The Wire

  • Marsh donates to border wall construction fund

    Excerpt:

    As a demonstration of his commitment to border security, Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has personally donated to an online campaign to fund the construction of a wall on America’s southern border.

    “It is obvious that we cannot rely on politicians in Washington to do their job,” Marsh said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “I have always believed that controlling our borders and our national security is of the utmost importance which is why I supported immigration reform in Alabama in 2011 and why today, I am putting my money where my mouth is and personally donating to build the wall.”

  • Brooks urges State of the Union be held in Senate chamber

    Excerpt:

    On Thursday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) and House colleagues sent a letter to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposing the president’s annual State of the Union Address be held in the Senate chamber in light of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic move to revoke Trump’s invitation to deliver the address.

    In the letter, Brooks and his House colleagues explained, “Holding the State of the Union in the Senate Chamber is the best way to reveal the veracity of Speaker Pelosi’s alleged once-in-history reason for [canceling] or postponing the State of the Union.”

  • Mo Brooks baffled by Pelosi’s ‘shameless’ move to cancel Trump’s State of the Union

    Excerpt:

    After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) on Wednesday “suggested” to President Donald Trump that America’s annual State of the Union Address either be canceled and replaced by written remarks or postponed until after Washington, D.C. has ended the current partial government shutdown, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) slammed Pelosi’s “childish, partisan, political stunt.”

    In a statement, Brooks said that Pelosi is using the State of the Union Address as both a political bargaining chip and to muffle the president during the southern border crisis and funding negotiations.

1 week ago

Bill to provide AHSAA accountability officially prefiled

(AHSAA, K. South/Facebook)

State Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette) has officially prefiled his heavily supported bill to bring public oversight and accountability to the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) moving forward.

Representatives can prefile bills for the legislature’s regular session that begins on March 5 now since the House’s organizational session adjourned sine die on Wednesday.

South’s prefiled bill has been dubbed HB19 and informally referred to the House’s committee on state government. Once the regular session convenes, the bill will formally be referred to the same standing committee.

The bill currently has 90 House cosponsors, plus South. The chamber is comprised of 105 members.

Cosponsors include Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) and Majority Whip Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), as well as the committee on state government’s chair and vice chair, state Reps. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) and Chris Sells (R-Greenville) respectively.

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You can find a copy of the bill here, along with a list of all cosponsors.

While it may be too late to save USA Basketball star Maori Davenport’s senior season at Charles Henderson High School in Troy, South is attempting to fix a problem that he views as much more than an isolated poor decision by the AHSAA.

South’s legislation would do three main things.

First, it would mandate that any rules by the AHSAA regarding a student athlete’s eligibility be reviewed and approved by the State Board of Education. This is directly addressing the type of situation that Davenport now faces.

South’s bill would also codify that 25 percent of the AHSAA governing body be appointed by the State Board of Education or the State Superintendent of Education. This composition would need to be put into place by January 1, 2020, and would provide public accountability throughout all aspects of the AHSAA’s governance.

Thirdly, the legislation would require that the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts audit the AHSAA in the same manner as it would a public agency.

On Thursday, the Alabama House Republican Caucus announced the unanimous endorsement of its 77 members for Maori Davenport’s immediate reinstatement by the AHSAA.

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Lieutenant Governor-elect Will Ainsworth have called on the AHSAA to reinstate Davenport’s eligibility immediately, too.

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

1 week ago

Alabama bans smoking on public beach

(J. Tuggle/Flickr, Pixabay)

The sugar-white sand in Gulf Shores is Alabama’s most popular half-mile stretch of public beachfront.

This area also is undergoing $15 million in renovations and city officials want to keep it looking nice.

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So, in June, city officials adopted a wide-ranging list of regulations that included an Alabama first: The public beachfront became smoke-free.

The ban is part of a national trend as politicians try to keep popular attractions from looking like ashtrays and turning away tourists, AL.com reported.

In New Jersey, a new law goes into effect on Jan. 16 banning any kind of tobacco use on beaches or boardwalks, with offenders fined up to $1,000.

In Florida, lawmakers are considering legislation that would implement a wide-ranging ban on smoking at any public beach, empowering law enforcers to cite offenders.

“What Florida is doing is not surprising,” said Grant Brown, recreation and cultural affairs director with the city of Gulf Shores, comparing smoking bans on beaches with restrictions to smoking at outdoor athletic stadiums.

Alabama has 52 miles of beaches, which includes state property and Mobile and Baldwin counties.

Dauphin Island, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have jurisdiction over the most popular public beach spots that fuel a significant chunk of Alabama’s $14.3 billion tourism industry.

The smoke-free public beach in Alabama is part of an ordinance that also bans pets, fireworks, alcoholic beverages, open fires, drones and laser pointers. The ordinance makes exceptions for service animals.

Brown said enforcement is not rigorous but fines are stiff. Violators could face fines of up to $500 and jail time.

The Gulf Shores ordinance represented the first time an Alabama governing body adopted a smoking ban to also include e-cigarettes, anywhere along a beachfront.

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill this week that would criminalize smoking on public beaches, levying $25 fines on offenders or up to 10 hours of community service. Alabama beach cities are keeping an eye on the Florida measure, with an interest in possibly following suit.

Florida has had a statewide indoor smoking ban in place 2003, although bars are exempt.

“We’ll be curious to see how Florida proceeds,” said Phillip West, coastal resource director for Orange Beach. “If it passes, we’ll be interested in how they enforce it and what kind of push back they might get.”

“I am aware of what’s being pursued in Florida and (a beach smoking ban) has come up before in the past. But there have been no heavy conversations about it,” said Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier.

In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, both cities are now three years into the “Leave Only Footprints” campaign which advocates against beach litter, among other things.

Brown said cigarette butts remain an issue.

“We sift the sands and get quite a few cigarette butts as we clean the beaches,” he said.

The police “won’t be down there writing tickets,” Brown said.

But signage is in the works alerting beach visitors about the smoking ban.

“The goal is not to have the beach turned into an ash tray,” he said.

Not everyone is on board: Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon does not see the need to add regulations enforcing cigarette smoking, and does not believe it is a big problem.

“I really don’t want to see government getting involved in any personal issues unless absolutely drug into it because of a public safety issue,” Kennon said. “I don’t see any issue with smoking on the beaches here. I don’t even know if it’s a perceived problem here. I think we would stay out of it.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

Prominent tea party activist named Alabama Eagle Forum executive director

(Becky Gerritson/Facebook)

On Thursday, Eagle Forum of Alabama President Eunie Smith and Foundation President Jim Cooper announced Becky Gerritson as the conservative organization’s new executive director.

Gerritson has been a prominent activist in the state since founding the Wetumpka Tea Party in 2009. In 2016, Gerritson received Heritage Action Sentinel’s Firewall for Freedom Award. She was also named in Yellowhammer Multimedia’s 2017 regional Power and Influence List.

The tea party leader even gained national acclaim for her testimony before Congress after Obama’s IRS unfairly targeted the Wetumpka Tea Party and other organizations for their conservative beliefs. She has been lauded by conservative figures across the country, including Rush Limbaugh and Fox Business’ Stuart Varney.

“It is an honor to welcome Becky Gerritson as our Executive Director,” Smith said in a press release. “Becky is an effective conservative leader with a long history of championing the values that Eagle Forum exists to preserve. I have every confidence in Becky’s leadership abilities, and I believe that as Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director she will continue to be a bold and respected voice of conviction, principle, and informed policy in Alabama.”

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Gerritson was a Republican candidate for Congress in Alabama’s Second Congressional District in 2016, losing to Congresswoman Martha Roby in the primary by a margin of 66 percent to 27 percent.

“Eagle Forum has been an influential powerhouse of principled conservative thought and grassroots activism for decades,” Gerritson outlined. “I am thrilled to be on the leadership team of this incredible organization. As Alabama moves into 2019 and beyond, it is crucial that our principled conservative voice be stronger and more compelling than ever. I look forward to continuing the fight for our future and our republic with Eagle Forum of Alabama.”

Eagle Forum is a national organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972. Before passing away in 2016, Schlafly endorsed and praised Gerritson.

“Becky Gerritson is a proven leader. She understands that sound governance doesn’t mean just passing bills that the president will sign, as the current Congress continues to do,” Schlafly outlined. “She knows that sound governance means upholding and defending the Constitution, protecting the security of the American people, and defending the values that have made our country great.”

“Her dedication and passion for the conservative cause has been seen not only by Alabamians but by the nation as she has fearlessly and tirelessly fought against the progressive agenda and big government,” Schlafly added.

The stated mission of Eagle Forum of Alabama is to equip and activate citizens with timely information from a conservative, constitutional point of view on public policy issues that affect the family.

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

1 week ago

Alabama Human Trafficking Awareness Day to be held Friday

(END IT Alabama/YouTube)

The Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force is sponsoring the fifth annual Alabama Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Friday. This daylong initiative seeks to raise awareness about human trafficking in the Yellowhammer State.

The task force is also asking Alabama mayors to sign proclamations throughout January in observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Radio, television and printed media coverage across the state will help educate citizens about human trafficking in Alabama, raise awareness about human trafficking, outline victim identifiers and explain how to report potential human trafficking situations.

The purpose and agenda of the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force include the following:

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1. To combat all aspects of human trafficking, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking.
2. To pursue a comprehensive response to crimes of human trafficking.
3. To coordinate strategies to provide necessary services for victims of human trafficking.
4. To focus prevention efforts to end the demand for human trafficking and create
awareness through education and community initiatives.
5. To develop legislation to prevent, intervene, and treat human trafficking.

The Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force was established in 2014 and meets quarterly at the Alabama State House. Meetings are open to the public.

You can follow along with the task force’s ongoing efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday will pave the way for the Alabama Human Trafficking Summit to be held on Friday, February 8 in Montgomery. Additional details about the summit can be found here.

The Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force wants the public to be aware of the facts surrounding the issue, including the following:

• Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world (second only to drug trafficking).
• There are 27 million slaves in the world today—more than at any other time in the history of the world.
• It is estimated that 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked in the U.S. every year.
• Approximately $150 billion is generated worldwide through trafficking activities annually.
• The average age of a human trafficking victim is 12 years old.
• Although 79% of all sex trafficking victims are female, the number of
males being sexually exploited is rapidly rising.
• Within the first 48 hours of leaving home, one-third of runaway youths become the victims of human trafficking.
• I-20, I-85, I-10, and I-65 are major corridors for human trafficking. I-20 has been identified as the “super highway for human trafficking in the United States.” These interstates bring significant trafficking activity into Alabama and along the Gulf Coast where Alabama children travel for Spring Break every year.
• Huntsville sits in the middle of six human trafficking “hot spots:” Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Atlanta and Birmingham. This is one of many trafficking “circuits” across the United States.

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

1 week ago

Mo Brooks cosponsors seven new border security bills

(Mo Brooks/Twitter)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) Thursday announced cosponsorship of seven border security bills at the outset of the newly convened 116th Congress, saying, “I put the interests of Americans above those of illegal aliens.”

An overview of federal crime data provided by Brooks’ office showed that roughly 117,500 illegal aliens are arrested for crimes committed on American soil each year. This includes approximately 2,000 homicides, 50,000 physical assaults and 15,000 sex crimes by illegal aliens each year.

Brooks’ office also noted that approximately 15,000 Americans die each year from heroin drug overdoses, with 90 percent of all heroin reaching America via its “porous” southern border. The heroin is often transported by drug cartels and illegal aliens acting as their “mules.”

In a press release, Brooks said, “I put the interests of Americans above those of illegal aliens. Countless Americans have been killed or otherwise victimized by illegal alien crimes. In addition to the murders, vehicular homicides, and deaths from overdoses on drugs from Mexico, illegal aliens take job opportunities from, and suppress the wages of, American workers.”

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“Worse yet, illegal aliens cost American taxpayers an estimated $116 billion per year in welfare and other costs. America’s immigration system is badly broken. I support sweeping policy reforms that put Americans first and stop the carnage wrought against Americans by illegal alien crime,” he added.

H.R. 32 by Congressman Warren Davidson (OH-8), the “Buy a Brick, Build the Wall Act,” would allow the Secretary of the Treasury to accept public donations to fund the construction of a barrier on the border between the United States and Mexico.

H.R. 85 by Congressman Andy Biggs (AZ-5), the “Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act,” would establish a separate account in the Treasury to hold deposits to be used to secure the southern border of the United States.

About H.R. 32 and H.R. 85, Brooks commented, “The United States averages a staggering 60,000 illegal border crossings per month. This foreign invasion must stop! I support building the border wall by any means necessary because, historically, walls have been proven to work! I have cosponsored H.R. 32 to help fund a border wall by allowing the United States Treasury to accept donations from the public for border wall construction and cosponsored H.R. 85 to help fund the border wall by diverting $2,000 per illegal alien from foreign aid otherwise paid to an illegal alien’s home country.”

H.R. 74, also by Biggs, known as “Grant’s Law,” statutorily ends “Catch and Release” illegal aliens even when an illegal alien has been apprehended for certain enumerated crimes.

Regarding H.R. 74, Brooks outlined, “In January of 2015, American Grant Ronnenbeck was brutally murdered at a Mesa, Arizona convenience store by an illegal alien who was already a convicted felon and free on bond while facing deportation. If it weren’t for the Obama Administration’s Catch and Release policy, Grant Ronnenbeck would be alive today. H.R. 74 ends the practice of catch and release for known, dangerous illegal aliens.”

H.R. 140 by Congressman Steve King (IA-4), the “Birthright Citizenship Act,” amends Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.

About H.R. 140, Brooks said, “According to the Pew Research Center, about 6% of all births in the United States (250,000 births a year) are to illegal aliens. Absurdly, those children born to illegal aliens in the United States are automatically granted United States citizenship.”

“What’s worse, through chain migration, the parents of citizens are able to gain legal status and eventually become naturalized citizens themselves,” he continued. “Illegal aliens broke our laws when they came here and at the very least should not be rewarded for their crimes with citizenship.”

“I have cosponsored H.R. 140, the Birthright Citizenship Act, so the children of illegal aliens born in the United States will not automatically be given citizenship, thereby discouraging illegal alien adults from breaking American laws solely for the purpose of giving birth to a child that, in turn, becomes the anchor that allows illegal aliens to stay in America and, thus, be rewarded for their illegal conduct,” Brooks explained.

H.R. 147 by Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-3), the “Visa Overstay Enforcement Act,” amends “The Immigration and Nationality Act” to penalize aliens who overstay their visas.

On H.R. 147, Brooks advised, “According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were more than 700,000 visa overstays in Fiscal Year 2017. Once a non-citizen’s visa expires they become an illegal alien and should face stiff penalties for illegally remaining in America. I have cosponsored H.R. 147 that allows stiffer fines and imprisonment for repeat offenders.”

H.R. 153 by Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-3), the “Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act,” prohibits the receipt of federal financial assistance by sanctuary cities.

Regarding H.R. 153, Brooks outlined, “Sanctuary cities endanger American lives by encouraging and shielding illegal alien conduct. For example, Kate Steinle was killed in sanctuary city San Francisco by an illegal alien who had been previously deported five times. The federal government should use every arrow in its quiver to combat sanctuary policies which thumb their nose at immigration law enforcement. I am proud to cosponsor H.R. 153 to prohibit federal funds from going to sanctuary cities.”

H.R. 250 by Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42), the “Legal Workforce Act,” amends “The Immigration and Nationality Act” to make mandatory and permanent requirements relating to use of an electronic employment eligibility verification system.

About H.R. 250, Brooks said, “In addition to America’s expensive welfare system, another major enticement for illegal aliens to violate our laws is the prospect of a job. I have cosponsored H.R. 250, which makes the E-Verify program mandatory for all United States employers. If illegal aliens cannot get a job in America, they are less likely to illegally come here in the first place and much more likely to voluntarily deport themselves back to their home countries.”

For Brooks, this issue is a “crisis” – which is why he is putting so much emphasis on these bills.

Brooks concluded, “Few issues in Washington are more important to maintaining America’s national security and sovereignty than border security. A country without a border is no country at all. I will vote for and support border security bills that put American citizens first and oppose open-borders bills that favor amnesty and encourage more illegal entry into America.”

This came the day after Brooks made a speech on the House floor on border security, saying that ongoing negotiations over funding for a physical barrier on the United States’ southern border is a matter of life or death for “thousands of Americans each year.”

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

1 week ago

Byrne introduces bill to pay Coast Guard members, retirees during shutdown

(Congressman Bradley Byrne/Facebook, U.S. Coast Guard/Flickr)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) Thursday announced legislation to ensure members of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard retirees are paid during the current partial government shutdown.

H.R. 374, known as the “Always Ready Act,” was formally introduced by Byrne on Wednesday and provides funding for active members of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard retirees. Byrne represents coastal Alabama and the Port of Mobile in Congress.

In a statement, Byrne said, “I’m proud of the strong Coast Guard presence we have in Southwest Alabama. These men and women work hard and put their lives in danger in order to keep the American people safe.”

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“As we continue to fight for stronger border security and work to resolve the government shutdown, I believe members of the Coast Guard should be paid just as other members of the Armed Forces are paid,” Byrne added. “I hope the House and Senate will act swiftly on my bill, the Always Ready Act, to ensure members of the Coast Guard and their families receive the pay they deserve.”

Byrne introduced the bill the same day he sent a letter to President Donald Trump praising his Tuesday night Oval Office speech to the nation on immigration and border security.

H.R. 374 has been referred to the House Committee on Appropriations.

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

1 week ago

Alabama House GOP caucus unanimously approves resolution urging AHSAA to reinstate Maori Davenport

(Rep. Wes Allen/Twitter)

This week, the 77-member Alabama House Republican Caucus unanimously approved a resolution urging the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) to immediately reinstate the eligibility of USA Basketball and Charles Henderson High School star Maori Davenport of Troy.

As the AHSAA continues to get battered by criticism over its decision to rule Davenport ineligible because of a mistake the association admitted was the fault of others, the House GOP members are making their thoughts known in unison. Davenport spoke to the caucus on Tuesday during the first day of the 2019 organizational session.

“After Maori Davenport appeared before our Caucus and very eloquently explained her situation, the 77 Republican members of the Alabama House stand ready to help her regain her eligibility in any way that we can,” House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said in a press release. “Without exception, our legislators urge the AHSAA to immediately reinstate this impressive young woman who simply wanted to represent our country on an international level.”

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The resolution was sponsored by State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy), who has helped champion Davenport’s cause since the AHSAA decision and arranged for her appearance at the Alabama State House.

“I am proud to stand alongside Maori Davenport as we work to rectify a situation that should have never occurred,” Allen advised. “Rather than being treated with the callous disregard shown by the AHSAA, young athletes like Maori should be encouraged, supported, and praised.”

The text of the House Republican Caucus Resolution, a copy of which will be sent to the AHSAA and its executive director, Steve Savarese, reads as follows:

Whereas the Alabama House Republican Caucus holds a 77 – 28 supermajority in the House of Representatives; and,

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

Whereas Charles Henderson High School basketball standout Maori Davenport’s athletic skills and talents earned her a spot on the Team USA roster and a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship; and,

Whereas the USA Basketball program regularly sends a stipend to players who compete for its teams but failed to first check with governing sports officials in Alabama before compensating Davenport; and,

Whereas the 18-year-old Davenport responsibly self-reported the oversight and immediately returned the stipend as soon as it was discovered the check sent to her by USA Basketball exceeded the allowed limit in Alabama; and,

Whereas the Alabama High School Athletic Association ruled Davenport ineligible to play this season in spite of her sincere and timely efforts to rectify a situation that was no fault of her own; and,

Whereas the AHSAA stubbornly refuses to demonstrate empathy and reconsider its decision despite a state and national outcry on Davenport’s behalf by advocates and supporters of amateur athletics; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that we, the members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus, hereby urge the Alabama High School Athletic Association and its director, Steve Savarese, to reinstate Maori Davenport’s amateur eligibility without delay and take significant steps to ensure that no other student athlete is subject to such callous, unfair, and unjust treatment in future situations of similar circumstance should they arise.

State Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette) has also drafted a bill that would bring oversight and accountability to the AHSAA. His bill has bipartisan support and was cosponsored by 87 of the 105 House members as of Tuesday.

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Lieutenant Governor-elect Will Ainsworth have called on the AHSAA to reinstate Davenport’s eligibility immediately, too.

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

1 week ago

Mo Brooks: Ocasio-Cortez ‘somewhat nutty,’ ‘has a low respect’ in DC by GOP and Dems

(60 Minutes/YouTube, Congressman Mo Brooks/Facebook)

In a Wednesday interview on Talk 99.5’s “Matt & Aunie Show,” Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) criticized freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), calling her “somewhat nutty” and advising that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have “low respect” for her.

Host Matt Murphy asked Brooks to respond to remarks Ocasio-Cortez made following President Donald Trump’s Tuesday night Oval Office address. Ocasio-Cortez said those coming across the United States’ southern border illegally were “acting more American than any person who seeks to keep them out ever will be.”

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The Republican from north Alabama did not hold back in his criticism of the Bronx Democrat.

“I’m not sure who she is referring to,” Brooks told Murphy. “She is somewhat nutty. She has a low respect in Washington, DC by both parties, I might add.”

Brooks continued, “However, she does have influence with a significant segment of the American public, particularly the far left-wing radical segment of the Democratic Party. And so, you cannot ignore her voice. She is also very symbolic of where the Democratic Party as a whole is headed nationally.”

“If you want people up here who care more about illegal aliens than dead Americans, and higher taxes on Americans to support through welfare illegal aliens and their families, then Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is who you want to elect. Apparently in New York – those folks up there, they care more about illegal aliens than they do about Americans,” he said.

“And here’s the problem – we can’t afford it,” Brooks added. “We don’t have enough money to support the entire world. But that is the mindset of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and virtually every Democrat congressman and senator I’m aware of. There may be an exception, but if so that person is low in the foxhole because they don’t want the radical elements of the Democratic Party to know about it because they might lose their next Democrat primary.”


This came the same day that Brooks delivered a fiery House floor speech on border security, saying that ongoing negotiations over funding for a physical barrier on the United States’ southern border is a matter of life or death for “thousands of Americans each year.”

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

1 week ago

Speaker Mac McCutcheon on gas tax, infrastructure: ‘It’s a shame’ we have not addressed the issue in over 25 years

(Speaker MacMcCutcheon/Facebook)

In an interview that aired Wednesday on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, State House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) stressed the need for the legislature to address infrastructure, presumably through an increase in the gas tax that has not been raised since 1992.

McCutcheon argued the state’s quality of life was on the line given infrastructure was an ingredient of Alabama’s economic growth and noted that the states bordering Alabama have moved to address their transportation woes.

The Madison County Republican also addressed the politics of a gas tax hike, noting that it was not something candidates were shy about during the 2018 election cycle.

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“This is an issue that affects the people of Alabama and our quality of life, and our economic growth,” he said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “It is something that we have not addressed in over 25 years. It’s a shame that we have waited that long, but we have. Now we’re getting to the point where we cannot continue to just kick the can down the road. It’s a difficult, tough issue to address. But all of our surrounding states are addressing this issue. They’re improving their infrastructure needs, and we cannot sit here and fall behind when it comes to trying to compete for business and move our state forward. So, we’re at the point where this is an issue that must be addressed.”

“We talked about this on the campaign trail,” he continued. “Members running for office – they know that this is an issue, and we’re going to try to get as many facts and information out there to members and the public. We’re still working on a piece of legislation that we’re going to present. We haven’t got all the t’s crossed, and the i’s dotted, if you will.”

“But we’re looking at the transportation infrastructure plan, and it’s more — I hope people understand, as long as it has been that we’ve addressed our transportation needs, this is more than just a tax at the pump,” McCutcheon added. “This is an investment in our state. It’s one of the largest investments the people of Alabama invest in, and we’ve got to approach it from the standpoint that we’d like to have legislative input into the highway projects and the process. We want to work closely with the governor. We’ve got to look at the revenue streams we’re going to have available. We’re looking at the possibility of having federal dollars that we can match. Then at the end of the day, the way Washington is going – if they can’t do anything for us, it’s going to be on the state of Alabama to do what we need to do to fix our roads. There’s a lot of issues out there, but we’re going to address it.”

McCutcheon, who in addition to his speaker duties represents Alabama State House District 25 which includes Huntsville City, Madison City and East Limestone County, pointed to widening I-565 from I-65 to and through the city of Huntsville, Alabama Highway 53 from Madison County to the Tennessee-Alabama state line, U.S. Highway 72 east of Huntsville in the direction of Scottsboro and Winchester Road beyond the New Market area as places for improvement in and around his district.

“We’ve got some major arteries – I’m not even talking about some of the bridges we’ve got on some of our rural roads that need to be fixed that are on restriction now,” he added. “We’ve got plenty of projects in our area that need to be worked on.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 week ago

7 Things: Trump walks out of meeting with Schumer and Pelosi, Democrat ‘false flag’ operations didn’t stop in Alabama in 2017, Alabama congressmen support Trump on the border and more …

(PBS NewsHour/YouTube)

7. Alabama lawmakers are seeking a legislative solution to the embarrassing situation with Maori Davenport’s situation with the Alabama High School Athletic Association 

— The AHSAA suspended the star player over an errant payment from USA Basketball and has, up to this point, refused to revisit the case stating the current rules don’t allow it.

— Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette) has proposed legislation that would address the suspension and the current make-up of the AHSAA board by forcing all eligibility issues to be addressed by the State Board of Education and require 25 percent of those on the board to be appointed by the same board.

6. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) calls President Trump racist; Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) calls her “somewhat nutty

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— Ocasio-Cortez originally hinted that the president was a racist and talking about dog whistles. She has now doubled-down with some factually inaccurate claims about the president defending Neo-Nazis who murdered a woman in Charlottesville, calling Mexicans “rapists,” banning Muslims and ending her tweet with calling the president is a “racist.”

— Rep. Brooks stated he believes that she is held in low regard in DC, even if she is a darling of the far left and the media. Brooks said, “She is somewhat nutty. She has a low respect in Washington, DC by both parties, I might add. However, she does have influence with a significant segment of the American public.”

5. Former State Representative Ed Henry changes plea to guilty on charges of Medicaid fraud

— Henry has given notice that he plans to change his plea from not guilty to guilty in a federal case, which indicates that a plea deal has been brokered.

— The original charges surrounded allegations of kickbacks and a conspiracy to defraud Medicaid. It alleged a company owned by Henry that provided chronic care management to patients charged the doctor substantially less than the previous firm that had the chronic care services contract but they would get a bigger reimbursement from Medicaid.

4. While the government is shut down over $5 billion dollars, the Center for Immigration Studies says illegal immigration will cost the United States $164 billion over a decade

— Their analysis indicates that the average cost of an illegal immigrant for taxpayers is $82,191 over the course of their lifetime. Another analysis by the Institute for Defense Analyses says there are 1.95 to 2.28 interactions between illegal immigrants and law enforcement for every successful illegal crossing, which means there were 170,000 to 200,000 successful illegal crossings in 2018.

— CIS argues that the U.S. would be able to pay for the border wall if it was able to stop three to four percent of would-be illegal immigrants on the U.S./Mexico border. It is currently estimated that 60,000 come in a month and 2 million will enter over the next decade.

3. Alabama congressmen support President Donald Trump and his position on the government shutdown and border issues 

— Rep. Bradley Byrne wrote Trump a letter voicing support for his border speech telling the president, “[T]hank you for standing up for our communities and for the American people. Please know that this Member of Congress will stand with you to see your proposals enacted into law.”

— Rep. Mo Brooks laid out the dangers of illegal immigration in a speech on the floor of the United State House of Representatives where he stated, “[O]ver the past two years, illegal aliens have averaged 50,000 physical assaults, 15,000 sex crimes, and 2,000 killings per year . . . all in America!”

2. Democrat “false flag” operations did not end in Alabama’s U.S. Senate special election — they went on in 2018 as well

— Tech billionaire Reid Hoffman, who funded the efforts to mislead voters and suppress Republican turnout in Alabama, also created misleading Facebook pages appearing to be disgruntled conservatives, going as far as to purchase ads to perpetuate their fraud.

— The pages were managed by American Engagement Technologies, founded by Obama operatives and used the “The Daily Real” and “Today’s Nation” to buy ads that deceptively encouraged GOP voters to skip the midterm elections.

1. President Trump walks out on negotiations declaring it “a total waste of time“; Trump heads to the border today

— After dueling speeches on the status of the border and the government shutdown, the principal players met in a White House meeting that ended with the resident saying “Bye bye” and walking out.

— President Trump reportedly asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi if she would give him funds for his border wall if he would end the government shutdown. When she said she would not, he walked out.

1 week ago

Airbus hiring 600 new employees for Mobile manufacturing facility

(A. Doumenjou/Airbus)

On Wednesday, Airbus posted its first manufacturing job openings for production of the A220 in Mobile.

In total, the company expects to hire approximately 600 new employees over the next 18 months.

The positions posted are the first wave of production jobs and include aircraft structure/installation mechanics, installers for aircraft cabin furnishings and aircraft electricians.

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In a social media post, Airbus outlined, “Successful candidates for all positions will participate in several weeks of training at AIDT and some candidates will receive on-the-job training in our Mirabel, Canada facility before returning to Mobile. Production on the first aircraft begins in Q3 2019.”

In addition to the positions for the new A220 production facility, Airbus is also hiring for similar production positions in its current A320 production facility in Mobile.

Job listings with full descriptions can be found here.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) commented, “Southwest Alabama continues to thrive economically, led by strong investment from companies such as [Airbus] in our state. Alabama: 200 years strong, and getting stronger.”

State Senator Chris Elliot (R-Daphne) also celebrated the announcement, calling it “[m]ore great economic news for Coastal Alabama.”

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

1 week ago

Tucker Carlson: ‘Jeff Sessions was the single-most impressive member of the Senate’

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Wednesday on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, author of “Ship of Fools,” praised Alabama native Jeff Sessions, who served two decades in the U.S. Senate before becoming U.S. attorney general for President Donald Trump.

Late in 2018, after a tumultuous tenure as attorney general, Sessions left the Department of Justice.

When asked if there were any Democratic or Republican politicians that he thought were coming up with solutions to improve the lot of the middle class, Carlson immediately named Sessions.

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Carlson described Alabama’s former U.S. senator as “totally sincere,” and as “the single-most impressive member of the Senate.”

“You know, the guy who always impressed me most with his sincerity and thoughtfulness and deep personal integrity – and the degree to which he meant it, he wasn’t a phony at all, he was totally sincere – I know him well, actually was a senator from Alabama called Jeff Sessions, who made the mistake of becoming attorney general and was totally attacked and discredited – not entirely, but mostly unfairly I thought,” Carlson said on Thursday’s “The Jeff Poor Show.” “But it sort of obscured the fact that Sessions was Trump long before Trump.”

“Sessions really understood what had gone wrong with the country’s economy with the attitudes of its ruling class,” he added. “Jeff Sessions was the single-most impressive member of the Senate I always thought, and I still think that.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 week ago

Alabama’s federal employees affected by shutdown can apply for unemployment benefits

(ADOL/Twitter)

On Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) announced that federal employees in the state who have been furloughed due to the partial government shutdown can apply for unemployment compensation benefits.

Employees who are not working due to the shutdown can apply online or by calling 1-866-234-5382.

Furloughed employees must meet state eligibility requirements, which can be found on page four of the “Rights & Responsibilities Handbook.”

In Alabama, weekly unemployment compensation benefits range from a minimum of $45 to a maximum of $265 and are available for up to 26 weeks.

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“There are thousands of federal employees in Alabama who are expected to be impacted by this shutdown,” Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said in a press release. “Should these workers need assistance during this time, I would encourage them to apply for unemployment compensation benefits.”

According to November 2018 data, 53,200 workers were counted as federal employees in Alabama. Since the beginning of the shutdown on December 22, ADOL has received approximately 242 unemployment compensation benefit applications from federal workers, including those affected by the shutdown and those who were laid off for other reasons.

Employees should be prepared to provide verification of their wages, as ADOL may not be able to confirm wages with affected federal agencies. Valid documents include pay stubs or W-2s.

Should the affected employees receive back pay at a later date, any benefits received would need to be repaid to ADOL, as required by law. Payment plans can be arranged by contacting the agency.

More information and frequently asked questions from ADOL on the partial shutdown can be found here.

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

1 week ago

Red Tail Scholarship Foundation honors legacy of Tuskegee Airmen

(Red Tails Foundation/Instagram)

Alabama has for more than a century reveled in its role in America’s aviation history.

The nation’s first civilian flight school started in Alabama. The state’s Air Force and Army bases have always been essential to the nation’s national security. Some of the most enduring advances in aviation and aerospace technology have occurred within the borders of the state.

Perhaps the Yellowhammer State’s greatest contribution to aviation history is the Tuskegee Airmen.

And it is in their honor that an Alabama non-profit is providing scholarships to African-American high school and college students that have an interest in working in the aviation industry.

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The Red Tail Scholarship Foundation seeks to provide opportunities for African-American students in all areas of the aviation industry through funding, resources and mentorship.

The foundation is named after the Tuskegee Airmen who were known as the “Red Tails” because of the paint scheme on their planes.

The group desires to see increased participation of African-Americans in the industry as pilots, aeronautical engineers, airframe and power plant mechanics and avionics technicians.

Foundation co-chairman Maj. Richard Peace explained the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen is that of excellence and opportunity.

“Being the best at what you do will always create opportunity,” said Peace.

Not surprisingly, “Red Tail” success stories have begun to pile up.

When Col. William Sparrow, also a foundation co-chairman, sought the first candidate, a trusted friend and fellow pilot suggested Torius Moore.

Moore is a Tuskegee University triple-major getting degrees in aerospace engineering, physics and mathematics.

Moore has a keen awareness of the legacy left by the Tuskegee Airmen and what that means to him.

“I’m walking the same footsteps as they are,” said Moore. “So I want to continue the tradition by going even further. I know they broke a lot of barriers. I want to be one of the Tuskegee Airmen who was an astronaut.”

Scholarship recipient Jasmine Smith is a mechanical engineering major at Tuskegee University. Her interest in aviation began in an unexpected fashion.

“My love for flying started back in high school when I was accidentally placed in an aerospace class,” Smith said. “Some of my classmates and I went to work a booth showing off our school engineering program at the Blue Angels Airshow and, surprisingly enough, though I was thoroughly impressed with the Blue Angels, it was the opening act of the WWII re-enactment that amazed me.”

Smith also understands the lasting impact the Tuskegee Airmen had on aviation and American history.

“When someone says ‘Tuskegee Airmen,’ my first thought is that this is a very big legacy,” said Smith. “I want to continue the excellence by breaking boundaries in the aerospace industry not only as a female but as an African-American female and keep doing things that only help me become a better engineer and a pilot.”

In addition to carrying forth the legacy of the Red Tails, Peace and Sparrow both emphasize that careers in aviation will have their own benefits.

“There are so many great opportunities inside aviation, great careers that can sustain you for a lifetime,” said Peace.

Sparrow adds, “Aviation careers have excellent pay, they are essential to our economy and the tip of our national security spear.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 week ago

Shelby selected to first full term as powerful appropriations chair

(R. Shelby/Facebook)

On Wednesday, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) announced his committee assignments for the newly convened 116th Congress. Alabama’s senior senator will continue his historic service as the powerful chairman leading the Senate appropriations process.

In a meeting the same afternoon, the Senate Republican Conference met to ratify committee chairmen for the new Congress and approved Shelby’s unanimous selection by members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to lead the important committee for his first full two-year term as chair.

In addition to serving as the influential chairman of the appropriations committee, Shelby will continue to serve on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; the Committee on Environment and Public Works; and the Committee on Rules and Administration.

“My committee assignments for the 116th Congress present an opportunity for me to continue serving the state of Alabama and the nation to the best of my ability,” Shelby said in a press release.

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“I am honored that my colleagues have continued to place their trust in me to lead the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Shelby added. “I look forward to working closely with Vice Chairman Leahy and all Appropriations Committee members to produce bills that fund our national and local priorities.”

Shelby concluded, “Further, my colleagues and I on various authorizing committees – Banking, Environment and Public Works, Rules – will work this Congress to craft legislation that impacts the lives of all Americans, including my fellow Alabamians.”

Shelby served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee during a portion of the 115th Congress, following Senator Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) resignation from office in March 2018. Shelby also served as vice chairman for the 113th Congress.

Under Shelby’s exemplary leadership on appropriations during the 115th Congress, the committee completed work on all 12 Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 appropriations bills before the July 4th recess, marking the most punctual timeframe in which the committee has completed its regular appropriations bills since 1988.

Additionally, five of those appropriations bills were signed into law before the end of the fiscal year and 75 percent (74.9) of the government was funded on schedule, which signals the most spending bills enacted on time since FY 1997 – more than two decades ago.

The Senate is expected to formally affirm its committee chairmen and rosters in an organizational resolution soon.

Shelby previously served as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Committee on Rules and Administration. He joined the Environment and Public Works Committee for the first time during the 115th Congress.

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

1 week ago

Alabama Senate committee assignments announced

(State of Alabama)

MONTGOMERY – Wednesday, the Alabama Senate Committee on Assignments announced the composition of the chamber’s standing committees for the 2019-2022 quadrennium.

In a press release, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) thanked the committee for their diligent work.

“I want to thank the Committee on Assignments for their work on these committees, they did a fantastic job of matching Senators with the committee that best takes advantage of their strengths and abilities,” Marsh said.

Committees will be composed as follows:

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Committee on Rules

1. Jabo Waggoner (Chair)
2. Clay Scofield (Vice Chair)
3. Gerald Allen
4. Linda Coleman-Madison
5. Vivian Figures
6. Jimmy Holley
7. Steve Livingston
8. Jim McClendon
9. Tim Melson
10. Arthur Orr
11. Greg Reed
12. Rodger Smitherman

Committee on Finance & Taxation Education

1. Arthur Orr (Chair)
2. Tim Melson (Vice Chair)
3. Greg Albritton
4. Gerald Allen
5. Donnie Chesteen
6. Priscilla Dunn
7. Vivian Figures
8. Garlan Gudger
9. Jim McClendon
10. Clay Scofield
11. David Sessions
12. Bobby Singleton
13. Rodger Smitherman
14. Jabo Waggoner
15. Tom Whatley

Committee on Finance & Taxation General Fund

1. Greg Albritton (Chair)
2. Gerald Allen (Vice Chair)
3. Billy Beasley
4. Tom Butler
5. Clyde Chambliss
6. Linda Coleman-Madison
7. Jimmy Holley
8. Steve Livingston
9. Jim McClendon
10. Arthur Orr
11. Malika Sanders-Fortier
12. Larry Stutts
13. Jabo Waggoner
14. Cam Ward

Committee on Confirmations

1. Clay Scofield (Chair)
2. Jabo Waggoner (Vice Chair)
3. Gerald Allen
4. Will Barfoot
5. David Burkette
6. Vivian Figures
7. Sam Givhan
8. Andrew Jones
9. Greg Reed
10. David Sessions
11. Rodger Smitherman
12. Larry Stutts
13. Cam Ward
14. Tom Whatley
15. Jack Williams

Committee on Judiciary

1. Cam Ward (Chair)
2. Will Barfoot (Vice Chair)
3. Greg Albritton
4. Linda Coleman-Madison
5. Vivian Figures
6. Sam Givhan
7. Arthur Orr
8. Malika Sanders-Fortier
9. Bobby Singleton
10. Rodger Smitherman
11. Larry Stutts
12. Tom Whatley

Committee on Government Affairs

1. Jimmy Holley (Chair)
2. Chris Elliott (Vice Chair)
3. Greg Albritton
4. Clyde Chambliss
5. Linda Coleman-Madison
6. Sam Givhan
7. Garlan Gudger
8. Arthur Orr
9. Dan Roberts
10. Malika Sanders-Fortier
11. Shay Shelnutt

Committee on Education Policy

1. Tim Melson (Chair)
2. Donnie Chesteen (Vice Chair)
3. David Burkette
4. Tom Butler
5. Priscilla Dunn
6. Chris Elliott
7. Vivian Figures
8. Jim McClendon
9. Randy Price
10. Shay Shelnutt

Committee on Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

1. Tom Whatley (Chair)
2. David Sessions (Vice Chair)
3. Billy Beasley
4. Chris Elliott
5. Garlan Gudger
6. Andrew Jones
7. Steve Livingston
8. Tim Melson
9. Randy Price
10. Clay Scofield
11. Bobby Singleton
12. Larry Stutts
13. Jack Williams

Committee on Banking & Insurance

1. Shay Shelnutt (Chair)
2. Jack Williams (Vice Chair)
3. Will Barfoot
4. David Burkette
5. Donnie Chesteen
6. Chris Elliott
7. Andrew Jones
8. Steve Livingston
9. Randy Price
10. Dan Roberts
11. Clay Scofield
12. Bobby Singleton
13. Rodger Smitherman
14. Jabo Waggoner
15. Tom Whatley

Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development

1. Steve Livingston (Chair)
2. Garlan Gudger (Vice Chair)
3. Will Barfoot
4. Tom Butler
5. Clyde Chambliss
6. Priscilla Dunn
7. Arthur Orr
8. Dan Roberts
9. Malika Sanders-Fortier
10. Clay Scofield
11. Shay Shelnutt
12. Cam Ward

Committee on Transportation & Energy

1. Gerald Allen (Chair)
2. Dan Roberts (Vice Chair)
3. David Burkette
4. Tom Butler
5. Donnie Chesteen
6. Priscilla Dunn
7. Chris Elliott
8. Sam Givhan
9. Andrew Jones
10. Steve Livingston
11. Randy Price
12. Greg Reed
13. David Sessions

Committee on Healthcare

1. Jim McClendon (Chair)
2. Larry Stutts (Vice Chair)
3. Billy Beasley
4. Tom Butler
5. Donnie Chesteen
6. Linda Coleman-Madison
7. Tim Melson
8. Greg Reed
9. Dan Roberts
10. Cam Ward
11. Tom Whatley
12. Jack Williams

Committee on Children, Youth & Human Services

1. Larry Stutts (Chair)
2. Andrew Jones (Vice Chair)
3. Greg Albritton
4. Will Barfoot
5. Billy Beasley
6. Clyde Chambliss
7. Linda Coleman-Madison
8. Sam Givhan
9. Jimmy Holley
10. Dan Roberts
11. Malika Sanders-Fortier
12. Shay Shelnutt
13. Jack Williams

Committee on Tourism

1. Del Marsh (Chair)
2. Randy Price (Vice Chair)
3. Billy Beasley
4. Priscilla Dunn
5. Chris Elliott
6. Garlan Gudger
7. Andrew Jones
8. Tim Melson
9. David Sessions
10. Bobby Singleton
11. Rodger Smitherman

Committee on Veterans & Military Affairs

1. Tom Butler (Chair)
2. Sam Givhan (Vice Chair)
3. Will Barfoot
4. Billy Beasley
5. David Burkette
6. Donnie Chesteen
7. Jimmy Holley
8. Malika Sanders-Fortier

Committee on Local Legislation (LL1)

1. Clyde Chambliss (Chair)
2. Del Marsh
3. Greg Reed

“I look forward to working with these members in the upcoming session. There are some tough issues facing the state and I believe these committees and their members are best equipped to address these issues in a way that benefits the people of Alabama,” Marsh added in the press release.

Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) emphasized that he was excited to see these new committees in action.

“Committees are the backbone of the legislative process, a place where bills are refined and improved and ideas are vigorously debated,” Reed explained.

“Like the entire Senate, the committee chairmen come from all walks of life and include small business owners, doctors, farmers, former teachers, and attorneys from every region of our state,” Reed said. “The 4.8 million citizens of Alabama deserve the best leadership possible, and I am confident that these citizen-lawmakers will ably lead the Senate’s fifteen committees during the new legislative term.”

Highlighting the chamber’s bipartisanship, Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) applauded the way committee assignments were handled.

“Because we are in the minority we’re only going to get so many seats on committees. However, I think what has been done was fair based on the percentage of people that we have,” Singleton said. “There were only two committees that we didn’t get seats, the Committee on Assignment and the Local Legislation Committee, but I would have liked to have representation on those as well, and of course we would love some chairmanships.”

‘Happy people’

The optimism and collegiality purveyed in the three leaders’ respective statements echo the sentiments Marsh and Reed relayed to Yellowhammer News in a recent interview.

“Senator Reed, who was in charge of trying to put the puzzle together with the organization and committee assignments and everything else, he and some other members that were involved did a masterful job,” Marsh told Yellowhammer News.

While committee assignments were announced Wednesday, the second and likely final day of the legislature’s 2019 organizational session, all of the senators knew of their committee assignments well before their orientation meetings in December. In fact, Reed personally called each member to inform them of their pending assignments before Thanksgiving.

Marsh advised, “We’ve got truly 27, in my opinion, happy people [in the Senate Republican Caucus] and all the Democrats – let me tell you, we work with them, we’ve always made an effort to make sure that everybody is treated with respect in the Senate.”

“All is good,” he concluded. “And Senator Reed, I have to give him credit on that. He’s the one who worked day in and day out with that.”

Reed added, “Well, and I appreciate Senator Marsh and his engagement in the process as well. And certainly his wisdom and advice as Pro Tem, in regards to things that worked well [in the past] and how we could put it together.”

“I think that as we wound up understanding who our members [in the Republican Caucus] were going to be, and also who were going to be the members of the minority caucus, trying to look at all these different backgrounds, with all the different elements of their experiences and what they were bringing to the table, to try and look at the big, giant puzzle of the organization of the Senate – who functions best in different roles – was something that we looked at with a keen eye and tried to understand where people could best serve,” Reed explained.

The majority leader said, “Being able to work on it together with a good quality group of men and women, we’ve been able to have a good outcome.”

The state legislature’s regular session kicks off on March 5.

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

1 week ago

Marsh: Washington politicians toy with American security

(Del Marsh/Facebook, ICE/Flickr)

Over the past several weeks, squabbling over the border wall has filled the airwaves and newspaper pages. Washington politicians have bickered endlessly about how much our sovereignty and our security is worth, but outside of the Washington bubble the need for the wall, and an immigration system rooted in the rule of law, is clear.

Alabamians were again reminded of the serious consequences of our open border and broken immigration system.

Last week, we learned Amancio Betancourt Martinez, who has been charged with raping a young girl in Shelby County, is in this country illegally. In fact, he has a criminal record that includes drug trafficking and giving false information to law enforcement. He was previously deported in 2015 and re-entered our country illegally.

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Unfortunately, crimes like this are all too common, and they are preventable.

According to the White House, in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested approximately 235,000 illegal aliens on various criminal charges or convictions inside the United States. It is estimated 60,000 illegal and inadmissible aliens seek to cross our southern border each month.

Securing our southern border would have prevented this horrific crime and other crimes committed by illegal aliens. Failure to secure our border and fully enforce immigration law undermines our sovereignty, our economic security, and most importantly, the safety of American citizens. Our nation is failing to meet its most basic obligations.

America is a nation of laws, and Alabamians want an immigration system that is rooted in the rule of law. They want criminals, like Amancio Betancourt Martinez, deported, and they want to be sure they cannot return to the United States. They want their state and their country to be free of sanctuary cities that welcome illegal aliens.

Washington politicians are to blame for the massive failure. They have played politics with our national security, and the American people have suffered because of it.

But no one holds more responsibility than Washington Democrats who are willing to shut down the government because they care more about satisfying their liberal base, protecting illegal aliens and pandering for votes than they do about our national security. Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats balk at the cost of a wall, but she gave over 10 times the amount the president is asking for to foreign governments. These out of touch Washington liberals put other countries’ interests before our own to the detriment American citizens. That’s just plain wrong.

Washington should take our national security seriously, provide the small amount of money for the border wall and end this needless government shutdown. Alabamians deserve better than to be treated like players in a political game of football, they deserve to feel safe in their homes. One Amancio Betancourt Martinez is one too many. He should never have been in this country.

In Alabama, we put the interests of our citizens first and foremost. We have worked to keep Alabamians safe and uphold the rule of law. In the state senate, I led the fight to implement sweeping immigration reform that stops Alabama cities from harboring illegal immigrants and protects our families from violent criminals.

We will always look for opportunities to strengthen immigration laws and keep our citizens safe. We will always put Alabamians first.

Del Marsh is president pro tempore of the Alabama Senate, representing the 12th District

1 week ago

Mo Brooks: Border security fight about trying to ‘prevent the deaths of thousands of Americans each year’

(M. Brooks)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) delivered a fiery House Floor speech Wednesday on border security, saying that ongoing negotiations over funding for a physical barrier on the United States’ southern border is a matter of life or death for “thousands of Americans each year.”

Brooks’ speech quoted extensively from a letter recently sent by President Donald Trump to Congress that highlights federal crime data and the danger, deaths and injury caused to Americans by illegal aliens and America’s “porous” southern border.

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An overview of federal crime data provided by Brooks’ office showed that roughly 117,500 illegal aliens are arrested for crimes committed on American soil each year. This includes approximately 2,000 homicides, 50,000 physical assaults and 15,000 sex crimes by illegal aliens each year.

Brooks’ office also noted that approximately 15,000 Americans die each year from heroin drug overdoses, with 90 percent of all heroin reaching America via its “porous” southern border. The heroin is often transported by drug cartels and illegal aliens acting as their “mules.”

You can view Brooks’ speech here.

Transcript as follows:

Madam Speaker, on January 4, 2019, President Trump sent Congress a letter about America’s border crisis. That letter states, in part:

“It is the sovereign right of every nation to establish an immigration program in its national interest – lawfully admitting those who have followed the rules, while denying entry to those who break the rules or fail to meet the requirements established in law.

A nation that fails to control its borders cannot fulfill its most basic obligations to its citizens – physical safety, economic security, essential public services, and the uniform protection of our laws.

The Southern Border is a very dangerous place – in fact, Border Patrol agents routinely encounter some of the most dangerous criminals, cartels, and traffickers anywhere in the world.

Effective border security must dramatically reduce the entry of illegal immigrants, criminals and drugs; it must keep out terrorists, public safety threats, and those otherwise inadmissible under U.S. law; and it must ensure that those who do enter without legal permission can be promptly and safely returned home.

[C]urrent funding levels, resources, and authorities are woefully inadequate to meet the scope of the problem. We are no longer in a status quo situation at the Southern Border but in a crisis situation. Status quo funding is not enough.

*In fiscal year (FY) 2018, 17,000 adults at the border with existing criminal records were arrested by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and border agents.

*In FY 2017 and FY 2018, ICE officers arrested approximately 235,000 aliens on various criminal charges or convictions within the interior of the United States – including roughly 100,000 for assault, 30,000 for sex crimes, and 4,000 for homicides.”

For emphasis, over the past two years, illegal aliens have averaged 50,000 physical assaults, 15,000 sex crimes, and 2,000 killings per year . . . all in America!

Returning to President Trump’s letter, “*300 Americans are killed every week from heroin – 90% of which floods across our Southern Border.”

Stated differently, our porous southern border and illegal aliens contribute to the deaths of another 15,000 Americans per year from just one drug: heroin! According to the Center for Disease Control, there are another 55,000 dead Americans from overdoses from other poisonous drugs, many of which, like heroin, steal across our porous southern border.

President Trump continues in his letter, “Illegal immigration is NOT progressive – by every measure, it is unfair, unjust, uncompassionate, and cruel. Many people are killed. It hurts both those who make the journey and so many communities bearing the cost in lives, safety, and dollars.

Absolutely critical to border security and national security is a wall or a physical barrier that prevents entry in the first place. Members of both parties – including then Senators Obama and Clinton, current Senator Schumer, and many other members of the House and Senate – all voted for a hard, physical barrier. Walls work. That’s why rich, powerful, and successful people build them around their homes. All Americans deserve the same protection. In Israel, it is 99% effective.”

Madam Speaker, open borders advocates force Washington to either shut down the government or do nothing, nothing, to prevent the deaths of thousands of Americans each year that result from our porous southern border and illegal alien criminal activity. This is a bad choice.

To the contrary, we should both end the government shutdown and secure our borders by building a wall and changing our immigration laws to protect the lives of American men, women, and children.

Madam Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent that President Trump’s letter to Congress be included in the Congressional Record.

Madam Speaker, I yield back.

Brooks speech came after Trump delivered a speech from the Oval Office to the nation on border security Tuesday night. The president referred to the situation as “a growing humanitarian and security crisis.”

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

1 week ago

Byrne writes letter to Trump praising border security speech

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne, White House/Facebook, YouTube)

On Wednesday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) sent a letter to President Donald Trump praising his Oval Office speech to the nation on immigration and border security.

Byrne also lauded Trump for holding strong in the fight for border security where other administrations have failed to solve the issue.

“I thank you for standing up for our communities and for the American people. Please know that this Member of Congress will stand with you to see your proposals enacted into law,” Byrne wrote.

Byrne’s letter as follows:

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January 9, 2019

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, District of Columbia 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I write to congratulate you on your strong and successful speech to the nation last night and to thank you for your leadership on securing the southern border.

For decades, successive Administrations and Congresses have played political games with this most important issue or pretended it was not real or pressing. However, as you know, communities and law enforcement officials in my home state of Alabama and across the country deal with the consequences of these failures every day.

I thank you for standing up for our communities and for the American people. Please know that this Member of Congress will stand with you to see your proposals enacted into law.

Sincerely,

Bradley Byrne

Member of Congress

You can read more Alabama reactions to Trump’s speech here and here.

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

1 week ago

Gulf State Park named Alabama’s Attraction of the Year

(Alabama State Parks)

Baldwin County’s Gulf State Park has been named Attraction of the Year by the Alabama Tourism Department in the 2019 Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events.

The park offers 28 miles of hiking and biking trails, a nature center, programs focused on local wildlife, a saltwater fishing pier and a newly opened interpretive center. It receives more than 600,000 annual visitors, offers an array of recreational experiences and lodging opportunities on its 6,150 acres.

Gary Ellis, director of Community Relations and Administration at Gulf State Park, shared his excitement of the park being named Alabama’s top attraction.

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“Being selected by our peers is the highest form of flattery and something our team cherishes. It further reinforces a great sense of pride by all the employees to be in good company with other elite Alabama attractions,” Ellis stated.

Ellis also offered insight into the future of a Learning Campus at Gulf State Park.

“The park’s many different habitats, such as forest, wetlands, dunes, freshwater and saltwater provide a unique opportunity to provide more educational programs,” Ellis said. “The Learning Campus will host camps and retreats, educational conferences and workshops for all types of groups. Longer term, plans are underway to expand trails and group camping sites.”

The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel, opened last November. The hotel, which accommodates guests, business meetings and conferences, offers 350 guest rooms and includes two restaurants and a pool. The hotel is now booking through 2024.

The Lodge’s General Manager Bill Bennett insists bookings have been holding strong at the hotel.

“Reservation activity has been quite impressive for the new beachfront facility,” Bennett said. “First and second quarter bookings are coming in at a record pace and should result in strong business levels for the entire park.”

Bennett added, “With a commitment to sustainability and direct access to more than 2 miles of pristine beach, guests are truly impressed with the design and comfort of the facility.”

One of the first events being held at the Hilton’s The Lodge at Gulf State Park is Governor Kay Ivey’s Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration on January 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Recording artist Neal McCoy is set to headline the event, which will cost $25 per person.

Tickets for the event can be purchased here, however, attendees may donate four children’s books to donate to the Alabama Literacy Alliance in lieu of a ticket.

Other lodging available at Gulf State Park includes 11 cottages, 20 cabins and 500 campsites.

“One reason the Alabama Tourism Department made this designation is the environmental sustainability the park is embracing,” Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship said of Gulf State Park. “Restored sand dunes, a rainwater recycling system and lighting favorable to wildlife are just some of the things that make the park ecofriendly.”

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

1 week ago

Cliff Sims to embark on high-profile Team of Vipers media tour

(YHN)

Yellowhammer News founder Cliff Sims is about to embark on a high-profile media tour coinciding with the upcoming release of his book Team of Vipers, according to Axios’ Mike Allen.

Team of Vipers chronicles Sims’ time serving in the White House and is the result of hundreds of pages of notes taken by Sims and countless interactions with President Donald Trump.

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For anyone not enticed to read the book simply because of its name, Sims will soon be appearing on Good Morning America, The View, Nightline and other ABC platforms to talk about its contents and his time with Trump and many key figures around the president.

Allen called Vipers “a delicious, unsparing memoir.” A publishing source with whom Allen had spoken foreshadowed that “[n]o one emerges unscathed.”

With Vipers providing an unprecedented look into one of the most unique presidencies in American history, publishers have devoted significant resources to the book and its promotion, including a seven figure advance to Sims.

Sims joined Trump’s campaign communications team in the months leading up to his defeat of Hillary Clinton. It was during this time that Sims became a trusted ally of the soon-to-be president being among those with daily access to him while working out of the Trump Tower headquarters.

Sims made the natural transition to the West Wing where his office was only a few steps from the Oval Office until his departure in May 2018.

Team of Vipers is set for release on January 29 and is already available for pre-order on Amazon.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

 

1 week ago

BP approves expansion of Gulf oil project

(Pixabay)

BP has approved a $1.3 billion expansion at one of its oil projects in the Gulf of Mexico and discovered an additional 1.4 billion barrels at two of them.

In a statement Tuesday, BP says development of Atlantis Phase 3 is the latest example of its “strategy of growing advantaged high-margin oil production through its existing production facilities in the Gulf.”

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The Atlantis expansion will include the construction of a new subsea production system from eight new wells that will be tied into the current platform, 150 miles (241.4 kilometers) south of New Orleans.

The company says it’s scheduled to begin operating in 2020 and is expected to boost production by an estimated 38,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day gross at its peak.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

Former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford dies at 72

(CBS 42/YouTube)

Larry Langford, the former Birmingham mayor whose captivating political career was ended by a conviction on public corruption charges, died on Tuesday.

He was 72.

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His death was confirmed by his lawyer, Tiffany Johnson Cole.

Langford died a little more than a week after being released from federal prison because of his failing health.

The cause of death was not announced but attorneys said earlier that Langford had end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema.

Langford was raised in poverty in a Birmingham housing project but rose to become one of the Birmingham area’s most charismatic and influential leaders.

He served in the U.S. military and in the early 1970s became one the first black television reporters in the city of Birmingham.

Langford served as mayor of Fairfield, the president of the Jefferson County Commission and mayor of Birmingham.

With a flair for the theatrical, he never shied away from big ideas for the areas he served.

During his political career, he championed the creation of an amusement park called Visionland and other efforts to make Birmingham a tourism destination.

His unrealized plans included bringing the Olympics to Birmingham and building a domed stadium.

“Mayor Langford had an unmatched love for his community – a love he expressed through his boldness and creativity,” current Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said Tuesday.

Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales said Langford, while unconventional in his approach, “was a pioneer and visionary who was well ahead of his time.”

His political career ended in 2009 when he was convicted of taking bribes — in the form of cash, clothing and a Rolex— as a member of the county commission in exchange for steering bond business to an investment banker.

A federal judge sentenced Langford to 15 years in prison.

“He sold Jefferson County out” Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin said at his 2010 sentencing.

Langford maintained his innocence.

“This whole thing, my being in prison, found guilty by a jury that said it had made up its mind before hearing any testimony and sitting here watching elected officials take credit for my work just adds insult to injury,” Langford told The Birmingham News in 2013.

Langford’s supporters for years had lobbied for his release from prison because of his ill health.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

7 Things: Trump calls immigration a national security threat, interesting poll numbers for Trump in Alabama, Marsh and McCutcheon re-elected to lead the Alabama legislature and more …

(WH/YouTube, D. Marsh, M. McCutcheon/Facebook)

7. While Trump prepared to talk to the nation on immigration, Mexico took action on their southern border

— With the information that a new caravan is heading towards Mexico’s border the government is planning to put armed guards at 370 illegal entry points into the country.

— Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said the southern border crossings “will be guarded and controlled to prevent the entry of undocumented people”

6. Congressman Mo Brooks introduces the “No Work Without Pay Act” requiring employees who work during a government shutdown to receive their pay

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— Brooks drew a clear distinction between furloughed employees who are sent home and federal employees who still have to show up to work like TSA agents and border patrol agents, who still must come to work even though paychecks are frozen.

— Story after story of hardship caused to federal employees has made rounds during shutdowns. The fact that some employees are still working without pay while having to sell items and worry about gas money to get to work is no doubt a more sympathetic angle than government employees sitting at home who will eventually get paid.

5. Republican support for executive action on a border wall grows

— Perhaps the Republicans are seeking a way out or they are tired of the non-stop media onslaught, but some Republicans are pushing for the White House to provide a way to end the shutdown.

— If the president would declare a national emergency, something President Barack Obama did 12 times, he could then use unallocated military funds during a national emergency at his discretion.

4. The Alabama Legislature elected their leaders for the next quadrennium

— The total tally for Speaker McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) was 98-1 with Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) casting the only “no” vote. The speaker called on legislators to serve their constituents and not themselves, saying, “As a legislator, you have two choices before you. You can choose to be guided by your own ambitions, desires and personal interests, or you can choose to be led by a desire to make Alabama a better place for the constituents you represent.”

— In the Alabama Senate, senators of both parties unanimously re-elected President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) by a vote of 32-0. This is Marsh’s third consecutive term. Marsh tweeted his vision moving forward, saying, “I look forward to working with Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton and all of my colleagues in the Legislature as well as Governor Ivey and Lt. Governor Ainsworth as we tackle the tough issues facing Alabama and continue passing balanced budgets and conservative pro-growth policies that have led to an unprecedented record-setting economy.”

3. President Donald Trump’s numbers sag in Alabama; A majority of Democrats now identify as “liberals” for the first time ever while more Americans identify as conservative 

— President Trump’s approval rating has dropped from 62 percent in 2016 to 58 percent while his disapproval has climbed from 26 to 37 percent. That marks a net 15 points difference from when he was elected in 2016.

— Liberal Democrats have seen their power in the Democratic Party grow significantly over the last 25 years. In 1994, only 25 percent of Democrats saw themselves as “liberals.” Today, that number is 51 percent. Conservatives still outnumber liberals 35 percent to 26 percent overall.

2. The Democrats’ response to the president began hours before his speech as they pre-emptively called him a liar

— Senator Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said the president was likely to lie before the speech even took place. Meanwhile, calls for networks not to carry the speech came from within the media outlets.

— To make matters worse, Nadler also recklessly stated the president was attempting to become a dictator, explaining, “I do not believe the courts will permit it, and we would certainly oppose any attempt by the president to make himself a king, a tyrant, by saying he can appropriate money without Congress.”

1. President Donald Trump spoke to the nation on the national security crisis facing our nation at the southern border; Democrats responded by saying immigration doesn’t hurt Americans

— The president’s Oval Office speech touched on those killed by illegal aliens, the crime they bring, the drugs that flow over the border, the Democrats previous support for border walls, the violence people face in transit to the border and the sexual assaults one-third of women making the journey face.

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded by claiming the president is having a “temper tantrum,” said he is holding federal workers hostage, called the issue a “humanitarian crisis,” claimed they are for border security and demanded that he re-open the government.