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Daily News Digest – December 10, 2018

Presented by the Stop The HIT Coalition

Good morning! Here’s your Daily News for Monday, December 10.


1. It’s legislative orientation week.

  • Newly-elected state lawmakers will gather in Montgomery for legislative orientation beginning on Tuesday.
  • This is for new legislators from both parties, of which there are many. Veteran lawmakers are invited to participate, too, so we’ll likely have a full State House this week.
  • In the Senate, there are 12 new senators – 10 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
  • In the House, there are 31 new representatives – 23 Republicans and 8 Democrats.
  • Now, that includes a few who are moving from the House to the Senate, so it’s not like they are all new faces. Also, it’s not like anyone needs to show previous four-term State Sen. Tom Butler where the bathrooms are.
  • For most, however, it will be an introduction to floor procedure, committee structure, the flow of legislation, and – perhaps most importantly – the staff in the House and Senate who make it all happen every day.
  • This is different from the organizational session where leadership and committees are officially selected and rules agreed upon. That begins on January 10. The Regular Session begins on March 5.


2. Making sense of prosecution memos.

  • Prosecutors from the Special Counsel’s Office and the Southern District of New York released memos about their cases Friday.
  • President Trump and his allies say the memos’ release “totally clears” him. Trump enemies say it shows he’s in real trouble.
  • Which is true?
  • While the memo from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s activities in the 2016 election, doesn’t clear him, it doesn’t implicate him either.
  • It says a Russian national claiming close ties to the Kremlin reached out to Trump attorney Michael Cohen to propose government-level “political synergy” during the election. But, Cohen did not pursue that interaction. That’s good news for Trump.
  • However, Mueller has more threads to pull in trying to find out who knew about other meetings being arranged with Russians. So far, Mueller has not alleged Trump knew. But, he hasn’t ruled it out and President Trump has yet to submit his answers to Mueller’s questions.
  • The memo from Dept. of Justice prosecutors in New York’s Southern District is more problematic for President Trump. Why? Because Cohen flipped and told the government that Trump directed him to make payments from the Trump Organization on behalf of the campaign to adult actresses to cover up alleged affairs. That’s illegal, and prosecutors say they have evidence Trump broke campaign finance laws.
  • To be sure, candidates break campaign finance laws all the time. Sometimes it is serious, sometimes not. Prosecutors rarely press charges, though in this instance they seem eager to.
  • Here are the questions that matter: will federal prosecutors in New York actually pursue an indictment of the President of the United States? Can they? In any case, if presented evidence that Trump did break campaign finance law – and nothing else – would the Democratic House move impeachment proceedings? How would Americans respond.
  • None of that is settled.
  • For a more thorough walk through this, I found Andrew MaCarthy’s write up pretty balanced and helpful.
  • Meanwhile, Nick Ayers has opted out of assuming the job of White House Chief of Staff to return home to Georgia.
  • Who knows if that’s related to the DOJ inquiries, but for an ambitious guy like Nick, it plays against type to turn down basically the pinnacle of staff jobs in politics.


A Message from the Stop The HIT Coalition

  • The Stop The HIT Coalition thanks Senator Doug Jones for protecting Alabama small businesses, middle-class families and seniors from the 2020 Health Insurance Tax.
  • This costly, unfair and hidden tax increases the cost of health insurance in the small business market, needlessly stifles economic growth and should be repealed.
  • Senator Jones joined a bipartisan group in urging Senate leadership to prioritize urgent cost savings for hardworking Alabamians before the tax returns.
  • Thank Senator Jones for working for Alabama small businesses and families by supporting efforts to stop the 2020 Health Insurance Tax.


3. Latest from Hoover.

  • Almost three weeks after the Thanksgiving night shooting inside Riverchase Galleria, many questions remain…
  • Who started it? How many shots were fired and who fired them? Who was shot by whom? What does the video show or not show?
  • Jay Reeves gets into those questions in his latest in-depth piece on the situation.
  • The thing is, there aren’t definitive answers. But that hasn’t stopped dividing lines from forming in Hoover and throughout the Birmingham area.
  • State and local police have met with E.J. Bradford’s family. Attorneys for the family have been showed footage from inside the mall.
  • Protesters have vowed to continue making life uncomfortable for Hoover officials and residents alike.
  • Efforts to show support for Hoover police have taken hold and are even raising money.
  • Hoover is attempting to crackdown on the protests-at-will it was previously allowing, and one protester has now been arrested.
  • Deep and predictable dividing lines – all this before before anybody really outside of witnesses and law enforcement knows what happened.

4. Matthew Stokes: Don’t get scared now.

  • Anyone who can pull a Home Alone reference into a political/policy column is aces in my book.
  • ADN Columnist Matthew Stokes does just that in his latest write up on the intersection of culture and politics.
  • This week he takes on a theme we’ve heard a lot about since the passing of former President George H.W. Bush: the fading of the patrician, WASP domination of politics. WASP, of course, stands for White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant.
  • That decline in political domination that began in the 1990s followed a cultural one that began in the 1960s.
  • Still, that old WASP culture is nothing to be afraid of, nor is its inevitable, is nothing to be afraid of, Stokes writes.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“The old WASP culture was often accused of being cold and stoic, and at times, this was often true. Yet anyone who saw President George W. Bush weeping at the end of his eulogy for his father, or saw former Secretary of State James Baker sob at the death of his friend, knows that claim to have been exaggerated and mythologized.
“The lessons of service and obligation teach us that we should do all we can to help those less fortunate. This should be done through the Tocquevillian civil society where possible, though we can recognize a role for government in this sphere. However, we should never confuse government aid with love and devotion.”
  • Read the full column HERE.


5. Rachel Bryars: Boards wrong about AAA money.

  • The Alabama Policy Institute’s Rachel Bryars contributes a column today taking issue with some county school boards’ public resistance to the Alabama Accountability Act and the Opportunity Scholarship Fund it finances.
  • School Boards in Montgomery, Mobile, and Baldwin County recently passed resolutions calling for the law’s repeal, arguing it diverts money away from public schools to fund private school scholarships.
  • But Bryars says the boards’ claims of “financial harm” aren’t true if you look at the numbers.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Truth is, Alabama is now collecting more money to educate fewer students. Overall, the statewide education budget has grown since the scholarships were first offered. Meanwhile, enrollment has steadily decreased over the past five years…
“Of these three systems in particular, each have received significant funding increases while two saw decreases in the number of students they served…”
  • Read her full column, including some numbers that back up her points, HERE.


News Briefs.

Inauguration theme, committee announced
  • In case you missed it, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her Inaugural Committee’s leadership team and honorary members as well as the theme.
  • “Keep Alabama Growing” is the theme of the 2019 festivities, announced co-chairs Jimmy Rane and Cathy Randall.
  • Others on the inaugural committee list represent some of Alabama’s the most influential business and education leaders.
  • Read more HERE.
GM in hot water
  • General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit for electric vehicles as the nation’s largest automaker tries to deal with the political fallout triggered by its plans to shutter several U.S. factories and shed thousands of workers.
  • Preserving the $7,500 tax incentive for buyers is crucial for GM as the company pivots from internal combustion engines in favor of building cars powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Yet the layoffs and plant closings could imperil GM’s push to keep the incentive. GM faces opposition from President Donald Trump and other Republicans who consider the credit a waste of taxpayer money and want it eliminated.
  • Trump, who has pledged a manufacturing rebirth in the Midwest, reacted angrily to GM’s “transformation ” announcement late last month, declaring that his administration was “looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”
  • Read more HERE.
Uber facing back payments
  • Uber could owe tens of millions of dollars to Georgia if the state is successful in a legal battle.
  • The Georgia Department of Revenue has billed Uber $22.1 million for sales taxes and other charges that it maintains are owed by the company.
  • Ride-hailing services do not pay sales taxes in Georgia. But the department says they should under Georgia law, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
  • I wonder how this question will shake out in Alabama?
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Questions remain about details of Alabama mall shooting
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GM fights government to retain tax credit for electric cars
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump looking at several candidates for chief of staff
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Georgia battles Uber in dispute over millions of dollars
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Analysis: Russia probe threatens Trump, those in his orbit
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matthew Stokes: Don’t get scared now
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Rachel Bryars: School boards are choosing systems over students by calling for scholarship repeal
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey announces inauguration theme, committee members
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Katie Britt named to lead Business Council of Alabama
AL.COM – 1 killed, 1 injured in Ensley shooting; death marks Birmingham’s 100th homicide in 2018
AL.COM – Hoover police arrest protester at Riverchase Galleria over last week’s Interstate 459 shut down
AL.COM – Hoover police arrest protester at Riverchase Galleria over last week’s Interstate 459 shut down
AL.COM – Alabama’s virtual schools face lack of online access in rural areas
AL.COM – Tiny Alabama mountain community fights for ‘water that’s fit to drink’
AL.COM – Saraland student wins $25,000 college dream
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Alabama’s Tagovailoa finishes second to OU’s Murray in 2018 Heisman balloting
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – After national title win, Autauga Generals honor 2 assistant coaches
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Aircraft technician with Tuskegee Airmen dies at 100 in NYC
DOTHAN EAGLE – Government Oversight: Could a reduction in the buffers between bars, churches and schools be on Dothan’s horizon?
DOTHAN EAGLE – Mother indicted in baby in motel freezer case
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Women’s clothier raises $4,500 for police, others with ‘#HooverStrong’ T-shirts sales
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Mark Crosswhite leads effort to return BCA to core mission, full strength
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – VIDEO: Flynn pleads guilty, 40 Democratic presidential candidates, Ainsworth leads GOP field to take on Doug Jones in 2020 and more on Guerrilla Politics …
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Why banning students from wearing designer coats won’t prevent ‘poverty shaming’
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Kira Lewis’ late heroics allow Alabama to hold off Arizona
DECATUR DAILY – Oakville park seeking $120,000 grant for improvements
DECATUR DAILY – More than 70 children take part in day of Christmas cheer
DECATUR DAILY – Grant for overpass bridge seen as ‘catalyst of growth’
TIMES DAILY – Colbert commissioner outlines jail plan
TIMES DAILY – Agencies form downtown alliance
TIMES DAILY – Commission to get professional services help at landfill
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – SES’s Wood is assistant principal of year
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – Vacationing couples see Bush funeral procession
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – Candyland draws crowds from across region [with gallery]
TROY MESSENGER – Park Memorial Breakfast with Santa
TROY MESSENGER – Still searching: After late start, Eagles look to hit their stride
TROY MESSENGER – Davenport’s appeal process set to begin on Tuesday
THE ANNISTON STAR – After spending $5.2 million on study, state has water data, but no water plan
THE ANNISTON STAR – Local university student to receive kidney from sister
THE ANNISTON STAR – Man charged in Oxford woman’s death
GADSDEN TIMES – Top House Dems raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump
GADSDEN TIMES – Winter storm causes icy roads across swath of South
GADSDEN TIMES – Nurses honored with DAISY awards
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Auburn hires Memphis OC Kenny Dillingham as new offensive coordinator and QB coach
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Wagging & Bragging: Zoom to Groom to expand beyond eastern Lee County
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Lockhart seeks to have death sentence lifted
CULLMAN TIMES – Elks host early Santa visit for local children
CULLMAN TIMES – Scholarship established for students in Building Construction, HVAC programs
CULLMAN TIMES – Ivey: New victim services funding for Cullman, state
SHELBY COUNTY REPORTER – Santa to visit the children of Pelham Dec. 24
SHELBY COUNTY REPORTER – ‘An exciting time for PCS athletics’: Residents tour PHS field house
SHELBY COUNTY REPORTER – Christmas memories: Families make gingerbread houses at Pelham library
THE MADISON RECORD – Jones’ 6,000-piece Christmas villages honor late wife Candy
THE MADISON RECORD – The high-flying Jets; McGinnis takes flight
THE MADISON RECORD – Officials break ground on first retail facility for Town Madison
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – Smith seeks to help as local foster parent needs increase
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – A soggy Jingle Bell Run
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – I-59/20 to shut down; going east will require detour
NEW YORK TIMES – Wall St. Faces Stomach-Churning Swings as Economic Uncertainty Grows
NEW YORK TIMES – Shares Fall in Asia and Europe, Dimming Hopes for Quick Rebound
NEW YORK TIMES – Nick Ayers, Aide to Pence, Declines Offer to Be Trump’s Chief of Staff
WASHINGTON POST – Trump administration resists global climate efforts at home and overseas
WASHINGTON POST – Russians interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the campaign and transition
WASHINGTON POST – Nick Ayers, Trump’s once-likely replacement for chief of staff John Kelly, won’t take the job
USA TODAY – Jamaica resorts covered up sexual assaults, silenced victims for years
USA TODAY – Sandy Hook school shooter had ‘scorn for humanity,’ according to newly released documents
USA TODAY – Nissan, former chairman Carlos Ghosn, charged with underreporting pay
POLITICO – Conspiracy theorist sues Mueller alleging illegal leaks and surveillance
POLITICO – From pinnacle to punchline: How Trump diminished the job of his chief of staff
POLITICO – Lighthizer: Huawei case ‘totally separate’ from U.S.-China talks

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