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Daily News Digest – August 17, 2020

Presented by

The Business Council of Alabama

Good morning!
The full SEC football schedules get released later today. Reckon you’ll be happy about it? Or mad? Will any of it matter at all in the end? Who’s to say.
Here’s your Daily News for Monday, August 17.

1. Could the state tax coronavirus relief funds? Yes, but lawmakers want to change that.

  • Millions of Alabama families and businesses who received coronavirus relief funds from the federal government will be taxed by the state unless legislative action is taken.
  • Several lawmakers told Alabama Daily News the Legislature has every intention of un-taxing the relief funds, including stimulus checks of up to $1,200 per person and forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses, but state statutes must be tweaked to match federal law.
  • Late in the 2020 legislative session, multiple lawmakers proposed clarifying in state law that the stimulus money and loan forgiveness are not taxable. They had to do the same thing back in 2009 when President Barack Obama’s stimulus checks came in the mail.
  • But those bills died when the House, in the coronavirus-shortened session, wanted to focus solely on state budget bills and local legislation.
  • It’s a relatively easy fix, but with the Legislature not scheduled to meet again until February, it’s a matter of exactly how and when to do it. Some lawmakers said this issue should have already been resolved.
  • “There was the ability to fix this last session,” Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Fairhope, said. He had a standalone bill addressing the stimulus tax issue in May.
  • “That is my frustration, something so basic that needed to happen wasn’t allowed to be considered in the last session,” he said.
  • Elliott, Sen. Dan Roberts and Rep. Arnold Mooney all have bills to address the issue.
  • Roberts’ bill combines the tax exemptions with his previously filed SB250 to reduce Alabama’s corporate income tax rate and eliminate the federal income tax deduction for businesses.
  • Meanwhile, many Alabamians likely assume their relief money is tax-free.
  • “That’s going to be a surprise to a lot of people,” said Bruce Ely, long-time partner at the Birmingham-based Bradley Arant law firm, who specializes in tax law.
  • He said those who pay their estimated income taxes quarterly should in theory be paying tax on the COVID-19 relief money.
  • “I guarantee you, most Alabamians have no idea these federal tax rebates or the PPP loan forgiveness are currently taxable,” he said.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


2. Powerful Southern leagues aim to forge on with fall football

  • Folks in the South aren’t giving up on their beloved fall tradition of college football just yet.
  • While other conferences have conceded the fall to COVID-19, the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 are holding out hope they can play a shortened season with uncertain national championship prospects.
  • From Oklahoma to Alabama to South Carolina, a number of states don’t have NFL teams and college football is king. Weddings and other events are planned around game days and states practically stand still for showdowns like Alabama-Auburn and Oklahoma-Texas.
  • The Pac-12, Big Ten and some lower-profile leagues won’t play football this fall because of the pandemic. ACC teams? They are already practicing in preparation for a Sept. 12 start and the SEC and Big 12 are going ahead, too, with conference openers set for Sept. 26.
  • Still, powerhouse Alabama and other SEC teams head into Monday’s practices knowing college football is still on for them, but not guaranteed.
  • “That’s the only mood I feel like is going around is we don’t know if we’re playing and we really want to play,'” Alabama tailback Najee Harris said Friday. He then talked about his younger teammates.
  • “We try to tell them don’t go to parties, but like it’s kind of hard to tell somebody not to go to a party in college,” he said. “We understand it, but we’re kind of just telling them, ‘If you do go to a party, like make sure you guys are overly safe.'”
  • Yet, over the weekend, players in Tuscaloosa and Auburn tweeted their displeasure at the sight of students gathering en masse at downtown bars and parties without social distancing or wearing masks.
  • Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne publicly scolded students after seeing a photo of many gathered outside Galletts bar on the strip in Tuscaloosa.
  • “We’ve got to do better than this for each other and our campus community,” Byrne tweeted. “Please wear your masks!”
  • Full story HERE.






A message from

The Business Council of Alabama

The Business Council of Alabama is proud to present Engage Alabama, a virtual business conference open to all Alabamians.
It is available at no cost to attendees, thanks to our incredible sponsors.
This two-day summit, taking place August 26-27, will bring together more than 40 elected officials, industry leaders, and subject matter experts to provide invaluable resources on hot-button issues in our state.
Register at no charge, and the first 750 to do so will receive a complimentary conference t-shirt.






3. Pelosi calls House back to vote on Postal Service bill

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling the House of Representatives back into session this week to vote on a bill prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service. The action comes amid growing concerns that the Trump White House is trying to undermine the agency during the coronavirus pandemic while states expand mail-in voting options.
  • In a letter to Democratic lawmakers Sunday evening, Pelosi also called on her colleagues to appear at a post office in their district on Tuesday for a coordinated news event. “In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central. Americans should not have to choose between their health and their vote,” she wrote.
  • Earlier Sunday, Democratic lawmakers demanded that leaders of the Postal Service testify at an emergency oversight hearing Aug. 24 on mail delays.The agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment about whether the two men would appear before the House committee. But it said Sunday it would stop removing its distinctive blue mailboxes through mid-November following complaints from customers and members of Congress that the collection boxes were being taken away.
  • “Given the recent customer concerns the Postal Service will postpone removing boxes for a period of 90 days while we evaluate our customers’ concerns,” said Postal Service spokeswoman Kimberly Frum.
  • DeJoy, a major Republican donor and ally of the president who took control of the agency in June, has pledged to modernize the money-losing agency to make it more efficient, and has eliminated most overtime for postal workers, imposed restrictions on transportation and reduced of the quantity and use of mail-processing equipment.
  • Read more HERE.



4. After brief trade truce, US slaps levy on Canadian aluminum

  • After more than two years of browbeating and trade sanctions on Canada and Mexico, President Donald Trump strong-armed the United States’ neighbors into agreeing to supplant a 25-year-old North American trade agreement with one of his own.
  • His pact, meant to update the old deal and encourage more manufacturing in the United States, was expected to restore clarity and predictability to the rules governing $1.4 trillion in annual in U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico.
  • The tranquility didn’t last long.
  • A little more than a month after Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement took effect July 1, the Trump administration is scheduled to re-impose a 10% import tax on Canadian aluminum last week, raising tensions between the two allies.
  • Trump accuses Canada of flooding the U.S. market with its raw, unprocessed aluminum. The re-imposed tariffs will raise costs for automakers and other U.S. manufacturers that use imported aluminum in their products.
  • In 2018, Trump imposed tariffs on aluminum imports — Canada’s included. He contended that imports threatened to put U.S. aluminum producers out of business, jeopardizing the U.S. military’s access to the metal in times of war.
  • Trump last year agreed to lift the tariffs on Canada and Mexico to ease the way for the USMCA.
  • But two U.S. aluminum producers — Century Aluminum and Magnitude 7 Metals — complained even before USMCA took effect that Canada was exploiting the lifting of the tariffs to flood the U.S. with aluminum. A new trade group that represents them — the American Primary Aluminum Association — says imports of raw aluminum from Canada surged 37% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same three-month period in 2019.
  • Full story from Paul Wiseman HERE.



5. News Briefs


3 injured in weekend shooting at Alabama State

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Three people were injured in a shooting on the Alabama State University campus over the weekend, according to authorities.
  • One of the victims was a student at the university in Montgomery, said Kelvin Kendrick, the school’s director of public safety.
  • Kendrick said all of the injuries were minor and that the student was treated at a hospital and released.
  • Montgomery police and Alabama State University police responded and placed the campus on lockdown.
  • No arrests were reported. Kendrick said authorities were still investigating the shooting.
  • The university did not provide the time or specific location of the shooting, news outlets reported.

Boys, ages 3 and 1, killed after getting locked in hot car

  • MONTEVALLO, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say two young children died Saturday afternoon after they climbed into a vehicle outside their home and got locked inside for more than an hour.
  • Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans told that the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, but it appears to be just a “tragic accident.”
  • The parents told authorities the two boys – ages 3 and 1 – were thought to be playing in their rooms but had gone outside unnoticed apparently. The family frantically searched for them and eventually found them inside the vehicle. Both were unresponsive and rushed to Shelby Baptist Medical Center where they were later pronounced dead.
  • Evans said the boys had gotten into the vehicle sometime after 1 p.m. and were discovered about 3:30 p.m.
  • Temperatures on Saturday were in the 90s.
  • Autopsies will be done in Montgomery on Monday to determine the exact cause of death.
  • The boys’ names are not being released at this time.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they were left or became trapped, has increased in recent years.
  • There were 52 hot car deaths in 2019, and a record 53 deaths in 2018, according to the organization.

Tuscaloosa names street after fallen police officer

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A street in an Alabama city is being renamed for a hero.
  • The Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously voted to rename a portion of 35th Street after fallen police officer Dornell Cousette. Cousette, an investigator with the city’s police department, was killed in the line of duty last September when he was shot while trying to serve a warrant. He was 40 years old.
  • The Tuscaloosa Police Department made the announcement on their Facebook page, adding that once the department moves back into its headquarters, officers will use the road to get home after their shifts, news outlets reported.
  • “Officer Cousette didn’t get to go home the night of Sept. 16, 2019, but I think he’d be happy knowing that he’s on our minds every day that we get to,” Chief Brent Blankley said in the statement. “It’s not something we take for granted.”
  • All that’s left is the placing of street signs, which city officials said will happen after coordination with the Alabama Department of Transportation.
  • The city council also approved a recommendation to rename Trevor S. Phillips Avenue to “Officer Trevor S. Phillips Avenue” to ensure that Phillips’ tenure as a police officer was not forgotten. The 42-year-old, 10-year veteran of the department was killed while escorting a funeral procession.
  • Now, Investigator Dornell Cousette Street intersects with Officer Trevor S. Phillips Avenue.
  • “This is a great way to honor two of our heroes,” Councilwoman Raevan Howard said.

19 years later, answers sought in killing of 11-year-old

  • PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Nineteen years have passed and there is still no answer as to who killed 11-year-old Shannon Paulk.
  • The 11-year-old disappeared on Aug. 16, 2001 after going outside to play in her neighborhood at the Candlestick Mobile Home Park in Prattville. Hunters found her body two months later in a hunting preserve in the northern part of the county. No one has ever been charged in her death
  • “It’s the worst nightmare you could ever live,” the girl’s mother Marie Stroud told WSFA.
  • A vigil is being held Sunday evening in Prattville on the nineteenth anniversary of her disappearance. Organizers hope an arrest can be made before the twentieth anniversary of her disappearance.
  • “Maybe this will bring somebody out and tell us something,” said Paulk’s aunt, Tammy Evans. “C’mon, it’s been 19 years. Surely somebody knows something.”
  • Prosecutors in 2017 empaneled a special grand jury to probe the disappearance. Prosecutors announced soon after that a widely distributed sketch of a possible suspect was no longer considered credible.
  • Paulk would now be 30 if she had lived.
  • Family members said the years without answers have added to their pain.
  • “He may get away with it here on earth,” Stroud told the station.








ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Could the state tax virus relief money? Yes, but lawmakers want to change that.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Powerful Southern leagues aim to forge on with fall football
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pelosi to call House back into session to vote on USPS bill
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – After brief trade truce, US slaps levy on Canadian aluminum
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama health officials encouraged by COVID-19 numbers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother, dead at 71
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey chief of staff self quarantines after wife tests positive for COVID-19
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Postal Service warns states across US about mail voting
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama high schools limiting fan attendance for football
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weekend Digest – August 16, 2020
AL.COM – Limestone County school closes over COVID-19 concerns
AL.COM – Masks not required to vote in Alabama, Merrill says
AL.COM – Harlem Globetrotter hit with fruit by Alabama TV anchors: ‘This carries deep racial undertones’
AL.COM – Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin to give joint keynote speech at DNC
AL.COM – Miles College to honor Autherine Lucy Foster, the first Black University of Alabama student
AL.COM – ‘10-foot tall and bullet proof’: Why it’s almost impossible to sue Alabama K-12 schools over coronavirus
AL.COM – Gun sellers in Alabama see sales spike, say driven by Portland protests
AL.COM – The story of a 96-year-old from Alabama, once a child orphan and homeless teen
Montgomery Advertiser – Three injured in shooting on ASU campus
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery park shooting sends three to hospital
Montgomery Advertiser – Teen arrested in shooting that was streamed on Facebook
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Could the state tax virus relief money? Yes, but lawmakers want to change that.
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – B’ham shootout ends in police chase; suspect still at large
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa man stabbed and killed in Hay Court Apartments
Tuscaloosa News – Mazda-Toyota boosts investment in Alabama plant by $830M
Tuscaloosa News – Miles College to honor UA’s first Black student
Tuscaloosa News – Boys die after getting locked in hot car
Decatur Daily – Elkmont High to close this week due to COVID-19 cases in school, community
Decatur Daily – Virus relief money subject to state tax, but lawmakers aim to change that
Decatur Daily – UN-backed court to issue verdicts in Lebanon’s Hariri case
Times Daily – Lawmakers: Stimulus funds won’t be taxed
Times Daily – COVID cases in Shoals leveling off for a second week
Times Daily – Hospital staff has expanded role with COVID patients
Anniston Star – Could the state tax virus relief money? Yes, but lawmakers want to change that.
Anniston Star – Driver airlifted to hospital after crashing down embankment on Highway 21
Anniston Star – Could the state tax virus relief money? Yes, but lawmakers want to change that.
YellowHammer News – Alabama’s sea lab gets new research vessel
YellowHammer News – Birmingham teen named Alabama Youth of the Year
YellowHammer News – UAB Optometry student sets her sights on outer space
Gadsden Times – Boaz woman injured in parking lot accident
Gadsden Times – Altoona, sheriff’s office partner to provide SROs
Gadsden Times – Cherokee County investigation leads to indictments in drug OD
Dothan Eagle – The Latest: India’s total coronavirus death toll tops 50,000
Dothan Eagle – Hartford official dies from COVID-19
Dothan Eagle – Transition going smooth for Harrison, Cottonwood
Opelika-Auburn News – Gay Street grocery up for council vote Tuesday
Opelika-Auburn News – ‘Paying homage’: Auburn Plaza Bar & Lounge inspired by area’s hospitality history
Opelika-Auburn News – Lee County inmate found dead
WSFA Montgomery – Arrest made in July 25 Montgomery shooting
WSFA Montgomery – 6th Annual River Region Amateur Cornhole Classic raises money for charity
WSFA Montgomery – Man charged after meth, pipe found on him at county facility
WAFF Huntsville – Oakwood University confirms first case of coronavirus
WAFF Huntsville – Madison City School parent respond to first week of online learning for students
WAFF Huntsville – Elkmont High school temporarily closes due to coronavirus cases, students to learn virtually
WKRG Mobile – S.C. man travels to Florida to take Lutz homeowner hostage, deputies say
WKRG Mobile – 5-year-old with rare heart disease gets his dream playground
WKRG Mobile – Pope urges Nile states to continue talks over disputed dam
WTVY Dothan – SEC to announce 2020 football schedule Monday
WTVY Dothan – Could the state tax virus relief money? Yes, but lawmakers want to change that.
WTVY Dothan – Boys, ages 3 and 1, killed after getting locked in hot car
WASHINGTON POST – State officials rush to shore up confidence in Nov. 3 election as voters express new fears about mail voting
WASHINGTON POST – Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say
WASHINGTON POST – Unconventional Democratic convention will juggle hundreds of live feeds to re-create the feel of a party celebration
NEW YORK TIMES – A Private Security Company Is Detaining Migrant Children at Hotels
NEW YORK TIMES – Pelosi to Recall House for Postal Service Vote as Democrats Press for DeJoy to Testify
NEW YORK TIMES – Bernie Sanders Lost Again, but This Time He’ll Deliver a Victory Speech
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Democrats Press Postmaster General to Testify Before Congress
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Home Depot Braced for Covid Pain—Then Americans Remodeled
WALL STREET JOURNAL – During Covid-19 Pandemic, Political Parties Go Without Conventional Perks


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