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Daily News Digest – February 1, 2021

Presented by the

Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition



Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Monday, February 1.


1. It’s time for session

  • Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday kickoff a legislative session like none they’ve seen before.
  • COVID-19 protocols are limiting public access to the State House, the number of committees that can meet at a given time and, some say, the amount of bills lawmakers will be able to consider.
  • While a typical session lasts about 15 weeks with a one-week spring break, this year’s schedule is largely tentative, as leaders acknowledge a virus outbreak could disrupt the session at any time. For now, leaders are planning to meet the first two weeks of February to pass essential bills.
  • Sen. Greg Reed, expected to be elected the Senate President Pro Tem when the Legislature convenes, said lawmakers will work “efficiently and effectively” and as safely as possible for two weeks, then take a week-long break to reassess their COVID-19 protocols and priorities.
  • Lawmakers are expected to focus on bills to: Clarify that federal COVID relief funds received by Alabamians and their businesses aren’t subject to state taxes; provide entities with liability protection from COVID-related lawsuits; and revise, revamp and expand economic incentives offered to businesses.
  • “And then there may be other things that we’re looking at,” Reed said. He said Senate and House leadership are having conversations about bills they are in agreement on “so that we have a good work product for that first couple of weeks.”
  • But how long the Legislature actually meets will depend on COVID and if there are significant cases in particular State House offices.
  • We have you covered on what’s happening at the State House.
  • Read the definitive preview story from Mary Sell and Caroline Beck HERE.
  • Also, in case you missed it, read our write up from Sunday on how health and safety protocols are limiting access to the building this year (thank you to everyone who talked to us on the record).
  • And finally, in case you fell out of touch over the weekend, we broke the news on Friday that Gov. Kay Ivey will be signing two prison leases TODAY. This could become a session issue as some lawmakers are bristling over new, higher projected costs for the lease payments revealed Friday on a conference call. That story HERE.



2. Broadband: $4B-$6B to reach unserved areas

  • It will cost around $4 billion to $6 billion to bring broadband access to underserved areas of the state, Alabama lawmakers were recently told.
  • The information, along with an updated map of those underserved portions of the state, was presented by CTC Technology and Energy, which has a contract to develop a statewide plan for broadband access.
  • Joanne Hovis, CTC president, said the estimate for cost was based on providing the best level of technology.
  • “That would be for deployment of best-case infrastructure, that would be future proof and would last for decades and generations,” Hovis said.
  • The new map will help the state in its broadband deployment efforts and better inform the broadband accessibility grant process and federal funding.
  • Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, chairs the Rural Broadband Oversight Committee and told Alabama Daily News that he is pleased with the progress being made so far when it comes to broadband development in the state and thinks the new map will be a significant help.
  • “That’s going to be a big deal and will be a critical component and really has been one of our biggest challenges to really get an accurate grasp of exactly what the digital divide is in Alabama,” Scofield said.
  • Read more from Caroline Beck HERE.






A message from the

Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition

  • High-speed broadband is a basic necessity in today’s society and brings benefits in education, telemedicine, economic development and agriculture.
  • For Alabama to thrive in a 21st century economy, every Alabamian should have access to a reliable internet connection.








3. Alabama Farmers Federation marks 100 years

  • The Alabama Farmers Federation celebrated 100 years in operation over the weekend.
  • The Federation was founded on Jan. 29, 1921 and has now grown to represent more than 350,000 member families in 67 counties. In addition to serving as a hub for the state’s largest industry, the Federation plays a key role in advocating for agriculture-friendly policies at the state and national level.
  • Alfa president Jimmy Parnell said that in 100 years of growth, the group’s mission hasn’t changed: providing a voice for farmers.
  • “We were formed to represent the farmers of the state of Alabama. They felt like they lacked a voice in government,” Parnell said in a news release marking the anniversary.
  • Outside of politics and government, the organization is best known for Alfa Insurance, which was formed 75 years ago out of a need to provide fire coverage in rural Alabama. Now the company insures more than 1 million homes, cars, farms, businesses, churches and other property across 11 states, and has $30 billion of life insurance in force, according to the company.
  • Read more HERE.



4. Biden to meet with GOP lawmakers on virus relief

  • President Joe Biden is set to meet today with a group of 10 Republican senators who have proposed spending about one-third of the $1.9 trillion he is seeking in coronavirus aid, though congressional Democrats are poised to move ahead without Republican support.
  • An invitation to the White House came hours after the lawmakers sent Biden a letter Sunday urging him to negotiate rather than try to ram through his relief package solely on Democratic votes. The House and Senate are on track to vote as soon as this week on a budget resolution, which would lay the groundwork for passing an aid package under rules requiring only a simple majority vote in the closely divided Senate.
  • The goal is for passage by March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires. The meeting to be hosted by Biden would amount to the most public involvement for the president in the negotiations for the next round of virus relief.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday that Biden had spoken with the leader of the group, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Though Biden wants “a full exchange of views,” Psaki reiterated that the president remains in favor of moving forward with a far-reaching relief package.
  • Read more HERE.



5. In early going, Biden floods the zone with decrees

  • Modern American presidents have found that a good way to get off to a fast start in office is to issue decrees like an ancient king.
  • With a pen as their scepter, they “hereby proclaim.” They “order,” “direct,” “revoke” and “declare,” rendering commandments in regal language drawn from the deep past. President Joe Biden is flooding the zone with them, achieving head-snapping changes in national policy that he would have no hope of getting from Congress quickly, if at all.
  • Easy come, though, can also mean easy go. As President Donald Trump discovered with his hard-charging and often ill-fated executive actions, courts can be quick to shoot them down. Congress can effectively override them and at most they’re only good until a contrarian president takes over and whipsaws off in another direction again.
  • In Biden’s opening days, he put the U.S. back into the Paris climate accord, ended Trump’s restrictions on travel from some Muslim-majority countries, froze further construction of Trump’s border wall, protected from deportation immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and reversed Trump’s rollback of energy efficiency and pollution standards. That’s just a sampling.
  • Read more HERE.



A message from

Auburn University


  • Auburn is proud to celebrate the recent confirmation of Auburn alumnus Gen. Lloyd Austin as our nation’s secretary of defense.
  • We applaud your incredible achievement, and thank you for your continued service to protect our country.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama’s 2021 session starts with two-week focus


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lottery, virus liability, prisons before lawmakers in 2021


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 protocols limiting public access to legislative session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey to sign prison lease deal, lawmakers bristle at higher cost revelation


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Long-awaited incentives package filed ahead of session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Broadband expansion to underserved areas could cost $4B-$6B


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Farmers Federation celebrates 100 years


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden to meet with GOP lawmakers to discuss virus relief


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In early going, Biden floods the zone with decrees


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weekend Digest – January 31, 2021


AL.COM – Biden gets second letter from lawmakers about Space Command decision


AL.COM – Alabama woman says husband with UK variant of COVID-19 struggling for life


AL.COM – New variant of COVID-19 reaches Alabama: What that means for vaccines


AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Medical marijuana, Medicaid and more; this year, state lawmakers must do more, do better


AL.COM – Alabama research finds higher false positives in DNA tests for Black participants


AL.COM – Lottery, medical marijuana, Confederate monuments: Alabama lawmakers face decisions


AL.COM – Contributor Cameron Smith: The American political spectrum is a lie


AL.COM – Contributor Jim Carnes: Underfunding public health has devastated Alabama


AL.COM – Columnist Dana Hall McCain: Alabama should increase mental health funding


Montgomery Advertiser – Why a proposed Gadsden rendering plant is causing controversy: Five things to know


Montgomery Advertiser – Inside the Laicos Club in 1960s Montgomery


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery drive-thru COVID vaccine clinic at old mall location praised by participants


Tuscaloosa News – State extends absentee rules for Tuscaloosa municipal election, ballots available Monday


Tuscaloosa News – BETTY SLOWE’S BLOG: Feb. 01, 2021 |100 years ago this week


Tuscaloosa News – LOOKING BACK | This week in West Alabama History: Feb.1, 2021


Decatur Daily – Fire Department faces shortages in paramedics, personnel


Decatur Daily – Meals on Wheels still delivering but with modifications


Decatur Daily – School COVID cases and quarantines down, precautions still in place


Times Daily – COVID death toll rises in the Shoals


Times Daily – City officials find a “speed bump” in developer’s Mandolin plan


Times Daily – Murder suspect has bond revoked after drug bust


YellowHammer News – UAH College of Business MS-IS Program ranked #26 by U.S. News & World Report


YellowHammer News – VIDEO: ADPH’s vaccine rollout continues to be lacking, Montgomery Public Schools take the rest of the year off, President Biden’s executive order madness and more on Alabama Politics This Week …


YellowHammer News – State Sen. Scofield: It was one thing to be under federal scrutiny for our prisons under Trump — ‘Completely different’ under Biden


Gadsden Times – Gertie Lowe leaves a legacy in Gadsden through nursing, educating, and leading


Gadsden Times – Why a proposed Gadsden rendering plant is causing controversy: Five things to know


Dothan Eagle – Southeast Health to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility under state’s plan


Dothan Eagle – ADPH COVID-19 testing clinics will be held in Coffee and Houston counties during February


Dothan Eagle – Global shares up after vaccine maker boosts Europe supplies


Opelika-Auburn News – WHO team in Wuhan visits disease control centers


Opelika-Auburn News – Blade & Barrel to bring ax-throwing to Auburn in early March


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Fultondale city officials say tornado debris piles need to be separated into six different categories


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH: More than 459K COVID-19 cases, more than 7,600 deaths in Alabama as more than 242K people have recovered


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Family survives tornado; left with nothing but each other

WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery doctor’s creation helps COVID-19 patients regain sense of smell


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery mayor delivers first “State of Our Community” address


WSFA Montgomery – Volunteers work to help clean Fultondale homes after tornado devastation


WAFF Huntsville – Governor Kay Ivey to lease two prisons in Elmore, Escambia County


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville Police working death investigation at apartment complex


WAFF Huntsville – Deputies find murder suspect dead in West Point home


WKRG Mobile – Well-known Mobile event venue owner loses battle with COVID-19


WKRG Mobile – Florida amendment would halt min. wage increase for ex-felons and workers under 21


WKRG Mobile – CDC requires face masks on airlines, public transportation


WTVY Dothan – COVID-19 in Alabama: 2,964 new confirmed cases on Sunday


WTVY Dothan – The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program for Hurricane Michael opens applications for those in need


WTVY Dothan – Dothan Communications Center experiencing phone line problems; 911 phone lines are operational


WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s legal team exited after he insisted impeachment defense focus on false claims of election fraud


WASHINGTON POST – Biden to meet with Senate Republicans offering covid relief counter-proposal


WASHINGTON POST – GOP Rep. Kinzinger starts PAC to challenge party’s embrace of Trump


NEW YORK TIMES – The Gerrymander Battles Loom, as G.O.P. Looks to Press Its Advantage


NEW YORK TIMES – Myanmar’s Leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Is Detained Amid Coup


NEW YORK TIMES – Ghosts of 2009 Drive Democrats’ Push for Robust Crisis Response


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Myanmar Military Seizes Power in Coup


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Climb as Online Traders Send Silver Soaring


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Facebook Knew Calls for Violence Plagued ‘Groups,’ Now Plans Overhaul


Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)





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