5 months ago

Greg Reed calls for focus on ‘what we’re really talking about’ in abortion debate — ‘A little bitty baby’

MONTGOMERY — While State Rep. John Rogers’ (D-Birmingham) viral comments from last week have made international headlines for all the wrong reasons, Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) wants to turn the conversation back to HB 314 and what the abortion debate is really all about: an innocent, defenseless baby in the womb.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Reed discussed his support for the bill, which was passed by the House last week. HB 314, which would be the nation’s strictest abortion ban, is on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s calendar for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

Reed said his goal is to have the bill on the Senate floor on Thursday. State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) will carry the bill in the Senate for State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur), the bill’s sponsor.

Known as one of the most influential elected officials in the state, Reed is also a leading pro-life advocate and champion. He was one of the first officeholders nationwide to denounce Roger’s now-infamous remarks, and Reed was a vocal proponent of Alabama’s Amendment Two this past election cycle.

“I am definitively on the pro-life side and will do whatever I can do move this legislation forward,” Reed said. “But I think it’s important for all of us to stay focused on what’s most important.”

He has witnessed firsthand the circus-like atmosphere that the abortion topic has brought to the State House. Rogers aside, pro-abortion supporters have taken their rhetoric to new levels in opposing HB 314. One protester was arrested after vandalizing the House gallery windows with chalk paint, but it was the peaceful assembly that raised eyebrows even higher, and again not in a constructive way. Pro-abortion activists, dressed in attire from the fictional show “The Handmaid’s Tale,” brought signs that said, “Abortion is a human right,” “Abortion is good for families” and “Abortion on demand without apology,” among other sentiments well outside the mainstream, especially for the Yellowhammer State.

Reed decried that the goal of these advocates has changed over time to become primarily about “winning” – and by any means necessary – rather than the substance of the issue itself.

“You wind up to where things begin to lose the significance of what we’re really talking about here,” he outlined. “The number one focus here is the determination of what is right. And how that decision about what is right has significant impact on a child and that child’s mother. When you boil it down, that is what we all should be most concerned with, is that child and that child’s mother, and that helps frame the debate, frame the discussion… in a way that is most important.”

With all of the heated rhetoric surrounding the abortion debate, Reed is worried that people may be missing the crux of the conversation, as well as the point of HB 314 — which is to ideally spark a major rollback of or overturn the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade precedent.

“This legislation has a purpose,” Reed emphasized.

He called re-examining Roe v. Wade “important” and “healthy for America.”

Reed also stressed where he stands on the abortion issue.

“I certainly believe the baby in the womb is a human life,” Reed stated.

“For me, it is a very clear, personal decision. Being pro-life is something that I am, have been and will continue to be,” he said. “Because I feel like that should be the position of Alabama and of America in regards to [abortion]… and I think that is the case for most of my colleagues in the Alabama Senate.”

As “a deliberative body,” Reed noted HB 314 is being looked at “carefully” and analyzed meticulously by members of the Senate, as they do with all pieces of legislation.

“I think that’s healthy, I think that’s what we should be doing,” Reed remarked. “I do think that in the end, we’re going to see that the State Senate will vote, as did the House of Representatives, to uphold the sanctity of life and support this legislation as a potential challenge to Roe v. Wade.”

He said this comes “against the backdrop” of Amendment Two being overwhelmingly approved by a referendum of the people in November, declaring Alabama as a firmly pro-life state, despite a massive pro-abortion ad buy by Planned Parenthood.

“The people of Alabama, even with that kind of opposition and that kind of financial resource from places like California and New York, the people still spoke very loudly in regards to what their attitude is toward the sanctity of life,” Reed advised. “So, I think for me, this is an issue that is very important to me personally, and has always been, but I also think that we as a body are moving forward in carrying out what we know are the straight up interests and wishes of the people of Alabama, based on a vote that was less than six months ago.”

Yellowhammer News noted that Collins has stressed that she does not want amendments made to the bill because the legislation was purposefully crafted to challenge the concept of personhood before the Supreme Court and amendments – including adding exceptions for rape and/or incest – could dilute that overarching purpose.

Stressing that his overall perspective is a staunchly pro-life one, Reed outlined, “On the topic of the amendments, I think it’s back to trying to analyze what I have heard Representative Collins say on a number of occasions: that this is a very focused topic, it’s a topic that has specific legal ramifications and the goal of the legislation is to potentially… allow for a review of Roe v. Wade.”

Reed then stipulated that if Roe v. Wade is modified by a new Supreme Court decision he hopes the justices will allow the states to decide for themselves on abortion policy in their own jurisdictions. If that occurred, Reed again pointed to Amendment Two as what the wish of the majority of Alabamians would be.

“At that point then, we would be able to make appropriate exceptions within what would govern the procedures or lack thereof in the state of Alabama,” he added. “At this stage in the game though, with the goal of what the legislation actually is, the fact that the constitutional legal review says that the best way to accomplish the goal is to minimize the amendments, then I’m supportive of that.”

He then reiterated that if the goal of a successful Roe v. Wade challenge is accomplished, the legislature would then be in a position to decide what exceptions are allowed, based on the will of the people and what “is best for Alabama, not governed by federal mandate.”

While Reed wants the legislature to move on from Rogers’ sideshow, he said hopefully that situation “creates a new sense of evaluation,” “a new attitude of engagement” and “newfound support within” people that have become somewhat “desensitized” to the abortion debate in Alabama and across the country.

“Once you are faced with graphic description and once you understand the way some people feel about these topics, for those like myself and many, many others, certainly the majority of Alabamians, then I think that it will re-energize and engage people to re-examine where they are on this topic and have them once again step forward to let their voices be heard,” Reed said.

He said that some of those new voices will not agree with his pro-life stance, but “that’s the beauty of America, that we have the opportunity to do that — and that freedom to express our views.”

Reed called this freedom of thought and expression “the fiber of what makes America a great country.”

The Senate majority leader emphasized that he is encouraged and happy to see Alabamians “standing up for the unborn child” and hopes to see people in this majority continue to become personally involved and engaged.

He remarked that the current makeup of the Supreme Court and the potential for President Donald Trump to add another justice or two if he wins re-election is part of what is re-energizing both sides of the abortion debate, as the potential for change becomes more realistic.

“The president is definitively responsible for that, along with the U.S. Senate,” Reed said. “Having conservatives in positions of significant leadership at the top levels of our nation, has it made a difference? Absolutely it has. Has it changed the narrative? No doubt. And as a result, I think these topics are coming to the forefront again of political and social debate. … I think ‘ground zero’ of that specifically is the U.S. Supreme Court and [Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh] who were nominated by the president.”

He concluded by reaffirming what everyone should be thinking about during the abortion debate.

“Some of these comments and some of these methodologies and some of these things that are happening are just outrageous,” Reed emphasized. “Let’s all just stop for a minute and recognize what we’re really talking about here: a little bitty baby and that precious child’s mother and family. Let’s just be focused on what is at stake here.”

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

23 mins ago

Canfield elected chair of Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Waggoner vice-chair

The Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Associated Technologies recently held its inaugural meeting, at which commission members elected Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield as chairman and State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) as vice-chairman.

The commission plans to schedule additional meetings over the next seven months, with all meetings being open to the public.

The members will deliver a report in May to Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, recommending strategies and policies on how AI and other emerging technologies will be of benefit to the Yellowhammer State’s economy.

In a statement on Thursday, Canfield explained the importance of the commission’s work.

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“Artificial intelligence is a powerful, disruptive technology that has the potential to forever change the way we live our lives and how businesses across Alabama operate,” he emphasized.

“It’s critical that we understand how AI will bring about these sweeping changes, and this Commission will help us develop insights into what the future has in store for Alabama’s citizens and businesses,” Canfield concluded.

Waggoner spearheaded the legislative resolution that formed the commission. His leadership has been, and continues to be instrumental, in this process. The powerful chair of the Senate Rules Committee identified the goal of Alabama being on the cutting edge of AI research and job creation in the technology sector.

“We want Alabama to be a leader in AI research, innovation, technology start-ups, and technology jobs,” Waggoner stated. We believe that we are competitive with other states.”

He continued, “The Commission will look at how Alabama is positioned and ready for the opportunities of tomorrow. Those are some of the issues and questions this Commission is going to answer. We will meet with key business groups and different industry sectors to understand the impact of AI and automation on their industries.”

According to Waggoner, the commission will also examine how schools and universities can develop AI-educational programs, and investigate what privacy safeguards might be needed to protect consumers.

“We want Alabama’s education system in a place where we can equip students with AI-relevant skills through engineering and technology classes and apprenticeship programs,” he added. “As we promote innovation and educational readiness, we must also protect the privacy rights of citizens, and examine whether existing state laws are effective in regulating these emerging technologies. There’s a lot of work ahead.”

The commission will be divided up into five sub-committees, focused on the following:

  • state regulations, government oversight, and potential legislative action;
  • education and workforce development;
  • healthcare and medical services;
  • future and evolving industries, economic development, and research;
  • ethics, privacy and security.

The subcommittees will begin their work in mid-October.

State Senator Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) was appointed to the commission by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Roberts came away from the body’s initial meeting impressed at the experience and expertise of its membership.

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning are very complex subjects. Thankfully, I think we have some of the finest minds in our state working on this project. The sub committees that have been established will allow every person on the commission to hone in on their particular areas of expertise,” Roberts outlined.

The 25 members of the commission are as follows:

Greg Canfield – Secretary of Commerce (chairman)

Marty Redden – Acting secretary of the Alabama Office of Information Technology

Ivey’s appointees:

1. Dr. Hari Narayanan— Auburn

2. Dr. Gerry Dozier— Auburn

3. Dr. Jeff Carver – UA (Tuscaloosa)

4. Dr. Curt Carver – UAB

5. Dr. Alec Yasinac – USA

6. Dr. John Beck – UAH

7. Dr. James Cimino – UAB

8. Melvin Evans – Hand Arendall

9. Jim McLane – NaphCare

10. Jacob Kosoff – Regions Bank

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s appointees:

Joshua Jones – StrategyWise

Dr. Vicki Karolewics – Wallace State Community College

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon’s appointees:

Rep. Kirk Hatcher

Rep. Craig Lipscomb

Marsh’ appointees:

Sen. Jabo Waggoner (Vice-chair)

Sen. Dan Roberts

Non-Voting members appointed by the governor:

J. Michael Hardin – Provost & vice president at Samford University

John Brandt – Southern Company

Leonard Tillman – Balch & Bingham

Mike Rowell – Senior VP & CIO at ALFA Insurance

James Mizell – Senior account executive at Microsoft

Jason Asbury – NXTsoft

Dr. Syed Raza – Jefferson State Community College

An Alabama CEO, also a commission member, said artificial intelligence is on the cusp of transforming every industry.

“Artificial intelligence is rapidly changing every industry, and it is incredibly important for us as a state to think strategically about what that means to our economy,” advised Joshua Jones, CEO of Birmingham-based StrategyWise, an AI and data science consulting firm.

He concluded, “I applaud Senator Waggoner and Secretary Canfield for leading Alabama to be one of the first states to really address these opportunities and changing dynamics systematically. It sends a message to the rest of the U.S. that Alabama is serious about investing in our future, and we’re growing our tech-based ecosystem. For companies that want to leverage all that AI has to offer, we’re going to be prepared with a trained workforce, accommodating public policy, and a strong tech infrastructure.”

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

59 mins ago

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling open to Tennessee River toll bridge — If that moves freight, freight companies, truckers ‘would just be thrilled to do it’

For decades, traffic headed west from Huntsville and other points toward the Shoals has relied upon the Captain William J. Hudson “Steamboat Bill” Memorial Bridges to cross the Tennessee River into Decatur. Once traffic crosses that bridge, it either heads south on U.S. Highway 31 toward Hartselle and Cullman, or it makes a hard-right 90-degree turn on to U.S. Highway Alternate 72 and heads toward Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia and Sheffield.

As the manufacturing base in northern Alabama expands, freight traffic is expected to increase at that intersection and make the turn west even more precarious for commuters and commercial traffic.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling discussed that spot and possible solutions for the future, which could include a tolling component.

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“If you were to go now and sit in the Doubletree Hotel, which is where you’re talking about there where you make that turn to go to the Shoals, and just look at the amount of freight that comes in out of Memphis — Memphis is the distribution hub for America,” Bowling said on Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show.” “And that freight that comes out of Memphis, straight down [U.S. Highway Alternate] 72, and then it makes its way across our bridge and goes various routes from there — into Huntsville, Madison, Athens, gets on [Interstate] 65, has different directions it can go from there. But whenever we start producing a thousand cars a day, we have 4,000 employees plus the tiered suppliers who will be there. The amount of freight that will come in to take care of that I believe is going to double.”

Bowling noted the situation at the Hyundai facility near Montgomery as a sign of what is to come and commended Gov. Kay Ivey for the commitment to widen the existing Interstate 565 that connects Decatur and Huntsville.

“We visited the Hyundai facility manufacturing a thousand cars a day just south of Montgomery — just-in-time deliveries: batteries, tires, things of that nature — they receive a truck a minute,” he continued. “You think widening [Interstate] 565 is important? Heck yeah, it’s important. We’re thankful Gov. Ivey is going to get that done for us in the Spring of 2020.”

The Decatur mayor said the completion of a nearby overpass for Alabama Highway 20 remains his current top priority.  Once that is completed, Bowling said exploring the possibility of an alternate route over the Tennessee River would be appropriate.

“We’re working on an overpass on [Alabama] Highway 20 where Apple Lane Farms is,” he said. “That’s Decatur, and that’s a build grant that we received for $14 million from the Federal Highway Department. We’re very thankful for that. A lot of people made that happen. Once that project gets going, then we’ll start working on the other. But we want to be sure we do everything to make sure that project gets going first.”

As for the possibility of using tolls to finance a new bridge, Bowling said he expected that those moving freight would be “thrilled” if it expedited transit and that if it would improve commuter traffic on existing structures, it could be a possibility.

“If that moves freight, I would believe that the freight companies, the truckers would just be thrilled to do it,” Bowling explained. “If we were to take the trucks off of the [U.S.] Highway 31 bridges, I believe that our commuter traffic — it would be a lot easier to make that commute. And so, we’ll see what we can do. We’ll come up with a traffic plan. We’ll do traffic counts. Things to prove it out.”

@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

Patriot Flag to be displayed in Mobile on Thursday to honor fallen American heroes

The Patriot Flag will be displayed at the USS Alabama in Mobile on Thursday, September 19.

According to WALA Fox 10, the flag is currently on a national tour intended to honor and thank fallen American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom and safety.

Measuring 28 by 60.5 feet and weighing 50 pounds, the Patriot Flag’s nationwide journey began on the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 when the flag was displayed at all three locations that were attacked by radical Islamic terrorists. The tour will end in 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

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On Thursday, the flag will be unfurled at 3:00 p.m. at Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile Fire-Rescue firefighters will assist.

You can read more about the tour and see photos from previous stops here.

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

3 hours ago

Byrne applauds Trump administration for rescinding WOTUS rule; Says Mobile Baykeeper ‘absolutely wrong’ about environmental threat

Last week, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, which broadened the scope of “waters” protected by the Clean Water Act.

The rule faced numerous legal challenges and was decried by farmers as an overreach.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2020, applauded the Trump administration’s decision.

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“There was a power grab by the Obama administration,” Byrne said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “They wanted to take the traditional understanding about what is the water under the Clean Water Act that the EPA can regulate it and expand it to the point where if a farmer has two or three inches of standing water in their fields, all of a sudden the EPA tells them they can or can’t plant. That’s nonsense.”

“We actually had some legislation previously on it, but the Trump administration has just rescinded that rule,” he continued. “So we have gone back to a more common-sense understanding. I mean, a small pond in your yard is not something that should be regulated by the EPA. Some standing water in a big field is not something that should be regulated by the EPA.”

Byrne cited an AL(dot)com story quoting Mobile Baykeeper’s Casi Callaway decrying the move by the Trump administration and warning the impact that revoking the rule could have on the environment.

“Casi is a friend, but she is absolutely wrong about that,” Byrne remarked. “This is just a common-sense change going back to the way it has been for decades. It has worked fine for decades. I really appreciate the Trump administration making this change. And I understand why farmers and other people in other rural parts of Alabama felt so strongly about it.”

@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.

Celebrate the Seventh Amendment at Jefferson County Courthouse

The Alabama Association of Justice and their members invite all courthouse employees and judicial staff to celebrate 230 years of the Seventh Amendment guaranteeing the right to a civil jury trial.  Join the fun: Monday, September 23, 10:00 am to 10:30 am at the Jefferson County Courthouse, 716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N #251, Birmingham, AL.  For more information contact jsmith@alabamajustice.org.

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