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Daily News Digest – December 19, 2019

Good morning!
Allow me to wish my parents, Bob and Teresa Stacy a special measure of joy on this, their 50th wedding anniversary !
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, December 19.



1. Trump impeached in partisan vote

  • President Donald Trump became the third U.S. president to be impeached Wednesday night, as the U.S. House of Representatives passed two articles of charges against him in mostly party-line votes.
  • The first charge was that the 45th president abused the power of his office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election. It passed 230-197-1, with all but two Democrats voting YES, all Republicans voting NO, one Independent voting YES, and Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii voting “Present.”
  • The second charge was that Trump obstructed Congress in its investigation. That article passed 229-198-1, with all but three Democrats voting YES, all Republicans voting NO, and Gabbard voting “Present.”
  • Democrats led Wednesday night’s voting, framed in what many said was their duty to protect the Constitution and uphold the nation’s system of checks and balances. Republicans stood by their party’s leader, calling the whole affair a “witch hunt,” a “hoax” and a “sham,” and sometimes all three.
  • The trial is expected to begin in January in the Senate, where a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction. While Democrats had the majority in the House to impeach Trump, Republicans control the Senate and few if any are expected to diverge from plans to acquit the president ahead of early state election-year primary voting.
  • Interestingly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated she may not transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate until certain terms of the trial are met. One former adviser to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described that as politically “holding a grenade with the pin pulled.” On the other hand, drawing out the process could potentially make it more politically painful for Trump as more people would pay attention, Democrats argue.
  • Speaking of McConnell, he is scheduled to speak on the Senate floor at 8:30 a.m. (now) about impeachment and the process moving forward.
  • Read the full story, including a live feed of McConnell’s speech HERE.
  • Alabama’s delegation was split down party lines, and most members were outspoken about their feelings on the matter. See their responses compiled by ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.
  • Also see the story WSFA’s Lydia Nussbaum put together on the delegation’s impeachment speeches HERE.


2. Court rules against Obamacare provisions

  • A federal appeals court on Wednesday struck down “Obamacare’s” requirement that Americans carry health insurance but sidestepped a ruling on the law’s overall constitutionality. The decision means the law remains in effect for now.
  • The 2-1 ruling handed down by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans means the ultimate fate of the rest of the Affordable Care Act – including such provisions as protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Medicaid expansion and the ability for children under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance – remains unclear.
  • The panel agreed with Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s 2018 finding that the law’s insurance requirement, the so-called “individual mandate,” was rendered unconstitutional when Congress, in 2017, reduced a tax on people without insurance to zero.
  • The court reached no decision on the big issue — how much of the Affordable Care Act must fall along with the insurance mandate.
  • “It may still be that none of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate, even after this inquiry is concluded. It may be that all of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate. It may also be that some of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate, and some is not,” Judge Jennifer Elrod wrote.
  • The decision sends the case back to a judge who already ruled once to throw out the entire ACA but with some guidance. O’Connor has to be more specific about which parts of the law can’t be separated from the mandate, and also must take into account Congress’ decision to leave the rest of the law essentially unchanged when it reduced the penalty for not having insurance to zero, Elrod wrote.
  • Read more HERE.



3. BCA’s Britt talks priorities & pitfalls for 2020

  • Six weeks before the 2020 legislative session begins, Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt on Wednesday laid out an agenda focused on building on the state’s economic success and avoiding potential pitfalls that could cost taxpayers.
  • BCA is one of Alabama’s most influential political organizations, pooling resources from the state’s business community to support its endorsed candidates for office and lobby the Alabama Legislature for business-friendly policies.
  • Britt was the featured speaker at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce’s “Eggs and Issues” breakfast event, which attracted a sold-out crowd of about 400 business and community leaders. After a year at the helm of BCA, which she described as a kind of “state chamber of commerce,” Britt said she is optimistic about Alabama’s future, but ready to get to work when the Legislature convenes.
  • “Alabamians have always had a can-do attitude, and that’s what makes our state so attractive to industries locating here,” Britt said. “We’ve established Alabama as one of the top five business climates in the country – but we can’t stop there.”
  • Among the priorities: reauthorizing incentives laws that state and local economic developers use to recruit industry.
  • Among the pitfalls: avoiding an undercount in the 2020 Census and failing to act on prison reform.
  • Read the full story HERE.


4. Alabama, other states challenge amendment ratification push

  • Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the addition of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Alabama’s attorney general announced Wednesday.
  • The lawsuit filed in federal court in Alabama comes in response to a renewed push to get the required 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which would ban discrimination on the basis of sex. The lawsuit notes that Congress set a 1982 deadline to get the required 38 states to agree and seeks to prevent David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, from accepting a new ratification from a state.
  • “The people had seven years to consider the ERA, and they rejected it. To sneak it into the Constitution through this illegal process would undermine the very basis for our constitutional order,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
  • Marshall said Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota are committed to equality but contended the “ERA would not promote true equality, but rather a far-left agenda.” He argued the amendment could be used to strike down abortion restrictions or require boys and girls to compete against each other in sports.
  • Read the full story from Kim Chandler HERE.


5. API: Medical marijuana a ‘trojan horse’

  • As noted in this week’s edition of Inside Alabama Politics, the Alabama Marijuana Medical Marijuana Study Commission is voting this week by email on whether or not to send recommended legislation to the Legislature.
  •’s Mike Cason has a story today on what that draft legislation might look like, which you can read HERE.
  • While likely to clear the commission, there is opposition to the push to legalize medical marijuana.
  • One of the leading opponents, the Alabama Policy Institute, contributes an op-ed in today’s Daily News explaining its problems with the bill.
  • Here’s an excerpt from the piece by former State Sen. Phil Williams, Director of Policy and Strategy for API.
“To be sure, if this bill passes it will have major impacts on employers, law enforcement, farmers, insurance companies, and others. Marijuana is not FDA approved and is still considered a controlled substance illegally possessed under federal law.
“But the proponents of medical marijuana are not content to go with the usual form of trial, research and approval. They want it now and are determined, according to this bill, to get it at any cost. If they would go through the established processes of amending the law at the federal level, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But of course, that would have a negative impact on their for-profit cannabis industry. Darn.
“The legislature has a big job. Their role is key to the functions of our state governance. But if the State House and Senate pass this trojan horse bill, it will truly be said that the legislature went to pot.”
  • Read Williams full op-ed HERE.


This just in…

  • As reported yesterday, the combined $1.4 trillion appropriations packages passed the House and are now on their way to Senate passage.
  • Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby has been sharing on Twitter certain aspects of the bills that have benefits for Alabama.
  • Alabama Daily News has just learned of one provision that could have a profound impact on the state.
  • Tucked inside the Energy and Water Development portion of the bill is a new regional dredge program for the Central Gulf Coast. In all, the Army Corps of Engineers is receiving $651.5 million more funding in this year’s budget with a mandate to use revenues to “advance American competitiveness and export capabilities.”
  • That means Alabama could very well be on its way to finally completing the deepening and widening of the Port of Mobile – a project long championed by Shelby as a uniquely powerful economic catalyst for the state.
  • It’s not a direct funding allocation like the good ol’ days of earmarks. The Corps will be responsible for allocating the funds and contracting the dredging plans. But, Mobile is well-positioned eligible for the program.
  • There will be more about this going forward, but remember where you heard it first!


News Briefs

Bryan Taylor exits Supreme Court race

  • As we had speculated in this week’s Inside Alabama Politics, former State Sen. Bryan Taylor has decided to exit the race for Supreme Court.
  • Taylor surprised the political chattering class by qualifying at the last minute for the the Supreme Court Place 2 GOP primary, later explaining that it was a “technical filing” and a “placeholder” just in case he actually decides to run.
  • In a statement to Alabama Daily News, Taylor said he has decided not to run after thinking and praying about it with his family. Taylor’s wife, Jessica, is seeking the GOP nomination for Congress in Alabama’s 2nd District.
  • Read more HERE.

Montgomery repeals local law to jail panhandlers

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s capital city on Tuesday repealed a local law that would have jailed panhandlers.
  • The Montgomery City Council unanimously voted to repeal the unenforced ordinance that had drawn heavy criticism from homeless advocates, clergy and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, the city’s newly elected mayor, supported the repeal.
  • Eric Tars, legal director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, said the organization is happy city leaders decided to repeal the “patently unconstitutional” ordinance.
  • “Housing not handcuffs, is the way to end homelessness, rather than just push it out of public sight,” Tars said in a statement.
  • The city council approved the ordinance in July, but it was never enforced.
  • The measure would have required panhandlers to be jailed for two days for the first offense, unless the sentence was suspended by a judge. The jail time would have increased with each violation.
  • Read the full story from the Advertiser’s Sara MacNeil HERE.

Bond revoked for teen charged in death of Auburn announcer

  • OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — A teenager charged in a car crash that killed an Auburn University radio announcer and his wife earlier this year went to jail Wednesday after a judge revoked his bond.
  • Lee County District Judge Russell Bush ordered the arrest of 16-year-old Johnston Edward Taylor during a hearing, and deputies took him straight to jail, news outlets reported.
  • Tommy Spina, a lawyer representing Taylor, called the decision fair.
  • Taylor was free on $50,000 bond while charged with two counts of reckless manslaughter in the death of Auburn broadcaster Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula in May. Authorities allege Taylor was driving about 90 mph (145 kph) in a 55 mph (90 kph) zone when he rear-ended the Bramblett s’ vehicle in Auburn.
  • Prosecutors asked the judge to revoke the bond because Taylor received at least three tickets in November for speeding and reckless driving. In one instance, authorities found marijuana residue in his car, prosecutors said in court documents.
  • Read more HERE.

Alabama man gets life for fatally shooting, beating mom

  • CENTRE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing his 68-year-old mother.
  • Larry Bodily, 51, was sentenced Wednesday, news outlets report. He was convicted last month of the murder of Karen Willmon, who was reported missing on Valentine’s Day in 2017.
  • Her body was found days later in the Centre home she shared with Bodily. She had been shot, beaten, wrapped in black plastic and tucked between a pile of wood and a garage wall. She died from the gunshot wounds and blunt force head trauma.
  • Bodily was in custody on an unrelated charge when the body was found and additional charges were filed. He’s been in custody ever since.
  • The motive still is unclear. He initially also was charged with stealing his mom’s guitar and credit card. Those charges were later dropped.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump impeached on charges of abuse of power, obstruction
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama’s House members react to impeachment vote
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Court: Part of ‘Obamacare’ invalid, more review needed
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama, other states file lawsuit seeking to block ERA ratification
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bond revoked for teen charged in death of Auburn announcer
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama, other states file lawsuit seeking to block ERA ratification
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bryan Taylor exits race for Supreme Court
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Policy Institute: Medical Marijuana Bill Looks More Like a Trojan Horse
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest- December 17, 2019
AL.COM  – Alabama GOP says Trump impeachment ‘a sad day for America’; lone Democrat votes to charge president
AL.COM  – Alabama AG files lawsuit to block new push for Equal Rights Amendment
AL.COM  – What’s in Alabama’s draft bill on medical marijuana?
AL.COM  – Sessions, a senator during Clinton impeachment, says Trump impeachment differs
AL.COM  – Montgomery repeals local law to jail panhandlers
AL.COM  – Birmingham attorney nominated by Trump to serve as federal judge
AL.COM  – Defense, spending bills contain some good news for Austal
AL.COM  – ‘A beautiful family’: Alabama town rallies around 7-year-old after tornado kills parents
Montgomery Advertiser – House impeaches President Trump in historic vote, setting the stage for Senate trial
Montgomery Advertiser – Bryan Taylor won’t seek Alabama Supreme Court seat
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery City Council plans vote on pulling The Shack’s business license
YellowHammer News – Exclusive: Byrne outlines detailed case against ‘tainted, partisan impeachment’ articles
YellowHammer News – Sessions on Democratic impeachment actions: ‘A stain on the House of Representatives forever’
YellowHammer News – Study: Alabama has reaped major economic rewards since Trump’s election in 2016
Dothan Eagle – Water World officials propose raising ticket prices, rental fees for 2020 season
Dothan Eagle – Dothan moving forward with slide tower construction
Dothan Eagle – Storms create warnings, watches; cool temps arriving later today
Tuscaloosa News – Louisiana education leaders set early college credit goal
Tuscaloosa News – Tennessee school board votes down Bible Release Time policy
Tuscaloosa News – Bond revoked for teen charged in death of Auburn announcer
Decatur Daily – Hartselle teacher charged with theft in youth baseball investigation
Decatur Daily – Police charge Decatur man with possession of child pornography
Decatur Daily – Storm damages roof at Austin Junior gym
Times Daily – Colbert Heights residents grateful for life in aftermath of tornado
Times Daily – Joe Wheeler Park suffers heavy damage
Times Daily – Colbert Heights community pulled together after storm
Gadsden Times – Meal sponsored by Love’s Taxi shows love to those in need
Gadsden Times – Police probe auto dealership burglary, car theft
Gadsden Times – FLEUR DE LOLLY ON FOOD: Festive beverages for the holidays
Anniston Star – Anniston council discusses limits for public commenters
Anniston Star – Commissioners consider cheaper $7 million jail plan
Anniston Star – Anniston man pleads guilty to murder in 2015 nightclub shooting
Troy Messenger – Charles Henderson honors student athletes
Troy Messenger – Lightning ruled out as cause of fire at old Pi Kappa Phi house
Troy Messenger – Last-minute holiday shopping event is Downtown Sunday
Andalusia Star News – Developer partners with city to bring workforce housing
Andalusia Star News – Local woman: Be wary of Verizon scam this season
Andalusia Star News – Walt Massey delivers 2,500+ toys to DHR
Opelika-Auburn News – AU frat shut down over abuse accusations
Opelika-Auburn News – Police file charges against former bookkeeper
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn City Council will vote on renovations for Boykin
Daily Mountain Eagle – Arrest made in motorcycle theft
Daily Mountain Eagle – State auditors have not come yet to Carbon Hill
Daily Mountain Eagle – Santa visits hospital patients, staff
Trussville Tribune – CHRISTMAS MOMENT: Hewitt-Trussville Middle School Dance Team visits assisted living facility
Trussville Tribune – Congressman Mo Brooks votes no against articles of impeachment
Trussville Tribune – Byrne votes against articles of impeachment
Athens News Courier – ENROLLMENT: Some schools see major swings; East, Athens remain largest
Athens News Courier – UPDATED: Storms cause damage in Limestone County
Athens News Courier – U.S. proposes new rules to increase organ transplants
Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall Technical teacher selected for ALFA program
Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall County Schools teachers receive grants
Sand Mountain Reporter – Beloved science teacher retires at Boaz
WSFA Montgomery – Ala. delegation Trump impeachment vote splits on party lines
WSFA Montgomery – All available State Troopers put on Christmas travel period patrol
WSFA Montgomery – Jury to begin deliberations in Montgomery pill mill trial
Fox 6 Birmingham – U.S. Dept of Labor fines two Alabama Dollar Tree Stores more than $400,000
Fox 6 Birmingham – Road project will reduce 21st Street South to three lanes
Fox 6 Birmingham – Trussville lacrosse players want answers about use of stadium
WAFF Huntsville – GoFundMe for couple killed in tornado raises more than $14,000 in first day
WAFF Huntsville – Madison County gets 3 new school resource officers
WAFF Huntsville – Tuscumbia church taking donations for tornado victims
WKRG Mobile – Local reaction to President Trump impeachment
WKRG Mobile – Four shot at mall in San Antonio, TX
WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: Two in custody after shots fired during armed robbery in Pensacola
WTVY Dothan – DDRA looks at potential businesses/changes coming in 2020
WTVY Dothan – Juvenile arrested for 9 recent fires in Geneva
WTVY Dothan – Groundbreaking held for new Troy shopping mall
WASHINGTON POST  – Appeals court rules ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional; lower court to decide whether rest of law can stand without it
WASHINGTON POST  – ‘It’s depressing, isn’t it?’: With little protest, GOP succumbs to Trump on spending
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump administration unveils plan to allow states to buy cheaper drugs from Canada

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