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Daily News Digest – April 8, 2019

Presented by the Alabama Sunlight Coalition


Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Monday, April 8, 2019


1. Nielsen out.

  • Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday amid President Donald Trump’s growing frustration over the number of Central American families crossing the southern border.
  • Trump announced on Sunday in a tweet that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would be taking over as acting head of the department. McAleenan is a longtime border official who is well-respected by members of Congress and within the administration. The decision to name a top immigration officer to the post reflects Trump’s priority for the sprawling department founded to combat terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks.
  • But there’s a lot of palace intrigue to this story. Nielsen was seen as resistant to some of the more hard-lined immigration policies pushed by Trump adviser Stephen Miller,  both on matters around the border and others like protected status for some refugees.
  • But she went along with most of it because that’s the job, and in the end she was shown the door anyway.
  • Read the full story HERE.


2. ‘The personnel business’

  • Don’t expect the U.S. Senate to do much legislating on big ticket policy items like health care, taxes, infrastructure or entitlement reform this year.
  • Just three months into the 116th Congress, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has all but given up on the hopes of driving a policy agenda, understanding that no Republican-led initiative would survive the Democrat-controlled House, and vice versa.
  • Instead, he’s turning the upper chamber into a confirmation machine, adding more conservatives to the courts and putting more Trump-appointees in government offices.
  • To McConnell, focusing on the “personnel business” is only necessary because Democrats keep throwing up roadblocks for Trump nominees.
  • In a recent Politico op-ed, he argued that only 24 cloture votes were needed on nominations during the first two years of the last six presidents, while Trump’s nominations have faced 128 cloture votes. Cloture votes are needed to stop filibusters.
  • “Our Democratic colleagues made the Senate jump over five times as many hurdles as in the equivalent periods in the Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations combined,” McConnell said.
  • Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Republicans are trying to “use the courts to adopt the far-right agenda that Republicans know they cannot enact through the legislative process.”
  • Read more HERE.



A message from the

Alabama Sunlight Coalition

Last year, a major investigation showed that some Alabama sheriffs were using money designated to feed prisoners to line their own pockets. One even bought a $750,000 beach house.
It took months of investigative reporting to learn about that one sheriff’s wrongdoing, because Alabama’s Open Records Law is so weak that many officials feel safe ignoring it. Open records are an antidote to government corruption. Strong public records laws ensure the people can hold elected officials accountable and protect the ethical integrity of our democratic institutions.
Alabama needs an enforceable law with a few simple remedies: a response deadline & fee schedule, penalties for non-compliance, and an administrative appeal process.
The Alabama Sunlight Coalition believes Alabamians deserve better. Learn more about the #shinethelight at

3. Matthew Stokes: On lotteries and abortion.

  • Matthew Stokes is following the issues in the Alabama Legislature, and this week he’s writing on the subjects of the lottery and abortion.
  • Just a couple of light topics, you know.
  • Like everyone, Stokes has is own views about whether or not to institute a state lottery and what restrictions can or should be placed on abortions.
  • However, he’s mostly arguing about legislative bandwidth and whether these perennial issues are worth the time and attention they get every year in the State House.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“The last few weeks in the Alabama legislature bring to mind an image from HBO’s harrowing drama ‘True Detective,’ where a cynical Matthew McConaughey bleakly quotes Friedrich Nietzsche and says, ‘time is a flat circle.’ 
“Some things will apparently not change, and so here we are again debating an education lottery and abortion. I have said before that I am tired of both issues, but here we are.”
  • Read the full column HERE.


In case you missed it, there were some big stories over the last few days…
  • A bill to exempt economic developers from state ethics rules governing lobbyists passed the Alabama House of Representatives overwhelmingly. The legislation is seen as essential by the state’s economic development community, which argues that treating site selectors like lobbyists and requiring them to publicly disclose their clients will result in Alabama missing out on the next Mercedes, Honda or Mazda-Toyota type projects. Expect the Senate to take it up in short order. Full story from Caroline Beck and me HERE.
  • Speaking of ethics, a new bill by Sen. Greg Albritton would change the paradigm of Alabama gift-giving rules, taking away the myriad restrictions and instead forcing all gifts to be reported. This was an idea proposed back in 2010 when the Ethics Code was updated to crack down on gift-giving, but it never made it in. Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
  • The abortion ban legislation filed last week has more than 70 co-sponsors. That’s a lot, and it probably means the bill(s) will eventually pass. But there’s talk of amendments, including one to restrict taxpayer money being used to defend it in court. But many sponsors say the fight to get it to the Supreme Court is worth the cost. Read more from Caroline Beck and Mary Sell HERE.
  • Tommy Tuberville is running for U.S. Senate. I had the scoop over at Inside Alabama Politics on Thursday, but on Saturday the former Auburn coach made it official on Twitter. He’s got a website, a logo and everything, so he sure seems serious. See all that HERE.


5. News Briefs.

Lipinsky arrested
  • A former candidate for state auditor has been arrested on charges accusing him of using law enforcement resources to try to look up information on political opponents.
  • The Attorney General’s office says Elliott Lipinsky was arrested on charges of computer tampering and attempted computer tampering. Lipinsky, a former deputy district attorney, ran for state auditor last year.
  • According to the AG’s office, Lipinsky improperly viewed information about an opponent in the race and another former deputy district attorney. He is also accused of trying to view information regarding another race opponent, current State Auditor Jim Zeigler.
  • Lipinsky’s attorney, Paige Duncan, said he is innocent and has spent his “career faithfully serving the people of Alabama.”
  • Duncan says Lipinsky looks forward to clearing his name.
Alabama participates in battlefield cleanup
  • A nonprofit group is organizing volunteers around Alabama to clean up four historic sites.
  • The American Battlefield Trust says the Saturday cleanups were being organized as part of the group’s national “Park Day” event.
  • The event is set for historic Revolutionary War, Civil War and War of 1812 battlegrounds and other historic sites in 32 states. The group says activities are chiefly outdoor projects that range from raking leaves and collecting trash to painting and gardening.
  • Alabama sites include Belle Mont Mansion in Tuscumbia; Brierfield Ironworks Historical State Park in Brierfield, Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan in Gulf Shores.
Trump gets tough on Iran
  • In an unprecedented step to ramp up pressure on Tehran, the Trump administration is planning to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization.”
  • The Trump administration has escalated rhetoric against Iran for months, but this will mark the first such designation by any American administration of an entire foreign government entity.
  • This would be just the latest move by the Trump administration to isolate Iran. Trump withdrew from the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and, in the months that followed, reimposed punishing sanctions including those targeting Iran’s oil, shipping and banking sectors.
  • The official announcement is expected today.
  • Read more HERE.
Bernie Sanders is your new Dem frontrunner
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is quieting critics who questioned whether he could recapture the energy of his upstart 2016 campaign, surpassing his rivals in early fundraising and establishing himself as an indisputable front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
  • Less than two months into his second White House bid , no other declared candidate in the crowded Democratic field currently has amassed so many advantages: a $28 million war chest, a loyal and enthusiastic voter base and a set of clearly defined policy objectives.
  • That puts Sanders on markedly different footing than during his first White House run. He now carries the weight of high expectations and will face heightened scrutiny over everything from the cost and feasibility of his government-funded policy proposals to his tax returns.
  • Read the full story HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate GOP game plan means more Trump nominees, fewer bills
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Nielsen out at Homeland Security; Trump focuses on border
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP lawmakers say abortion ban bill worth potential fight
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matthew Stokes: On lotteries and abortion
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill allows unlimited gifts to public officials
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ex-Auburn football coach Tuberville to run for Ala. Senate
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lipinsky arrested on computer tampering charges
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 4 Alabama sites set for American Battlefield Trust cleanup
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bernie Sanders finds himself in a new role as front-runner
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump to pressure Iran by branding its Guard a terror group
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Last foul, dribble no-call make refs focus of Final Four
AL.COM  – Conditions worsen, staff dwindles as prison commissioner searches for solution
AL.COM  – CBD oil: What is it? Is it legal? And can it cause you to fail a drug test?
AL.COM  – Contributor Dana McCain: What ‘Unplanned’ gets right
AL.COM – Republicans lining up for vacant Alabama House seat
AL.COM – Sumter County school board asks judge to kick out integrated charter school
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Decent prisons are about more than morality
Montgomery Advertiser – Bill calls for appointed superintendent in Autauga
Montgomery Advertiser – Mother, daughter face charges in infant’s death
Montgomery Advertiser  – 63 years after landmark Brown v. Board case, segregated classrooms persist.
Montgomery Advertiser  – Contributor Daniel Sutter: Taxes, roads and limited government.
YellowHammer News – State’s leaders positioning Alabama at forefront of national security space race
YellowHammer News – VIDEO: Still no collusion, Alabama’s upcoming abortion fight, broken prison could lead to a federal takeover and more on Guerrilla Politics …
YellowHammer News – Birmingham District Brewing Co. is an Alabama Maker giving a stout nod to history
Dothan Eagle – Government Oversight: After years of work, Brookside Drive bridge replacement about to commence
Dothan Eagle – The Ark relocating its thrift store to West Main Street
Dothan Eagle – New flashing yellow arrow signal at Alabama Highway 605 and Fortner Street
Tuscaloosa News – Alberta Amtrak plans fall through
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa mayor proposes $19 million in capital projects
Tuscaloosa News – MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Office Depot, to pay $35M to settle charges
Decatur Daily – GOP lawmakers say abortion ban bill worth potential fight
Decatur Daily – Hartselle receives $50,000 grant for park
Decatur Daily – Search warrants, intense investigation led to arrest of slaying suspects
Times Daily – Crossroads Community Outreach to host egg hunt/fun day
Times Daily – Brewery Modernization Act the topic of Florence Tourism Meeting
Times Daily – Shoals Ambulance installing automated chest compression devices
Anniston Star – GOP lawmakers say abortion ban bill worth potential fight
Anniston Star – Mississippi man dead after single-vehicle crash on Interstate 20 west
Anniston Star – Photos: Alpha Xi Delta Sorority Hosts Taco Xi Day
Gadsden Times – Chief of staff says Dems will ‘never’ see Trump tax returns
Gadsden Times – WWII seaman laid to rest in Alabama 75 years later
Gadsden Times – Gadsden Board of Education candidates Q&A
Andalusia Star News – River Falls woman charged with attempted murder
Opelika-Auburn News – Parking, partnership on Auburn trustees’ agenda this week
Opelika-Auburn News – Project Talent studies teens of the 1960s as they age
Daily Mountain Eagle – Families enjoy Coal Fest in Parrish
Daily Mountain Eagle – Sheriff substation opens in Sipsey
Trussville Tribune – VIDEO: 2 people wanted for stealing $2K worth of wheels & batteries
Trussville Tribune – GOP lawmakers say abortion ban bill worth potential fight
Trussville Tribune – 2 men wanted by Trussville Police are suspects in multiple thefts
WSFA Montgomery – Butler County man killed in single-vehicle crash
WSFA Montgomery – Auburn chef raises 34K for Lee County tornado victims
WSFA Montgomery – Woman charged after living with dead boyfriend for several weeks, police say
Fox 6 Birmingham – Search for 70-year-old B’ham man missing in Winston Co. suspended for night
Fox 6 Birmingham – Deputies investigating pedestrian killed in Jefferson Co.
WAFF Huntsville – Shoals Ambulance installing automated chest compression devices
WAFF Huntsville – One Place of the Shoals recognized with 2018 FBI district award
WKRG Mobile – Some strong thunderstorms possible today
WKRG Mobile – Investigation into cause of massive Red Dot fire continues Monday
WTVY Dothan – Officials arrest final suspect in Dothan TJ Maxx robbery
WASHINGTON POST  – Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen leaving Trump administration amid surge of migrants
WASHINGTON POST  – EDITORIAL: The Supreme Court said an inmate must risk extreme pain — because he didn’t fully plan his backup execution
WASHINGTON POST  – Mulvaney says Democrats will ‘never’ see Trump’s tax returns
NEW YORK TIMES – House Democratic Campaign Arm Nears War With Liberals Over Primary Fights
NEW YORK TIMES  – To Get Trump’s Tax Returns, N.Y. Democrats Try a New Strategy
NEW YORK TIMES  – EDITORIAL: Kirstjen Nielsen Enforced Cruelty at the Border. Her Replacement Could Be Worse.

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