Workers Drive Alabama
I’m looking forward to joining the Alabama League of Municipalities for its legislative advocacy day this afternoon. If you’re there, say hello!
Also, if you missed Capitol Journal last night, check it out online HERE.
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, January 19.
1. Special session starts today
- Lawmakers today begin work on a special session focused on spending $772 million in American Rescue Plan Act Funds.
- Gov. Ivey called the session on Tuesday, putting on hold lawmakers’ regular law-making session to focus on the massive federal influx of funds.
- A spending bill hasn’t been made public, but a draft obtained by Alabama Daily News shows priority spending for broadband internet, assisting hospitals and nursing homes and building out water and sewer infrastructure in communities where service lacks.
- House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said that both chambers and all four caucuses felt that a special session was “the best way to approach this.”
- Read more from ADN’s Maddison Booth HERE.
2. What happened at the State House Tuesday
- With the special session on ARPA funds starting today, the regular session has been put on hold. But that didn’t stop lawmakers from advancing their priority bills on Tuesday.
- Two tax cut bills were passed through committee, as were measures limiting law enforcement’s use of artificial intelligence and a bill to stop homeowners’ associations from restricting the flying of state flags.
- And the House has approved its first bill of the session: a 2021 law allowing college athletes to be compensated whenever their name, image or likeness is used in promotional material. Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette, said the original law is more restrictive than the NCAA guidelines adopted last year, putting colleges in Alabama at a recruiting disadvantage.
- Read more about what happened at the State House from Mary Sell HERE.
A message from
Workers Drive Alabama
- Alabama is facing a labor shortage, and businesses are starting to notice.
- 95% of suspended licenses in Alabama stem from unpaid traffic tickets, not dangerous driving. Research shows it’s hard to get or keep a job without a valid driver’s license.
- Smart public policy keeps up with changing times. That’s why lawmakers from both parties will introduce a bill to end these pointless debt-based driver’s licenses suspensions.
- Support the bipartisan driver’s license bill and get these folks back on the road. When we’re free to drive, we’re free to work.
- Learn more at WorkersDriveAlabama.com
3. Saban joins fray on voting overhaul bill
- University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and other prominent sports figures with ties to West Virginia have urged U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin to support sweeping legislation proponents say would protect the right to vote.
- The package before the Senate would make Election Day a national holiday, loosen voter identification requirements and require access to early voting and mail-in ballots.
- Advocates have warned that Republican-led states have passed laws making it more difficult for Black Americans and others to vote by consolidating polling locations, requiring certain types of identification and ordering other changes.
- In the letter, the group said the principles that help ensure fair and free elections are “now under intentional and unprecedented challenge.”
- Asked about the letter Tuesday, Manchin pointed reporters to a footnote added by Saban that was not included in the released letter, saying he supports the filibuster and to not get rid of it.
- “Coach Saban is not in favor of getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate,” the footnote reads. “He believes this will destroy the checks and balances we must have in our Democracy.”
- Preserving Senate norms is the whole point to Manchin.
- “We should all support the right the vote, everyone, but not breaking the rules to make new rules,” Manchin said.
- Read more HERE.
4. Free rapid tests, masks made available
- The Biden administration on Tuesday quietly launched its website for Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests, a day before the site was scheduled to officially go online.
- The website, COVIDTests.gov, now includes a link for “every home in the U.S.” to access an order form run by the U.S. Postal Service. People can order four at-home tests per residential address, to be delivered by the Postal Service. It marks the latest step by President Joe Biden to address criticism of low inventory and long lines for testing during a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant.
- The White House said “tests will typically ship within 7- 12 days of ordering” through USPS, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its first-class package service in the continental United States.
- Meanwhile, the U.S. government will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting next week, now that federal officials are emphasizing their better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings.
- The White House announced today that the masks will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million of the highly protective masks on hand. The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country. They will begin shipping this week for distribution starting late next week, the White House said.
5. Major airlines fear 5G will upend travel this week
- AT&T and Verizon will postpone new wireless service near some airports planned for this week after the nation’s largest airlines said the service would interfere with aircraft technology and cause massive flight disruptions.
- AT&T said Tuesday it would delay turning on new cell towers around runways at some airports — it did not say how many — and work with federal regulators to settle the dispute.
- Verizon said it will launch its new 5G network but added, “we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports.”
- The moves came after the airline industry raised the stakes in a showdown with AT&T and Verizon over plans to launch 5G wireless service this week, warning that thousands of flights could be grounded or delayed if the rollout takes place near major airports.
- Read more HERE.
A message from the
Alabama Municipal Electric Authority
- One million Alabamians depend on reliable, affordable, innovative public power.
- Public utilities employ 93,000 people in local jobs across the United States. Revenues from public power utilities go back into the community.
- To learn more about AMEA and public power, visit www.AMEA.com.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Special session begins today
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Legislative briefs for Wednesday, Jan. 19
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey calls special session on relief funds
ALABAMA DILY NEWS – Saban joins fray on voting overhaul bill
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – White House soft-launches COVID-19 test request website
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – U.S. to give away 400 million N95 masks starting next week
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – EXPLAINER: Why airlines fear 5G will upend travel this week
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Op-Ed: Southern Research building castle for 21st century, investing in future of Birmingham
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Draft bill shows ARPA spending on health care, broadband, water and sewer infrastructure
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Harris: ‘We hope’ omicron is peaking in Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – No. 2 Auburn gets showdown with No. 12 Kentucky
AL.COM – ‘It’s now or never’: 250,000 Alabamians left their jobs during ‘The Great Resignation’
AL.COM – Randall Woodfin: ‘I will not be lectured’ by ex-state senator over marijuana pardons
AL.COM – COVID not going away even after omicron wave peaks in Alabama, expert says
AL.COM – Joe Manchin says ex-NFL commissioner left out Nick Saban’s stance on filibuster
AL.COM – Senate candidate Mike Durant turns over company to employees
AL.COM – Columnist Dana Hall McCain: Club for Growth floods the zone with dishonesty
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey calls special session on spending COVID relief money
Montgomery Advertiser – Omicron wave may be cresting in Alabama, but ICU and COVID test shortages persist
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery police identify two men killed in separate shootings
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham woman orders FREE at-home COIVD-19 tests, urges others to do the same
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Shelby County parent reacts to nine schools going remote due to COVID-19
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Law enforcement and Jewish community upping protective measures in response to Texas hostage incident
Tuscaloosa News – Avett Brothers will play fourth concert at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey calls special session on spending COVID relief money
Tuscaloosa News – Omicron wave may be cresting in Alabama, but ICU and COVID test shortages persist
Decatur Daily – Rising food costs have county sheriffs seeing red
Decatur Daily – Two new subdivisions in East Limestone add 120 lots
Decatur Daily – Athens City Schools going virtual Wednesday
Times Daily – Freezing rain possible overnight in the Shoals
Times Daily – Hearing in Tuscumbia pedestrian fatality case continued
Times Daily – Lauderdale Co. employees to receive $1.3M in bonuses
Anniston Star – New brew pub looks toward February opening, City Council learns
Anniston Star – Oxford High dominates Choccolocco Park Green Prix
Anniston Star – Piedmont man’s handmade car culminates his life’s work
YellowHammer News – Freedom Celebration honoring Patriot Award recipient Senator Tommy Tuberville
YellowHammer News – Gov. Kay Ivey calls special session of Alabama Legislature to address pandemic relief funds
YellowHammer News – New PAC heavily invested in Alabama to support Mike Durant’s U.S. Senate candidacy
Gadsden Times – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey calls special session on spending COVID relief money
Gadsden Times – Omicron wave may be cresting in Alabama, but ICU and COVID test shortages persist
Gadsden Times – From loss to legacy: Etowah County family is building homes in Honduras in son’s memory
Dothan Eagle – New York AG says Trump’s company misled banks, tax officials
Dothan Eagle – 1 year in: Biden ready to talk through progress, setbacks
Dothan Eagle – Texas wildfire forces evacuations; planned burn may be cause
Opelika-Auburn News – 3 dead, others injured in Wisconsin apartment building blaze
Opelika-Auburn News – Tracking Biden’s 1st-year progress delivering on promises
WSFA Montgomery – ACDD launches campaign to help public recognize human trafficking
WSFA Montgomery – Horse’s death leads to animal cruelty arrests in Dallas County
WSFA Montgomery – Missing and Endangered Alert issued for Geneva County man
WAFF Huntsville – COVID-19 leading cause of law enforcement deaths; Madison Co. investigator laid to rest
WAFF Huntsville – Decatur City Schools transitioning to mandatory mask policy
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville Downtown Rescue Mission is popular as temp eratures drop
WKRG Mobile – Family seeks to sue Lebanon over dead father’s captivity
WKRG Mobile – Traffic stop leads to seizure of over 900 pounds of marijuana in Leeds
WKRG Mobile – Global airlines rush to change flights to the US over 5G problem
WTVY Dothan – Southwest Georgia Academy plans to launch agriculture program
WTVY Dothan – A private school in Early County takes community based approach to COVID challenges
WTVY Dothan – Dothan prepares to write $2.5 million Farm Center check
WASHINGTON POST – Blinken to meet Russian counterpart as White House warns Moscow could attack Ukraine ‘at any point’
WASHINGTON POST – N.Y. attorney general alleges Trump’s business inflated property values, wealth statements
WASHINGTON POST – House Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Giuliani, Sidney Powell
NEW YORK TIMES – Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Giuliani, Digging Into False Vote Fraud Claims
NEW YORK TIMES – N.Y. Attorney General Outlines Pattern of Possible Fraud at Trump Business
NEW YORK TIMES – Covid Live Updates: Biden Administration to Issue 400 Million Masks From National Stockpile
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Microsoft to Buy Activision Blizzard in All-Cash Deal Valued at $75 Billion
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Bitcoin Sags in 2022 Under Weight of Stock Selloff and Fed Policy
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Free N95 Masks to Be Made Available at Pharmacies, White House Says
Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)