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4 months ago

Taylor’s Top Four: Legislative review for week 11

The countdown is on! What’s happening as the session winds down? Read below to find out!

1. Gun bills might be finished for this session . . .  

With time quickly winding down in the legislative session, the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee had a meeting scheduled on Tuesday to consider several things: a bill that raises the age to by an AR-15 from 18 to 21, a bill that would allow judges to take firearms away from individuals who might use them for self-harm or harm to others, and a bill that would ban the sale of AR-15s and other similar guns. The meeting was canceled due to lack of participation—only 4 of the 11 representatives on the committee showed up for the meeting. Additionally, the house, on Tuesday, left without debating Representative Will Ainsworth’s (R-Guntersville) bill to arm teachers. With the session expected to end next week and with no action on the bills this week, it appears that time has run out for these bills this session. Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has said that Ainsworth’s bill will come up again next session, while Ainsworth has called on Governor Ivey to call a special session to consider school safety proposals.

2. But school safety still looks to be a priority of the legislature.

Just because the legislature isn’t making a decision about arming teachers this session does not mean that they are not concerned with school safety. A bill before the legislature would allow school districts to take money from the Advancement and Technology fund. According to Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), “If [the school systems] have some security needs, whether those are security cameras or improving door lock systems or alert systems or whatever the case may be, the local districts will have the flexibility to point these resources to those specific needs.” The bill previously passed the Senate, passed the house this week, and now heads back to the Senate for a conference committee or concurrence vote.

3. A bill that would bring an ethics law change for economic developers is still moving, but maybe not for long. 

Remember the controversial ethics bill that the House passed by a large margin during week 9 of the legislative session? As a reminder, this bill would allow economic developers to be exempt from the rules that lobbyists are subject to, which includes registration as a lobbyist,  annual training, and reporting of activities. Earlier week, the bill was passed by the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee. On Thursday, Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) told reporter Chip Brownlee that there are a handful of senators ready to filibuster the bill in its current form. Brian Lyman reported that there may be a substitute in the works, which would be brought up on Tuesday.

4. BJCC expansion is one step closer to becoming a reality.

You might remember hearing about a proposal to renovate and grow the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex by adding a stadium. Well, in order to fund that project, there is a bill currently before the legislature that imposes a 3% tax on car rentals and leases in Jefferson County. According to Barnett Wright with The Birmingham Times, “The rental tax is expected to generate about $3.5 million a year to help pay the debt service on the project, which the BJCC Authority estimates will be about $21.5 million a year.” The bill, sponsored by Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) and Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia Hills), has passed both chambers and heads to Governor Ivey for a signature.

You also might want to know about…

—  Governor Ivey signed a few things into law this week, including…

—  A bill that would allow death row inmates a third option for execution—nitrogen hypoxia.

—  A contract with Wexford Health to handle the medical and mental health care at Alabama’s prisons. If you remember, the legislature held up the signing of this contract several weeks ago.

—  A tax break for low-income and middle-income individuals and families in Alabama.

—  The Child Care Safety Act, a bill by Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) that allows for more oversight into religious and non-religious day care facilities.

—   Senator Bill Hightower’s (R-Mobile) bill to allow Alabamians to vote on whether or not they want legislators to be term-limited did not pass in the Senate this week.

—   Alabama is one of only two states that does not have a law mandating equal pay for men and women. A bill by Representative Adeline Clark (D-Mobile) would change that, but since it did not get a committee vote this week, it is unlikely to pass.

—   The legislature has approved a bill that will allow UAB to create the Rural Hospital Resource Center, a facility that will be able to provide assistance to Alabama’s rural hospitals.

—   In November, voters will get to decide on a constitutional amendment that will allow the display of the ten commandments on public property, including schools.

—   After the threat of a filibuster, the stand-your-ground-in-church bill, which was up for debate in the Senate this week, has been stalled.

—   The Alabama Rural Broadband Act, a proposal that would offer grants to companies that will bring broadband internet to Alabama’s rural areas, has passed the legislature and is waiting for the governor’s signature.

31 mins ago

Man arrested in connection to triple murder in Alabama

Police say a man has been arrested in connection to a triple murder in Alabama.

Guntersville Police told WAFF-TV that 52-year-old Jimmy O’Neal Spencer was arrested Tuesday on four counts of capital murder.

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The bodies of 74-year-old Marie Kitchens Martin and her 7-year-old great-grandson, Colton Ryan Lee, were found in a home on Friday, and 65-year-old neighbor Martha Reliford in her home.

Spencer was taken to the Marshall County Jail.

The body of a missing man, James Michael Baker, was found near the crime scene. Investigators have not determined his death to be connected.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 hours ago

President Trump congratulates Rep. Martha Roby on her runoff victory

President Trump took to Twitter Wednesday to congratulate Rep. Martha Roby in her House District 2 primary runoff victory against former District 2 congressman Bobby Bright.

Trump expressed that his endorsement contributed to Roby’s “landslide victory.”

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There were questions, particularly among national news commentators, about whether Roby would be able to overcome the stigma of de-endorsing President Trump in the 2016 election, but his support for her put that question largely to bed.

“I’m honored and humbled that the people of Alabama’s Second District have again placed their trust and confidence in me, and that I will have the opportunity to continue to do this job on their behalf,” Roby said in a statement, in part. “On behalf of my family and me, thank you to each person who went out to the polls today to support me.”

“Over the last year and a half, it’s been a great privilege to be a part of the conservative momentum and to work alongside my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to push some very important priorities over the finish line. We are in a unique position to accomplish even more, and I’m eager to continue the fight,” she also said.

Roby faces Democrat Tabitha Isner in November.

4 hours ago

Rex Lumber Co. to build new facility, bring more than 100 jobs to Alabama

A lumber company is investing $110 million in a new facility in Alabama’s Pike County, bringing more than 100 new jobs.

WSFA-TV reports Rex Lumber Co. announced Tuesday at a groundbreaking ceremony that the new facility will be located 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Troy in the Harmony Community. It expects to employ around 110 people.

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Officials say the Southern Yellow Pine sawmill is expected to be operation by June 2019.

Currently, Rex Lumber Co. operates sawmills in Graceville and Bristol, Florida. They also have a site in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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About last night: Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

North Alabama has spoken.
When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

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Both candidates hail from Marshall County and both effectively energized their bases in the Fourth and Fifth Congressional Districts. This is particularly evident when you look at their margins of victory in those north Alabama counties compared to the performances of their opponents in their own base counties. Ainsworth and Marshall won big at home.

With Ainsworth and Marshall the presumptive winners in November (more on that below), north Alabama could have the Speaker of the House, the Lt. Governor and the Attorney General in positions of power.

Keep an eye on this dynamic in the 2020 race for the U.S. Senate.

Democrats?
Several months ago, a fashionable narrative developed among some that Democrats were going to move the needle in November 2018. In fairness to the delusional, much of this was borne out of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the Moore-Jones election.

However, these runoff elections are a culmination of months now during which no one is seriously talking about Democrats — let alone their chances in November.

Even the ultra-liberal New York Times, which is an arm of the Democratic Party, posted this statement as part of its updated Alabama primary election results on June 11:

“In deep-red Alabama, the Republican primary almost certainly determined the general election winner.”

Democrat candidates up and down the ballot — from Walt Maddox in the Governor’s race to Democrat legislators like Johnny Mack Morrow — will tilt at their windmills. But they won’t be able to escape Nancy Pelosi and their own party’s dysfunction.

Expect big Republican wins in November.

It’s time to change Alabama’s runoffs.
South Carolina holds their runoffs three weeks after the primary. Alabama puts six weeks between its primary and its runoff.

In South Carolina’s top race, there were only 24,000 fewer votes in the runoff than there were in the primary. That was only a 6.5% decrease.

In Alabama’s top runoff race, there was a nearly 200,000 total vote difference between the primary and the runoff. That’s a 37.5% decrease in participation. Undoubtedly, those three extra weeks, which bring the runoff deep into the summer, contribute significantly to voter apathy.

South Carolina has established an efficient process for handling military absentee ballots within its three-week runoff. Alabama should do the same.

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5 hours ago

7 Things: Trump backtracks on trusting Putin, election results, new permanent tax cuts, and more …

1. President Donald Trump backtracks and tells an absurd lie 

— After stating he believes Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence officials, President Trump backtracked. He received intense criticism from within his own party, from Democrats and from a deranged media.

— In a statement read by the president of the United States, and believed by no one, he states, “The sentence should’ve been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.'”

2. And the winners are…

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— Attorney General Steve Marshall crushes former AG Troy King in a race that wasn’t even close.  Marshall will face former Democrat AG and Governor’s son Joseph Siegelman.

— State Rep. Will Ainsworth squeaks by in the Lt. Gov. race, barely beating the more well-known candidate Twinkle Cavanaugh to be the odds-on on favorite to win the job in November. (Quick: Who is the Democrat candidate for Lt. Gov.?)

3. New tax cuts

— A second round of tax cuts, and a move to make the tax cuts permanent, are being discussed by the White House and Congressional Republicans. The fact they expired was a major part of the complaints by Democrats on the issue.

— Democrats, who still don’t want tax cuts, have filed a frivolous lawsuit with the federal government because blue states taxes are so high and the 1st round of tax cuts capped deductions on state taxes that could be deducted.

4. Toyota CEO continues to sound the alarm on Trump’s tariffs and how they will impact Alabama

— Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama President wrote that a 25% tariff on foreign automobiles will have a devastating impact on manufacturing.

— This is exactly the argument Kay Ivey made earlier this summer when she said, “Import tariffs, and any retaliatory tariffs on American made goods, will harm Alabama, the companies that have invested billions of dollars in our state, and the thousands of households, which are dependent upon those companies for a good-paying job.”

5. After a hate-love relationship with Trump, Congresswoman Martha Roby survives in Alabama’s only real contested Congressional race

— Roby absolutely destroyed former Democrat turned Republican Bobby Bright. Bright was possibly the worst GOP primary candidate if the goal is to point out the divisions in the GOP because he has a vote for Nancy Pelosi on his resume.

— The “can she overcome talking bad about Trump?” narrative should die — it will not.

6. More details emerge about Governor Bentley’s past and present with Rebekah Caldwell Mason

— Bentley continues to deny the affair with his former aide was sexual, which really stretches the bounds of believability.

— The former governor’s love-interest is apparently still working with Bentley at his dermatology office in Tuscaloosa. She is not listed in the staff section of the website.

7. There is a silly notion working its way through the media and Democrats that anyone upset with Trump’s comments must abandon the GOP

—  A Republican Party county chairman in Ohio resigned on Monday after watching President Donald Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin, calling it a “matter of conscience”

— While this continues to be a theme, many Republicans continue to support the GOP because as I wrote for Yellowhammer yesterday, “The economy matters, the Supreme Court matters, controlling our borders matters”.