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Daily News Digest – April 15, 2021

Presented by

The Business Council of Alabama

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, April 15.


1. Rural teacher incentives advance

  • Legislation in the Alabama Senate would give scholarships to students seeking to be in-state STEM or special education teachers if they agree to teach in rural areas. It was one of several bills related to teachers’ benefits that advanced Wednesday in the State House.
  • Senate Bill 225 is sponsored by Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, who said it’s meant to encourage rural students to go to college and then teach in the areas they’re originally from.
  • “It would be a motivating factor to try and get someone to go to school who might otherwise not from a rural school and those are the same people who are more likely to go back to that same area to teach,” Stutts told Alabama Daily News.
  • The bill passed with no opposition in the Senate Education Policy Committee on a voice vote.
  • The bill would allow scholarships for first-year students in higher education institutions in the state who are planning to become a certified science, technology, engineering, math or special education teachers in grades 7 through 12. They would have to pledge to teach in a rural area for at least five years. They’d have to finish their degrees within four years, but could receive the scholarships each year.
  • The bill says the Alabama Commission on Higher Education would be responsible for administering the scholarships and there can only be 200 scholarships given at any one time.
  • Read more from Caroline Beck HERE.



2. Teacher retirement bills moving

  • A “slimmed down” teacher retirement modification bill cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday.
  • House Bill 93 as amended would let newer teachers in the state rollover each year their sick leave and get paid for unused days when they retire. Current Tier II teachers lose unused days each year. Senate Finance and Taxation Committee chairman Sen. Arthur Orr said the current law almost creates an incentive for teachers to take sick days when they don’t need to, forcing school systems to use substitute teachers.
  • Sponsor Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, said his goal was to erase some of the “disparity” between Tier I and Tier II benefit recipients.
  • Meanwhile, the same committee passed a bill that would give a one-time lump sum payment to retired teachers or beneficiaries.
  • Senate Bill 172 from Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, would offer retired teachers or their beneficiaries a lump sum payment calculated at $2 for every month of service of the teacher, or $300, whichever is greater.
  • As originally filed, the bill called for the bonus to be calculated at $3 for every month of service. Singleton amended the amount to $2 so the payment structure was aligned with a bill from Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, that gives a one-time bonus for former state employees in the Employee Retirement System. That bill has already passed out of a Senate committee.
  • Read more from Caroline Beck HERE.






A message from

The Business Council of Alabama

On Wednesday, the Business Council of Alabama hosted “The Importance of COVID-19 Vaccinations for Your Company,” a free ProTip Webinar where Natalie Fox of USA Health 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. State House briefs

There was a lot of other notable committee action in the State House Wednesday. Here’s an overview:
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved House Bill 106, which would require the Alabama Department of Corrections to make quarterly reports to a legislative oversight committee. Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, sponsored the bill. Information required would include hiring and retention, inmate population size and litigation against the department, including money paid for lawsuits.
  • Senate Judiciary Committee also approved House Bill 137 to create a sexual assault survivor “bill of rights” and set a requirement for how long law enforcement must preserve evidence from sexual assault cases. “This will helpfully clean out some of those cold cases,” sponsor Rep. Chip Brown, R-Hollinger’s Island, said to the committee.
  • The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday delayed a vote on a bill to remove witnesses from the state’s grand jury secrecy laws. Rep. Jim Hill, R-Odenville, said he wanted committee members to read a recent federal judge’s ruling on the issue. Alabama Daily News reported on both the bill from Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, and the ruling, earlier this week.
  • And the House State Government Committee on Wednesday voted to carry over a bill that would have curtailed the governor’s power in issuing state emergency orders. House Bill 241 from Rep. Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka, was put on hold by a vote of 7-2. The bill was the companion bill to Senate bill 97 from Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, which has already passed the Senate. Committee chairman Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, said he was concerned that the bill could have an impact on federal relief dollars the state gets during a state of emergency.
  • Read about all these from Mary Sell HERE.
  • Also in the House State Government Committee, lawmakers held a public hearing on Holmes’ bill to increase fines for violating the 2017 Memorial Preservation Act. Current law levies a flat $25,000 fine, which some cities have paid as a cost of removing and relocating Confederate monuments. As you can imagine, the bill drew much heated debate. Read more about that from Kim Chandler HERE.



4. On tap today

Today is the 23rd legislative day of the 2021 Regular Session and it promises to be a spirited one. As we get later into the session and time gets tight on legislation, tensions can sometimes rise as patience wanes.
  • The House has an ambitious but not altogether controversial agenda of bills awaiting it today when it gavels in at 10:00 a.m.
  • Several Senate bills are making their way onto the House floor, which will make things move more swiftly upstairs. Notable legislation being considered includes Senate Bill 96 from Sen. Sam Givhan amending Alabama’s business and nonprofit entity code, Senate Bill 55 from Sen. Tim Melson amending regulations for the fireworks industry, House Bill 39 from Rep. Anthony Daniels elimiating the limit on the amount of beer or liquor breweries and distilleries can sell in a day, and Senate Bill 20 from Sen. Dan Roberts allowing non-resident health professionals to treat athletes during the upcoming World Games in Birmingham.
  • The Senate comes in at 9:00 and also has an ambitious calendar. There are several bills relating to parental, adoptive and grandparents’ rights, House Bill 385 from Rep. Laura Hall seeking to modernize the state’s sex education curriculum, House Bill 2 from Rep. Mike Holmes adding Tianeptine to the state’s controlled substances and House Bill 178 from Rep. Mike Ball allowing certain municipalities to levy ad valorem taxes to levy bonds.
  • But taking up most of the oxygen, if they actually get to it, will be House Bill 391 from Rep. Scott Stadthagen, which prohibits high school athletes from playing a sport designated for a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth. Colloquially known as the transgender athletes bill, it is certain to generate plenty of debate inside and outside of the chamber.
  • There is also committee action of interest today. Sen. Del Marsh’s big broadband plan (Senate Bill 215) is the Urban and Rural Development Committee at 9:00 a.m. Listen to that HERE.
  • And Sen. Tim Melson’s medical marijuana proposal is in the House Health Committee also at 9:00 a.m. Listen to that HERE.



5. Biden’s gamble: Will pulling troops revive extremist threat?

  • At its start, America’s war in Afghanistan was about retribution for 9/11. Then it was about shoring up a weak government and its weak army so that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida could never again threaten the United States.
  • Now it’s about over. With bin Laden long since dead and the United States not suffering another major attack, President Joe Biden is promising to end America’s longest war and move on to what he believes are bigger, more consequential challenges posed by a resurgent Russia and a rising China.
  • Even so, by withdrawing the remaining few thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Biden is taking a calculated risk that extremists in Afghanistan can be countered by U.S. and partner forces elsewhere in the region — and that he won’t become the president who underestimated the resilience and reach of extremists who still aim to attack the United States.
  • Read more HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would create scholarships for rural teachers


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Teacher retirement bills advance


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Legislative briefs – Wed. April 14


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Proposal to up protection for Confederate statues


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden’s gamble: Will pulling troops revive extremist threat?


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 – Alabama pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine


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


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – April 14, 2021


AL.COM – Bill would increase penalties for removing historical monuments in Alabama


AL.COM – Sponsor says Alabama medical marijuana bill not harmed by committee changes


AL.COM – Alabama is about to have a new state vegetable: The sweet potato


AL.COM – Tuberville: Let Alabama residents vote on gambling


AL.COM – HUD watchdog says public housing tenants, including some in Alabama, need radon protections


AL.COM – Bernie Madoff dead: Convicted Ponzi scheme financier spent freshman year of college in Alabama


AL.COM – Contributor Cameron Smith: Thoughts and prayers as effective as Biden’s gun control


AL.COM – Richard Shelby: Senate earmarks are ‘a done deal’


AL.COM – Will Alabama halting Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine stir skepticism?


Montgomery Advertiser – Police investigating homicide after shooting on Oakleigh Road


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘A brighter path forward’ against child abuse: ‘Embrace Alabama’s Kids’ mural unveiled in Montgomery


Montgomery Advertiser – Embrace Alabama Kids unveils new mural in Montgomery


Decatur Daily – Teacher retirement bill advances


Decatur Daily – Lawsuit: Former Limestone, Athens superintendents stole students’ identities


Decatur Daily – DA: Charge could be upgraded in child’s death


Times Daily – City of Florence turns down developer’s $12.8M request for assistance


Times Daily – Bill seeks to draw teachers to rural schools


Times Daily – Teacher retirement bill clears Senate committee


Anniston Star – No timeline for return of tornado-hit Precision Materials


Anniston Star – Several committees met Wednesday to consider various bills


Anniston Star – Teacher retirement bill advances


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama Adventure looking to hire 400, job fair this Saturday


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Body found in Miss. River identified as missing LSU student


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – 1 dead, 6 rescued, search on for 12 others after boat capsizes south of Louisiana


Tuscaloosa News – ‘A brighter path forward’ against child abuse: ‘Embrace Alabama’s Kids’ mural unveiled in Montgomery


Tuscaloosa News – SWJ Technology opens North American headquarters in Alberta


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 15% of residents are fully vaccinated


YellowHammer News – Tuberville: ‘The people should make a decision’ on lottery, gaming legalization


YellowHammer News – Under Ainsworth’s leadership, Alabama to host National Lieutenant Governors Association meeting for only second time ever


YellowHammer News – Poarch Creek Indians tribal chair: Alabamians ‘deserve to have their voice heard’ on gaming, lottery


Gadsden Times – ‘A brighter path forward’ against child abuse: ‘Embrace Alabama’s Kids’ mural unveiled in Montgomery


Gadsden Times – Alabama House committee amends medical marijuana bill prior to vote


Gadsden Times – Southside Elementary gets stop the bleed kits for classrooms


Dothan Eagle – The Latest: Serbia to produce Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine


Dothan Eagle – Senior royals to skip uniforms at Prince Philip’s funeral


Dothan Eagle – Gucci heirs worry over family depiction in Ridley Scott film


Opelika-Auburn News – Global stocks higher after Wall St retreats from record


Opelika-Auburn News – France’s pandemic death toll set to pass 100,000 amid surge


Opelika-Auburn News – AP sources: Tool behind crackdown on opioids could expire


WSFA Montgomery – 1 dead, 6 rescued, search on for 12 others after boat capsizes south of Louisiana


WSFA Montgomery – Information sought in Tuskegee murder investigation


WSFA Montgomery – Proposal in Alabama to up protection for Confederate statues


WAFF Huntsville – Driver identified following Wednesday police chase in Madison County


WAFF Huntsville – Helping Bella: 10-year-old Athens girl still fighting heart defect


WAFF Huntsville – Caught on camera: Thirsty man steals bottles of liquor from Huntsville restaurant


WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: Missing child alert canceled for one-year-old Florida girl


WKRG Mobile – I-10 reopens following fatal crash in Pensacola


WKRG Mobile – Architects almost finished with plans to improve Main Street in Pensacola


WTVY Dothan – People share dog issue complaints, Geneva City Council listens


WTVY Dothan – First year of ACAP testing has parents concerned after pandemic year


WTVY Dothan – Auburn A-Day game will be at 40% capacity Saturday


WASHINGTON POST – The war in Afghanistan: Promises to win, but no vision for victory


WASHINGTON POST – Derek Chauvin defense expert blames heart disease and drug use for George Floyd’s death


WASHINGTON POST – Ex-officer in shooting of Daunte Wright faces manslaughter charge


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19 Live Updates: Johnson & Johnson ‘Pause’ Shakes Vaccinations Worldwide


NEW YORK TIMES – Biden Administration to Impose Tough Sanctions on Russia


NEW YORK TIMES – U.S. and Allies Plan Fight From Afar Against Al Qaeda Once Troops Exit Afghanistan


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Korean Entrepreneur Bet Big on Spicy Ramen Noodles


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Bank of America Profit Doubles After It Releases Reserves for Bad Loans


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Rise as Earnings Season Ramps Up



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