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Daily News Digest – June 22, 2018

Good morning and Happy Friday! Sorry for the delay, but as you’ll see, there’s a lot of breaking news. Here’s your Daily News for Friday, June 22, 2018. 


  • This is big.
  • Moments ago, President Donald Trump tweeted his support for U.S. Rep. Martha Roby in her bid for reelection in Alabama’s 2nd District.
  • Of course, this is especially significant because it was Roby’s asking Trump to step aside in the wake of the “grab ’em…” audio clip that has been her biggest political headache the last 18 months.
  • After the 2016 election, Roby congratulated Trump and made it clear she was in line with the shared Trump-GOP agenda. Since then, Roby has built relationships inside the Trump Administration and visited the White House several times for strategy sessions and bill signings.
  • That appears to have paid off.
  • Roby is currently in a primary runoff with former Congressman Bobby Bright, a Democrat turned Republican who has been touting a Trumpian message on the campaign trail.
  • The president, clearly unimpressed with Bright’s overtures, referenced the former Congressman as a “Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat.”
  • Now, with Trump’s support, Roby can likely put the backlash behind her. The runoff election for the GOP nomination in Alabama’s 2nd District takes place July 17.
  • Full story HERE.

1. Big day in Congress: Farm Bill passes, Immigration not so much.

Farm Bill passes

  • The House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill Thursday by a narrow 213-211 vote.
  • Every five years or so Congress is supposed to pass this bill to update the nation’s agriculture policy, which impacts how we feed ourselves and the world.
  • The Farm Bill also includes nutrition policy, which is another term for Food Stamps. The bill implements work requirements for benefits long-sought by conservatives and fiercely opposed by Democrats.
  • The bill requires able-bodied adults to work or participate in job training in order to receive food stamp benefits. There are exclusions for the elderly, children, and caretakers of children.
  • Republicans say these reforms are long overdue and make sense with employment at historic highs. Democrats say too many needy families won’t be able to access critical food stamp assistance.
  • Each of Alabama’s six Republicans voted for the bill: Rep. Bradley Byrne, Rep. Martha Roby, Rep. Mike Rogers, Rep. Robert Aderholt, Rep. Gary Palmer and Rep. Mo Brooks. The delegation’s lone Democrat, Rep. Terri Sewell, voted no.
  • Rogers is Alabama’s point man on the Agriculture Committee that writes the bill, and he did a good job of explaining how it works and why it matters so much to Alabama HERE.

On Immigration, a false start and a delay of game

  • The House voted down an immigration reform bill pushed by hardliners Thursday.
  • There was some hope among House Republicans that Congress could take up a more measured bill.
  • But, after going round and round, the votes aren’t there and they’ll punt to next week.
  • The “compromise” bill would offer a path to legal status for young immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age. It also would stop the separation of children from parents detained at the border, enact a merit-based visa system, and authorize $25 billion for border security enhancements (wall).
  • The president has been building support for it, but JUST THIS MORNING tweeted his frustration saying Republicans should “stop wasting their time” working with Democrats.
  • “Okay.” “Okay.” “What’s next.”

2. Supreme Court: states can charge sales tax for online purchases. 

  • States can now force consumers to pay sales tax when they make online purchases thanks to a Supreme Court decision Thursday.
  • That may sound like a bummer because online goods could cost a little more. But, it’s a big win for brick-and-mortar retailers who get squeezed by online outlets.
  • It’s also a win for states & local governments that have seen serious declines in sales tax revenues from shoppers going online.
  • Alabama enacted a solution to the problem a few years ago called the Simplified Sellers & Use Tax that allowed online outlets like Amazon to voluntarily remit some tax revenue.
  • One benefit to joining the Simplified Sellers & Use Tax was locking in your tax rate. So, those who came in early are going to be glad they did.
  • It is unclear exactly what it will mean for Alabama. Certainly any stragglers who weren’t voluntarily using the SSUT are going to get on that in a hurry.
  • But, will the Legislature pass a new sales tax law? That’s a good question.
  • Mike Cason of has an excellent rundown of this issue as it applies to Alabama, including some reaction from the players involved. His story is worth your time this morning.

3. Amid treacherous week, Business Council moves ahead with transition. 

What Happened

What it means

  • This all comes amid a brutal, treacherous public relations week in which the state’s premiere business lobbying group saw the defections of several high-profile member corporations.
  • Alabama Power, which started the trickle of withdrawals on Monday, has sought Canary’s immediate ouster for the past year and was not satisfied with BCA’s insistence on a more formal, methodical transition.
  • Hand said the demands for Canary’s immediate removal and replacement with former House Speaker and PowerSouth executive Seth Hammett didn’t sit well with BCA members representing other industries.
  • It also served to “galvanize” support for a formal plan despite an onslaught of negative publicity.

What’s Next

  • One big question has been whether Alabama Power and these other companies would start their own lobby group to more or less compete with BCA.
  • Or, in a post-Canary BCA, would they return to the fold.
  • I could see the latter for Blue Cross, Regions and some of the other companies that weren’t all that hostile in their comments. If their problem was truly Canary, who is leaving by next year, how much difference does six months really make?
  • Alabama Power is different. With its vast financial, media and governmental affairs resources, the Power Company probably doesn’t need a BCA-type advocacy organization. And as a electric utility, its agenda is going to naturally diverge from other businesses from time to time.
  • Conservative columnist Cameron Smith went there in his latest piece, which points out what few have been willing to say on the record about the Power Company’s exit from BCA: that some businesses aren’t all that sad to see them go.
  • The next question will be, new organization or not, will the onslaught against BCA continue after this week, after next year, and into the future. And if so, why?

My full story HERE.

Also read Brian Lyman for the Advertiser HERE and Mike Cason for HERE.

4. Amazon a Go. Amtrack a No. 

Amazon a GO

Amtrak a NO

  • AMTRAK probably won’t be re-upping its service through Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey said the state will not be providing money to help bring passenger trains back to Mobile.
  • Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi had until Thursday to pledge a $35 million to restore Amtrak service between New Orleans and Mobile, which stopped in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Here’s what Ivey said:

“As we continue to address congestion on our surface transportation systems, both on our highways and rail system, I currently do not plan to provide limited state resources to passenger rail service. We have higher priority opportunities to address congestion on I-10 through the Mobile River Bridge project, expansion of the Port of Mobile and numerous highway projects around the state.

“I am hopeful that one day we may have the luxury of providing financial support for passenger rail service, but now is not the time when we have other challenges which must take priority.”

  • Read more, including Democratic candidate for governor Walt Maddox’s criticism of Ivey’s decision HERE.

5. Headlines. 


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Amid treacherous week, Business Council moves ahead with transition plan.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP-led House narrowly passes Farm Bill. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump seeks federal government overhaul, merger of agencies.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama county placing police in all schools.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – White House proposes merging education, labor.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump supporters steadfast despite the immigration uproar.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – A Russian’s view of EJI’s Memorial for Peace and Justice and Legacy Museum.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Site where Rosa Parks worked reopens as park.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Candidate for House District 78 Kirk Hatcher.

DECATUR DAILY – Jobless rates slightly up, but lower than a year ago, keeping labor market tight.

DECATUR DAILY – ‘Gag clauses’ on pharmacists limit price information, legislation coming in 2018.

DECATUR DAILY – Local retailers, state expected to benefit from ruling on online sales taxes.

ANNISTON STAR – It’s about wages, people.

AL.COM – Jeff Sessions says religious criticism ‘painful;’ defends using Bible to justify immigration policy.

AL.COM – Alabama officials applaud court’s online sales tax ruling.

AL.COM – Ivey says no to state money for coastal Amtrak; Maddox blasts ‘outdated governing’.

AL.COM – Doug Jones’ VA accountability legislation requires annual report on nursing homes.

AL.COM – Business Council of Alabama aims to have new CEO by Sept. 1.

AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith:  A ‘big mule’ breakup with BCA could be good for Alabama business.

AL.COM – Steve Marshall, Troy King squabble over ‘lavish retreats’ for Republican attorneys general.

AL.COM – Alabama case prompts new sentencing for sniper Lee Boyd Malvo.

AL.COM – Alabama lawmaker says Ivey’s plan to arm school administrators is illegal.

AL.COM – Contributor Wayne Flynt:  A letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

AL.COM – Alabama Power seeks to increase solar fee despite complaint.

AL.COM – SCOTUS: States can force online shoppers to pay sales tax.

AL.COM – Alabama’s newest laws: Vicious dogs, bullying, ‘In God We Trust’.

AL.COM – Daimler warns Mercedes taking hit from China trade war.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Ethics Commission clears Luther Strange.

WASHINGTON POST – The chaotic effort to reunite immigrant parents with their separated kids.

WASHINGTON POST – Nikki Haley: ‘It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America’.

WASHINGTON POST – Federal judge rules that consumer protection bureau is unconstitutional.

WASHINGTON POST – House narrowly passes farm bill that includes stricter work requirements for food stamps, a month after failing on first try.

NEW YORK TIMES – U.S. Prepares Housing Up to 20,000 Migrants on Military Bases

NEW YORK TIMES – Europe Strikes Back Against Trump Tariffs

NEW YORK TIMES – Congress Is Writing Lots of Opioid Bills. But Which Ones Will Actually Help?

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