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Daily News Digest – March 14, 2019

Presented by

The Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure

Good morning! There’s a spring squall coming through today. Be safe out there and listen for the sirens.
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, March 14.

1. Come into the weeds.


In our latest episode of “In the Weeds with Alabama Daily News,” ADN’s Caroline Beck and I…
  • Unpack the swift and smooth passage of Gov. Kay Ivey’s gas tax and infrastructure legislation;
  • Explore the different factors that played a big role in the plan’s success, namely the Port of Mobile provision going from a liability to an asset and unity among cities and counties for local allocations; and
  • Discuss what’s next for the Alabama Legislature as the Regular Session resumes on March 19, including the budgets and a proposed state lottery.
But more importantly, today’s episode features my interview with Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama’s 7th District. We talked about her increased responsibilities in Congress with Democrats assuming the House majority, her new role as Chief Deputy Whip within the caucus, and her spot as Chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence’s Defense and Warfighter Support Subcommittee. She also shared with me some of what makes her tic as a leader, so to speak.
So much news focuses on what drives the day, and this podcast allows us to dig into what drives the person.
I asked Rep. Sewell what was different about being in the majority now versus being in the minority all those years, particular when it comes to working with her Alabama Delegation colleagues.
Here’s a taste of what she said:
“Yeah, it was kind of fun to have my former law school classmate as President and my ‘big sister’ as First Lady… but I think the bigger point is that the Alabama Delegation, when it comes to working on behalf of our whole state on that which we all agree – like economic development and job creation – we put party aside and do that. And I just wish we as a nation could do that more.”
Check out the full episode online HERE and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. And you don’t offend me if you skip ahead to the parts you like or listen at 1.5x speed.
A special *thank you* to Rep. Sewell and her staff for graciously offering me the time during a very busy day.

2. Orr bringing inland port bill.

  • North Alabama Sen. Arthur Orr wants some money from Alabama’s recently approved gas tax increase used for improvements at the state’s public inland ports and for the possible creation of cargo transfer facilities.
  • His draft proposal, set to be filed when the Regular Session reconvenes, would take $10 million a year for 15 years from the gas tax increase and use it “to facilitate and coordinate inland port and transfer facility development, improvement, maintenance and construction,” according to a draft of the bill.
  • The gas tax and infrastructure plan will allocate nearly $12 million a year to the Port of Mobile, where it and federal money will pay for improvements to allow access by more and larger ships.
  • The Port of Mobile is already ranked 11th largest of the nation’s 60 deep-water seaports, according to the Alabama State Port Authority. When deepened and widened, the amount of cargo coming in and out Mobile will increase, Orr said.
  • “If that’s the case, you’re looking at a huge increase in river, rail and truck traffic,” Orr, R-Decatur, said Wednesday. “In the original bill we didn’t account for additional river traffic.”
  • This could get interesting.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



A message from

the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure

THANK YOU to Governor Kay Ivey and members of the Alabama House and Senate for supporting more jobs and increased safety on our roads by passing the Rebuild Alabama Act .
Rebuild Alabama provides much-needed infrastructure funding for our state, while incorporating strong accountability and oversight of the new funds.
Thanks to your courageous vote, the road to Alabama’s future will be paved!


3. Senate takes up border resolution.

  • The GOP-led Senate is set to deal President Donald Trump a rebuke on his declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border, with the only remaining question how many GOP senators will join Democrats in defying him.
  • Republicans are predicting that Thursday’s showdown vote will result in Congress sending Trump a resolution blocking the border emergency he proclaimed last month to steer an extra $3.6 billion to building border barriers.
  • Since the Democratic-controlled House approved the measure last month, the Senate vote would force Trump to veto the measure.
  • Trump tweeted early Thursday about “the big National Emergency vote today” in the Senate, saying, “I am prepared to veto, if necessary,” and called the situation at the border “a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare.”
  • Senate passage of the resolution was all but ordained Wednesday after the collapse of efforts by the White House and GOP senators to reach compromise on separate legislation by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, limiting presidents’ powers to declare emergencies in the future.
  • Read more HERE.


4. We’re not winning the cyber war.

  • Cyberattacks from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are increasingly sophisticated and, until recently, were done with little concern for the consequences, the top Pentagon cyber leaders told congressional leaders Wednesday.
  • Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, head of U.S. Cyber Command, laid out the escalating threats, following a Navy review released this week that described significant breaches of naval systems and concluded that, basically, we are losing the cyber war.
  • Nakasone said the U.S. is now prepared to use cyber operations more aggressively to strike back, as the nation faces growing cyberattacks and threats of interference in the 2020 presidential elections.
  • He said the military learned a lot working with other government agencies to thwart Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections, and the focus now has turned to the next election cycle.
  • The Navy report underscored long-known cyber threats from Russia and China that have plagued the U.S. government and its contractors for more than a decade. It said there were “several significant” breaches of classified Navy systems and that “massive amounts” of national security data have been stolen. The report laid out a number of recommendations to reduce cyber vulnerabilities across the Navy and make cybersecurity a higher priority.
  • Data has been stolen from key defense contractors and their suppliers, the report said, adding that “critical supply chains have been compromised in ways and to an extent yet to be fully understood.”
  • Kenneth Rapuano, the assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said the U.S. did not sufficiently respond to cyberattacks by other nations, particularly as the breaches did not rise to the level of a conventional military response.
  • He said that strategy is changing but officials also have a deliberate approval process for offensive cyber operations, including some that require presidential approval.
  • Really sobering stuff. Read the full story HERE.


5. News Briefs.

AG Marshall at the White House
  • Attorney General Steve Marshall was at the White House Wednesday briefing President Trump on the impact of drug trafficking at and between points of entry at the nation’s southern border.
  • “I want to thank President Trump for his willingness to listen to state and local law enforcement on the destructive toll that drug trafficking is taking on our communities and families in Alabama and elsewhere along America’s southern border,” Marshall said.
  • He was the only state attorney general to appear at the event, and spoke on behalf of the state law enforcement community.
  • “The reality is that drug trafficking in my state, and across this country, is largely the result of an unsecured border. By failing to address this, everybody should understand that we are setting up law enforcement for failure.”
  • Read more from Sean Ross HERE.
Inmate ends hunger strike
  • An Alabama inmate who refused food and drink during what he said was unjustified solitary confinement has ended his hunger strike.
  • News outlets report Robert Earl Council started the hunger strike last week at Holman Correctional Facility. Council’s attorney, David Gespass, says Council was moved Tuesday to Kilby Correctional Facility, where he is being medically examined and is expected to return to the general prison population.
  • Council was sentenced to life without parole in 1995 for murder. He was previously held at St. Clair Correctional Facility and transferred to solitary confinement in late February after a contraband search. Gespass says his client has spent more than four years in solitary confinement.
  • Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton says the agency does not disclose why inmates are moved.
China deal coming, and does that help markets?
  • President Donald Trump says the United States is in “a very good position” as it negotiates with China on a new trade agreement. Trump spoke on the state of negotiations shortly before a meeting with Republican senators on the trade issue. Trump also says the Chinese see a chance he could “walk away,” an obvious reference to his recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  • Stocks have closed higher on Wall Street, led by gains in health care and technology companies, giving the market its third straight gain. It’s been rebounding this week following its worst week since December. The S&P 500 rose 19 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,810 today. The Dow rose 148 points, or 0.6 percent, to 25,702. The Nasdaq rose 52 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,643 and the Russell 2000 picked up 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,555.
  • Oil prices are up. U.S. crude futures prices ended higher on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The near-month contract for the benchmark grade rose $1.39 — closing at $58.26 a barrel.


We have a problem
  • Can you peacefully and respectfully discuss politics with someone who has the opposite views as you?
  • Better yet, can you stand to be in the same room with someone like that?
  • An increasing – and alarming – share of Americans have grown to truly hate those of the opposing political party. And that hate is becoming a national crisis, writes National Review’s David French.
  • “…42 percent of the people in each party view the opposition as ‘downright evil.’ A stunning 20 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans believe ‘we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died.’ And if the opposing party wins the 2020 election, 18 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans ‘feel violence would be justified.'”
  • “There is simply no way to enjoy or cultivate a true culture of liberty without tolerating even terrible things. We human beings are messy mixtures of virtue and vice, and while there are vices so profound that they render a person unfit for presence in the public square, we should be very careful indeed before we try to punish a man for his thoughts. How many of history’s greatest artists — of its most interesting thinkers — would pass our modern partisan purity tests?”
  • Read his full piece HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds: How the gas tax passed, what’s next in the Legislature, and Congresswoman Terri Sewell
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Orr proposes gas tax funding for inland ports
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US warns of sophisticated cyberattacks from Russia, China
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP senators appear ready to block Trump border declaration
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – How the Senate voted: Ivey signs gas tax increase into law
AL.COM  – Poarch Creek Indians deliver $184K check to cover Alabama tornado victims’ funerals
AL.COM  – Toyota donates $1 million to fight poverty in Alabama, D.C.
AL.COM  – Guns in church? Alabama bill resurfaces
AL.COM  – Genetic research scientist leaves Huntsville for Michigan
AL.COM  – Alabama inmate moved, ends hunger strike
AL.COM  – Elizabeth Warren to campaign in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi
AL.COM  – Ex-Gov. Robert Bentley takes aim at gas tax
Montgomery Advertiser – ‘It never happened’: Defendant takes stand in Elmore child sex trial
Montgomery Advertiser – Facebook, Instagram were down most of Wednesday around the globe for many users
Montgomery Advertiser – 16-year-old boy faces arson charges after fire in downtown Montgomery apartment building
YellowHammer News – Amid trade friction, Alabama exports approach record total in 2018
YellowHammer News – SEC donates $100,000 to Auburn University for tornado relief
YellowHammer News – Former state senator: A deal on Medicaid expansion has been cut, may include lottery
Dothan Eagle – After decades without them, Dothan radio station retakes iconic WDIG call letters
Dothan Eagle – Joshua Steven Nance sentenced to 20 years for the 2016 shooting death of Paxton Kennedy
Tuscaloosa News – One killed, one wounded in 29th Street shooting
Tuscaloosa News – Severe weather possible Thursday afternoon, evening
Tuscaloosa News – Prosecution rests in Samantha Payne murder trial
Decatur Daily – Orr proposes gas tax funding for inland ports
Decatur Daily – Jackson objects to proposed questionnaire on request for city donation
Decatur Daily – Some see alcohol sales as way to offset Lawrence financial woes
Decatur Daily – Art classes provide unexpected benefits at Morgan school
Times Daily – Police: There are no suspects at large in shooting
Times Daily – Lauderdale damage assessment far above qualifying mark
Times-Daily – Orr proposes gas tax funding for inland ports
Gadsden Times – Worlds of Work career fair shows varied options to students
Gadsden Times – Gadsden Civil Service Board meets Tuesday
Gadsden Times – Woman arrested for chemical endangerment
Anniston Star – Oxford man charged with dealing heroin
Anniston Star – Second man indicted in Piedmont shooting
Anniston Star – Anniston woman hit by truck, killed
Troy Messenger – Alabama farmers talk trade, farm bill during capital visit
Troy Messenger – SEAGD ‘gives back’ with donation to Pike County Schools
Troy Messenger – County seeks more cost-effective meal service for inmates
Andalusia Star News – Sheriff terminates jail employees
Andalusia Star News – SARA tenants still plan local jobs
Andalusia Star News – 35-year-old fails to register as sex offender
Opelika-Auburn News – ‘We have the best people’: Lee County sheriff recognizes first responders
Opelika-Auburn News – LEE COUNTY TORNADO–LIVE UPDATES: 1:45 p.m. Wednesday II: Macy’s donates $20,000 to Red Cross; EMA updates drop-off, pick-up sites
Opelika-Auburn News – Police reports from March 13
Daily Mountain Eagle – Mayor expects Tier 1 plants from Mazda-Toyota
Daily Mountain Eagle – New policy prompts amusing fundraiser
Daily Mountain Eagle – Dollar General builds in Eldridge
Trussville Tribune – Man killed in drive-by shooting in Birmingham
Trussville Tribune – TRAFFIC ALERT: I-20 ramp to I-59/20 CLOSED
Trussville Tribune – Former Oneonta police officer pleads guilty to having sex with child
Athens News Courier – Three arrested in Ardmore drug bust
Athens News Courier – DONE DEAL: Local lawmakers explain support of gas tax
Sand Mountain Reporter – Illegal immigrant accused of rape, child sexual abuse in Marshall County
Sand Mountain Reporter – Crossville man charged with murder of girlfriend
WSFA Montgomery – FIRST ALERT: Here comes the front
WSFA Montgomery – ALDOT spokesman talks gas tax impact for roads
WSFA Montgomery – AU sends out alert after report of attempted armed robbery
Fox 6 Birmingham – Man killed, 2nd victim critically injured in Tuscaloosa shooting
Fox 6 Birmingham – Elderly woman rescued by Birmingham Police K9
Fox 6 Birmingham – Growing Kings mentoring group receives $100,000 to tackle gun violence in Birmingham
WAFF Huntsville – Body found near Buck’s Pocket identified as teen who was swept away in floodwaters
WAFF Huntsville – Family of 5 displaced after house fire on Flagstone Drive in Madison
WAFF Huntsville – 14-year-old Sparkman High School student reported missing
WKRG Mobile – 3 dead in Mobile murder-suicide identified
WKRG Mobile – MISSING: Mobile Police search for missing woman
WKRG Mobile – Attorney: 7-year-old sexually assaulted at Shalimar Elementary School
WTVY Dothan – Superintendent Edwards gives DCS updates
WTVY Dothan – Alabama gas tax: How did your legislator vote?
WASHINGTON POST  – Senate on cusp of passing rebuke to Trump on national emergency declaration.
WASHINGTON POST  – Military to begin enforcing Trump’s restrictions on transgender troops.
NEW YORK TIMES  – ‘What Does It Take?’: Admissions Scandal Is a Harsh Lesson in Racial Disparities
NEW YORK TIMES  – Paul Manafort’s Prison Sentence Is Nearly Doubled to 7½ Years
NEW YORK TIMES  – F.D.A. Moves to Restrict Flavored E-Cigarette Sales to Teenagers
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump’s Proposed Budget Undermines His H.I.V. Plan, Experts Say

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