The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

3 days ago

Hyundai donates $250,000 to Montgomery Public Schools for STEM education

(Contributed)

Hyundai Motor America made a $250,000 donation Tuesday to Montgomery Public Schools for its science, technology, engineering and math programs.

The donation stems from Hyundai’s ST Math Initiative, which was developed by the Mind Research Institute.

Montgomery officials say the donation will benefit over 3,000 students from five public elementary schools in the MPS system including Catoma, T.S. Morris, Morningview, Seth Johnson and Brewbaker Elementary.

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A check was presented Tuesday afternoon in the Catoma Elementary School Library where Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, Montgomery Commission Chairman Elton Dean, MPS Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore, Montgomery School Board President Clare Weil, Zafar Brooks of Hyundai, Jim Sidick of the Mind Research Institute and other Hyundai executives were in attendance.

“Our goal here is to be a trusted partner in this community and other communities around the nation,” said Zafar Brooks, Hyundai’s director of corporate social responsibility and diversity and inclusion.

He added, “This nation depends on a skilled labor force, and research shows that when a child has access to STEM education, we will have a stronger student, and it will contribute to a life-long love of learning.”

The visual program is designed to assist the school’s core curriculum.

“It is going to support teachers and their understanding and help children learn mathematics in a conceptual way,” said Jim Sidick, Mind Research Institute’s regional vice president of partnerships.

Through the program, teachers will also receive professional feedback to personalize learning for the students.

MPS science specialist Kristy Hatch stated that she hopes to see more schools with access to STEM in the future.

Hatch said the ST Math program “fits wonderfully as a first step to introduce this and establish some relationships.”

“We are honored by Hyundai’s tremendous support and commitment to the students of MPS,” said Superintendent of Montgomery Public Schools Ann Roy Moore in a statement. “This program will aid educators and equip students with advanced technology and resources to develop interest and increase proficiency in STEM subjects.”

“The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce commends our industry partners at Hyundai Motor America for this generous gift to the Montgomery Public School system. Partnership means preparing to succeed together, and the ST Math Initiative will provide a tremendous value as Montgomery focuses on preparing a workforce for a higher wage, skilled work environment in a diverse, innovative, tech-driven economy,” said Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Willie Durham.

Hyundai has partnered with the Mind Research Institute since 2011. Together, they have committed nearly $2 million in the implementation of the ST Math program in almost 80 schools.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

Congressional support, Air Force decision create critical opportunity for Alabama aerospace industry

(ULA/Contributed, YHN)

Winning the national security space race is crucial for America’s ability to defend itself. Recently, several members of Alabama’s congressional delegation fought to equip the nation for success when they petitioned the Air Force to select a U.S. launch provider based on a competitive, timely process in the best interest of national security.

The Air Force chose to move forward with that approach and has entered the next round of awards which result in an opportunity for Alabama’s aerospace industry to increase its impact on America’s space program.

Because of Alabama’s strong leadership in Washington, Alabama-based aerospace companies are ready to compete to bring the work home. Learn more.

1

SB 129: Bad for Alabama business

(PIxabay, YHN)

For a bill called the “Protect Alabama Small Business Act,” SB 129 sure would hurt small businesses like mine. I own the FASTSIGNS locations in Mobile and Daphne, and I know firsthand what it takes for small franchise businesses to succeed. This bill simply isn’t it.

SB 129 would take private franchise contracts like mine and turn them into state law. It’s a one-size-fits-all regulation that ignores differences in business types or businesses’ needs. It treats my printing and graphics company – with five employees – the same way it treats a McDonald’s or a Marriott. That doesn’t make sense for anyone.

On top of that, it makes it impossible for franchises to protect our brand. For franchises, that brand is everything – customers walk through our door because they know the quality products and services they’ll get at a FASTSIGNS in Mobile, Montgomery or Mexico City. There are certain standards I maintain in order to keep that FASTSIGNS logo on my door. I expect other FASTSIGNS owners to do the same.

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As franchisees, we know what we’re signing up for when we enter into a private franchise contract. We partner with a brand-name business for their guidance, experience, and marketing. We do our research, too. For most folks, deciding whether to buy a franchise is a personal, family investment decision. We researched franchise brands, compared federally-required disclosure documents, and made an informed decision based on our goals and our experiences.

We became FASTSIGNS franchisees in 2014, largely because of the guidance and support we get from our franchisor. My family, the Calagaz family from Mobile, has been in the photo and print business for generations. Our franchise agreement with FASTSIGNS gave us a brand name on our storefront and an ally in our corner, while keeping my family in the business we knew and loved.

There are thousands of stories like mine across Alabama. Our state has 12,000 franchise businesses that create jobs in every county. That’s what makes this bill so surprising, especially here, especially now. We pride ourselves on being a pro-business state, but this bill puts the government right in the middle of decisions that businesses need to make. It makes our private contracts public law, and it treats all franchise businesses the same – regardless of what we do. SB 129 sure seems to say that the state government knows more than we do about what’s best for our business and our families.

Businesses of all types – everything from five-employee stores like mine to Fortune 500 companies – are asking the legislature to slow down and think about what they’re doing. I hope the Legislature considers how new regulations like this can impact Alabama business owners and our state’s economy down the road. I hope our lawmakers listen to Alabama businesses like me, and vote against SB 129.

Pauline McKean is a FASTSIGNS franchise owner in Mobile

3 days ago

Utah Sen. Mike Lee endorses Mooney in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race

(M. Lee, A. Mooney/Facebook)

U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) on Wednesday endorsed State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) in his bid to defeat Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

Lee’s endorsement came via tweet.

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“I am deeply grateful to Senator Lee for his support,” Mooney said in a statement. “He is one of the strongest constitutionalists in the Senate and one of the few in Washington with the courage to stand on conservative principles and stick to his guns. He’s exactly the kind of Senator I plan to emulate in Washington.”

Lee is known as one of the most conservative members of the United States Senate. He won his first race in an upset in 2010, and has a long record of endorsing successful conservative outsiders for Senate, including Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who Lee backed for president in the 2016 cycle.

During that race, Lee was known as a “Never Trumper,” even attempting to stop delegates from nominating Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention. Lee never endorsed him in the general election against Hillary Clinton.

Lee has reportedly expressed that he plans to endorse Trump in 2020.

Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth, which is searching for a candidate to back in Alabama’s Republican primary, is viewed as being closely aligned with Lee. Along with Lee, former Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) were the only senators to receive Club’s highest rating for 2018.

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

4 days ago

7 Things: Lottery fails in the State House, Democrats want to lose the abortion fight again, Birmingham’s mayor makes an unlikely claim and more …

(Wikicommons, YHN)

7. Pelosi is trying to break Democrats’ impeachment fever

  • As Democrat leaders try to tamp down impeachment fever, Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) said that former President Bill Clinton was impeached over sex and President Donald Trump is “raping the country.”
  • A senior House Democrat also told Fox News that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) won’t be able to hold off the impeachment of Trump much longer and that she may have to change her position within the next two weeks.

6. Trump pulling the welcome mat on Toyota?

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  • Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield is worried about President Trump’s decision to declare the import of automobiles and parts as a national security threat. Canfield believes this puts Alabama jobs on the line.
  • Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota and chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association is profoundly disappointed by Trump’s decision, feeling as if their long-time investment and employment in the United States is no longer welcomed.

5. Meaningless prison deadline passes

  • With the deadline ending for Alabama to comply with the DOJ’s demands, the DOJ could file a lawsuit if the state’s response to the allegations that prison conditions are unconstitutional is deemed inadequate.
  • State Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) has said that he doesn’t expect a lawsuit and it’s expected that the prison issues will be dealt with before the end of the regular legislative session, which ends on June 17.

4. House Judiciary Committee gets stood up

  • As instructed by President Trump, former White House counsel Don McGahn did not comply with the House Judiciary Committee subpoena to appear at a hearing, and now Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has said that he will go to court, if necessary, to get McGahn’s testimony.
  • The panel has now issued subpoenas for former McGahn chief of staff Annie Donaldson and for former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, all of which Trump views as part of ongoing “Presidential harassment.”

3. Mysterious tech companies killing plans to come to Birmingham over the state’s abortion ban?

  • Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said that one tech company has already canceled plans to come to Birmingham, and another is concerned about coming to the state.
  • However, Woodfin didn’t identify which companies were involved, how many jobs the companies would bring or the salaries of those jobs due to a nondisclosure agreement which seems unlikely because the jobs aren’t coming.

2. Alabama Democrats keep digging a bigger hole

  • State Senator Vivian Figures (D-Mobile) has filed a bill that would repeal the abortion ban, and in a release, she said that she doesn’t believe Republicans have any idea what the consequences are for passing the ban, including a decline in tourism and expensive legal battles.
  • Alabama’s legislature isn’t done on this issue yet. During a debate banning infanticide, State Representative Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) said she doesn’t believe that a child born alive after a failed abortion attempt is an actual person.

1. Ding dong, the lottery is dead — for now

  • The Democrats prevented the bill from going to the House floor for a debate in a 53-36 vote procedural motion, which was only one vote less than needed for the bill to advance because the bill won’t protect electronic bingo across the state.
  • Don’t be surprised if we see this bill again with changes that could include a 50-50 revenue split between the general and education budgets. They want this money for corrections systems, Medicaid, and more

 

4 days ago

Alabama general fund budget bill heading to conference committee

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Tuesday afternoon passed the general fund bill for Fiscal Year 2020 as substituted and amended. Hours later, the House voted to nonconcur with the Senate-passed version of the bill, sending the important legislation to a conference committee.

HB 152 as passed by the Senate would fully fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at $35,000,000 total.

The governor had proposed CHIP to be solely funded out of the Education Trust Fund this time around, even though it has been paid for by the general fund in the past. Neither the House-passed version of the general fund bill nor the Senate-passed version of the education budget funded CHIP.

The Senate passed its version of HB 152 on a bipartisan 30-0 vote.

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This bill set aside an additional $7 million for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to hire 50 new state troopers, increases the Alabama Department of Corrections’ budget by $46 million and includes a 2% cost-of-living adjustment for state employees.

In a statement, the chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee explained the highlights of the bill.

“This budget funds the essential functions of state government and avoids any tax increases,” State Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) outlined. “We put a priority on public safety, with the increase for additional troopers on the road and more correctional officers at state prisons. We were able to fund everything that we needed to, but we didn’t spend every single dime available — that carryover money will help for next year, when the state will have to bear the entire burden for CHIPS, the health insurance program for children in low-income homes.”

The House has assigned State Reps. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), Kyle South (R-Fayette) and Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) to the conference committee, in which three legislators from each chamber will work to reconcile the two different versions of the general fund budget bill. Clouse is the chairman of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

“I look forward to working with the House leadership on a final version. I anticipate there will be some changes as we negotiate later this week, but with this budget that passed today, I think we have hammered out an agreement on the biggest issues,” Albritton emphasized.

The 2% cost-of-living-adjustment for state employees is only the second that state employees have received since 2008.

“I want to thank Senator Albritton for his hard work — as this budget illustrates, Republicans in the State Legislature remain committed to fiscal discipline. Since 2011, we have cut the state government workforce by 14%, saving taxpayers millions of dollars,” Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) remarked.

You can view spreadsheets comparing all versions of both the general fund budget and education budget here.

The education budget will be amended in the House Ways and Means Education Committee on Wednesday.

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

4 days 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

(Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

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.

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“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.

4 days ago

Alabama House Dems unanimously vote against anti-infanticide bill

(LifeInstitute/YouTube)

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.”

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“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

4 days ago

GoFundMe raising money for fallen Auburn PD officer William Buechner

(Blue Lives Matter/Twitter)

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.

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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

4 days ago

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

(R. Woodfin/Twitter)

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.

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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.

4 days ago

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

(YHN)

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.

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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

4 days ago

‘Real and painful consequences’: Ala. Secretary of Commerce, Toyota head ‘profoundly disappointed’ by Trump trade action

(Wikicommons, WH/Flickr, G. Canfield/Contributed)

President Donald Trump has now concurred with a Department of Commerce Section 232 report that deemed imports of automobiles and automobile parts as a “national security threat,” with the president’s determination seriously worrying Alabama’s automobile manufacturing industry and economic development leaders.

The Department of Commerce report, delivered to Trump on February 17, concluded that imports of automobiles and certain automobile parts threaten to impair the national security of the United States. On Friday, Trump announced that he has completed his review of the report and agrees with its conclusion.

The president has ordered U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open a negotiation process with affected countries like Japan and, if agreements are not reached within 180 days, tariffs could be instituted on auto and auto parts imports from those countries.

Focusing on Japanese automobile manufacturers alone, Alabama is home to a Honda manufacturing facility in Lincoln, and the under-construction Mazda-Toyota joint venture in Huntsville features two Japanese auto giants.

In a statement on Tuesday, Akio Toyoda, who is president of Toyota and chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) emphasized that he “is profoundly disappointed by President Trump’s announcement.”

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Speaking on behalf of JAMA, Toyoda said, “We are dismayed to hear a message suggesting that our long-time contributions of investment and employment in the United States are not welcomed. As Chairman, I am deeply saddened by this decision.”

“For JAMA member companies, providing the best possible vehicle options for our customers is our top priority. We now have 24 manufacturing plants, 45 research-and-development/design centers, and 39 distribution centers in 28 states, and have cumulatively invested approximately $51 billion in manufacturing facilities alone,” he outlined. “It is also important to remember that, even during the Great Recession, JAMA member companies made great efforts to maintain employment, and currently we provide more than 93,000 direct American jobs. According to a new study, a total of over 1.6 million jobs (including intermediate and spin-off jobs) in the U.S. are supported by Japanese automakers. These numbers speak for themselves about JAMA member companies’ long history of local contributions and commitment as U.S. corporate citizens, and we are certain that neither imported vehicles and parts nor our American operations ‘threaten to impair’ the U.S. national security.”

Toyoda also warned that potential moves like tariffs down the line from the United States could have major consequences for places with large auto industries like Alabama.

“Any trade restrictive measures would deliver a serious blow to the U.S. auto industry and economy, as it would not only disadvantage U.S. consumers, but also adversely affect the global competitiveness of U.S.-produced vehicles and suppress company investments in the U.S,” Toyoda advised.

He continued, “We believe that free and fair trade as well as a competitive business environment based on international rules support the global competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry, leading to consumer benefits and sustained growth of the U.S. economy.”

“JAMA member companies strongly hope that President Trump understands our desire to further contribute to the U.S. economy and employment and that the dialogue between the governments of Japan and the U.S. leads to an outcome that supports the development of the auto industries and economies of both nations,” Toyoda concluded.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said “the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Section 232 findings… set the stage for tariffs that threaten to seriously disrupt the operations of” the state’s auto manufacturing operations “and put Alabama jobs on the line.”

Canfield explained, “Automakers based in Europe and Japan have made profound contributions to Alabama’s economy through significant investment and job creation that has enriched families and communities. Mercedes-Benz opened a manufacturing facility in Alabama 22 years ago; today, that complex has seen nearly $6 billion in investment and is home to thousands of jobs. Between them, Honda and Toyota have invested well over $3 billion in their Alabama manufacturing operations and employ more than 5,000 people in Alabama. Toyota and Mazda are currently investing another $1.6 billion to open an auto assembly plant in Alabama with 4,000 new jobs. Auto suppliers for these automakers have also invested heavily in operations in Alabama — and they continue to do so.”

“Over the years, Alabama has formed strong partnerships with these automotive companies,” he added. “We’ve also made many lasting friendships with industry leaders, including Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., who personally came to Alabama’s capital to announce the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA assembly plant in 2018, and the top leadership at Honda and Mercedes.”

“We regret to see these relationships imperiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Section 232 findings that set the stage for tariffs that threaten to seriously disrupt the operations of these Alabama manufacturing operations and put Alabama jobs on the line. We will continue to work to help the Trump administration understand that these proposed tariffs will have real and painful consequences for many hard-working Alabamians and companies that have established roots in our state,” Canfield concluded.

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

4 days ago

Conservatives and liberals should agree — it’s time to #DefundAPTV

(D. Jackson/Facebook, CBC News/YouTube)

There is a public relations crisis gripping Alabama and it must be addressed by the Alabama legislature.

The risk is so real that tourism could plummet, businesses could flee the state and educated young people could choose to move out of their home state for a more welcoming state.

A gay rat is marrying a gay aardvark and they have invited the gay rat’s third-grade students to the wedding and Alabama Public Television  (APTV) refused to carry it.

Seriously.

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Let’s ignore how unlikely it is that a teacher would invite his students to his wedding, let’s ignore that the main character wears glasses but not on his ears and let’s ignore that this is somehow an aardvark.

(Arthur/Facebook)

Let’s ignore all of that and focus on the real issues here. Should the state of Alabama be using taxpayer dollars to fund any of this?

“Arthur” already has a controversial past in Alabama. In 2005, APTV blocked another showing of the show because there was a character with two gay moms.

A Google search says, “Arthur often deals with important issues families face such as asthma, dyslexia, cancer, diabetes, and autism spectrum disorder.”

Super-edgy stuff.

But the real problem is this kind of censorship should lead to liberals demanding that the entire entity of Alabama Public Television be disbanding for refusing to show the kind of diversity they demand out of all forms of entertainment, including Marvel’s cinematic universe.

Conservatives should be demanding that we eliminate APTV altogether because there are plenty of other outlets doing the same kind of programming and there is no need for state resources to be propping up this kind of programming.

This programming is not cheap.

These resources can go somewhere else instead of fueling the culture wars that are ripping our state apart and giving us a black eye nationally.

So…

If you are a liberal, contact your legislators and demand they #DefundAPTV for daring to erase this beautiful and brave cartoon rat and aardvark’s wedding.

If you are a conservative, contact your legislators and demand they #DefundAPTV and rein in this reckless spending on programming that is attempting to brainwash our young people.

Eliminate this menace today (and get rid of Alabama Public Radio while you are at it).

(Arthur/Facebook)

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

4 days ago

Lottery bill heads to key Alabama House vote

(CBS 42/YouTube, YHN)

A proposal to start a state lottery in Alabama is heading to a key vote in the House of Representatives.

Lawmakers are expected to debate the bill Tuesday afternoon.

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The proposed constitutional amendment would authorize a state lottery played with paper tickets but not with video lottery terminals.

The lottery legislation faces an uncertain outlook. Some conservative lawmakers are opposed to legalized gambling, and other legislators want to allow electronic gambling terminals.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said last week he expects a close vote.

The proposal would steer 75% of lottery proceeds to the general fund and 25% to the education budget.

If approved by the Alabama legislature, Alabamians would vote on the measure next year.

Alabama is one of five states without a state lottery.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

4 days ago

Alabama Power to save Montgomery $600,000 in taxpayer money over next five years

(PIxabay, YHN)

Alabama Power Company is delivering in a big way for Montgomery residents, saving taxpayers’ money while also increasing public safety and environmental friendliness.

This week, Alabama Power will begin a project to upgrade its 22,462 streetlights in Alabama’s capital city to energy-efficient LED systems.

The company last February agreed to transition the city’s streetlights from mercury vapor, metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs into new LED lights.

In fact, city officials project savings of $600,000 over the next five years alone from this upgrade. The project encompasses the entire city and should be completed in approximately nine months.

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“Today, we are making good on our promise to build a brighter future in the Capital of Dreams,” Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said in a statement.

“While saving taxpayer dollars and reducing energy consumption, this project will ensure Montgomery stays on the cutting edge of technology and infrastructure,” the mayor outlined. “Not only does it complement the overhaul on Court Street and those coming soon on Fairview and Zelda, but it is essential to leveraging technology to drive economic growth and development in the River Region.”

LED bulbs burn brighter and illuminate a larger area. City officials say that fewer dark spots on the road will make for safer neighborhoods and roadways in Montgomery. The lights also come with the ability to direct the light and shield it, allowing the city to do its part to decrease light pollution by reducing light spill and glare. Additionally, 95% of the energy used by an LED bulb goes to emitting light.

Alabama Power crews on Monday began installing the new lights in west Montgomery on Reese Ferry Road and north Montgomery along Wares Ferry Road. From there, crews will fan out counterclockwise to neighborhoods throughout the capital city.

Editor’s note:
This article was updated to more accurately reflect the conditions involved in the exchange of services.

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

4 days ago

Alabama voters show bipartisan support for Family Caregivers Act

(AARP/Contributed)

Right now, the Alabama legislature has an opportunity to pass a no-cost, commonsense bill to support our state’s 761,000 caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.

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According to a recent survey in Alabama, voters across party lines strongly support (91%) SB376 the Family Caregivers Act.

The Alabama Family Caregivers Act would ensure hospitals identify, notify and provide after-care instructions to family caregivers when their loved ones are in the hospital – prior to discharge.

These caregivers routinely take on tasks that can be overwhelming, stressful and exhausting — from helping with medication regiments, meals, bathing, transportation, complex medical tasks and more.

Learn more about this bipartisan legislation and the survey here.

4 days ago

Alabama historian rescues WWII plane from boneyard to join D-Day anniversary

(AP/YouTube)

Filled with paratroopers, a U.S. warplane lumbered down an English runway in 1944 to spearhead the World War II D-Day invasion with a message for Adolf Hitler painted in bright yellow across its nose: “That’s All, Brother.”

Seventy-five years later, in a confluence of history and luck, that plane is again bound for the French coast for what could be the last great commemoration of the Allied battle to include D-Day veterans, many of whom are now in their 90s.

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Rescued from an aviation boneyard in Wisconsin after Air Force historians in Alabama realized its significance, the restored C-47 troop carrier that served as a lead aircraft of the main invasion force will join other vintage planes at 75th-anniversary ceremonies in June.

After flying over the Statue of Liberty on May 18, the plane embarked for Europe with other vintage aircraft along the same route through Canada, Greenland and Iceland that U.S. aircraft traveled during the war.

There, it and other flying military transports are expected to drop paratroop re-enactors along the French coast at Normandy.

“It’s going to be historic, emotional,” said pilot Tom Travis, who will fly That’s All, Brother to Europe for the event. “It’ll be the last big gathering.”

Air Force historian Matt Scales said there is no question that the twin-engine plane is the same one that led the main D-Day invasion.

It is now operated today by the Texas-based Commemorative Air Force, which preserves military aircraft.

“There’s not a doubt in my mind. We have three separate documents that prove it,” said Scales, who found the aircraft with help of a colleague.

Scales tracked it down a few years ago while researching the late Lt. Col. John Donalson of Birmingham, who was credited with piloting the lead aircraft that dropped the main group of paratroopers along the French coast in preparation for the assault on June 6, 1944.

The night before infantry squads hit the beaches, Donalson’s aircraft and about 80 others were watched by news crews and military brass, including Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, as they took off, according to an official history by the 438th Troop Carrier Group.

“That’s All, Brother” was at the tip of about 900 planes that made the flight across the English Channel to drop some 13,000 paratroopers in all.

Donalson’s plane was in the lead partly because it was equipped with an early form of radar that homed in on electronic beacons set up on the French coast by a small group of paratroopers in “pathfinder” aircraft, Scales said.

Some mountings of that electronic system remain on the C-47’s fuselage.

Scales found wartime information about Donalson’s That’s All, Brother aircraft and matched records from both the military and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine the plane, manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Co. in 1944, still existed.

The aircraft was sold on the civilian market in 1945 and had changed hands several times before Scales found it.

At one point, it was painted in a camouflage scheme similar to C-47s that flew during the Vietnam War.

“It had never crashed, it had never been damaged,” Scales said. “All the dozen owners who had it between the end of the war and when I found it had taken pretty good care of it.”

The aircraft was tracked down using identification numbers to a company in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and purchased by the Commemorative Air Force in 2015 following a fundraiser that brought in some $250,000, Scales said.

It was badly corroded and partially disassembled, but all the main parts were there.

With rebuilt piston engines, modern navigation and radio equipment and a fresh coat of paint, the reborn That’s All, Brother made its inaugural flight in February 2018.

A crew now travels with it, offering flights to veterans and others.

The austere interior is lined with long metal benches for seats and the airframe is exposed for all to see.

There is no insulation, so the engines’ roar makes communication difficult when the props are spinning.

A cable used to deploy paratroopers’ chutes runs along the top of the cabin.

Donalson, who retired with the rank of major general, died in 1987.

But during a recent stop in Birmingham, two of his grandchildren were among those who climbed aboard the resurrected aircraft. Granddaughter Denise Harris sat in one of the seats occupied by a paratrooper for the ride to France.

Harris struggled with the thought of being inside the same airplane her grandfather flew for the invasion in 1944.

“It’s unbelievable to think that all those men were in that plane also, and to hear the stories, and to know some of the people that came back,” she said.

5 days ago

7 Things: Gov. Ivey starts to push back on the media, WH counsel Don McGahn will not testify, Americans are over Robert Mueller and more …

(CBS 42/YouTube)

7. Alabama Public Television did not and will not air PBS’s same-sex marriage episode of “Arthur”

— The episode aired nationwide on May 13, but instead, APT aired a re-run of the show “Arthur,” a show meant for children. The director of programming for APT, Mike Mackenzie, said that when they were notified about the episode in mid-April, they decided not to air the episode. Mackenzie also said that there are no plans to air the episode at a later date. The episode drew a large amount of national attention for showing a same-sex marriage.

6. Billionaire Robert F. Smith offered to pay off the student loan debt for the whole graduating class at Morehouse College, but Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has said that it’s not the right move

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— After Smith’s offer, Ocasio-Cortez thought the gesture was great, but tweeted, “It’s important to note that people shouldn’t be in a situation where they depend on a stranger’s enormous act of charity for this kind of liberation to begin with (aka college should be affordable), but it is an incredible act of community investment in this system as it is.” Democrats have been pushing for free or affordable college, and constantly argued that billionaires need to pay their fair share. This situation could’ve been an opportunity for AOC to further the Democrats’ position that the top 1% should pay more, but instead, she has essentially said that this isn’t good enough.

5. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has written to Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Hugh Hurwitz about the early release of John Walker Lindh

— John Walker Lindh, a.k.a. “The American Taliban,” was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, and is set to be released from federal custody on Thursday, while more than 100 other terrorist offenders are set to be released within the next few years. In 2017, it was said that Lindh plans to spread terrorist ideology when he’s released from prison. Shelby and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) wrote the letter, stating concerns for the release of many terrorists and the lack of details surrounding their releases. President Donald Trump has voiced support previously for keeping Lindh in prison until he serves his full sentence.

4. Federal judge Amit P. Mehta has sided with House Oversight Committee Democrats trying to enforce the subpoena on President Trump’s financial records

— The subpoena seeks access to Trump’s financial records all the way back to 2011. Mehta compared Trump’s concerns about congressional overreach to the concerns President James Buchanan, saying that Trump “has taken up the fight of his predecessor.” Mehta also acknowledged that the subpoena involves records that concern private business and go back to before his candidacy. However, Mehta said that the subpoena falls within congressional investigative and oversight powers since it’s only required that they serve a valid legislative purpose.

3. Americans are not as eager as the media is to hear from special counsel Robert Mueller

— While the investigation seems to have been going on forever and the report has yielded no indictments for collusion, the media still cannot get enough of the Russian meddling investigation. The American people have largely had enough, as 59% of those polled say they don’t care if Mueller testifies or that it is time to move on. Independent voters, the most important voting block, think that we have seen enough of this show and are done with it as polling showed 62% were either disinterested or believe it is time to move on.

2. Former White House Counsel Don McGahn has been directed by President Trump to skip the House Judiciary Committee hearing

— White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement released on Monday afternoon, “The House Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena to try and force Mr. McGahn to testify again. The Department of Justice has provided a legal opinion stating that, based on long-standing, bipartisan, and Constitutional precedent, the former Counsel to the President cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly.” McGahn will not testify. Some are saying it is time to impeach, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seems uninterested.

1. Governor Kay Ivey has dismissed the media’s narrative about the abortion ban and Alabama has a record year for tourism

— On Monday, Gov. Ivey held a press conference to discuss the tourism increase in Alabama, and after the press conference, reporters asked for Ivey to comment on the mainstream media’s narrative that Alabama businesses and tourism could be negatively impacted by the abortion ban. Ivey said, “The legislature has spoken and [the bill] underscores the sanctity of life that the people of Alabama value so highly.” Ivey went on to say that she has not received any push back from big businesses due to the law, also saying that she doesn’t expect any. Ivey announced that in 2018 people from out of state spent $15.5 billion in Alabama.

5 days ago

Alabama’s ULA continues factory upgrades, achieves ‘significant milestone’ for next national security rocket

(ULA/Twitter)

United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced it had concluded the final review of the design for the company’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket. The Vulcan Centaur is ULA’s next-generation rocket for use on national security space missions and is manufactured in Decatur, Alabama.

Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO, explained the importance of this event to the progress of the program.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for the ULA team and a significant milestone in the development of a rocket – signaling the completion of the design phase and start of formal qualification,” Bruno remarked in a company release. “Vulcan Centaur is purpose built to meet all of the requirements of our nation’s space launch needs and its flight-proven design will transform the future of space launch and advance America’s superiority in space.”

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As part of the certification process with the U.S. Air Force, Air Force representatives are included as part of the design review.

The Air Force recently announced that it would proceed with its national security space launch program, a program in which ULA and numerous Alabama-based suppliers will participate.

In the meantime, ULA and its partners continue to invest heavily in the company’s plant in Decatur, the largest rocket factory in the western hemisphere.

ULA will be installing a total of six large robotic welders to support the upgraded Centaur upper stage.

The company says Vulcan Centaur will provide higher performance and greater affordability, and part of that is through the use of new manufacturing technologies that were not available during the production of earlier generations of rockets.

The increased use of lasers and robotics and adding more in-line non-destructive testing will aid in streamlining the process.

Bruno shared on social media a time-lapsed video of one of the new state-of-the-art weld stations going in at the Decatur plant.

Watch:

The new welders offer advanced material joining techniques to produce higher strength and higher quality products and reduced cycle time to produce the hardware, providing greater schedule flexibility to fulfill the needs of its launch customers.

The new Centaur upper stage will first fly on Vulcan in 2021.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

5 days ago

Ivey orders flags to half-staff for slain Auburn PD officer William Buechner — ‘Will never be forgotten’

Flags fly at half-staff at Sumpter Smith Air National Guard Base in Birmingham (S.Ross/YHN)

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday ordered flags in Alabama to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Saturday to honor Auburn Police Department Officer William Buechner, who was shot and killed in the line of duty late Sunday night.

In a directive to state agencies, Ivey said, “Buechner laid down his life protecting the people of Auburn, and the entire state of Alabama mourns this tremendous loss.”

The governor also issued a statement to the public following the shooting, which resulted in the hospitalization of two additional Auburn PD officers.

Ivey noted that the shooting occurred one day after National Police Week.

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“Just last week, in Alabama and across the country, we honored the sacrifice of the men and women in law enforcement during National Peace Officers Memorial Week,” she said. “As we began this week, our state was met with the tragic news that shots were fired on three of our police officers, which took the life of Officer William Buechner and wounded two other officers.”

Buechner is the third Alabama police officer killed in the line of duty so far this year, after Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter and Mobile Police Department Officer Sean Tuder. In 2018, the Yellowhammer State lost Mobile Police Department Officer Taylor Billa and Huntsville Police Department Officer Keith O’Neal Earle.

“Far too often, we are reminded of the grave sacrifice the men and women in law enforcement make each day and night they go to work,” Ivey emphasized. “Sadly, this year in our state three men did not have the chance to return home to their families and friends, all because they risked their lives to protect our communities.”

The governor continued, “The city of Auburn is somewhere I was able to call home for four important years of my life, and it will always have a very special place in my heart. I know that many others in Alabama and across the country are mourning this loss alongside Officer Buechner’s family and Auburn residents.

The other two officers wounded Sunday, who are expected to recover from their gunshot wounds, are Auburn Police’s Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott.

A manhunt lasted approximately eight hours before the suspected shooter was brought into custody, courtesy of teamwork between multiple local, state and federal law enforcement entities. WSFA has reported that the suspect was an active infantryman in the Alabama Army National Guard.

“I commend the members of state and local law enforcement who bravely pursued and successfully captured the shooter to ensure the safety of the many students and families in the Auburn area,” Ivey stated.

“We offer our support and prayers to the two officers recovering from their injuries and send prayers of comfort to the Buechner family,” the governor concluded. “The ultimate sacrifice of Officer Buechner will never be forgotten.”

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

5 days ago

Shelby demands answers on expected Thursday release of ‘The American Taliban’ — ‘Highest priority is keeping America safe, secure, and free’

(R. Shelby/Facebook, Fox News/YouTube)

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) in recent days wrote to Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Hugh Hurwitz expressing grave concerns about the anticipated early release of John Walker Lindh, a.k.a. “The American Taliban,” and other convicted terrorists from federal custody.

After being captured in Afghanistan in 2001, Lindh pled guilty to serving as a soldier of the Taliban. He is scheduled to be released prematurely from federal custody on Thursday. According to a 2017 Foreign Policy article, Lindh intends to spread terrorist ideology upon his release from prison.

Additionally, more than 100 other terrorist offenders are scheduled to be released over the next few years.

Shelby and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) jointly sent a letter to Hurwitz that requested further information regarding what steps the federal government is taking to ensure public safety upon the release of these individuals.

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“We write to express concern over the anticipated release of convicted American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh and request information about what steps the U.S. government is taking to ensure public safety,” the senators wrote.

“As many as 108 other terrorist offenders are scheduled to complete their sentences and be released from U.S. federal prisons over the next few years,” the letter outlined. “Little information has been made available to the public about who, when, and where these offenders will be released, whether they pose an ongoing public threat, and what your agencies are doing to mitigate this threat while the offenders are in federal custody.”

The senators stressed their concern with both the lack of sufficient tools to assess the continuing threat that terrorist offenders pose and the absence of sufficient behavioral programs to prevent recidivism.

“Our highest priority is keeping America safe, secure, and free,” Shelby and Hassan concluded. “To that end, we must consider the security and safety implications for our citizens and communities who will receive individuals like John Walker Lindh who continue to openly call for extremist violence.”

Read the full letter here.

The senators set a deadline of Tuesday to receive a response to their concerns and list of seven detailed questions.

This comes weeks after Shelby secured President Donald Trump’s support of keeping Lindh in prison until he serves his full sentence.

Lindh was sentenced to 20 years in a federal penitentiary in 2002 for his role in the death of Winfield, Alabama native Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann.

Lindh’s scheduled early release was formally condemned by the Alabama legislature and other state leaders when it was revealed a few months ago.

Nevertheless, the Bureau of Prisons has not relented in their shocking decision.

Spann was the first American known to be killed in “The War on Terror” in Afghanistan after 9/11.

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

5 days ago

Ivey announces 2018 was record tourism year for Alabama, dismisses media chatter over new abortion law

(Gov. Ivey/Flickr)

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday held a press conference announcing that one million more people visited Alabama in 2018 than ever before and spent $15.5 billion in the Yellowhammer State during that time span, which was $1.2 billion higher than the previous year.

These numbers came courtesy of the state’s annual economic impact report produced by Montgomery economist Dr. Keivan Deravi for the Alabama Tourism Department.

In 2018, the state’s tourism industry attracted more than 27.7 million visitors, who paid $954 million in state and local taxes, saving the average Alabama family $507 from additional taxes to maintain current service levels.

“We are excited our tourism industry grew by 8.5 percent in 2018, and we are proud to welcome millions of visitors to every region of our state, from the Tennessee Valley to the Wiregrass, to experience our hiking trails, beaches, restaurants and historical sites each year,” Ivey said.

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“This great news not only impacts tourism, but it also has a major impact on our employment sector,” the governor continued. “Almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs were maintained by the industry last year, setting yet another record!”

The 2018 report showed that Montgomery County expenditures jumped by more than 15%, which is likely driven by the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened by the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative last year.

Other highlights include that Jefferson County travel grew by more than 10%, Morgan County by 20%, Tuscaloosa County by 11% and Madison and Mobile counties by approximately 7.5%.

State Tourism Director Lee Sentell credited increased marketing activities, ranging from social media and paid advertising to public relations activations in places such as New York and Dallas, for the success. He also noted then-Raycom Media, majority owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), airing commercials at no cost on 64 television stations across the country.

“We are proud that this past year showed the largest growth in visitors and expenditures in the state’s history,” Sentell remarked. “We substantially exceeded our goals by attracting more than one million additional visitors and increasing expenditures by $1.2 billion.”

The tourism director also lauded the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ continued investments in and expansion of the OWA amusement park in Baldwin County, along with the launch of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail spotlighting landmarks in Selma, Birmingham, Montgomery and Tuskegee.

The tourism industry represents 7.3% of Alabama’s Gross Domestic Product.

There are reasons to be optimistic in further steady growth for the industry, Sentell noted.

This includes the scheduled opening of Decatur’s Cook Museum of Natural Science in June and an upgrade of the infield at the Talladega Superspeedway to be unveiled in October.

Asked by reporters after the press conference on Monday, Ivey dismissed mainstream media salivation that Alabama’s tourism industry could be impacted by the recently signed into law HB 314, despite the fact that this abortion ban is never expected to go into effect.

“[T]he legislature has spoken and [the bill] underscores the sanctity of life that the people of Alabama value so highly,” the governor said.

Ivey emphasized that she has not encountered any push back to the new law from big businesses within the Yellowhammer State, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

“[A]nd I don’t expect to,” she added.

“The very fact that Alabama has seen increased tourism year after year for the past five or six years … speaks volumes,” Ivey stressed. “Alabama has a lot of different variety of things to visit and enjoy and our visitors will continue to come.”

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

5 days ago

Sorry, Doug Jones, you are the one with the extreme abortion position — not Alabama legislators and voters

(Face the Nation/YouTube, Madison Neal WHNT/Twitter, YHN)

Alabama’s junior United States Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is so far out of touch with Alabama’s voters that he might as well be New York’s third senator.

Jones has attempted to brand himself as a moderate alternative to Roy Moore, and that works against Roy Moore, but only if Moore is accused of being a child molester.

But in the real world, Jones is wildly out of touch on the issue of abortion with a majority of Alabamians and it’s not even close.

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Jones spent the weekend tweeting out extreme positions and promoting liberal sports blog AL.com’s virtue signaling nonsense.

That last tweet reads like a liberal Mad-Libs. What is he talking about when it comes to “working families?” Will anyone in the media ask? Of course not.

Now, this is all predicated on the meme that 25 white men decided Alabama’s abortion ban, which is a lie.

The sponsor of this bill in the State House was State Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur).

And don’t forget: The governor that signed off on it is also a woman.

Alabama voters decided this.

They voted these men and women into office in 2018.

Do you know what else they did in 2018? They decided Alabama was a pro-life state.

It was on the ballot:

“yes” vote supported this amendment to make it state policy to “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life” and to state that no provisions of the constitution provide a right to an abortion or require funding of abortions.

The vote wasn’t even close.

Alabama Amendment 2
Result Votes Percentage
Approved Yes 916,061 59.01%
No 636,438 40.99%

Jones doesn’t enjoy anywhere close to that support.

Party Candidate Vote % Votes
Democrat Green check mark transparent.pngDoug Jones 50% 673,896
Republican Roy Moore 48.3% 651,972
Independent Write-in 1.7% 22,852
Total Votes 1,348,720

Jones can continue pretending he doesn’t “believe that these Republican men represent the views of most Alabamians” to pander to a media that hates, and is painfully out of touch with, this state and if he wants to, the voters in Alabama will make it clear where they stand in 2020.

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

5 days ago

Lee County DA to seek death penalty in shooting death of Auburn PD’s William Buechner

William Buechner (Auburn PD/Contributed, PIxabay)

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes will seek the death penalty in the Sunday night shooting of three Auburn Police Department officers.

In a press conference Monday morning, local officials identified the officer who died as William Buechner, a decorated Auburn PD veteran.

They also confirmed the other two officers, who are expected to recover from their injuries, as Auburn Police officers Webb Sistrunk, serving since 2011, and Evan Elliott, serving less than a year on the force.

Pictured: Sistrunk, left, and Elliott, right. (Auburn PD/Contributed)

The Opelika-Auburn News reported that Hughes confirmed the suspect, who was captured after a manhunt that lasted over eight hours, will face a capital murder charge. The district attorney will seek the death penalty if the suspect is convicted on that charge.

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In the press conference, Auburn Mayor Ron Anders and Police Chief Paul Register thanked the police officers for their courageous service and asked for prayers for the families, loved ones and community involved.

The officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call at a mobile home park in the 3000 block of Auburn’s Wire Road when the shooting occurred.

Few details have been released about the suspect, however, the Opelika-Auburn News reported he served in the military, per officials. The suspect was reportedly wearing camouflage, body armor and a helmet during the shooting.

WSFA reported that the suspect has also been charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count of second-degree domestic violence. He is being held without bond.

Buechner began serving his community and the people of Alabama through the Auburn Police Department in April 2006. He is reportedly the first officer in Auburn PD’s history to be killed in the line of duty.

Watch the press conference:

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