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Daily News Digest – August 2, 2019

Good morning and Happy Friday! It’s been a long, hot week and we all deserve a break. But there’s actually quite a bit of news to catch up on first, so let’s get to it.
Here’s your Daily News for August 2.



1. AL-2 field grows.

  • Thirty six hours ago there were no confirmed candidates for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Now there are three.
  • Just hours after Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman confirmed to ADN he would be running to succeed Rep. Martha Roby in the House of Representatives, Prattville State Rep. Will Dismukes announced his candidacy on the radio and by press release.
  • Later Thursday, former Enterprise State Rep. Barry Moore told WSFA he would formally announce his candidacy on Monday.
  • Dismukes was elected to the State House last year. Moore served two terms before challenging Roby in the 2018 GOP primary.
  • Roby announced last Friday at noon that she would not be seeking reelection to a sixth term in Congress.
  • Of course, more candidates are likely to announce in the coming days and weeks.
  • Some names being talked about among the chattering class are Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, former Prattville Mayor and ADECA Director Jim Byard, Greenville State Rep. Chris Sells, former State Sen. and current Ivey Legal Counsel Bryan Taylor, former Congressman Bobby Bright, Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone, and former State Rep. Perry Hooper, among others.
  • Hearing anybody else? Or, better yet, are you considering running yourself? Shoot me a note by hitting reply.
  • While the early political pounce can seem a bit grotesque, in many ways it does help to get out in front of these things. Candidate qualifying probably won’t end until November, but there is campaign talent, money, and support on the table right now.
  • Stay tuned because this race will only get more interesting as more potential candidates make their decisions.


2. Henry wants to depose Hart.


  • In a legal fight to publicly reveal his 2014 Lee County grand jury testimony, former state representative Ed Henry now wants to depose the state’s former lead prosecutor.
  • That’s the lede from ADN’s Mary Sell in her feature story this morning.
  • In his federal lawsuit against Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, Henry alleges that the state is preventing him from talking about not only what happened when he testified in 2014 before the grand jury investigating then-Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, but what he knew prior to his testimony. Henry says the state’s grand jury secrecy laws are being used to silence witnesses and violate the First Amendment.
  • “…Henry desires to reveal public issues and matters of public importance, including issues related to his grand jury testimony,” the lawsuit filed in federal court in Montgomery says. “However, he is not free to do so without fear of criminal prosecution due to defendants’ interpretation of Alabama’s Grand Jury Secrecy Act and defendants’ threatened application of said laws to Rep. Henry based on the warnings he received from Defendant (Matt) Hart.”
  • Henry, who did not seek re-election in 2018, was still a lawmaker when he filed the lawsuit in September 2017. Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to a felony in an unrelated matter.
  • Hart led the AG office’s special prosecutions division under then-Attorney General Luther Strange and remained after Marshall took over in 2017. Hart left the AG’s office suddenly in November 2018. According to court records, he is scheduled to be deposed by Henry’s attorney, William White, Aug. 9, but White said he expects the AG’s office to try to stop that deposition. A trial for Henry’s lawsuit is scheduled for June 10, 2020.
  • There’s a lot to this story, and bullet points can’t really capture it. At issue seems to be both how Alabama’s grand jury secrecy laws are interpreted and applied.
  • Read Mary’s full story HERE.


3. ALDOT bridge contract delayed.


  • A contract between the Alabama Department of Transportation and a law firm for work on the proposed I-10 toll bridge over Mobile Bay was delayed Thursday over a senator’s concerns about toll costs.
  • “I represent most of Baldwin County and there are a lot of questions and concerns that have not been responded to,” Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, told Alabama Daily News after the Legislative Contract Review Committee meeting.
  • “So I think there is a feeling in general that we need to slow things down, get our questions answered, figure out if this is really the best way to do it before we carry on with the toll bridge.”
  • Maynard, Cooper & Gale is the law firm that has been working for two years with ALDOT to advise on any technical and legal details related to the I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge proposal and Wallace Tunnel. The contract extension of two years is asking for up to $750,000.
  • Tony Harris, a spokesman for ALDOT, told Alabama Daily News that the current contract expires at the end of September.
  • The contract review committee can’t kill a contract, but can delay it for up to 45 days. When that time is up, the contract goes to the governor for final approval. By the time the existing legal contract has expired, the new one could be approved, creating no delay for ALDOT or their legal team.
  • The ever-busy Caroline Beck was there, and you can read her story HERE.


4. HD74 candidates talk issues.

  • Candidates for Alabama House District 74 answered questions about safeguarding state employees’ retirement benefits and looking after retirees during a candidate forum Thursday.
  • Michael Fritz and Charlotte Meadows, the two Republican candidates for the Montgomery-based House seat, both suggested that as long as the state’s General Fund budget stays robust and keeps growing, then retirement benefits will also continue to grow.
  • They both stressed the need for improvements in the district’s public education system, which in turn would affect job growth, which would then create more revenue for the General Fund budget ensuring that retirement benefits don’t erode.
  • Rayford Mack, the only Democrat running for the seat, suggested that finding other sources of revenue for the state budget, such as a statewide lottery for health care, could free up money in the budget that could be used on retirement benefits.
  • The forum was hosted by the Alabama Retired State Employees’ Association and the Alabama Public Employees’ Advocacy League which lobby for state, county and municipal retirees and employees.
  • House District 74 has the highest concentration of state retirees of any district in Alabama, according to ARSEA/ APEAL.
  • ADN’s Caroline Beck was there, too. Read her full story HERE.


5. Hurd’s retirement another blow to GOP.


  • U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, on Thursday became the latest of a growing list of young, dynamic Republicans choosing not to seek reelection to Congress.
  • Hurd, the House’s only black Republican, is a former CIA agent who has been known for his work on intelligence and military issues. Hurd also has an independent streak and was one of the few GOP members willing to publicly disagree with President Donald Trump occasionally.
  • Hurt is the ninth Republican to announce he’s leaving in 2020, including the sixth in just the last week.
  • Alabama’s Rep. Martha Roby is on that list, as are Reps. Paul Mitchell of Michigan, Michael Conaway of Texas, Susan Brooks of Indiana, Rob Woodall of Georgia, and Pete Olson of Texas.
  • And remember – 34 House Republicans opted out of running in 2018, including big names like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy.
  • The trend speaks to a growing perception that work in the minority – especially in the era of Trump-dominated politics – is less appealing, even for some of the GOP’s most prominent lawmakers.
  • Read more from Alan Fram HERE.
  • (Also embedded in the story is a tweet thread from Matt Glassman of the Georgetown Governmental Affairs Institute about the roots of this trend that I found really poignant.)


AP News Briefs.

Prison system graduates new class of correctional officers
  • The Alabama Department of Corrections on Friday will graduate its first class of a new category of corrections officer as the state tries to address a prison staffing shortage.
  • Sixty-one basic correctional officers will graduate from the Alabama Corrections Academy in Selma.
  • The prison system created the new position of basic officer this year to speed the hiring of security staff. The program has easier entry requirements, and graduates can do some, but not all of the tasks, handled by correctional officers.
  • The basic correctional officer will perform duties such as supervising inmates and dormitories, conducting searches, working dining halls, managing laundries and other functions requiring inmate supervision, prison system spokeswoman Samantha Banks said. The officers will also assist with educational and vocational opportunities and providing rehabilitative services.
  • Read more HERE.
State could pay over $1 million for blocked abortion law
  • Alabama might have to pay more than $1 million to lawyers for abortion clinics after the state’s unsuccessful attempt to ban a common second trimester abortion procedure.
  • In a court filing last week, lawyers for abortion clinics said they will seek to recoup $1 million in legal fees and nearly $24,000 in expenses. Alabama is responsible for the plaintiffs’ fees after federal courts ruled the law unconstitutional.
  • The 2016 Alabama law – not the more recent 2019 law – sought to ban the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. Clinics filed a lawsuit and a judge ruled the ban unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court in June refused to hear the state’s appeal.
  • The lawsuit also successfully challenged a law blocking clinics near schools.
  • An ongoing lawsuit is challenging Alabama’s attempt to ban abortion outright.
Budget and debt deal clears Senate, advances to Trump
  • A hard-won budget and debt deal easily cleared the Senate on Thursday, powered by President Donald Trump’s endorsement and a bipartisan drive to cement recent spending increases for the Pentagon and domestic agencies.
  • The legislation passed by a 67-28 vote as Trump and his GOP allies relied on lots of Democratic votes to propel it over the finish line.
  • Passage marked a drama-free solution to a worrisome set of looming Washington deadlines as both allies and adversaries of the president set aside ideology in exchange for relative fiscal peace and stability. The measure, which Trump has promised to sign, would permit the government to resume borrowing to pay all its bills and would set an overall $1.37 trillion limit on agency budgets approved by Congress annually.
  • It does nothing to stem the government’s spiraling debt and the return of $1 trillion-plus deficits but it also takes away the prospect of a government shutdown in October or the threat of deep automatic spending cuts .
  • The administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., played strong hands in the talks that sealed the agreement last week, producing a pragmatic measure that had much for lawmakers to dislike.
  • Trump did step back from a possible fight over spending increases sought by liberals, and he achieved his priorities on Pentagon budgets and the stock market-soothing borrowing limit.
  • “Budget Deal is phenomenal for our Great Military, our Vets, and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” Trump tweeted before the vote. “Two year deal gets us past the Election. Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT!”
  • Alabama’s delegation was split on the bill.
  • Full story HERE.
Trump says he’ll put 10% tariffs on remaining China imports
  • President Donald Trump intensified pressure on China to reach a trade deal by saying he will impose 10% tariffs Sept. 1 on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports he hasn’t already taxed. The move immediately sent stock prices sinking.
  • U.S. consumers will likely feel the pain if Trump proceeds with the new tariffs. Trump’s earlier tariffs had been designed to minimize the impact on ordinary Americans by focusing on industrial goods. But the new tariffs will hit a vast range of consumer products from cellphones to silk scarves.
  • The president’s announcement via Twitter on Thursday came as a surprise, in part because the White House on Wednesday had said Beijing confirmed that it planned to increase its purchases of American farm products. That word came just as U.S. and Chinese negotiators were ending a 12th round of trade talks in Shanghai, which the White House called “constructive.”
  • China’s foreign minister criticized the move.
  • Though the negotiations concluded without any sign of a deal, they are scheduled to resume next month in Washington.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had been up nearly 300 points earlier in the day, was down nearly 200 points after Trump’s tweets announcing the new tariffs. The Dow closed for the day down 280 points — more than 1%.
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Henry lawsuit: Use of state’s grand jury secrecy laws unconstitutional
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House District 74 candidates discuss retirement benefits, job growth
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senator uses Mobile bridge contract to ‘slow things down’ on toll debate
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Prison system graduates new class of correctional officers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump says he’ll put 10% tariffs on remaining China imports
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Vexed with minority status and rancor, GOP lawmakers retire
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jeff Coleman on Congress bid: ‘I’m all in’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – UAB, UnitedHealthCare reach deal to continue service
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – August 1, 2019
AL.COM  – Republicans Jeff Coleman, Will Dismukes seeking Martha Roby’s congressional seat
AL.COM  – Greater Birmingham Ministries marks 50 years
AL.COM  – Guster moving forward with business incubator project
AL.COM  – Contributors Sheila Cummings, Michael Roesch, Tim Thornton and Allen Young: The large impact of Huntsville’s small business community
Montgomery Advertiser – Crowds line up for opening of ALDI location in Montgomery
Montgomery Advertiser – Avalanche of opioids: Why are millions of pills prescribed in rural Walker County?
Montgomery Advertiser – Voters at 15 polling precincts to participate in House District 74 runoff
YellowHammer News – Yellowhammer Multimedia taps Sean Ross to serve as editor of Yellowhammer News
YellowHammer News – Longtime Tuscaloosa mayor, Al DuPont, dies at 94
YellowHammer News – Dismukes announces AL-2 congressional bid — Says someone needed ‘to battle these socialists, communists and the big-government politicians’
Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass Humane Society boarding about 20 extra cats following tragedy at Dothan’s animal shelter
Dothan Eagle – Firearm purchases in Alabama no longer permitted without national background check
Dothan Eagle – Coffee County teen dies in truck crash
Tuscaloosa News – Murder suspect freed after cellphone photos surface
Tuscaloosa News – Nick’s Kids Foundation donates more than $560,000 to area organizations
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama could pay over $1M for blocked abortion law
Decatur Daily – Parker group buys riverfront acreage from GE
Decatur Daily – After another fatal accident, city leaders ask for safer parkway
Decatur Daily – $4 million grant to help build bridge to serve Mazda Toyota plant
Times Daily – United Way sets $1M goal for fundraising campaign
Times Daily – Alabama Music Hall of Fame Board approves new sign
Times Daily – Tourism Board wants to pay off $1.3M building loan
Gadsden Times – Judge appointed to hear Acton Bowen child-sex charges in Etowah County
Gadsden Times – Former Auburn coach, Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville talks to Rotary Club
Gadsden Times – Gadsden man robbed on Forrest Avenue
Anniston Star – New principal hired for White Plains Middle School
Anniston Star – Back-to-school event Saturday in Zinn Park
Anniston Star – Case of man charged with killing girlfriend sent to grand jury
Troy Messenger – New vape store regulations take effect in Alabama
Troy Messenger – Architect sought for jail
Troy Messenger – Whaley brought love, music to community
Andalusia Star News – RLHS new band director excited for marching season
Andalusia Star News – Former Newtown Superintendent shares experiences of Sandy Hook shooting
Andalusia Star News – Police investigating shooting
Opelika-Auburn News – Expecting $125 from Equifax? You’ll be disappointed, FTC says.
Opelika-Auburn News – 44 people injured after waterpark wave machine launched crushing tsunami
Opelika-Auburn News – OUR VIEW: Local hotel’s recognition is also recognition of a growing local tourism industry
Daily Mountain Eagle – Meeting held to organize Census count in Walker
Daily Mountain Eagle – Longtime sheriff’s employee gets surprise party
Daily Mountain Eagle – The upside down limit
Trussville Tribune – Pinson Council to proceed with installation of Heather Pointe traffic calming devices, upgrades at PYSC
Trussville Tribune – Prison system graduates new class of correctional officers
Trussville Tribune – Birmingham Police: Officer faked shooting, distress call
Athens News Courier – Prison system graduates new class of correctional officers
Athens News Courier – Athens man charged with 2nd-degree rape
Athens News Courier – Walloped by heat wave, Greenland sees massive ice melt
WSFA Montgomery – 1 injured in Thursday night Andalusia shooting
WSFA Montgomery – Barry Moore intends to run for U.S. Congress
WSFA Montgomery – New hotel open in downtown Montgomery part of booming market
Fox 6 Birmingham – Former Tuscaloosa Mayor Al DuPont dies at age 94; Funeral arrangements announced
Fox 6 Birmingham – Grand opening of new trail at Red Mountain Park
Fox 6 Birmingham – Authorities investigate shooting death of 15-year-old in Brighton
WAFF Huntsville – ‘She was a sister’: Family, friends remember Clements student killed in ATV wreck
WAFF Huntsville – All K-12 public schools will need to offer computer science courses in 3 years
WAFF Huntsville – FDA recalling pig ear dog treats due to potential contamination with salmonella
WKRG Mobile – Boy thrown from Mall of America balcony moved out of intensive care
WKRG Mobile – Woman pleads guilty to assault charges, accused of throwing drink at Florida congressman
WKRG Mobile – BIKER DAD: Good Samaritans lift SUV off of motorcycle rider after crash
WTVY Dothan – Florida’s Back-To-School Tax Holiday starts Friday
WTVY Dothan – Dogs that killed dozens of cats had already injured two women
WTVY Dothan – Northside Methodist hires former MLB player Mike Mordecai
WASHINGTON POST  – U.S. preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan in initial deal with Taliban
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump escalates attacks on Baltimore and other cities — says federal funds have been ‘stolen,’ ‘wasted
WASHINGTON POST  – Nearly half of House Democrats back impeachment inquiry of Trump, amplified by calls from presidential candidates
WASHINGTON POST  – Three NRA board members resign in latest sign of upheaval at gun rights group
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump says he will impose new tariffs on $300 billion of imports from China starting next month, ending brief cease-fire in trade war
NEW YORK TIMES  – Will Hurd, Only Black Republican in House, Is Retiring From Congress



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