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Daily News Digest – March 24, 2021

Presented by the

Alabama Municipal Electric Authority

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, March 24.

1. Senator looking for fix on tax-filing interest issue

  • Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS extended the filing and payment date for individual 2020 income taxes from the traditional April 15 to May 17.
  • Alabama automatically extends its state income tax filing deadline when there is an extension on the federal level.
  • But the fine print on the Alabama Department of Revenue’s guidance on the topic said that while it can waive late penalties for payments made by May 17, it is “not authorized to waive interest, and any interest accruing from April 15, 2021, through the actual payment date will be due.”
  • “Therefore, ALDOR encourages taxpayers to make their payments for the 2020 tax year as soon as possible to avoid the accrual of interest beyond April 15,” guidance from the department said.
  • It would take a change to state law to waive the interest payments required of taxpayers who don’t file and pay by April 15. Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, told Alabama Daily News he plans to file a bill to address this “wrinkle” in the state tax code when lawmakers return next week to Montgomery.
  • “We need to make sure what the government gives with one hand, such as additional time, it doesn’t try to take back with the other by charging interest during that time,” Orr told Alabama Daily News Tuesday.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.


2. Bills would limit cities’ gas tax spending

  • Legislation in the State House would prevent local municipalities and counties from spending local gas tax revenue on anything other than roads and bridges.
  • Alabama law says revenue from gasoline and other motor fuel taxes levied by the state can only be used for infrastructure and similar uses, but there are no such restrictions on the local gas taxes collected by hundreds of governments.
  • House Bill 556 by Rep. Chris Sells, R-Greenville, and Senate Bill 281 by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, says that all taxes on motor fuels, “whether called an excise tax, license tax, or otherwise, levied by a municipality or county or by local law may be used only for road and bridge construction and maintenance.”
  • The Petroleum and Convenience Marketers of Alabama is behind the bills. The group’s members own more than 4,000 gas stations and convenience stores in Alabama.
  • President J. Bart Fletcher said the bills are results from conversations that started in 2019 when the state was considering a 10-cent per gallon tax increase. Local communities were in favor of it because they would get a portion of the new revenue, “indicating they needed additional revenue,” Fletcher said.
  • The Alabama League of Municipalities is opposed to the bills. Executive Director Greg Cochran said cities’ ability to tax motor fuel at the local level comes from their business license authority and it’s not an excise tax like the county or state imposes.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.





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3. Lawmakers express frustration over delay in Census redistricting data

  • Republican senators expressed frustration Tuesday that data used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts won’t be available until August at the earliest, but the U.S. Census Bureau’s acting director told them the schedule was driven by a goal of releasing complete and accurate numbers.
  • At a hearing of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, Republican lawmakers told acting Census Bureau director Ron Jarmin that the delay was upending their states’ redistricting plans.
  • The statistical agency recently said the redistricting data would be ready in an older format by August and in a more user-friendly format by September, months after the redistricting deadlines for many states. By law, the redistricting data is due by March 31, but the bureau said it needed the extra time because of delays caused by the pandemic.
  • The states of Alabama and Ohio have sued the Census Bureau in an effort to force it to release the redistricting data early.
  • “I hope you understand the negative consequences here,” said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “This is really putting us back and causing tremendous problems.”
  • U.S. Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, said the delay was upsetting redistricting plans states had already undertaken, “and that all has to be redone.”
  • Under questioning, Jarmin said prioritizing some states like Ohio and Alabama over other states in getting the redistricting data would actually cause a bigger delay. He also said hiring more staff wouldn’t speed up the process since that would take staff experts away from processing the data so they could train the new hires.
  • Read more HERE.



4. Slower mail, fewer office hours part of Postal Service plans

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday announced plans to slow mail delivery standards and cut hours at some post offices as part of a 10-year strategy to stabilize the struggling agency.
  • Details of the long-awaited plan come at a time of intense scrutiny on the U.S. Postal Service over persistent delivery delays under DeJoy, a major GOP donor who took over the agency last summer. The plan also includes a proposal to consolidate underused post offices, hinted at a potential postage rate increase and detailed investments in new delivery vehicles, among other things.
  • Facing an expected $160 billion in losses over the next decade, DeJoy and postal executives stressed the need to cut costs and modernize the agency’s operations as its workload increasingly shifts from handling letters to hauling more and more packages.
  • “This is about the long-term viability of the organization under the two missions that we have that are legislated, that is deliver to every house six days a week and be self-sustaining,” DeJoy said.
  • Read more HERE.



5. AstraZeneca accused of cherry-picking vaccine study data

  • AstraZeneca may have included “outdated information” in touting the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine in a U.S. study, federal health officials said Tuesday in an unusual public rift that could further erode confidence in the shot.
  • In response, AstraZeneca said that it is working on more up-to-date information and that the more recent findings are consistent with its initial announcement that the vaccine offered strong protection. It promised an update within 48 hours.
  • In an extraordinary rebuke, just hours after AstraZeneca on Monday announced its vaccine worked well in the U.S. study, an independent panel that oversees the study scolded the company for cherry-picking data, according to a senior administration official.
  • The panel wrote to AstraZeneca and U.S. health leaders that it was concerned the company chose to use data that was outdated and potentially misleading instead of the most recent and complete findings, according to the administration official, who discussed the contents on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.
  • The letter goes on to say, “Decisions like this are what erode public trust in the scientific process.”
  • Read more HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senator looking for fix on tax-filing interest issue


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bills would limit cities’ gas tax spending


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers frustrated over delay in Census redistricting data


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Slower mail, fewer office hours part of Postal Service plans


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AstraZeneca accused of cherry-picking vaccine study data


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mo Brooks enters Alabama Senate race


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – A truck-only toll may revive I-10 bridge plans, but truckers have questions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Photos of migrant detention highlight Biden’s border secrecy


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden eyes $3T package for infrastructure, schools, families


AL.COM – What could an Amazon union mean for Alabama’s auto plants?


AL.COM – Jennifer Garner to join Jill Biden in Friday visits to Jasper, Birmingham


AL.COM – Finalist to build next generation interceptor missile plans Huntsville headquarters


AL.COM – Ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell argues ‘no reasonable person’ would believe her conspiracy theories


AL.COM – Alabama expanding effort to improve pre-K through 3rd grade learning


AL.COM – $2.5 million settlement in Alabama police shooting but dispute remains: Did Black teen have a gun?


AL.COM – Trump’s endorsement is sought-after prize in Alabama Senate race


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama updates rural COVID vaccine clinic locations as eligibility expands


Montgomery Advertiser – Mo Brooks announces candidacy for U.S. Senate


Montgomery Advertiser – District 3 City Council set for runoff between Adrienne Larkin and Marche Johnson


Decatur Daily – Backers to renew push for gambling bill


Decatur Daily – A truck-only toll may revive I-10 bridge plans, but truckers have questions


Decatur Daily – Decatur council passes dog ordinance 18 months after introduction


Times Daily – Bids for Lauderdale County Ag Center work delayed


Times Daily – Florence/Lauderdale Tourism walking tours returning in April


Times Daily – What’s next for high-profile gambling issue?


Times Daily – Ivey’s support revives gambling legislation


Anniston Star – Hobson City has second vaccination event


Anniston Star – Heflin CC approves new credit rating agency


Anniston Star – Anniston starts work on comprehensive plan


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – AstraZeneca faces questions from U.S. health officials over vaccine data


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH survey: Third of adults in AL hesitant about COVID-19 vaccine


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Documentation not required at vaccine appointments in Alabama


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama updates rural COVID vaccine clinic locations as eligibility expands


Tuscaloosa News – Relaxed absentee rules in place, for now, for April 13 municipal election runoff


Tuscaloosa News – Druid City Arts Festival will return to Government Plaza


YellowHammer News – Tuberville cosponsors Stopping Border Surges Act — ‘Prevents the exploitation of our immigration laws’


YellowHammer News – Carl introduces bill to have federal government reimburse coastal states for revenue lost due to a Biden executive order


YellowHammer News – Alabama-built ULA Delta II rocket goes on permanent display at Kennedy Space Center


Gadsden Times – Pandemic hasn’t stopped businesses from opening in Cherokee County


Gadsden Times – Marshall County Jail staff members save inmate after apparent suicide attempt


Gadsden Times – Pandemic hasn’t stopped businesses from opening in Cherokee County


Dothan Eagle – City of Dothan’s insurance to pay $1 million in civil suit settlement


Dothan Eagle – Officials: Florida panther struck and killed by vehicle


Dothan Eagle – Cooper to unveil proposed NC budget for next 2 years


Opelika-Auburn News – Japan’s Toyota, Isuzu, Hino join in truck technology tie up


Opelika-Auburn News – Asia stocks follow Wall Street down on renewed virus worries


Opelika-Auburn News – Beyond the pandemic: London’s Tube battles to stay on track


WSFA Montgomery – Report: Gunman warned Louisville stepbrothers ‘I’m going to shoot you’ on Florida beach


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery City Council District 3 election heads to runoff


WSFA Montgomery – Recent severe weather brings concerns to some Alabama farmers


WAFF Huntsville – Space & Rocket Center new CEO talks future


WAFF Huntsville – Morgan County Schools say remote learning allows school on severe weather days


WAFF Huntsville – Cherokee Ridge residents want neighborhood to be a town in Marshall County


WKRG Mobile – PHOTOS: Car on fire under a bridge in Citronelle


WKRG Mobile – Fire fighters save deaf dog, duckling from storm drains


WKRG Mobile – 2 spring breakers drugged, raped, robbed woman found dead at Florida hotel, police say


WTVY Dothan – Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce elect new president


WTVY Dothan – Ft. Rucker GEMS program returning virtually in 2021


WTVY Dothan – Dothan Area Botanical Gardens’ plant sale fundraiser begins Thursday


WASHINGTON POST – ‘Nothing can fill the void ’: Boulder reels from mass shooting as suspect is charged


WASHINGTON POST – Suspect in Boulder shooting had previously alarmed classmates with violent outbursts


WASHINGTON POST – Shootings spur Biden to call for tighter gun rules


NEW YORK TIMES – Boulder Shooting Survivors Describe ‘Listening to Him Kill Everyone You Know’


NEW YORK TIMES – U.S. Health Officials Question AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Results


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19: Texas and Georgia Join Growing List of States Making All Adults Eligible for Vaccine


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Intel CEO Presses Turnaround Effort With $20 Billion Investment Plan


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Suez Canal Is Blocked by Container Ship Causing Huge Traffic Jam


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Health Officials Raise Concerns Over AstraZeneca Vaccine Data


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