1 week ago

Lawmakers taking on ALDOT over new I-10 Mobile Bayway-Wallace Tunnel tolls

For over a century, residents of Southwest Alabama have been grappling with a solution to getting back and forth across the Mobile Bay.

Prior to the opening of the vertical-lift Cochrane Bridge and the Mobile Bay Causeway in the 1920s, those making the trek from Mobile to Baldwin County’s Eastern Shore relied on ferry service to Daphne and Fairhope. In the 1940s, the Bankhead Tunnel opened, which offered for a more direct path to the existing Causeway. In the 1970s, the Wallace Tunnel opened. Then in the 1990s came the completion of the $69 million Africatown-Cochrane Bridge that replaced the old Cochrane bridge.

In recent years, Alabama’s transportation policymakers have decided on offering another option for Bay crossers to alleviate back-ups coming in and out of the city of Mobile through the Wallace Tunnel: a new Bayway bridge that will be erected south of Mobile’s downtown.

However, it comes with a catch: tolls.

Dollar figures for the proposed toll that would be levied on those crossing the new Bayway bridge and the existing Wallace Tunnel range from $3-6 according to reports. The proposal has been met with opposition from residents of Baldwin County, which is one of the most-Republican counties in the state of Alabama.

The opposition comes on the heels of the Alabama legislature passage of a 10-cent gas tax increase, part of Gov. Kay Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama Act.

State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne), who represents parts of western Mobile County and the area of Baldwin County where the bridge will be constructed, insists the tolls levied would be the same as double-charging some citizens.

“I have met in person with ALDOT to express my concerns not only with the high tolls on the I-10 bridge but also making sure improvements to the Causeway are addressed,” Simpson said to Yellowhammer News on Monday. “The people of our district are already paying an increase in gas taxes. It would be wrong to charge our citizens twice.”

One proposed alternative is using GOMESA [Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act] money in place of tolls, which has been put forth by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who represents the area in Congress.

@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.

14 mins ago

Byrne on abortion ban: If this is the bill the Alabama legislature wanted to get out, I’m going to support the Alabama legislature

Despite the overwhelming support HB 314, the Human Life Protection Act, received in the Alabama legislature from Republicans, some Republicans have been reluctant to voice their support for the law, which criminalizes the abortion.

The law, which is meant to be a test case for Roe v. Wade in the U.S. Supreme Court, lacks exceptions for rape and incest, which has drawn opposition from even President Donald Trump.

Although Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) said he would prefer to have the exceptions, during an interview that aired on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, he voiced his support for the legislature’s effort and said it was time to revisit the Roe v. Wade decision.


“I think the Alabama statute or one of these other states’ statutes is going to end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court where it needs to end up,” Byrne said. “Look, I think Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. I don’t think it is the role of the federal government, the federal courts to tell the states what their policies should be or should not be with regards to abortion. But even if you get past that, they base that decision, Roe v. Wade, on this concept on the viability of the unborn child – the ability of the unborn child to live outside the mother’s womb. Now, when they decided Roe v. Wade in 1974, medical technology was in one place.”

“Well, if you go to the neonatal intensive care unit, the NICU unit there at Huntsville Hospital, you’ll see that they are saving, maintaining the life of and extending them all through their lives of babies that are born at extremely low ages,” he continued. “I mean, 22 weeks, 23 weeks, 24 weeks. I’ve been there. I’ve seen these babies. They actually let me hold one at one time. It is unreal what medical technology can do. What used to be not viable, what used to be a child that couldn’t exist outside the mother’s womb – we can do it now. So, I think the whole basis for Roe v. Wade needs to be completely rethought in light of what’s become of medical technology and in light of where the American people are. And so, I welcome these statutes like the one in Alabama being test cases to go to the Supreme Court so that the Supreme Court that is presently made up of people like Judge [Brett] Kavanaugh can tell us this is what a more modern understanding would provide. I know all the criticisms the Alabama legislature has gotten, but it’s pretty clear to me the legislature wants this case or this statute to get up to the Supreme Court, and I hope other state statutes will get to the Supreme Court will redo Roe v. Wade for the good of everybody in America.”

On the exceptions for rape and incest, he explained it was his preference to include them but argued the time was right for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the 1973 decision.

“I would prefer to have the exceptions, me personally – but, let me just put it to you clearly, I am pro-life,” he said. “And if this is the bill the Alabama legislature wanted to get out, wanted to put out and did put out, then I’m going to support the Alabama legislature in doing that. They need to decide what they think Alabama’s policy should be. We passed a constitutional amendment on this a few years ago. And as I said earlier, it is time for the United States Supreme Court to give us a new understanding of what the federal law is going to be as the courts lay it down with regard to abortion.”

@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.

1 hour ago

Alabama House Dems unanimously vote against anti-infanticide bill

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday night passed State Rep. Ginny Shaver’s (R-Leesburg) anti-infanticide bill, with Democrats in the chamber unanimously opposing the measure.

HB 491 would safeguard against infanticide by requiring a doctor to administer the same level of medical care to a child born alive after an abortion attempt as they would any other child.

The “born-alive” bill was introduced by Shaver after the publicized rise of support for infanticide amongst national Democrats, especially following in the wake of statements by policymakers in New York and Virginia.

Shaver has said, “There is no such thing as post-birth abortion. Think about those three words. That’s infanticide.”


“That’s what it is and what my bill does is in this situation where a child survives an abortion attempt and is born alive, it would require a physician to exercise the same reasonable care to preserve the life of the child that is born alive,” she continued. “When this happens, if there is any sign of breathing or any other sign of life … there would then exist a doctor-patient relationship between the doctor and the child so that he would be required to exercise the same degree of physical skill and care to make an effort to reasonably preserve the life and health of that child.”

House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) was the sole original cosponsor of Shaver’s bill. He has been a strong pro-life voice throughout his time in office, including this legislative session.

Democrats filibustered the bill on Tuesday. Cloture had to be invoked shortly before the day’s business had to end at midnight on Tuesday.

The final vote on the bill as substituted was 66-18. No Republicans voted against HB 491, while only one Democrat, State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham), voted for the legislation. It was immediately unclear if Givan accidentally vote “yay,” as she spoke passionately in opposition to the bill on the floor several times.

This came after the official Twitter account for the Alabama House Democratic Caucus claimed the anti-infanticide bill equals “criminalizing doctors who attempt to help women make their own choice with their own body.”

To be clear, HB 491 only deals with children born alive pursuant to an abortion attempt. The bill has nothing to do with a woman’s “right” to an abortion, as Shaver said on the floor.

“I really do not see the controversy in this issue,” Shaver emphasized. “I do not see how anyone with a conscience could oppose rendering aid to a child born-alive.”

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in recent days has called Republican state legislators “callous” and “extreme” for their pro-life views.

HB 491 mandates, “A living human child born alive after an abortion or premature birth is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are granted by the laws of this state to any other child born alive after the normal gestation period.”

State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) has said that Jones called him to say he agreed with Rogers’ viral abortion comments.

During Tuesday’s debate, State Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston) worried that opposing infanticide would cause economic boycotts of the state of Alabama. This came after Boyd claimed last week said that dyslexia does not exist.

Rogers called HB 491 “about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in my life.”

The bill now goes to the Senate.

If HB 491 becomes law, it shall be officially known as “Gianna’s Law,” named after a survivor of an attempted abortion who is now 42-years-old and travels the world telling her story. Shaver has met the woman (Gianna Jessen) and called her an inspiration.

State Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) said a baby born-alive after an attempted abortion is not “a person.” Coleman asserted such a baby would still be a “fetus” and would not deserve the chance to live. She referred to the mother as “the host,” seemingly implying that the unborn baby is a parasite using that analogy.

Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile) said she does not see a difference between the born-alive/anti-infanticide HB 491 and the near-total abortion ban of HB 314, which was signed into law last week by Governor Kay Ivey.

Update 6:00 a.m.

Givan intended to vote “nay.”

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

13 hours ago

GoFundMe raising money for fallen Auburn PD officer William Buechner

A GoFundMe has been established in memory of Auburn Police Department Officer William Buechner, who was shot and killed in the line of duty late Sunday night.

A representative of the fundraising platform has confirmed its authenticity to Yellowhammer News. The GoFundMe will establish a memorial fund to assist Buechner’s family.

While the initial goal was set at $10,000, the campaign has already blown through that benchmark in less than 24 hours, raising over $20,500 as of 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.


Buechner leaves behind a wife (Sara) and two children, including a one-year-old daughter.

In addition to raising funds, prayers are also being requested for the family.

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday ordered flags in Alabama to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Saturday to honor Buechner.

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

13 hours ago

Randall Woodfin: Alabama abortion ban could end two tech companies bids to locate in Birmingham

Since passage and being signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey, the fallout from the new abortion ban has been harsh for many in Alabama.

Opponents of the law warned passage would not only impact Alabama’s reputation, but it could also threaten economic development opportunities for Alabama.

On Tuesday, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin claimed that in fact was the case.


Birmingham FOX affiliate WBRC reported that the abortion ban could be the reason two tech firms could take a pass on locating in Birmingham.

Woodfin did not disclose the name of the firms.

Yellowhammer News reached out to the Birmingham mayor’s office and the Birmingham Business Alliance, which functions as the metropolitan area’s chamber of commerce, about the merits of the report and is still awaiting a response.

@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.

14 hours ago

‘Party of no?’ Democrats block lottery bill in Alabama House, end best chance of Medicaid expansion

MONTGOMERY — SB 220, State Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Atmore) clean paper-only lottery bill, failed on a procedural vote in the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday, essentially killing the bill.

Democrats joined with hardline conservatives to stop the bill from even getting fully debated on the floor in a 53-36 vote, with one abstention. Fifty-four affirmative votes were needed (60% of those voting) on the procedural motion, meaning the lottery failed by a single vote.

Political observers were quick to note that Democrats have been pushing a lottery for the past two decades, campaigning on the right of the people of Alabama to vote via referendum on the issue. However, on Tuesday, Democrats stood in the way of that becoming reality.

The bill had been passed by the Senate but seems to be dead in the House. Observers believe this was the best chance a lottery had of getting to a referendum this quadrennium and for the foreseeable future.


State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) carried the bill in the House. He presented a substitute during a committee meeting last week that changed the revenue distribution in the bill so that 75% of funds would flow to the state general fund, while 25% would go to the Education Trust Fund. The committee adopted the substitute unanimously during that previous meeting. On advancing the bill itself, the only two “nay” votes in committee were Democrats.

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 coming years, including Medicaid and the corrections system.

Despite the fact that the House Minority Caucus, i.e. the House Democrats, have said Medicaid expansion is their number one priority, killing the lottery bill on Tuesday ended their best chance of achieving that goal.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) had a conversation with Marsh recently in which Marsh told Daniels Medicaid expansion was not possible right now because of a lack of general fund revenue to fund the expansion. However, Marsh added to Daniels that lottery revenues bolstering the general fund could make Medicaid expansion a realistic option.

On Tuesday, Democrats complained that SB 220 would not raise the maximum amount of money possible because it did not expand other forms of gaming, like slot machines, or legalize existing electronic bingo operations in places like Greene County or Macon County.

Clouse expressed that his bill would raise more revenue than the alternative, which of course is not having a lottery at all. SB 220 was projected to generate $167 million in revenue for the state annually once the lottery got fully operational.

Procedurally, SB 220 could be brought back up by the House if Democrats stop blocking the lottery legislation.

Update 4:50 p.m.:

Proponents of the lottery in the House will likely attempt the procedural motion again on Tuesday night. Only one attempt at reconsideration is allowed by the chamber’s rules.

It is important to note that 63 votes would be needed for final passage, even if the 60% of those voting threshold is met on the procedural vote.

Update 8:15 p.m.:

Clouse told reporters the lottery will not come back up on Tuesday.

State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) told Yellowhammer News that she intends to bring an amendment to the lottery legislation to make the revenue be split equally between education and the General Fund.

Daniels told Yellowhammer News that giving more of the revenue to the Education Trust Fund would not win over his party’s votes, saying their opposition is “much broader than that.”

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