3 years ago

Alabama Rep. Roby highlights 2017 achievements, expresses frustration with U.S. Senate, media in Wiregrass appearance

(Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

OZARK – Tuesday at Hoppergrass Restaurant just a block away from the Dale County Courthouse deep in the heart of Alabama’s Wiregrass region, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) addressed the local Rotary Club with an update from Washington, D.C., highlighting accomplishments from the previous year and what to look forward to in 2018.

Roby explained that despite what has been reported in the press, there had been some noteworthy positives, even with the “gridlock” in the U.S. Senate.

“I do want to share with you some successes of the past year – legislative successes that you won’t hear on the news because they don’t want to talk about the good things that have happened and then tell you about some of my priorities for 2018,” she said.

“We have a lot to be proud of in our country, despite what’s being televised what we are forced to consume,” she added. “Americans have been rightly frustrated with the seemingly endless gridlock and, of course, what happened over the weekend is an example.”

Among the list of items she highlighted were the tax legislation passed last year, strides in stemming the tide of illegal immigration, efforts to overhaul the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, combatting opioid addiction and adding stricter penalties for sex and human trafficking crimes.

Perhaps the most critical item for her district given the location of Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base was work done in the area of national defense and the military.

“We passed, of course as important as it is to us, a defense funding bill that provides service members with their biggest pay raise in eight years,” she said.

The one stumbling block for getting through these big-ticket agenda items has been overcoming the 60-vote in the Senate. She proclaimed those items were too important to let die in the Senate.

“These are bills we passed in the House, and I, like you, remain very frustrated with the dysfunction in the United States Senate,” she said. “This goes without saying, but these are conservative priorities, and they’re far too important for us just to sit back and let them die. That’s what I’ve had to endure, and you’ve had to endure for the past seven years as you’ve allowed me to serve as your member in the House.”

Despite those struggles, Roby pointed to what is being done to improve economic conditions as a reason to feel encouraged.

“I want you to walk out today encouraged,” Roby said. “Despite what cable news is telling us every day – there’s a lot of things, positive things to bring hope to not just our country but specifically the state of Alabama, especially on the economic front. Americans are confident in our economy and rightfully so. I’m proud of the many steps that we’ve taken in Congress to unleash the private sector, roll back these Obama-era rules and regulations that have been stifling growth. So we had great success in 2017. We have a lot of work left to do. We’re very frustrated with the United States Senate, but we have to look towards 2018. Here we are. It’s upon us and you know we have some challenges ahead. It creates a great opportunity for us in the Congress to recommit to our goals and our priorities on behalf of the American people.”

Following her speech, Roby answered questions from Yellowhammer News about the much-ballyhooed FISA memo, her early impressions of Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and an evaluation of Donald Trump’s first year in office.

“Alabama’s congressional delegation has a long history of working well together,” she said. “I hope that tradition will continue. We meet and have lunch together once a month. Senator Jones was at our lunch meeting. That was the first time that I had an opportunity to meet him. Clearly, there may be some political policy differences. It is my intention to work with both of our senators to make sure we’re putting forth good conservative policy in the state of Alabama. And, obviously, he voted what I felt was the right way as it related to keeping the government open and the CHIP reauthorization funding. So, we’ll just see. But I intend to work with everybody in the delegation. We have a good, long-standing tradition of doing so and I hope that will continue.”

Just days after passing the year-anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Roby offered her assessment of his first year.

“I’ve supported all of the president’s policies, supported the president’s policy agenda as it relates to the things I’ve outlined in my speech today – tax reform, repeal and replace of Obamacare, all of the deregulation as it relates to small business – our banks, our farmers that are getting killed by this Obama-era regulatory environment,” she said to Yellowhammer News. “The point of my speech today was to point out all of the good things that are happening as a result of Congress and the president working together,” she added. “We have a lot of frustration right now in the United States Senate, as evidenced by what took place last week. But, I think, all in all, the message here today, and I hope it was received is that positive things have happened. Our economy is moving in the right direction, and I think there’s a lot of forward progress in the next year as well.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

7 mins ago

Black pro-life leaders gather in Montgomery, argue the next step for civil rights is ending abortion

MONTGOMERY — A group of black leaders within the pro-life movement came together in Alabama’s capital city on Tuesday where they highlighted what they believe is racial prejudice among America’s abortion providers.

Speakers included Dr. Alveda King, an outspoken opponent of abortion and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She and the other speakers said their fight to end abortions is the next step in civil rights for African-Americans.

All presenters who were able to make it to Montgomery in person signed the Equality Proclamation, which argues the location of abortion providers and other tactics used by groups like Planned Parenthood violate the 10th Amendment rights of black children.

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The group believes, according to a document they disseminated, that “the targeted practices of Alabama abortion providers are both discriminatory and disproportionately harmful to black mothers and their babies.”

To that end, the group is filing an emergency petition for a writ of mandamus with the Alabama Supreme Court that seeks to spur action from Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall.

King appeared at the event via a recorded video, explaining that her mother has recently come down with COVID-19, which prevented the pro-life advocate from traveling to Alabama.

She noted that 158 years ago President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Today, 158 years later, history will record that leaders of the Pre-natal nondiscrimination alliance, PRENDA, signed the Equality Proclamation,” King stated.

“My uncle worked for the civil rights of all of God’s children. After all the work he did I think his heart would be broken to see what is happening to unborn children in the United States of America,” she added.

“Denying personhood has always been used to justify killing,” said Walter Hoye II, founder and CEO of Issues4Life Foundation, in an attempt to tie the language of abortion advocates to that of American judges in the 19th century who decided slaves did not count as people.

Amie Beth Shaver spoke on Tuesday and referenced Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, saying Sanger did not believe in the human rights of all people. After defending Sanger for many years, Planned Parenthood has begun to walk back its ties to her after her beliefs in eugenics are getting more publicity.

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrown abortion access back into the American political spotlight in recent days, with many conservatives hoping President Donald Trump will select a jurist who shares the view of most Republican voters that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.

Montgomery attorney Sam McClure is the legal representation in Alabama for the pro-life leaders that assembled on Tuesday, and a staunch opponent of abortion himself. Yellowhammer News asked McClure what he thought of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and Judge Barbara Lagoa — the two candidates who observers say are the front runners to be Trump’s selection for the open SCOTUS seat.

McClure did not comment on Lagoa but said that Coney-Barrett “has a track record of reverencing the personhood of humans at all stages of development.”

“I think that conviction is important for our country to be a land of justice, and I think it is long overdue, just like Dred Scott was long overdue to be overturned I think Roe v. Wade is long overdue to be overturned,” McClure stated.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

1 hour ago

Trump administration invests more than $2 million in rural Alabama water infrastructure projects

The administration of President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $2 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in two rural Alabama communities.

The announcement comes as part of a national $268 million investment across 28 states. USDA is reportedly funding 76 projects total through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. These investments will help to improve rural water infrastructure for 267,000 residents.

“The opportunity to bring water and wastewater funding to Alabama is such an investment because it brings modern, reliable water and wastewater infrastructure to our rural communities. These types of projects without a doubt improve the daily lives of Alabamians,” USDA Rural Development State Director for Alabama Chris Beeker said in a statement.

Investments in Alabama include the following:

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The Pintlala Water System, Inc., will use a $2,037,000 loan to expand and improve the existing water system. The project will dig a new deep water well capable of producing 300 gallons per minute operated by a new vertical turbine pump and motor, new water well lines, and a new treatment building with SCADA electrical controls. The project will also replace outdated manual read water meters with the installation of a new Automated Water Reader system. The new upgrades will allow rural residents to have access to safe potable water and reduce water loss. It will also reduce meter read time for employees and should increase water revenue for the rural water system.

The town of Kinston will use a $47,000 loan and a $53,000 grant to provide additional funding for an existing water project. The funds will allow final construction of the project to be completed which includes the addition of a third well and will allow Kinston to be solely dependent on its own water supply. This will increase water revenues and allow rural residents continued access to clean water.

This is merely the latest in a string of similar announcements from USDA Rural Development during Trump’s presidency.

RELATED: USDA’s Chris Beeker: ‘When rural America thrives, all of America thrives’

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

2 hours ago

7 Things: Tuberville up big, high school football takes a few more hits, Democrats powerless to stop Trump’s SCOTUS nominee and more …

7. Debate topics announced

  • Fox News host Chris Wallace will be moderating the upcoming presidential debate in just under one week, and he’s now announced what the topics of the debate will be in six 15-minute segments.
  • The topics will be the Supreme Court, coronavirus pandemic, economy, “race and violence in our cities,” “integrity of the election,” and both former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump’s records.

6. Another push to exclude illegal immigrants from the Census count

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  • President Donald Trump has been vocal about excluding illegal immigrants from the 2020 U.S. Census count, and now due to a lower court ruling, the Trump administration is asking that the Supreme Court hear arguments before the end of the year over the case.
  • If the Supreme Court agrees and hears oral arguments on the case in December, there’s enough time for a ruling before the January 10 deadline, but this could potentially be enough time for the new Trump Supreme Court nominee to weigh in on the issue.

5. Tests being sent to HBCUs

  • President Donald Trump’s administration has announced that they are sending 250,000 rapid coronavirus tests to 42 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). These are the tests that give results in 15 minutes. This is just the first round of tests being sent out, and Alabama A&M in Huntsville and Alabama State University in Montgomery will be receiving thousands of tests in the first round.
  • A spokesperson for Alabama A&M said that testing has been a big part of returning to school this fall, adding, “This partnership with the federal government, in conjunction with the University’s PCR testing program, will greatly speed up our ability to identify, isolate, and reduce the symptomatic and asymptomatic spread of COVID019 on campus.”

4. Gulf Shores became more popular during the pandemic

  • Recent figures released by Airbnb show that the Gulf Coast in Alabama was a more popular destination than Miami, Florida, from July to August this year. The company has also said that this is a trend being seen around the country, where more people are opting to stay in smaller cities or towns than larger, typical destinations. For example, more people visited Lake Tahoe this year than Las Vegas.
  • Since you can rent up to a whole house, people have also been able to extend their stays in areas, too. The average length of stay has increased by 58%, which could easily be due to the requirement to isolate in many areas upon arrival.

3. Football taking a hit during the pandemic

  • Two Alabama high school football teams have decided to shut down for at least a week due to positive coronavirus cases. Hazel Green is stopping for two weeks with three positive tests, and Wetumpka is stopping football for one week after 12 positive tests. Fifteen players in Hazel Green are quarantined, and aside from the 12 positive cases in Wetumpka, there are eight players quarantining.
  • There are three other high schools that have also canceled football games, with Lee in Huntsville forfeiting their Friday game this week, with only one person associated with the team testing positive and 10 people in quarantine. Jacksonville has had one football player test positive, so they’ve canceled their games for the next two weeks. Mortimer Jordan has also canceled their game this week after at least one positive test.

2. Romney will support voting on a Supreme Court nominee

  • Democrats are now powerless to stop President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee now that U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) has voiced support on moving ahead with whoever President Donald Trump decides to nominate for the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacant seat left by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Romney said that his decision “is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’” and added that it’s about “fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent.” He went on to say if the nominee eventually “reaches the Senate floor,” he intends “to vote based upon their qualifications.”

1. Tuberville is up in Alabama

  • New polling data released by the Morning Consult, which is from a survey conducted from 9/11-9/20, shows that former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville is leading in Alabama at 52% with U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) trailing at 34%, which is similar data that’s been released previously.
  • In other Senate elections across the country, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is leading against Amy McGrath 52% to 37%. In Texas, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is leading by six points with 45% against MJ Hegar with 39%.

2 hours ago

State Rep. Simpson calls for penalty to be raised for contractors working without license during a state of emergency from misdemeanor to felony

It has been a week since Hurricane Sally made landfall in Gulf Shores, and in its wake, it has left a path of destruction in need of repair.

Often after such a storm, a flood of contractors from out of state will make their ways to the affected areas, and sometimes take advantage of those in need of repair work. However, often as is the case with out-of-state contractors, they are not licensed in Alabama. If something goes wrong and a hired contractor cannot complete the work they were hired to do following a storm, the most vulnerable take a hit.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) discussed his bill initially introduced during the 2020 legislative session that would increase the penalty for unlicensed contractors doing work during a state of emergency, which he had discussed with Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff during a recent visit to survey hurricane damage.

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“One of the things I was able to bring up to Governor Ivey was a bill that I had last session, which was HB194,” he said. “What it did was when the governor declares a state of emergency, it would increase it from a misdemeanor to a felony for those that are working on homes for homebuilding repair and doing those types of contracting works if they are not licensed in Alabama. What we are facing right now is so many people are coming into our area and taking advantage of our citizens and having them to pay these astronomical fees and not doing the work properly, and doing the way they’re going to do. It’s very tough to prove fraud.”

“The difficulty with proving fraud, and I can tell you from being a prosecutor on this stuff, is you have to prove at the time of the offense they intended to commit that fraud,” Simpson continued. “It’s very easy for them to come in and say, ‘No, we lost a worker,’ or, ‘No, we lost materials, and I couldn’t complete the job, and I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t intend to defraud that person. It just happened that way.’ That’s very tough to prove in a felony.”

“Right now, it is a misdemeanor in the state if you work without a license — if you don’t have the proper bonding and licensing through the homebuilders association or the correct agencies,” he added. “What that bill did last year was it would have made it a felony if it occurred during a state of emergency. I brought this up to the governor and Jo Bonner. They were very receptive to it. What I want to do is have that bill, in the event, we have a special session — have that bill included into the call for that special session.”

Simpson’s prior effort during the 2020 regular session with the legislation passed the House by a 97-2 margin but failed to get a vote in the State Senate.

@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.

16 hours ago

Three takeaways from Auburn’s 2020 depth chart

At long last, it is game week for the Auburn Tigers. Auburn and Kentucky will kick off this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on the SEC Network. In advance of the contest, head coach Gus Malzahn released Auburn’s week one depth chart on Tuesday. A number of questions that Auburn fans may have are directly addressed with this new information. However, the news on the depth chart may also raise a few eyebrows in relation to the defensive line and secondary, specifically.

Undoubtedly, players will move up or down the depth chart over the course of the season based on quality of play, injury, COVID-19 protocol or weekly changes to the gameplan. But, the initial depth chart gives fans insight into who some of the impact players for Auburn in 2020 will be.

Let’s take a look at three key takeaways from Auburn’s 2020 depth chart:

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New-look offensive line
Coming into the season, it was known that Auburn would have a number of new faces on the offensive line after graduating four of the five starters from last year’s group. The new depth chart now gives clarity to who the Tigers expect to make up the unit in 2020.

Nick Brahms is the only returning starter and retains his spot at the center position. The starters at guard are Tashawn Manning and graduate transfer Brandon Council, respectively. As expected, Brodarious Hamm has earned the starting slot at the right tackle position. The only ambiguity in the offensive line position group is at left tackle with Alec Jackson OR Austin Troxell listed as the starter. This indicates that Auburn considers these six players the top options for the five available spots.

It will be critical this season that all six “starters” and the guys listed second or third on the depth chart are ready to perform this year at a position that is often affected by injury and could always have players unavailable due to COVID-19. It was widely known that the success of the offensive line would be key to Auburn having a productive offense this year, we now know the individuals who have earned the first chance to make that happen.

18 true freshmen make an appearance

Although no true freshmen are listed as first-teamers, these young players are littered throughout the Auburn depth chart. Seven newcomers appear on the offensive side of the ball, 10 freshmen made the depth chart on defense and Australian import Oscar Chapman is listed as the potential starter at punter.

This is an impressive showing from the 2020 signing class and may signal great things to come for Auburn. Having quality depth is always important, but this year with a 10-game conference-only schedule, no spring practice and contact tracing procedures that could sideline players by the handful, many of these young men will be called upon in the here and now.

Only time will tell which of these players’ impacts will shape the Tigers’ season this fall, but history tells us that these young athletes will be called upon to deliver in high leverage moments this year. Whether or not they are up to the challenge is likely to determine the outcome of some games and even the season itself.

Surprises on the defensive side of the ball

Kevin Steele’s side of the ball has been one of the most consistent units in college football since his arrival in 2016. He and his staff have developed a clear plan of attack, a successful way of working together and an eye for players that fit the scheme. So, even if there are some shocks, Steele has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.

One of the surprises is the starting cornerback opposite of Roger McCreary. Last week, Steele indicated that there were up to five players competing for that position, so it is not a complete shock that redshirt freshman Jaylin Simpson earned the starting spot against Kentucky. However, many would have guessed that Marco Domio, who was just signed from junior college, or Nehemiah Pritchett would be the last man standing in the competition. Simpson does not have much experience, but if Steele and company trust him to get the job done, then that is a pretty good endorsement.

The most unforeseen developments on the depth chart occur on the defensive line. Colby Wooden starting at defensive tackle is not something that has been discussed anywhere until today. Kevin Steele spoke highly of Wooden last week in his press conference, but the redshirt freshman who signed as a defensive end last year earning the tackle spot next to Tyrone Truesdell was still pretty shocking.

Another unexpected outcome is that four true freshmen are listed on the defensive line depth chart, including Jeremiah Wright, who signed as an offensive lineman in December. Seeing Zykevious Walker listed at defensive tackle ahead of the two junior college defensive linemen that Rodney Garner signed in January may also catch fans off guard.

Coach Garner and coach Steele have a proven track record of getting defensive linemen ready to play in the SEC, but it may just be that the athletes getting the most opportunities in the trenches this year are a little more green than we are used to seeing.

Bonus takeaway

How about Shaun Shivers? Listed at only 5-7 and 179 lbs, Shivers earned the starting spot at tailback and was named one of the team captains. I am a little bit skeptical that Shivers will be an every-down back, but what an accomplishment for a guy who has been doubted because of his size throughout his entire career.

See the whole depth chart:

Twitter/ @byNathanKing

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw