1 year ago

Alabama House Republicans approve resolutions urging respect for American flag and support for border wall

(Pixabay & Wikicommons)

 

The House Republican supermajority accomplished two items in its 2018 “Flag, Family, and Country” legislative agenda this week by passing caucus resolutions that call upon Congress to quickly fund and build a secure wall along the U.S./Mexican border and urge respect for the American flag during patriotic displays such as the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”  Both resolutions were passed unanimously.

“Like most Alabamians, our Republican House members believe the on-going protests involving the American flag are unpatriotic and disrespectful, and we understand that our nation’s borders must be secured against those who wish to break our immigration laws,” House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R – Rainsville) said.  “Because Republicans posses a supermajority in the chamber, these caucus resolutions carry the same weight as House resolutions since they reflect the body’s prevailing opinion on issues of importance.”

State Rep. Rich Wingo (R – Tuscaloosa), who played linebacker for the Green Bay Packers from 1979 to 1986, offered the caucus resolution urging all individuals to show respect for the American flag and other symbols of national pride and said his action was prompted by NFL players who kneel, sit, or make disdainful gestures during the National Anthem.

“Our flag and other patriotic symbols are intended to unify all of us as one nation and one people, but this handful of professional athletes are using them to divide us while setting a bad example for our young people,” Wingo said.  “Alabamians of all colors and creeds are a largely patriotic people, and this resolution is meant to speak for all of us who love the American flag and appreciate the soldiers who have served and shed blood to defend it.”

The resolution supporting construction of an impenetrable wall along the nation’s southern border, which was a cornerstone promise of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, was sponsored by State Rep. Will Ainsworth.

“Our nation’s borders are not simply suggestions that can be ignored and violated on a whim, but, instead, they are vital security checkpoints that must be secured, closed, and regulated against those who wish to do harm to our citizens and our economy,” Ainsworth said.  “We must take strong and public actions against those who would break our laws with their simple presence, and construction of the border wall is the first and most important step in that effort.”

Editors’ Note: The full text of both House GOP Caucus resolutions accompany this release

Resolution of the Alabama House Republican Caucus

Whereas, the Alabama House Republican Caucus holds a significant supermajority in the Alabama House of Representatives and represents the prevailing opinion of the members of the body; and

Whereas, the American flag has for generations been a symbol and a beacon of hope, democracy, and freedom here at home and throughout the world;

Whereas, “The Star Spangled Banner,” which was penned in response to courageous American soldiers who victoriously fought against a British invasion and which later became our national anthem, honors the American flag and the principles it embodies, as well as all of the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives and livelihoods protecting our country and the freedoms we hold dear; and

Whereas, the ceremonial presentation of our American flag and the playing of the national anthem are inextricably linked to the sacrifices of our great men and women who fought for our country and continue to fight for our country; now therefore,

Be it resolved, that by the position taken herein, the prevailing opinion of the members of the Alabama House of Representatives is as follows in regards to the presentation of our American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the playing of our national anthem:

That the ceremonial presentation of our American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the playing of our national anthem are sacred times of unity and pride for all Americans, as well as a remembrance of sacrifice for our country, and deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, and honor.

That while freedom to protest and petition the government to remedy grievances are rights that are among the cornerstones of our nation’s principles, to use any such times as the presentation of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the playing of the national anthem to make demonstrations of protest is to trivialize these symbols of the very freedoms that ensure such rights, as well as the great sacrifices made to protect those freedoms

That the United States of America, because of its principles and its citizens who are committed to tirelessly defend its freedoms and cultivate its virtues into an even more excellent government of the people, is the best institution of freedom, democracy, and liberty for people who strive for peace and prosperity for all, and the best defender against tyrants and evildoers who seek power, wealth, and influence at the expense of the rights of others.
Be it further resolved, that the Alabama House Republican Caucus urges the citizens of this state and our nation to treat the presentation of the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the playing of the national anthem with a sacred dignity out of respect for the freedoms that these symbols represent, and in honor of the brave men and women who fought and died protecting such freedoms, and to find other meaningful and productive ways to bring attention to issues of concern, as noble as they may be.

Resolution of the Alabama House Republican Caucus

Whereas, the Alabama House Republican Caucus holds a supermajority in the House of Representatives; and

Whereas, the Republican supermajority maintains the prevailing opinion among members of the Alabama House; and

Whereas, statistics show that nearly 1,000 aliens are caught and captured each day while trying to illegally cross the Mexican border into the United States; and

Whereas, it is estimated that a significant number of aliens successfully avoid detection and capture, and break our immigration laws by crossing the border and establishing residency illegally; and

Whereas, established procedures already exist that allow immigrants to petition the U.S government to enter the country legally, hold lawful employment, and become legal citizens if they choose, and

Whereas, President Donald J. Trump was elected upon a cornerstone promise to build a secure and impenetrable wall across the United States’ southern border in order to deter illegal crossings; and

Whereas, an Alabama-based company is among a handful that is building a prototype border wall for consideration by the Customs and Border Protection Agency; and

Whereas, securing our nation’s border is vital to protecting U.S. interests, shielding taxpayer dollars from abuse, deterring terrorism, and enforcing the rule of long-standing immigration laws; and

Whereas, the U.S. Congress has proven reluctant to provide full and immediate funding for the border wall and has not yet embraced the need for an aggressive initiative to seal our nation’s borders from those who break our laws with their simple presence; now therefore,

Be it resolved, we, the members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus, call upon the U.S. Congress to support, fund, and help quickly construct the secure border wall that Americans endorsed when they elected Donald Trump as president.

45 mins ago

Tuberville backs Alabama legislator’s bill making murder of on-duty first responder a capital offense

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville is backing HB 59, the bill passed by the Alabama Senate on Thursday that would make killing an on-duty first responder a capital offense.

The bill as amended and passed by the Senate names the proposed law in honor of slain Auburn Police Department Officer William Buechner, who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Sunday night.

Sponsored by State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville), HB 59 passed the House previously. The amended version goes back to the chamber for expected concurrence next week.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Tuberville applauded the legislature for the bill, especially thanking the Senate for the amendment in Buechner’s memory, which was put onto the legislation by State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn).

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“I commend the Alabama Senate on their bill which makes the murder of an on-duty first responder a capital offense,” Tuberville said. “Murdering a first responder in Alabama should be classified as a capital offense. Not just police officers are covered in this bill all first responders are covered!”

The bill adds on-duty first responders to the list of murder victims that constitutes a capital offense. State law already makes the murder of an on-duty law enforcement officer or prison guard a capital offense.

Note the difference between a Class A felony murder charge and a capital murder charge: capital offenses in Alabama are punishable (unless the defendant was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime) by life in prison without the possibility of parole or death. Class A felonies are punishable by 10-99 years in prison, with stricter guidelines for offenders with prior criminal convictions.

Sells’ bill would also add on-duty law enforcement officers, prison guards and first responders as victims in the list of aggravating circumstances to a capital offense. This would make the death penalty more likely in the sentencing phase of this kind of capital offense.

In HB 59, first responders are defined as emergency medical services personnel licensed by the Alabama Department of Public Health and firefighters and volunteer firefighters as defined by existing state law.

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes has said he will seek the death penalty if the man charged with Buechner’s death is convicted on a capital murder charge.

Tuberville’s vocal support for the bill came the same day as Buechner’s funeral.

“Today, as Officer William Buechner is laid to rest, we celebrate his heroic life and the ultimate sacrifice he made to protect our citizens,” Tuberville emphasized.

On Friday, Tuberville also visited Auburn Police Department Officer Webb Sistrunk, who was critically wounded in the shooting that killed Buechner.

(T. Tuberville/Facebook)

“It was such an honor for me to visit with Webb Sistrunk, one of the brave Auburn police officers who was shot earlier this week,” Tuberville shared.

Tuberville with Mark Sistrunk, the officer’s father (Contributed)

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

1 hour ago

‘Our hero’: Slain Auburn officer’s neighborhood lights up blue to honor him

Neighbors of murdered Auburn Police Department Officer William Buechner are backing the blue in a very visible way, honoring the fallen hero’s life of selfless service.

As reported by WSFA, the Opelika subdivision that Buechner and his family lived in is showing their solidarity en masse.

In a moving tribute, many of the neighborhood’s homes have replaced their regular porch lights with blue lights, shining proudly in Buechner’s memory.

Tracy McDaniel is among those neighbors paying tribute to the officer and beloved community member.

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Tracy McDaniel’s home, as contributed by her. (Sally Pitts/Facebook)

McDaniels’ home is far from the exception. One photo shows an entire street the neighborhood turned blue to honor the fallen officer.

Photo by Samantha Xaysombath Smith (WSFA/Twitter)

“William was a lot of great things. A great man, friend, husband, and father, police officer, neighbor, the list goes on,” Smith explained. “His son will grow up to learn that his daddy was a hero, and we will forever remember that he was our hero too.”

Another woman in the neighborhood, who asked to remain anonymous when speaking with WSFA, said she was aware of at least 15 homes participating in the special tribute but expected that number to increase.

“We all have rallied to find each other more lightbulbs,” the woman said, “and contact those who have been out of town or may need assistance reaching their fixtures. It’s been a true team effort.”

The lights are reportedly expected to remain on at least through Saturday, the day after Buechner’s funeral.

Buechner is survived by his wife of three years, Sara; son, Henry; and step-daughter, McKenna.

“This village we speak of, he knows we will take care of Sara and the family,” Smith added. “After all, it does take a village. We back the blue.”

There has been a GoFundMe set up for Buechner’s family.

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

2 hours ago

Palmer introduces bill to stop federal funding of anti-ICE ‘sanctuary airports’

Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) is taking a major stand against airports in liberal strongholds that try to subvert federal law.

Palmer’s office on Thursday announced that the Birmingham-area congressman has introduced the PLANE Act, the Prohibiting Local Airports from Neglecting Enforcement Act (H.R. 2955).

In April, an airport in Seattle, Washington, banned flights known collectively as “ICE Air,” which included flights that deported illegal immigrants or transported detainees to the appropriate detention center.

If passed, the PLANE Act would withhold federal grants from airports that violate grant agreements by attempting similar action, such as imposing unreasonable conditions or restrictions on airplanes operating under ICE or other contracted government agencies.

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“Airports that refuse to cooperate with ICE should not receive federal grants,” Palmer said in a statement.

“The rule of law must not be thwarted by so-called ‘sanctuary airports,’ especially when they potentially delay the removal of people accused of crimes like human trafficking and rape,” he added. “Political posturing cannot be permitted when an airport has agreed to cooperate with law enforcement in exchange for federal funds.”

Palmer is now serving as the chair the Republican Policy Committee, which is the fifth highest ranking leadership role amongst Republicans in the United States House of Representatives.

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

3 hours ago

Rumors and Rumblings, 2nd Ed. Vol. VIII

“Rumors and Rumblings” is a regular feature on Yellowhammer News. It is a compilation of the bits and pieces of information that we glean from conversations throughout the week.

Enjoy.

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1. Hey Arnold! State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) caused a bit of a stir this week when he introduced a request to censure State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) for comments Rogers made during the chamber’s debate of the abortion bill. Numerous GOP House members were upset by the move, not so much for the substance of the request as much as for the timing — and the perceived motivation behind it.

The request came as the body was attempting to address a “ten-minute” calendar of bills. The aim of a ten-minute calendar is to quickly dispose of some of the more mundane pieces of legislation with the idea being that each member gets ten minutes to pass their bill or else the House moves on to the next item. As soon as Mooney introduced his letter of censure, the environment in the chamber became hostile, resulting in an adjournment and the end of the calendar. Dozens of members lost the opportunity, at that point at least, to pass their individual pieces of legislation, including an anti-human trafficking bill and legislation to help feed needy children in the state.

Some members wondered why Mooney waited nine days to introduce his letter. His letter was dated May 13 and not introduced until May 22. This event came on the heels of Mooney previously sending out a campaign letter to supporters questioning the ideological bearings of his fellow Republican legislators. When asked if Mooney had expressed any of these concerns to the GOP caucus at-large prior to his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, one member responded, “No. He had not.”

2. A tale of two cities. As Mooney spent the week trying to burnish the type of outsider credentials attractive to Club for Growth, another one of his colleagues spent his week in D.C. trying, presumably, to lay a similar foundation. State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) was boots on the ground in the nation’s capital this week. Dismukes has let it be known that he was contemplating his own run for the U.S. Senate. He has done a fair job of keeping those cards close to the vest, although his trip to Washington would lend to the notion that he continues to have interest in a federal office.

The mathematical side effect of Dismukes’ absence nearly reached a heightened level of consequence. Consideration of any legislation prior to the passage of both budgets requires a 3/5 vote of those in the body voting. The lottery failed this week because it did not receive the required 3/5 threshold of those voting. In Dismukes’ absence from the state, someone voted his machine on his behalf as an abstention rather than simply not voting at all. He was the only legislator to vote to abstain. This still raises the threshold of required votes.

There were 90 total members that voted — which means the lottery needed 54 votes to proceed. It only received 53. Had someone not voted Dismukes’ machine and 89 members had voted, the lottery would still have needed 54 votes but by a much slimmer margin since 3/5 of 89 equals 53.4. That’s how close the lottery came to advancing to full consideration by the House.

3. Is broadband really a priority for members of the Alabama House? While the state legislature’s budget negotiations have been relatively smooth so far this session, there is one major issue that has seemingly popped up at the last minute.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Senate Finance and Taxation Education Chairman Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) put $30 million in the Senate-passed Education Trust Fund Budget for the state’s rural broadband grant program established last year by State Senator Clay Scofield’s (R-Guntersville) landmark legislation.

As the legislature continues to work on beefing up last year’s legislation through Scofield’s SB 90 this year, the House is now seemingly set to slash the broadband funding approved by the Senate. The House Ways and Means Education Committee this week approved an education budget that cut the broadband funding by 73%, dragging the total down from $30 million to only $8 million.

Proponents of the larger number have said that there is not a better use of one-time money than to expand broadband services across the state. Will Chairman Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) and the House at-large work with the Senate and restore the important broadband funding?

4. Art of the Deal. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) once again proved his master negotiating skills this week, securing a crucial disaster relief package deal against seemingly insurmountable differences between the increasingly polarized factions in Washington, D.C.

This package will provide much-needed aid to many in the Yellowhammer State, including those in southeast Alabama devastated by Hurricane Michael.

Shelby bridged the gap between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, while even managing to get President Donald Trump to drop his demands to include non-disaster related earmarks in the package — a concession that was key to getting enough votes in the Senate and House. The legislation quickly passed the Senate 85-8 Thursday before a lone House member objected to its unanimous passage on Friday. The House can take the legislation up after Memorial Day on Tuesday, when it is expected to overwhelmingly pass that chamber and then be signed into law.

One keen observer told Yellowhammer News that this type of achievement will not make nearly the number of headlines it should back at home, but once again Shelby has delivered for his state as he continues to cement his legacy as “Alabama’s greatest statesman.”

3 hours ago

Alabama legislature passes bill to ensure accuracy in meat labeling

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday took steps to ensure that the definition of “meat” when applied to food labeling should only apply to products sourced from livestock on farms and ranches and harvested through processing; the bill clarifies that laboratory-grown products may not be labeled as meat, protecting Yellowhammer State consumers from potentially misleading packaging.

In a unanimous vote, the Senators passed HB 518, sponsored by State Rep. Danny Crawford (R-Athens) and State Sen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay). The bill was previously passed by the House 97-2 and now heads to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk.

“This is proactive legislation to ensure clarity in food labeling. Around the country, there are more and more companies trying to market lab-grown products as meat, which is misleading since they aren’t derived from actual livestock production,” Sessions said in a statement.

Sessions pointed out that the nutritional and safety risks of foods developed in labs from animal cell cultures are still unknown.

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“These new lab-produced foods are, at best, synthetic meats, and their nutritional effects are unknown right now. Let’s see how the science develops through further research, and make a clear distinction between meat that is farm-raised on the one hand, and lab-based products on the other,” he advised.

The beef cattle industry represents a $2.5 billion industry in Alabama and is the number two agricultural commodity in the Yellowhammer State, with over 20,000 cattle farms. Beef continues to be a favorite protein among consumers worldwide, with exports of American beef representing an $8 billion industry by itself.

“The Alabama Cattlemen’s Association represents over 10,000 members across the state. As alternative proteins enter the marketplace in coming years, we think it is imperative that the integrity of all meat labels are protected and clear for consumers when they go to the meat case,” Erin Beasley, executive vice president of the Alabama Cattleman’s Association, commented.

She concluded, “The passage of this bill is a win-win for the consumers who love to buy beef, and the cattlemen who work hard to produce a high-quality product. We would like to thank the Alabama Legislature for the support of this bill, and especially Senator David Sessions and Representative Danny Crawford for carrying the bill.”

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