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Daily News Digest – June 15, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Monday, June 15.


1. As economy improved, Medicaid enrollment increased

  • Alabama’s unemployment rate steadily decreased amid a booming economy last year, but the number of people receiving health care through Medicaid in Alabama grew in 2019.
  • According to a report from the Alabama Medicaid Agency, there were 1,046,192 people receiving Medicaid in September of 2019, a 2% growth from September 2018. It is not an all-time high – that was 2015 – but it is part of an overall uptick in the past decade.
  • Enrollment in Medicaid, the health care provider for the state’s poor and disabled, remains higher now than when the unemployment rate hit nearly 12 percent in 2009. Before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, Alabama’s unemployment rate was a historic low of 2.7%.
  • Why is this news? Because conventional wisdom generally holds that the need for public assistance decreases as the economy improves and unemployment drops.
  • State officials say an increase in eligible children plus improvements to the Medicaid system may explain the increase.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.



2. State tells judge it can staff prisons by deadline

  • The state of Alabama told a federal judge that it is optimistic that it can adequately staff state prisons by a 2022 deadline despite slow progress in hiring.
  • U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson had asked the state to explain how it planned to meet the court order to add about 2,000 officers in the next two years.
  • Thompson said the state had only added about 100 officers over the last nine months and had a net loss in supervisors.
  • In a Friday court filing, the prison system said hiring has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but it has developed a pay structure, recruitment campaign and other infrastructure to hire and retain staff and supervisors.
  • “Its efforts are bearing fruit,” wrote William R. Lunsford, an attorney representing the Alabama Department of Corrections.
  • “The state remains optimistic that its employment-related processes will enable ADOC to achieve adequate correctional staffing levels by February 20, 2022.”
  • Thompson in 2017 ruled that mental health care in state prisons was “horrendously inadequate” and said that understaffing is an overarching issue behind the unconstitutional conditions.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.



3. ‘Soft opening’ for Census knockers to begin

  • Door knocking by census takers at the homes of people who haven’t yet responded to the 2020 census is scheduled to start next month, the U.S. Census Bureau says.
  • The door knocking to interview households that haven’t yet responded to the 2020 census was supposed to have started last month, but the ongoing pandemic prompted officials to push most of it back until August. Next month will mark the start of a “soft launch” in six locations around the country to be named later “to ensure systems, operations and field plans work as they should,” the bureau said in a statement.
  • All census takers will be trained in social distancing and will have personal protective equipment, according to the bureau.
  • As of Thursday, almost 60.9% of U.S. residents had answered the census questionnaire either online, by telephone or by mailing back the form.
  • In Alabama, the response rate is exactly two points behind the national average at 58.9%.
  • Read more HERE.



4. With Senate control at stake, GOP candidates weigh campaigning with Trump

  • In Alabama, you’d be hard pressed to find a Republican politician who wouldn’t want President Donald Trump stumping with them on the campaign trail.
  • In fact, most GOP primaries here feature candidates tripping all over themselves trying to prove who is the most like Trump, has his endorsement or some other connection.
  • It’s like that in most red states.
  • However, in some purple swing states where Trump isn’t as popular, it isn’t that easy. And it’s those states – Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina and Iowa – that will determine whether Republicans hold on to the Senate majority in 2020.
  • On one hand, candidates don’t want to appear to condone Trump’s sometimes inflammatory statements and tweets and risk losing moderates. On the other hand, spurning POTUS is a good way to lose the conservative base support any Republican needs to get over the top.
  • Some GOP operatives say candidates’ best bet is to flip the script on their Democratic challengers by tying them to more radical elements on the political left, such as the “defund the police” movement.
  • In any case, it’s a tight rope to walk and incumbent senators are working without a net this year as the election draws closer and the president returns to the campaign trail.
  • Read more HERE.



5. Justice Sellers: Celebrate the Magna Carta


  • On this date in 1215, the Magna Carta was signed in Runnymeade, England, as King John I sought to avoid civil war by agreeing that the monarch be subject to the rule of law.
  • It turns out war wasn’t actually avoided, but nevertheless it was the first time in history that a sovereign ruler submitted to the concept of a greater law offering liberties to people and institutions.
  • It was a turning point that helped lay the foundation for the idea of consent of the governed and, eventually, the Republic we inhabit today.
  • Supreme Court Justice Will Sellers contributes an op-ed for today’s Daily News marking Magna Carta day and explaining its significance to American jurisprudence.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“The Declaration of Independence rightly holds a preeminent place in American history; yet, there is another, much older document from history worth celebrating too. That document is Magna Carta, ‘the Great Charter,’ signed this day in the year 1215 A.D. by English barons and King John. It is not an exaggeration to say Magna Carta changed the concept of government forever. In fact, never before had a ruler, in what was almost a bloodless coup, agreed to limitations on royal power. Magna Carta changed the dialog about the divine rights of kings and absolute power. We would do well to remember 805 years hence and reflect on what civilization has achieved by limiting the power of government and giving liberty to the governed…
“We should celebrate the concept of constitutional government it ushered into the world and the growing impact of its civilizing influence. Under Magna Carta and its offspring, the United States Constitution and the Alabama Constitution, we should always hold our own elected officials accountable to govern according to and under the “law of the land.” And, we must always remember that government exists not to create our rights, but to protect the rights we inherently possess…”
  • Read Justice Sellers’ full op-ed HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As economy improved, Medicaid enrollment increased


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State tells judge it can staff prisons by deadline


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Soft opening’ for census door knocking to begin next month


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP candidates balance pros, cons of running with Trump


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Justice Will Sellers: Celebrate the Magna Carta


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jim Byard: Now is the time for Alabama to lead locally


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama virus cases surge, prompting new health warnings


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New 2020 Education Department Strategic Plan announced, goals set for 2025


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama prison COVID-19 cases rise, another death reported.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama county’s DA urges new trial for death row inmate


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Majority-black county seeks to move Confederate monument


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weekend Digest – June 14, 2020


AL.COM  – For first time, Alabama added 1,000-plus coronavirus cases in a day


AL.COM  – Mobile mayor: Confederate statue headed to history museum


AL.COM  – Black in white coats: how Alabama’s black healthcare workers are battling pandemic, racism


AL.COM  – Alabama monuments law affects more than Confederate monuments


AL.COM  – Huntsville business leaders speak out: Remove Confederate monument from courthouse


AL.COM  – House minority leader wants to end tax support for Confederate park


AL.COM  – Columnist John Archibald: Governments: Stop naming things for people


AL.COM  – Contributor Thom Gossom, Jr.: The Talk


Montgomery Advertiser – Daughter of Hank Williams Jr. killed in car crash in Henry County


Montgomery Advertiser – Heart of Alabama’s coronavirus pandemic: Montgomery now has state’s most COVID-19 cases


Montgomery Advertiser – East Montgomery road work starts Sunday


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Doctor speaks after Montgomery County sees highest COVID-19 cases in Alabama


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – State working on virtual K-12 school option for 2020 academic year


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – New 2020 Education Department Strategic Plan announced, goals set for 2025


Tuscaloosa News – How libraries turned the page during a pandemic


Tuscaloosa News – 2 killed in Alabama crash were Navy pilots in civilian plane


Tuscaloosa News – UA System details plans for reopening campuses


Decatur Daily – Alabama Medicaid rolls increase 2% in 2019


Decatur Daily – Alabama National Guard to use Decatur armory for new military police brigade


Decatur Daily – Authorities: Drugs one of several theories behind 7 shooting deaths


Times Daily – A look into where Alabama’s $3.7B coronavirus relief money went


Times Daily – Shoals Theatre optimistic for plays, concerts to return in August


Times Daily – COVID cases reported at Florence Nursing Home


Anniston Star – Activist group gathers for conversation, not demonstration


Anniston Star – As contact tracing increases, lawmaker looks at regulations


Anniston Star – Alabama Medicaid increases 2 percent in 2019


YellowHammer News – Mobile mayor orders statue of Confederate Admiral Semmes moved to museum


YellowHammer News – AFLAC donates 10,000 face shields to Montgomery County EMA


YellowHammer News – Alabama Power Foundation grant makes ‘virtual learning’ a reality for rural Greene County students


Gadsden Times – What’s behind increasing COVID-19 cases in Etowah County


Gadsden Times – Absentee voting deadlines and details


Gadsden Times – Gadsden’s history impacts future of economic development


Dothan Eagle – Ashford PPE provider plays important role in global COVID battle


Dothan Eagle – Dothan student named to Deans Honor Roll at Fort Hays State University


Dothan Eagle – Sophie Canavan graduates from College of Charleston


Troy Messenger – Downtown Troy hosts Stop the Violence Candlelight Vigil


Troy Messenger – After 16 years of leadership, White stepping back from arts center role


Troy Messenger – Pike County native joins Brundidge practice


Andalusia Star News – Loango juvenile in stable condition after accidental gunshot wound


Andalusia Star News – Opp City Council to meet June 15


Andalusia Star News – Andalusia City Council to meet on June 16


Opelika-Auburn News – Candle business opens despite COVID-19


Opelika-Auburn News – More work needed to combat human trafficking along I-85, Lee County


Opelika-Auburn News – Southern Union working back to normal


Daily Mountain Eagle – Several inmates denied parole this week


Daily Mountain Eagle – Dora police report busy month


Daily Mountain Eagle – Rise in new housing starts, construction permits a good sign for Jasper economy


Trussville Tribune – Jefferson County’s DA urges new trial for death row inmate


Trussville Tribune – Alabama tells judge it can staff prisons by deadline


Trussville Tribune – Man shot, killed while riding bicycle in Eastlake


Athens News Courier – CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 5: Wayne Harper announces bid for re-election


Athens News Courier – Local communications officers recognized for work


Athens News Courier – TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Limestone County native among 16 finalists


Sand Mountain Reporter – Boaz fire station undergoes thorough renovation


Sand Mountain Reporter – Ivey opens up on difficult past few months | Discusses pandemic’s impact statewide with Albertville Rotary


Sand Mountain Reporter – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15


WSFA Montgomery – 8-year-old boy drowns while swimming in Franklin County


WSFA Montgomery – More than 42,000 pounds of ground beef recalled


WSFA Montgomery – ‘Black Lives Better’ rally in Montgomery promotes positivity and prayer


WAFF Huntsville – Prayer vigil held for law enforcement officers across the country


WAFF Huntsville – Firefighters help woman out of Huntsville house fire Sunday morning


WAFF Huntsville – East Limestone High School football coach charged with DUI


WKRG Mobile – Face masks with windows mean more than smiles to deaf people


WKRG Mobile – Tattoo shop offers to cover up hate, gang symbols for free


WKRG Mobile – MPD: Police investigate bomb threat at Walmart, nothing found


WTVY Dothan – Accuracy still unknown for many coronavirus tests rushed out


WTVY Dothan – Daughter of Hank Williams Jr. reportedly killed in vehicle crash


WTVY Dothan – Dothan’s Wiregrass Museum of Art reopening Wednesday


WASHINGTON POST  – Killing of black man in Atlanta puts spotlight anew on police, as prosecutors contemplate charges against officer


WASHINGTON POST  – Thousands gather Sunday for prayer and protests in Washington


WASHINGTON POST  – Ripple effects of downturn show pandemic’s early economic toll was just the beginning


WASHINGTON POST  – Contact tracing is ‘best’ tool we have until there’s a vaccine, health experts say


NEW YORK TIMES  – ‘Troubling Tableau’ in 11th Circuit’s Prisoner Cases, Sotomayor Says


NEW YORK TIMES  – The Rising Trump Lawyer Battling to Reshape the Electorate


NEW YORK TIMES  – Threats of New Lockdowns in the U.S.


NEW YORK TIMES  – What We’re Learning About Online Learning



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