time for the progressive movement to become pro-life. For consistency’s sake, for the sake of unborn children, and for their own viability as a movement, this blind spot needs to be confronted. With compassion, we invite progressives to be true to their stated ideals and support those least able to speak for themselves.

Nikki Richardson is Executive Vice President of the Alabama Policy Institute and Parker Snider is Director of Policy Analysis. API is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.

3 months ago

A lesson from the school pickup line

(Pxhere)

Our school district does not provide school bus service, so parents must take their children to and from school each day. Waiting in line to pick up our children provides a first-hand lesson about an important category of economic contests.

Troy Elementary School dismisses students at 3pm. I always want to be one of the first parents in line when I pick up my son. Chuck then gets perhaps an extra ten minutes at home. And I show him that he is important enough to me that I will make time to be first in line.

Only try as I might, I have not yet this year gotten close to the front of the line. Even arriving 30 minutes early is not enough. The people of Troy love their children very much, which makes Troy a great place to live. We also seem to have very flexible schedules.

As a group, we parents face a reality: only one person will be first in the pickup line. The line is an example of what economist Robert Frank labeled positional goods – where we care about our position relative to others. The pursuit of positional goods can be wasteful.

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Life features many positional goods. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. Some people line up well in advance of the store openings to show that they are the most serious shoppers. At the college I went to, students had a tradition of camping out in advance of hockey season tickets going on sale. The first students in line were the most serious supporters of the team.

Positional goods can involve other forms of competition. Neighbors sometimes engage in positional contests to put up the most amazing Christmas light and decoration displays. The costs include the decorations and higher electricity bills. Having the newest, latest, and shiniest computer, big screen TV, or car is a positional contest as well.

Competition in positional contests uses scarce resources just trying to move ahead of others when in the aggregate this isn’t possible. Even if parents waited all day in line after dropping off our children, only one would be at the front of the pickup line. Everyone engaged in a positional contest might agree that we would be better off spending less time and money.

And yet our incentives work against us here. If all other Troy Elementary School parents arrived at 2:55pm, I would show up at 2:50pm. Economist Thomas Schelling explained how sometimes people might choose to have someone limit our freedom to compete. Government can perform this role, or associations which can enforce rules on their members.

Two factors complicate limiting competition. First, competition may also improve contest quality. Consider high school football. Winning has a positional element – only one team can win the state title in each class each year. Extra practices, voluntary off-season workouts, and attending college camps may be seen as providing only a relative advantage. Yet this might also increase the quality of play, benefitting fans, coaches, and the players. A pure positional contest has no element of quality.

Beyond this, working hard in pursuit of our goals is an important part of life. The players may enjoy working hard together during the offseason and may be building life-long friendships. The freedom to outwork others is integral to America’s opportunity society.

To see this, imagine if students were not allowed to prepare for the SAT exam. An SAT score affects college admissions and scholarships; it matters for life. Aptitude tests do have a positional element. All students spending $1,000 on prep classes may not change their percentile rankings. Yet being denied the freedom to study hard and improve one’s performance seems profoundly unfair.

We need to be aware of positional contests, of the times in life where we simply are trying to get ahead of others. We may want to accept limits on such contests to curb wasteful competition. But we also need to remember that the freedom to work and create opportunities for ourselves is a crucial part of life.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University.

3 months ago

7 Things: Alabama Senator Doug Jones still doesn’t get it, Trump tours areas ravaged by Hurricane Michael, and more …

(CNN, CBS Boston /YouTube)

7. Trump and the Cherokee nation respond to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry test

— The strange move involved Warren releasing a video that declared “the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor” from six to ten generations ago which means she is between 1/64th to 1/1024th native American.

— Any fair-minded observer would view this a rebuke of Sen. Warren’s claims to be a “woman of color” not a response to President Trump’s “attacks”.

6. Alabama Republicans may be softening on Medicaid expansion

— Republicans in Alabama have been steadfastly against the Medicaid expansion proposal because it will require an additional outlay of up to $200 million dollars. This is a wildly unpopular idea amongst Republican legislators but lame-duck Republica State Senator Gerald Dial is stepping out and advocating for it.

— While this is one of Democratic candidate for Governor Walt Maddox’s issues, support from legislators switching positions after an election wouldn’t be much of a surprise. They did something similar in 2007 with a pay raise, and in 2015 Governor Robert Bentley advocated for additional revenue after running a campaign saying that very thing would not be necessary.

5. Three percent of U.S. taxpayers pay a majority of taxes in the United States

— A trope from the media and their Democrats is that tax cuts only help the top 1 percent, this is patently false, in fact, the top few percents of the American citizens pay a majority of taxes collected in this country.

— Amazingly, the top 1,409 taxpayers pay more income tax than the bottom 70 million, with expectations in the fiscal year 2018 to be close to $1.7 trillion dollars which surpasses 2017’s collection of $1.5 trillion dollars.

4. The Saudis are ready to admit they had something to do with a journalist’s death

— Saudi Arabia will reportedly admit that they accidentally killed Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi during an interrogation that went south. The alleged claim will be that they were just trying to abduct the journalist from Turkey.

— This all comes less than 24 hours after the President seemed to accept the denial of the leader of the oil-rich kingdom that has made a threat to retaliate against any nation that sanctions them.

3. Governor Kay Ivey has assigned a new chairman of the Alabama Board of Pardon and Paroles and froze paroles for 75 days

— Governor Ivey has issued an executive order that freezes all early paroles for 75 days, which requires the board implement a plan of which Ivey and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall approve.

— Ivey and Marshall acted yesterday, and for good reason. 100 more violent inmates were set for possible early release before the end of October.

2. President Donald Trump tours areas devastated by Hurricane Michael 

— The President spent the day on the Gulf Coast, taking a helicopter tour of and visiting damaged Panama City and Lynn Haven on the ground where he spoke to survivors and handed out water bottles before heading to Georgia.

— The President praised Alabama’s Governor saying, “She’s in there fighting” as he praised the farmers damaged by the storm, “[T]hinking about our GREAT Alabama farmers…We are with you!”

1. Alabama Senator Doug Jones doesn’t get why people are upset with him over his vote against Justice Brett Kavanaugh

— Speaking to Alabama Public Televsion’s “Capitol Journal”, Jones lashed out at the Alabama Republican Party. Jones said: “This is the same Republican Party who voted for a guy last year – who continued to support someone who ran against me who there were very, very serious and credible allegations. This is a Republican Party that puts party over state, party over country. So, I’m not surprised they put this in political tones. The very thing that I avoided from the beginning, from my standpoint and my standpoint was what mattered to me and my staff – we were not looking at this in political terms.”

— The problem with Jones’ analysis here is that he doesn’t seem to grasp that the state views him as turning their back on them. He supported the wishes of Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren as opposed to those in the state of Alabama.

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3 months ago

VIDEO: Kavanaugh dooms Senate Democrats, Trump and Ivey’s popularity in Alabama is sky-high, Tay Tay/Yeezy and more on Guerrilla Politics…

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Did the Kavanaugh vote doom Sen. Doug Jones and other red state Democrats?

— Do Governor Kay Ivey and President Donald Trump’s popularity kill any chance for Alabama Democrats?

— Why are Taylor Swift’s and Kanye West’s politics being treated so differently?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by former State Senator Tom Butler to talk about his campaign to reclaim his old seat in November.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” directed at those who can’t call an obvious mob a “mob”.

https://www.facebook.com/YHN/videos/1546555135444844/

5 months ago

The media responds to charges that they are all the same and out to get Trump by proving him right

(G. Skidmore/Flickr, CNN/YouTube)

After President Trump’s election, members of the establishment media determined it was time to reevaluate their performance.

Media decided it was more important “Now More Than Ever” they acknowledge that “Democracy Dies In The Darkness.” They decided their job was to check the most powerful person in the world. By focusing on this, they also acknowledged that they weren’t doing that from 2009-2016. Because they refocused their efforts, their results were that 90-plus percent of their coverage has been negative.

Because of this, the president continues to weaponize a term, invented by Hillary Clinton, and call them out. He does this by calling out “fake news media” as “the enemy of the people.” He’s pretty clear he isn’t talking about all news, although admittedly, he and his supporters are often guilty of calling all news they disagree with “fake news.”

This phrasing has caused the stuck pig to squeal, and the news media continue attacking, going as far as having the poster boy for bias and inappropriate behavior, CNN’s Jim Acosta, storm out of a press briefing in a huff because Sarah Huckabee Sanders wouldn’t repeat what he wanted her to and calling her “Un-American.”

These people are so inside their bubble that they don’t even understand it.

I laid this out to people in a White House press briefing.

WATCH:

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They did not like this.

Their response to criticism of their profession is to go further into their bubble.

Today, over 350+ newspapers came together for a coordinated attack on the president of the United States. They will be egged on by media reporters and liberal politicians as they further damage their brands.

And because of this foolish nonsense, Americans will point to this day when they want to further undermine them and the silly idea that the American media is not a liberally biased arm of the American Democratic Party.

They have further eroded their trust, which Trump has already smartly weaponized to his benefit.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show  from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

6 months ago

Man arrested in Mississippi carjacking, Alabama killing

(Moss Point Police Dept.)

Police in Mississippi say a man charged in a crime spree that included a killing in Alabama has been apprehended in Houston.

News outlets report U.S. Marshals took 31-year-old Devarian Edwards into custody Friday.

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Moss Point police Chief Brandon Ashley told the Sun Herald on Sunday that Edwards awaits extradition to Alabama.

Afterward, Jackson County, Mississippi authorities will extradite him.

Moss Point police say Edwards was among a group of men who carjacked a man and a woman at gunpoint May 25 on Interstate 10.

Jackson, Alabama police say in a statement 19-year-old Scieler McKenzie was shot and killed hours later during a gunfire exchange Edwards was in.

Police say Edwards was firing a handgun and that McKenzie was shot several times.

It is unclear if Edwards has a lawyer.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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8 months ago

VIDEO: Governor Kay Ivey still holds a big lead and other polling — Sue Bell Cobb wants to raise your taxes — Hillary Clinton is blaming something else for her loss … and more on Guerrilla Politics!

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories including:

— What do the recent polls done on Alabama’s statewide races tell us?

— Is Sue Bell Cobb wise to advocating for the raising of taxes while running for the Democrat Gubernatorial nomination?

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— Is Hillary Clinton really blaming her loss in 2016 on her being a capitalist?

Former Congressman Parker Griffith joins Jackson and Burke to discuss the lottery, the problems with Congress, and his parties actual chances on 2018 midterms.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at folks who think Trump can actually win the Nobel Prize.

9 months ago

VIDEO: Ivey unbeatable? — Congress vs. Facebook — Sen. Jones more popular than Sen. Shelby … and more on Guerrilla Politics!

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories including:

— If Gov. Kay Ivey has a 67 percent approval rating, can she be beat?

— Do members of Congress have any idea what Facebook actually does and do they have any business regulating it?

— How is Democrat Sen. Doug Jones more popular than Sen. Richard Shelby and can this last until Jones’ re-election?

J. Pepper Bryars, editor of Yellowhammer News, joins Jackson and Burke to discuss the role of new media in 2018 and what role it will play in the midterm elections.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at folks on the right who are thrilled about Speaker Paul Ryan leaving Congress and he explains what they can expect next.

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10 months ago

Taylor’s Top Four: Legislative review for week 11

The countdown is on! What’s happening as the session winds down? Read below to find out!

1. Gun bills might be finished for this session . . .  

With time quickly winding down in the legislative session, the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee had a meeting scheduled on Tuesday to consider several things: a bill that raises the age to by an AR-15 from 18 to 21, a bill that would allow judges to take firearms away from individuals who might use them for self-harm or harm to others, and a bill that would ban the sale of AR-15s and other similar guns. The meeting was canceled due to lack of participation—only 4 of the 11 representatives on the committee showed up for the meeting. Additionally, the house, on Tuesday, left without debating Representative Will Ainsworth’s (R-Guntersville) bill to arm teachers. With the session expected to end next week and with no action on the bills this week, it appears that time has run out for these bills this session. Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has said that Ainsworth’s bill will come up again next session, while Ainsworth has called on Governor Ivey to call a special session to consider school safety proposals.

2. But school safety still looks to be a priority of the legislature.

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Just because the legislature isn’t making a decision about arming teachers this session does not mean that they are not concerned with school safety. A bill before the legislature would allow school districts to take money from the Advancement and Technology fund. According to Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), “If [the school systems] have some security needs, whether those are security cameras or improving door lock systems or alert systems or whatever the case may be, the local districts will have the flexibility to point these resources to those specific needs.” The bill previously passed the Senate, passed the house this week, and now heads back to the Senate for a conference committee or concurrence vote.

3. A bill that would bring an ethics law change for economic developers is still moving, but maybe not for long. 

Remember the controversial ethics bill that the House passed by a large margin during week 9 of the legislative session? As a reminder, this bill would allow economic developers to be exempt from the rules that lobbyists are subject to, which includes registration as a lobbyist,  annual training, and reporting of activities. Earlier week, the bill was passed by the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee. On Thursday, Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) told reporter Chip Brownlee that there are a handful of senators ready to filibuster the bill in its current form. Brian Lyman reported that there may be a substitute in the works, which would be brought up on Tuesday.

4. BJCC expansion is one step closer to becoming a reality.

You might remember hearing about a proposal to renovate and grow the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex by adding a stadium. Well, in order to fund that project, there is a bill currently before the legislature that imposes a 3% tax on car rentals and leases in Jefferson County. According to Barnett Wright with The Birmingham Times, “The rental tax is expected to generate about $3.5 million a year to help pay the debt service on the project, which the BJCC Authority estimates will be about $21.5 million a year.” The bill, sponsored by Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) and Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia Hills), has passed both chambers and heads to Governor Ivey for a signature.

You also might want to know about…

—  Governor Ivey signed a few things into law this week, including…

—  A bill that would allow death row inmates a third option for execution—nitrogen hypoxia.

—  A contract with Wexford Health to handle the medical and mental health care at Alabama’s prisons. If you remember, the legislature held up the signing of this contract several weeks ago.

—  A tax break for low-income and middle-income individuals and families in Alabama.

—  The Child Care Safety Act, a bill by Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) that allows for more oversight into religious and non-religious day care facilities.

—   Senator Bill Hightower’s (R-Mobile) bill to allow Alabamians to vote on whether or not they want legislators to be term-limited did not pass in the Senate this week.

—   Alabama is one of only two states that does not have a law mandating equal pay for men and women. A bill by Representative Adeline Clark (D-Mobile) would change that, but since it did not get a committee vote this week, it is unlikely to pass.

—   The legislature has approved a bill that will allow UAB to create the Rural Hospital Resource Center, a facility that will be able to provide assistance to Alabama’s rural hospitals.

—   In November, voters will get to decide on a constitutional amendment that will allow the display of the ten commandments on public property, including schools.

—   After the threat of a filibuster, the stand-your-ground-in-church bill, which was up for debate in the Senate this week, has been stalled.

—   The Alabama Rural Broadband Act, a proposal that would offer grants to companies that will bring broadband internet to Alabama’s rural areas, has passed the legislature and is waiting for the governor’s signature.

10 months ago

Alabama one step closer to limiting civil forfeiture, but it may not matter

(W.Miller/YHN)

The Alabama Senate moved one step closer to requiring police officers to get a criminal conviction before taking a citizen’s property, but states that have already implemented such limits have run into loophole: the federal government.

Alabama lawmakers passed their ban through a state Senate committee last week under the impression they had the authority to ban civil forfeiture in their state. New Hampshire passed a bill similar to Alabama’s in 2016, but state and local police are still managing to take property without a criminal conviction.

The federal equitable sharing program, which allows state and local police to partner with federal authorities when making forfeitures, effectively ignores state-level limitations.

“The government ought to be required to prove that criminal conviction before being able to seize stuff,” Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr told the Heartland Institute. “The idea that the government can take a citizen’s property without a criminal conviction does not sit well with most people that I discussed this issue with.”

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In New Hampshire, state and local police forfeit property under the authority of the federal government, rather than the state. Despite the federal government technically being the one to take the property, the proceeds of the forfeiture cases remain with local authorities.

The federal stance on civil forfeiture is unlikely to change under President Donald Trump’s administration as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long argued the practice is essential to combating the drug trade. Most often, officers will find large amounts of cash in cars traveling across state lines and seize it under the assumption that it was ill-gotten.

The program allows police to make the seizure without charging the owner with a crime. To avoid due process concerns, authorities instead charge the property with a crime, allowing them to assume its guilt in court and put the burden of proof on the owner to show that his property was not involved in criminal activity.

Police also argue they use the power responsibly, but law enforcement often directly benefit from the funds they forfeit. Federal authorities took more than $4 billion through forfeiture in 2015, and most states allow departments to keep the vast majority – if not all – of the proceeds from the forfeitures they make. In Alabama, police departments receive 100 percent of the funds they forfeit.

North Dakota and Massachusetts are tied for the worst states in the U.S. on civil forfeiture, according to a study from the Institute for Justice. Both received an “F” from the group on the issue, but the rest of the country isn’t much better: 21 states are tied at a “D-,” including Alabama.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

10 months ago

Pat Buchanan: Why is the GOP terrified of tariffs?

From Lincoln to William McKinley to Theodore Roosevelt, and from Warren Harding through Calvin Coolidge, the Republican Party erected the most awesome manufacturing machine the world had ever seen.

And, as the party of high tariffs through those seven decades, the GOP was rewarded by becoming America’s Party.

Thirteen Republican presidents served from 1860 to 1930, and only two Democrats. And Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson were elected only because the Republicans had split.

Why, then, this terror of tariffs that grips the GOP?

Consider. On hearing that President Trump might impose tariffs on aluminum and steel, Sen. Lindsey Graham was beside himself: “Please reconsider,” he implored the president, “you’re making a huge mistake.”

Twenty-four hours earlier, Graham had confidently assured us that war with a nuclear-armed North Korea is “worth it.”

“All the damage that would come from a war would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security,” said Graham.

A steel tariff terrifies Graham. A new Korean war does not?

“Trade wars are not won, only lost,” warns Sen. Jeff Flake.

But this is ahistorical nonsense.

The U.S. relied on tariffs to convert from an agricultural economy in 1800 to the mightiest manufacturing power on earth by 1900.

Bismarck’s Germany, born in 1871, followed the U.S. example, and swept past free trade Britain before World War I.

Does Senator Flake think Japan rose to post-war preeminence through free trade, as Tokyo kept U.S. products out, while dumping cars, radios, TVs and motorcycles here to kill the industries of the nation that was defending them. Both Nixon and Reagan had to devalue the dollar to counter the predatory trade policies of Japan.

Since Bush I, we have run $12 trillion in trade deficits, and, in the first decade in this century, we lost 55,000 factories and 6,000,000 manufacturing jobs.

Does Flake see no correlation between America’s decline, China’s rise, and the $4 trillion in trade surpluses Beijing has run up at the expense of his own country?

The hysteria that greeted Trump’s idea of a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum suggest that restoring this nation’s economic independence is going to be a rocky road.

In 2017, the U.S. ran a trade deficit in goods of almost $800 billion, $375 billion of that with China, a trade surplus that easily covered Xi Jinping’s entire defense budget.

If we are to turn our $800 billion trade deficit in goods into an $800 billion surplus, and stop the looting of America’s industrial base and the gutting of our cities and towns, sacrifices will have to be made.

But if we are not up to it, we will lose our independence, as the countries of the EU have lost theirs.

Specifically, we need to shift taxes off goods produced in the USA, and impose taxes on goods imported into the USA.

As we import nearly $2.5 trillion in goods, a tariff on imported goods, rising gradually to 20 percent, would initially produce $500 billion in revenue.

All that tariff revenue could be used to eliminate and replace all taxes on production inside the USA.

As the price of foreign goods rose, U.S. products would replace foreign-made products. There’s nothing in the world that we cannot produce here. And if it can be made in America, it should be made in America.

Consider. Assume a Lexus cost $50,000 in the U.S., and a 20 percent tariff were imposed, raising the price to $60,000.

What would the Japanese producers of Lexus do?

They could accept the loss in sales in the world’s greatest market, the USA. They could cut their prices to hold their U.S. market share. Or they could shift production to the United States, building their cars here and keeping their market.

How have EU nations run up endless trade surpluses with America? By imposing a value-added tax, or VAT, on imports from the U.S., while rebating the VAT on exports to the USA. Works just like a tariff.

The principles behind a policy of economic nationalism, to turn our trade deficits, which subtract from GDP, into trade surpluses, which add to GDP, are these:

Production comes before consumption. Who consumes the apples is less important than who owns the orchard. We should depend more upon each other and less upon foreign lands.

We should tax foreign-made goods and use the revenue, dollar for dollar, to cut taxes on domestic production.

The idea is not to keep foreign goods out, but to induce foreign companies to move production here.

We have a strategic asset no one else can match. We control access to the largest richest market on earth, the USA.

And just as states charge higher tuition on out-of state students at their top universities, we should charge a price of admission for foreign producers to get into America’s markets.

And — someone get a hold of Sen. Graham — it’s called a tariff.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

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10 months ago

Alabama House passes bill against cyberbullying after boy’s suicide

(W.Miller/YHN)

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Thursday to protect children from cyberbullying in honor of a 10-year-old boy who committed suicide last year.

Fifth grader Jamari Terrell Williams took his own life after he was bullied online last October. Rep. John Knight, a Democrat from Montgomery, sponsored the bill to add cyberbullying and harassment off school grounds to the current law protecting students from bullying at school.

Bipartisan House members expressed support for the bill because of similar situations of cyberbullying and student suicides in their own districts.

Williams’ mother Monique Davis was present in the statehouse for the bill’s passage. The bill had 88 co-sponsors in the 105-member House and now moves to the Senate.

(Image: Pixabay)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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‘Soft skills’ like time management, motivation and communication skills are a necessity for success


 
 
In today’s world of texting and instant messaging, soft skills are still important. High school students will need to have a firm grasp of these concepts to ensure their future career success in the highly competitive job market.

The young people will be America’s future workforce. By the year 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of employees the U.S. economy needs will grow to 161 million – a 10.8 percent increase since 2012.

Employers need motivated and highly skilled employees to lead their organizations. Successful employers today often focus on maximizing profit margins and meeting the bottom line. They develop strong workplace cultures and recruit the best talent available.

Many top business experts believe the most important skills that employees must have today include time management, motivation and communication skills. These skills are essential to effectively planning and organizing projects with supervisors and co-workers.

Equipping high school students with essential skills (what soft skills are often called today) is a top priority for Alabama’s Career and Technical Education programs and student organizations – the National Future Farmers of America Organization; JROTC; SkillsUSA; Health Occupations Students Of America-Future Health Professionals; DECA; Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda; Jobs for Alabama’s Graduates; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America; and the Technology Student Association.

Alabama’s CTE program offers middle and high school students the chance to participate in more than 300 career-related courses and programs statewide. Students can earn college credit (while still in high school) through dual-enrollment classes. They can also earn nationally recognized credentials, such as Adobe Certified Associate, Microsoft Office Specialist, and Certified Nursing Assistant. Hundreds of other credentialing opportunities are available for students.

Essential skills are emphasized in our state’s CTE programs and classrooms. Students often work in “project teams” to complete class assignments. Some teachers and classes even require students to officially “clock in” to simulate a real-world work experience.

Students also engage in hands-on learning. They apply the core math and science concepts they have learned in the traditional classroom to real-world scenarios and class projects. They begin to build good problem-solving skills and techniques.

Some classes even have designated team leaders and managers to simulate an actual work environment. Students learn responsibility and practice good communication with peers.

The average graduation rate nationally for high school students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent, while the national graduation rate for students not participating is 86 percent.

AlabamaWorks, a new and highly respected state initiative that unites the many components of workforce development, is also providing students, parents and even experienced professionals with helpful tips and information on workplace requirements, expectations and credentials. This initiative has excellent resources for students, prospective employees and employers.

AlabamaWorks also focuses on dual-enrollment opportunities for students and promotes essential skills development. AlabamaWorks is bridging divides between employer and employee expectations.

Soft skills are still relevant, important and needed today. This term has been re-branded, but it continues to serve the same great purpose – preparing our young people for a lifetime of success!

To learn more about AlabamaWorks’ partner programs, visit www.alabamaworks.com.

(Collie Wells is the interim deputy state superintendent of education, career and technical education at the Alabama Department of Education.)

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10 months ago

Alabama: 1 student dead, another hurt in school shooting

Courtlin Arrington

Courtlin Arrington

 
 
Authorities said they are investigating a fatal shooting at an Alabama high school as apparently accidental, lamenting the death of a 17-year-old female student in the incident that also left a 17-year-old boy injured.

Birmingham Interim Police Chief Orlando Wilson said investigators are seeking to piece together the exact circumstances surrounding Wednesday afternoon’s shooting at dismissal time at Huffman High School, one of the city’s largest. He added that the probe will involve scouring school surveillance video for clues and completing interviews among students and staff at the large magnet school.

“At this particular time, we are considering this accidental,” the police chief said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon just hours after the shooting. “Right now, we have a lot of unanswered questions.”

The shooting prompted a brief lockdown though students were subsequently released late Wednesday and authorities said they had subsequently determined that the shooting was not perpetrated by “someone from the outside” the school.

Wilson declined to say who fired the gun or to identify what firearm, adding it had been recovered by authorities.

No arrests were immediately reported, and the two students weren’t identified.

“We are asking questions from the staff, the students, anyone who was in that area,” Wilson said. “This should not happen in schools.”

He said police have already questioned students but declined to say how many. Wilson did confirm metal detectors were in place and functioning in the school.

Huffman High in northeast Birmingham is one of the largest high schools in the city. The Birmingham City School system said in a statement that the shooting prompted a brief lockdown and added two students were involved as school was letting out. It later said the schools would be open Thursday even as civic leaders and others were mourning the loss of life.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the deceased student would have turned 18 in about 30 days and was a senior “who had aspirations and dreams to be a nurse.”

“We are not just talking about some person, (we’re) talking about losing a part of our future. Our hearts are heavy,” Woodfin said.

Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring said her goal was to support the family of the teen who died and to reassure parents about the safety of their children.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement Wednesday evening that she was saddened by the student’s death.

“I am praying for the family of this young lady who has tragically lost her life way too early … it reaffirms that there is no place for students to have firearms or other weapons on campus.”

The shooting took place just a day after Ivey created a school safety council in Alabama to make recommendations on security. The security plan would ensure schools have an updated security response plan for sharing information about potential threats. It also would require schools to train students and school employees on how to respond to an emergency situation.

Multiple bills also have been proposed in the Alabama legislature after 17 people were killed last month in a shooting rampage at a Parkland, Florida, high school. Varying proposals by Republicans would arm either teachers or volunteer security forces in schools. Meanwhile, measures sought by Democrats would seek to limit or ban the sale of assault weapons. The proposals face a tight deadline before the end of Alabama’s legislative session this election year.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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11 months ago

Hillery Head is an Alabama Woman of Impact

If selling construction tools is not the kind of thing you would expect female entrepreneurs to do, you don’t know the Head family of Birmingham.

Maryam “Mimi” Head bought the Ram Tool Construction Supply Co. in 1984 with no prior distribution experience and methodically built the small company into a major force in the Southeast, adding product lines and acquiring competitors, according to a history on the company’s website.

Daughter Hillery Head, one of the Yellowhammer 2018 Women of Impact, joined the firm in 1993 and became CEO in 2009 when her mother retired.

Under the younger Head’s leadership, Ram Tool’s growth has accelerated. It acquired Marco Supply in 2012, expanding into three cities in South Carolina, Charlotte, N.C., Washington, three Virginia cities and Charleston, West Virginia. Ram Tool also opened a new store in San Antonio.

Ram Tool has bought new companies or expanded into new locations every year since. Last year, it celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Today Ram Tool operates in 36 cities. According to the company website, on one project, it made 1,740 deliveries, with orders arriving every day for more than six months.

“So needless to say, going the extra mile is just the beginning for us,” the company says.

In 2016, Head told BHM BIZ that the toughest challenge she faced as CEO was working through the Great Recession, which crushed the construction industry.

“We were forced to tighten our belt quickly and dramatically,” she wrote.

Head, a Yale University graduate, told Business Alabama that her mother picked Ram Tool despite a lack of experience in the field because she wanted “a legitimate, real business” that offered growth opportunity. She said her mother taught her never to settle for easy answers.

“Another thing she taught us was to not have ‘analysis paralysis,’” she told the publication. “Better to go ahead and make a decision quickly and move on with that. If it’s the wrong decision, it’s easier to back up and to reverse than to just sit around and not do anything. So it’s important to make decisions quickly and then move to execute them quickly.”

Head also told the publication that her company’s sales team tries to stay a cut above the competition by saying “yes” to customers even when they want tools not in stock. She recounted one time when the firm found an aerial drone for a client in Dallas.

“We always try to say, ‘Yes, we can’ and to do it quickly,” she told Business Alabama. “A lot of times the customer just needs to know that we’re working on it and that we’re on it.”

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

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11 months ago

Kidknapped, stabbed, shot, and thrown into a hole: A victim of violence helps other victims along their way

(Lew Burdette/Facebook)

When he was a sophomore in high school, Lew Burdette was kidnapped, stabbed, thrown down into a well, shot in the head and left for dead.

Burdette miraculously escaped and survived to tell the horrible tale as his testimony of faith and to use it as his grounds for empathizing with the abused children and mothers who become residents of King’s Home.

“I was the victim of a very violent act,” Burdette, the president of King’s Home, told Yellowhammer News. “It wasn’t abuse, but I can relate on some level to being subjected to a violent act, being the victim of a crime. Things like that that happen to you are no fault of your own, but don’t become a victim, you know, get over that victim mentality that you have your whole life in front of you and there is hope.”

King’s Home is a Chelsea-based ministry of 22 therapeutic group homes and independent-living facilities stretched out through Shelby, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa and Blount counties, all of which house residents who are fleeing domestic violence or other abusive situations.

“It’s a way to start over in life,” Burdette said.

Twelve of the homes are for teenagers, and those homes are headed by couples who have children of their own.

The homes offer the children stable home environments and opportunities to deal with their pasts and move on with their futures.

“The issues and coping issues that teenagers are having today are so much different than they were even fifteen years ago when I started with King’s Home,” Burdette said. “The horror that some of these kids go through is really devastating.”

The other ten homes are for adult mothers with children.

Burdette connected the dots between his own experience and the experience of King’s Home residents.

“We’ve all needed help somewhere along the way in life, and we’ve all had things that have happened to us along the way in life,” he said. “The life that you’ve experienced in the past doesn’t have to be that way.”

His own story is almost as extraordinary as the success of the ministry.

“One kid came into my office before Christmas, he said, ‘Hey Mr. Lew I just want you to know how much it means living here at King’s Home because I never dreamed I’d be able to play football and he’s the starting safety on his high school football team.”

Last May, King’s Home saw twelve kids graduate high school. Ten went to college, one joined the military, the other got his welder’s certification and is already making over $20 per hour.

For more information about King’s Home, click here and to read more about Lew Burdette’s story, click here.

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11 months ago

Steve Marshall nabs manufacturing association’s endorsement in Alabama attorney general’s race

(Marshall Campaign)

 
 
Manufacture Alabama announced Monday that it has endorsed Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in his campaign to retain his office, according to a news release from the group.

“Steve Marshall has proven himself as a champion for manufacturers and has a distinguished track record of advocating for our members,” said George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama.

Marshall is running for the GOP nomination against Alice Martin, Chess Bedsole and Troy Kong.

Manufacture Alabama is “focused on the competitive, legislative, regulatory and operational interests and needs of manufacturers and their partner industries and businesses” in the state, the release said.

“Manufacturing is incredibly important to our state’s economy, and I am honored to have received the endorsement of our state’s only manufacturing association,” Marshall added.

The Republican primary is June 5.

(@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter)

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11 months ago

Dr. Nancy Dunlap is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

Dr. Nancy Dunlap may not be a household name, but her impact in the field of medicine has extended far beyond Alabama’s borders.

Dunlap, an emeritus professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is among the women to be honored this month at the Yellowhammer Women of Impact event.

Dunlap was special adviser to the Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission and served on the National Health Policy Conference Advisory Board. Also a member of America’s Top Doctors, she served under former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley as secretary of the Emergency Response Commission to Address the Health Care Crisis.

In 2013, the National Governors Association tapped her to serve as physician-in-residence at the organization’s Center for Best Practices Health Division, where she helped develop recommendations for states to contain health care costs, manage diseases and improve technology.

“Her expertise and long-standing dedication will be very beneficial to our work for the nation’s governors,” National Governors Association Executive Director Dan Crippen said in a statement announcing her appointment at the time.

Later in 2013, Dunlap left Alabama to take a job as interim dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine while the school searched for a permanent replacement. She served in that capacity for 18 months and then returned home to Alabama.

It is not just in medicine where Dunlap has made her mark, however. She has served the broader community in a number of ways. Most recently, she participated on a search committee that selected Melanie R. Bridgeforth to take over as president and CEO at the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin also tapped her after his election last year to co-chair an advisory committee on social justice issues to help the incoming administration set priorities for the first 100 days.

Dunlap in 2016 joined the board of Southern Research, a nonprofit that works on drug discovery and development, advanced engineering research, and energy and environmental research.

Dunlap participated in a Women in Pulmonary Symposium at UAB and talked about the need to nurture women in science fields.

“I do believe that there is a tendency in every professional field to believe that women, particularly when they have families, would have balance issues. As a result, women aren’t put in leadership positions and fall behind their male peers,” Dunlap said, according to a report on UAB’s website. “If you haven’t held those leadership positions at a certain point, you fall behind professionally and can’t catch up. That’s why it is very important to nominate young faculty members to professional organizations.”

Those young female faculty members looking for a role model could find few better than Dunlap.

Join Women of Impact honoree Gov. Kay Ivey and special guests from across the state for a Birmingham awards event March 29 honoring the 20 Yellowhammer Women of Impact whose powerful contributions advance Alabama. Details and registration may be found here.

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

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11 months ago

Vocational training the key to maintaining construction’s annual $12 billion impact in Alabama

A recent study commissioned by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Alabama reveals that the commercial construction industry had a total output impact of $11.8 billion in 2015, but industry experts say unless young people who do not plan to go to college receive trade and craft training and go into construction-related fields, those numbers won’t be sustainable.

“We have an aging workforce, and we were like, we have got a problem and we have got to do something about it,” said Jay Reed, president of ABC Alabama, in an interview with Yellowhammer News.  “We could not continue to be a $12 billion industry in Alabama if we did not start filling the pipeline.”

That’s why industry partners have created the Academy of Craft Training program, a public/private partnership between the construction industry and the State of Alabama’s K-12 education system.

The partnership involves support from local school boards, state workforce training programs, and the construction companies.

“We’re paying for the teachers, local schools pay for transportation, AIDT is paying for the building,” Reed said.

A construction-education partnership is already a natural fit — Reed said the most surprising piece of data from the ABC study showed the industry contributed an estimated $444 million to Alabama’s Education Trust Fund in 2015.

For the 2016-17 school year, 16 Birmingham-metro area high schools sent students to the simulated workplace at the Alabama Workforce Training Center to receive NCCER construction-related training in building construction, masonry, HVAC/plumbing, welding and electrical.

This year, 26 schools are participating and districts in Huntsville and Mobile are looking to participate as well.

Gov. Kay Ivey visited the AIDT Workforce Development Training Center, where the Academy training is held, and said“The jobs of tomorrow are going to require a postsecondary certificate or degree, or it’s going to require students getting hands-on training that prepares them to enter the workforce immediately after graduation from high school.”

Reed said he sees support for the program in Montgomery.

“The state’s investment in these kids will be paid back in three years. Anyone who knows business knows if you get a return on investment in three years, it’s a good investment,” Reed said. “This is the future of construction training.”

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11 months ago

The major flaw in Alabama’s tobacco purchase age debate

(Pixabay)

(Opinion) A bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) that would raise the state’s minimum age for all tobacco purchases from 19 to 21 years old has gained the support of five Alabama physician groups, and it has a good chance of passing.

“Smoking remains one of the most preventable causes of heart disease by making the heart work harder and raising the blood pressure, which can trigger a stroke,” Medical Association President Jerry Harrison, M.D., said in a statement of support for the bill earlier this month. “So, raising Alabama’s legal tobacco age limit by a couple of years in order to add years to our children’s lives only makes sense.”

Putting aside the question of whether Pringle’s bill would actually mitigate tobacco use, and particularly cigarette use, among teens, the bill and the primary arguments used to support it are bad for this reason: they treat all tobacco products as equally dangerous.

All tobacco products are not created equally, and it’s not even close. Cigarette smoking is quite obviously dangerous, responsible for some 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the CDC. An estimated 41,000 of those deaths are connected to secondhand smoking. There’s no avoiding that harsh reality, and there should be a serious debate about the freedom to smoke vs. public health.

It is important, though, to note the CDC’s precise language: cigarette smoking is responsible for an estimated 1 in 5 deaths annually, not tobacco use.

We all know this, but cigarette smoke is dangerous because it is riddled with harmful chemicals and because most cigarette smokers smoke habitually, the effects of those chemicals upon the respiratory system and the heart are catalyzed.

Pipe tobacco and cigars are not consumed in the same fashion as cigarettes and simply do not carry the same risks. Pipe tobacco and cigar smoke are not typically inhaled and do not contain the carcinogens that cigarettes do.

As for chewing tobacco, it presents dangers of lip and gum disease but does not bring with it risks of lung cancer and heart disease which, again, are what kill smokers.

Unfortunately, because cigarettes contribute to so many deaths and because they are the most commonly consumed form of tobacco, they distort debates about tobacco policy. If we are going to regulate tobacco use because of the harm it causes, we must be responsible enough to make distinctions between cigarettes and other forms of tobacco which are not nearly as harmful.

Jeremy Beaman is in his final year at the University of Mobile and also writes for The College Fix. Follow him on Twitter @jeremywbeaman.

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11 months ago

Alabama AG Steve Marshall endorsed by Republican Attorneys General Association

(Marshall Campaign)
(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

The national association for Republican state attorneys general recently endorsed Steve Marshall is his campaign to remain Alabama’s top law enforcement officer.

Marshall, a former district attorney in north Alabama, was appointed attorney general last year when Luther Strange left for the U.S. Senate.

He is now running in the Republican Primary against former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, former Attorney General Troy King, and Mobile lawyer Chess Bedsole.

Key quotes from the Republican Attorneys General Association:

— “The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) is proud to stand with Attorney General Steve Marshall and offer him our association’s full endorsement. Like President Donald J. Trump, he values our law enforcement, is strong on crime and is dedicated to keeping Alabamians safe.

— “Marshall has been serving Alabama – protecting their communities and fighting crime – for years. First, as the District Attorney of Marshall County, and now as attorney general. Marshall has been a tireless advocate for a safer Alabama, working directly with local law enforcement to combat violent crime and collaborating with Governor Kay Ivey’s and President Donald J. Trump’s administrations to tackle the opioid epidemic.”

— “Marshall has been an impressive new addition to the RAGA community, joining his colleagues from his very first day in office to fight federal overreach and restore state sovereignty. In his first year, Marshall has emerged as a dynamic leader and an ardent defender of the Constitution and the rule of law.”

The Republican Primary is June 5.

(Sign-up for our daily newsletter here and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.)

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11 months ago

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks calls on voters to help avoid a federal debt crisis, stop sending ‘debt junkies’ to Washington

Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)

During a tele-town hall held Monday night, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said the possibility of balancing the federal budget is up to American voters.

 “Yeah, it’s possible,” Brooks said, “if the American people do a much better job than they have been doing of electing congressmen and senators who will vote for a balanced budget constitutional amendment that forces us to do the right thing on the one hand, or on the other hand, will vote for senators, congressmen – and I should add presidents in that list – who are more conscious of our financial limitations, thereby forcing us to make the tough decisions where we prioritize what we want to spend money on and those things of the lowest priority simply don’t get the money because we don’t have it.”

Brooks said many voters aren’t sending the right people to Congress.

“But unfortunately, the people across America, particularly in the major cities, the people that they’re sending to Washington, D.C., they are wholly and completely financially irresponsible,” he said, calling them “debt junkies.”

Brooks also entertained the idea of an Article 5 Convention, which would allow states to bypass Congress in order to amend the Constitution to include a balanced budget provision.

“If you know people who are in different states around the country, try to get them to talk to their legislators to get that resolution passed so that the states can bypass Congress,” he said.

Brooks and U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) were the only two members of Alabama’s congressional delegation who voted against Congress’s recent budget deal, which would add an estimated $320 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Brooks has called it the worst piece of legislation he has voted on since being elected to Congress, with no close second.

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