7 months ago

Roby report from the road — Hurricane Michael, education and meeting with business leaders

With Congress out of session for an October district work period, I have taken this valuable time to be on the road in Alabama’s Second District visiting with the people I represent and sharing with them an update from Washington. I believe this time we spend together is truly invaluable. It’s so important for me to hear from local leaders, business owners and employees about how the issues of the day impact them in their daily lives so that I can better represent their views in Congress.

During this district work period, I spent time in Columbia, Headland, Dothan, Gordon, Luverne, Goshen, Opp and Troy. Since parts of our district were ravaged by Hurricane Michael this month, I have been especially grateful for this time away from Washington to visit impacted communities to assess the damage and talk with our farmers on the ground.

In Columbia, I met with Mayor Rhonda Freeman, and she updated me on the damage her town is facing. In Headland, I had lunch with a group of Henry County farmers, and we discussed agriculture recovery efforts. The farmers in our district are truly facing unprecedented losses, and I will remain engaged as we push through this rebuilding process together. In Dothan, I sat down with Chris Judah, Director of the Houston County Emergency Management Agency. In Gordon, I toured several farms to assess the Hurricane Michael damage.

In Luverne, I had the opportunity to address the Crenshaw County Chamber of Commerce during a lunch meeting. We had a conversation about the numerous successes our unified government has had over the last two years. As I told the group, the American people are much better off now than we were before. While in town, I also stopped by Hicks, Inc. They’re the number one national wholesale distributor of fishing, hunting, marine, archery and other outdoor products. I was very impressed by their extensive operations and impressive facility.

In Goshen, I visited the high school to check out their career tech facility. I was blown away by the numerous outstanding opportunities that are available to students right here in our district. Did you know that most Goshen High School students graduate having already obtained an Associate degree? It’s true. The students I met while on campus were truly remarkable young men and women.

In Opp, I participated in a roundtable discussion with local business leaders. We had a very productive conversation about ways we can work to bring new opportunities to Opp and the surrounding communities. While I was there, I also had the opportunity to meet former Alabama football Head Coach Mike DuBose and his wife Polly.

In Troy, I met with Troy University officials, and they briefed me on a $3.2 million grant the university recently received from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This is the largest grant Troy University has received in the school’s history, and it will establish the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences at the university. This research will focus on polymers and plastics recycling, and it will go a long way towards preparing the next generation of the workforce in this industry. We are so fortunate to have Troy University in Alabama’s Second District, and I’m always proud to learn more about the ways the school is growing and thriving.

It has been a productive month so far, and I really appreciate the many individuals who took time out of their busy lives to talk with me. I am looking forward to many more opportunities to hear directly from the people I represent. My priority is always to be the very best representative of our shared beliefs that I possibly can.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

10 mins ago

House approves wine shipment legislation

The Alabama House of Representatives has passed legislation allowing residents to purchase wine and have it shipped directly to their house.

The bill by Republican Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) would allow licensed wine manufacturers to obtain a permit to deliver limited quantities of wine directly to Alabamians.

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The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board does not currently allow such shipments.

The bill passed 77-11. It now heads to the Senate.

Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) jokingly shouted during Thursday’s debate, “What’s wrong with the wine we got now?”

The line was a reference to former Rep. Alvin Holmes who famously asked in a 2008 debate: “What’s wrong with the beer we got? I mean the beer we got drank pretty good, don’t it?”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Episode 11: Most hated Auburn foes

DrunkAubie talks about what’s going on in the world of Auburn since episode 10: QB Malik Willis entering the transfer portal, a WR grad transfer, Auburn’s football Twitter account gets suspended before and more!

DrunkAubie then discusses some of Auburn’s biggest individual foes.

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41 mins ago

Funeral set for Auburn police officer killed by gunman

A police officer killed by a gunman in Alabama is being honored with a funeral at the 9,100-seat Auburn Arena.

The ceremony for Auburn police officer William Buechner is being held Friday afternoon.

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City offices are closed for the day, and residents are being asked to line a street to honor the veteran officer as the funeral procession travels from the arena to the cemetery where he will be buried.

Buechner was shot to death and two other officers wounded as police answered a call about a domestic disturbance in a mobile home park on Sunday night.

A man who led an Alabama National Guard fire team is charged with capital murder and other offenses.

The officer is survived by his wife and two children.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

State Rep. Matt Fridy: Legislature’s general fund lottery proposal would have been rejected by voters

Would voters have approved a lottery with proceeds steered to the state’s general fund over its education trust fund?

We may never know given such a proposal to do just that passed the Alabama Senate this year but was not considered by the Alabama House of Representatives. And when a lottery proposal with 25% of proceeds dedicated to the education trust fund, it still failed to pass the House.

One of those voting against it in the House was State Rep. Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo). He argued that even if the legislature had gotten enough support to get the three-fifths majority required to send a constitutional amendment for a lottery to be considered by voters on an election ballot, voters likely would have rejected it if proceeds were steered to the general fund.

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“I really haven’t heard from very many other people,” Fridy said on Thursday’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Huntsville radio’s WVNN. “Those that I have heard from, when I explained that this is not an education lottery — this is a general fund lottery for the legislators to spend on the general fund however they want to, it’s nearly unanimous that people tell me, ‘Well, I’m glad you voted no on that because I wouldn’t want that kind of lottery.'”

“I don’t see the reason for putting a lottery out there for a vote when all the polls show us that the lottery that’s being proposed is going to be voted down,” he added. “There’s no reason to waste everybody’s time on a form of a lottery that the voters are going to reject. If we’re going to come with a lottery, it’s going to be one that we feel like the people are going to pass. Otherwise, we’re just wasting everybody’s time, and we’re wasting the taxpayer’s money.”

The Shelby County Republican prefaced his remarks by saying polling he had seen wasn’t tied to this specific proposal but in general.

“I don’t think it would have,” he said. “Now, I didn’t see any specific polling data for this specific lottery proposal at this specific time. But really, I’ve seen polling over the last year with regard to the lottery that shows the kind of lottery people want to vote for is an education lottery, not a general fund lottery.”

@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 hours ago

Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles’ failure leads to max settlement allowed under state law

The State of Alabama will pay the maximum damages allowed under state law after the Board of Pardons and Paroles allegedly wrongfully paroled and failed to supervise a career criminal.

The state will pay the maximum possible settlement award, $1 million, to the families of Marie Martin, Colton Lee and Martha Reliford — the three north Alabama victims Jimmy O’Neal Spencer has been charged with murdering after his release in late 2017.

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Prior to his release and subsequent alleged murder spree, Spencer had lived a life of crime stretching across three decades, beginning in 1984 at the age of 19. He was convicted and imprisoned for numerous serious property and violent crimes, as well as for numerous disciplinary infractions in prison and for several successful escapes from prison.

On two separate occasions, Spencer was sentenced to life imprisonment. In one memorable case, he attempted to burglarize an occupied home and, refusing to retreat, had to be shot by the homeowner.

Despite all of this, Spencer was granted parole by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles on November 2, 2017.

Spencer was at that time released to a homeless shelter in Birmingham where he was supposed to remain for six months. However, after only three weeks, he left.

Spencer then traveled to Guntersville, where he had several run-ins with law enforcement and was charged for multiple violations of the law, including: traffic offenses, possession of drug paraphernalia, attempting to elude police, resisting arrest and illegal possession of a firearm.

Nonetheless, his parole was not revoked — which seemingly led to three innocent lives being taken.

Less than six months after being released, in July 2018, Spencer allegedly murdered Reliford through blunt-force trauma to her head. Her body was discovered only after the bodies of Martin and her seven-year-old grandson, Lee, were found in a nearby home. They also had been brutally murdered.

Spencer was charged in the three deaths with capital murder in August 2018. He is currently awaiting trial in the Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery. The attorney general’s office noted that defendants in criminal cases are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Attorney General Marshall recused himself and was not a part of the settlement negotiations, having previously known two of the victims. He released a statement after the settlement was finalized.

Marshall said, “Marie Martin, Colton Lee and Martha Reliford died horrifically and senselessly at the hands of a monster—Jimmy O’Neal Spencer.”

“Ms. Reliford and Mrs. Martin, whom I knew personally, have been on my mind since July,” the attorney general continued. “Every time I think of what they suffered through, I get angry. I am angry, certainly at Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, but I am also angry that a process designed to protect the public from deviant criminals like Spencer utterly failed them, as well as little Colton.”

The settlement comes as crucial legislation is pending in the Alabama Legislature to reform the Board of Pardons and Paroles to ensure this type of avoidable case never happens again.

That legislation sponsored by State Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper), HB 380, has passed the House but is yet to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislature is expected to wrap up its 2019 regular session next week.

Marshall’s office crafted the bill and has been a vocal advocate for its passage, as has Governor Kay Ivey.

“Sadly, we know that these victims aren’t the only ones that have been failed by our broken system of pardons and paroles, and that is why I continue to advocate for much-needed legislative reforms,” Marshall concluded.

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