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

‘Obstruction or construction’: ALGOP calls on Doug Jones to support border security funding

(T. Lathan, D. Jones/ Facebook)

In a statement responding to President Donald Trump’s Oval Office speech on border security Tuesday night, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan called on Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) to choose between “obstruction or construction.”

“The Alabama Republican Party fully supports President Trump and our U.S. Republican congressional delegation in their efforts to keep our borders secure,” Lathan said.

“Our president gave a firm and factual account of the current crisis at our southern border,” Lathan outlined. “Our lack of strong border security has resulted in criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers pouring into our country and causing unimaginable pain and suffering for many. This is NOT a manufactured crisis. President Trump has a clear purpose- control our borders and ensure our immigration laws are properly followed so Americans can remain safe.”

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Lathan also commented on the response to Trump’s speech by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

“Unfortunately, the Democrat response comes as no surprise-obstruct this president for political points or else. The Democrats are on the record calling for border security in the past. Why are they now completely reversing their stance? This is nothing more than a desire to stop President Trump,” Lathan advised.

She added, “We call upon Senator Doug Jones to stand with Alabamians first to tighten and secure our nation’s borders. It is time to choose: obstruction or construction.”

This came after Jones said in an appearance on CNN Sunday that he is “not going to give wall money just to give wall money.”

Jones also asserted that reopening the government is more important to the people of Alabama than border security.

The ALGOP chair concluded her statement with words of appreciation for the brave men and women who safeguard the nation’s security every day.

“We are truly grateful for our border control agents and law enforcement officers for doing their best to protect our nation. We stand with them,” Lathan said.

You can read the reactions of Alabama elected officials to Trump’s speech here.

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

1 week ago

Alabama officials praise Trump border security speech — ‘Nothing immoral about a nation choosing to protect its borders’

(White House/Twitter)

After President Donald Trump delivered a nationally televised Oval Office speech on border security Tuesday night, elected officials from Alabama reacted in statements and on social media with praise for the president.

Trump’s speech came on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown that stems from his demands for increased funding for border security — specifically a physical barrier across much of the United States’ border with Mexico. He has moved on from calling for a concrete wall to now pushing for a steel one.

In a press release afterwards, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) came out in support of Trump’s speech.

“I’ve said repeatedly that ensuring the safety of the American people and the security of our borders is a fight worth fighting, and I applaud President Trump for his strong leadership in this fight,” Byrne said.

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He continued, “There is a humanitarian and security crisis on the border, and we must address this crisis. Democrats need to stop their petty political games and start negotiating with President Trump so we can protect the American people, secure our borders, and reopen the government.”

Byrne also released a short video of his own after Trump’s speech, commenting on the important policy issues at hand.

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was quick to release a statement in support of Trump’s speech, too. Aderholt’s district gave Trump his biggest electoral victory percentage-wise in 2016, when the Republican candidate ran with the border wall front and center in his campaign.

“President Trump’s request for funding to build a wall along our southern border is not only reasonable, it is desperately needed. There is nothing ‘immoral’ about a nation choosing to protect its borders and thereby protect its sovereignty,” Aderholt said.

“What is immoral is to continue to allow a constant stream of drug traffickers, and human traffickers into the country,” he continued. “It is immoral to allow this unlawful door to remain open, because it encourages adults to put their children in grave danger – both from illness and from the strangers who transport them.”

Aderholt advised, “I fear that many of my Democrat colleagues are willing to set aside the laws of our land, and that is what we are talking about: immigration is governed by laws, to ensure fairness and safety. Many Democrats are willing to set aside these laws, and turn a blind eye to the dangers coming into our nation, for the prospect of future electoral gains.”

“I urge my colleagues in Congress to fund the border wall and to reopen our government,” Aderholt concluded.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall also praised Trump’s speech, again calling out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) for her opposition to funding a physical barrier on the border.

The speech was Trump’s first ever primetime address from the Oval Office.

Trranscript of the speech reads as follows:

My fellow Americans,

Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Every day customs and border patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country. America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation. But, all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans. Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.

In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now. This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.

Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the united States, a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims by far of our broken system. This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end.

My administration has presented Congress with a detailed proposal to secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers. It’s a tremendous problem. Our proposal was developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents at the department of homeland security. These are the resources they have requested to properly perform their mission and keep America safe. In fact, safer than ever before. The proposal from Homeland Security includes cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges, and bed space to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy. Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support. Furthermore, we have asked Congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home. Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.

This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense. The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year. Vastly more than the $5.7 billion we have requested from Congress. The wall will always be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president. Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis. And they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation. The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only because Democrats will not fund border security. My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation. But the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government. This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting. I have invited congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully, we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.

Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is for the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized. America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.

Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders. In California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl. Over the last several years, I have met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices and the sadness gripping their souls. How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?

For those who refuse to compromise in the name of in the name of border security, I would ask, imagine if it was your child, your husband or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken. To every member of Congress, pass a bill that ends this crisis. To every citizen, call Congress and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border. This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve. When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect our country. And that is what I will always do so help me God. Thank you and good night.

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

1 week ago

Maori Davenport rule? State Rep. Kyle South has bill drafted to bring oversight, accountability to AHSAA

(Rep. South/Facebook, ESPNW/Instagram)

While it may be too late to save USA Basketball star Maori Davenport’s senior season at Charles Henderson High School in Troy, one prominent state legislator has drafted a bill to bring public oversight and accountability to the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) moving forward.

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, state Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette) is attempting to fix a problem that he views as much more than an isolated poor decision by the AHSAA.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News during the first day of the House organizational session on Tuesday, South explained that the AHSAA’s lack of accountability and transparency has been an issue – and prickly point of contention with state lawmakers and officials – going back for years.

While the Davenport situation has given the AHSAA a fresh black eye on the national stage, change has been a long time coming. And, seeing that South already has a whopping 87 House cosponsors, and counting, signed on after just one day back in Montgomery, 2019 might just be the year that change finally happens.

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Per a copy of the draft bill obtained by Yellowhammer News, 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.

Second, South’s bill would 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.

Which leads into the third change: 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.

While the AHSAA is a private organization and prides itself on the autonomy therein, South views these changes as reasonable, constructive measures of accountability seeing that the AHSAA boasts membership consisting mostly of public entities, relies on money sent to it by these public entities and holds the majority of its events on public properties.

In fact, South said “in a roundabout way,” the AHSAA subsists off of public funds.

“The majority of their revenues are from gates, during playoffs in every sport, where a third of that money has to be paid back to the AHSAA in the form of a check from the schools,” South explained. “And at the point that they cut a check from a [public] school, it’s public funds. So, for them to say that we don’t have any authority whatsoever over them, technically we could cut off their funding. And that’s not what I’m aiming to do, but if we need to we could go down that road.”

At the end of the day, if the legislature really wanted to, it could create a publicly run entity within or overseen by the State Department of Education to replace the AHSAA. That would possibly be the most extreme solution and one that South is not currently proposing. But he did advise that other states governed their high school athletics by doing just that.

The House of Representatives’ will to get involved and shake up the AHSAA did not happen overnight.

“I think this one situation [regarding Davenport] has highlighted some ongoing issues, and while it’s brought forth things to light for many people, we’re not doing this just because of this one incident. This is a cumulative thing, where there have been situations over the years that have led to this. And [Davenport’s] situation is the one that broke the camel’s back,” South outlined.

From South’s perspective, the AHSAA has general oversight and accountability problems that are leading to poor decisions by the association, which in turn produce poor outcomes for student-athletes and schools.

“My biggest problem with [the AHSAA] is that the schools make up the board members obviously … but for fear of retribution by their governing body, nobody ever brings up any issues and it becomes somewhat of a dictatorship at that point,” South advised. “If you’re scared to say your piece for fear of retribution, then you’ve got a big problem.”

Davenport and South at the Alabama State House on Tuesday
(Rep. South/Facebook)

While South has not moved onto finding a senator to carry the bill in that chamber or solicit Senate cosponsors quite yet, the representative did tell Yellowhammer News that both chambers received a special visit from Davenport herself on Tuesday. State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy) and the mayor of Troy helped introduce her around to share her story.

The basketball sensation spoke to the House majority caucus and even gave an address on the Senate floor.

South said that Davenport “obviously has a lot of talent, and unfortunately she’s just being kept from showing those talents right now.”

“That’s the unfortunate part,” South added.

But, like South believes, Davenport emphasized to the legislators Tuesday that even if they cannot resurrect the remainder of her senior season, they can prevent this type of situation happening to any more student athletes in Alabama moving forward.

“I don’t know if anything we can do can get her back on the court, but I would like to put as much pressure in place to see that happen as possible and prevent a similar thing happening in the future,” South stressed.

With 87 House cosponsors in one day (South believes that he will end up with over 90 representatives cosponsoring when all is said and done), he is certainly making waves.

“If that doesn’t get somebody’s attention, I don’t know what will,” South remarked.

He expects to prefile the bill when the House organizational session adjourns sine die. The last possible day of the organizational session is Thursday, January 17.

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Lieutenant Governor-elect Will Ainsworth have called on the AHSAA to reinstate Davenport’s eligibility immediately, as have additional state legislators from both parties, including state Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) and Allen.

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

1 week ago

Alabama prison system won’t face contempt hearing on staffing

(Gov. Bentley/Flickr)

Alabama will not face possible federal court sanctions for failing to meet mental health staffing targets after attorneys told a judge Monday they have reached a temporary agreement.

A scheduled Monday contempt hearing was canceled after lawyers for the Alabama Department of Corrections and state inmates said they have agreed how to measure compliance with his order to boost mental health staff in state prisons.

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U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson must approve the agreement.

Attorney Maria Morris, who represents the inmates, said they believe the state is short of the staffing requirement of 263 full-time positions.

Morris said the shortages are the highest in positions with the most advanced training such as psychiatrists and nurse practitioners.

“It is our position that they failed to meet the deadline,” Morris said.

However, Morris said they agreed to drop their request to hold the state in contempt in exchange for the agreement which more concretely spells out what is compliance and how to handle disputes moving forward.

The prison system had acknowledged that its health care vendor was having trouble filling all of the positions, but disputed it was in contempt.

“In sum, the state is not contending that it has fulfilled every requirement of the staffing remedial order. But it has made in good faith all reasonable efforts to do so, and those efforts have resulted in substantial progress,” attorneys for the state wrote last month.

Judge Thompson last year ruled that mental health care was “horrendously inadequate” in state prisons and created unconstitutional conditions.

The ruling came after the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed a class-action lawsuit over health care in state prisons.

The first inmate to testify at the trial killed himself days after describing past suicide attempts and a lack of psychiatric treatment while in state custody.

The two sides had disputed whether compliance with the staffing order should be measured by the number of positions filled or the number of hours worked.

Attorneys told Thompson they had settled on an hours worked model.

Plaintiffs agreed not to seek another contempt motion on staffing levels until June.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

Brooks introduces ‘No Work Without Pay Act’ amid government shutdown

Congressman Mo Brooks (CSPAN/YouTube)

On Tuesday, Representative Mo Brooks (AL-5) introduced H.R. 271, the No Work Without Pay Act, which requires the federal government to timely pay all employees who work during a government shutdown.

“During a federal government shutdown, federal employees are treated in two different ways. Roughly 380,000 federal workers[1] are ‘furloughed’ (sent home without pay until the shutdown ends). Roughly 420,000 other federal employees (like TSA agents or border patrol agents) are ordered to work without timely pay or even the guarantee of getting paid,” Brooks stated, per a news release. “Ordering a federal employee to work without timely pay is morally wrong and runs counter to every economic principle on which a free enterprise system is based. I have today introduced the No Work Without Pay Act to correct this wrong by requiring that federal employees who are ordered to work are timely paid for their work.”

Brooks then outlined the H.R. 271 bill and explained what it included. He also urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to look into the bill.

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“H.R. 271 is a straight-forward, one-page bill that is the right thing to do for the roughly 420,000 federal employees at nine federal departments and dozens of independent agencies who are currently working without pay. This Friday, working federal employees will miss their paycheck unless Washington elected officials either pass H.R. 271 (or similar legislation) or the partial shutdown ends. I encourage House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to immediately take up H.R. 271 (or similar legislation) so paychecks will go out Friday to federal employees who worked for them during this partial shutdown,” he outlined.

In concluding his speech, Brooks made the case for the $5 billion border wall request made by President Donald Trump, calling it a “paltry investment.”

“Frankly, Washington should never have put federal employees in this position,” said Brooks. “When you consider that illegal aliens are a net tax loss of $116 billion annually and that each year there are thousands of Americans who are dead at the hands of illegal aliens, $5 billion for a border wall is a paltry investment and a significant compromise down from the $25 billion needed to help secure America’s porous southern border. Unfortunately, too many Washington elected officials have made it clear that their thirst for political power is more important than the lives of American citizens.”

He continued, “In a similar vein, I hope Democrats will rise to the occasion and treat federal workers better than they have treated American victims of illegal alien criminal conduct.”

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

2 weeks ago

Mac McCutcheon re-elected as Alabama House speaker

(Speaker MacMcCutcheon/Facebook)

MONTGOMERY — Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) on Tuesday was re-elected in a resounding, bipartisan 98-1 vote.

Upon his re-election, McCutcheon delivered the following remarks from the well of the chamber:

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Let me begin by thanking you for the trust and confidence you have placed in me with this election as speaker of the House. Since first assuming this office a few years ago, I have tried hard to preside in a manner that is as fair and impartial as the good Lord above will allow me. You have my promise that the same fairness and impartiality will be in evidence over the next four years.

Before I became speaker, I served as the House Rules chairman, a position that I enjoyed. It was also one that taught me a deep respect for the legislative process and instilled in me a determination to let it work as it was intended.

As a legislator you have two choices before you. You can choose to be guided primarily 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 other words, you can choose to be a flash in the pan, or you can build a lasting legacy of goodwill, trust, integrity, and sound policy. I’ve made my decision and hope you make the same choice.

The members in this chamber will not always agree on everything, and there will be moments of tension and discord. At those difficult moments, do not turn your back and walk away in anger. Instead, come to the table, negotiate in good faith, and help work out the differences.

To the new members who will cast their first vote today, let me give you a piece of advice. It’s the key to success in this body, and it can be summed up in one word – relationships. Get to know your fellow members, develop a foxhole friendship during the legislative battles that are sure to come, always have their back and ask that they always have yours in return.

If you develop these relationships, do your homework on the issues, and ask questions you think are in need of being asked during debates – you will be successful in this body.

I want this quadrennium to be defined by four simple words – Building a better Alabama.

That’s not just a phrase. It’s not just a goal. I want it to be our mission.

Our state is already great in many ways, but we are going to use the next four years to literally build a better Alabama for all of its citizens.

Building a better Alabama means building better roads and better bridges so Alabamians can travel safely and conveniently and businesses can transport their goods without needless delay. Our sister southeastern states have already taken action to address their transportation needs, and we will quickly fall behind them if we do not act now.

Building a better Alabama means building an even better economy with even more jobs and opportunity so every individual who is able to work can work. Alabama already ranks among the nation’s leaders in industrial recruitment and job growth, but I believe we can do even better.

Building a better Alabama means building a better education system so all of our children and grandchildren can reach their full potential and one day compete for high-paying, long-lasting 21st Century jobs.

Building a better Alabama means building a better standard of ethics that embraces commonsense guidelines while ensuring officials who violate the public trust feel the firm hand of justice and the sharp pain of punishment.

The items I have outlined offer us a difficult, complicated, and ambitious mission, but as I look out at all of you today, I am confident it is one we can accomplish together. So let us all agree – Republican and Democrat alike – that the mission to build a better Alabama begins right here, right now, in this chamber.

In closing, let me say that I am a man of faith and grace. I believe each of us has been put in a position of leadership to accomplish God’s will, and each one of us has been chosen for a purpose.

We are here to govern with honor, and we are here to follow the rule of law.

We are here to serve the people of Alabama to the very best of our abilities…so help us God.

Thank you for this honor you have given me today.

Other housekeeping on Tuesday

During the first day of the 2019 organizational session on Tuesday, the House also re-elected Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) in a bipartisan vote of 84-13. Gaston defeated state Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham).

Then, in a 99-0 vote, the House re-elected Jeff Woodard as clerk.

McCutcheon announced House committee leaders last month.

The speaker is back to work leading the chamber just weeks after being hospitalized with a heart issue while returning home from the legislative orientation session in Montgomery.

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

2 weeks ago

Marsh re-elected as Alabama Senate pro tem

(Del Marsh/Facebook)

MONTGOMERY – Tuesday, the Alabama Senate re-elected President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) by a vote of 32-0, with Marsh gaining strong bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats.

Marsh will serve as pro tem for a third consecutive term and is the only person to serve in the role since Republicans took control of the State Senate in 2010.

In a press release, Marsh noted that despite heavy turnover in the leadership at the state level, the Alabama Senate has been a place that has worked together across party lines to pass legislation that benefited all Alabamians.

“The Senate has worked smoothly over the past several years and I believe today’s bipartisan vote reflects that,” Marsh said. “I am proud of the work we have done to improve the lives of the people we represent and will continue to operate the Senate in that way.”

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He continued, “I would like to thank the body for their confidence and support by reelecting me as Pro Tem of the Alabama Senate. It is an honor to serve the people and the state in this capacity and not something I take lightly.”

Marsh outlined that he is eager to work with great leadership in Montgomery to continue moving Alabama forward.

“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,” Marsh said.

This is the first year of a new quadrennium. Tuesday kicked off the 2019 organizational session of the Alabama Legislature in which the body convenes to elect leadership positions, vote on operating rules and confirm committee assignments.

In November, Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed was unanimously re-elected by the 27 members of the Senate Republican Caucus. In the same meeting, the caucus unanimously nominated Marsh for re-election as Pro Tem.

Marsh has a new chief of staff this session – Derek Trotter.

State Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) is the new minority leader, having been elected by the Democratic Caucus in December. State Senator Billy Beasley (D-Clayton) is deputy minority leader.

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

2 weeks ago

State Sen. Livingston previews legislative session, cites four-laning Alabama Highway 35 up Sand Mtn as goal

(Facebook/Steve Livingston)

In an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Monday, State Sen. Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) previewed this year’s upcoming legislative session.

Livingston cited a lottery bill and attention to the state prison system, in addition to addressing infrastructure.

The Scottsboro Republican noted that the area he represents was bordered by Tennessee and Georgia, which are places that have the lottery.

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“We all knew that we would see some sort of infrastructure bill in the first year of the quadrennium,” Livingston said on Monday’s “The Jeff Poor Show.” “I think there are probably some other things that are maybe just as important as that. We got other issues with prison systems and corrections that we got to take care of. They’re all equally important. But I do believe we’ll see some sort of lottery bill. That’s very important to the folks up where I’m at in the three corners where we’re surrounded by a lottery.”

Livingston recounted a visit from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), who had inquired about the needs of his senate district. One project was the completion of Alabama Highway 35 as a four-lane highway, which exits Scottsboro from the south across the Tennessee River.

“He said, ‘Of course, I’ve got the money – we’ve arranged to get the money over the past few years to have Alabama Highway 35 finished up over there. We had to remind him there’s about a three-mile segment from the Tennessee River, up the mountain to Section that’s just three lanes. We need to get that four-laned. We need to take care of our farm-to-market roads from there, and our bridges. We have some bridges that need repaired.”

Map of Alabama Highway 35 near Scottsboro (ALDOT)

The stretch of Alabama Highway 35 climbs out of the Tennessee River valley to Sand Mountain and could be a massive undertaking.

“It has some engineering challenges,” Livingston said. “I think that’s what [Alabama Department of Transportation director John] Cooper would call it. We’ve had several slides, and we’re looking at how to engineer that. I think they had that in their plan two years ago when they tried to get a bill passed. I think they had $40 million in that little three-mile stretch. It’s pretty pricey.”

@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.

2 weeks ago

Aderholt: This gov’t shutdown ‘different from all the rest,’ Could be ‘week or two’ before solution

(Screencap/APTV)

In an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Monday, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) warned it could be some time before a solution comes for the current federal government shutdown.

The cause of the partial shutdown, which is in its third week, is the debate over funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which was part of his 2016 presidential campaign.

Aderholt told WVNN that as things stand now, Congress is still at least “several more days” away from a potential solution.

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“We’re still at a stalemate,” he said on Monday’s “The Jeff Poor Show.” “There’s been some overtures of maybe going toward a steel wall … but I don’t see anything as significant that will come down on any of this. So, I think it’s going to be well into several more days – another week or two before we see any solution to this, and of course, it could be longer.”

The representative for Alabama’s fourth congressional district noted the distinction between this shutdown and others, which he said centered around one item — the border wall.

“The one thing that makes shutdown so different from all the rest is usually you have several issues on the table,” Aderholt explained. “And they’re able to finally say, ‘OK, we’re going to have to find a compromise on this and find some common ground. So, we’ll let you win on these three or four issues, and we’ll win on these three or four issues. We’ll try again and come back when we do an appropriation bill next year and try to get the things we didn’t get.’”

“This time, it’s really only about the wall,” he added. “And its either one side wins and one side loses, or vice-versa. It’s one of those things that can’t be on and off. It can’t be black and white. It can’t be yes and no. And so, it’s one of those real dichotomies here that they’re dealing with. And I think that’s why one side is going to have to give in for there to be a real solution to this.”

@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.

2 weeks ago

Cut! Cut! Cut! Alabama PSC announces another tax cut for consumers

(YHN, Pixabay)

The Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday announced yet another tax cut for consumers, eliminating a tax on landline telephone service.

The specific tax that was cut provided funding for the state Dual Party Relay system, which was created by legislation in 1988. Cutting the tax will not end the system.

This comes after the PSC in 2018 announced major breaks for Alabama Power and Spire customers across the state in conjunction with President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.

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The PSC currently collects $0.15 per month for each telephone line, which equates to $1.80 each year for consumers. Over time, the fund has stockpiled sufficient funds to continue to provide funding for the essential services for a minimum of 8 years. As a result, the commission has voted to eliminate the collection of this tax.

The Dual Party Relay fund has contributed greatly to improving lives of the hearing impaired in Alabama. The PSC, in a press release, noted that it appreciates the value of the service provided by the fund and is committed to ensuring the fund continues to operate in the future. This has been a tax on landlines, and considering the proliferation of cell phones, it now seems to disproportionally affect more of Alabama’s rural and senior citizens.

Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh said, “We removed the tax today because a tax set aside for a certain purpose should not continue to be collected when the need has been met. The Dual Party Relay fund provides a great service to our hearing impaired community, but we also have a responsibility to the taxpayer paying for the service.”

“Many say that once a tax is implemented, it will never go away,” Cavanaugh continued. “Today we proved them wrong and cut a tax!”

“As long as the Duel Party Relay Fund is able to effectively fund its’ mission, the Commissioners see no reason to allow the operation of the tax to continue,” Commissioner Jeremy Oden explained.

Commissioner Chip Beeker added, “We made the decision to remove this tax all together from the bills of the taxpayer. The removal of this tax will still allow the Dual Party Relay fund to operate effectively, but we also have a responsibility to the taxpayers in our State and the need for this tax has been met. Any time that we can cut taxes for the taxpayers in our State, we take delight in doing so.”

All three commissioners are Republicans.

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

2 weeks ago

Sewell cosponsors bill to allow voting by mail

(T. Sewell/Facebook)

Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7) is cosponsoring legislation that would allow voting by mail nationwide, amongst other major changes to federal voting laws.

The “Vote-By-Mail Act,” H.R. 92, essentially takes the state system used by Oregon nationwide. The bill requires every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail. It also institutes automatic voter registration program, meaning every citizen who provides identifying information to their state motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote unless they opt out.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) are carrying the bills in their respective chambers.

“Last November, once again, voters across the nation faced unacceptable barriers just to have their ballots counted,” Wyden told KTVZ. “This administration and special interests want to make voting harder so they can advance an anti-democratic agenda that rewards the powerful and hurts regular Americans.”

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The Senate bill is cosponsored by: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

In addition to Sewell, the House bill is cosponsored by Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Theodore Deutch (D-FL), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Adam Smith (D-WA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

In the vote-by-mail system, all registered voters would receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day. Ballots would be filled out, put in a “secrecy” envelope or sleeve and then returned in a separate mailing envelope.

A voter’s identity is meant to be confirmed by the signing of an affidavit on or inside the mailing envelope. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures acknowledges that this type of voting raises ballot security issues.

The National Election Defense Coalition has called voting-by-mail “easy and insecure,” adding that it “can undermine integrity.”

A portion of the bill was also included by the lower chamber in House Resolution 1, a package released last week at the start of the 116th Congress in a deal made between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the most liberal members of her caucus.

Monikered as the “For the People Act,” H.R.1 includes sweeping election and campaign finance reforms.

“The American people asked for reforms that give everyone a fair voice in our elections, and Democrats are delivering,” Sewell said in a press release.

She continued, “In Alabama’s 7th District, our families marched, bled, and died for their right to have a fair voice in our democracy, but today new strategies for disenfranchisement are keeping eligible voters from engaging in our elections. The For the People Act fights back with reforms to stop gerrymandering, strengthen campaign finance laws, and close ethics loopholes. As we begin work in the House to investigate voter discrimination and the state of voter protections in our elections, I am proud to see a commitment in the For the People Act to restoring the vote. There is much work left to do, but today’s introduction takes a big step towards building a government of, by, and for the people.”

Sewell is also cosponsoring two bills that would respectively give statehood (and electoral college representation) to Washington, D.C. and immediately restore voting rights to all convicted felons upon their release from prison, as opposed to the end of their actual sentence (probation period and other non-jail-time sentencing parameters).

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

2 weeks ago

Alabama asks federal officials to investigate Senate race

(Wikicommons, AG Office, CNBC/YouTube)

The Alabama attorney general has asked federal election regulators to investigate reports of online fakery in the 2017 Alabama Senate race, a spokesman said Monday.

Attorney General Steve Marshall had previously said he wanted to look into the reports himself, but after evaluating them “has determined the matter to be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Federal Election Commission,” Mike Lewis said.

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Marshall’s request to federal authorities comes amid continued reports of online deception in the 2017 Senate race.

The Washington Post and New York Times first reported that a social media researcher acknowledged testing misleading online tactics during Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ 2017 campaign against Republican Roy Moore.

The newspapers said operators posed as conservative voters on a Facebook page and that Twitter accounts were used to make it appear that Russian bots were following Moore.

“Alabamians have a right to know if illegal activity occurred during the 2017 race for the U.S. Senate. The reports of what may have transpired are deeply troubling and appear to warrant a full investigation by the Commission,” Marshall wrote in a Friday letter to the FEC.

The New York Times reported Monday that progressive Democrats were behind a “Dry Alabama” social media presence in the waning days of the campaign that associated Moore with a call to ban alcohol in the state, something likely to be opposed by moderate and business-oriented Republicans.

The newspaper reported that Matt Osborne, a progressive Alabama activist, worked on the project.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Osborne acknowledged being part of the scheme.

He said he doesn’t necessarily like such tactics, but they have become a reality in politics, and Republicans are also using them.

“In this Wild West environment we are in, you either have to play by the rule set or you will get killed,” Osborne said.

He said there needs to be a “public policy conversation about this.”

Osborne said his primary interest was to get data, but also the “obvious intent on everybody’s part was to elect Doug Jones.”

He said the project was given a relatively small budget of $100,000 but that he believes it was successful, garnering millions of Facebook views.

He said alcohol was chosen as the subject because it is an “interesting little culture war wedge issue.”

The Jones campaign itself had nothing to do with the scheme, he said.

Jones has called for a federal investigation.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Byrne: What’s ahead in 2019

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

With 2018 behind us, it is time to start looking at what you can expect from Washington in 2019. Under Republican leadership, we in Congress aimed to make America better off, and thanks to our many victories through conservative policies, we accomplished that goal.

Under Democrat control, there is no telling what craziness will come out of the House of Representatives.

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We have already seen this past week the extent House Democrats will go to in undermining our president, with one going as far as to use profanity at an event in describing her efforts to impeach President Trump.

Even more have spoken out against commonsense initiatives to fund border security and lower taxes.

It seems that the new Democrat majority has gone so far out there that they, like Alice, have gone “Through the Looking Glass” into a world of topsy-turvy nonsense for which the United States will reap the consequences.

Rest assured, though, that in spite of this atmosphere of negativity I will continue to advocate for the American people. To give you an insight into how I will accomplish that, below are just a few of my priorities this year.

Strong leadership will be needed to support traditional family values, conservative principles, and to stand up for President Trump and his “drain the swamp agenda.” I will seek to provide this leadership in opposition to Speaker Pelosi’s liberal priorities that are out of line with Alabama values.

Advocating for sound national security policy is vital for the safety of the American people. Regardless of Democrat obstruction, I will continue to fight for a border wall and increased security measures along our southern border to keep Americans safe.

Rebuilding our military is essential for the safety and security of the United States both at home and abroad, and Alabama is vital to our country’s national defense efforts. I will focus on ensuring Alabama’s service members, military installations and suppliers receive proper attention from the Pentagon and resources necessary for them to fulfill their important missions.

I will also ensure that the needs of Alabama’s large veteran population are met and continue to advocate to give our veterans better care both inside and outside of the VA system.

Although the economy is improving throughout Alabama, our rural communities continue to struggle, and our agriculture community faces many challenges. I will support sound federal investment in Alabama’s rural communities in areas like agriculture, broadband, healthcare and infrastructure to continue their revitalization.

The core element of economic development is leadership. I will continue to provide that leadership for Southwest Alabama to marshal resources, advocate for Alabama workers and foster a climate of business development in our great state.

Another element of this priority is developing Alabama’s workforce and providing for our diverse educational institutions. We must remain committed to building and training a workforce to meet the needs of the 21st Century economy.

A key bipartisan goal of this Congress will be to work with the President on an infrastructure package. Starting with the I-10 bridge, Alabama has a variety of infrastructure needs that should benefit from any such package. I will continue to see that the infrastructure needs of the state are properly accounted for and that attention is also given to projects in rural areas.

Every day I take immense pride in representing the people of our state and the people of our great nation. I will always take my role to heart because you depend on it, and I will always take the interests of Alabamians to the Floor because we cannot let the insanity of the left negatively impact the course of the United States.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

2 weeks ago

ESPN’s Jay Bilas: ‘AHSAA statement on Maori Davenport contains false and misleading assertions’

(ESPNW/Instagram)

Criticism of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) continues to crescendo, with ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas now publicly questioning whether the AHSAA lied in a statement on Monday.

The AHSAA released the statement in an attempt at pushing back on national backlash over its decision to deem Charles Henderson High School and USA Basketball star Maori Davenport ineligible for her senior season. However, with Bilas now adding an additional line of criticism to his already strong defense of Davenport, the AHSAA may have just opened up a new can of worms.

One portion of the statement specifically called out by Bilas as “false and misleading” reads as follows:

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“It should be pointed out that a high school student from Illinois also received payment from USA Basketball. However, that student called her high school once she received the check and then returned the check to USA Basketball without cashing or depositing it. Here, the student received the check, endorsed it and it was posted to her bank account. Three months later, AHSAA was notified and the monies returned to USA Basketball.

A high school student from Missouri has also been ruled ineligible for this basketball season for accepting the lost wages payment from USA Basketball.”

In one tweet, Bilas said, “Today’s AHSAA statement on Maori Davenport contains false and misleading assertions. The Illinois player DID deposit her stipend check exactly as Maori did. She sent the money back, ruled eligible.”

“Did the AHSAA lie? Or just make an innocent mistake?” Bilas asked.

He also sought to emphasize that Davenport did indeed pay the money back immediately on being notified by USA Basketball of its error.

“Repaid as soon as the error was noted. Exact same timeline as the Illinois player. False statement by the AHSAA,” Bilas added in a separate tweet.

In another, he explained, “Maori did not knowingly sit on the check for 90 days. When alerted to the issue, her mom notified AHSAA, returned the money next day, just as the Illinois player did.”

This was far from the only “false and misleading” item that Bilas identified from the statement, also calling it “mean-spirited” multiple times.

In another tweet, he outlined, “Davenport’s mother is a certified middle school coach, not an AHSAA certified high school coach. There is an important difference. Was AHSAA intentionally misleading?”

Speaking to the AHSAA statement being “mean-spirited” in his view, Bilas tweeted, “The AHSAA attacks a high school principal on attendance at a meeting? Really? How low ball can you get?”

The AHSAA’s statement remarked, “Each year these Rules are reviewed multiple times during AHSAA sponsored and hosted seminars with the member schools and are available on the AHSAA website. A review of all Summer Conference and Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conference attendees show the Principal for Charles Henderson High School has not attended the 2016, 2017, or 2018 Summer Conferences or the 2016, 2017 or 2018 Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conferences.”

It was not clear what that portion of the statement had to do with the association’s action against Davenport, which occurred after all of the meetings listed.

“Today’s AHSAA statement on Maori Davenport not only contains false and misleading assertions, it paints AHSAA as a victim. If anyone is victimized, it’s Maori. Yet, she has conducted herself with grace and dignity. Perhaps the AHSAA should learn from her,” Bilas said.

He added, “This young girl has suffered enough. The adults at the AHSAA are acting like victims. Maori Davenport is the victim. Reinstate her.”

Bilas summarized his thoughts on the matter by tweeting, “I believe the AHSAA was wrong in its ruling, wrong to double down, and wrong to attack the mother, the principal and USA Basketball in its statement. The statement was factually inaccurate and mean-spirited. Principal attendance [at] meetings? Really?”

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

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Trump to take shutdown fight to the airwaves, AG calls on FEC to investigate 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate special election, tax returns will go out during the shutdown and more …

(White House, U.S. CBP/Flickr)

7. Alabama loses national championship game in an uncharacteristic blowout

— Back-to-back championships escaped Alabama’s grasp as Tua Tagovailoa threw a pick-six and it all appeared to go downhill from there, leading to Alabama’s largest loss in the Saban-era.

— The 44 points scored by Clemson are the most points Alabama has given up in years and Coach Nick Saban signaled to many that this game was over after a desperation fake field goal in the third quarter when the game truly got out of hand.

6. An Alabama high school basketball player’s suspension has drawn national condemnation; State lawmakers and celebrities are demanding she be reinstated

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— Charles Henderson High School senior Maori Davenport has been suspended from her basketball team for a year because USA Basketball sent her a check, she cashed it and when the error was pointed, out she returned it. But this was still a violation of the rules.

— The controversy bubbled-up after ESPN’s Jay Bilas made an issue of it during the Alabama/Kentucky game this weekend. NoW, State Senate Pro Tempore Del Marsh has called on her to be reinstated. The Alabama High School Athletic Association has not budged.

5. Ruth Bader Ginsberg misses time at the Supreme Court, stoking concerns about her health

— The 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice missed arguments for the first time in her 25 years on the bench after doctors removed two cancerous growths from her left lung in mid-December, this is after she broke a few ribs in a fall.

— Justice Ginsburg has shown no signs of stepping down and is expected to return to the bench. She has achieved cult-hero status and some even offered her body parts to extend her life after her surgery.

4. Under unrelenting media pressure, some Republicans are starting to break against the president

— House Republican leaders fear that members could cross the aisle and vote for legislation that would reopen the government without funding the border wall. The Democrats will try to get a veto-proof margin to pressure Senate Republicans and the President.

— Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have already signaled they would support efforts to fund portions of the government that are shut down. The local and national media know they are turning the screws on Republican senators with one-sided coverage.

3. White House says your tax returns will be processed during the shutdown

— The IRS may recall a large number of furloughed workers in order to get tax returns processed. The Trump administration says rules will be changed to make funding available to pay them, and acting director of the White House Budget Office Russell Vought said, “The refunds will go out as normal. There is an indefinite appropriation to pay tax refunds.”

— Usually, tax returns are not processed during government shutdowns, but the Trump administration is obviously trying to alleviate whatever pain it can as the government shutdown drags on to day 18 with no end in sight.

2. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is passing on investigating shenanigans in 2017 U.S. Senate race and calls on Federal Elections Commission to investigate

— There will be no investigation into the misinformation campaign that mirrored Russian tactics in Alabama that was implemented by Democrats during the election that saw Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) elected to the Senate.

— Democrat operatives continue to act as of they had a “moral imperative” to commit deceptive acts during the race while election watchers in Alabama act as if they had no impact on the race.

1. President Donald Trump will give a nationwide address on immigration tonight and visit the border on Thursday

— With no end in sight for the government shutdown, President Trump will take to the airwaves to make his case to the American people that there is a “Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border.”

— Believe it or not, some networks balked on providing airtime for the address and some are calling for the address not to be carried, citing an Obama speech that wasn’t carried in the sixth year of his presidency but they never requested that time from ABC, NBC, and CBS.

2 weeks ago

Rogers cosponsors ‘Life at Conception Act of 2019’

(M. Rogers Campaign)

On Monday, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-3) announced that he is cosponsoring the “Life at Conception Act of 2019,” a bill that declares life begins at conception and gives legal protection to unborn children from the very start.

In a statement, Rogers said, “As we approach the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, I am always reminded of how precious life is.”

“As the father of three beautiful children, I never take for granted the gift of life and I will always stand up for the rights of the unborn. Those unborn babies can’t speak for themselves, but I will be their voice here in Congress,” he added.

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Rogers serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security in the newly convened 116th Congress.

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

2 weeks ago

Ivey visiting pre-k classrooms across Alabama as Inauguration Day approaches

(Ivey campaign/YouTube)

As part of her efforts to promote children’s literacy throughout the inaugural festivities, Governor Kay Ivey will be visiting First Class Pre-K classrooms across the state starting on Tuesday.

From January 8 through January 11, the week prior to Inauguration Day, Ivey will be reading and distributing books to more than 160 students in Pine Hill, Mobile, Huntsville and Birmingham. Pine Hill is in Ivey’s home county of Wilcox.

Through a partnership with Books-A-Million, each child will go home with a copy of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle and “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

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Ivey’s efforts at promoting children’s literacy is in keeping with the inauguration theme of “Keep Alabama Growing.

“Investing in the next generation is critical to our ability to keep Alabama growing,” Ivey said in a previous press release. “As we prepare for four more years of growing opportunities for Alabamians, I can’t think of a better place to begin than with our children’s literacy, ensuring they get a strong start.”

As part of these efforts, the governor’s inaugural committee will be hosting book drives at the Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration on Saturday and the Inaugural Gala in Montgomery on Monday, January 14. The books collected will be donated to the Alabama Literacy Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to improving literacy in communities across the state.

Tickets to the Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration are available to the general public here. The $25 ticket price will be waived for attendees who bring four children’s books to the celebration.

The Inaugural Gala in Montgomery is invitation only.

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

 

2 weeks ago

Playing chicken? Spilled chicken causes traffic problems

(Pixabay)

An Alabama sheriff’s office is warning people against eating chicken that tumbled on to a rural highway after a truck wreck.

An 18-wheeler crashed on Alabama 35 on Sunday, spilling boxes of chicken tenders in Cherokee County near the Georgia line. Motorists began stopping to pick up the food, which authorities say created a traffic hazard.

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The Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency posted a notice on its Facebook page asking people to quit picking up the chicken. The notice says the food is not safe to eat after hours on the ground.

The post also says the situation was creating a traffic hazard and it is a crime to block traffic. Violators could face charges.

The sheriff’s office says a wrecker crew was on the scene Monday cleaning up the mess.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Marsh, Ainsworth call on AHSAA to immediately reinstate Maori Davenport

(Del Marsh/Facebook, USABasketball/Instagram, Ainsworth Campaign)

State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Lieutenant Governor-elect Will Ainsworth on Monday called on the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) to immediately reinstate Maori Davenport for the remainder of her senior season at Charles Henderson High School in Troy.

The USA Basketball U18 star and Rutgers signee was ruled ineligible by the AHSAA on November 30 after the association learned that the forward/center cashed a check for $857.20 that was mistakenly sent to her by USA Basketball as a stipend for lost wages and costs associated with representing her country over the summer.

On Thursday, ESPN picked up the story, which caused a national groundswell of support for Davenport and backlash against the AHSAA.

In a letter sent to AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese on Monday, Marsh called for Davenport’s immediate reinstatement. 

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The letter read as follows:

Dear Mr. Savarese:

As you are aware, when I learned of Maori Davenport being ruled ineligible to participate in her senior basketball season, I was outraged and took it upon myself to investigate this matter.

Having spoken with you and other interested parties on this matter over the weekend, I understand that the Alabama High School Athletic Association Board issued their ruling on Ms. Davenport’s eligibility based on a set of facts as they were presented at the time.

I have been made aware that there has been new evidence presented in this matter and am hereby calling on you to ask the Chairman to reopen this investigation AND reinstate Ms. Davenport’s eligibility pending the outcome of this investigation.

After the release of the letter, Ainsworth took to social media to back Marsh’s stance.

AHSAA comments

Amid the wave of blowback over their decision the AHSAA on Monday released a statement to explain their position and the set of facts that led to their decision.

In this statement by AHSAA Central Board of Control President Johnny Hardin, he doubled down, declaring that no exceptions should be made to association rules and confirming that Davenport is being punished for the mistakes of others.

“No one (including USA Basketball or CHHS) disputes the Amateur Rule was violated,” Hardin outlined in the beginning of his statement.

He detailed, “On August 15, 2018, USA Basketball paid the student $857.20 for lost wages while participating with the USA Basketball team over the past summer. Neither USA Basketball, the student’s parents, the student’s coach, nor CHHS administration reported the student had received the check until three months later, (specifically 91 days). During this time, the student played in several games. The AHSAA Amateur Rule states in part ‘A student cannot accept payment for loss of time or wages while participating in athletics as part of expenses . . . A student who has lost his/her amateur standing may be reinstated after the lapse of one high school season for the sport in which he/she has become professional . . .’”

“The check ($857.20) paid to the student was dated August 15, 2018, and endorsed by the student and posted to the student’s bank account on August 27, 2018. The student’s mother sent USA Basketball a check in the same amount three months later on November 28, 2018,” Hardin said.

November 28 was reportedly when USA Basketball realized its mistake. At that time, they notified Henderson High School in Troy, the AHSAA and Davenport. Davenport then sent the money back and self-reported the incident (her mother notified the AHSAA on her behalf).

Additionally, the AHSAA is contending that the player be held to account for her coach and her mother’s respective backgrounds with the AHSAA.

“The student’s mother is a certified AHSAA Basketball Coach; therefore, she is required to uphold current AHSAA bylaws and rules, including the Amateur Rule quoted above. Furthermore, the Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at CHHS is a former member of the AHSAA Central Board of Control; thus, she should not only appreciate the importance of knowing and following the AHSAA bylaws and eligibility rules but also understand how imperative it is to consistently uphold the same rules,” Hardin asserted.

Hardin also defended the embattled AHSAA executive director, Savarese. National basketball and media figures have called into question Savarese’s job safety, with state Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) joining the fray on Monday.

“Has anyone heard from Steve Savarese? He is flat out wrong here. Do the right thing Mr. Savarese. Maori Davenport should be reinstated immediately. If this is how you do your job, then maybe you shouldn’t have it,” England tweeted.

In the defense, Hardin stated, “Steve Savarese, as AHSAA Executive Director, made the eligibility ruling based upon the plain language of the Amateur Rule. As Executive Director, Mr. Savarese does not have the authority to change a rule. Rather, as Executive Director, his job is to apply the rules as written.”

Throughout his lengthy statement, Hardin made clear that the AHSAA strictly wants “the rules as written” applied. Savarese’s decision to do so was upheld unanimously by two AHSAA appellate boards.

“Following Mr. Savarese’s ruling, the school appealed to both appellate levels for the AHSAA. First, to the District 2 Board – affirmed by unanimous vote of the 4-member Board. Next, to the Central Board of Control – affirmed by unanimous vote of the 15-member Board which represents the entire State,” Hardin detailed. “Thus, this ruling was affirmed by the Board that under the AHSAA Constitution has complete and final jurisdiction over all questions of the Constitution and Bylaws or other facts appealed to it by a member school. Mr. Savarese was not present at the District appeal or during deliberation at the Central Board hearing. To be clear, this ruling was affirmed by the Central Board of Control and as Executive Director, Mr. Savarese does not have the authority to change or reverse a ruling made by the Central Board.”

If this was not enough to throw the onus off of the executive director of the association, Hardin went a step further, casting blame on all of the member schools for writing the rule in the first place instead of the people charged with its enforcement.

Hardin pleaded, “Also, please remember, the AHSAA member schools, not Mr. Savarese nor the AHSAA staff, write and approve the AHSAA eligibility rules which include the Amateur Rule.”

“The AHSAA Legislative Council has the authority each year at the annual meeting to amend the AHSAA Constitution and Rules. Meaning, each year the member schools (including Charles Henderson High School) have an opportunity to change a rule or create new ones. The penalty for violating the Amateur Rule has not been amended in at least the past 10 years with Mr. Savarese as Executive Director. Which, in turn, means each year Charles Henderson High School has agreed to the penalty for violating this Rule without comment or pursuing any kind of rule change within the legislative process,” he continued.

Hardin then turned his aim to the principal of Charles Henderson High School.

“Each year these Rules are reviewed multiple times during AHSAA sponsored and hosted seminars with the member schools and are available on the AHSAA website. A review of all Summer Conference and Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conference attendees show the Principal for Charles Henderson High School has not attended the 2016, 2017, or 2018 Summer Conferences or the 2016, 2017 or 2018 Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conferences,” Hardin remarked.

He then circled back to the assertion that no exceptions can be made to AHSAA rules.

“The stories and comments being circulated throughout the media and social networks are asking that an exception be made to the Amateur Rule because it was not the student’s fault; the fact the money was repaid, and that the student is an exceptional athlete and will miss her senior year. However, if exceptions are made, there would no longer be a need for an Amateur Rule,” Hardin claimed.

He continued, “The Rules are applied equally to ALL athletes. Furthermore, most eligibility violations are the result of adults failing to follow the rules. Here, the student’s mother as a certified AHSAA Coach should know the rules; the School’s Principal should know the rules, the Head Basketball Coach, as not only a Coach but also as a former Central Board member, should know the rules.”

Hardin also emphasized another reason for ending Davenport’s senior season, saying that the AHSAA did not want to create a loophole for other athletes to exploit in the future.

“Another point not mentioned in the public stories being circulated is that creating an exception to this Rule would have provided an avenue to exploit student-athletes by providing an opportunity for students to receive money and prizes for athletic participation and if discovered, state they didn’t know the rule, thus allowing them to return the items and retain eligibility,” Hardin outlined. “This is why AHSAA stresses to the leadership of its member schools how important it is to know the rules and advise their students regarding all rules that affect eligibility. Informing student-athletes of the consequences for violating such rules is the responsibility of the adults supervising them.”

Hardin then moved on to criticizing USA Basketball specifically.

Part of his statement reads as follows:

“It should be pointed out that a high school student from Illinois also received payment from USA Basketball. However, that student called her high school once she received the check and then returned the check to USA Basketball without cashing or depositing it. Here, the student received the check, endorsed it and it was posted to her bank account. Three months later, AHSAA was notified and the monies returned to USA Basketball.

A high school student from Missouri has also been ruled ineligible for this basketball season for accepting the lost wages payment from USA Basketball.

USA Basketball never called Charles Henderson High School or AHSAA to ask if payment for lost wages violated AHSAA rules until November which was three months after payment was made and accepted by the student. This was not a clerical error but a complete lack of administrative oversight on the part of USA Basketball, thus possibly rendering multiple student-athletes ineligible as most states have an Amateur Rule.”

One glaring omission in Hardin’s statement was this unanswered question looming in the air: What if Davenport – and USA Basketball – had not notified the AHSAA after they realized their mistake?

To observers, unanswered, it seems that the AHSAA is saying that admitting a mistake and returning the money deserves no flexibility in the application of the “rules as written,” while hiding the payment (lying) would have allowed Davenport to play her senior season.

Hardin ended his statement with praise for Savarese and the AHSAA staff for upholding its “Constitution and Bylaws.”

“Lastly, misstated facts and placing Mr. Savarese’s email on social media has led to Mr. Savarese and the AHSAA staff receiving threatening, irresponsible, and vulgar communications,” Hardin said. “We, as the Central Board of Control, stand by the staff of the AHSAA and thank them for their unwavering support of the AHSAA mission, educational athletics, as well as the AHSAA Constitution and Bylaws.”

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

2 weeks ago

Of course the Democrats’ shenanigans in Alabama’s 2017 U.S. Senate special election played a role in the outcome

(YHN, Wikicommons, Sen. Doug Jones/Twitter)

Politicians lie, they waffle, they spin, and this is generally to be expected. As a result, no one should be surprised that junior Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is less than willing to admit, or believe, that dirty tricks helped him defeat Roy Moore.

But let’s be honest about this conversation: Jones had a lot of help.

Before we learned about the latest disinformation campaign used by Democrats where they pretended to be prohibitionists operating a Dry Alabama Facebook page pretending to support Roy Moore, we know they engaged in multiple efforts to mislead Alabama voters.

A list of known transgressions as follows:

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  1. Democrats funded an organization that created fake write-in campaigns targeting conservatives.
  2. Democrats allegedly purchased Russian bots to follow Roy Moore on social media and pitched it to a willing media.
  3. Democrats ran ads on social media falsely claiming that your vote was public record.
  4. Democrats ran TV ads falsely claiming Roy Moore was banned from the Gadsden Mall.

This only scratches the surface of the all-hands-on-deck campaign by the media, Alabama Democrats and national Democrats to brand Roy Moore as unacceptable and create the perception he was unfit for office.

Yet somehow, there still seems to be some reluctance to acknowledge these tricks are why Roy Moore lost. In a recent Washinton Post story Democrats tried to “distance themselves” from some of the dishonest actions that pushed Jones over the top.

University of Alabama political scientist Joseph L. Smith is quoted in this piece dismissing all these efforts that Democrats took as irrelevant.

Smith said, “My initial gut says that the alleged disinformation campaign I’ve read about would not have been enough to affect this race.”

“Roy Moore is so well known in Alabama that people had very settled opinions about whether they wanted them as their senator before the race even started,” he added.

This position is comically absurd. If Smith’s take was remotely valid, why the all-out dishonest assault on Alabama voters?

The 2017 election was about suppressing Republican votes and ginning up Democrats. They branded Moore as an unacceptable candidate and pushed Republicans to stay home.

It worked.

Senator Doug Jones won his election in 2017 by 21,924 votes. There were 22,852 write-in votes.

Furthermore, Republicans just stayed home while Democrats showed up, resulting in Jones’ victory.

Whether you believe that Moore is unfit for office or not is irrelevant. These dirty tricks worked and for political science professors and pundits of all stripes to pretend otherwise strains their credibility.

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

2 weeks ago

Byrne wagers six-pack of beer on Tide championship

(UA Football/Twitter)

Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) has placed a friendly wager with a congressman from South Carolina as the Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers face off Monday night in the college football national championship game.

Freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) tweeted at Byrne that he had “a 6-pack of Lowcountry beer that says Clemson wins.”

Byrne responded, saying he’ll “put a 6-pack of our finest Alabama beer” on a victory for the University of Alabama.

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The game will be televised on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. CST.

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

2 weeks ago

Alabama Democratic operative claims using Russian tactics for Doug Jones was ‘a moral imperative’

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

In yet another revelation of “Russian tactics” meant to boost Doug Jones’ candidacy in 2017, an Alabama based Democratic operative admitted he viewed his deceptive efforts as “a moral imperative.”

On Monday, The New York Times wrote about a second “false-flag” operation used against Republican candidate Roy Moore. This time, Matt Osborne, “a veteran progressive activist who worked on the project” and lives outside of Florence, admitted the operation happened.

At the center of this operation was the fake “Dry Alabama” Facebook page, which attempted to trick people into believing that prohibitionists were boosting Moore’s candidacy.

Excerpt from the NYT article as follows:

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The “Dry Alabama” Facebook page, illustrated with stark images of car wrecks and videos of families ruined by drink, had a blunt message: Alcohol is the devil’s work, and the state should ban it entirely.

Along with a companion Twitter feed, the Facebook page appeared to be the work of Baptist teetotalers who supported the Republican, Roy S. Moore, in the 2017 Alabama Senate race. “Pray for Roy Moore,” one tweet exhorted.

In fact, the Dry Alabama campaign, not previously reported, was the stealth creation of progressive Democrats who were out to defeat Mr. Moore — the second such secret effort to be unmasked. In a political bank shot made in the last two weeks of the campaign, they thought associating Mr. Moore with calls for a statewide alcohol ban would hurt him with moderate, business-oriented Republicans and assist the Democrat, Doug Jones, who won the special election by a hair-thin margin.

Osborne, for his part, claimed to want the type of tactics he used banned from American politics one day. However, until then, he views it as “a moral imperative” to use them to support Democrats.

“If you don’t do it, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back,” Osborne said. “You have a moral imperative to do this — to do whatever it takes.”

This latest revelation comes after “Project Birmingham” was unmasked by the leaking of its internal report to the NYT, The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News. Read more about Project Birmingham here.

The Dry Alabama effort, just like Project Birmingham, received $100,000 in out-of-state liberal funding. Dry Alabama was backed by two unnamed Virginia donors who wanted to defeat Moore.

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

2 weeks ago

Environmentalists to foot bill for Decatur crane event amid shutdown

(U.S. FWS/Flickr)

An environmental group says it will help fund an event celebrating whooping cranes at a federal refuge in Alabama during the partial government shutdown.

The annual Festival of the Cranes brings hundreds of people to the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge near Decatur, but the facility is closed because of the funding impasse in Washington.

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Thousands of Sandhill cranes and about a dozen whopping cranes are there, nonetheless.

The Decatur Daily reports Friends of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge has agreed to cover electricity costs for two refuge buildings next weekend if the shutdown continues.

Volunteers and members of the Friends group will staff the visitors’ center. Refuge workers can be on hand, but not in uniform.

Festival activities include nature walks, photography workshops, children’s activities, art exhibits, concerts and other events.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Yellowhammer News’ Jeff Poor to host talk show on Huntsville’s WVNN

(YHN/WVNN)

On Monday, NewsTalk 770AM/92.5FM WVNN will launch “The Jeff Poor Show,” a political talk radio program set to air 2:00-5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Hosted by Jeff Poor, a conservative opinion maker in Alabama and regular Yellowhammer News contributor, the show will offer listeners a fresh voice on politics, culture and the news of the day.

“I’m thrilled and grateful for this opportunity to work with WVNN and look forward to contributing to the political dialogue in North Alabama,” Poor said in a release.

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Poor is also the editor of Breitbart News’ media vertical (Breitbart TV) and a political columnist for Lagniappe, Mobile’s alternative weekly newspaper. Boasting more than a decade of experience in political journalism, Poor previously reported in Washington, D.C. for The Daily Caller and the Media Research Center.

Poor grew up in Birmingham and has experience reporting in each of Alabama’s 67 counties. He received a Building Science degree from Auburn University and a journalism degree from The University of South Alabama.

WVNN program director and morning host Dale Jackson welcomes Poor to his lineup of talk shows. Jackson is also a regular Yellowhammer News contributor.

“Jeff Poor is an experienced media personality with a real ability to decipher local and national issues,” Jackson said. “His experience in media in Washington, D.C. and his Alabama upbringing make him the perfect fit for WVNN. I am thrilled to add Jeff to our already amazing lineup of local and national talkers.”

“The Jeff Poor Show” can be heard in the Huntsville area on 92.5 FM, throughout the Tennessee Valley on 770AM and online here.

WVNN is owned by Cumulus Radio Station Group, which is a division of Cumulus Media.

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