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2 months ago

McCutcheon: Expect strong results for GOP in Alabama Tuesday — Lottery, gas tax and health care addressed next session

In a wide-ranging interview that aired on Mobile’s FM Talk 106.5 on Thursday, Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) addressed Tuesday’s upcoming election and what his expectations were for next year’s legislative session.

On Tuesday’s general election, he said statewide there were a few races that he considered to be “active” on both sides of the fence.

“Most of the polling numbers we are getting are favorable,” he said. “Our candidates out there are doing a good job. Of course, some of these are incumbents. And then some of them are in the new and open seats. Overall, we are pleased with where we are.”

The lottery proposal has been one in this election season that has gotten a lot of attention, especially given the enormous jackpots for some of the lottery drawings nationally.

McCutcheon noted the push for a lottery had been an annual occurrence up on Goat Hill. In this upcoming legislative session, however, he said he expected it to get more attention given the public’s interest in the issue.

“We’ve dealt with the lottery bill for the last several years,” he said. “We deal with one every session. I think the upcoming session will be no different. What’s going to be the difference in this next upcoming session is the public is more educated with the lottery issue now. There’s been more talk about it in our communities around the state.”

The specifics of any lottery proposal will have a lot to do with whether or not that proposal moves forward, including how the proceeds from a lottery would be spent.

“I think the key issue is members in the House that want to support a lottery – they want to make sure that the definition is clear and understandable by the people to make sure it is not trying to be a massive gambling bill that is dealing with the statewide lottery issue, and it’ll be a vote of the people. I think that is one thing that will help move the bill forward,” stated McCutcheon.

“In the debate, if we get to the point where we have a debate on the floor for the lottery, I think the next question is going to be is where are the proceeds going to go?” he added. “Is it going to be something to shore up the general fund, or is it going to be an education lottery? Those are some questions that we still have to answer.”

The possibility of raising the state’s gas tax has also been mentioned in political circles given that roads and bridges have been a hot-button issue during this election cycle. McCutcheon predicted the gas tax would be on next year’s legislative agenda.

“I think we are,” he said. “I’ve been a supporter of our transportation since day one of being elected. I see the value of the transportation system to the economic growth of our state. The two go hand and hand.”

“We cannot continue to borrow enough money to fix our transportation issues,” McCutcheon added. “Our traffic congestion is growing. Our interconnecting systems that we need to have connectional four-lane systems in areas of our state connecting to the Interstate system is so vital to our recruitment of companies coming into the state, and we’ve got to address this issue. I think to have a tax, revenue stream at the pump is going to be a part of that package. But there’s other things we need to be looking at as well. This is a comprehensive bill that we really need to pay close attention to, such as the funding formula for the counties. How do we distribute the money out? Is the legislative body going to have a voice in the projects? Do we grade the projects out and try to take some of the politics out of which projects get done and which ones sit back on a 10-to-15-year plan. All these things are going to be a part of this, and we need to work hard on moving these things forward.”

One of the issues raised on the gubernatorial campaign trail, particularly by Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, the Democratic nominee for governor, has been the expansion of Medicaid, especially with the recent string of rural hospital closures.

“This isn’t something that hasn’t just come up,” McCutcheon said. “We’ve been working with this, with the Medicaid issue and the funding that we are paying into the Medicaid system. It continues to grow. Last year was the first year in several years we were able to actually save a little money and level out our Medicaid funding. But that’s just a one-year thing. The Medicare and Medicaid payments coming into our facilities – that is also an important component of our rural hospitals and hospital network.”

McCutcheon said creating a regional network of hospitals as part of a possible solution. However, he seemed to be skeptical of how the expansion of Medicaid as a solution would be financed.

“At the end of the day, it is easy for somebody to get out here and talk about the expansion of Medicaid, but when you really dig down into the weeds, and you look at the numbers and the increase in numbers, the question that’s out there – how are you going to pay for it? Where is the money coming from?” he questioned.

He went on to add that given the number of dollars the state has received from Washington, D.C., Alabama has done well.

“But we’ve got to move forward with some innovative plans, especially when it comes to rural health care,” he said. “We’re still working on that. I couldn’t give you an answer today of what that would be, but we’ve got some people that are looking at all the options to see where we stand.”

McCutcheon also spoke about his recent Power of Service award he received at a reception hosted by Yellowhammer News last week.

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

7 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

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“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

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

8 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

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Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

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

9 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

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This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

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

9 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

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“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

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

10 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

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The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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