8 months ago

Democrats united in opposition to lottery bill — Proposal not expected to get another vote

MONTGOMERY — Leadership of the Alabama House Democratic Caucus on Wednesday hosted a press conference to explain their opposition to SB 220, a constitutional amendment that would legalize a lottery in Alabama.

This came after the lottery legislation failed on a procedural vote on the House floor Tuesday afternoon, with only three Democrats voting for the lottery. Immediately before the Wednesday press conference began, State Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) took issue with Yellowhammer News reporting that Democrats had blocked the lottery bill from advancing, with Coleman calling it “a bullshit article.”

However, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) then said that after a meeting, the Democratic Caucus is now indeed unanimous in their opposition to SB 220, with Daniels saying that the three prior “yay” votes are prepared to revert to the caucus position and vote “nay” if the proposal comes back up this session.

Daniels later said he does not personally think the lottery bill will be voted on again this session, however.

Daniels and Coleman in the press conference both said that they are not opposing the lottery to simply oppose a lottery. Coleman outlined that she has supported a lottery for the state of Alabama for the last 17 years, though the Democratic Caucus believes there are “deliverables” or priorities of theirs that are more important than allowing the people of Alabama to vote on just any lottery proposal.

These priorities – the ones that the Democratic leaders advised were leading to their opposition – primarily include the belief that more of the lottery revenues should go to education and that essentially all of the lottery revenues should be earmarked.

The House minority leader said he needed these earmarks in writing in the legislation because that was the only way to guarantee the funding would go to where he wants it.

SB 220 as approved by the House Economic Development Committee would send 75% of revenue to the general fund and 25% to the Education Trust Fund. The only earmarked revenues would be 0.25% going to resources and treatment for gambling addicts.

The bill passed beforehand by the Senate did not allow for any revenue to benefit education.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has said that lottery money benefitting the general fund would protect the education fund.

The general fund has obligations that are expected to grow significantly in the coming years, including Medicaid and the corrections system.

The Democratic Caucus leaders on Wednesday emphasized that a higher percentage of the revenues need to go to education and proposed some earmarking ideas for that education revenue, including a capped scholarship fund for higher education and pre-k, increases for retired teacher compensation and setting money aside for greater active teacher incentives, pay and resources.

That same type of earmarking is a demand for any general fund revenue, too. Daniels multiple times mentioned that the “rumor” floating around is that the general fund lottery revenues currently under SB 220 would go towards prison construction and even funding lawsuits brought against the state regarding recently passed laws, including the HB 314 abortion ban.

Coleman called it “deeply troubling” that un-earmarked lottery revenues could fund prison construction. She said her father asked her to vote against SB 220 so as to not fund “Kay’s prisons,” speaking of the governor.

The House Democratic leadership wants to see general fund lottery revenues earmarked for healthcare. Coleman explicitly advocated for this earmark going to “Medicaid expansion.” Daniels earlier in the day on “The Dale Jackson Show” called this “a rural healthcare expansion program,” seemingly avoiding the Obamacare stigma that “Medicaid expansion” has in Alabama.

Yellowhammer News reported Tuesday that the Democrats’ best chance for Medicaid expansion was the lottery bolstering general fund revenues. This is the same article Coleman took issue with.

Daniels was asked at the press conference if the Democratic Caucus would require that the clean, paper-only lottery proposed by SB 220 be expanded to include other electronic gaming to win their support. He acknowledged that was probably not a realistic expectation for a lottery to be able to pass, saying, “I’ll take it how I can get it.” Daniels reiterated that he just wants the paper lottery revenue going more to education proportionally and that essentially all of the lottery revenue must be earmarked similar to how the Democrats are proposing.

Near the end of the press conference, Daniels emphasized he will not “move forward on a new deal” with Republicans until the commitments Daniels said they made to him during the Rebuild Alabama talks are met. Daniels specified that means “a number of issues,” not just Medicaid or healthcare. He named the higher education funding structure as one of these other outstanding issues, saying Auburn and Alabama State did not get a fair shake from the nonpartisan ACHE formula that was used for the governor’s budget recommendations this year.

The sponsor of the lottery legislation, State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), also appeared on “The Dale Jackson Show” on Wednesday and said he is not optimistic that SB 220 will pass out of the legislature and get to a vote of the people.

State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), who is carrying the lottery bill in the House, reportedly told WSFA on Wednesday that the lottery will not come back up for a vote this session, meaning SB 220 is dead in his eyes.

Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) told reporters two hours after the Democratic press conference that the lottery bill is “probably” dead.

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

7 hours ago

Alabama softball preseason No. 1 in USA Softball Top 25, ranked No. 2 on NFCA and Softball America lists; Auburn rated No. 23 by NFCA, Softball America

As the 2020 season approaches, Alabama softball was highlighted in three separate preseason ranking polls as either number one or number two on the lists, while Auburn also made its way in the top 25 on two of the lists.

Alabama softball is the preseason No. 1 in USA Softball’s rankings and No. 2 in the NFCA and Softball America top 25 lists.

A press release from the Alabama Athletics Communications noted:

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The Crimson Tide earned 12 first-place votes in the USA Softball poll and 11 in the NFCA poll, the most of any team. The preseason rankings are Alabama’s highest in those two polls since the 2013 season. The Tide finished last year ranked No. 4 in all three rankings. Last week, the Tide claimed the top spot in D1Softball’s preseason poll, the inaugural set of rankings for the site.

Defending SEC champion Alabama will receive a total of 13 players from last year’s team that won 60 games, claimed the program’s fifth SEC regular-season title and advanced to the final day of bracket play at the 2019 Women’s College World Series.

The Crimson Tide softball team will open its 2020 season, head coach Patrick Murphy’s 22nd season at the school, at the Joanne Graf Classic in Tallahassee, Florida, on February 7 and 8. They are slated to play two games each against North Carolina and host Florida State.

Auburn’s softball team was rated No. 23 by both NFCA and Softball America, but was left out of USA Softball’s top 25 list.

The Tigers open the season with Baylor in Clearwater, Florida, in the NFCA Leadoff Classic on February 7.

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

8 hours ago

‘Scary’: Jeff Sessions fears Trump in danger of physical harm from Deep State

In a radio interview on Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed his worry for President Donald J. Trump’s physical safety.

Featuring on “Alabama’s Morning News with JT” on 105.5 WERC, Sessions with just over two minutes left in the interview was prompted to talk about the subject after the host said he hoped that members of Trump’s Secret Service detail were not a part of the “Deep State” and “The Swamp.”

“[I]f he wins this election again, there’s no telling what people will do to get him out of that office. And I’m talking about physical harm,” Birmingham radio host JT Nysewander said to Sessions. “Do you fear that?”

“Absolutely, it’s a scary thing,” Sessions responded. “There’s so much hostility out there. It is scary, number one.”

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He then referred to his ongoing Republican bid to return to the U.S. Senate in 2020.

“And number two, this is what I believe right now, one reason I feel like that I can contribute in this race if I’m elected to the Senate,” Sessions continued. “They fear Donald Trump. The Republicans, not just what he says and does in the short run, but he has brought together a coalition of over 50% of the American population that if he can solidify that — and the Republicans will get on board, which they haven’t sufficiently, in my opinion, enthusiastically understood the historic importance of the Trump coalition  — that should be the ‘Republican Workers Party.’ People who go to work every day. They need to be brought into this party. … and move this country against the ‘Socialist Left’ that’s radical, that’s for open borders, for [more] government, taxes, regulations of all kinds and try to run the whole world with military power and trade that doesn’t protect our interests. So those things, I think, the American people are behind [Trump]. The president historically is leading it. And I want to push the Republicans to get on board more enthusiastically with it.”

“I was there first, and I’m still there,” Sessions concluded.

Sessions’ campaign on Monday released internal polling showing him with a sizable lead in Alabama’s March 3 GOP Senate primary. The ultimate Republican nominee will face Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

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

9 hours ago

Poll: Doug Jones reelection chances take hit if he votes to remove Trump

According to polling data provided to Yellowhammer News, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) could be in a weaker position for reelection should he vote to convict and remove President Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate’s impeachment trial currently underway.

The survey, conducted by WPA Intelligence on behalf of Club for Growth PAC of 500 likely voters, found that nearly two-in-five Alabama voters say they would be less likely to reelect Doug Jones if he votes to remove President Trump.

That is compared to just 14% who say they would be more likely to reelect Jones if he votes to remove.

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(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

Overall, the survey showed a lack of support for impeachment among Alabama voters. One-third of Alabama voters support the Senate removing President Trump from office compared to an overwhelming two-thirds who say they oppose his removal.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

The poll also found an overwhelming number of Alabama voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, by a margin of 61% to 37%, approve versus disapprove.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

As one might expect, in hypothetical general election match-ups against two of the Democratic presidential front-runners, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Trump dominates by a 20-point-plus margin.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

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

9 hours ago

Alexander Shunnarah wins national Golden Gavel Award

Birmingham-based Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. in recent days won a coveted Golden Gavel Award at the 2020 National Trial Lawyers Summit.

The summit was held last week in Miami, FL.

Alexander Shunnarah was the only law firm from Alabama selected in any of the Golden Gavel Awards categories and represented the state at the prestigious national ceremony. The awards celebrate the top legal advertisements of the year and Alexander Shunnarah, arguably the most recognized personal injury law firm in the state, competed in categories covering both traditional and digital media.

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The firm came away as the winner of the best public relations campaign Golden Gavel Award. Alexander Shunnarah was also a finalist in five of the other 11 award categories.

In a recent statement celebrating being named a finalist in the six total categories, Shunnarah himself said, “I am extremely proud to be recognized as a finalist in half of the categories for the National Trial Lawyers’ Golden Gavel awards.”

“This honor is a testament to our diverse and creative portfolio of marketing, advertising and public relations efforts. We work diligently every day on our brand and this national recognition further solidifies our place as a legal marketing force,” he concluded.

The National Trial Lawyers is headquartered in Dothan.

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

10 hours ago

Doug Jones: Abuse of power ‘should be’ impeachable

In his latest thoughts about President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) spoke about arguments made by Trump legal team members.

Appearing in a video released Tuesday afternoon that lasted just over six minutes, Jones spoke about some of the core points made by Alan Dershowitz and Pam Bondi Monday afternoon and evening.

One of the most striking remarks in the video came towards the end, when Jones declared, “I am not persuaded at all that the abuse of power is an unimpeachable offense. I think it can be, I think it should be [impeachable].”

Trump is charged by the U.S. House of Representatives with abuse of power on the first impeachment article against him, as well as a second charge of obstruction of justice.

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Jones started off the latest video by criticizing Ken Starr, who is best known as the independent counsel that investigated then-President Bill Clinton. Starr spoke out in the Senate against impeaching Trump on Monday.

Alabama’s junior senator subsequently chastised Trump’s legal team for accusing House impeachment managers of utilizing “distractions.”

“[Trump’s legal team] continue to push distractions,” Jones asserted.

“[T]hey talk about, of course, Hunter Biden — the biggest distraction of all,” he added.

The senator, who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, lamented that Republicans did not start scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings until his father’s current campaign kicked off.

“We spent most of yesterday talking about distractions,” Jones further said.

He also reiterated that he has “some concerns” about the obstruction of justice impeachment charge against the president.

“I do think that there were serious issues raised yesterday that we’re trying to work through,” Jones advised. “I’m anxious to hear how House managers are going to respond to some of the issues that were raised by the president’s lawyers when it comes to article two, obstruction of justice.”

Watch: 

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