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Daily News Digest – April 5, 2022

Good morning!

Wishing a very happy 75th birthday to my dad, Bob Stacy today! Many happy returns, Pop!

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, April 5.


1. What’s on tap: The homestretch

The Alabama Legislature’s 2022 regular session is expected to end Thursday or Friday and there’s a lot of possible action between now and then.
A few things to watch today:
  • The House is expected to vote to go to conference committee on the record-setting $8.2 billion 2023 education budget. The spending plan includes the largest teacher pay raise in recent history, ranging from 5% to nearly 21%, depending on years of experience. The two chambers are 99% in agreement but there is one issue related to higher education that needs to be worked out and a conference committee may be the only way.
  • The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee meets at 12:30 to take up the recently Senate-approved Senate Bill 2 that bans state and local law enforcement agencies from participating in the “administration or enforcement of any presidential gun control order.” However, the bill includes an exemption if doing so would jeopardize federal funding, the Associated Press reported last week.
  • The Senate State Government Committee meets at 1p.m. and has public hearings on two controversial bills, House Bill 312, banning “divisive concepts” on race in gender in K-12 education and state worker training, and House Bill 322 to make K-12 schools require students to use multi-person restrooms and locker rooms that match the sex on their original birth certificate. That means, if approved, those bills could be ready for the floor as soon as Wednesday.
  • The House gavels in at 1:30 p.m. today, the Senate at 2:30 p.m.
  • Both are expected to vote on different bills making changes to the 2019 Literacy Act. Sen. Rodger Smitherman’s bill, awaiting a House vote, would delay the third-grade holdback requirement in the law from this spring to spring 2024. In the Senate, Rep. Terri Collins’ bill makes more technical changes to the bill.
  • The House will also vote on Senate Bill 170 which gives schools five years to work with students whose first language is not English before those students’ test scores impact the letter grades assigned to schools each year by the state.
  • Also on the House floor are Senate Bill 282 limiting what cities can retain from traffic fines and penalties, and Senate Bill 272 regulating telemedicine in the state.
  • The Senate’s expected agenda includes House Bill 162 to make tax exempt retirees’ first $6,000 in income each year.
  • Also expected on the Senate floor are House bill 234 allowing food trucks in Birmingham to sell alcoholic beverages, House Bill 50 requiring Title I schools to provide feminine hygiene products, House Bill 385 exempting homeless youth from fees associated with obtaining drivers licenses and House Bill 176 allowing 18-20 year old restaurant workers to serve alcoholic beverages.
And that’s just today! There’s plenty more to be dealt with this week.
Kim Chandler of the Associated Press has more on the major issues to be decided in the session’s final days. Read her full story HERE.

2. Driver’s license suspension bill awaits decision in final days of session

  • Not on the House calendar today is a bill allowing more grace time to pay before someone with unpaid traffic fines has their driver’s license suspended.
  • Senate Bill 117 from Sen. Will Barfoot, R-Montgomery, passed the Senate unanimously in February.
  • Barfoot, House sponsor Rep. Merika Coleman, R-Pleasant Grove, and advocacy groups have worked the bill, negotiating changes with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
  • However, Attorney General Steve Marshall is opposed to the bill, his office confirmed to ADN Monday. A spokesman would not comment on why.
  • Leah Nelson called the bill a “no brainer” because it would allow more people to continue to be able to go to work amid a statewide worker shortage.
  • Read more from Heather Gann HERE.



3. Newton to lead new Auburn Office of Federal Relations

  • Veteran Senate staffer Andy Newton has been tapped to lead Auburn University’s newly launched Office of Federal Relations.
  • In announcing the office Monday, a press release from the university said it “will serve as the chief liaison hub between the university and both elected and appointed officials from the federal legislative and executive branches, helping bring Auburn expertise and capabilities to bear on federal priorities.”
  • Newton has worked in Washington for almost 15 years, including stints in Alabama’s Senate delegation and the U.S. Treasury Department. He most recently served as the staff director of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in higher education accounting from Auburn.
  • “My love for Auburn University runs deep, and it is an honor to lead this initiative aimed at further growing the university’s relationships in the nation’s capital while advancing Auburn programs that intersect with the federal government,” Newton said.
  • Read more HERE.



4. Hundreds of Alabama systems apply for water, sewer grants

  • More than 400 Alabama water and sewer systems have applied for grants funded by pandemic relief money, according to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
  • Alabama lawmakers this winter voted to use $225 million out of the state’s share of American Rescue Plan funding to fund high-need water and sewer projects.
  • “This is an historic opportunity to address longstanding water and sewer needs to benefit hundreds of thousands, and potentially millions, of Alabamians,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said in a statement.
  • The state will use $120 million for previously identified emergency or high-need projects and will not require a local match; $100 million for grants that may require a local match based on ability to pay; and $5 million to address longstanding problems in the Black Belt region of the state.
  • Read more HERE.


5. Murkowski, Romney back Jackson, all but assure confirmation

  • Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney say they will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic elevation to the Supreme Court, giving President Joe Biden’s nominee a burst of bipartisan support and all but assuring she’ll become the first Black female justice.
  • The senators from Alaska and Utah announced their decisions Monday night ahead of a procedural vote to advance the nomination and as Democrats pressed to confirm Jackson by the end of the week. GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced last week that she would back Jackson, noting her “stellar qualifications” as a federal judge, public defender and member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
  • All three Republicans said they did not expect to agree with all of Jackson’s decisions, but they found her extremely well qualified. Romney said Jackson “more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity.” Murkowski said she will “bring to the Supreme Court a range of experience from the courtroom that few can match given her background in litigation.”
  • Read more HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Major issues to be decided in session’s final days


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Driver’s license suspension bill awaits decision in final days of session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Newton to lead new Auburn Office of Federal Relations


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hundreds of Alabama systems apply for water, sewer grants


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Murkowski, Romney back Jackson, all but assure confirmation


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers plan rare four-day week to end the session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ALGOP to select candidate to replace late Wheeler


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Shelby sets pace for spending earmarks


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate panel to vote on Jackson nomination to Supreme Court


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Federal tax probe into Biden’s son, Hunter, moves forward


AL.COM – Teacher raises among unfinished business as Alabama lawmakers near end of session


AL.COM – Alabama teacher sues school district, claims retaliation over COVID policies


AL.COM – National group sues Brookside over its ‘criminal-justice system for profit’


AL.COM – Former President Donald Trump to hold Alabama rally this summer


AL.COM – Alabama lawmakers consider bill to make secret vehicle compartments illegal


AL.COM – Amtrak pushes for passenger rail from Mobile to New Orleans, freight operators push back


AL.COM – This first-grader couldn’t read when he moved from California. Here’s how his Alabama school helped


Montgomery Advertiser – Single-car wreck kills Montgomery man on Northern Boulevard


Montgomery Advertiser – Former Autauga County official Carl Johnson creates scholarship in honor of his wife Vergie


Montgomery Advertiser – Missing 9-month-old Montgomery boy found safe


Decatur Daily – Nonprofits and animal shelters get fewer donations of pet supplies, but say need still great


Decatur Daily – Council to vote Monday on plan for high-end apartment complex


Decatur Daily – All about downtown: Couple plans another business on Second Avenue, helps lead merchants association


Times Daily – More rain, but severe threat low in the Shoals


Times Daily – Knights of Columbus Fish Fry Set for Friday


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals seeking North Alabama Gas District board member


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Prepare for rainy drive to work on Tuesday morning


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Kidnapped infant found in Montgomery; mother in custody


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions headed overseas to provide aid to Ukraine


Tuscaloosa News – Holy Spirit Catholic Church holds Stations of the Cross re-enactment


Tuscaloosa News – What’s bugging you, Tuscaloosa? Free event celebrates nature’s creepy-crawlies


YellowHammer News – U.S. Reps. Rogers, Brooks denounce Biden’s defense budget — ‘Biden’s poorly thought out real dollar defense spending cuts must be stopped’


YellowHammer News – Gov. Kay Ivey: 2020 presidential election was stolen from President Trump


YellowHammer News – Blanchard takes aim at Ivey in latest ad — ‘I cannot make sense of Kay Ivey’s liberal record’


Gadsden Times – One dead in Attalla house fire; incident remains under investigation


Gadsden Times – Volunteers seek answers on county animal problem, say spay & neuter is key


Gadsden Times – Spring is the time for religious observances


Dothan Eagle – Tesla CEO Elon Musk takes a 9% stake in Twitter


Dothan Eagle – Hong Kong leader Lam won’t seek new term after rocky 5 years


Dothan Eagle – Live updates | Russia-Ukraine War


Opelika-Auburn News – Ukraine says Russia preparing offensive in southeast


Opelika-Auburn News – Georgia lawmakers create flat income tax, cutting $1 billion


Opelika-Auburn News – Jayhawks’ Bill Self masterminds epic championship comeback


WSFA Montgomery – Auburn University, Regions kick off partnership for financial literacy


WSFA Montgomery – $5M campaign aims to put brakes on distracted driving


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery’s Office of Violence Prevention holds prayer gathering


WAFF Huntsville – City of Huntsville applying again for grant to build pedestrian sky bridge


WAFF Huntsville – Kidnapped infant found in Montgomery; mother in custody


WAFF Huntsville – Fayetteville homicide suspect in custody after hours-long standoff


WKRG Mobile – Murkowski, Romney back Jackson, all but assure confirmation


WKRG Mobile – Democratic, GOP Senate bargainers reach $10B COVID agreement


WKRG Mobile – Biden-Obama: White House reunion to celebrate health law


WTVY Dothan – SE Health updates visitor policy


WTVY Dothan – Police yank illegally placed political signs when complaints are made


WTVY Dothan – Gambling legislation fails to pass through Alabama legislature, again


WASHINGTON POST – Zelensky to address U.N. Security Council; E.U. eyes ban on Russian coal


WASHINGTON POST – Biden says Bucha killings a ‘war crime,’ seeks new Russia sanctions


WASHINGTON POST – As Russia retreats from Kyiv, U.S. sees uglier fights to come


NEW YORK TIMES – Ukraine Live Updates: Zelensky to Address U.N. as Toll of Atrocities Grows


NEW YORK TIMES – The U.S. Economy Is Booming. So Why Are Economists Worrying About a Recession?


NEW YORK TIMES – ‘Russia Is Half of Our Business.’ Or It Was.


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Ukraine War Sanctions Hit Home for Everyday Russians


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Ukraine War Drives Countries to Embrace Renewable Energy—but Not Yet


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Amazon to Spend Billions on Space Launches as SpaceX Ramps Up Satellite-Internet Service


Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)



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