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Daily News Digest – April 10, 2019

Presented by the Alabama Sunlight Coalition

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, April 10, 2019


1. Money.

  • The General Fund budget passed the House of Representatives 103-0 Tuesday.
  • The budget allocates a $40 million increase to the Department of Corrections, a $5.7 million increase to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, and an $8 million increase to the Department of Mental Health. Medicaid actually gets a $52 million decrease, but that will be offset by federal funds.
  • Accompanying the budget was a 2 percent cost-of-living pay raise for state employees. House members named the bill in honor of the late Rep. Dimitri Polizos, who had originally introduced the legislation.
  • The $40 million plus-up for prisons should be enough to pay for 500 more corrections officers and pay raises to try to retain the ones they have.
  • Read more from The Advertiser’s Brian Lyman HERE.

2. Bags.

  • Some state lawmakers want to prohibit local governments from banning plastic bags, even though no Alabama cities have considered such action as of yet.
  • A bill sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, would prohibit local counties or municipalities from enacting any ban or tax on bags or other similar single-use items.
  • The bill passed the Senate Government Affairs Committee Tuesday. A companion proposal from Rep. Nathanial Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, is up in a House committee today.
  • “We’re just trying to provide a uniformity of commerce for the state and protect Alabama businesses and consumers so they are not charged for that,” Livingston said.
  • Some conservationists and those representing coastal communities objected to the bill.
  • Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, said he voted no on the bill because he thinks local governments should have control over it and how the problem of littering personally affects his district.
  • “I understand that this bill is about uniformity across the state, but I am a local government guy at heart and I believe that the decisions made at the local level are the best for the people,” Elliott told Alabama Daily News.
  • “There’s the undeniable link to my district because it is completely surrounded by water, that we get stuck with a lot of these plastic bags and Styrofoam products in our waterways and in the Bay, and I think we need to leave it to our local governments to address that, if possible.”
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


A message from the

Alabama Sunlight Coalition

Recently, a reporter wanted to know if Alabama midwives were serving rural communities. When she asked for this information, she ran smack into a financial hurdle.
The Attorney General’s office required the reporter sign a form agreeing to unlimited fees and waive legal rights before they would start the search.
Join the Alabama Sunlight Coalition in calling on the legislature to reform the Alabama Open Records Act and ensure records are available to taxpayers. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to bring civil lawsuits; a neutral arbiter, like an ombudsman, should be empowered to determine that certain records are accessible — or exempted — under the law.
Learn more about the #shinethelight at .

3. Prisons.

  • The Alabama Department of Corrections is looking for developers interested in building three men’s prisons that the state would then lease from private owners.
  • Responses to the Request for Proposals, or RFP, are due today. DOC says construction may cost about $900 million, which would be contracted, but leasing the prisons may cost about $78 million annually. The prisons would each hold more than 3,000 inmates.
  • News of the RFP was a hot topic on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday. Democratic Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa said Ivey’s proposal effectively bypasses the Legislature, which allocates agency money.
  • Of course, the Legislature has had the opportunity to pass a prison construction plan multiple times and come up short.
  • The debate comes as a recent U.S. Department of Justice report on Alabama men’s prisons detailed horrific conditions including rape and extortion. It said it was reasonable to believe the conditions violate the U.S. Constitution.
  • The $40 million increase for DOC is a start to improve the situation, said House Ways and Means General Fund Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark.
  • “This is a first step. It’s part of the plan. It certainly won’t be all of the plan to try to address these issues,” he said.
  • Read more about the situation from AP’s Kim Chandler HERE.


4. A Race.

The field is set for a special election in House District 74. The seat became vacant when State Rep. Dimitri Polizos passed away two weeks ago.
For the Republican Party, the candidates will be:
  • Michael Fritz
  • Tobias Grant
  • Jesse Caleb Heifner
  • Jay King
  • Charlotte Meadows, and
  • Daniel Sparkman
Sparkman is Governor Kay Ivey’s Press Secretary. Or he used to be. He had to resign late last week in order to put his name in the hat for public office and is formally announcing today.
The lone Democrat running is Rayford Mack.
House District 74 includes the middle of Montgomery, from Ann Street to Arrowhead.
Story and district map HERE .



5. Skip Tucker: Death in a small town.


  • Skip Tucker is back this week expounding on the historic Guin tornado of 1974.
  • If you remember last week’s column, Skip’s sister, Beth lived through that twister, and this week he has more details about the perilous night.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Beth Tucker slowly swam back through a twilight zone to full consciousness. 
“Sitting on wet grass in a light rain, wearing a Babydoll nightgown, she looked around in the early dark at a scene from The Twilight Zone. Destruction. Dystopian. Post-apocalyptic.
“The 23-year-old high school teacher of English began to realize she’d taken a short trip through hell. Much was gone that 20 minutes earlier had been the small northeast Alabama town of Guin, 2,000 souls. 
“At 9:02 p.m., a black cloud of whirling death screamed into town. It was a mile-wide merciless monster that seemed to its victims to be malevolent and sentient. They felt it had hunted them. Just that quick, 28 were dead and 250 injured.
“Only in the coming days would she learn she’d been drawn into the heartless maw of an F5-plus tornado. And that she’d earned membership to an extremely exclusive group…”
  • Read Skip’s full column HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill that would prohibit cities from banning plastic bags passes committee
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama budget seeks to begin addressing prison problems
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey spokesman runs in GOP House primary
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: Death in a Small Town
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Literacy bill focuses on early reading, holding back third graders with poor skills
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Inside 12 days of turmoil that shook Homeland Security
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – April 9, 2019
AL.COM  – Alabama House passes $40 million prison increase, state employee raise
AL.COM  – Gov. Ivey to make ‘major economic announcement’ in Athens
AL.COM  – Opponents say bill in Legislature protects puppy mills
AL.COM  – Bag bans banned in ‘Bama? Bill would keep Alabama cities from banning plastic bags, foam cups
AL.COM  – UAB creates program for opioid users
AL.COM  – Gun control debate continues to spark in Mobile
AL.COM  – Alabama seeks companies to build 3 men’s prisons
AL.COM  – Kay Ivey’s former press secretary running for Alabama House
AL.COM  – SPLC proposes fixes for Alabama prison violence
AL.COM  – Trump takes aim at Airbus, threatens $11.2 billion in EU tariffs
AL.COM  – Alabama Attorney General’s Office raids 4 Jefferson County bingo halls, at least 11 people arrested
AL.COM  – GD Copper investing $3.5 million in plant, to hire 40
Montgomery Advertiser – House approves $2.1 billion General Fund budget
Montgomery Advertiser – DOC seeking ‘expressions of interest’ on new prison construction
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama set to execute man convicted of killing Fayette County preacher
Tuscaloosa News – Literacy bill focuses on early reading efforts, holding back third graders with poor skills
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa council advances sales tax hike
Tuscaloosa News – Proposed Alabama budget would provide 500 more prison officers
Tuscaloosa News – Mayor: Alligator spotted in Lake Tuscaloosa
Decatur Daily – Literacy bill focuses on early reading efforts, holding back third graders with poor skills
Anniston Star – Bill to require county school superintendents be appointed clears Senate
Anniston Star – Gas tax revisit bill uncertain in House
Anniston Star – Literacy bill would hold back third graders with poor skills
Anniston Star – Bush stresses listening, data in interview for Anniston superintendent
Anniston Star – Man charged with strangling victim
Anniston Star – Oxford council members discuss Christmas light show, event center
Decatur Daily – Morgan Sheriff’s Office charges 3 men in unrelated rape cases
Decatur Daily – Changes approved as start to bringing 5G cellphone coverage to city
Decatur Daily – Limestone County charge: Man made porn with minor
Times Daily – 16th annual Empty Bowl Luncheon set for April 17
Times Daily – Literacy bill would hold back third-graders with poor reading skills
Times Daily – Sheriff: Inmate’s death likely from natural causes
YellowHammer News – USDA’s Chris Beeker: Broadband program, workshop an opportunity for ‘game-changing investments’
YellowHammer News – AG Marshall calls on legislature to pass bill reforming pardons, paroles board
YellowHammer News – State shuts down four Jefferson County electronic bingo halls
Dothan Eagle – Former Gordon mayor denied new trial; theft charges still pending
Dothan Eagle – FedEx gives Dothan manager Humanitarian Award for helping community after devastating hurricane
Dothan Eagle – Alleged trigger man enters a plea of not guilty during arraignment hearing
Gadsden Times – Gadsden elects new school board
Gadsden Times – Commissioners discuss proposed bills, internal communications
Troy Messenger – Pike County Farm City Committee named best in Alabama Division II
Troy Messenger – EMPTY BOWLS: Luncheon to feed the hungry in Pike County
Opelika-Auburn News – Police: Three armed suspects burst into Opelika home at gunpoint, injure homeowner
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn police search for man reported missing Tuesday
Opelika-Auburn News – Our View: Trump’s plan would redirect military funds needed in Alabama
Daily Mountain Eagle – Sheriff clarifies gambling laws, enforcement stance
Daily Mountain Eagle – Parrish man charged with trafficking
Trussville Tribune – Trussville City Council approves transfer of alcohol license to new Aldi
Trussville Tribune – Clay Council approves rezoning for garden homes off Dug Hollow Road in 3-2 vote
Trussville Tribune – 29-year-old Blount County man killed in crash
WSFA Montgomery – Homicide victims honored during ‘An Evening of Remembrance’
WSFA Montgomery – Wiregrass farmers begin first planting season since Hurricane Michael
Fox 6 Birmingham – More money approved for blight demolition
Fox 6 Birmingham – Missing hiker found in Winston County
Fox 6 Birmingham – Warrant issued for former Huntsville teacher charged in 2017 murder
WAFF Huntsville – Police investigating after woman shot on Hillwood Drive in Huntsville
WAFF Huntsville – First responders urging lawmakers to pass better retirement plans
WALA Mobile  – Alabama failed to spend federal grants for election security
WKRG Mobile – Daphne man charged with rape, abuse of a child
WKRG Mobile – MPD Officer of the Month for March announced
WTVY Dothan – Prosecution, defense face issues in capital murder trial
WASHINGTON POST  – Twelve days of chaos: Inside the Trump White House’s growing panic to contain the border crisis
WASHINGTON POST  – Mnuchin reveals White House lawyers consulted Treasury on Trump tax returns, despite law meant to limit political involvement
WASHINGTON POST  – Attorney General William Barr says Mueller report’s release likely ‘within a week’.
NEW YORK TIMES  – Barr Says He’ll Release Mueller Report ‘Within a Week’ as He Defends His Handling of It
NEW YORK TIMES  – Columnist Ross Douthat: Trump’s Immigration Crisis
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Says the U.S. Is ‘Full.’ Much of the Nation Has the Opposite Problem
NEW YORK TIMES  – U.S. Readies $11 Billion in Tariffs on E.U.

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