The Wire

  • The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way


    There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

    A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

    In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

    Here’s how:

  • Rep. Byrne to Hold 12 Town Hall Meetings

    From a Congressman Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) announced today that he will hold twelve town hall meetings during the August District Work Period.

    Known as the “Better Off Now” Town Hall Tour, Congressman Byrne will hold public town halls in each of the counties that make up Alabama’s First Congressional District. Byrne will discuss how the American people are better off now thanks to a booming economy, stronger military, and safer communities.

    Byrne ranks among the top of all Members of Congress for the number of town hall meetings held. Since assuming office in late 2013, Byrne has held over 100 town hall meetings, including meetings over the phone and through Facebook.

    All the town hall meetings are open to the public and free to attend. All the information can be found online below.

  • HudsonAlpha technology director to present at Google Cloud conference

    Excerpt from a HudsonAlpha news release:

    HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Technology Director Katreena Mullican has been invited to present at the Google Next ‘18 conference in San Francisco, Calif, July 24-26.

    Google Next is an international conference where more than 10,000 developers, technology leaders, and entrepreneurs come together to have a collaborative discussion about the Google Cloud Platform.

    Mullican has more than 20 years of experience in architecting Linux, virtualization and hybrid cloud solutions. As HudsonAlpha’s Cloud Whisperer, Mullican brings her expertise in automation of on-prem composable and public cloud infrastructure for scientific applications and workflows to the Institute.

    “HudsonAlpha is one of the top sequencing centers in the world, so it’s my job to think outside the box to design hybrid platforms appropriate for our sequencing and research workloads,” said Mullican.

    Mullican will participate in a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cloud Talk Tuesday at 1:00 pm in the South Hall to discuss how HudsonAlpha uses the composable HPE Synergy platform for an on-premises Kubernetes cluster that can scale to Google Cloud Platform.

2 weeks 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.


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)

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

3 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?


— 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.

3 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.

4 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.


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.

4 months ago

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


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.”


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

4 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.”


5 months ago

Alabama House passes bill against cyberbullying after boy’s suicide


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)


‘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

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

5 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)

5 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 and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

5 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)

5 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 and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

5 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.)

5 months ago

Alabama Rep. Byrne talks the future of health care and the recent budget deal

(Jeremy Beaman)

CHICKASAW — After meeting with constituents at his 106th town hall this week, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) spoke with Yellowhammer News about a number of issues facing Congress, beginning with health care.

“I don’t think we’re done with health care,” Byrne said. “We repealed the individual mandate and we passed tax reform, but I think we’ve got a lot of other things we need to do.”

The congressman fielded at least one question from a constituent about the recent budget deal, which he voted for. Conservatives criticized Republicans in Congress for passing the deal because it significantly increased the deficit and debt, something they voted firmly against under President Barrack Obama.

Only two Republican members of Alabama’s Congressional delegation voted against the budget — U.S. Reps. Gary Palmer of the Birmingham area and Mo Brooks of Huntsville.

“I had great concerns,” Byrne said. “Gary Palmer and I had the same concerns, and he fell one way, I fell the other.”

The problem, he explained, was the U.S. Senate.

“Essentially when you have a Republican Senate that requires 60 votes and you’ve got to get a deal with the Democrats, you’re going to end up with bad deals,” he said. “In order for us to get the money we needed to adequately fund our military, we had to agree with a bad deal with the Democrats.”

Pressed on whether he voted for a bad deal, Byrne made a distinction.

“It’s a good deal for defense. It’s a bad deal for domestic discretionary,” he said.

Ultimately, Byrne said it was appeals from the administration that quelled his deficit concerns.

“Yes, talking to (White House Chief of Staff) Kelly and talking to Secretary Mattis convinced me that on balance, the better decision was to make sure that we protected America first,” he said.

Asked what he thinks is the most important piece of legislation passed during this session, Byrne didn’t equivocate — the National Defense Authorization Act.

“It was in that act that we turned America back around to making the appropriate choices to defend the country,” he said. “And we did it in such a way to where we actually went beyond what the president wanted us to do, but we knew it was the right thing to do.”

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

5 months ago

Former Miss America, Democrat Mallory Hagan talks guns and her long shot campaign for Congress

(Mallory Hagan for Congress/Facebook)

When a member of the Lee County Democrats reached out to her on New Year’s Day, Mallory Hagan thought it was the same old thing.

“I genuinely thought that they were going to ask me to endorse a candidate because I’ve been asked to do that before,” Hagan, former Miss America, said in an interview today with Yellowhammer News.

“She said ‘no no no, we want you to run.’”

Hagan launched her campaign for Alabama’s 3rd congressional district on February 6.

Unseating popular Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), who was first elected in 2002, will be a long shot.

Rogers has been reelected every term since then by winning more than 60 percent of votes cast in most campaigns.

Hagan also committed a cardinal sin in Alabama politics last week: she was critical of the National Rifle Association.

In the shooting in Parkland, Florida, she called Rogers out for accepting money from the NRA.

The gun issue has been the subject of much of Hagan’s campaigning in the last week. She held a gun safety discussion yesterday in Auburn, where she toed that line of respecting her potential constituents’ conservative sensibilities on guns and freedom, while advocating a solution to mass violence.

“The problem that we’re having is nuanced,” she said. “It involves several different aspects of our society and of what’s available in our society. The most common thing that came up in last night’s discussion was access. We had licensed psychologists there, we had school counselors there, and the concept of mental health is a huge part of the conversation when it comes to access to guns. But all of it boils down to that, that we can too easily access firearms. We want to make sure that access to a firearm is a process that requires thought and is very deliberate.”

“If you ban a certain type of firearm, there’s only going to become a way to make something into something that it’s not already,” she said. (Think bump stocks.)

“That’s not the answer here. The answer is, if you want to own a firearm, an extensive background check and a waiting period. Those things are proven, a majority of Americans agree with that, and it’s something that needs to be across the board. That ease of access is, to me, the problem. It’s not the firearm itself.”

But Hagan is not relying upon her position on guns to propel her towards victory.

“I think my path to victory is being authentic. I stepped into this fire, if you will – the fire of politics – but I genuinely care about the people who live here and I genuinely care about hearing their concerns and as I said, all of us collectively coming together.”

Hagan also stressed what she did as Miss America among her qualifications.

“During my time with the Miss America organization, I really honed in my advocacy skills and really honed in the ability to understand how much it takes in order to get a law passed or a budget restored. I was on Capitol Hill quite a bit with the National Children’s Alliance. I lobbied there several times and ultimately was able to be a part of restoring the 2014 budget for our child advocacy centers across the country. Those are the types of things that I was most proud of during my time as Miss America, but also the types of things that have prepared me. Those are the skills that I’m bringing into this, as someone who cares about our kids, the type of world that we’re creating for them.”

For Hagan, it’s about the children.

“Every single policy issue that we have, and everything that comes up as a concern, ultimately is a concern of our kids.”

Regardless of her seemingly moderate positions, Hagan will have a tough time convincing conservatives in her east Alabama district to vote for a Democrat.

(Do you think Hagan has a chance? Take this article over to social media and start a conversation)

5 months ago

13 indictments, no collusion — Everyone missed shooter signs — Sheriffs under fire, and more in Dale Jackson’s 7 Things

Robert Mueller (Wikicommons)


The 7 Things You Should Be Talking About Today

1. Media is obsessing over Donald Trump’s response to the latest Mueller investigation news, not the news

— President Trump acknowledged that Russians meddled in the election but the media wants him to admit that there still might be collusion.

— The reality is that there has not been one piece of evidence or decision made by the special prosecutor that alleges any knowledge from anyone in Trump’s campaign or administration was involved.

2. Russian investigation has new developments, still no allegations of collusion

— 13 Russians were indicted for meddling in the election of 2016, starting in 2014, nor do they mention that most of the spending was done post-election.

— Rick Gates reportedly is close to a deal and testifying against Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

3. Pretty much everyone missed the signs that the shooter in Parkland, Florida was a troubled soul

— The FBI missed warnings that Nikolas Cruz might attack, they failed to act on a call just weeks before Cruz attacked the school.

— The Florida Department of Children and Families investigated Cruz in 2016 after Snapchat posts showed him cutting his arms and saying he wanted to buy a gun. They still deemed him low risk.

4. Schools in a district in Texas and a district in Alabama allow their teachers to be armed; it’s been proposed in Alabama

— While Alabama considers a law to allow teachers to arm themselves, we often forget one school system (Franklin County) already does this.

— The Alabama law lets teachers and others to be trained as Reserve Deputy Sheriffs and carry firearms on school grounds.

5. More Alabama sheriffs are under fire over excess money from inmates’ food budget, it’s legal for now

— Alabama law allows sheriff’s to pocket money they do not spend feeding inmates. This obviously has led to some problems.

— One sheriff pocketed $110,000 dollars, another lent $150,000 to a now bankrupt used car dealership.

6. NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley puts his money where his mouth is to help black Alabamians

— Barkley told ESPN’s “First Take” that athletes should be giving back to their community.

— In late 2017, Barkley said he was pledging $1 million to minority startups because “black women really came out and supported Doug Jones” but he added, “That does not mean restaurants and hair salons, black women.”

7. “Black Panther” kills at the box office

— The latest Marvel film had the fifth-highest-grossing debut ever behind only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” ”Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” ”Jurassic World” and “The Avengers.”

— The movie made $387 million worldwide.

5 months ago

Armed teachers: State Rep. Will Ainsworth to introduce legislation for firearms training


Rep. Will Ainsworth has begun drafting legislation that would establish a framework for some teachers to be trained and armed with firearms, to prevent more massacres like the one that occurred yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“I think just common sense tells you if that coach would have had a gun, you know, as soon as that guy had stepped into the classroom, he could have ended the situation,” Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News.

Ainsworth was referring to Aaron Feis, a football coach at the Florida high school, who was shot yesterday while shielding students from gunfire. Feis later died from his wounds.

Ainsworth said that he has been considering this kind of legislation for some time.

“Michigan just passed a bill, so we’re looking at a lot of different states, and hopefully have a piece of legislation at the start of next week that we’re going to drive.”

This offers another state legislature an opportunity to act upon the issue of mass shootings, on which the United States Congress has made little progress over the years.

“My phone has been blowing up with people asking us to get something passed. Educators, teachers, parents that are concerned about this, and I think it’s something we’ve got to look at and have a conversation about, and try to address in Alabama,” Ainsworth said.

Ainsworth’s legislation has a few priorities: arming teachers who want to be armed, setting up a framework of approval for those to be armed from school principals or superintendents, and making sure teachers who are approved go through the proper training.

“We’ve got to make sure that whoever’s going to have these guns in the schools, that they’re actually properly getting trained, and that there’s a mechanism in place to make sure that kids in the school systems can’t get their hands on these weapons.”

Ainsworth also noted that his approach would be a better way to protect children than hiring more school resource officers because teachers are all over the schools and are with the students.

“The amount of security you would need to properly do that would be a lot.”

Reiterating a common argument among conservatives against gun control measures, Ainsworth said that at the end of the day, bad people are going to acquire guns any way they can.

“My opinion is that guns don’t kill people – evil people do. The data backs it up. Gun control doesn’t work,” he said, citing high homicide rates in Chicago despite strict gun control laws.

Those advocating stricter gun laws generally respond to such arguments by pointing to the fact that many of the guns coming into Chicago come from other states with less strict laws, such as Indiana.

“More gun control will not stop someone who is intent upon inflicting harm in our schools, but someone who is properly trained and armed with the right equipment certainly can,” Ainsworth said in a Thursday statement.  “It is my hope that passage of this legislation can be fast-tracked once it has been introduced.”

5 months ago

Yellowhammer Radio: The Opioid Epidemic Confronted by Attorney General Steve Marshall 

(Marshall Campaign)


Attorney General Steve Marshall joined us to discuss the current opioid crisis in the United States right now. He discussed Alabama legislators plans to solve the crisis in Alabama, and he put an emphasis on returning veterans.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Click here to listen in a new window.

5 months ago

To good men who don’t want to mentor women in #MeToo wake


(Opinion) I think we saw this coming.

A sharp increase in male managers say they are uncomfortable mentoring women in the wake of the sexual harassment and #MeToo movement, according to a recent study by women’s empowerment nonprofit and online survey tool SurveyMonkey.

Here are some of the survey’s key findings, according to’s summary:

— “Almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.”
— “Almost 30% of male managers are uncomfortable working alone with a woman—more than twice as many as before.”
— “The number of male managers who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled from 5% to 16%. This means that 1 in 6 male managers may now hesitate to mentor a woman.”
— “Senior men are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior-level woman than with a junior-level man—and 5 times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior-level woman.”

I cannot blame them.

#MeToo is an important movement and I support the brave women who have come forward, but this column isn’t about the awful behavior of bad men. It’s about the potential fallout for everyone else.

I hope good men will consciously resist an accidental backlash that would mean fewer opportunities for women. I’m glad Sheryl Sandberg is calling on men to #MentorHer despite the heightened awareness – and natural fears – surrounding #MeToo.

But I do disagree with the criticism of men who choose standards like the ‘Mike Pence Rule’, which means for the vice president that he doesn’t eat alone with women other than his wife and doesn’t attend functions with alcohol without her.

I can’t fault a man for taking precautions he thinks are necessary to protect his reputation.

Does this stink for good women with good intentions? Certainly, yes – inconvenience, feeling awkward, wishing a dynamic hadn’t been introduced that perhaps makes everyone feel suspected or on edge—I think all of that can happen when men do gymnastics not to be alone with a woman.

I’m certainly glad when men feel comfortable working with me and there’s a mutual trust-based atmosphere.

But can either of the sexes blame the other for being safe rather than sorry?

After all, would we fault a woman for walking down the street with mace at-the-ready if she perceived she was unsafe?

Would we fault her for thinking twice in the wake of #MeToo if a male coworker asked her to stop by his hotel room or office late in the evening? Whether she was in any real danger or not, we’d completely understand if she declined, regardless of how good the man’s reputation or intentions.

I think women need to offer the same grace, space and understanding to a man who keeps his door open in meetings, brings someone along to the restaurant, or is otherwise watchful of his surroundings in his encounters with women, professional or otherwise.

Women and men should support, rather than take offense or feel slighted by, someone’s boundaries. We should treat each other with the same respect we seek for our own concerns.

Take precautions. Keep your door open if you must. But men, please don’t quietly close your doors to women altogether.

I’m a pretty easygoing person, but I remember getting so furious I slammed my hand on the college cafeteria table and drew stares when I raised my voice to chew out a guy friend who cynically suggested that a male mentor of mine wasn’t helping me succeed in journalism because I earned it. Rather, he called his motives into question because “why would an older man want to mentor a younger woman?”

I was angry because even then – more than 15 years ago – I sensed that men were taking a mild risk to their reputations to mentor and help women. I felt like it was because of people like my mind-in-the-gutter friend, that male professors and professionals might think twice about the recipients of their mentorships, internships and jobs. Who wants to deal with suspicion, smirks and motive-questioning? Easier to just give opportunities and pour the time into young men, perhaps.

We should all confront such speculative gossip with righteous indignation so it is less acceptable to think the worst of anyone, male or female, without good reason.

I thank God for the key male mentors in my life who didn’t let fear of criticism affect their efforts to make unbiased, merit-based decisions about who they helped. I hope good men everywhere will take courage and hire, mentor, work with, and otherwise help and interact with women in the same good faith you would have before #MeToo.

If you’re going to leave the door open, leave all the doors open.

“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray,” Proverbs 12:26.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.

6 months ago

Human trafficking in Alabama — How victims are lured in and what state lawmakers are doing about it


An at-risk teenager or vulnerable woman begins dating someone who showers her with gifts, takes her on dates, and woos her into loving and depending on him for care and protection – and, often, drugs.

She feels that he is her “boyfriend” even though, eventually, he tells her that she needs to perform sex acts with other men to pay the rent or pay for drugs or to keep his love and protection.

She complies.

Is she a victim of sexual abuse or human trafficking or is she a prostitute?

It’s the difficult-to-define-and-prosecute problem that often festers in the shadows, eluding law enforcement, social workers and lawmakers, said Pat McCay, secretary of the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

“The problem with some of these cases is they are not recognized as human trafficking,” McCay said in an interview with Yellowhammer News. “It can look like sexual abuse or sexual assault. Women and girls will come in with bruises or emotional scars and even with the most well-trained people, if you don’t understand what human trafficking is or that it is going on in your community, it’s just not on your radar.”


A growing army of advocates and legislators wants to cut through the confusion — by pushing human trafficking into public awareness, and by enacting stronger laws to strong-arm it out of Alabama.

State Rep. Jack Williams (R-Vestavia Hills) has been fighting human trafficking in Alabama since 2009 and last week introduced a bill in the state House that is designed to make it harder for human traffickers to get away with their crimes, particularly those involving minors.

“We’re broadening protection for [victims] by closing up loopholes that make it easier for traffickers to use methods other than force to lure folks into prostitution,” Williams said. “Now they’ll be held accountable for those other types of methods as well.”

The loophole he’s referencing is a requirement in current law that requires proof that a minor, defined as someone under the age of 18, was coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts in order for it to be established as a trafficking offense.

If coercion or deception is not proven, it means “not all commercially exploited children are defined as juvenile sex trafficking victims,” according to Washington-based human rights group Shared Hope International (SHI), who each year issues a national report card analyzing state human trafficking laws.

Alabama received an 83.5 “B” grade from SHI last year, in part, because of that snag in the law, according to the report.


In other words, some traffickers don’t use physical coercion or deceit to control their victims; they use emotional or psychological methods.

Williams’ bill would make sure human trafficking “sexual servitude” laws include those pulled into prostitution by such means and would put in place stricter criminal penalties for anyone engaged in trafficking or prostitution of a minor.

It’s an important move forward, because in many cases, victims may not even realize what they are involved in because they have been groomed and brainwashed into believing they are loved and in a consensual relationship, said Carolyn Potter, executive director of The WellHouse, a shelter and recovery facility serving human trafficking victims near Birmingham.

“A minor being kidnapped and sold into sex slavery is not the norm,” Potter told Yellowhammer News during an interview at The WellHouse’s peaceful facilities in Odenville. “What we see at The WellHouse is not like what you see in the movie ‘Taken’ [the Liam Neeson movie in which college girls are kidnapped on an overseas trip and sold to international buyers].”

Far more often, Potter said, those who come to The WellHouse may have different backgrounds, but their lives include a few strikingly similar events that have led them into commercial sex.


“I’d say 95 percent of the women who come to us are victims of childhood abuse at the hands of a family member or parent,” Potter said, giving as an example a brother-sister pair who were sold for sex by their mother while they were growing up. The children were not allowed outside and had to wear long sleeves and long pants to hide their bruises.

Such traumatic childhood events follow victims their whole lives, Potter said, and when a child gets to be about 12-13 years old, the victim — usually a girl, but not always — becomes vulnerable to traffickers who pretend to care for her. The trafficker is usually much older, perhaps a man in his 30s.

The relationship progresses much like the hypothetical example leading this article and can become violent — including beatings, rape and starvation if the girl does not meet her quotas for sex money—and swinging back to bouts of kindness, with the pimp being nice and providing her with a sense of security and family.

In other cases, the victim doesn’t necessarily think of herself as a victim, said Potter, which is why changing the law’s language to drop the deception and coercion requirement for minors is crucial in freeing young women who have been groomed by pimps to feel loved, cared for, and in a “50-50” consensual relationship with their “boyfriend”.


Potter and McCay both said they long for legislation that would impose harsher penalties on anyone buying sex, particularly from a minor.

“The buyer’s picture should be in the paper, not the girl’s,” Potter said. “Part of this is educating people that these girls have been victims all their lives.”

McCay said the best answer is to “hit demand right between the eyes.”

“If you have a product and there’s no demand, it isn’t going to be on the shelf anymore. It’s basic economics,” McCay said. “Tennessee has created this law that if you are caught buying sex you get the same punishment as a trafficker – I would love to see that in Alabama.”

Williams said such a measure is not off the table and will come up in discussions and perhaps be added to the bill during the committee process.

“Prostitution is a demand-driven industry,” Williams said. “Were there not individuals purchasing sex, people wouldn’t be selling it.”


Under current Alabama law, human trafficking is a Class A felony, but a sex purchaser might only get a $500 fine on the first offense, a $1,000 fine on the second offense, a $1,500 fine on the third offense (all misdemeanors), and be charged with a Class B felony on their fourth offense, Williams said.

Those fines apply even when the purchased sex is with a minor, though child abuse and other penalties may apply to the purchaser, he said.

The proposed law would also “prohibit a defendant accused of engaging in an act of prostitution with a minor from asserting a mistake of age defense,” according to the bill, which is currently under consideration in the House judiciary committee.

Williams is expected to introduce another human trafficking bill this week to address criminal trafficking activity in massage parlors, and the State Senate’s 2018 top legislative priorities include child sex trafficking.


Williams, McCay and Potter are among twelve speakers scheduled to present at the 4th annual Alabama Human Trafficking Summit hosted by the state task force on Friday, February 9, in Montgomery.

The event is open to the public and registration details may be found here.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.


Made in Alabama: Why a Skilled Workforce is Key to Our Success

Greg Canfield, Alabama Secretary of Commerce

Greg Canfield, Alabama Secretary of Commerce

By: Secretary Greg Canfield
Alabama Department of Commerce

For the past six years, I have had the honor and privilege of serving as the secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. Economic development continues to be one of my passions. I love Alabama and believe in all of the things she has to offer. Our dedicated team of professionals and our allies share this belief.

Through hard work and dedication, we had a banner year in 2017. Led by Gov. Kay Ivey, our team recruited world-class companies from around the world to locate in Alabama and become part of the growing Made in Alabama movement. Preliminary figures indicate these companies collectively are investing more than $3.3 billion, while creating more than 7,000 jobs.

While this is excellent news, it’s also encouraging that 2018 is off to strong start. Toyota-Mazda selected Huntsville for a $1.6 billion auto plant with 4,000 jobs. Kimber, a leading firearms maker, announced plans for a manufacturing facility in Troy with 366 jobs.

Alabama’s business-friendly climate has garnered national accolades from Site Selection magazine, which receives feedback from corporate real estate executives and site-selection consultants. This has helped propel Alabama into the national and international spotlight as a place that welcomes new businesses and continues to offer programs even after those
businesses are established.

Our reputation as a state where companies want to build and expand their facilities didn’t happen overnight. For years, AIDT, which is part of the Department of Commerce, has been a wonderful asset in helping companies hire and educate their workforce.

While AIDT has been a great tool in attracting businesses, we needed a comprehensive system we could present to perspective investors showing that Alabama truly means business via an educated talent pool. This is why AlabamaWorks has become a true asset in the recruitment process.

When a company is selecting a site, it looks at several qualities. These can include infrastructure, access to roads, railway and waterways, site readiness and proximity to needed resources. While these metrics vary according to the company’s needs, one remains a constant: a readily available workforce. This is where AlabamaWorks gives us a competitive advantage.

Officially launched in late 2016, AlabamaWorks is an umbrella organization comprised of business and industry, the Department of Commerce (including AIDT), the Alabama Technology Network, the Alabama Community College System, the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama Department of Labor (including the Alabama Career Center System) and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.

As its focus, AlabamaWorks unites prospective employees, training opportunities and unfilled jobs or new jobs in one place. The streamlining of these has allowed us to further showcase Alabama as the premier location which provides prime sites that meet business’ criteria while offering a mechanism to locate prospective employees and training services.

AlabamaWorks provides us with a key competitive advantage in recruiting. This will increase in value with the addition of Gov. Ivey’s attainment program to have 65 percent of high school graduates acquire a post-high school certification by 2025. By adding this, companies and industries will further realize that Alabama is strategically planning to meet their workforce needs now and in the future.

I am proud that my department is part of the AlabamaWorks initiative because I see the positive effect it is having on our people, our economy and our national positioning as a business-friendly state. To learn more, visit

6 months ago

Alabama Department of Labor: Record Number Working in December; Unemployment Rate Remains at 3.5%


Friday morning, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced data that revealed a record number of people employed for December.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, 2,093,063 people were counted as employed last month, the most ever recorded, up from 2,087,509 in November 2017 and up from 2,047,753 in December 2016.

The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the state remains at 3.5 percent with 75,698 unemployed.

“We are ending 2017 with great news on the employment front,” Ivey said in a statement that accompanied the data. “Not only have we reached a record low unemployment rate, but now we can add another record to our list – more people are working in Alabama than ever before! We’ve been busy recruiting new business to our state, like our recent announcement of Toyota-Mazda’s decision to locate in North Alabama, bringing 4,000 jobs and more than 300 jobs in Troy due to Kimber’s recent announcement.”

Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington said the data had exceeded predictions made in the early part of last year.

“In early 2017, economists predicted that Alabama’s economy would gain 18,700 jobs over the year,” he said in the statement. “I’m happy to say that we surpassed that prediction by more than 13,000 jobs, gaining a total of 32,500 jobs. Employers are hiring in Alabama, and we stand ready to provide whatever assistance is needed to make sure that they are able to fill their open positions.”

The data showed normal trends when broken down locally. Shelby County leads the state with a 2.5 percent unemployment rate. Cullman County at 2.8 percent and Marshall, Madison and Lee Counties at 2.9 percent follow.

On the other end of the spectrum, Wilcox County has the highest rate at 9.5 percent, with Clarke County at 6.7 percent and Lowndes County at 6.5 percent.

(Alabama Department of Labor, Labor Market Information Division)

When broken down by “major city, Birmingham’s southern suburbs lead the way. Vestavia Hills has the state’s lowest rate at 2.1 percent. Homewood comes in at 2.3 percent, and Alabaster and Hoover at 2.4 percent. Cities with high unemployment rates are Selma at 6.3 percent, Prichard at 6.2 percent and Anniston at 5.0 percent.

(Alabama Department of Labor, Labor Market Information Division)


Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

6 months ago

Yellowhammer Radio: Hollywood Conservative Amanda Head lays into the government shutdown and the “dreamers” By The Ford Faction

Its Friday, so it’s time for a favorite segment on The Ford Faction and that is “The Final 30 with Amanda Head.”  She mentions her views on the comments made from President Trump about other countries.  She also sheds light on the DACA reception to the comments and Donald Trump’s physical that was made earlier last week.  “The Fake News Awards” were this week and Amanda Head had a lot to say about it and she weighs in on the media’s inaccuracy of covering real news.  Amanda even lets us know what she thought on the National Championship.

The Final 30 is brought to you by McCutcheon Engineering: Professional Engineering Consulting Services

Does your project require the highest level of electrical engineering certainty and integrity available? McCutcheon’s Licensed Professional Engineering services provide this level of service. We can provide initial project visualization, equipment selection, drawings, code compliance, risk assessment and modernization planning that directly affect project success by removing the possibility of rework and change orders.

Click here to listen in a new window.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

6 months ago

Yellowhammer Radio: Ron Brown calls into The Ford Faction to discuss the recent news of the racist video posted by the UA student

The Ford Faction was fortunate enough to have Ron Brown call into the show and talk about his video that surfaced earlier this week about the UA sorority girl that went on a racist rant.  Ron addressed the situation by talking about his transition from Atlanta, a prominent black community, to Birmingham.  He mentions the transition being easier than ever and how he has never experienced racism in Alabama.  Ron even mentions his reflection on Alabama winning the National Championship.

Below is a preview of the interview. Click here to listen to the full audio.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.