The Wire

  • Black Bear Sightings Continue to Increase in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    Add Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties to the growing list of black bear sightings in Alabama in 2018. In recent years, bears have also been recorded in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa counties. These recent sightings are more evidence of the state’s expanding black bear population.

    Biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say the increase in sightings may be due to a combination of factors including changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season. However, most spring and summer bear sightings are of juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.

    Historically, a small population of black bears have remained rooted in Mobile and Washington counties. Baldwin, Covington and Escambia counties on the Florida border host yet another population of bears. In northeast Alabama, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population.

    “While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” said Marianne Hudson, Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

    Black bears are typically secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. Occasionally, a curious bear will explore a human-populated area in search of food.

    “If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson said.

  • Rep. Byrne Releases Statement on Russia

    From a Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this morning in Helsinki.

    Congressman Byrne said: “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily. They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

  • Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Season Closes July 22

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division (MRD) announces the closure of Alabama state waters to the harvest of red snapper by private anglers and state-licensed commercial party boats at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 22, 2018. The quota of 984,291 pounds issued under NOAA Fisheries’ Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) is expected to be met by the closure date.

    “Alabama anglers fished extremely hard on the good weather days during the season,” said Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon. “That level of effort, coupled with larger average-sized fish harvested this year as compared to last year, resulted in a daily harvest rate two times higher than 2017, which prompted an earlier than anticipated closure.

    “The purpose of the EFP was to demonstrate Alabama’s ability to establish a season and monitor landings within a fixed quota and I think we have shown we can do that,” said Bannon.

    Anglers are reminded of the following:

    — Possession of red snapper in Alabama waters while state waters are closed is prohibited regardless of where the fish were harvested.
    — Alabama anglers may fish in federal waters off the coast of Alabama (outside of 9 nm) and land in a state that is open to the landing of red snapper, but they must adhere to the open state’s rules and not transit in Alabama state waters with red snapper on board.
    — The season for federally-permitted charter for-hire vessels will close at 12:01 a.m. July 22.

3 years ago

Alabama officially applies to Congress for Convention of States

United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)

WASHINGTON — After a few years of gaining momentum, a movement to apply for a Convention of the States to amend the U.S. Constitution has officially been completed in the Yellowhammer State.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution. Each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments.

The resolution passed by the Alabama Legislature strictly limits the purpose of the proposed convention to three areas:

1) Imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

The fourth state in the Union to complete the application, Alabama’s resolution calls on a Convention of the Sates to “propose amendments that would impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of congress.”

Members of the Alabama House and Senate who supported the effort say it was necessary because “the federal government has created a crushing national debt” and “invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative power of federal mandates.”

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on Thursday officially sent the application to President Obama, the Secretary of the U.S. Senate, and to the Speaker and Secretary of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This is a chance for Alabama and potentially other states across the Union to exercise their rights as a state and to stand up for those rights,” Secretary Merrill said in a press release.

Alabama’s application for the convention will remain in place unless it is revoked by a subsequent legislature. Alaska, Florida, and Georgia have also submitted their applications, and several other states have begun the process as well.


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3 years ago

Alabama House calls for Convention of States to rein in federal government

Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Yellowhammer)

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After several hours of debate Tuesday evening, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a resolution calling for a Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution. Each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments.

The resolution passed today by the Alabama House strictly limits the purpose of the proposed convention to three areas:

1) imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

This is the second year HJR112, sponsored by Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton) and cosponsored by 52 additional Republicans, has been approved by the House. Last year the resolution died in the Senate, but Rep. Johnson has high hopes that this year will be the year Alabama officially signs on to the idea of a Article V convention.

“We’re calling for restraints on the federal government,” Johnson told Yellowhammer when the resolution passed last year. “That means an amendment that forces them to balance the budget and stops these overreaching federal mandates. We’re also calling for term limits on federal elected offices.”

Johnson said the states are able to limit the scope of the convention ahead of time, to mitigate the risk of a “runaway convention.”

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson said. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

HJR112 would require the legislature to create the rules for determining the appointment and duties of delegates to the convention, as well as constitute a continuing application until at least two-thirds of all State Legislatures have made application for a convention to provide for these purposes, unless the resolution is rescinded by a succeeding legislature.


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4 years ago

Ala. senators continue push for Constitutional Convention to rein in Federal government

State Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, at the Mount Vernon Assembly in Dec. 2013.
State Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, at the Mount Vernon Assembly in Dec. 2013.

Alabama Senators Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) have for the past several months been engaged in a coordinated process with legislators from around the U.S. to move the country toward at state-led Constitutional Convention for the first time in history.

In short, a convention of the states is widely viewed as a last-ditch effort to push back against an overreaching federal government. Potential amendments being kicked around include term limits on federal lawmakers and caps on taxation and spending.

Roughly 100 state legislators from 32 states assembled at Mt. Vernon, Virginia last December to begin laying out ground rules that would be followed should such a convention ever be convened.

That process continued late last week when the Assembly of State Legislatures met again at the Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis.

The Assembly divided themselves into three committees: Judicial, Rules and Procedures, and Communications and Planning.

Sen. Orr was selected to serve on the Judicial Committee, which discussed how many states are currently calling for a convention, what type of notification is required for a call to be received by Congress, and other matters relating to the legal process of calling for a convention.

Sen. Pittman was selected to the Committee on Rules and Procedures. Among other things, Pittman’s committee affirmed the Assembly’s commitment to one state, one vote, meaning voting at any potential future conventions would not be based on each state’s population. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the Constitution.

No issues were formally discussed during the meeting. The group worked instead on the process, procedures and planning.

The Assembly’s focus on a “strict framework” stems from the fact that Article V of the U.S. Constitution leaves some ambiguity in the process of calling for a convention of the states. That has led to some concerns that a convention would be an unruly affair.

Sen. Pittman sought to ease those concerns after last December’s meeting, noting that several checks were being put in place to make a “runaway” convention impossible.

“We’re just meeting to put some rules and procedures in place, but this would be very structured,” he said. “The only way I’d support it is if it was a specific issue convention.”

Pittman reaffirmed his commitment to that process after last week’s meeting.

“Limiting the Federal Government is not going to happen inside the political culture and process of Washington, D.C.,” he told Yellowhammer. “It will require the States utilizing the Article V amendment process to reign in the excesses of the Federal authority. The first step is to draft and approve rules under which an Amendment Convention could safely take place. During this past week’s meeting in Indianapolis, I served on the Rules and Procedures Committee. We adopted the historical and fundamental rule of each state delegation having one vote. Now we can move forward with the additional rules and procedures necessary for a limited Article V Amendment Convention.”

Sen. Orr said he believes it is a positive step that legislators from all over the country have come together to start discussing an Article V convention.

“The meeting was but one more small step in what will be a very, very long process,” he said. “But one of the reasons, I believe, states have never come close to an Article V convening is that the state legislators from among the states rarely talk to one another and never have the ability to establish relationships of mutual trust. This process is changing the status quo.”

What do you think about the the potential for a Convention of the States? Do you think it’s a good idea? Let us know in the comment section below, or by tweeting @YHPolitics.


Check out more of Yellowhammer coverage of the Assembly of State Legislatures:
1. Alabama senators discuss potential constitutional convention at Mt. Vernon Assembly
2. Ala. Senators propose bills laying out guidelines for Convention of States
3. Alabama House passes resolution calling for Convention of the States


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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