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Daily News Digest – February 18, 2020

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, February 18.

1. Ainsworth: bill would expedite death row appeals

  • Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth wants to change the state’s years-long — sometimes decades-long — appeals process for death row inmates.
  • Ainsworth said he wants a “fair but expedited process” that will deter people from committing murders punishable by death. A press conference is planned this morning to discuss the bill that will be filed later today.
  • Ainsworth talked with Alabama Daily News about the bill Monday.
  • At first, he was looking for a way to better protect Alabama law enforcement officers. Seven officers have been killed in just more than a year. However, the bill that will be filed applies to all capital murder cases.
  • “The goal is to deter anyone from harming or using deadly force with any law enforcement officer, and more so than that, any person,” Ainsworth said.
  • Currently, death row inmates appeal to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, and then the Alabama Supreme Court. Often, their cases also are appealed to federal courts.
  • Ainsworth wants state appeals to end at the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, removing the state supreme court.
  • A draft of the bill also calls for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals to prioritize and expedite death row cases.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


2. Bradley Byrne profile

  • Kim Chandler’s next Senate race profile story is here, this time on Congressman Bradley Byrne.
  • If you’re a voter trying to decide which candidate to choose, these profile stories can be informative and dig deeper than some of the surface stuff you sometimes find.
  • If you’re a politico, it is instructive to know the content of the story that will be running in state newspapers and forming many television newscast scripts.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
Stepping up to address a Republican club meeting at the Farmer’s Market Cafe, a meat-and-three restaurant not far from the Alabama Capitol, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne gave a version of the oft-repeated phrase of his U.S. Senate campaign.
“I’m a Christian. I”m a conservative. I’m a fighter. I vote with President Trump 97 percent of the time,” Byrne said.
A fight is indeed what Byrne is in.
The three-term congressman is giving up his safe congressional seat — which is up for election this year — to run instead for the Senate seat now held by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. Now in the fight for his political life, Byrne is battling to make the anticipated runoff in the GOP primary.

3. More new ads

With two weeks to go until March 3, it’s officially the home stretch of the Alabama primary campaign.
Voters are now starting to really tune in, and that means campaigns need to be on the airwaves to meet them.
Lots of ads are out this week. New today…
  • AL-1 candidate Chris Pringle jumps feet first into the culture war with a new ad featuring “politically incorrect” straight talk about Christian conservatives being blamed for everyone’s problems. Watch it HERE.
  • Also in AL-1, Bill Hightower is up with a new ad that builds on his theme about the importance of faith in his politics. Watch it HERE.
  • Tommy Tuberville is releasing a new ad going after opponents Bradley Byrne and Jeff Sessions calling them “weak kneed” and comparing them to Republican whipping boy Sen. Mitt Romney. Watch it HERE.
  • Greg Shaw is up with his first ad in his bid for reelection to Place One on the Alabama Supreme Court. It features him working on his farm while a narrator touts his conservative credentials. Watch it HERE.
  • And Matt Fridy is on the air in his campaign for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. It features the “vote Fridy on Tuesday” schtick from his state house campaigns. Watch it HERE.
If you missed yesterday’s rundown, you can find them in the Digest HERE .

4. Distracted driving bill is back

  • A bill that would prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones and other electronic devices while driving has been filed again by Rep. K. L. Brown, R-Jacksonville.
  • State law already prohibits texting while driving but House Bill 74 also prohibits a person from using a device to watch, capture or record a picture or video while driving. Holding the device while talking on the phone is also prohibited.
  • The fines would also be increased under Brown’s bill.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


5. Realtors release endorsements

  • The Alabama Association of Realtors’ political action committee this week made its endorsements in the March 3 primaries.
  • The Alabama Association of Realtors is the largest statewide organization of real estate professionals with more than 16,000 members from 25 boards and 1,200 real estate companies.
  • Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors Political Action Committee announced who it will be supporting for the U.S. House of Representatives races.
  • Many of the endorsements were for uncontested primaries. However, some were in hotly contested races, including the courts and Congress.
  • See the full list in Mary Sell’s story HERE.



News Briefs


Bloomberg makes debate stage, facing Dem rivals for 1st time

  • Billionaire Mike Bloomberg has qualified for the upcoming Democratic presidential debate, marking the first time he’ll stand alongside the rivals he has so far avoided by bypassing the early voting states and using his personal fortune to define himself through television ads.
  • A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll published Tuesday shows Bloomberg with 19% support nationally in the Democratic nominating contest.
  • The former New York City mayor, who launched his presidential campaign in November, will appear in Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Fellow billionaire and philanthropist Tom Steyer is still hoping to qualify.
  • Bloomberg’s campaign said that it was seeing “a groundswell of support across the country” and that qualifying for Wednesday’s debate “is the latest sign that Mike’s plan and ability to defeat Donald Trump is resonating with more Americans.”
  • Full story from Kathleen Ronayne HERE.

Man’s body found in flooded creek in Alabama state park

  • SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) — The body of an 82-year-old man was recovered from a flooded creek in Alabama, 11 days after water surging through a gorge in a state park swept his vehicle into a flooded creek.
  • News outlets report that an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency statement says the body of Raymond Edwards of Scottsboro, Alabama, was found Sunday afternoon by a diver, still inside his vehicle. Hikers had reported seeing someone gesture from a vehicle on Feb. 5 as it was sinking into South Sauty Creek in Buck’s Pocket State Park.
  • Edwards’ death raises the toll of February’s first wave of bad weather to at least six people across the South.
  • It was the second time in less than a year that an occupied vehicle has been swept off the same crossing, at the bottom of a deep gorge where flash floods can pose sudden dangers. Koy Spears of Geraldine, Alabama, disappeared on Feb. 22, 2019, it took more than two weeks to recover her body.

Alabama eligible for nearly $42M in federal water funding

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama is in line for nearly $42 million in federal funding to help with projects related to water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • The state is eligible for about $18 million to help with projects like fixing old water infrastructure, fixing stormwater problems and recycling, according to an announcement from the agency released Thursday.
  • Another $23 million is available to improve drinking water systems. Those projects can include things like removing water lines that contain lead and protection from floods.
  • The money goes to state revolving funds that make loans available for projects. As money is repaid into the fund, states make new loans available.
  • Nationwide, some $2.7 billion is available to states, tribes and territories for water-related projects.

About 300 birds killed in Alabama’s sandhill crane season

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — About 300 sandhill cranes were killed during Alabama’s first hunting season for the birds in more than a century, the state conservation agency said.
  • A news release from the state conservation agency said about 400 people bought permits to hunt the large birds, which some people like to eat.
  • While not everyone with a permit got a bird, migratory game bird coordinator Seth Maddox said the final numbers will probably be in line with other states that have hunting seasons for sandhill cranes.
  • The state last allowed sandhill crane hunting in 1916, when hunting nearly wiped out the species. A hunting ban allowed the bird’s populations to recover enough to allow a season.
  • Warm winter temperatures caused diminished duck numbers in Alabama this season and also affected the sandhill population, Maddox said. Officials estimated a population of roughly 12,000 cranes, down about 3,000 from average.
  • “Our season was probably a little better than I expected,” he said. “Our hunters had never done it before. They had to find people willing to give them access to hunting land. Hunters got to make new friends. I think it was a very successful season.”
  • The two-part season for sandhill cranes, which had a three-bird limit, ended Jan. 31. Hunting was allowed in north Alabama, where water from the Tennessee River and other waterways draws birds.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ainsworth: Bill would expedite death row appeals
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bradley Byrne fights to make Senate runoff
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would ban use of hand-held devices while driving
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Realtors’ PAC makes primary endorsements
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bloomberg makes debate stage, facing Dem rivals for 1st time
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New Tuberville ad targets Byrne, Sessions
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Greg Shaw ad touts conservative credentials
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pringle defends conservatives in ‘Your Fault’ ad
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hightower ad highlights congressional candidate’s faith
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Fridy airs TV ad in run for Court of Criminal Appeals
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bills seek more financial transparency from state licensure boards, AHSAA
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – One thing unites establishment Democrats: Fear of Sanders
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump doesn’t heed Barr’s request to cool tweeting on DOJ
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Op-Ed: Alabama’s Diversion Programs Are In Trouble. We Must Do Better.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medical marijuana bill heads to first vote in Legislature
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest- February 17, 2019
AL.COM  – Alabama Senate race turns nasty with 2 weeks to go
AL.COM  – Alabama to vote on whether to fire the state school board. Here are the facts
AL.COM  – Alabama bill forcing men to get vasectomies at 50: Sen. Ted Cruz responds
AL.COM  – Contributor John Waits: Teaching health centers: Primary care pipeline under siege in Alabama
AL.COM  – Columnist Roy Johnson: Alabama’s black doulas aim to affect racial disparities in health care and infant mortality
AL.COM  – Blue Origin opens giant new rocket engine plant in Huntsville
AL.COM  – Presidents Day 2020: Alabama’s Presidents Day holiday is different than anywhere else in the U.S.
Montgomery Advertiser – Nathan Mathis campaigns on Social Security, protecting farmers
Montgomery Advertiser – Sheriff’s Office searches for man accused of throwing hot coffee on baby
Montgomery Advertiser – City hearing on occupational tax as house passes bill to prevent it
YellowHammer News – UA Dance Marathon raises over $307,000 for Children’s Miracle Network
YellowHammer News – Alabama Realtors Association announces primary endorsements
YellowHammer News – Did Tuberville really say government handouts for illegal aliens are ‘Donald Trump’s fault’?
Dothan Eagle – Chipley woman dies in accident after airborne deer enters windshield
Dothan Eagle – Dothan man charged with murder in Wednesday’s fatal shooting is out of jail on bond
Dothan Eagle – Government Oversight: Development plans for hotel different than five years ago
Tuscaloosa News – ‘Wills for Heroes’ program helps police cadets
Tuscaloosa News – Eccentric millionaire Durst faces trial in friend’s killing
Tuscaloosa News – Byrne fights to make Senate runoff
Decatur Daily – Attorney blames neighborhood for crime problems at client’s business
Decatur Daily – No timeline for US 231 reopening as testing continues
Decatur Daily – Council votes unanimously to revoke business license
Times Daily – Local health, university officials keep tabs on coronavirus
Times Daily – Census Bureau looking to hire 800 Lauderdale residents
Times Daily – LWVAL offers online guide to candidates
Gadsden Times – Tuberville brings campaign to Gadsden area
Gadsden Times – GSCC Cherokee students, special needs kids make connection
Gadsden Times – Williams named to civic advisory council
Anniston Star – Anniston council to revisit Noland donation idea Tuesday
Anniston Star – Georgia man charged in Cleburne County with trying to assault officer
Anniston Star – Habitat breaks ground on new home during above-average rain season
Troy Messenger – PCBOE expresses concern about proposed statewide school calendar
Troy Messenger – READING IN: TPL celebrates African-American history
Troy Messenger – Democratic candidates for Alabama’s 2nd District share platforms
Andalusia Star News – U.S. Congress candidate: ‘Stand with me’
Opelika-Auburn News – Two Macon County men dead after shooting
Opelika-Auburn News – Attempted murder charge for Opelika man after Sunday shooting at student apartments
Opelika-Auburn News – TRAFFIC ALERT: Traffic lights fall near Tiger Town, live wires exposed
Daily Mountain Eagle – New WBMC CEO wants to meet community
Daily Mountain Eagle – McRae will go on state board if Amendment 1 fails
Daily Mountain Eagle – Grant to fund many PD needs in Oakman
Trussville Tribune – Love Your Neighbor food drive underway
Trussville Tribune – St. Clair County School buses unable to travel on deteriorating road in Legacy Springs
Trussville Tribune – Tommy Tuberville makes campaign stop in Springville
Athens News Courier – SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Miller promotes clear roles, modern courses
Athens News Courier – Alabama ‘Idol’ hopeful: Auditions were life-changing
Athens News Courier – Medical marijuana bill heads to 1st vote in Legislature
Sand Mountain Reporter – Missing driver, vehicle found at Buck’s Pocket State Park
Sand Mountain Reporter – Lynda Balslev: ‘Must-have’ little black dress of cakes
Sand Mountain Reporter – BPD cracks down on litter | Community encouraged to help keep streets clean
WSFA Montgomery – 2012 Wetumpka murder case to be featured on ID Channel
WSFA Montgomery – Suspect charged in shooting near Auburn University
WSFA Montgomery – Weapons found in student parking lot of Smiths Station High School
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Homewood PD need doorbell camera video after two cars stolen
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Making it easier to pay for parking in Birmingham
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – American Village celebrates 20 years of educating students
WAFF Huntsville – Helping Town Creek tornado victims
WAFF Huntsville – Body recovered near Guntersville Dam
WAFF Huntsville – Decatur City Council revokes business license over alcohol, gambling violations
WKRG Mobile – More than 33,000 attend Order of Venus Parade in downtown Mobile
WKRG Mobile – Ryan Newman in serious condition, injuries not life-threatening
WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: Police need help ID’ing suspect in Quick Stop Food Mart homicide
WTVY Dothan – Cattle industry is ‘moving’ in a new direction in terms of efficiency and traceability
WTVY Dothan – One woman dead in Jackson County after crash involving deer
WTVY Dothan – Pier 1 Imports files For bankruptcy protection; Dothan store listed as closing
WASHINGTON POST  – They were one of the first families separated at the border. Two and a half years later, they’re still apart.
WASHINGTON POST  – Federal judges reportedly call emergency meeting in wake of Stone case intervention
NEW YORK TIMES  – Facing a Wave of Sex-Abuse Claims, Boy Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy
NEW YORK TIMES  – Number of Homeless Students Rises to New High, Report Says

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