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Daily News Digest – February 14, 2018

Good morning and Happy Valentines Day! Don’t forget to do something nice for your sweetheart. I’ll just be over here eating my peanut butter sandwich. Here is your Daily News Digest for Wednesday, February 14. 

1. Bright ballot challenge begins

  • That didn’t take long. Houston County Commissioner Brandon Shoupe is challenging Bobby Bright’s access to the Republican ballot.
  • Read Jeremy Wise’s full story in The Dothan Eagle here. 
  • This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The idea that Bright, a former Democratic Congressman, is trying to run as a Republican against the Republican who unseated him has a lot of folks’ eyes rolling.
  • As I’ve written before, I don’t think it is very likely that Bright could win a Republican primary given how he voted to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker. That’s not why this is problematic…

“Don’t throw me into that briar patch”

  • I don’t blame any Republican for wanting Bright off the ballot. However, there could be some unintended consequences.
  • Some are speculating that Bright’s intent all along has been to get the Republican Party to kick him off the ballot so he can run a martyr campaign as an independent, a la Harri Anne Smith.
  • Think about it. It plays right into the whole Bright schtick about hating party labels, etc.
  • In my opinion, Bright is MUCH more dangerous to Republicans running as an independent – not because he could win in his own right – but because he could disrupt the vote enough to swing the election toward a Democrat.
  • Don’t forget that Democrats across the country are highly motivated this year and are turning out at the polls. Normally, that wouldn’t be enough to matter in deeply conservative AL-2. But, let Bobby Bright hang around and get 30,000 or so votes as an independent, and that could be enough to turn the district blue.

Heads vs. hearts

  • I’m sure it would feel good for Republicans to kick a former nemesis like Bright off the ballot. But, sometimes you have to play the long game.
  • YellowHammer Editor Pepper Bryars wrote an excellent piece recently about how conservative voters have every reason to be skeptical about Bobby Bright. 
  • The trick for the ALGOP will be thinking with their heads instead of their hearts when it comes to Bright’s ballot access.

2. Pryor, 11th Circuit rule against Gardendale 

  • A federal appeals court ruled that Gardendale cannot break away from the Jefferson County School System the way it did, arguing that Constitutional rights violations outweighed the district’s right to autonomy.
  • Presiding and writing the opinion for the 11th Circuit was Alabama’s own Judge Bill Pryor. Yep, that Bill Pryor.
  • It’s a really significant case and ruling, and I encourage you to read Kent Faulk’s story breaking it all down.
  • Those who brought the case (NAACP, JeffCo) are celebrating how this is a fundamental win for desegregation case law. Likewise, defendants (Gardendale) are saying it is an egregious miscarriage of justice.
  • Maybe it’s just a problem with methods?
  • Here’s what Pryor wrote in the ruling…
  • “If the Gardendale Board, for permissible purposes in the future, satisfies its burden to develop a secession plan that will not impede the desegregation efforts of the Jefferson County Board, then the district court may not prohibit the secession.”
  • “We hold only that the desire for local autonomy must yield when a constitutional violation is found and remains unremedied,”
  • In other words, if you want to create your own school system, go ahead. But, take care not to purposefully draw lines that exclude black families from the new district.
  • Obviously, Gardendale strongly denies that’s what they did. But if they want their own school system they will need to go back to the drawing board.
  • Read the full ruling for yourself here. 

3. SCOTUS sales tax picture gets clearer 

  • Speaking of the courts, there is new insight this week into how a potential Supreme Court ruling could impact online sales tax collections.
  • The high court is set to consider the South Dakota v. Wayfaircase that could decide whether or not states are allowed to tax retailers without a physical presence in their states.
  • This is important because states and local governments have missed out on billions in tax revenue with the emergence of online retailers like Amazon. Congress has repeatedly balked at measures like the Marketplace Fairness Act to clarify the law, so now the Court is taking it up.
  • Could Alabama see more revenue as a result of the Court’s ruling?
  • Bradley attorneys Bruce Ely and William T. Thistle have prepared a thorough memo on the situation and its potential impact on Alabama. It is worth your time to read, particularly if you or your clients could be affected by changes in how the state approaches taxation of online sales.
  • They argue that online retailers who have been participating in the state’s voluntary Simplified Sellers Use Tax Remittance Program might stand to come out winners because of how their tax rates could be grandfathered in.
  • Local sales tax revenues are still a contentious issue in Alabama, including in this legislative session.

4. Aderholt meets with Trump on trade

  • U.S. Rep. Robert Adherholt was a part of a high-level trade policy meeting between lawmakers and President Trump at the White House Tuesday.
  • The meeting centered around how United States policies might evolve on trade, particularly as it relates to NAFTA and other trade deals that might get renegotiated soon.
  • Aderholt has repeatedly placed a “Buy American” rider on appropriations legislation that requires domestic public works projects to only use American iron and steel.
  • “I took the opportunity to thank President Trump for his support of my ‘Buy American’ provision that mandates the use of American made iron and steel in publicly funded infrastructure projects. I also applauded his efforts to expand the American manufacturing base,” Aderholt said. 
  • In Washington, Aderholt is known as a “Cardinal,” meaning he holds an influential chairmanship of an Appropriations Subcommittee. He could be in line to take over the full Appropriations Committee chairmanship should House Republicans maintain their majority.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey touts successes, launches gubernatorial campaign

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House approves teacher pay raises

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Court in desegregation case blocks Alabama school split

THE MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Ivey’s pitch: economy is great, Bentley is gone

THE MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – House approves $6.6 billion education budget

THE MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Brian Lyman: It was a nice weekend for a gubernatorial campaign. In its entirety. 

AL.COM – Alabama House passes schools budget with 2.5 percent pay raise.

AL.COM – Ivey says state’s best days ahead during campaign kickoff.

AL.COM – Slade Blackwell defers comment on short-lived campaign for governor.

AL.COM – Lawmakers pass bill on statewide rules for Uber, Lyft.

AL.COM – U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt lauds Trump following White House meeting.

AL.COM – Protective Life giving employee bonuses, establishing $15 minimum wage.

AL.COM – Court rules Gardendale can’t form school system, finds racial motives; city to appeal.

AL.COM – What did Sessions mean by ‘Anglo-American heritage’ of sheriffs?

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – More land for a popular Alabama wildlife refuge.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – TVA’s transmission assets eyed.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – President Donald Trump more popular in Alabama than any other state, poll shows.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama’s Mo Brooks explains why he was a ‘hell no’ vote for the spending bill.

DECATUR DAILY – Jail food amendment to be on November ballot.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Former Alabama governor out of hospital after heart surgery.

ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star:  Not Wild about this plan.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Ivey pitches economy, break with Bentley in campaign kick-off.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Joseph Rembert:  Black voter turnout wasn’t the only factor in Doug Jones’ win.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – LEAD Academy becomes first charter school approved for Montgomery.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Lovvorn elected as Lee County Legislation Committee chair.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Independent candidates face big hurdles in statewide races.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Brandon Shoupe challenging Bobby Bright’s Republican designation

WASHINGTON POST – White House reels as FBI director contradicts official claims about alleged abuser.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump calls immigration debate ‘last chance’ for action as Senate weighs competing plans.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump budget highlights disconnect between populist rhetoric and plutocrat reality.

NEW YORK TIMES – Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Says He Paid Stormy Daniels Out of His Own Pocket

Today’s front pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit)

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