In case you missed it, I had Dr. Joe Morton of the Business Education Alliance on Capitol Journal last night. Plus, Randy and Karen and I had a fun panel discussion about the second half of the session. Watch online HERE or listen to the podcast HERE.
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, March 1.
1. Inside Alabama Politics
- Judicial allocation issue could come to a head;
- Albritton bringing gambling options to Senate;
- Senate puts more reporting requirements in 2023 budget;
- Some in House wary of possible ‘death tax’;
- AEA’s influence grows in House;
- Gun bill rankles House GOP Caucus;
- Ballot access and the Republican Party
- Updated House & Senate race lists
2. What’s on tap
- The 2023 education budget and related bills will get their first votes today when the House Ways and Means Education Committee meets at 11 a.m. Aside from the $8.3 billion budget, there’s a 4% raise for education employees and a one-time bonus for retirees.
- The Senate education budget committee meets at 2 p.m. It will take up Sen. Arthur Orr’s numeracy bill aimed at improving math education in elementary schools. Unlike the 2019 Literacy Act, it does not have a holdback requirement. Orr told Alabama Daily News a substitute bill is expected today.
- Speaking of the Literacy Act, Rep. Terri Collins’ bill making changes — but not delaying the third-grade holdback requirement — is also in that Senate committee today. There’s more on that in today’s Inside Alabama Politics.
- Senate Government Affairs meets at 1 p.m. and has some meaty legislation on it’s 16-bill agenda, including efforts to abolish the state auditor’s office, make municipalities report annually on revenue they generate from fines and fees (think Brookside) and rein in some of the powers of the state health officer.
- Sen. Arthur Orr’s Senate Bill 225 says in a public health emergency, any action by the health officer to “restrict, limit, or otherwise burden the conduct of private citizens or businesses” may not take effect unless the governor signs off on the order.
- The House comes in at 1:30 this afternoon, the Senate at 2:30.
A message from
3. Report shows COVID-19 hit Black Belt harder
- COVID-19-related deaths have been significantly higher in Alabama’s Black Belt region than in other portions of the state, a report released today says.
- “The emergence of the COVID-19 virus in March 2020 has amplified historically rooted disparities between urban and rural communities,” the study from the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center said. “The disparities exist across a wide scope of public policy areas and are even more pronounced in rural, persistent-poverty counties.”
- The report found there were an average of 218 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020 for the 25 Black Belt counties, almost 30% greater than the average of 168 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 in the non-Black Belt counties.
- The report is a continuation of the EPC’s Black Belt 2020 series that showed how the Black Belt’s population decline, school enrollment decline, persistent unemployment and lack of labor force participation all feed into the closure of rural hospitals.
- Read more from ADN’s Heather Gann HERE.
4. Russia pummels Ukraine’s No. 2 city as convoy nears Kyiv
- Russia’s war on Ukraine is now in its sixth day, with a miles-long convoy of Russian tanks and armored vehicles inching closer to the Ukrainian capital and fighting intensifying on the ground.
- Russia on Tuesday stepped up shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, pounding civilian targets there. Casualties mounted and reports emerged that more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian artillery recently hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, the capital.
- But Ukrainian fighters are putting up a fierce resistance and surprisingly, Russia has not been able to dominate the skies. There are increasing fears that as Russia becomes more isolated under an avalanche of Western sanctions, Vladimir Putin could become even more reckless and set off a world-altering war.
- With Western powers sending weapons to Ukraine and driving a global squeeze of Russia’s economy, Putin’s options diminished as he seeks to redraw the global map — and pull Ukraine’s western-leaning democracy back into Moscow’s orbit.
- “I believe Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method,” Zelenskyy said late Monday in a video address, referring to stepped-up shelling. He did not offer details of the talks between Ukrainian and Russian envoys, but he said Kyiv was not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting another with rocket artillery.”
- Read more about the latest in Ukraine HERE.
5. Biden steps to State of the Union lectern at fraught moment
- Facing disquiet at home and danger abroad, President Joe Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address at a precipitous moment for the nation, aiming to navigate the country out of a pandemic, reboot his stalled domestic agenda and confront Russia’s aggression.
- The speech tonight had initially been conceived by the White House as an opportunity to highlight the improving coronavirus outlook and rebrand Biden’s domestic policy priorities as a way to lower costs for families grappling with soaring inflation. But it has taken on new significance with last week’s Russian invasion of Ukraine and nuclear saber-rattling by Vladimir Putin.
- Biden, in his remarks, planned to highlight the bravery of Ukrainian defenders and the resolve of a newly reinvigorated Western alliance that has worked to rearm the Ukrainian military and impose sanctions on Russia to cripple its economy.
- Biden will take the speaker’s rostrum as Americans are frustrated with his performance as president. A February AP-NORC poll found that more people disapproved than approved of how Biden is handling his job as president, 55% to 44%. That’s down from a 60% favorable rating last July.
- That poll is on the generous end. A Washington Post / ABC News poll showed that just 37% of Americans approved of Biden’s job performance while 55% disapproved.
- White House officials acknowledge that the mood of the country is “sour,” citing the lingering pandemic and inflation as sources of blame.
- Biden aides say they believe the national psyche is a “trailing indicator” and will improve with time. But time is running short for the president, who needs to salvage his first-term agenda to revive the political fortunes of his party ahead of November’s midterm elections.
- Read more from Zeke Miller and Colleen Long HERE.
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ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Inside Alabama Politics – March 1, 2022
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – What’s on tap – Tuesday, March 1, 2022
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Report shows COVID-19 hit Black Belt harder
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Russia-Ukraine War: What to know on Day 6 of Russian assault
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden steps to State of the Union lectern at fraught moment
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama COVID hospitalizations plummet
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ukraine slows Russian advance under shadow of nuclear threat
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill creates state grants for free feminine hygiene products in Title 1 schools
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – MoonPies and Merry Widows: Mardi Gras hits Mobile
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Albritton: Gambling bills could drop soon
AL.COM – New Alabama law means federal COVID benefits won’t increase state income taxes
AL.COM – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey orders Russian liquor removed from ABC stores
AL.COM – Target starting pay raised to $24 per hour
AL.COM – Russian hackers could launch cyberattack against Huntsville, researcher says
AL.COM – Birmingham area relies on international migration to keep from shrinking
AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith: Fly, Ghost of Kyiv, Fly!
AL.COM – Inside one of Alabama’s only Black history high school classes: What is taught?
AL.COM – BA.2 omicron variant: 2 new COVID symptoms reported
AL.COM – World Games bans Russian athletes
Montgomery Advertiser – Alcohol Beverage Control Board removes Russian-made liquor from Alabama shelves
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery megachurch Frazer United Methodist votes to change affiliation, join Free Methodists
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Why rent prices are so high and what can be done about it
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Potential scammers looking to capitalize on chaos in the Ukraine
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Impaired driver faces felony charges in fatal crash that killed mom of four in Northport
Tuscaloosa News – Alcohol Beverage Control Board removes Russian-made liquor from Alabama shelves
Tuscaloosa News – Spring break camps in Tuscaloosa offer learning opportunities for kids
Tuscaloosa News – Tripp Powell exits race, will not seek Alabama Senate 21 seat as independent
Times Daily – True story reflects on consequences, redemption
Anniston Star – Anniston Changers takes its labors to Blue Mountain
Anniston Star – 5K run held in support of RMC nurse with ALS
YellowHammer News – Freedom from ‘offensive’ speech: State deems Oneonta man’s license plate unacceptable
YellowHammer News – Madison County’s law enforcement investment aims to keep up with growth
YellowHammer News – Alabama Forestry Association announces third round of House endorsements
Gadsden Times – After 2-year delay, Gadsden to host RAM Clinic with free medical care; volunteers needed
Gadsden Times – Coroner: One dead in Marshall County shooting; one in custody
Gadsden Times – PET OF THE WEEK: Sweet Regis would be lovely addition to family
Dothan Eagle – Russia’s ruble plummets, central bank hikes key rate from 8.5% to 20%
Dothan Eagle – Live updates: UN: More than half a million have fled Ukraine
Dothan Eagle – Ukraine slows Russian advance under shadow of nuclear threat
Opelika-Auburn News – Man kills 3 daughters, 1 other, himself at California church
Opelika-Auburn News – New Orleans hosts its 1st full-dress Mardi Gras since 2020
Opelika-Auburn News – MLB pushes labor-deal deadline to Tuesday for March 31 start
WSFA Montgomery – Downtown Montgomery lights up in solidarity with Ukraine
WSFA Montgomery – Watch WSFA’s ‘Sitting for Justice’ documentary
WSFA Montgomery – 2 killed in early Friday morning Montgomery crash
WAFF Huntsville – The World Games 2022 Birmingham Organizing Committee bans Russian and Belarusian athletes
WAFF Huntsville – Ala. ABC stores pulling Russian liquor following Gov. Ivey’s request
WKRG Mobile – Deputies: Man kills 3 children, 1 woman during supervised visit at Sacramento-area church
WKRG Mobile – Russia-Ukraine War: What to know on Day 6 of Russian assault
WKRG Mobile – Big tech grapples with Russian state media, propaganda
WTVY Dothan – 15 Years Later: News 4 looks back on deadly Enterprise tornado
WTVY Dothan – PHOTO GALLERY: Enterprise Tornado Anniversary
WTVY Dothan – Southeast Health lowers visitation level
WASHINGTON POST – Russian invasion escalates as massive convoy nears Kyiv and Kharkiv assaulted
WASHINGTON POST – Russian bombardment of Ukraine’s second-largest city intensifies as talks fail to yield breakthrough
WASHINGTON POST – In a Kyiv under siege, neighbors dig trenches and raise barriers to brace for Russian assault
NEW YORK TIMES – Watching the War in Ukraine, Taiwanese Draw Lessons in Self-Reliance
NEW YORK TIMES – In State of the Union, Biden Will Focus on Economy and Global Response to Russia
NEW YORK TIMES – As Infrastructure Money Flows, Mitch Landrieu Must Straddle Partisan Divide
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Blockade on Russia Central Bank Neutralizes Defense Against Sanctions, U.S. Says
WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Positioned to Withstand Economic Shock From Ukraine Crisis
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Western Companies Pull Back From Russia in Response to Ukraine Invasion, Sanctions
Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)