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Daily News Digest – February 20, 2020

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, February 20.

1. Medical marijuana bill clears first of four votes

  • Legislation to allow and regulate the use of medical marijuana cleared its first vote on Wednesday and now moves to the State Senate, where about half its members voted last year to approve a similar bill.
  • That committee voted 8-1 to advance Senate Bill 165 with one abstention.
  • Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, titled his bill the “Compassion Act.” It creates an appointed nine-member Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee regulations and licensing for medical marijuana cultivators, processors and dispensaries and requires a statewide seed-to-sale tracking system for all cannabis in the state.
  • Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, was the only “No” vote. He had several concerns, the biggest being increased access to marijuana.
  • The bill does not allow for the smoking or vaping of marijuana or edible forms of the drug. However, treatment in the form of pills, gelatinous cubes, gels, oils or creams, transdermal patches and nebulizers would be allowed.
  • Users would receive a state-issued medical cannabis card and an electronic patient registry would be created.
  • The bill allows for 34 total dispensaries in the state and mandates no more than 70 doses per patient at one time.
  • Another approved amendment Wednesday addresses workman’s compensation by saying a person who has a medical cannabis card and is proven to be at fault cannot file a claim.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


2. Reed speaks out on occupational tax

  • Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed on Wednesday doubled down in his accusations of government overreach by state lawmakers.
  • House Bill 147, sponsored by Rep. Chris Sells, R-Greenville, would limit municipalities from enacting occupational taxes by requiring any such policy to pass the Legislature as local legislation. The bill, which passed the House last week, now only needs a vote in the Senate and Gov. Kay Ivey’s signature to become law.
  • In response to the bill’s progress in the State House, Montgomery City Council on Tuesday night voted to pass an ordinance implementing a 1% occupational tax on all those working inside the city limits starting in 2021.
  • Reed on Wednesday said the legislation was filed without any consultation with city leaders.
  • “… the fact that House Bill 147 was presented without consultation, without any discussion with local officials to me was disingenuous. To me, it was not done with the right motivation, it was not done in the spirit of cooperation,” Reed said.
  • Sells on Wednesday said he wasn’t sure when a Senate vote on his bill will happen. He also said he met with Reed for about two hours this week to discuss the bill. He said he learned that about 50,000 people live and work in Montgomery and another 60,000 work in but live outside the capital city.
  • “That’s my concern, the 60,000 who can’t vote,” Sells said. “Those 60,000 bring their billfolds, their purses, their credit cards (to Montgomery) and spend their money.”
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell & Devin Pavlou HERE.



3. Transgender bill advances

  • Transgender students would be required to play sports under their “gender assignment at birth” instead of how they live under a bill approved Wednesday by a committee in the Alabama House of Representatives.
  • The House State Government Committee voted 8-4 for the Gender Is Real Legislative Act, or GIRL Act, by Republican Rep. Chris Pringle. The bill, which awaits input from the full House, would ban K-12 schools from allowing trans athletes to compete under their gender identity. It would instead require students to participate under the gender listed on their original birth certificate.
  • Opponents criticized the Alabama measure as motivated by fear and discrimination toward trans people. Pringle said the bill is designed to ensure a level playing field in girls’ sporting events.
  • “These young ladies work very hard in order to condition themselves and go out to compete,” Pringle said. “I want to make sure the person that is competing against them does not have an unfair advantage based on the biological effects of testosterone.”
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.



4. ‘Alternative cover’ landfill bill up today

  • Legislation to clarify that landfills can use materials other than dirt to cover new garbage each day is raising concerns about what the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has permitted as “alternative cover,” including coal ash, and its permitting process.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations say landfill operators must cover disposed solid waste with six inches of earthen material at the end of each operating day “to control disease vectors, fires, odors, blowing litter, and scavenging.”
  • But late last year, landfills had to stop using the alternatives after communities surrounding two filed a lawsuit that argued ADEM wasn’t making landfills demonstrate the effectiveness of their alternative covers.
  • The House is expected to debate the issue again this morning.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


5. Stacy Column: The Home Stretch

  • I wrote a column about the Senate race entering the home stretch.
  • I didn’t try to tell you which candidate to vote for or which I think will win.
  • Instead, it’s just a snapshot of the race as it exists right now, with a glimpse into how campaigns think and what’s likely to take place in the final eleven days.
  • Here’s a simile-forlorn excerpt that is exceedingly unhelpful to understanding the larger piece:
“With less than two weeks to go until the  March 3  primary elections in Alabama, it is officially the home stretch in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Just like in an actual horse race where thoroughbreds start making their moves when they round the final turn, the candidates who have been jockeying for position the last several months are now racing toward the finish line in a full gallop.”
  • My full column HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medical marijuana bill clears first of four votes


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama lawmakers advance bill aimed at transgender athletes


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Montgomery Mayor: Occupational tax bill ‘power grab’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Alternative cover’ landfill bill raises concerns, more debate expected today


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Takeaways from the Democratic debate


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stacy Column: The Home Stretch


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Committee advances bill limiting occupational taxes as Montgomery City Council passes ordinance


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House passes teacher retirement bill; fate uncertain in the Senate


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Morgan County tax dispute will have statewide impact


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Sessions defends himself, attacks opponents in new TV ad


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Source: Barr tells people he might quit over Trump tweets


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest- February 19, 2019


AL.COM  – Alabama bail reform bill called Aniah’s Law advances in House


AL.COM  – Roy Moore asks judge in Leigh Corfman lawsuit to step aside


AL.COM  – Cullman County judge retires week after ethics complaint


AL.COM  – Ex-Alabama school leader investigated for degree claims; received doctorate from Pakistani site


AL.COM  – Columnist Roy Johnson: Alabama is a sad tale of two states: Where do you want to live?


AL.COM  – Fewer immigrants and low unemployment have left Mobile area ag businesses in limbo


AL.COM  – New homes in Huntsville being built over possible 1500-year-old Native American burial sites


AL.COM  – Alabama’s medical marijuana bill clears first hurdle


AL.COM  – Food delivery service Waitr laying off 490 drivers in Alabama


AL.COM  – Land Trust can’t buy Bankhead property, but can buy this


AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Another year, another attempt to gut Alabama ethics laws


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery and Legislature in a power struggle about occupational tax


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama lawmaker pushes for transgender athlete ban as ‘protection of the young ladies’


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery and Legislature in a power struggle about occupational tax


YellowHammer News – Alabama’s Warrior Met Coal announces historic Blue Creek mine development


YellowHammer News – ‘Gender is Real Legislative Act’ advanced by Alabama House committee


YellowHammer News – Jessica Taylor ‘appalled and disgusted’ at Doug Jones’ abortion comments — ‘He is unfit’


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s Office warns of phone scam


Tuscaloosa News – Columbus ship replicas sail into Mississippi harbor


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama lawmakers advance bill aimed at transgender athletes


Anniston Star – Medical marijuana bill clears first of four votes


Anniston Star – Anniston council punts homeless shelter decision again


Anniston Star – Piedmont residents challenge city, council at regular meeting


Decatur Daily – Mayor slams DU over sewer overflows; utility rebukes him as ‘unprofessional’


Decatur Daily – Neighbors of fairgrounds want fewer disruptions with new warehouse


Decatur Daily – Program aims to reduce mentally ill in jails, emergency rooms


Times Daily – Medical marijuana bill clears first of four votes


Times Daily – Colbert prepares voting machines for March 3 primary


Times Daily – 2 charged with robbery after grocery store incident


Gadsden Times – Parole granted in Etowah County case


Dothan Eagle – 2 passengers from ‘floating prison’ cruise ship die of China coronavirus


Dothan Eagle – UPDATE: Planning Commission approves four-story hotel on Pizza Kastle lot


Dothan Eagle – Former Dothan attorney convicted in $10.5 million theft cases released from prison


Troy Messenger – Local school systems oppose statewide calendar


Andalusia Star News – Local releases first book


Andalusia Star News – Local businessman appointed commissioner in Crenshaw


Andalusia Star News – Four arrested on drug charges


Opelika-Auburn News – Skybar expanding to include a waterfall and fire fountain


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika council hires lawyers, sets polling sites


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn council OKs new student housing and moratorium


Sand Mountain Reporter – Tax filing deadlines extended for taxpayers affected by flooding


Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville purchases equipment for SMPA | Salary increase for mayor, council next term approved


Sand Mountain Reporter – January 2020 Parole Hearings: Three of 18 local offenders granted parole


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – How a proposed bill would change Alabama’s animal cruelty laws


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Medical marijuana bill clears first of four votes


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Stacy Column: The Home Stretch


WAFF Huntsville – Animal rescue organizations displeased with new Ala. animal cruelty bill


WAFF Huntsville – Ala. medical marijuana bill passes first hurdle in state legislature


WAFF Huntsville – Stacy Column: The Home Stretch


WSFA Montgomery – Attorney: ex-officer Smith found weapon in cell, faces threats


WSFA Montgomery – Reward offered in search for man accused of assaulting police officer


WSFA Montgomery – Dozier Road near Emerald Mountain toll bridge closed


WKRG Mobile – Woman struck and killed by New Orleans Mardi Gras float


WKRG Mobile – Woman’s ex-husband dead 4 months after she allegedly forced him at gunpoint to sign divorce papers


WKRG Mobile – MPD Chief responds to internal investigations into officers


WTVY Dothan – Houston County Rescue Unit not included in potential license tag fee


WTVY Dothan – Gov. Ivey declares State of Emergency after Alabama flooding


WTVY Dothan – Ala. medical marijuana bill passes first hurdle in state legislature


WASHINGTON POST  – At fiery Democratic debate, a sour welcome for Bloomberg and criticism for Sanders


WASHINGTON POST  – White House assembles team of advisers to guide clemency process as Trump considers more pardons


WASHINGTON POST  – Appeals court says Florida rule barring certain ex-felons from voting is unconstitutional


NEW YORK TIMES  – The 11 Criminals Granted Clemency by Trump Had One Thing in Common: Connections


NEW YORK TIMES  – Warren Leads an Onslaught of Attacks, Zeroing In on Bloomberg


NEW YORK TIMES  – Interactive: Climate Change Rises as a Public Priority. But It’s More Partisan Than Ever.



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