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Daily News Digest – December 13, 2019

Presented by

the Alabama Bicentennial Commission


Good morning!
Careful not to cross paths with a black cat or walk under a ladder today.
Here’s your Daily News for Friday, December 13.




1. Dems delay impeachment vote

  • The House Judiciary Committee abruptly shut down its proceedings late Thursday before expected votes on the two articles of impeachment. The move came after a 14-hour, marathon slog through Republican amendments aimed at killing the charges.
  • A vote on the two charges against President Donald Trump is expected today, when the committee resumes at 9:00 a.m. Central Time.
  • “It is now very late at night,” Nadler said after presiding over the two-day session. “I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these past two days and to search their consciences before they cast their final votes.”
  • However, the extra day was not expected, and Republicans on the panel, blindsided by the move, were livid.
  • When Nadler announced that the committee wouldn’t vote until Friday morning, gasps were heard at the dais, and Republicans immediately started yelling “unbelievable” and “they just want to be on TV.”
  • Republicans say Democrats are impeaching the president because they can’t beat him in 2020. Democrats warn Americans can’t wait for the next election because they worry what Trump will try next.
  • The House is expected to vote on the articles next week, in the days before Christmas. That would send the impeachment effort to the Senate for a 2020 trial.
  • Read more and watch today’s expected vote live HERE.



2. Vote coming on medical marijuana proposal

  • A vote is expected on a final draft of medical marijuana legislation by next Friday.
  • Members of the Alabama Medical Marijuana Study Commission have until Monday to make any final comments on a draft proposal now circulating among members, and then a vote by the 18-member body will happen via email by Dec. 20, Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, told Alabama Daily News.
  • Melson sponsored the medical marijuana bill that passed out of the Senate in the 2019 session. In the House, lawmakers changed the legalization bill to instead create this study commission. It’s been working since the summer on new legislation.
  • The draft legislation circulated in November contained stipulations for licensing dispensaries, advertisement of the drug, a statewide seed-to-sale tracking system and other regulatory measures.
  • Melson on Thursday said a few changes have been made, including adding the creation of a “compassion panel,” to which people can appeal if they don’t have a condition or illness specified in the bill as qualifying for medical marijuana.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.






A message from

the Alabama Bicentennial Commission

Come celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial on Saturday, December 14th in Downtown Montgomery!
The day will include family activities with exhibitors from all around the state participating in the Bicentennial parade, park dedication and festival, all showcasing Alabama’s communities and honoring her people.
  • 10 a.m. Alabama Bicentennial Parade – Dexter Ave;
  • Noon: Alabama Bicentennial Park Dedication – State Capitol Steps;
  • 1 p.m. Alabama Bicentennial Festival – Capitol Complex & Downtown Montgomery;
  • 4 p.m.Alabama Bicentennial Concert and Finale Presentation – State Capitol Steps.
For more information, visit

3. Byrne gets Oval Office treatment

  • Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Bradley Byrne met with President Donald Trump this week for an educational choice roundtable discussion at the White House.
  • Trump invited Byrne to the roundtable to discuss the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act that he introduced earlier this year with the support of the Trump Administration, according to a press release. The legislation would give parents nationwide the ability to make more decisions about where their children go to school by building upon the scholarship granting organization model already used in Alabama under the 2013 Accountability Act. In Alabama, a tax credit of roughly $3,500 helps students transfer out of failing schools. Businesses and individuals also get tax credits for donating to a scholarship fund for students.
  • “I thank President Trump for his trust in me to lead his school choice bill in the House, “Byrne said. “Every student deserves a high quality education, and President Trump is making great progress towards improving our education system by putting American students first.”
  • Other participants in the discussion included Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz.
  • Read more HERE.



4. Trade breakthrough coming?


  • The Trump administration and China are close to finalizing a modest trade agreement that would suspend tariffs that are set to kick in Sunday, de-escalating their 17-month trade war.
  • A “deal is close,” said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s head of international affairs, who has been briefed by both sides.
  • Brilliant said the administration has agreed to suspend Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese imports Sunday and to reduce existing tariffs, though it wasn’t clear by how much.
  • In return, Beijing would buy more U.S. farm products, increase Americans companies’ access to the Chinese market and tighten protection for intellectual property rights.
  • The deal awaits final approval from President Donald Trump.
  • Trump took to Twitter early Thursday to declare: “Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!”
  • The president’s comments triggered a daylong rally on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 220 points, or 0.8%.
  • Thursday evening, a senior administration official said a policy announcement regarding China would take place on Friday.
  • Read more HERE.



5. Tories win big in Britain

  • It’s not Alabama politics or even American politics, but it has been fascinating to watch our neighbors across the pond conduct their elections.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party won a thumping majority of seats in Britain’s Parliament — a decisive outcome to a Brexit-dominated election that should allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the U.K. out of the European Union next month.
  • With 649 of the 650 results declared on Friday, the Conservatives had 364 seats and the main opposition Labour Party 203.
  • A few hours later, Johnson was whisked to Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth II as part of the constitutional ritual of forming a new government. He is the 14th prime minister to be asked by the monarch to form a government.
  • Which season of The Crown will be recreating that meeting, I wonder?
  • The victory makes Johnson the most electorally successful Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson on Twitter, and said that “Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new trade deal after Brexit.”
  • If you want a good explanation of what the election was about and why it went the way it did, I recommend this article, which I found enlightening.



News Briefs


Former water official avoids prison on corruption conviction

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A former chairwoman of Birmingham’s water board won’t have to go to prison for her public corruption conviction, a judge ruled Thursday.
  • Jefferson County Circuit Judge Clyde Jones ordered Sherry Lewis during a hearing to pay fines of $30,000 and to perform 400 hours of community service for her conviction on felony ethics charges of using her position for personal gain.
  • The sentence included a suspended prison sentence, and a statement from prosecutors said Lewis won’t have to serve time if she fulfills other aspects of her punishment.
  • Lewis was convicted in October of using the position to obtain jobs for her son, football bowl tickets, lavish meals and alcohol from a contractor. Meanwhile, she voted for the contractor to receive inflated payments from the Birmingham Water Works Board, authorities said.
  • A contractor and a subcontractor are awaiting trial.

Limestone judge faces ethics, financial exploitation charges

  • ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — A north Alabama judge was arrested Thursday on ethics and theft charges, the Alabama attorney general’s office announced.
  • Limestone County District Judge Douglas Lee Patterson faces three felony charges, including using his officer for personal gain. The attorney general’s office said he misused $47,000 intended for juvenile court programs by using it for personal expenses.
  • He is also charged with financial exploitation of the elderly. He is accused of acting improperly during his time as conservator for a nursing home resident who is now deceased. The attorney general’s office said Patterson withdrew about $47,800 of the money in the conservator account for personal use. The theft charge accuses Patterson of using theft by deception to take control of a sum of money, between $499 and $1,500, from an estate of another man for whom he had served as conservator.
  • Court records did not immediately show if Patterson has an attorney representing him.

NTSB blames inadequate work for deadly blast in Alabama

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal investigation released Thursday cited inadequate work by an excavation company as the probable cause of a pipeline explosion that killed two people and slowed the flow of fuel to the Eastern Seaboard in 2016.
  • Workers unearthing a Colonial Pipeline Co. pipeline that was carrying thousands of gallons of gasoline near Birmingham failed to plan, coordinate and communicate during the job, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board.
  • Officials said a worker used a piece of heavy machinery to scratch through dirt until a pipeline fitting was damaged, releasing a “wall of gasoline” that caught fire. Such work should have been done by hand, the report said.
  • Read more from Jay Reeves HERE.



Bonus: Podcast drops AlaDems episodes

  • The Reply All podcast – a fairly popular podcast nationally and worldwide, has just released three episodes on the ongoing saga of the Alabama Democratic Party.
  • Of course, we’ve run countless stories about the crazy drama inside the party, but this is an interesting outside perspective.
  • If you’re into podcasts, or even if you’re not, these episodes titled “The Real Enemy” Parts 1,2 & 3 are worth a listen.
  • Listen via Apple podcasts HERE and via Spotify HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – After delay, House committee vote today on Trump impeachment


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Commission’s vote on medical marijuana bill next week


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Byrne meets with Trump on education choice scholarship legislation


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US and China near deal that would suspend planned tariffs


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – UK’s Johnson claims Brexit mandate as Tories secure majority


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – NTSB blames inadequate work for deadly blast in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama infant mortality rate hits record low


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Taylor gathers ‘conservative squad’ on Fox & Friends


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘You get what you pay for’ Federal judge concerned about ADOC staffing numbers, lesser paid, trained positions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Chris Cox appointed interim president of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Troy mom sues officers accused of severely beating son


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Prosecutors: Man threatened Trump, Putin, vowed to kill kids


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Barr: FBI’s Russia investigation based on ‘bogus narrative’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 11, 2019


AL.COM – 3 Houston Co. teachers suspended over text messages leaked online


AL.COM – Plantation Christmas event near Tuscumbia ‘racist’, groups say


AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: No jail time for corrupt water board member


AL.COM – Opportunity Alabama featured in Forbes OZ 20


AL.COM – Common Core math ‘eradicated,’ Ivey says, after Alabama school board vote


AL.COM – Donors fund bicentennial, including event for officials


AL.COM – Clarke County gets $1.6 million grant for sawmill project


AL.COM – Republicans send fundraising mailers to Alabama voters that resemble Census forms


AL.COM – Limestone County judge accused of stealing from juvenile fund, elderly veteran


AL.COM – Alabama still hammering out details for third-grade reading hurdle


Montgomery Advertiser – Three teens charged with combined 230 felony theft crimes following 72-hour break-in spree


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery man sentenced to 30 years for drug trafficking


Montgomery Advertiser – Uncles plead to misdemeanors in case where child chained to stairs, forced to sleep in dog crate


YellowHammer News – Univ. of South Alabama provost elected chair of southern college accrediting commission


YellowHammer News – Three former NFL players with connections to Alabama charged with healthcare fraud


YellowHammer News – Birmingham CEO calls on Congress to quickly ratify Trump’s historic USMCA trade deal


Dothan Eagle – Trump criticizes teen climate activist Greta Thunberg day after Time magazine honor


Dothan Eagle – Dollar Tree fined for safety hazards at Andalusia location


Dothan Eagle – (Update) Carver School on lockdown as safety precaution


Tuscaloosa News – Former water official avoids prison on corruption conviction


Tuscaloosa News – Christmas parade expected to go on as planned despite rain


Tuscaloosa News – Bryant Bank spreads holiday cheer at detention center


Decatur Daily – Daikin donation eyed for amphitheater upgrade


Decatur Daily – Church building deteriorates as grocery chain waits for lease to end


Decatur Daily – Space, funding handicap Lawrence 911 center consolidation


Times Daily – Cyclists explain opposition to rumble strips on Natchez Trace


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals Middle School taking STEM projects to the community


Times Daily – Florence Christmas Parade is Thursday


Gadsden Times – Rainbow City man charged with animal cruelty


Gadsden Times – Westbrook student recognized for rescuing driver in interstate crash


Gadsden Times – New allegations in Boaz child porn case


Anniston Star – Ranburne Town Council OKs tax abatement for packaging company


Anniston Star – Ranburne Town Council OKs tax abatement for packaging company


Anniston Star – Phillip Tutor: Get ready for Little unleashed


Troy Messenger – Ambulance contract sets accountable standards


Troy Messenger – New Crowe’s owner says restaurant to offer classic chicken ‘and more’


Troy Messenger – Pioneer Museum’s Ole Time Christmas begins tonight


Andalusia Star News – An Andalusia man is arrested after allegedly raping a minor less than 12 years old


Andalusia Star News – AARP Alabama Applauds the House for Passing the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act


Andalusia Star News – Forest Service honors Andalusian


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika police arrest elementary staffer


Opelika-Auburn News – New buses, calendar OK’d for Auburn schools


Opelika-Auburn News – United Way needs help reaching annual goal


Daily Mountain Eagle – Parrish minister asks for help on vandalism


Daily Mountain Eagle – Western filmed in Oakman set to premiere


Daily Mountain Eagle – Sessions running for national interests, Trump agenda


Trussville Tribune – St. Vincent’s East responds to lock down Thursday


Trussville Tribune – Man killed in crash with Freightliner in Etowah County


Trussville Tribune – NTSB blames inadequate work for deadly pipeline blast in Helena


Athens News Courier – Help fight the spread of flu this season


Athens News Courier – Snowfall leads to area travel issues


Athens News Courier – Help fight the spread of flu this season


Sand Mountain Reporter – Sardis City bridge closed | Detour on Whitesboro Road to Son Johnson Road


Sand Mountain Reporter – Kilpatrick man arrested for Boaz graffiti, second suspect remains at large


Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall County woman killed in single-car crash


WSFA Montgomery – Man talks about chasing Dozier bank robbery suspects


WSFA Montgomery – Suspect charged in Thursday morning Montgomery shooting


WSFA Montgomery – Member of drug trafficking organization sentenced to 30 years


Fox 6 Birmingham – Mail thieves arrested in Cullman


Fox 6 Birmingham – How to keep the wrong people from accessing the tech in your home


Fox 6 Birmingham – State Board of Education approves new math standards


WAFF Huntsville – Triple trouble at Bridge Street and no love at two Decatur McDonald’s: Your December 13th Kitchen Cops report


WAFF Huntsville – Man sentenced in 2014 Madison double murder


WAFF Huntsville – Hazel Green High School hosting blood drive to help students burned in fire


WKRG Mobile – Ozark Officer Shot, taken to hospital


WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: AMBER Alert for missing Florida 15-year-old cancelled


WKRG Mobile – Suspect shot by officer goes home, not jail, after release from hospital


WTVY Dothan – DeFuniak Springs man arrested for 20 counts of child porn


WTVY Dothan – Headland Middle School opens Christmas shop for students


WTVY Dothan – Early County “Flips the Switch” on new solar farm


WASHINGTON POST – House Judiciary Committee abruptly adjourns after marathon debate, will vote on articles of impeachment Friday morning


WASHINGTON POST – Congressional negotiators reach tentative $1.3 trillion federal spending deal


WASHINGTON POST – House Democrats pass broad prescription drug price bill as election marker


NEW YORK TIMES – South Carolina Is the 10th State to Impose Medicaid Work Requirements


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump’s Order to Combat Anti-Semitism Divides Its Audience: American Jews



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