1 year ago

State Sen. Stutts: Medical marijuana commission ripe for corruption — Would be Scrushy, Siegelman CON board saga ‘on steroids’

TUSCUMBIA — State Sen. Larry Stutts’ (R-Cherokee) opposition to the legalization of medical marijuana in Alabama is well documented.  The still-practicing obstetrician opposes the use of medicinal marijuana, citing its benefits have yet to be sufficiently proven.

As the state legislature is weighing the possibility of the drug’s legalization for medical purposes, Stutts warns of additional consequences should the current proposal under consideration be passed into law.

During a meeting of the Shoals Republican Club on Saturday, the Colbert County lawmaker said there was the possibility the commission created by the current proposed legislation would be susceptible to corruption. He said the 11-member commission created by proposal was akin to alleged Certificate of Need Board abuses, which led to the downfalls of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and former Gov. Don Siegelman.

“Let me tell you how the bill sets it up — it sets up an 11-member commission that’s appointed that determines who gets to grow it, who gets to process it, and who gets to sell it,” Stutts said. “Let’s look back just a few years when Richard Scrushy and Don Siegelman went to prison. It was worth $500,000 for Richard Scrushy to get a seat on the Certificate of Need (CON) Board. How much do you think it would be worth to get to be one of the 11 people that control marijuana in the entire state? You talk about expanding government and the potential for corruption.”

“The bill specifies they’re going to give out 34 licenses for dispensaries around the state,” he continued. “How much would it be worth to get one of those 34 licenses? How much would it be worth to get the dispensary permit for Jefferson County, for the City of Birmingham? You talk about opening up the potential for corruption? And having an 11-member appointed [board]? You’re almost creating a whole new branch of government that’s going to oversee. It’s going to be taxed at 9%. How many millions and millions of dollars is that going to generate, and you’ve got an 11-member commission that decides who gets to do that. To me, it is just so much potential for growing government, raising taxes, and the potential for abuse of that system is just astronomical. That is the CON board on steroids, in my opinion.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

11 hours ago

WBRC’s James-Paul Dice signing off after 26-year career in television

One of the most familiar faces on Alabama television is signing off the air tonight.

WBRC-TV’s James-Paul Dice has been the chief meteorologist at the Birmingham TV powerhouse for 13 of his 26-year career in television.

The beloved weatherman is starting a new career as a corporate pilot, flying Gulfstream IV business jets for Birmingham-based Drummond Company.

Dice will deliver his final weather forecast Friday night at 10 p.m. on WBRC TV Fox-6.

In a tweet, WBRC thanked Dice and wished him well on his new journey.

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12 hours ago

Gov. Ivey announces final recipients of Public School and College Authority bond

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Friday announced the remaining $23.5 million of the Public School and College Authority (PSCA) bond issue to five entities across the Yellowhammer State.

“I’m pleased to announce the more than $23.5 million to worthy infrastructural projects and upgrades to our educational facilities,” Governor Ivey said. “These remaining PSCA funds will make needed improvements to our public educational facilities, which will have a lasting impact on future generations of Alabamians. I am extremely grateful to Alabama’s retiring Finance Director Kelly Butler for his diligence on this project to ensure we are investing wisely in meaningful education and workforce efforts.”

“There is no question these dollars will provide a positive return on investment to the citizens of Alabama,” Kelly Butler said. “Despite the challenges of the last year, Governor Ivey and the members of the Alabama Legislature displayed great leadership by pursuing this important and meaningful initiative to transform our educational institutions.”

The PSCA projects announced today are as follows:

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University of Alabama:

The $16.5 million for the Smart Communities & Innovation Building will provide the critical research infrastructure for the transportation industry in Alabama. Ivey said the investment will position Alabama to be a national leader in innovation relating to mobility and be able to power and connect smart and resilient communities. This project will facilitate a public-private partnership between the state, the University of Alabama, Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International with the likelihood of additional partnerships in the near future.

Senators Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Gerald Allen (R-Northport) and Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) applauded the announcement.

Reed says the investments will strengthen the state’s research efforts relating to automotive manufacturing.

“I fully believe that this investment by the state will modernize Alabama’s research and development in the next generation of electric vehicle technology in a manner responsive to industry and with an eye for future growth,” said Reed.

Allen praised the teamwork that was necessary to make the project come to fruition.

“This is great news for the Tuscaloosa community, the University of Alabama and our state as a whole,” said Allen. “A number of highly motivated people and organizations have come together and created a mission to set our state on a path towards a bright future in this important, fast-growing industry.”

Singleton says the investment will place the state in a strong position to supply global markets.

“Alabama will be on the forefront of this technology, which will lead to new and greener jobs for the people of our state,” said Singleton. “The international community is demanding battery-powered vehicles and this investment by the state will make West Alabama a global leader in this field.”

Snead State Community College:

$4 million to assist in establishing a regional workforce training center in Marshall County.

Talladega County Schools:

$1.75 million to create the East Alabama Rural Innovation and Training Hub.

Alabama A&M University:

$508,754.17 to be applied toward various capital improvement and deferred maintenance projects.

Alabama State University:

$763,600.00 for the Southern Normal School in Brewton (Escambia County) is the oldest African-American boarding school in Alabama. This investment will provide immediate improvements to seven buildings on the campus.

During the 2020 State of the State, Governor Ivey announced her support of SB 242, the PSCA Bond Issue for public schools to use toward construction, safety improvement or technology upgrades. The PSCA is comprised of Governor Kay Ivey, State Finance Director Kelly Butler and Alabama Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey.

SB 242 authorized the PSCA to sell up to $1.25B in bonds and allocated money to every city and county K-12 school system and to higher education institutions. 73% of the funds went to K-12 schools and 27% to two-and four-year colleges.

Due to low interest rates, the bond sale resulted in the PSCA receiving over $300 million in premium revenues. The true interest cost of the bonds is 2.145% over the 20-year repayment period.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

14 hours ago

Landing commits $1 million to growth of Birmingham tech ecosystem

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Landing, a fast-growing company building a nationwide network of furnished apartments available to members, today announced a $1 million investment in Birmingham’s expanding tech ecosystem as it hosted officials at an event to unveil its new headquarters.

The announcement follows last month’s announcement that the company planned to move its headquarters from San Francisco to Birmingham, where it will hire over 800 people as it accelerates its growth plans.

“Landing has seen incredible growth since the company launched in 2019, and we couldn’t be more excited to share that success with Birmingham,” said Landing Founder and CEO Bill Smith, a founder of grocery delivery marketplace Shipt, also based in Birmingham.

“We are proud to be part of one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country, bringing new jobs and economic opportunity to the region,” he added.

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Smith joined Governor Kay Ivey and local officials today at Landing’s new headquarters in the John Hand Building in downtown Birmingham.

“We are delighted to welcome Landing to Alabama,” Governor Ivey said. “We hope this is a message to the citizens of Alabama and people everywhere that we, as a state, are focused on driving innovation and opportunity.”

DEVELOPING TECH TALENT

Landing said it is committed to serving as a leader in the evolution of Birmingham’s workforce and the city’s booming technology industry, bringing 816 new, full-time jobs and $1.3 billion in payroll to the city over the next 20 years.

“Landing’s decision to accelerate its growth plans in Birmingham speaks volumes about the potential the company sees there,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“We hope this project becomes another milestone development that points the way for expanded innovation opportunities in Birmingham and across the state.”

Landing’s $1 million investment will be used to continue to nurture the city’s technology and innovation community by developing top tech talent across the region and attracting high-potential tech startups.

Alongside recruitment efforts, Landing will launch Landing Fellows, a two-year, advanced fellowship program for early career applicants, recent grads and career changers who will work full time in Landing’s Birmingham headquarters. Recruitment for this fellowship program will start in the area in the fall, with the program launch slated for next summer.

“We are a rapidly expanding tech hub here in the Magic City,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “It’s fitting that Bill is again a part of growing our technology industry, as Shipt propelled Birmingham’s tech reputation and now Landing continues that growth with elite recruitment and training opportunities.

“Birmingham is quickly becoming a destination for some of the top tech talent in the country, and this significant investment by Landing will continue adding to our ever-growing workforce,” he added.

Birmingham has already seen investments in its tech ecosystem from global giants like Apple, which is growing a diverse STEM workforce in Birmingham through local nonprofits including Ed Farm and TechBirmingham.

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) this month recognized Birmingham as the one of the nation’s Top 10 metro areas for month-over-month tech job postings during the first half of 2021.

“The addition of Landing and Landing Fellows is a huge win for Birmingham,” said Ron Kitchens, CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance. “We cannot wait to continue growing Birmingham as a haven for businesses and a destination for some of the top talent in the state and the region.”

“Landing’s move to Birmingham offers us a chance to showcase Jefferson County,” added Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons. “We are proud to continue supporting businesses that bring jobs to Birmingham from around the country, and particularly those that invest proactively in tech talent and ecosystems.”

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

17 hours ago

Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest opens August 2

The 2022 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest will begin accepting entries on Monday, August 2, 2021. This year’s contest is a joint project between the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and the Alabama Tourism Department. The deadline to enter is October 31, 2021.

The 2022 photo contest will focus on traditional photography techniques and the use of hand-held cameras. No cellphone, smartphone, game camera, or drone photography will be chosen as winning photos for nine of the 10 categories. Smartphone and tablet photos will be accepted in the Young Photographers category.

The photo contest is open to state residents and visitors alike, but qualifying photos must have been taken in Alabama in the past two years. Any amateur photographer not employed by ADCNR is encouraged to enter.

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A total of eight photos per person may be entered in the following categories. You may enter all eight in one category or among several categories.

2022 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest Categories:
• Alabama State Parks
• Birds
• Bugs and Butterflies
• Cold-blooded Critters
• Nature-Based Recreation
• Scenic
• Shoots and Roots
• Sweet Home Alabama
• Wildlife
• Young Photographers (ages 17 and under)

First, second, third and one honorable mention will be awarded in each category. Winning images will be featured online and in an exhibit traveling to various venues across the state during 2022.

Art teachers are encouraged to incorporate participation in the Young Photographers category into their art instruction this fall.

An exhibit of the 2021 winning photos will be on display at the Johnson Center for the Arts, 300 E. Walnut St., in Troy, Alabama, from August 11, 2021 – September 11, 2021. To view the winning photos online, visit here.

For complete 2022 category descriptions and contest rules, visit www.outdooralabama.com/outdoor-alabama-photo-contest.

19 hours ago

Regions reports second quarter earnings of $748 million based on delivery of ‘solid performance’

Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corporation announced its second quarter 2021 earnings on Friday.

The company reported net income available to common shareholders of $748 million and earnings per diluted share of $0.77. The company’s total revenue grew 2% compared to second quarter 2020.

John Turner, president and CEO of Regions Financial Corporation, sees the opportunity for continued growth.

“Our teams delivered solid performance throughout the second quarter, and as a result of our strategic planning and key investments, we are well positioned to generate long-term, sustainable growth over time,” he said in a release from the company.

He cited growth within the company’s markets as a reason for the encouraging outlook.

“Regions operates in highly attractive markets that are benefiting from favorable population trends and strong employment opportunities,” Turner explained. “In each of these markets, our bankers are serving new and long-term customers through customized financial insights, enhanced technology and a commitment to superior service. We have taken several steps – adding talented bankers, investing in service and delivery channels, and enhancing our capabilities through our bolt-on acquisition strategy – to build on our momentum and create greater value for customers, communities, and shareholders over time.”

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Regions emphasized that its digital investments are generating returns, its business segments are proving resilient amid pandemic recovery conditions and its strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, are delivering results.

The company noted that increased consumer engagement with the bank’s online and mobile banking platforms is generating 9% year-over-year growth in active digital banking users and 13% year-over-year growth in active mobile banking users.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Regions Financial Corporation is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services.

Regions operates across the South, Midwest and Texas.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia