3 months ago

What to expect at the Alabama State House Friday

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives is set to enter debate before taking a final vote Friday on HB 2, the Rebuild Alabama bill.

The House will gavel in at 10:30 a.m. after HB 1, HB 2 and HB 3 unanimously advanced from the Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee and received their second readings Thursday afternoon.

HB 2 is the only one of the three infrastructure bills that has been met with controversy. However, Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) told reporters that he is optimistic the bill will pass. The latest vote count the speaker had received from his whips on Wednesday saw a majority in favor of passage – 55 “yes” votes between the majority and minority caucuses. Thursday afternoon, McCutcheon said that number had grown and was continuing to trend upward for passage.

“The way the bill’s moving right now, according to a meeting I had yesterday with the minority caucus, it’s going to be a joint effort,” McCutcheon said, indicating that he expected a number of Democrats to vote in favor of the legislation.

The speaker said he is not just welcoming but “hoping” for “a lot of debate” on HB 2 when it comes to the floor.

“I would hope we’d be here through the day, all day,” McCutcheon added about the amount of debate and discussion he wants on the floor.

McCutcheon advised that State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) is “working with some of the people that have some amendments [to HB 2].” The speaker lavished praise on Poole’s leadership at multiple moments in his Thursday press gaggle, calling Poole’s opening statement at the Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee meeting earlier that day the best he had ever seen.

“I was very proud to be a state legislator when I heard him give his opening remarks to that committee,” McCutcheon said. “They were very professional, they were to the point, they were factual, and for a person living in Alabama to hear that statement that was made to that committee, he left no stone unturned. And he really addressed how important this is for us to do something when it comes to our infrastructure.”

“When people pay for their fuel at the pump, they are making the most important investment in the state they can make, bar none,” he added.

McCutcheon said the value of lives saved by investing in Alabama’s infrastructure cannot be stated in numerical terms.

“What’s one child’s life [worth]? Is it worth ten cents a gallon at a pump fill-up to save a child? Well, of course, we’d all say, ‘Well sure, that’s worth that,'” he stressed. “And then you look at the other issue, and that’s keeping us competitive with our neighboring states for jobs and the economy. And that’s important.”

Senate

On Thursday, the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee approved SB 2, which is a companion bill to HB 1. Sponsored by Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), the bill would put in place new oversight of the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and increase accountability and transparency.

“This bill dramatically increases oversight and accountability for the Department of Transportation,” Chambliss said in a statement. “Governor Ivey has put forward her Rebuild Alabama plan for modernizing Alabama’s infrastructure, and I support her proposal. At the same time, the Legislature is tasked with making sure tax dollars are being spent in a transparent, efficient, and accountable manner.”

The bill requires that the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), ALDOT’s long-range plan of road and bridge projects, be constantly available on ALDOT’s website, along with any updates of the STIP plan.

Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) spoke about this and other accountability mechanisms in the legislation during an interview on “The Dale Jackson Show” Thursday morning.

SB 2 also overhauls the Joint Transportation Committee, which has responsibility for reviewing the long-term plans and budget for ALDOT.

“Accountability is an important piece of Governor Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama plan. We still have work to do but I believe that at the end of the day we will have a piece of legislation that holds ALDOT accountable for the work they do and the money they spend,” Marsh said in a press release. “This measure of oversight must be approved to show the taxpayers how money is been used to improve roads and bridges in Alabama. I want to thank the Transportation Committee for their work on this important piece of legislation.”

The Senate will convene Friday at 1:00 p.m., at which time they could enter debate and then vote on SB 2. The bill has broad, bipartisan support and is expected to easily pass the chamber.

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

14 mins ago

Alabama red snapper fishing season set to begin

Alabama state officials are reminding recreational anglers that state and federal waters open for red snapper fishing on June 1.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division says fishing will be open Friday through Sunday from June 1 to July 28, and Thursday, July 4.

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The department says those dates only apply to those fishing from recreational boats and licensed party boats that do not have federal for-hire fishing permits.

The season for federally permitted for-hire boats have a season that runs from June 1 to Aug. 2.

Alabama’s private vessel quota for this year is about a million pounds.

The department says it will monitor landings and may adjust the private vessel season length to give anglers the most access possible while staying within the quota.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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44 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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1 hour 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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2 hours 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.