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Daily News Digest – March 18, 2019

Presented by

The Economic Development Association of Alabama



Good Morning!
Here’s your Daily News for March 18, 2019

1. What’s Next.

The Alabama Legislature gavels in tomorrow to re-start its 2019 Regular Session. Sure, it feels like we’re half way finished after the special, but Tuesday will only be day two of the 30-day session.
So what’s on tap?
  1. The budgets. The Education Trust Fund and the General Fund are expected to be released by the Governor’s office and introduced in the Legislature on Tuesday. Both budgets are enjoying healthy revenues in this time of economic growth and are likely to set records for state appropriations. The debate will be over individual pots of money and how much gets allocated to various agencies. Gov. Kay Ivey is pursuing a four percent teacher pay raise and a $25 million increase for the state’s top-ranked First Class Pre-K program, among other things. In the General Fund, most of the conversation will be about how much the state can afford to allocate toward prisons, the state’s Medicaid system, and other perpetually under-funded programs.
  2. A lottery plan. State Sen. Jim McClendon this week plans to drop his legislation to create a state lottery. It would include two bills: a constitutional amendment that would go to a vote of the people and authorizing legislation ironing out the details. McClendon says his lottery plan will split revenues 50-50 between the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund.
  3. Ethics & economic development. Last year, the Legislature passed a law to prevent a potential pitfall in the ethics code that state officials said could prevent Alabama from being considered for economic development projects. But that law was made to be temporary and expires on April 1. The Alabama Department of Commerce has been working to develop legislation that would make those changes permanent.
This will be a three-day week in the Legislature, meaning lawmakers will meet to consider and vote on bills Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

2. Medicaid expansion?

  • When the gas tax and infrastructure bill passed the House, many Democrats weren’t shy about saying part of their support hinged on getting a conversation started with Gov. Kay Ivey on expanding the state’s Medicaid program.
  • The questions became: how serious are those conversations and how likely are we to see Medicaid expansion on the horizon?
  • ADN’s Mary Sell dug into this for her big weekend story.
  • Short version: yes, the conversation is real – perhaps more than ever. But, until there is some kind of new revenue source, it doesn’t seem financially feasible.
  • Mary and Caroline Beck talked to lawmakers from both parties, various stakeholders, plus gleaned the latest information from congressional proposals.
  • Read the full story HERE.
Without the Economic Development Professional’s Safe Harbor Act , any site selector who wants to inquire about bringing a company they represent to Alabama – like Mercedes, Toyota, Airbus, and others – would have to register as a lobbyist and disclose who they are representing. Because of the confidential nature of their work with the corporations they represent, they won’t register – they will just strike Alabama from their list of communities they are considering.
Together, we can keep Alabama on the list and continue to create success stories in our area. Connect with EDAA to learn more.

3. Common ground on criminal justice & occupational licensing reform

  • Two issues on which the political right and left are finding common ground on are criminal justice reform and occupational licensing reform.
  • In Alabama, a confluence is developing on those issues that could make for a unique reform push this legislative session.
  • Many who leave prison either on parole or after finishing their sentences face a mountain of obstacles that inhibit their ability to re-join the workforce and truly weave themselves back into society. Some of those obstacles are restrictions on those with criminal histories being eligible for licenses to work in certain regulated fields.
  • Some restrictions are probably necessary penalties. If you’re convicted of bribery, you shouldn’t be able to lobby again. If you’re convicted of stealing at work, maybe not But others could be unnecessarily punitive and ultimately not helpful, argues Dr. Ronald Fraser of the DKT Liberty Project.
  • In an op-ed for The Montgomery Advertiser, Fraser writes:
“Each ex-offender has a personal responsibility to make the lifestyle changes needed to successfully re-enter society. But, doesn’t society also have a responsibility to give wrongdoers the opportunity to make these changes and to become productive, law-abiding citizens? 
“When state legislatures erect legal barriers that make life after prison difficult, if not impossible, they are setting people with a criminal record up for failure — and a trip back to prison.”
  • Read the full column HERE.
  • Sen. Cam Ward has been the Legislature’s biggest proponent of criminal justice reform in recent years, so look for more from him on this subject soon.


4. 1999 murder, rape cases solved.

  • Authorities say a DNA match found through a genealogy website has led to an arrest in decades-old slaying and rape case.
  • 45-year-old Coley McCraney, of Dothan, was arrested Saturday and charged with rape and capital murder in the 1999 deaths of 17-year-olds Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley. Ozark police and Dale County Sheriff’s officials are scheduled to hold a press conference about the case today.
  • The girls left Dothan the night of July 3, 1999, to attend a party, but they never arrived. The pair was found the next day in the trunk of Beasley’s car alongside a road in Ozark, each with a gunshot wound to the head.
  • A different suspect was cleared after his DNA didn’t match that from semen found on Beasley.
  • This is a huge story in the Wiregrass. Read more from Lance Griffin in The Dothan Eagle and watch more from WTVY’s Devon Sellers and Ken Curtis.


5. Matthew Stokes: Gas tax not a ‘betrayal.’

Matthew Stokes
  • In his column this week, Matthew Stokes is looking back at passage of the gas tax and infrastructure proposal. Specifically, he’s unpacking some of the conservative criticisms of the process, the policy itself, & the worldview on taxes.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Coalitions united around an issue, or a set of issues, compile their resources and support like-minded candidates. Ideally, political parties serve this function, but when they don’t, coalitions of concerned parties – James Madison called them factions – inevitably appear. This is perfectly normal, provided there are other factions in place to check them. The fact that the Rebuild Alabama act went through so strongly – less than 20 percent of Republicans opposed the measure – suggests that these legislators realized the need for revenue was serious. It’s not that the “fix was in,” but instead that most legislators recognized that the need was real.”
  • Read Matthew’s full column HERE.
  • Providing the loyal counterpoint is former State Sen. Phil Williams, who is now Policy Director for the Alabama Policy Institute.
  • He dislikes several details of the policy itself and the process by which it passed, but like Stokes, appreciates the additional oversight of ALDOT funds.
  • Read his full guest column HERE.


Bonus: Big Dance Begins.

  • Get your brackets ready. It’s NCAA tournament time.
  • The state of Alabama will have one competitor this year: the red-hot Auburn Tigers.
  • Auburn is taking home its first Southeastern Conference Tournament championship since 1985, but the Tigers aren’t satisfied. Not with the NCAA Tournament up next.
  • Bryce Brown scored 19 points, and Auburn routed eighth-ranked Tennessee 84-64 on Sunday.
  • “We still have a lot more to prove, a lot more to accomplish as a team,” said Brown, a senior guard who took home SEC Tournament MVP honors.
  • The Tigers arrived back in Auburn to a hero’s welcome, as thousands of fans packed “Toomer’s Corner” to paper the famous “Auburn Oaks” that line the edge of campus.
  • Amid the celebration, Auburn learned it was given a tough NCAA tournament berth: a match-up with 30-win New Mexico State in a bracket that includes powerhouses Kansas and North Carolina.
  • Read more HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP: Without new money to fund it, Medicaid expansion unlikely
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – DNA match leads to arrest in 1999 Alabama slaying, rape case
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matthew Stokes: Gas tax not a ‘betrayal’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Guest opinion from Phil Williams: Gas tax had some good, bad, and ugly
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – No. 22 Auburn routs 8th-ranked Tennessee 84-64 for SEC title
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New Zealand digs graves as mosque massacre toll rises to 50
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama inmate stabbed to death
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weekend Digest – March 17, 2019
AL.COM  – Why Alabama may have approved its last gas tax increase
AL.COM  – Alabama researcher: Avoid giving mass killers the celebrity treatment
AL.COM  – Columnist Dana McCain: Glory over goodness: modern American parenting
AL.COM  – Contributor John Bagby: A city, a mountain, and a Tiny Kingdom
AL.COM – Contributor Mark Dixon: Now it’s time for Alabama to refocus on education, pre-K program a model.
BIRMINGHAM WATCH  – 175 Down; 3,701 to Go. Jefferson County Starts Chipping Away at Rape Kit Testing Backlog
BIRMINGHAM WATCH  – GOP: Without New Money to Fund It, Medicaid Expansion Unlikely
Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Civil rights’ movement television evangelist’: Dees weathered criticism for decades amidst SPLC’s groundbreaking legal work
Montgomery Advertiser – Shooting at Eagle Landing Apartments injures two, including one juvenile
Montgomery Advertiser – Gas tax revenues will help ‘chip away’ at road needs, say officials
YellowHammer News – Taxes, roads and limited government
YellowHammer News – Marsh: Even with gas tax hike, Alabama ‘still the lowest cumulative tax state on state and local taxes in the country’
YellowHammer News – Four key events leading to passage of ‘Rebuild Alabama’
Dothan Eagle – GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT: Explaining the importance of Dothan’s city manager position
Dothan Eagle – How are suspects being identified through DNA search?
Dothan Eagle – Dothan church opens media center for community in need
Tuscaloosa News – Second homicide in a week reported at Bibb County prison
Tuscaloosa News – Black editor resigns after taking helm of Linden newspaper that urged KKK revival
Decatur Daily – Hartselle office to install waiting room
Decatur Daily – Courtland could ‘run out of money’ if golf course doesn’t sell
Decatur Daily – Trash course in litter: Volunteers collect 163 bags of refuse Saturday at Wilson Morgan
Times Daily – PARCA group to broaden definition of economic development
Times Daily – Report: Tax return season adds to telemarketing calls
Times Daily – Sheffield School Board meets Monday
Anniston Star – Jacksonville marks its year of recovery with community program
Anniston Star – Fortune, foresight played roles in keeping all alive through last year’s storm
Anniston Star – One year later: The Anniversary of the March 19 Tornado
Troy Messenger – FILLING THE GAP: Proposed law would provide help in mental health crisis
Troy Messenger – Troy community supports Mallory family
Troy Messenger – Pike NAACP seeks scholars
Andalusia Star News – Butler County juvenile probation officer charged with rape of minors
Opelika-Auburn News – ‘He worked a miracle’: Couple not injured when tornado destroys home
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn University researchers excited about new USDA lab
Daily Mountain Eagle – ‘Mr. President’ on the rise
Trussville Tribune – Police: Shooting death of Tarrant man and robbery case are connected
Trussville Tribune – Beware of Social Security impersonation scheme
Trussville Tribune – Scam using Jefferson County Sheriff Pettway’s name under investigation
WSFA Montgomery – 2 more tornadoes confirmed Thursday
WSFA Montgomery – Construction to begin on East Glenn Avenue in Auburn
Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham police make arrest in homicide believed to be related to robbery
WKRG Mobile – BREAKING: Mobile County Public School van crashes into gas station
WKRG Mobile – Mobile police investigate 5 shootings after violent weekend
WKRG Mobile – Alabama county seeking more workers
WTVY Dothan – Man charged in teen deaths once refused to take DNA test
WTVY Dothan – Former Dothan Police Chief talks about break in Ozark cold case
WTVY Dothan – Up to 500 homes damaged in 1 Nebraska county in flooding situation
WASHINGTON POST – Trump once again bashes John McCain over health-care vote.
WASHINGTON POST – Mental health problems rise significantly among young Americans.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Khaled Diab: White supremacists and radical Islamists sound exactly alike
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Crackdown Unnerves Immigrants, and the Farmers Who Rely on Them
NEW YORK TIMES  – Democrats Pledged to Lower Health Costs. They Just Haven’t Figured Out How
NEW YORK TIMES  – Tobacco and E-Cigarette Lobbyists Circle as F.D.A. Chief Exits

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