3 weeks ago

‘VETO’: Governor Kay Ivey takes strong stand for Alabama’s children

Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday announced she has vetoed Democrat-sponsored SB 94, which would have delayed implementation of the Alabama Literacy Act’s retention component by two years.

This aspect of the Literacy Act, passed by the legislature in 2019, is set to take effect following the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year. It would require that students be able to read at grade level before advancing to the fourth grade.

SB 94 — sponsored by Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) and carried in the House by Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile) — would have pushed that requirement back until the end of the 2023-2024 school year, potentially seeing two more classes of students statewide be promoted to the fourth grade whether they could read or not. The bill was passed by the Alabama Legislature even though studies have shown that 74% of struggling readers at the end of the third grade will not ever catch up if allowed to move on. Opponents of SB 94 argued that the bill would effectively doom these children to failure.

“As a former teacher and even more so as governor, I believe early literacy is the gateway to all learning,” Governor Ivey said in a Thursday statement. “In the past several days, I have heard from Alabamians who support and from those who oppose the legislature’s approval of a two-year delay of the third-grade promotion policy included in the Alabama Literacy Act.”

“Everyone agrees that the past 15 months of the Covid-19 pandemic have been hard on all Alabamians, including school personnel, students and parents,” she noted. “However, to establish any delay at all in the Alabama Literacy Act prior to analyzing the 2020-2021 summative assessment data for reading would be hasty and premature. Therefore, I have notified the sponsors of the promotion policy delay that I have vetoed SB 94.”

Ivey has also moved to ensure all relevant data will be available for the Legislature to act upon ahead of the retention requirement going into effect in 2022. The 2022 regular session will start well ahead of the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

“Furthermore, as president of the Alabama State Board of Education, I am requesting that the state superintendent of education and his staff provide the board, and the public, a full and complete review of the Spring 2021 Assessment results in all subjects and grades, but in particular the data on reading in the early grades as soon as the data are available and have been analyzed. Once that is completed, I will ask the Alabama Committee on Grade Level Reading to review the relevant data and make recommendations regarding any necessary action,” the governor explained. “All the aforementioned work can take place this year, well ahead of any deadlines identified in the Alabama Literacy Act.”

“As we address the impact of the pandemic on our students, we need the support and focus the Alabama Literacy Act provides: identifying and supporting struggling readers, teacher training and coaching, and clear communication with parents on where their children have needs and how those needs are being addressed. We must remain focused on ensuring that our students have the foundational reading skills they need to succeed,” she concluded.

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

7 mins ago

7 Things: Obamacare is here to stay, Juneteenth made a holiday, Alabama wants prison lawsuit narrowed and more …

7. Bringing the least interesting person from the Biden/Harris team will get people vaccinated

  • In an effort to encourage more people in Alabama to take the coronavirus vaccine, second gentleman Doug Emhoff paid a visit to Birmingham at a coronavirus vaccination site.
  • During his visit, Emhoff said for Alabama to reach a vaccination rate of 70%, which is President Joe Biden’s national goal by July 4, “we have work to do.” Currently, almost 49% of adults in Alabama have been vaccinated; nationally, 65% of adults have been vaccinated.

6. Religious foster agency can continue to exclude same-sex couples

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  • In a 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Catholic Social Services could continue participating in the Philadelphia foster care program, despite them not allowing same-sex couples to foster through their program.
  • The main claim is that excluding the Catholic organization was a violation of First Amendment rights, but the city argued that the organization “lacks a constitutional right to demand that DHS offer it a contract that omits the same nondiscrimination requirement every other FFCA must follow when performing services for the City.”

5. Mo Brooks welcomes media attacks

  • U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has already received attacks in the U.S. Senate race from fellow candidates and media outlets, but Brooks isn’t bothered by the attacks. Instead, he said that the attacks are “one of the best endorsements a Republican candidate can get.”
  • Brooks was specifically referring to attacks from AL.com and the Alabama Reporter. Brooks added that fellow candidate former Business Council of Alabama president Katie Britt is engaging in “fifth-grade tactics where you just start throwing names at other people, and when you do that, you’ve already lost the argument.” He went on to add that Britt “is a registered lobbyist … for the Business Council of Alabama whose number one agenda item has been to import cheap foreign labor.”

4. Air Force continues support of moving U.S. Space Command, another objection dismissed

  • Again, acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth has said that the decision to move the U.S. Space Command Headquarters from Colorado to Huntsville, Alabama, was not a political decision but rather the decision “was the result of our strategic basing process.”
  • Roth was also very open about providing documents on how the decision was made. He also mentioned that they’re currently in the “environmental analysis” portion of the relocation process. When the question of the cost of a new building came up, Roth said, “We were going to have to build a building whether it was in Colorado Springs or whether it was in Huntsville.” He mentioned the much lower cost of building in Huntsville.

3. More prisons need to be built, but Alabama wants part of DOJ lawsuit dismissed

  • Lawyers for the Alabama Department of Corrections have asked that the portion of the Department of Justice lawsuit against the state prisons specifically claiming shortage of correctional officers and unsafe and unsanitary conditions be dismissed.
  • The Department of Corrections is already under orders from a federal court decision to increase the number of correctional officers at facilities, and lawyers have argued that the allegations about unsafe conditions are too vague and aren’t concerning a majority of the prisons.

2. Juneteenth is a state and federal holiday now

  • Just after it was confirmed as a federal holiday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that she made Juneteenth a state holiday for Alabama. This will allow most state employees to have the day off on Friday, except where it’s essential.
  • Juneteenth is held on June 19 to celebrate the day in 1865 when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas, were freed. Ivey intends to have the legislature consider making Juneteenth a state holiday, but she could also declare the day a holiday in future years, as well.

1. Supreme Court upholds Obamacare

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the decision that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is constitutional, but some Republican lawmakers are now arguing that the court ignored some of the main arguments over the constitutionality. The court’s decision was 7-2.
  • Eighteen states were involved in the case against the Affordable Care Act, including Texas. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “[T]he individual mandate – was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional. Yet, seven justices decided to avoid the question of the constitutionality by limiting its decision to a ruling on standing.”

46 mins ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.

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“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@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.

1 hour ago

Ainsworth scores Tuberville endorsement

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has thrown his support to Will Ainsworth as the first-term lieutenant governor ramps up his reelection bid. Ainsworth announced Tuberville’s backing in a release from his campaign on Thursday.

The former college football coach offered that his endorsement of Ainsworth was an easy play call for him.

“I’ve spent most of my life recruiting,” Tuberville explained. “When you run across leadership it stands out, and I’ve seen firsthand that’s especially true in the political arena. Alabama is a gritty, hardworking,
conservative state that puts God and family first.”

He continued, “I’m proud to endorse Will Ainsworth for Lt. Governor as the leader that reflects the work ethic and values of the great state of Alabama!”

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After announcing in front of 3,000 people during the first week in June that he would seek reelection, Ainsworth has now picked up the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association in addition to that of Tuberville.

Ainsworth welcomed the support from Alabama’s newest U.S. Senator.

“I am proud to have Senator Tuberville’s endorsement as I seek a second term as lieutenant governor to continue building a 21st century Alabama in which our people can earn a good living at a high-paying job and raise their families in safe, strong communities,” he remarked. “I’m focused on taking our Christian conservative values to Montgomery every day, ensuring we preserve and better the Alabama we all know and love for future generations to enjoy.”

Ainsworth’s first term has been marked by his heavy involvement in the state’s economic issues.

He has overseen the Alabama Small Business Commission, a panel tasked with recommending policies and legislation benefiting small businesses operating across the state.

During last year’s COVID-19 crisis, Ainsworth formed an emergency task force within the commission to focus on the reopening of Alabama’s economy. Most of the task force’s plan was implemented by the state during the reopening process.

Ainsworth has also served as chairman of the Aerospace States Association, a national group whose mission is to support and promote the interests of the aerospace industry in Alabama and across the nation.

Ainsworth has outlined that his focus moving forward would be to preserve Alabama values while improving opportunities for future generations.

“The main reason I’m running is for my kids, your kids, your grandkids’ future,” he stated. “It is a huge time commitment, but I want to say this: I want our kids, your kids, everybody in here to always be proud to call Alabama home. I don’t want our kids to have to move to Atlanta or Nashville or Austin or another state. I want them to be able to live right here in Alabama and have the same opportunities as any kids in the world. We’re going to do that.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

16 hours ago

Dale Jackson: Governor Kay Ivey may have some challengers after all

The conventional wisdom is that Governor Kay Ivey is an unbeatable juggernaut.

The idea was if Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth was to challenge Ivey, he would have a shot yet still probably lose while no one else would even have a shot.

But recently, the rumor mill is out here running and churning out a couple of possibilities for candidates that are considering challenging Kay Ivey.

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Under intense questioning on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” former State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) offered up clues on the identities of these names that are being suggested.

The clues?

Candidate 1:

  • A candidate in the 2022 U.S. Senate race
  • She won’t get 10 points against U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)
  • Could get a Trump endorsement

Candidate 2:

  • A candidate who ran for the office before and had a stumble
  • “This is Alabama. We speak English.”

The clues lead us to two very distinct candidates.

Candidate 1 is the former ambassador to Slovenia under Trump, Lynda Blanchard.

Candidate 2 is a son of former Gov. Fob James and third-place 2010 GOP primary-finisher Tim James.

Could either of these individuals mount a challenge against Kay Ivey?

Maybe, but what is the argument that the state needs new leadership?

Gas tax?

Lockdown?

Mask mandate?

Soon to be new prisons?

Do these issues motivate people?

Altogether, it may move the needle, but Governor Ivey is a well-known and well-liked politician overseeing a recovering economy on the heels of a global pandemic.

Those in the political world will say she isn’t being seen enough, but that is an inside baseball complaint.

Neither of these individuals have a groundswell of support from people clamoring to enter the fray, but if Alabamians are given another choice for governor, maybe it will turn into a race that ends up surprisingly competitive.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

19 hours ago

Real estate firm Audubon makes $32.7 million investment in Alabama multifamily property

ATLANTA – Audubon, an Atlanta-based real estate firm specializing in the acquisition, development and management of multifamily properties, announced it has closed on the purchase of Parks at Wakefield & Wellington, its first acquisition in Alabama. The total cost of the transaction was $32.7 million, or $80,147 per unit. Audubon’s portfolio of owned-and-operated multifamily assets now includes 6,200 units in 22 properties across five states.

The newest property, located just outside Birmingham in Hoover, Alabama, has been renamed Cadence at Bluff Park. The 408-unit property was originally built in 1973 and covers just under 24 acres, creating an open and accessible garden-style community within the Bluff Park neighborhood. The location also offers a plethora of walkable restaurant and retail destinations, including an adjacent shopping center undergoing a $10 million renovation.

“The outskirts of Birmingham have proven to be a hot spot for those who want to be near a metro area, but prefer to live outside of the hustle and bustle of the city itself,” said Myles Cunningham, chief investment officer for Audubon. “We relished the opportunity to further grow our footprint into Alabama and continue bolstering our portfolio across the Southeast.”

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Specializing in full-scale overhauls, Audubon is planning significant upgrades throughout Cadence at Bluff Park. The changes will be evident for those passing through and around the community, with updated exteriors on all buildings, fresh landscaping, a conversion of the tennis courts into a grilling area and dog park, the installation of a new playground, the transformation of the pool to a splash park for kids, and improvements to the parking lot and streets within the complex.

The same level of attention will be paid to interior upgrades, with Class-A finishes planned for every unit. Additionally, the leasing office and fitness center will be renovated and a new amenity building will be constructed.

“We know these are ambitious plans, but it was important to us to show existing and future residents we are committed to making Cadence at Bluff Park one of the premier multifamily communities in Birmingham,” added Cunningham.

The $14.7 million capital improvement program will begin immediately and is expected to be completed within the next two years.

Audubon is an Atlanta-based firm specializing in the acquisition and management of multifamily properties throughout the Southeastern region of the United States. With a senior staff that has collectively acquired, managed and renovated more than 50,000 apartment units, Audubon has a wide range of experience and expertise in repositioning multifamily assets. For more information, please visit http://www.acmapts.com.