3 years ago

Gov. Bentley launches new task force to assess grocery taxes

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In a Tuesday executive order, Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) created a new task force to prescribe solutions for the state’s current tax structure for grocery products. Alabama is one of only 14 states that levies a sales tax on groceries. It is only one of seven states that taxes such items at the normal sales tax rate, and one of four that provides no relief.

“My goal for this task force is to remove four percent off food items and put that money back in the pockets of Alabamians who need it the most, such as low income individuals and families on a fixed income,” the governor said in a press release. “As I have traveled the state, I have heard first hand from individuals who want the opportunity to adequately feed their families without being over taxed.”

According to the governor’s release, the task force will review the economic impacts of grocery taxes and make policy recommendations to improve the financial and physical health of Alabamians. The group will be chaired by Alabama Department of Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee and will contain numerous other state bureaucrats and business leaders.

Alabama’s budgetary structure relies heavily on the sales taxes and is therefore largely dependent on consumer spending. The sales tax, along with other so-called “growth taxes”, all go to the Education Trust Fund Budget while the state’s General Fund is fueled by a hodge-podge of over 40 miscellaneous revenue streams. Such a set up has been shown to cause instability, with the two budget system resulting in a paradox of a concurrent surplus and a shortage in 2015.

The system also leads to fairly high sales tax rates. A report from the Tax Foundation reveals that two Alabama cities – Birmingham and Montgomery – have the second highest effective sales tax rates in the country for cities with over 200,000 people.

Alabama only has a four percent statewide rate; good enough for twelfth lowest in the country. However, the state tax code allows for localities to tack on an additional 7 percent, which they do at an average of 4.97 percent.

Many who support a reliance on sales taxes tout it as superior to an alternative increase on income taxes. In addition, advocates for such a system believe that a sales tax heavy formula will keep taxes low, as the people would feel the bite much more if everything they bought came with a double-digit sales tax. Tax increases would be more visible — and more unpopular for politicians to propose.

However, those that oppose a reliance on sales tax note that it is much tougher to keep track of how much money one contributes to the government. Unlike an income tax, sales taxes do not come with a year-end receipt. Citizens can never truly know how much they paid in without keeping track of an endless sea of receipts.

Governor Bentley infamously reneged on his promise not to raise taxes during the 2015 legislative session, when the state faced a General Fund Budget shortfall. In February of the year, the governor released a plan containing eight tax hikes, some of which became law.

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45 mins ago

Former Bama star Jalen Hurts befriends bullied boy — ‘It meant the world to me’

Former University of Alabama star quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to be an exemplary role model.

This past weekend, Hurts’ current team — the University of Oklahoma Sooners — hosted 12-year-old Rayden Overbay as their special guest.

Overbay, who has autism, Type 2 diabetes and is deaf in one ear, went viral recently — but not for a good reason. The boy made national headlines after being assaulted by bullies in two separate incidents, each recorded on video.

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Hurts heard about Overbay’s story, and the Heisman contender spent time with him after the Sooners’ game against Iowa State on Saturday in the locker room.

In a video posted by ESPN, Hurts can be seen signing a football for the boy before telling him that he and his teammates are behind him.

Hurts also told OU Daily how important the experience was to him.

The quarterback said Overbay inspires him.

“I mean honestly, Rayden is an inspiration to me,” Hurts said. “I told him he was a soldier for just how he handled himself. It meant the world to me honestly to meet him. That whole meeting was great for me, and he has a friend in me.”

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

2 hours ago

Siegelman: Expect a Roy Moore-Doug Jones rematch in 2020

Now that former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is officially a candidate for U.S. Senate, many political prognosticators say he is a lock to regain the Senate seat he held for two decades, which is currently occupied by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook).

Not so fast, says former Democrat Gov. Don Siegelman.

During an appearance on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Siegelman predicted Sessions would fade and argued the race would be won by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. If that came to be, Moore would face Jones in a rematch of the 2017 special election.

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“There are multiple reasons,” Siegelman, author of the forthcoming book “A Theft of Power: Stealing Our Democracy,” said. “Frankly, I think Jeff is in trouble. He is being branded and has been branded by some Trump supporters as a traitor to Trump, someone who turned his back on Trump. Whether that’s just in Trump’s mind or in all of those voters’ minds, it doesn’t matter. I think it has hurt him. And as I mentioned on MSNBC, I have a book coming out this spring where I detail my crossroads – where Jeff Sessions and I have met over time when I was secretary of state, attorney general, and on. Those are not particularly flattering compliments – when he opposed the lawsuit against Big Tobacco. Whether that impacts a Republican primary or not, I don’t know.”

“I do know this: Most of Donald Trump’s voters were evangelical,” he continued. “And I do know the constitutional amendment that passed in 2018 requiring that the Ten Commandments be posted in every public place received over a million votes in Alabama. And I do know that Roy Moore is branded as the Ten Commandments judge. I think Roy Moore has a silent Christian vote that is huge. And I think they’re going to come out and vote for him. This is a guy that gave up his seat on the Supreme Court because of his belief in the Ten Commandments. And you know, say what you want about Roy Moore – I think he has got a strong base.”

Siegelman indicated that Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill could be a sleeper in the race but pointed to constitutional amendments that passed in 2018 on the general election ballot as a strong indicator for Moore.

“John and Coach Tuberville I think have a statewide name recognition,” Siegelman added. “I think John Merrill has an advantage over all of the candidates except for Sessions and Moore, in that he has a city-by-city, county-by-county political base, which Tuberville does not have. If Merrill finds a way to gain traction, he could move ahead of Tuberville and be ready to enter a Republican runoff should Sessions fail. Those are the kinds of political maneuvers that we will see happening over the next several months. I think right now, the way I see it, and because of the silent Christian majority in Alabama, and say silent – let me explain why: Because there are 399,000 additional Republican votes that came out and came out and largely to vote for the two constitutional amendments, against abortion and for the Ten Commandments. That is a sizeable chunk of voters, and I think those voters will largely go to Judge Moore. So I think he has a place in the runoff.”

@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.

2 hours ago

Living Life On Purpose with Matt Wilson Episode 12: Interview with Chris and Sophie Corder

Many marriages go through difficult situations and end in disaster. Addiction, infidelity, anger and deception are just a few of the things that Chris and Sophie Corder walked through in theirs. However, through the grace of God, and His miraculous life-changing power, their marriage has been restored and strengthened. Now, they want to encourage other people through their triumph. They have turned pain into purpose and want to show how God can do anything if we will get out of the way and let Him.

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15 hours ago

Veteran helped by Alabama deputies could reconnect with son

JASPER, ALA. (AP) — A social media post about a veteran wearing an oxygen mask while walking down a road may help connect the man to his estranged son.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that the Gulf War veteran attempted to walk about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Walker County to Huntsville for an appointment Wednesday because his car wasn’t working.

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A Walker County deputy worked with other deputies to transport him to and from his appointment at the VA. News reports identify him as Gerald Baldwin.

The post has more than 150,000 shares. Baldwin’s son Lance in Pennsylvania saw the story and recognized his father. He told news outlets Sunday that the two hadn’t spoken in about five years. He now plans to reach out to his father.

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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Editor’s note — The aforementioned Facebook post is as follows:

15 hours ago

Auburn’s famed golden eagle Nova possibly in early stages of heart failure

Auburn University’s widely known golden eagle Nova, War Eagle VII, could potentially be in the early stages of heart failure, according to university veterinarians and a press release issued last week.

“The 20-year-old male eagle received a biannual checkup in early October at the College of Veterinary Medicine followed by another echocardiogram Oct. 31.,” the statement stated. “In 2017 he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart, and was sidelined from flying at football games to reduce stress.”

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“Nova’s condition has been medically managed and he has remained stable during the past two years, however, during his October exam, we observed decreased systolic function and enlarged vessels in his liver,” said Dr. Seth Oster, faculty avian veterinarian for the college’s Southeastern Raptor Center. “This could be an indication of the early stages of heart failure.”

Veterinarians also said they increased Nova’s dosage in a new round of treatments and that they will monitor how he responds.

“We will know more after we see how Nova responds to his latest rounds of treatment,” Oster said.

According to Andrew Hopkins, the assistant director of raptor training and education, Nova’s appearance at the Southeastern Raptor Center’s educational programs will be limited as veterans continue to monitor his progress.

The statement released on Nova’s health also provided background information on Nova.

It read, “Nova was hatched in 1999 at the Montgomery Zoo and was non-releasable due to human imprinting. He came to Auburn in 2000, made his first pre-game flight in 2004 and was designated War Eagle VII in 2006. He has helped promote wildlife conservation and awareness at almost 2,000 educational programs at the raptor center and at schools and conservation events around the Southeast. Raptor center staff conduct almost 300 presentations annually.”

Aurea, a 5-year-old female golden eagle, and Spirit, a 23-year-old female bald eagle, have both made pregame flights this season in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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