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Daily News Digest – March 10, 2020

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Good morning!
It’s Day 11 of 30 for the 2020 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. And the March 31 primary runoff elections are 21 days away.
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, March 10.



1. New poll shows Tuberville leading Sessions in Senate runoff

  • A new poll shows former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville with a double-digit lead over former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Republican runoff for U.S. Senate.
  • The survey was conducted by Cygnal, whose founder and CEO Brent Buchanan has been polling in Alabama and national politics for years.
  • Beyond the ballot test, there are two key findings in this survey: (1) the percentage of voters who believe that President Donald Trump opposes Sessions in this race, and (2) how Bradley Byrne voters are breaking in the runoff between Tuberville and Sessions.
  • Read the full story with top lines and cross tabs from me HERE.


2. After Monday stock plunge, attempts to calm markets

  • Global stock markets are rebounding Tuesday from record-setting declines after President Donald Trump said he would ask Congress for a tax cut and other measures to ease the pain of the spreading coronavirus outbreak.
  • Oil prices also recovered some of their losses in Monday’s record-setting plunge.
  • On Wall Street, which suffered its biggest one-day drop since the 2008 global crisis on Monday, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index picked up 3.9% and the contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.8%.
  • Monday’s global selloff reflected alarm over economic damage from the coronavirus that emerged in China in December. Anti-disease controls that shut down Chinese factories are spreading as the United States and European countries close schools, cancel public events and impose travel controls.
  • The drop in U.S. stock prices was so sharp that it triggered Wall Street’s first trading halt in more than two decades. But Trump’s comment that he will seek relief for workers as ripple effects of the outbreak spread gave some investors an excuse to resume buying.
  • “This is not like the financial crisis where we don’t know the end is in sight,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This is about providing proper tools and liquidity to get through the next few months.”
  • Read more about the economic situation HERE.
  • Read more about Trump’s proposed payroll tax cut HERE.




A message from


Success Plus is Alabama’s program for improving the statewide level of education beyond high school.
Whether it’s a degree earned in a four-year or community college, a professional certification or a credential, this additional preparation creates improved opportunities for Alabamians to better their lives by participating in the workforce.
It also ensures that Alabama businesses can continue to grow with the highly skilled workforce they need.





3. Bill would allow teachers back into the Legislature

  • At least one GOP lawmaker thinks it’s time to allow teachers back into the Alabama Legislature.
  • House Bill 377 by Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, would undo part of a law enacted after the 2010 Republican takeover of the State House. It prohibits state employees, including educators, from “double dipping” by becoming lawmakers. After 2014, it kept K-12 educators and those in the two- and four-year college systems from serving in the Legislature.
  • The ban was enacted after the two-year college scandal of the late 2000s that saw the Chancellor Roy Johnson and multiple lawmakers jailed on corruption charges. Brett Blackledge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation for The Birmingham News revealed that some lawmakers were employed by state community colleges in jobs with large paychecks, but little work.
  • Republicans seized on the high-profile scandal in the election of 2010 and based their “double dipping” ban on accusations of political patronage within the system.
  • Dismukes’ bill only applies to K-12 educators, not college or university employees. He said he wanted to look at K-12 first, then perhaps expand the law.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


4. Column: After education vote, what now?

  • Like many political observers, I was not surprised to see the education ballot initiative defeated last Tuesday, but I was surprised by the drastic margin.
  • How could it be that a plan that passed with large majorities in the Legislature (78-21 in the House, 30-0 in the Senate) could be so roundly rejected by the people those lawmakers represent?
  • It suggests a major disconnect, one which both parties are responsible for fixing.
  • The people want to keep their ability to vote on the state school board? Fine. Pay attention and do a better job of using that vote to hold leaders accountable.
  • State leaders want to find a way forward on education? Better find a way to communicate back home because, inevitably, changes are going to require a vote of the people.
  • Anyway, I wrote a column about the whole thing.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
Vox Populi, Vox Dei
“The voice of the people is the voice of God”
This is an old political proverb that tracks all the way back to the days of Charlemagne in the 9th century. In a more modern context it means that politicians should obey the will of the people as if it was the will of the Almighty. 
The voice of the people was heard loud and clear last week as voters roundly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have moved the state’s education governance structure from an elected school board to a commission appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. By a 75-25% margin, voters said “no” to this plan…
Vox Populi, Vox Dei
The problem with that proverb is that it’s largely rubbish…
  • Read my full column HERE.



5. News Briefs


Seeking trial delay, sheriff makes false COVID-19 claim

  • ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — Lawyers for a longtime Alabama sheriff seeking a delay in his Monday theft trial wrongly claimed the officer was being tested for the illness caused by a new coronavirus.
  • With Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely set to go on trial on felony charges, his attorneys told a judge in a court document filed Friday he was hospitalized and being tested for COVID-19.
  • But testimony during a rare Saturday hearing showed the 69-year-old Blakely wasn’t being tested for the illness, and Circuit Judge Judge Pride Tompkins criticized the defense for making claims that could cause a public panic, The News Courier of Athens reported.
  • “I don’t know what your tactic is, but it’s condemned by the court,” Tompkins said. “And the court won’t tolerate it.”
  • Full story HERE.

Assistant fire chief accused of taking $13K from department

  • EVA, Ala. (AP) — The assistant fire chief in a small Alabama town was accused of stealing about $13,000 from the volunteer department.
  • Bryan Adam Burns, 33, was arrested by authorities in Morgan County on Friday, news outlets reported. He’s facing a felony theft of property charge, the sheriff’s office said in a news release Monday.
  • The Oden Ridge Volunteer Fire Department reported the unauthorized withdrawal of cash and purchases from its department debit card last month, the sheriff’s office said. The department is located in Eva, a town of approximately 500 people located about 35 miles (56 kilometers) southwest of Huntsville.
  • Burns turned himself in and was booked on a $5,000 bond. It was unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak for him.

City councilman accused of slaying wife during argument

  • CARBON HILL, Ala. (AP) — A city councilman in Alabama has been arrested and accused of killing his wife during an argument, authorities said.
  • Carbon Hill city councilman Robert Perry Warren, 51, was charged Monday with manslaughter in the death of 51-year-old Lisa Warren, news outlets reported.
  • Lisa Warren was last seen on Feb. 24 and Robert Warren reported her missing the next day.
  • Carbon Hill Police Chief Eric House said Robert Warren led authorities to his wife’s body. Police found her floating in a creek Saturday.
  • Court documents said the couple got into an argument on Feb. 25. During the fight, Robert Warren pushed Lisa Warren backward, which caused her to fall and hit her head, the documents said. She later died. An autopsy is pending.
  • The couple had been married for about 20 years. Robert Warren was appointed to the Carbon Hill City Council last year.
  • Additional charges could be added pending the ongoing investigation.

4-year-old red panda dies at Birmingham Zoo

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — One of the two red pandas at an Alabama zoo has died, the zoo said Monday.
  • The Birmingham Zoo said in a news release that Parker, a 4-year-old male red panda, was found dead Sunday morning. There there was no sign of physical injuries or illness and an examination didn’t immediately reveal the cause of death, the zoo said, adding that more test results were pending.
  • There were no signs of illness in its other red panda, a 9-year-old female named Sorrel, the zoo said.
  • Red pandas, much smaller than black and white pandas, grow to about the size of large house cats, with long bushy tails. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund list the red panda, which is native to Asia, as an endangered species.






A message from the

Business Council of Alabama

Don’t miss the latest installment of the BCA member driven Webinar series on 3.13.20 at 10:00 a.m.
This installment of BCA’s ProTip is brought to you by Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP and The University of Alabama, with guest presenters Bruce Ely and Karen Miller.



Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)







ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New poll shows Tuberville leading Sessions in Alabama Senate runoff

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stacy Column: After eduction vote, what now?

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmaker: Teachers should be allowed in Legislature

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump wants payroll tax relief to calm virus-spooked markets

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Global stocks steady after plunge on virus, oil crash

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Seeking trial delay, sheriff makes false COVID-19 claim

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers want electronic monitoring of inmates off ADOC property

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would lift yoga ban in schools

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – March 9, 2020

AL.COM – Alabama tourism official blasts State Department over cruise ship warning


AL.COM – Senator wants to rewrite ‘toothless’ Alabama public records law


AL.COM – Alabama tested about 20 people for coronavirus, no cases so far


AL.COM – Alabama-born ‘reformed racist’ politician Tom Turnipseed dead at 83


AL.COM – Hangout Fest ‘moving forward’ as industry grapples with coronavirus worries


AL.COM – Bloomberg donates to black voter registration effort in Alabama


AL.COM – It’s official: Alabama had its wettest winter on record


AL.COM – Assistant chief charged with theft from Alabama fire department

Montgomery Advertiser – They’re back: After 2 years, Montgomery Public Schools system regains full accreditation

Montgomery Advertiser – Police launch death investigation in early morning shooting death

Montgomery Advertiser – Free night of world-class opera moves to Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

YellowHammer News – Mo Brooks: Congress going into recess over the coronavirus sends the wrong message

YellowHammer News – 4-year-old red panda dies at Birmingham Zoo

YellowHammer News – Chris Pringle endorses Jerry Carl for Congress

Tuscaloosa News – Prices announced for Old Dominion concert tickets

Tuscaloosa News – Jury acquits man accused of shooting into a home

Tuscaloosa News – Mental health bills advance in Alabama Legislature

Decatur Daily – Morgan commission to appeal tax ruling

Decatur Daily – Ivey discusses coronavirus, sewer overflows during visit

Decatur Daily – Lawmakers want electronic monitoring of inmates off ADOC property

Times Daily – Florence police chief defends loitering arrests

Times Daily – Colbert County EMA, Sheriff’s Department developing public safety app

Times Daily – Lawmakers want electronic monitoring of inmates off ADOC property

Anniston Star – How to watch a mountain bike race: For NICA fans, the trick is finding the right spot

Anniston Star – Despite virus worries, Kiwanis Pancake Day draws crowd

Dothan Eagle – Houston County arrests: March 6-8, 2020

Dothan Eagle – The preventable death of an asylum seeker in a solitary cell

Dothan Eagle – Southeast Health implements visitor restrictions amid virus worries

Troy Messenger – County deals with rain fallout

Troy Messenger – School officials monitoring coronavirus spread

Gadsden Times – Southside mayor won’t seek re-election

Gadsden Times – 172 warrants served in roundup effort

Gadsden Times – Probe of women’s cause of death, next of kin continues

Andalusia Star News – Sheriff: Agencies give 77 tickets during safety checkpoint

Opelika-Auburn News – Early morning Opelika shooting leaves one injuried

Opelika-Auburn News – ‘Several’ lawmakers had contact with person who got COVID-19

Opelika-Auburn News – Police reports from March 9

Daily Mountain Eagle – Councilman in custody after wife’s missing body found

Daily Mountain Eagle – Jail officers trained as Smith plans for accreditation

Daily Mountain Eagle – Fall City Road, Nauvoo Road set for bidding

Trussville Tribune – City Fest on the Cahaba to play host to Trussville’s second Battle of the Bands

Trussville Tribune – Charles Barkley wants to build affordable housing in Leeds

Trussville Tribune – Bond revoked for St. Clair County man charged in grandfather’s death

Athens News Courier – Nursing homes face unique challenge with coronavirus

Athens News Courier – Oil plunges 25% as another virus-fueled trading week begins

Athens News Courier – Bill would lift yoga ban in schools, but don’t say namaste

Sand Mountain Reporter – Man fatally stabbed in Albertville | Suspect identified, charged

WSFA Montgomery – Defendant to stand trial for 2017 Prattville barbershop slayings

WSFA Montgomery – SEC alert when it comes to coronavirus concerns and the men’s basketball tournament

WSFA Montgomery – Pregnant youth pastor at Winston Co. church killed in crash, husband seriously injured

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Univ. of Alabama System issues travel policy for employees and students

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Lawmakers: Schools unfairly hurt by report cards’ treatment of non-English speakers

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Hale County EMA Director describes rescuing family of five Saturday

WAFF Huntsville – Univ. of Alabama System issues travel policy for employees and students

WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville International Airport taking precautions against germs

WAFF Huntsville – Woman murdered, man arrested in Jackson County

WKRG Mobile – Local church group quarantined for COVID-19 allowed home, lands in NYC

WKRG Mobile – Mobile Fire-Rescue responds to overnight fire, no injuries reported

WKRG Mobile – Tuberville denies Nexstar invitation, won’t debate Sessions

WTVY Dothan – Alabama still reporting no confirmed COVID-19 cases

WTVY Dothan – Attorney: Superintendent refuses to address teacher harassment

WTVY Dothan – Wiregrass school system plan for coronavirus outbreak

WASHINGTON POST – From tweet eruptions to economic steps, Trump struggles for calm amid market meltdown and coronavirus crisis

WASHINGTON POST – Coronavirus threatens to pose an unprecedented challenge to the 2020 elections

WASHINGTON POST – A virus threatening older Americans hits an older America

NEW YORK TIMES – In a Plan to Bring Yoga to Alabama Schools, Stretching Is Allowed. ‘Namaste’ Isn’t.

NEW YORK TIMES – Economy Faces ‘Tornado-Like Headwind’ as Financial Markets Spiral

NEW YORK TIMES – Strikes and Attack Ads: The Hard Road Other Countries Took to Single-Payer








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