2 weeks ago

Public Service Commission puts a stop to freeloading on Alabama’s electrical grid

They wanted you to pick up the tab for their use of Alabama’s electrical grid.

A bold move, no doubt. But getting something for nothing is a popular notion these days.

The entire premise of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign was giving out free stuff, including housing and healthcare. He finished in second place in the nomination process for one of the country’s two major parties.

Elizabeth Warren put forth a plan for taxpayers to pay off all student loans and provide free college tuition for everyone in America. She came in third.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, better known as AOC, has garnered 8.5 million Twitter followers, and become one of the leading national political figures, by advocating for free everything.

Late last year, a slew of environmentalists marched down to Alabama’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to get in on the action. They asked that anyone with solar panels atop their house not be charged for using Alabama Power’s electrical infrastructure.

How they sought to justify this is anyone’s guess. The reality is that it’s smart to include solar in an energy portfolio along with natural gas, nuclear, coal and hydro. But anyone can tell you that relying entirely on solar is a foolish approach, which is why these users needed to stay connected to the grid. Solar doesn’t work at night or on cloudy days. They simply did not want to pay to continue accessing the grid.

Advocates for free access to the grid have used the fact that many other states allow it as an argument for why it should be possible in Alabama. Just because officials in other states have been hoodwinked and bullied by liberal environmentalists does not mean it is good policy.

RELATED: Sierra Club endorses Joe Biden, calls him ‘champion for climate justice’

One of those “model” states is California.

California has seen unprecedented rolling blackouts this summer because they are trying to convert all of their energy production to solar and wind.

Millions of homes and businesses have been left without power for hours at a time because California has allowed its energy policy to get hijacked by the same groups fighting for freeloaders on Alabama’s electrical grid.

Environmental activists in California have doubled-down on unworkable solutions for fixing its energy shortages.

One of those solutions offered to generate more energy in the Golden State is something called pumped storage. This involves pumping water uphill (which requires energy) from one reservoir to another. Some amount of energy is then generated by releasing that same water back down the hill to spin turbines.

Yikes.

If that is how California thinks power should be generated to fuel a 21st century economy, then they are in big trouble.

That is why the PSC stepping in and putting an end to this nonsense is so important to Alabama’s economy. This past week, the PSC ordered that rooftop solar users have to pay to use the state’s electrical infrastructure just like everyone else.

Small businesses and working families across the state already have enough obstacles in their road to recovery. They do not need to also carry rooftop solar users on their backs.

RELATED: Alabama leaders cite poor energy decisions as cause of California’s rolling blackouts

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

6 mins ago

Doug Jones backs keeping Senate’s 60-vote cloture threshold, opposes packing the Supreme Court

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has addressed whether the United States Senate should end the filibuster as we know it.

Certain national Democrats, including U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) over the weekend, have come out in support of ending the filibuster if Democrats take back the Senate in November’s general election.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said Democrats will consider this, as well as drastic options such as packing the court.

“Nothing’s off the table,” Schumer said.

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This type of rhetoric came after Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday and it became clear that President Donald Trump plans to put forward a nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Senate’s current rule requires 60 votes to end a filibuster, otherwise known as invoking cloture.

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2013 dropped the threshold from 60 votes to end a filibuster to a simple majority for all executive branch nominees. This paved the way for the same being done for judicial nominees, including SCOTUS nominations.

Reid in recent days told Fox News the filibuster will soon be completely gone.

“It’s not a question of if (the filibuster) is going to be gone. It’s a question of when it’s going to be done,” Reid asserted. “The filibuster is history. It won’t be in existence next year at this time.”

However, Alabama’s junior senator is pushing back.

In an interview with Vox published on Monday, Jones voiced support for the 60-vote threshold needed to invoke cloture.

Transcript as follows, courtesy of Vox:

Ella Nilsen:

I wanted to get your thoughts on filibuster reform. Do you think that’s an option Democrats should pursue if you are in the majority in the Senate but you’re dealing with an obstinate Republican minority?

Doug Jones:

I know there’s a lot of talk about that. And also know, if Joe Biden is president of the United States, Biden has a 40-year history of working with Republicans. And no matter what happens during the election season, they all like him; I’ve heard that time and time again. Joe is the kind of guy that’s a Senate institutionalist. I really believe he will want to work with Republicans to try to get things done. This ability to just go from one Senate majority to the other with or without the president, it’s not good for the country.

I think the filibuster rule is a way that you have to reach out. That’s what I do every day when I’m in the Senate, and sometimes I have to reach out within my own party to try to pull people together. I think Joe’s gonna give this a chance, and I’m very hopeful that Senate Republicans will take the opportunity to move together.

Let’s get the Senate back to some regular order where we can debate the issues of the day, have amendments on the issues of the day, vote on them up or down, let the president do what he’s going to do. But give the president an opportunity to find that common ground.

It is by finding common ground that we move forward, not by just doing it by simple whim of who happens to be in the majority, because then you’re gonna see, just like we’re seeing with executive orders playing out — a new president comes in, gets rid of all his predecessor’s executive orders, those new ones that we don’t need to see that’s happening with legislation.

We need to see some consistency. I think filibuster rule, the 60-vote margin, is a way to do that.

On Monday, Jones also addressed the potential of packing the court and other general actions Democrats could take in response to Trump nominating and the Senate confirming a new Supreme Court justice in the coming weeks.

In a Facebook livestream hosted by his reelection campaign, Jones was asked if he supported “packing the court” by increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Theoretically, a Democratic-controlled Congress could pass legislation doing so, to be signed by 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, if the upcoming election goes their way. Biden could then fill the court with liberal justices, who would only need a majority vote in a Democrat-controlled Senate.

Jones on the notion of packing the court said, “I don’t agree.”

“I don’t believe in retaliatory measures,” he explained. “I just think that that is crazy.”

The senator subsequently outlined that packing the courts would destroy the U.S. Constitution’s system of checks and balances.

“I am not for retaliatory measures,” Jones added. “I think, you know we’ve had nine folks on the Supreme Court since 1869, I believe. And it’s worked out pretty well over the years. … I just don’t think that people should start trying to threaten or do retaliation measures like that.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Tuberville drops ad — Anyone who burns U.S. flag ‘should go to prison’

On Monday, the Tuberville campaign announced a new 30-second TV ad that highlighted his father’s World War II military service and calls for individuals who burn the American flag to be put in “prison.”

According to a release from the campaign, the ad will be airing on broadcast and cable stations throughout Alabama as well as digitally on social media outlets.

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Transcript as follows:

Tommy Tuberville walking through empty football stands and speaking into camera Tuberville: Hello, I’m Tommy Tuberville. I’m proud to have won a lot of big football games, but I’m prouder to be the son of a veteran.

My Dad was 18 when he stormed the beaches of Normandy, and we live in the greatest nation on Earth because of patriots like him.

I’ll stand with President Trump to keep American great, and anyone who burns this flag should go to prison.

I approved this message because in the Senate, I’ll donate my salary to the veterans of the great state of Alabama.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

4 hours ago

7 Things: RBG replacement fight looms, Jones pledges to stop Trump, no Labor Day coronavirus spike and more …

7. Tuberville holding a fundraiser in Florida

  • Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville has been criticized throughout his campaign for U.S. Senate about how he moved from Florida to Alabama just to run for office, and now he’s holding a fundraiser in Florida. 
  • Monday, Tuberville will be holding a campaign fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida. The Alabama Democratic Party executive director said this decision makes sense as it’s Tuberville’s “home state,” adding that “he still doesn’t understand the kitchen table issues that matter to Alabamians.”

6. Envelope to Trump contained ricin

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  • A letter to President Donald Trump and the White House is being investigated after it tested positive for the poison ricin. 
  • The FBI said that there’s “no known threat to public safety.” The FBI will be joined by the Secret Service and the U.S Postal Investigation Service in the investigation. 

5. Hurricane Sally cleanup could cost $19 million for Mobile

  • It’s been estimated that the cost of cleaning up after Hurricane Sally could cost $19 million, according to the Mobile County Emergency Management. 
  • This estimate just includes what local areas are likely to spend on road and bridge repair, utilities and debris removal. The final cost is expected to be higher. 

4. No coronavirus spike since Labor Day

  • Alabama health officials were concerned that Alabama could see a spike in coronavirus cases after the Labor Day holiday, similar to spikes seen after Memorial Day and Independence Day. 
  • Thankfully, there hasn’t been a spike in coronavirus cases after almost two weeks, as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have leveled out and slowly declined throughout the state. 

3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg passes

  • At 87-years-old, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away after a battle with pancreas cancer. She was the second woman ever appointed to the court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. 
  • In a released statement by U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), he spoke about her career and legacy, saying that “she inspired generations of young women to reach for heights that previously felt impossible.” U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville spoke similarly of Ginsburg, stating, “She fought hard for her beliefs and carried the respect of her fellow justices, liberal and conservative alike.”

2. Jones fundraising email mentions Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • After the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, U.S. Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) reelection campaign sent out a fundraising email over the weekend that mentioned RBG’s passing. 
  • In the email, Jones says that he’s “saddened” by how her death has been politicized by President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). He goes on to warn, “So much depends on this Senate seat. Our win in November will be a defeat of Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy and cynicism.”

1. President Donald Trump promises to nominate a woman to SCOTUS

  • After the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many are questioning who President Donald Trump will nominate to take RGB’s place on the court. 
  • Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign has released a statement detailing that the president will nominate a woman. Communications director Tim Murtaugh clarified that Trump has every right to make this nomination, arguing, “There has been an open seat on the Supreme Court in a presidential election year 29 times in American history, and in every single case, the president has nominated a candidate.”

5 hours ago

Three SW Alabama counties approved for federal disaster assistance after Hurricane Sally

Governor Kay Ivey and Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) on Sunday confirmed that President Donald J. Trump has approved a major disaster declaration authorizing aid to the parts of Alabama most impacted by Hurricane Sally last week.

The disaster aid will come through FEMA’s Public Assistance and Individual Assistance programs for the counties of Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia.

Byrne said in a statement, “Help is on the way to Alabamians impacted by Hurricane Sally. I offer my sincerest thank you to President Trump and FEMA for quickly approving additional disaster assistance as we begin the difficult rebuilding process along the Gulf Coast. While there is work to be done, Alabama will come together to rebuild after this storm as we have in the past.”

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To check eligibility for disaster assistance programs, call 1-800-621-3362. The news came the same day that FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor was in Baldwin County to tour storm damage.

Ivey stated, “When I was on the coast Friday, it was clear that there has been significant damage, and people are in need of relief. My Office has been working on putting in the request for individual and public assistance to help bring the needed aid, and I appreciate FEMA for quickly delivering to the people of Alabama. Being approved for individual and public assistance is an important step in the recovery process. Coastal Alabama, we are with you the whole way!”

RELATED: Ivey tours battered Gulf Coast; Area officials say progress being made, ask for patience

The Trump administration had already approved Ivey’s Monday request for a pre-landfall Emergency Disaster Declaration.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Lisa Thomas-McMillan is a 2020 Woman of Impact

For Lisa Thomas-McMillan, it is the newness of each day that motivates her from the minute she opens her eyes.

Thomas-McMillan, founder of Drexell & Honeybee’s in Brewton, told Yellowhammer News in a recent interview that the excitement of discovering what each day holds propels her out of bed and to her restaurant as soon as she awakens before dawn.

“I don’t know what my day is going to bring,” she offered. “I don’t know what that day is going to bring to me. You don’t ever know who you are going to help and how you are going to help them.”

Helping people is something she has made her mission for a large part of her life. A donation-only restaurant, Drexell & Honeybees is a frequent deliverer of the unknowns in which Thomas-McMillan so often revels.

She recalls one day finding a note in the donation box with a message saying that Thomas-McMillan had provided meals for a family of four who had no means to do so themselves. Being unable to recall who might have fit that description in her restaurant the previous day was exactly the way she wanted it. According to her, the “beauty” of the unknown is that names and faces are less important than the simple act of service.

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Stories like that shed light on why Thomas-McMillan took up the cause of hunger and has built a model recognized across the nation as an innovative charitable solution to feeding those in need.

“People suffer from hunger in silence,” she remarked.

So she decided to do something about it.

“People know a lot more about hunger now than 20 years ago,” Thomas-McMillan explained. “It was kind of something that people didn’t talk about. Getting around town and speaking to the elderly people in my hometown I realized a lot of them were choosing between medicine and food. So I started a non-profit food bank called Carlisa, Inc. By doing that I got a chance to go out in the rural areas delivering food, but I was also learning a lot about how people were living, some of the things they were kind of missing out on in life. Over the years, I said in my mind, wouldn’t it be nice to have a place where people could just go and eat and not have to worry about paying for anything.”

It was reading about a restaurant called “Soul Food,” and started by musician Jon Bon Jovi, that got her wheels turning.

“It fascinated me that he was doing this pay it forward thing,” she remembered.

Inspired by the story, she decided she wanted to open a similar restaurant.

After presenting the concept to her husband, Freddie, the couple set in motion plans which resulted in the opening of Drexell & Honeybees.

“We wanted it to be a place where everyone could fit in and feel comfortable and know they were in a good place with good food,” Thomas-McMillan said. “We wanted also to set it up where nobody would know who paid or if they paid or how much.”

And, so, they devised a private box for donations, a key feature of the restaurant’s function.

“One thing I learned over the years in delivering food is that people might not have money but they have pride,” she said. “I knew a lot of people would not come in if their pride would be questioned. So we set it up where they keep every inch of their pride, come in and enjoy a meal and walk out just like anybody else.”

Another part of the payoff for Thomas-McMillan is seeing what happens when people and food happen at the same time.

“I love to see people enjoy food,” she said. “Food is a great, warm thing that brings people together, makes them fellowship. When you see a group of people sitting around and enjoying food, they’re fellowshipping and enjoying each other. And that’s what the restaurant is all about, bringing different people in and saying, ‘I don’t even know you, maybe, but I’m sitting around this table sitting around this table having a good meal, enjoying the food, and I’m fellowshipping with a stranger.’ It is the best feeling in the world.”

It took quite a leap by Thomas-McMillan to arrive at this point, and along the way, it was her faith which played “the biggest role,” according to her.

Facing doubts from the outside that she and Freddie could make Drexell & Honeybees work, they were undeterred. As far as they were concerned, God gave them a mission, and they were going to fulfill it.

“The good feeling, the joy deep down in your stomach that you get from doing something like this,” she pointed out. “Money can’t buy the faith or the joy or the peace of mind. Those are priceless benefits that we get from this.”

People travel from all over asking if she thinks they would be able to replicate her mission. To which she replies, they can, and all it takes is faith and a sincere desire to serve others.

“Being in service to others is the best thing you can do,” said Thomas-McMillan. “After all, we were put on earth to help each other. Serving others is the highest compliment you can pay God for Him giving you your health and strength and keeping you sustained through everything. No matter what happens, God is going to take care of you.”

This does not mean her faith has not been put to the test during her years fighting hunger.

“I didn’t think people were taking [hunger] serious enough,” explained Thomas-McMillan.

So she prayed for guidance and felt a call to walk to Montgomery — from Brewton. Her goal was to hand-deliver a letter outlining her concerns for the hungry to then-Governor Bob Riley. After walking the approximately 115 miles, that is what she did.

Still feeling unsettled, Thomas-McMillan then felt called to walk all the way to Washington, D.C. to draw attention to her cause.

She laughs now looking back at hearing people say the walk was staged.

Thomas-McMillan remembers saying, “’Are you crazy? Do you know what it would have taken to fake a 53-day walk to Washington? It would not have been worth my time [to fake it].’”

Not only did the walk to Washington gain notice, but it also allowed her to explore the depth of her own conviction to help feed the hungry.

Before she had even left the state of Alabama, someone near Tuskegee asked her how much she was getting paid to complete the walk. She thought about it for a minute, and the answer became clear.

“’You know, they couldn’t pay me to walk to Washington,'” she recalled saying. “And that’s when I realized how great this was because you could not pay me to walk to Washington. But the fact that I’m trying to help people with hunger, I would do it for nothing. Just that one question made me realize, ‘Oh, Lord, Lisa, this is pretty awesome because you couldn’t pay me to do this.’”

Her mission statement is: “Feed the Need.” And this is a calling which she believes can be applied to anything and any situation.

Serving the food line one extremely cold day in January, Thomas-McMillan overheard a couple talking about how they did not have enough money to buy an electric heater. She took it upon herself to offer them the needed funds, with the request that they bring the receipt back to her.

They brought back the receipt, and some change, but it was what happened next which had the greatest impact on Thomas-McMillan.

“The man said to the woman, ‘Boy, those youngins gonna sure be glad to see this heater when they get home,’” she recalled. “That tore me up because I didn’t know anything about the children, and I could only imagine that they were so cold that night before, and I could only see them sitting around that little heater. That’s what I mean by ‘Feed the Need.’ People have to realize that I have learned over the last few years, and I’ve known this all my life, I think I have, the more money you give away, the less money has control over your life.”

While the mystery brought by each new day inspires Thomas-McMillan, it also never disappoints.

“Every day you can go home with this special moment from being here,” she said. “You leave with a special moment from things unfolding.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Lisa Thomas-McMillan a 2020 Woman of Impact.

Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through September 30. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia