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Daily News Digest – April 14, 2021

Presented by

The Business Council of Alabama


Good morning!

Yesterday we ran a story about prison construction company CoreCivic’s report to potential investors and the reaction it is receiving. Afterward, the Alabama Department of Corrections offered more information about the prison leases that countered claims from critics and, frankly, CoreCivic itself. We’ve added those responses to the story, which you can read HERE.

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, April 14.


1. Senate passes wide-ranging gambling bill

  • The Alabama Senate on Tuesday night approved sweeping lottery and casino legislation as lawmakers struck a compromise after years of stalemates on the issue of gambling.
  • Senators voted 23-9 for the proposed constitutional amendment that would establish a state lottery as well as allow nine casino sites in the state. The bill now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives. If approved by lawmakers in both chambers, the proposal would then go before voters.
  • The bill is similar to a proposal that failed by two votes earlier this session but includes new provisions such as putting the casino licenses up for bid.
  • Casino and sports betting sites would be located in Jefferson County, Mobile County, Macon County, Greene County, Houston County and either Jackson or DeKalb counties as well at the three sites owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler and see the roll call vote HERE.


2. Literacy Act delay advances

  • The Alabama Senate on Tuesday voted to delay by two years the holdback requirement in the Alabama Literacy Act, despite opposition from some chamber leaders.
  • Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, sponsored Senate Bill 94. It passed by a vote of 23-9.
  • The 2019 law currently requires that starting at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, third-grade students demonstrate sufficient reading skills before being promoted to fourth grade. Smitherman and others argued that COVID-19-caused learning loss would lead to more students being held back next year if lawmakers didn’t act.
  • As originally written, Smitherman’s bill would have delayed the implementation by three years. An amendment by Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, changed that to two years, starting in the 2023-2024 school year.
  • Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, who originally carried the Literacy Act in the Senate, spoke against Smitherman’s bill. He argued that the literary assessments won’t be given for another year, allowing for summer school, plus a regular fall and spring to catch students up.
  • “If I’m the current second-grader who next year is a third grader and I’m not proficient in reading, under this bill, are you just going to pass me on through even though I’m not ready? Frankly, that’s what we’ve been doing for years and it’s why we passed the Literacy Act to begin with,” Orr said.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.







A message from

The Business Council of Alabama

  • The Business Council of Alabama is hosting a free ProTip Webinar on Wednesday, April 14 at 10:00 a.m.
  • Join Natalie Fox of USA Health for “The Importance of COVID-19 Vaccinations for Your Company,” where she will lead a discussion on how the vaccine works, why vaccination is important for small businesses, and how USA Health can help you and your employees get vaccinated.





3. Marshall cautions local leaders on proper use of new federal funds

  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall warned local governments Tuesday to use incoming funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act in accordance with state law or be subject to criminal charges.
  • Marshall said during a press conference that the unprecedented amount of funds coming to counties and municipalities from the federal government automatically raised concern for his office.
  • “I’m not here to threaten anyone,” Marshall said. “I’m really here to plead with our government officials to please be careful. Don’t ever forget that the dollars you are spending are not yours; those belong to the taxpayers. I’m not sure that anything erodes public trust more than to see their leaders profit and line their own pockets with public money or to give that same money to members of their family.”
  • Marshall said government leaders need to avoid taking actions or casting votes that present a “conflict of interest” or would direct money for personal financial gain to them, family members or business partners.
  • Read more from Caroline Beck HERE.



4. State House briefs


  • After several years of debate and negotiations, lawmakers and local governments seemed to have reached an agreement to stop the growth of police jurisdictions in Alabama.
  • Senate Bill 107 by Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, was approved in the House on Tuesday. This is Elliott’s third attempt to rein in the districts that he’s said are taxation without representation.
  • The bill freezes current police jurisdictions to their current lines. If cities grow and annex land into their limits, the police jurisdictions will disappear.
  • It was approved 62-28 and now goes back to the Senate to agree with House-made changes.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.
  • The Alabama House on Tuesday approved a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the state to borrow $80 million to improve state parks.
  • The money would be used to expand and improve campgrounds and recreational areas.
  • Action on the proposals now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, is the sponsor. If approved there, the constitutional amendment will go before voters next year.
  • Read more HERE.
  • And the Senate on Tuesday approved House Bill 404 to allow student athletes at Alabama institutions of higher education to be compensated whenever their name, image or likeness is used in promotional material.
  • Sponsor Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette, said he wanted to make sure Alabama has procedures in place when the National Collegiate Athletic Association gives a final vote on their own compensation rules.
  • Read more HERE.



5. US to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11

  • President Joe Biden will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America that were coordinated from that country, several U.S. officials said.
  • Biden will lay out his vision for the way forward in Afghanistan and the timeline for the withdrawal in remarks this afternoon, The White House said. Punctuating the nearly two decades U.S. troops have fought and died in Afghanistan, the president will then visit Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery to honor the sacrifice of those who died in recent American conflicts.
  • The decision to withdraw troops by fall defies a May 1 deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year, but leaves no room for additional extensions. A senior administration official on Tuesday called the September date an absolute deadline that won’t be affected by security conditions in the country.
  • Read more HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Senate approves casino and lottery legislation


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate approves delay of Literacy Act holdback requirement


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Marshall cautions local leaders on proper use of new federal funds


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill to freeze police jurisdictions gains support, advances


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate approves student-athlete compensation bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State parks bond bills clear the House


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Opinion: A parent’s perspective on charter schools


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Prison lease information stokes concerns about cost to state, funding priorities


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey signs delivery bill into law


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dems: Investigate if Merrill misused resources


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – April 13, 2021


AL.COM – Alabama Senate approves bills for lottery, casinos


AL.COM – Alabama family sues Athens, Limestone officials over virtual schools scheme


AL.COM – Alabama Senate passes bill on ‘name, image, likeness’ compensation for college athletes


AL.COM – UAH taking first steps to create ‘college town experience’ with campus expansion


AL.COM – Birmingham now pardons marijuana offenders, but so far just nine people forgiven


AL.COM – Bessemer auto supplier plans $8 million expansion, to hire 75


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Senate approves lottery and casino bill


Montgomery Advertiser – Teen charged in crash that killed Rod and Paula Bramblett granted youthful offender status


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama alcohol delivery bill signed; law goes into effect Oct. 1


Decatur Daily – Senate approves delay of Literacy Act holdback requirement


Decatur Daily – Bill would change state’s grand jury secrecy laws


Decatur Daily – Police: Decatur man assaulted 2 women during burglary


Times Daily – Firm: Ag center would be good rodeo locale


Times Daily – Local pharmacy halts use of J&J vaccine


Times Daily – Senate approves delay of Literacy Act holdback requirement


Anniston Star – Prison lease information stokes concerns about cost to state



Anniston Star – Bill would change state’s grand jury secrecy laws, free witnesses to talk about testimony



Anniston Star – Heflin leaders plan to rewrite city laws


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama Senate passes lottery, gaming legislation


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Finding a solution to the violence in Birmingham


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Could birth control be why 6 women suffered J&J blood clot that halted vaccine?


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama alcohol delivery bill signed; law goes into effect Oct. 1


Tuscaloosa News – University of Alabama to honor DeVonta Smith, championship football team during A-Day Game


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama pauses J&J COVID-19 vaccinations pending review of ‘extremely rare’ side effects


YellowHammer News – Senate passes bill that would legalize a lottery, casino gaming, sports betting — ‘Great day for the state of Alabama’


YellowHammer News – Senator Shelby stands up for military readiness, modernization amid defense budget concerns


YellowHammer News – Vulcan specialty license plate to be made if 1,000 commitments are secured


Gadsden Times – Relocating railroad crossing approved at Etowah Megasite


Gadsden Times – Teen charged in crash that killed Rod and Paula Bramblett granted youthful offender status


Gadsden Times – Alabama pauses J&J COVID-19 vaccinations pending review of ‘extremely rare’ side effects


Dothan Eagle – Coast Guard: Rescue underway after commercial boat capsizes


Dothan Eagle – EU, UK set meeting over Northern Ireland trade rules


Dothan Eagle – EU court rejects 2 Ryanair challenges of airline subsidies


Opelika-Auburn News – Business leaders urge Biden to set ambitious climate goal


Opelika-Auburn News – Swiss program plots post-COVID future for science, diplomacy


Opelika-Auburn News – Hong Kong’s legislative elections to take place in December


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama Senate passes lottery, gaming legislation


WSFA Montgomery – UAB research: Modified herpes virus shows promise in treating pediatric brain tumors


WSFA Montgomery – Youthful offender status granted to teen in crash that killed Rod and Paula Bramblett


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville protester: charges dropped after signing agreement not to sue the city


WAFF Huntsville – Alabama Senate passes lottery, gaming legislation


WAFF Huntsville – Annual fire hydrant testing in Florence


WKRG Mobile – Decision expected on charges for cop who shot Black motorist


WKRG Mobile – Report: Broad missteps left Capitol Police unprepared Jan. 6


WKRG Mobile – NW Florida Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinics switch to Moderna this week


WTVY Dothan – Dothan police arrest student for rape at Dothan High


WTVY Dothan – Gov. Ivey awards grant money to help Southeast Alabama abuse victims


WTVY Dothan – Geneva County Community Church Mobile Food Pantry celebrates one year


WASHINGTON POST – With Afghan pullout, Biden aims to reset America’s global agenda


WASHINGTON POST – Following withdrawal announcement, battle to determine Afghanistan war’s legacy begins


WASHINGTON POST – Democrats signal limited patience for GOP opposition to Biden infrastructure package


NEW YORK TIMES – Will Afghanistan Become a Terrorism Safe Haven Once Again?


NEW YORK TIMES – With Afghan Decision, Biden Seeks to Focus U.S. on New Challenges


NEW YORK TIMES – In Early Testimony for Defense, Witness Says Chauvin’s Force Was ‘Justified’


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Tokyo’s Anti-Olympic Movement Ask: Why Haven’t the Games Been Canceled?


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Federal Advisory Panel to Meet Wednesday on J&J Vaccine


WALL STREET JOURNAL – J&J Covid-19 Vaccine Pause Spotlights Science of Rare Clotting Disorder



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