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Daily News Digest – March 15, 2018


Good morning! Beware the Ides of March! Seriously, if I was a benevolent tyrant who had just taken over a republic, I wouldn’t even bother showing up to work today. Here is your Daily News for Thursday, March 15. 

1. Man, this Russia spy stuff is crazy

“Would you care for some te-“

“No no, we’re fine!”

h/t @JohnNoonan

  • Russia is apparently killing spies left and right.
  • As I type it, that’s like the least surprising sentence ever written. But, this isn’t a movie, and the real-world consequences are setting in.
  • U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley called Russia to account for its actions. So did White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders (eventually).
  • But, what stands out to me is current CIA chief and soon-to-be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement:

“I’ve become extremely concerned about Russia,” Pompeo said. “We spent most of last year investing a lot into attempts to work together, to solve problems, to address differences. And quite frankly, after a year, we didn’t get very far. Instead what we’ve seen is a pivot on their part to be more aggressive.”

Read more here.

2. A big win for the financial industry

  • The U.S. Senate last night passed a major reform to the financial regulatory law known as Dodd-Frank.
  • Enacted in the wake of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Dodd-Frank was supposed to crack down on abuses on Wall Street.
  • BUT, the law ended up hurting many community banks and credit unions by imposing impractical, impossible regulations.
  • Last night’s passage of Dodd-Frank reform is a big deal because it was previously thought that no bank regulatory roll back bill could survive a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.
  • Now, it’s pretty likely a real reform bill will be enacted, which is a huge win for banks, credit unions, and the businesses and farmers that depend on them.
  • Sen. Richard Shelby, who presided as Chairman of the Banking Committee during much of the deliberation over reforming Dodd-Frank, had this to say:

“Passage of this bill helps to ensure common-sense regulatory relief to community banks and credit unions, unlocking the chains of stagnation that have halted the growth of small businesses across our nation.  I have proudly supported these efforts for nearly a decade and am encouraged that we are making progress to help Main Street.”

Read more here.


New video shows the cost of doing nothing on roads…

  • Be sure to check out the cool new video from the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure making the case for financially-responsible infrastructure investments.
  • President Trump has made investing in infrastructure a top priority,” the narrator says. “Alabama lawmakers must do the same because Alabama’s infrastructure doesn’t make the grade.”
  • More jobs, enhanced public safety, and a better quality of life are some of the benefits of solving Alabama’s infrastructure problem.
  • But, raising awareness about Alabama’s transportation needs and informing the public about potential solutions is critical.
  • For information on how you can become a partner in the AAI coalition, contact AAI Executive Director Drew Harrell.

3. Who’s right on ethics?


  • Over the weekend and into this week, Ethics Commission Director Tom Albritton made waves by coming out pretty strongly against a Department of Commerce bill aimed at fixing a looming legal problem for economic developers.
  • Why? Because when the Attorney General’s office insisted on and got changes to the bill tightening up the prohibition against public officials attempting to claim exemptions, and then the bill passed overwhelmingly on the House floor, many assumed the problems had been worked out.
  • So, when Albritton called it a “bad bill,” it got a little awkward.
  • You know what’s even more awkward? Ethics Commission Chairman Jerry Fielding telling lawmakers in a public hearing yesterday that he and “four out of five” of his fellow commissioners support the bill.
  • That’s like the CEO of a company disagreeing with the chairman and other members of the board.


  • I wasn’t surprised to see Chairman Fielding support the bill because he told me about the need for it when I talked to him back in January.
  • One piece of this story folks seem to forget is that, back in August, the Ethics Commission was ready to rule that all economic developers should be treated as lobbyists under the ethics code. But, knowing what a problem that might create for industrial recruiting, commissioners decided to hold off and give the Legislature time to address the problem. You can read my original reporting on the bill from back then.
  • It also shouldn’t be surprising that Director Albritton isn’t for the bill. He advocated for a different approach: essentially having site selectors come register secretly with him. That sounds reasonable, but industry recruiters said forcing site selectors to register with the government would be enough to spook them away, so they went a different route.


  • Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh wants to sit down with Commerce, the AG’s office, and the Ethics Commission to figure out what’s what.
  • Who is right? I happen to think all involved have good intentions. They just disagree on the proper policy.
  • It’s not like one side is ethical and the other side is a bunch of crooks, or one side wants to create jobs and the other hates money.
  • As Arthur Brooks reminds us upon his retirement after a decade leading the American Enterprise Institute, the person on the other side of the debate is not your mortal enemy.
  • “Bad money drives out good,” Brooks writes. “When half-baked 280-character opinions and tiny hits of click-fueled dopamine displace one’s hard-earned training and vocation, it’s a lousy trade.”
  • I think they’ll work something out.

4. Which gun / school safety approach will prevail?

  • Yesterday, the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee heard from more supporters and opponents of the two primary gun / school safety measures being considered this session:  Rep. Will Ainsworth’s bill to allow properly-trained teachers and administrators to carry firearms; and Rep. Allen Farley’s bill to allow law enforcement to train and deputize anonymous ‘marshals’ to help secure campuses.
  • Read more about the public hearing and what was said here.
  • A vote on both measures could happen as soon as this morning – but I don’t expect that to happen.
  • Look for the bill sponsors and other interested parties to come to some kind of compromise. They could have something as soon as today, or just carry the bills over and wait until next week.

5. Rumors & Rumblings: Leaving early

  • The conventional wisdom has been that the Legislature will adjourn sine die early this year – by the end of the month, actually.
  • The budgets – the Legislature’s primary responsibilities – will likely be passed and signed within the next ten days. That’s when many want to call it a quadrennium and get on back home to run for reelection.
  • However, some lawmakers – including several in the House GOP Caucus – are not happy about the prospect of leaving early if their bills haven’t been given a fair chance to pass.
  • Some are also concerned about the optics of adjourning early. Giving chronic critics of the Legislature more material to beat them over the head with isn’t wise, they tell me. 
  • Aside from the whole getting home thing, extending the session does carry risks for leadership. After the budgets pass, the legislative hurdle known as the Budget Isolation Resolution will disappear, making it a lot easier to pass legislation. There are many influential people in the State House who aren’t eager to make it easier for legislation to pass
  • There’s also the possibility the session could devolve into a dramatic sideshow – something they’ve tried to avoid all this time.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Man shoots 2 before killing himself at Birmingham hospital 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Man convicted of killing boss set to be executed in Alabama

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Harper Lee estate sues over Broadway version of “Mockingbird”

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Man who claimed he buried Natalie Holloway stabbed to death

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill to arm teachers draws support, fire

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill requiring police to record race data clears committee

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Armed teacher bills spark debate in Alabama House committee.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Peaceful protest as a lesson in civics.

AL.COM – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says student protests ‘noble,’ but frowns on school walkouts.

AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith:  Walking past Homeless Jesus.

AL.COM – Kay Ivey meets with Mazda, Toyota executives.

AL.COM – Alabama ranks 49th among states employing people with disabilities.

AL.COM – ‘Kicked out of homes’? Worries over Alabama bill favoring landlords is overblown, says sponsor.

AL.COM – Alabama AG responds to request for stay of execution from U.S. Supreme Court.

AL.COM – Public weighs in on arming teachers, school security teams.

AL.COM – Lawmakers say Alabama’s Child Care Safety Act will pass Thursday.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Former Congressman Terry Everett endorses Barry Moore.

DECATUR DAILY – Local students take a stand against school violence.

DECATUR DAILY – Tillerson dismissal part of ‘chaos’.

DECATUR DAILY – Bill would allow for more city managers in Alabama.

DECATUR DAILY – Church ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill advances.

FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Florence students “walk up” in memorial to Parkland shooting victims.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – McFarland drops out of House 61 race.

GADSDEN TIMES – Some local students participate in school violence walkout.

GADSDEN TIMES – Bill could ease way for alcohol sales at nonprofit events.

ANNISTON STAR – As some sheriffs face scrutiny over inmate food money, Calhoun County’s jail kitchen is funded by commission.

WASHINGTON POST – Senate passes rollback of banking rules enacted after financial crisis.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump Cabinet members accused of living large at taxpayer expense.

NEW YORK TIMES – Conor Lamb Wins Pennsylvania House Seat, Giving Democrats a Map for Trump Country

NEW YORK TIMES – National School Walkout: Thousands Protest Against Gun Violence Across the U.S.

NEW YORK TIMES – Flush Over Tax Cuts, Trump Says ‘Phase 2’ Is Coming

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