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Daily News Digest – April 3, 2019

Presented by AT&T


Good morning! It’s going to be a great day. I can feel it.
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, April 3, 2019.


1. Bills seek benefits changes.

  • Legislation being considered in the Alabama State House could offer better retirement benefits to public school teachers and many city and county government employees as well.
  • In 2013, the Legislature created a Tier II-level of benefits for newly-hired state employees within the Retirement Systems of Alabama as a cost-saving measure for the state. Unlike Tier I employees, Tier II employees can’t retire at any age after 25 years of service, but must wait until they’re 62 to begin drawing benefits. Their retirement benefits are also less than those of Tier I employees. Local governments who participate in RSA had to also adopt the Tier II for new employees.
  • House Bill 61 would let cities and counties opt back into Tier I. Those local governments, and not the state, would pay the additional cost. Bill sponsor Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, said the bill is particularly important for law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders.
  • House Bill 77 by Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, creates a “Tier III” plan for education employees and allows them to retire after 30 years of service.
  • The bill also increases the benefit multiplier, which determines how much retirees earn, from Tier II’s current 1.65 percent to 2 percent. Enrollees in the new plan would contribute .25 percent more of their pay to their retirement than Tier II members do.
  • Baker’s bill is scheduled to be the subject of a public hearing in the House education budget committee today.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


2. Abortion bill stirs State House.

  • Rep. Terri Collins made waves this week by introducing legislation that, if passed, would give Alabama the strictest abortion law in the country.
  • House Bill 314 would ban all abortions after a woman is “known to be pregnant,” with exceptions for “lethal anomalies” and a “serious health risk” to the mother.
  • The bill would make performing an abortion a felony. A woman receiving an abortion would not be held criminally culpable.
  • The whole point is to get the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade, Collins said.
  • “It simply criminalizes abortion,” she said Tuesday. “Hopefully, it takes it all the way to the Supreme Court to overturn (Roe v Wade.)”
  • Several states have taken up stricter abortion measures with pro-life advocates stating the same intention to get SCOTUS to take another look at Roe. But none have gone as far as Collins’ bill.
  • Planned Parenthood called the bill “blatantly unconstitutional” and “a death sentence for women across this state.”
  • Challenging constitutionality is the whole point, Collins said.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
  • Also read stories from Al,com’s Mike Cason HERE, The Advertiser’s Brian Lyman HERE, WSFA’s Lydia Nussbaum HERE and ABC33/40’s Lauren Walsh HERE.


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3. Byrne raises big.

  • Congressman Bradley Byrne raised more than $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2019.
  • That puts Byrne at more than $2 million cash on hand for his 2020 Senate run.
  • Seth Morrow, who was recently named Campaign Manager for Byrne, said, “Bradley’s strong network of grassroots supporters are building a winning campaign, and these numbers are yet another sign of our momentum.”
  • Morrow shared the fundraising numbers exclusively with Alabama Daily News. Campaign finance reports will be made public April 15.
  • $1.2 million is a monster fundraising quarter. I was thinking $500K would have been strong for Byrne. Remember, federal candidates have to raise money in small chunks, with $2,800 being the individual donor limit ($5,000 for PACs).
  • $2 million COH clearly gives Byrne a large financial advantage in the still very early Senate race.
  • It could also give pause to some others who were considering a run.


4. Skip Tucker: ‘The finger of God.’

  • Skip Tucker is back this week (and aren’t we glad he is).
  • This week’s column is about the devastating wrath of tornadoes.
  • Today marks 45 years since 1974 tornado in Guin, Alabama, that killed 28 people and was one of the strongest storms ever recorded.
  • His sister, Beth Tucker, experienced the twister up close and personal.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
Today, Beth Tucker will say a prayer for tornado victims everywhere – past, present and future. She’ll pray for those killed or wounded, in whatever way, in Beauregard, Alabama and in Havana, Cuba.
She’ll pray for the 28 who died 45 years today in Guin, Alabama, when about 9 pm a roaring, swirling, roiling immense black cloud ripped it.
Only .1 percent of tornadoes attain an F5 rating. Dr. Ted Fujita, creator of the F-scale, came to see the destruction. It’s reported that he considered calling the Guin tornado an F6.
He finally decided to call it an F5-plus because, he said, its power was immeasurable. Presently, the EF measurement, the Enhanced Fujita scale, says an EF5 contains winds over 300 mph.
“No one is safe from a tornado like this one,” Fujita said at the time. “A tornado like this one can pull you right out of a storm shelter, right out of the ground. There’s no hiding from it.”
  • Read the full column HERE.

5. News Briefs

Head’s up
  • Word is the Department of Justice is set to release its investigative report today on the conditions of state prisons.
  • As you would imagine, it probably won’t be pretty.
  • Since 2016, DOJ has been conducting a CRIPA (Civil Rights of Institutional Persons Act) investigation in Alabama prisons. They’re trying to find whether prisoners are subject to physical harm or sexual abuse, unsafe or unsanitary living conditions, or a general lack of security.
  • The report will surely spur more discussion about efforts to improve prisons, including state budget allocations and Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan to built three new state prisons.
Kids Count
  • Voices for Alabama’s Children had a big day at the State Capitol Tuesday, rallying 1,000 people for their Child Advocacy Day.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey and other state leaders participated and lauded the “Kids Count” effort, which aims to ensure children are counted in the 2020 census.
  • “The census count will affect our great state on many levels, from our representation in Congress, to federal funding,” Gov. Ivey said.
  • Watch the full story from Reshad Hudson HERE and read more from Brian Lyman HERE.
Interim leader appointed at SPLC
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center has named an interim president after its founder was fired and its president resigned.
  • The Alabama-based civil rights group announced Tuesday that Karen Baynes-Dunning is interim president. Baynes-Dunning, a former judge, served on the SPLC board since 2017.
  • She is the first African-American woman to lead the group, which at times has been criticized for having mostly white leadership.
  • The SPLC last month announced it had dismissed its founder, prominent civil rights attorney Morris Dees, for unspecified conduct. Longtime president Richard Cohen also announced he was stepping down.
  • The SPLC says it’s bringing in an outside group to review its workplace practices.
  • Baynes-Dunning says the SPLC will remain a leader at tackling discrimination, combatting hate and extremism and promoting anti-bias curriculum in public schools.
Trump backs up a bit from border threat
  • President Donald Trump eased up on his threats to close the southern border as officials across his administration explored half-measures that might satisfy the president’s urge for action, like stopping only foot traffic at certain crossings.
  • Facing a surge of Central American migrants trying to enter the U.S., Trump last week threatened to seal the border this week if Mexico did not immediately halt all illegal immigration into the U.S., a move that would have enormous economic consequences on both sides of the border.
  • While Trump on Tuesday did not back off the idea completely, he said he was pleased with steps Mexico had taken in recent days and renewed his calls for Congress to make changes he contends would solve the problem.
  • “Let’s see if they keep it done,” he said of Mexico. “Now, if they don’t, or if we don’t make a deal with Congress, the border’s going to be closed, 100%.” He also said that he might only close “large sections of the border” and “not all of it.” He added that his posturing was “the only way we’re getting a response.”
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mary Sell: Bills seek benefits improvements
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama bill would outlaw abortion as lawmakers aim at Roe
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: The Finger of God
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds: Immigration, the Senate, and climbing the Hill with Congressman Mo Brooks
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump takes a step back from threat to close southern border
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey sets dates for House District 74 special election
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Steve Flowers: State Budgets are Priority Number One
AL.COM  – I-59/20 bridge project on schedule to be complete by January 2020, ALDOT officials say
AL.COM  – Rep. Terri Collins seeks to overturn Roe. v. Wade with Alabama abortion ban bill
AL.COM  – Here are five key figures in Alabama’s medical marijuana debate
AL.COM  – Alabama one of two states without equal pay legislation, Rep. Clarke wants it to change
AL.COM  – Southern Poverty Law Center names interim CEO amid leadership shakeup
AL.COM  – Alabama creating rural economic development coordinator post
AL.COM  – Ex-DOC sergeant pleads guilty to beating Elmore inmates
AL.COM  – Milo’s Tea Co. planning Oklahoma plant
AL.COM  – Contributor John Mullins: Common Core Standards have paid tremendous dividends
Montgomery Advertiser – Richard Bollinger to run for Alabama House
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama House bill would ban nearly all abortions in state
Montgomery Advertiser – Elmore sheriff investigates possible abuse at elementary school
YellowHammer News  – Hundreds of students join Ivey in highlighting 2020 census importance at VOICES for Alabama’s Children rally.
YellowHammer News – Xtreme Concepts Racing rides into victory lane again
YellowHammer News – Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon is a 2019 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact
Dothan Eagle – Geneva County man accused of stealing Samson police chief’s vehicle
Dothan Eagle – Alabama bill would outlaw abortion as lawmakers aim at Roe
Dothan Eagle – Ariton High School senior urges Alabama to prioritize accurate 2020 Census count
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa City Council action from Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Tuscaloosa News – County school system removes principal at Collins-Riverside
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama lawmakers seek to outlaw almost all abortions
Decatur Daily – A year after storm, Decatur residents in various stages of rebuilding
Decatur Daily – Decatur businesses work to recover from storm’s damages
Decatur Daily – Bills for more generous local, state pensions under review by lawmakers
Times Daily – Wilson Dam Road improvements should be completed in June
Times Daily – McFarland Park campground reopening today
Times Daily – RSA pension bills in committees; lawmakers want to know state impact
Gadsden Times – Commission discusses leasing megasite to hunters
Gadsden Times – Florida woman still reported missing four weeks later
Gadsden Times – Gadsden police investigate shooting
Anniston Star – In 4-3 vote, Donald Turner is Calhoun County school board’s superintendent pick
Anniston Star – Truck overturns on I-20 in Oxford
Anniston Star – Jail inmate charged with assaulting another inmate
Troy Messenger – Commission hears of outdoor rescue group’s needs
Troy Messenger – City Council OKs payment plan to county animal shelter
Troy Messenger – Police escort puts an end to one man’s overtime public comment
Andalusia Star News – HGTV stars: In Mississippi, lights sparked revitalization
Andalusia Star News – Opp group wants field named for Kem Ramer
Andalusia Star News – Council OKs $829K in paving projects
Opelika-Auburn News – Multiple arrests made in Tallapoosa County rape investigation
Daily Mountain Eagle – P.J.’s Restaurant & BBQ set to open Friday
Daily Mountain Eagle – Wayne Smith asks commission about roads
Trussville Tribune – SHERIFF: 4 dogs found dead in freezer inside St. Clair County home
Trussville Tribune – Business license revoked for brother of Sheriff Mark Pettway
Trussville Tribune – New and improved Aldi opens in Trussville
Athens News Courier – Man shot by police is jailed on attempted murder charges
Athens News Courier – GET FIT: New options for East Limestone seniors
Athens News Courier – U.S. resorts to expanded ‘catch and release’ as migrants surge
WSFA Montgomery – Brewton police arrest woman involved in 2 crashes
WSFA Montgomery – 1 dead, 1 injured in Montgomery shootings
Fox 6 Birmingham – Firefighters working to put out Chilton County forest fire
Fox 6 Birmingham – Cahaba Heights couple starts online farmers market
Fox 6 Birmingham – Brighton Mayor Addresses Bingo Halls Operating in the City
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville mother calling for more transparency, change in administration after bullying
WAFF Huntsville – ‘City left us in the dark’: Cecil Ashburn project a major headache for some homeowners
WKRG Mobile – Motorcycle ride will raise colon cancer awareness, benefit News 5 employee
WKRG Mobile – Public meeting to discuss future of Fairhope K-1 Center
WKRG Mobile – Mobile Police investigate shooting at Azalea Pointe Apartments
WTVY Dothan – Alabama State and ESCC sign education partnership
WTVY Dothan – Former Elba officers, including chief, indicted on forgery charges
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump leaves Washington reeling with policy whiplash as he struggles with domestic agenda
WASHINGTON POST  – U.S. measles cases surge to second-highest level in nearly two decades
WASHINGTON POST  – Robo-callers rang Americans’ phones 26 billion times last year. Now, Congress is taking aim
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump’s Takeover of the Republican Party Is Almost Complete
NEW YORK TIMES  – Drug Sites Upend Doctor-Patient Relations: ‘It’s Restaurant-Menu Medicine’
NEW YORK TIMES  – America’s Biggest Economic Challenge May Be Demographic Decline: Slower growth in the working-age population is a problem in much of the country. Could targeted immigration policy help solve it?


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