Left ACLR Right ACLR

Sign up for Our Newsletter

* indicates required
3 months ago

Marsh predicts lottery, infrastructure addressed next session; Rejects Medicaid expansion — Also ‘looking at’ 2020 U.S. Senate run

In an appearance Friday on Mobile’s FM Talk 106.5’s “Midday Mobile,” Alabama Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) discussed some of the issues of the day, including Tuesday’s election, next year’s legislative session and what his plans could be looking ahead.

Marsh told FM Talk 106.5 he expected the statehouse to remain about the same as it is now, a GOP supermajority. He said there were two competitive races to watch: Alabama’s Senate District 6 race between incumbent Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) and his Democratic challenger Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay), and the State Senate District 10 race between Rep. Craig Ford (I-Gadsden) and Cherokee County Republican Andrew Jones, who are both running to be Sen. Phil Williams’s (R-Rainbow City) replacement.

“I think you’re going to see the Republicans hold a supermajority in the Alabama legislature – both the Senate and the House,” Marsh said. “I think the Senate will end up somewhere between 24 and 27 [seats], the House about the same as it was the last quadrennium – both being supermajorities. I just don’t see this blue wave.”

“I may be fooled like everybody else, but we’ve only got two Senate races that we’re watching really close – that the Larry Stutts race up in North Alabama and Andrew Jones running against Craig Ford, who is running as an independent in Etowah [County]. Those are the two that are closest based on our polling,” he continued.

Marsh added they were watching everything else, including Sen. Tom Whatley’s (R-Auburn) race, who he credited for getting out and campaigning in his district to keep it in Republican hands.

He also credited federal issues, particularly Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation and a late-election cycle immigration threat, and the efforts of Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) and his campaign. Rogers’ congressional district includes Whatley’s State Senate district and Marsh’s as well.

“I think our base based on that should be fired up,” he added. “But again, you got them fired up on the other side for the same two reasons. The question is who is fired up more.”

With record lottery jackpots making headlines and Democratic candidates running on establishing a lottery, a lottery in Alabama has been an issue at the fore. Marsh predicted there was an “appetite” in the legislature to allow for a public vote on a lottery.

“That’s an odd situation,” he said. “Any polling we’ve done on the lottery in the last four or five years, even among Republicans, 65 percent are fine as long as they get a vote. They’re fine with it on the ballot. For some reason, a lot of our members have been real weak-kneed about bringing lottery legislation.”

He credited the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding sports gambling and Mississippi’s decision to establish a lottery for creating a political environment that makes it likely for a lottery bill to be introduced.

“I do believe that there’s an appetite more than ever to deal with a lottery bill,” Marsh added.

In an interview a day earlier, Marsh’s counterpart in the Alabama House, Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), suggested the possibility of a gas tax hike in 2019 as a means to finance any efforts to address Alabama’s infrastructure woes.

Marsh indicated infrastructure was on his radar and said the state needed to “be in a position” to receive federal money, which may require the state to raise a certain percentage to be eligible for that money.

“We want to be in a position if the feds pass an infrastructure bill – as you know, any time you want to take advantage of that, you have to be able to match it with state dollars,” he said. “We want to be in a position to do that. We want to make sure as we look into the future that our port’s, because we consider the port’s infrastructure – the reality is if we deepen the port down in Mobile, we could double the freight coming in and out of the port.”

He estimated there were 400 bridges in need of replacement and repair and said for Alabama to remain competitive that infrastructure would have to be addressed.

“The last time a tax was put in on infrastructure in Alabama was in 1992, 26 years ago,” Marsh explained. “The problem – it wasn’t a percentage. If it were a percentage, it would have moved with the price of fuel. We’d have seen more revenue for the state over the last 26 years. But it was a flat-number and what compounds that problem is there has been no growth because most people are driving cars today that get a third-more or more miles per gallon. They’ve basically been driving more miles on the road with the same amount of tax revenue paid in.”

“It’s a dilemma we got to ask ourselves – I think there is an appetite to look at it, where it goes, I don’t know,” he added. “There will be a serious discussion. It will have to start in the House. I’m going to continue to talk to the Speaker. I’m going to give him the information I’ve gathered over the summer based on the meetings we’ve had and see if we want to address this issue and look at a long-term infrastructure plan for the state.”

Last month, Marsh predicted a record education budget next session and stuck to that declaration in the interview.

“We should have a record budget on education,” Marsh said. “At the same time, we’ve also been working on a comprehensive plan for education for the state of Alabama.”

The Anniston Republican said his goal was to have a “seamless pre-K all the way to higher education plan.”

“It may take some legislation requirements once we get back in session,” he said. “We’re not sure. But we plan on having something ready to go in place by the time we come back in March because the education issue effects so much.”

Marsh tied the education issue to the struggles of Alabama’s prison system and health care system. He noted that 60 percent of Alabama’s prisoners don’t have a high school education and that obesity can also result from poor education on health issues.

Recently, the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA), legislation shepherded by Marsh earlier this decade has been under fire from local school boards, including Baldwin County’s School Board and the Montgomery County Public School Board.

The AAA gives parents the option of transferring students from schools deemed “failing” by the state. Marsh defended the law, noting the lack of accountability for public schools and argued competition was the missing component.

“There may be a run at that, but I’m fully supportive of the Accountability Act,” he said. “Of course, that was my bill some years ago. The reality is this: We have failing systems in Alabama. Our math scores are 49th in the country. Our reading scores are 46th, and that’s at an eighth-grade level. You can’t accept that.”

“We’ve got some great educators out there,” Marsh continued. “We got some great schools. We’ve got a lot of areas we got problems, and we can’t just ignore that. There’s no accountability system in education. They’ve got no competition. And the Accountability Act really basically puts some competition out there.”

Marsh blamed the Alabama Education Association (AEA) teachers’ union for this sudden push to eliminate the AAA.

“It’s the union – it’s the AEA union that is fighting this because they want no competition,” he said. “They do not want to be held accountable.”

On health care, Marsh dismissed the possibility of expanding Medicaid, which has been one of the key planks of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Walt Maddox.

“I can tell you – we have got a Republican-controlled legislature and they have no appetite to expand Medicaid. Medicaid already gets the bulk of the budget that we have discretion over. We’re trying to control costs. We’re doing a pretty good job with that. We’re going to continue to try to control those costs, and until we get those costs under control, we are not going to expand it.”

In national politics, Marsh said he expected the U.S. Senate to remain under GOP control and perhaps even gain some seats. On the House side of Capitol Hill, he said he anticipated the GOP to lose seats, but was not convinced the GOP would lose control.

“I think it’ll be close and I think if that happens, it’ll be a huge win for President Trump if he just holds the House,” Marsh said. “We’ll move forward. We’ll see how it goes. But I’m not buying into this blue wave. That’s my opinion.”

Marsh has been mentioned among the possible Republican challengers for Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook), who is up for reelection in 2020. Marsh acknowledged to FM Talk 106.5 he was looking at that possibility when asked.

“It’s obvious I’m looking at that,” he replied. “I want someone to take that seat back as a Republican. I think Jones is a one-termer and somebody has got to challenge. And so, we’ll see. Right now, I’m focused on winning my race on Tuesday. But I’m going to leave an option to look at that when the time comes.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

26 mins ago

It is time for the Alabama legislature to end the state-mandated subsidy to print media outlets

Who won the 2018 general election in Alabama?

You might think with all the talk of $900 prison spending bills, gas taxes, Medicaid expansion and the lottery that Democrats won in a massive landslide and were preparing to implement their agenda. But that is not what happened — Republicans actually picked up seats.

The state of Alabama, with a Republican super-majority, is preparing to spend big and grow government.

As they do this, maybe they can toss the citizens of Alabama a bone and make the government a little more efficient by saving state agencies, counties, cities and school boards a substantial amount of money every year.

267

Current Alabama law requires government entities in Alabama to advertise legal notices, legislation, constitutional amendments, voter rolls and other public matters in the local print media outlets.

This is not chump change:

  • The state of Alabama spends up to $800,000 each year.
  • The city of Huntsville spends up to $115,000 each year.
  • Madison County spends up to $153,000 each year.

If we were to add up all the costs to local governments, we would find that these costs are in the multiple millions of dollars range.

In a state that has a $6+ billion dollar education budget, this may seem like something that is minuscule and irrelevant, but that is not the case when adding all the entities required by law to hand government money over to private companies to print a product that very few use and could easily be uploaded to an official state/county/city website and be more accessible to your average Alabamians.

The only counter-argument, which will be made by those working in or for the print media industry and no one else, is that there are communities in Alabama that don’t have high-speed Internet and can’t access these websites.

This is a canard that only allows legislators to do nothing and not face the wrath of people who “buy ink by the barrel.”

Keeping these laws on the books only acts to subsidize the print media. It does not benefit your average Alabamian one bit.

This print media subsidy should be ended immediately. Surely there are other things these government entities can spend this money on.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

1 hour ago

Tennessee Valley Authority selects next president and CEO

The nation’s largest public utility has picked the leader of one of Canada’s largest power companies to head the $11 billion federal corporation.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Valley Authority board announced the selection of Jeffrey Lyash as president and CEO effective in April.

106

Lyash is president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation Inc. He was formerly president of CB&I Power and executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy.

He also served in management roles with Progress Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Lyash is chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute, an international nonprofit for public interest energy and environmental research.

Lyash replaces Bill Johnson, who is retiring after joining the federal utility in 2013.

TVA serves about 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

3 hours ago

Doug Jones on Medicaid expansion: ‘We’re losing out on billions of dollars … the state of Alabama damn sure could use’

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Thursday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) offered his thoughts on rumblings that policymakers in Montgomery were considering expanding Medicaid rolls.

The renewed discussion comes in the wake of Butler County’s Georgiana losing its hospital and some GOP lawmakers in the statehouse suggesting it was something to consider.

According to Jones, the expansion of Medicaid would be one of the ingredients necessary in ensuring rural hospitals in Alabama are sustainable.

505

“I think it would go a long way,” Jones said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “There are a lot of factors that come into play when you’re talking about rural hospitals, including the wage index that we try to get things changed, so we get the same reimbursements as other states. But I think expansion of Medicaid would be a big help. I think it would be a huge deal for rural hospitals. It would bring in billions of dollars – billions of dollars that’s our money, by the way, that we haven’t been getting since the state refused to do that. And candidly, it was a political decision when they refused to do it. Everybody knows that. There was a legitimate concern about the cost.”

“But now that we look back, we can see that the cost-benefit – the benefit outweighs the cost tremendously,” he continued. “Plus the benefit with the good health outcomes – more people with good health care, better health outcomes. It’s just a win-win. And so I am hoping this year they can do that.”

Jones said he and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) were working on legislation to gives states that have not yet expanded Medicaid the incentive to do so, and that way the “money would start flowing in.”

When asked about the possibility of the state of Alabama being on the hook for extra cost when that initial infusion of federal money runs out, the Jefferson County Democrat said he expected the money to continue to be there for Medicaid.

“I don’t think the money will run out,” he replied. “I think the money is here to stay. It is one of those things that passed in the ‘60s. It is here to stay. I think the money is going to continue to be there. And the fact of the matter is, no one would get left holding the bag because if the Medicaid money went away, then obviously the insurance goes away. I don’t think anybody’s going to want to let that happen.”

When asked about lawmakers considering the possibility, Jones described his attitude as “hopeful.”

“I am very hopeful,” Jones said. “I think there’s a couple of dynamics in play, including the fact that we’re not really talking about ObamaCare anymore. We’re talking about the Affordable Care Act, and we’re talking about things – keeping people with preexisting conditions and making sure they have health care. And the other thing, too – now we have the evidence. No one can really say, ‘Oh, this is going to cost too much. We can’t afford it.’ We got the evidence from all the states to show that is just not the case and we’re losing out on billions of dollars that come in, and that’s billions of dollars the state of Alabama damn sure could use.”

@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.

3 hours ago

Watch: Alexander Shunnarah helps with Alabama ‘promposal’

Billboards. Television commercials. Print ads. Everyone in Alabama knows Alexander Shunnarah.

In fact, the Birmingham-based trial lawyer has become a true celebrity figure in the Yellowhammer State, with his ubiquitous advertisements driving his name identification sky-high.

While he has poked fun at his own billboard empire before, the advertisements appear to be paying off through not just clients, but fans. The latest example of this was posted on the eve of Valentine’s Day, with the gregarious Shunnarah playing a starring role in a Birmingham-area high school student’s “promposal.”

Watch:

48

For all those at home wondering, she said “yes.”

(Christy Burnett Ingram/Facebook)

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

A Story Worth Sharing: Alabama’s Red Tail Scholarship Foundation takes flight to help African-American students soar to new heights

If anyone knows hard work, it’s Torius Moore. A self-professed “small-town kid” from Attalla, Alabama, Moore is an undergraduate student and pilot triple-majoring in Aerospace Science Engineering, Physics and Mathematics at the historic Tuskegee University.

Moore is the first person to receive a scholarship from the Alabama based non-profit, The Red Tail Scholarship Foundation, and now, the program’s chief pilot.

The Red Tail Scholarship Foundation’s mission is to honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African Americans trained by the U.S military to participate in combat situations. Funded solely by private donations and operating with no administrative costs, the foundation honors their mission by providing scholarships, mentors and flight training resources to African American students pursuing careers in aviation.

338

According to Moore, “The scholarship foundation is revitalizing the historic, successful and gritty flight program from the 1940s. ”

He added, “For me, it is a change that is worth not just witnessing – but actually implementing.”

Not only does the foundation give back to their community, but they encourage their students to do so as well. In his role as the foundation’s chief pilot, Moore will teach members of the scholarship program to fly.

“I am always adamant about getting scholars in the airplane and in the skies where the Tuskegee Airmen used to fly. Let’s continue this tradition and uphold this legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by creating more black pilots and transforming them into the new Tuskegee Airmen,” Moore said.

According to the foundation, only two percent of pilots in both commercial and military aviation are minorities, a statistic they are hoping to change, one student at a time.

Rich Peace, an accomplished military and commercial pilot, is a co-founder of the foundation and a mentor to many of the program’s students.

Peace says their organization is more than a traditional scholarship program.

“We’re going to teach you how to fly, we’re also going to provide guidance and mentorship beyond that,” Peace said.

Along with Torius, many other scholarship recipients have gone on to achieve success in the world of aviation. Since 2017, the non-profit has already awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships and training resources to 16 deserving students pursuing careers in aviation.

Peace says the foundation has had incredible growth over the last few years and is now facing a high demand from students hoping to become part of their program, which they hope to continue expanding.

“As leaders, not only do you have to lead the guys in this program, you have to develop them to do your job better than you can. That’s leadership,” Peace said.

To learn more or donate to the Red Tail Scholarship Foundation visit their website or email info@RedTailScholarshipFoundation.org