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Daily News Digest – June 27, 2019

Good morning!
Looking forward to seeing newspaper friends down at the Alabama Press Association conference starting this evening. Look for Daily News emails from Caroline Beck the next few days.
Here’s the news for Thursday, June 27.



1. Senate passes border bill.

  • The U.S. Senate has passed funding legislation to address the emergency situation at the southern border.
  • The $4.59 billion supplemental appropriations bill passed overwhelmingly by a bi-partisan vote of 84-8.
  • The bill includes funding to help federal agencies like Health and Human Services and Customs and Border Protection provide adequate shelter and care for immigrant families awaiting processing.
  • It also provides funding to help the Department of Justice process the wave of new immigration cases it is dealing with.
  • Sen. Richard Shelby, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, called it a “solid bill” and called on the House to pass it.
  • “So I say to our colleagues in the House, now that there is bipartisan acknowledgment that the crisis on our southern border is real, do not derail the one bipartisan vehicle with a real chance of becoming law. Those who want to alleviate the suffering on our southern border will soon have a bipartisan path forward in the Senate bill,” Shelby said.
  • However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that the House would not pass the Senate bill. The House on Tuesday passed its version of the border bill along party lines, and that bill was rejected by the Senate, including by some Democrats.
  • Pelosi faces resistance in her chamber may be short of votes. She quelled a mini-revolt by progressives and Hispanic lawmakers who insist on including some of the House provisions in the final bill.
  • This could get interesting today because Congress is scheduled to break for two weeks and failing to address the border crisis would be a big missed opportunity.
  • Read more HERE.


2. Colleges aim to improve graduation rates.

  • As the Alabama Legislature tries to move to performance-based funding for higher education, the state’s four-year universities want to show improvement in several areas.
  • One is graduation rates, and most Alabama schools are behind the national average.
  • It’s a complicated metric, though, especially since different colleges have different student body makeups. And things like transfers are hard to account for.
  • It won’t surprise you that Auburn and Alabama’s flagship campuses have the highest graduation rates. They also have the fewest low-income students.
  • Other schools are seeking to improve their graduation rates through a variety of strategies, and the need for more state funding to help the cause is on the list.
  • Read the full story from Mary Sell and me on college graduation rates and their implications in the Legislature HERE.


3. Big day at SCOTUS.

  • Two issues that could determine the distribution of political power for the next decade await resolution on the Supreme Court’s final day of decisions before a long summer break.
  • The cases – the citizenship question on the census and partisan redistricting – also have big implications for Alabama.
  • The census case involves an attempt by the Trump administration to ask everyone about their citizenship status in the 2020 census. The last time the question was broadly asked was in 1950.
  • The administration argues it needs the data to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, but critics say including the question would make the count less accurate.
  • Democratic-led states and cities, and civil rights groups challenging the citizenship case have argued that the question would discourage immigrants from participating in the census, taking power away from cities and other places with large immigrant populations and reward less populated rural areas.
  • Alabama officials, including Attorney General Steve Marshall and Congressman Mo Brooks, have lobbied hard for including the citizenship question, partly because it could help Alabama keep its seven congressional districts and nine electoral votes.
  • The high court is also reviewing two court decisions in which federal judges found that Republicans in North Carolina and Democrats in Maryland went too far in drawing congressional districts to benefit their party at the expense of the other party’s voters.
  • The court has struck down districts predominantly based on race, but never just on partisan grounds.
  • The justices are set to take the bench at 9:00 a.m. Central Time.
  • Full story HERE.


4. Skip Tucker: Roy Moore and the Music Man.


  • I guess you could say Skip Tucker is no fan of Roy Moore.
  • In his column this week, Skip talks about what every politico in the state is talking about: Moore’s entrance into the U.S. Senate race and his chances to win.
  • As always, Skip’s take is more interesting than most.
  • He says Moore reminds him of someone he had some run-ins with back in Jasper during his time as Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle.
  • I can’t clip much of the column today because it would give it all away, but here’s a short excerpt:
“You know those semi-nightmares where you’re naked in public and creeped out? One man makes me feel that way in open daylight. Like a recurring nightmare, ex-Judge Roy Moore is back. Did anyone seriously think he was going away?
“…He reminds me of another man of the cloth who was full of coprolite (I’ll get back to that word.) A Holier-Than-Thou minister of music at a church in Jasper was also principal of a small county middle school.”
  • Read Skip’s full column HERE.


5. AP News Briefs.


T-Town python owner identified, snake still at-large
  • Authorities in Tuscaloosa say they may have identified the owner of the 15-foot (4.5 meter) yellow python that’s been the subject of a week-long search.
  • A spokesman for the mayor’s office says police zeroed in on a person of interest and have recovered a second python at a “local residence.”
  • News outlets report authorities are still looking for the first python.
  • Sightings of the pet snake were first reported last week.
  • Animal control officers are combing through residential backyards, storm drains and wooded area’s looking for the reptile.
  • Pythons are non-venomous. They kill their prey through constriction.
  • Officials are asking residents to alert authorities if they spot the snake.
Major distribution center coming to Coffee County
  • A food and distribution firm plans to build a $100 million distribution center in southeast Alabama.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced the Coffee County facility being built by Texas-based Ben E. Keith Co.
  • The project is expected to create 80 direct jobs during the next five years.
  • Construction of the facility in New Brockton is expected to begin by December, with a scheduled completion date by December 2021.
2 hospitalized after acid leak poultry plant
  • At least two workers at the Wayne Farms poultry facility in Dothan have been hospitalized following an acid leak.
  • One person’s skin was exposed and another inhaled the vapors emitting from the chemical spilled Wednesday. Roughly 14 other workers who were in the area of the leak are being monitored. The plant also was evacuated, but news outlets report employees have since been let back inside.
  • Deputy Fire Chief Chris Etheredge says the acid was reportedly being used in a cleaning process.
  • The leak remains under investigation.
Economy still growing
  • The U.S. economy grew at a healthy 3.1% rate in the first three months of this year, but signs are mounting that growth has slowed sharply in the current quarter amid slower global growth and a confidence-shaking trade battle between the United States and China.
  • The gain in the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, was unchanged from an estimate made a month ago, the Commerce Department reported Thursday morning.
  • The 3.1% growth in the first quarter marked a rebound from a 2.2% growth rate in the fourth quarter of last year. But it was slower than a sizzling increase of 4.2% in the second quarter and a solid increase of 3.4% in the third quarter last year. For the entire year, GDP grew 3.9%, the best annual gain since 2015.
  • Last year’s strength was powered by the implementation of a $1.5 trillion tax cut, President Donald Trump’s signature domestic achievement, and billions of dollars in increased government spending on the military and domestic programs Congress approved in early 2018.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State universities look for graduation rate improvements
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate passes $4.6B border aid measure; Pelosi seeks talks
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: Roy Moore and the Music Man
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Census, redistricting decisions due on high court’s last day
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poll: Roy Moore slides, lags behind rivals in Alabama Senate race
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Merrill in Alabama GOP Senate race; Sessions still a factor
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judges question basis for Alabama minimum wage suit
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Robert Mueller to testify publicly before 2 House committees
AL.COM  – Julian Castro criticizes Alabama abortion law, defends trans people’s right to procedure
AL.COM  – UAB ranked top young university in the country
AL.COM  – Survey of GOP voters shows high unfavorable ratings for Roy Moore
AL.COM  – Alabama company agrees to stop robocalls
AL.COM  – Toxic algae closes water at 9 Mississippi beaches; seafood warning issues
AL.COM  – ‘Where is the water?’ Angry Perdido Key residents blame county for unprepared fire department
AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: How many Alabama sheriffs are crooked? DOJ needs to give us an answer
AL.COM  – Food distribution company plans $100 million Coffee County facility
AL.COM  – Canfield raises concerns about an ‘extended trade war’
AL.COM  – When abortion was a risky misdemeanor: Alabama before Roe v. Wade
Montgomery Advertiser – Officials say Autauga house fire sparked by ‘drunken fit of rage’
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery man charged after ex-girlfriend robbed, kidnapped and nearly raped
Montgomery Advertiser – Will he run? Shelby says Jeff Sessions would be ‘formidable’ Senate candidate
YellowHammer News – Alabama State Port Authority names new deputy director
YellowHammer News – Shelby-negotiated bill passes Senate that would give Trump additional $4.59 billion to combat border crisis
YellowHammer News – Sewell: Trump administration lying about justification for auto tariffs
Dothan Eagle – Two injuries reported at Wayne Farms in Dothan due to acid leak
Dothan Eagle -Dothan woman arrested in Enterprise burglary
Dothan Eagle – By 2023, DHS students may need two more credits to graduate
Tuscaloosa News – Man reunited with lost class ring more than 50 years later
Tuscaloosa News – Mayor to host community meeting at Druid City Brewing Co.
Decatur Daily – Point Mallard Parkway wreck kills Somerville woman
Decatur Daily – Collins says she would prefer that abortion ban exclude rape, incest
Decatur Daily – Morgan rescinds vote banning guns in annexes
Times Daily – Northwest- Shoals Community College employees taking vote of no confidence today on president
Times Daily – College Street railroad crossing in Leighton is closed
Times Daily – Scientists warn Alabamians of yellow jacket super nests
Gadsden Times – Wreck sends at least three to the hospital
Gadsden Times – Where to see fireworks this Fourth of July
Gadsden Times – Choir presents patriotic concert
Anniston Star – Man charged with assaulting officer, drug possession
Anniston Star – Witness testimony against man indicted in 2012 murder thrown out
Anniston Star – Oxford announces plan for new children’s museum near OPAC
Andalusia Star News – Best Western Opp Inn earned a national distinction
Andalusia Star News – DTF nets four drug arrests in last few days
Andalusia Star News – Alabama Department of Public Health joins its partners in observing National HIV Test Day
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika school board renews contracts for five principals
Opelika-Auburn News – Suspects in Opelika day care scam make court appearance, one enters plea agreement
Daily Mountain Eagle – ADEM asks for public comment on LeFleur’s job performance
Daily Mountain Eagle – CBD products being sold in Jasper
Daily Mountain Eagle – Water Works: ‘Drinking water remains safe’
Trussville Tribune – BREAKING: Former Trussville police officer computer tampering in capital murder case
Trussville Tribune – Man shot and killed in Riverchase Galleria parking deck
Trussville Tribune – Jeffco coroner ask public to help identify skeletal remains of white male
Athens News Courier – Sex offender arrested after failing to register
Athens News Courier – Teen indicted in Limestone shooting case
Athens News Courier – Europe sets heat records as much of continent sizzles
Sand Mountain Reporter – Local agencies seize 400 grams of meth in drug raid
Sand Mountain Reporter – Crossville Health and Rehabilitation therapy team named ‘Team of the Year’
Sand Mountain Reporter – ACCS receives $12 million grant | State’s academic institutions can expand apprenticeships, workforce development programs
WSFA Montgomery – MPS working to minimize impact of cuts to arts programs
WSFA Montgomery – Man shot, killed in parking deck of Riverchase Galleria
WSFA Montgomery – 18-year-old injured in Millbrook drive-by shooting
Fox 6 Birmingham – FIRST ALERT: Chance of afternoon storms continues through the weekend
Fox 6 Birmingham – Man shot, killed in parking deck of Riverchase Galleria
Fox 6 Birmingham – Planned water outage in Hanceville
WAFF Huntsville – Commission rescinds ban on guns at Morgan County annexes
WAFF Huntsville – FEMA puts TVA and local EMAs to the test
WAFF Huntsville – Ala. couple say wedding crasher stole charity donations for daughter fighting rare disorder
WKRG Mobile – A Florida dad dives over a fence to save his baby boy who fell into a pool
WKRG Mobile – Shooting investigation on Rester Road in Theodore
WKRG Mobile – One rescued from Mobile Bay, another person unaccounted for
WTVY Dothan – Multi-million dollar facility brings jobs to the Wiregrass
WTVY Dothan – Busted again. Is she a one woman crime wave?
WTVY Dothan – Two hospitalized after acid leak at Wayne Farms
WASHINGTON POST  – Democratic divides take center stage at first debate
WASHINGTON POST  – As Mueller reluctantly agrees to testify, Trump goes on the attack and Democrats hope for the best
WASHINGTON POST  – Appellate court raises potential new threat to ACA
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Wants to Cut Regulations That Block New Housing



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