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Daily News Digest – March 25, 2019

Presented by

The Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure


Good morning! How gorgeous of a weekend did we just have? Storms returning today 🙁

Here’s your Daily News for Monday, March 25.


1. No collusion.

What Happened
  • It’s over.
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation and found no evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign “conspired or coordinated” with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
  • That brought a hearty claim of vindication from Trump and his allies, as well as surprise and some embarrassment for Trump critics in the media.
  • Mueller’s conclusions, summarized by Attorney General Bill Barr in a four page letter to Congress, represented a victory for Trump on a key question that has hung over his presidency from the start — whether his campaign worked with Russia to defeat Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
  • But Mueller reached no conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice during the probe. Instead, he “set out evidence on both sides of the question,” Barr wrote.
  • But Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined that said evidence was insufficient to prove in court that Trump committed obstruction of justice.
  • Essentially, if the president knew he hadn’t colluded with Russia, the bar for proving he obstructed the investigation into collusion gets much higher, they said.
  • Read the full story, including the letter itself HERE.
Why it Matters
  • This is about as big as a win gets for President Trump, his presidency and his re-election hopes.
  • In an era when things are rarely categorically right or wrong, Trump can unequivocally say he was vindicated on the question of whether he colluded with a foreign government to swing the 2016 election. He didn’t, and the guy that has been propped up by Trump’s critics as the paragon on justice says so.
  • It’s also a big egg on the face for many national media types who have aggressively pushed the Trump-Russia collusion narrative as a foregone conclusion for two years.
  • Peter Baker, a well-travelled New York Times reporter who also covered the Clinton impeachment, wrote this in his analysis piece today:
“For President Trump, it may have been the best day of his tenure so far. The darkest, most ominous cloud hanging over his presidency was all but lifted on Sunday with the release of the special counsel’s conclusions, which undercut the threat of impeachment and provided him with a powerful boost for the final 22 months of his term.”
What’s Next
  • Don’t expect Democrats to give up. The loose thread on obstruction of justice gives Congressional investigators plenty of fodder to follow up on.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement demanding to see the full report and saying Barr’s letter raises “many questions.”
  • They’re also starting to criticize Attorney General Bill Barr for his handling of the inquiry. Even though Barr has only been on the job a few weeks, Pelosi and Schumer said “he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.”
  • Democratic leaders have to walk a fine line between pleasing a base that is still eager to see Trump removed from office and not turning off many independents who will likely be ready to move on.
  • Don’t expect Trump to just move on, though. Many are speculating that Trump will now either formally or informally call for an investigation into how the Russia-collusion inquiry got started.
  • Whether that will be a serious effort or just a Twitter/media fueled game to get the base fired up remains to be seen.


2. Medical marijuana gets a push.

  • Supporters of legislation to regulate the use of marijuana to treat dozens of medical conditions say it’s time for Alabama to join the growing number of states that already allow it.
  • “There are so many reasons to, but we can’t until we have a regulatory body to do it,” said Rep. Mike Ball, who filed House Bill 243 last week.
  • The bill would establish the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to administer a patient registry system for people with qualifying conditions and issue them medical cannabis cards. The bill lists about 30 qualifying conditions, including addiction, cancer, autism, epilepsy, terminal conditions and end-of-life care. Under the bill’s provisions, the commission could add more conditions.
  • Ball said the bill is a continuation of work begun in 2014 with Carly’s Law and in 2016 with Leni’s Law. Carly’s Law authorized the University of Alabama at Birmingham to research the use of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, a marijuana derivative. That law expires this year and Ball’s bill extends it another two years. Leni’s Law provides a defense against unlawful possession of marijuana for an individual in possession of CBD oil if the person has a debilitating medical condition.
  • Medical marijuana bills have been filed in previous sessions, usually by Democrats, but have never gotten a vote in either the House or Senate. Ball’s bill has 20 Republican and Democrat co-sponsors, including Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon.
  • Read more in Mary Sell’s Alabama Daily News weekender 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. Unemployment hits record low.

  • According to the numbers, it’s a good time to be working in Alabama.
  • The Alabama Department of Labor announced that February’s unemployment rate of 3.7 percent is the lowest recorded rate in the state’s history.
  • February’s rate is a tick down from January’s 3.8 percent, the previous record low, and below February 2018’s 4.0 percent.
  • “The outstanding work being done by the Alabama Departments of Labor and Commerce is helping to ensure businesses are growing in our state and that we are connecting employees with those jobs,” Gov. Kay Ivey said.
  • “We still have more people seeking employment opportunities and we will do all we can to help them find jobs as well.”
  • February’s rate represents a total of 2.12 million employed people, which is the ninth month in a row that number reached a record high. Additionally, the number of people out of work and looking for jobs dropped to 82,304, the second-lowest number ever recorded, compared to 83,398 in January and 87,534 in February 2018.
  • “The fact that we are continuing to hit historic lows is a sign that our economy is strong and that what we are doing in Alabama is working,” Ivey said. “Those who are looking for jobs are finding jobs and businesses in our state are employing more people than ever.”
  • Read more from ADN’s Will Whatley, including a full list of county-by-county unemployment rates.
Speaking of jobs
  • Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A., Inc. will begin hiring for the new $1.6 billion plant in Huntsville this fall.
  • Hiring for production workers will continue until the plant is at full capacity. The company plans to create up to 4,000 new jobs in Alabama.
  • Applications and training will be done on a rolling basis. Facility maintenance, multi-skilled maintenance as well as tool and die team members are among the openings being filled.
  • Applicants should visit AIDT Jobs to view a full list of required skills and to apply.
  • The joint venture will have the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles annually, with the production split evenly between the companies in order to produce a new Mazda crossover model and the Toyota Corolla.
  • Vehicle production is expected to begin in 2021.



4. Matthew Stokes: On Common Core.

Matthew Stokes
  • Matthew Stokes takes on the Common Core issue today, unpacking Senate President Pro Ten Del Marsh’s recent move to repeal the education standards.
  • It makes sense politically, Stokes writes, especially for someone seeking to please primary voters in a possible U.S. Senate campaign.
  • It’s troublesome on the policy front, he argues. Here’s an excerpt:
“… the effort to create standards that follow students across state lines is entirely reasonable. Indeed, it might even be necessary in today’s globally-competitive environment.
“The simple fact is that Americans are more mobile than ever before. Students, families, and employers are not helped when educational standards – and the assessment practices that fit within them – shift across state lines. Consistency in this area should be a feature, not a bug. The greater the disparity between standards in each state, the more companies and employees will find it harder to expand and grow in the marketplace. It will always be necessary for vocational training to shift depending on the key industries within a state, but it only makes sense for states to cooperate with one another to create high quality educational standards.” 
  • Read the full column HERE.



5. Auburn’s Dance continues; Bama makes a change.

  • Charles Barkley is a happy camper.
  • Bruce Pearl and Auburn made another leap in the rebuilding process Saturday night, putting on a dazzling offensive display to take down a college basketball blue blood.
  • After winning the SEC Tournament title, the Tigers are on a ten game win streak and headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 16 years.
  • Poised under college basketball’s brightest spotlight, Auburn ran over Kansas 89-75 in the Midwest Region to earn one of the biggest wins in program history.
  • Auburn plays North Carolina in the Sweet 16 Friday in Kansas City. Full story HERE.
  • Interestingly, Auburn will have played all of the modern day ‘blue blood’ basketball programs in one season: Duke in the Maui Invitational, Kentucky twice in SEC play, Kansas and now North Carolina. That’s pretty rare.
  • In the traditional sense, UCLA would also be a ‘blue blood’ (as I was reminded), but they’ve been dormant for some time.
Avery Johnson out
  • Meanwhile, at the University of Alabama, head basketball coach Avery Johnson’s once-promising era at the Capstone has come to an end.
  • Athletic director Greg Byrne announced Sunday that Alabama and Johnson “made the decision to mutually part ways” after his fourth season coaching the Crimson Tide.
  • Johnson’s buyout under a contract extension reached in August 2017 would be $8 million.
  • Avery Johnson brought attention, more fans and several highly rated recruits to Alabama’s basketball program. He could not, however, win enough to stick around.
  • “It was an honor and privilege to work with these young men and their families,” Johnson said in a statement. “This was an opportunity of a lifetime, and we truly enjoyed our experience at Alabama.”
  • “There are so many desirables here at the University of Alabama, and the brand itself gives all of our teams the ability to recruit nationally,” Byrne said. “This is such a great place, and people want to be part of it.”
  • Read more about that HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mueller finds no Trump collusion with Russia as investigation ends
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medical marijuana bill with bi-partisan support filed in Alabama House
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama unemployment rate drops to record-low 3.7%
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Officials shorten triggerfish, amberjack seasons in Gulf
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Two in custody after prison drug smuggling attempt
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Auburn in Sweet 16 after blowing past ‘blue blood’ Kansas
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Johnson out as Bama basketball coach after 4 seasons
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weekend Digest – March 24, 2019
AL.COM  – ‘Sideshow’ and ‘scam’: Alabama’s elected officials respond to Mueller investigation
AL.COM  – SPLC leadership shakeup continues with legal director’s resignation
AL.COM  – Alabama widens Mobile shipping channel to boost entire state economy
AL.COM  – Alabama ranks 5th for industrial toxic releases in air and water
AL.COM  – Contributor Dana McCain: Dear Anonymous, go kick rocks
BIRMINGHAM WATCH  – Medical Marijuana Bill With Bi-Partisan Support Filed in Alabama House
BIRMINGHAM WATCH  – Lawmakers Tackle Alabama’s Persistent Prison Problems
Montgomery Advertiser – As Alabama grapples with solitary confinement, other states offer blueprints for change
Montgomery Advertiser – Mueller: No Trump-Russia conspiracy; no answer on obstruction
Montgomery Advertiser – Two shot Saturday evening on Danbury Circle
YellowHammer News – ‘Frogs’ was a learning experience for Mobile’s Hannah Touchton
YellowHammer News – VIDEO: ‘Clean lottery bill’, Common Core could be done in Alabama, Trump vs. McCain and more on Guerrilla Politics …
YellowHammer News – Urban Cookhouse’s David and Andrea Snyder are concept creators, not just restaurant owners
Dothan Eagle – Festival hoping to classify Dothan as an Azalea City
Dothan Eagle – Dothan teen charged in Friday shooting
Dothan Eagle – Motorcyclist dies in Dale County crash
Tuscaloosa News – University of Alabama student wins ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Friday
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa County has risk of severe storms Monday
Tuscaloosa News – Daria gets raise in new Tuscaloosa City Schools contract
Decatur Daily – Medical marijuana bill with bipartisan support filed in Alabama House
Decatur Daily – Hartselle to honor 4 who pulled woman from burning home
Decatur Daily – Local counties: Gas tax increase won’t lead to surge of bridge building
Times Daily – Construction of new Colbert Road Department building could start in April
Times Daily – ALEA warns of callers claiming to be officers
Times Daily – Ag Authority sets policy for public input
Gadsden Times – Mueller offers no answer on whether Trump obstructed justice
Gadsden Times – Ethics complaints filed against Etowah County sheriff
Gadsden Times – Trump didn’t coordinate with Russia in 2016, report declares
Anniston Star – Crowd shows for Kiwanis pancakes, even with time change
Anniston Star – Business hosts homeless in impromptu event
Andalusia Star News – Storm response: Emergency workers stage mock disaster
Opelika-Auburn News – Tornado recovery: Agencies provide guidance for financial assistance
Daily Mountain Eagle – Sheriff confiscates Jasper bingo machines
Daily Mountain Eagle – Three arrested in county drug raids
Daily Mountain Eagle – Smith, Jones at ARC drug event
Trussville Tribune – Railroad crossings closed Monday for repairs
Trussville Tribune – FAITH: Kids talk about God – Why is Jesus forgiving?
Trussville Tribune – Man holding child hit by car at The Summit
Athens News Courier – Ag officials talk trade, farm bill during D.C. visit.
Sand Mountain Reporter – Couples deliver ‘Love Letters’ at Whole Backstage
WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery benefit concert supports storm survivors
WSFA Montgomery – April is Clean Up Month for Montgomery Districts 2 and 9
Fox 6 Birmingham – Democrat state representative, Republican house speaker have heated argument on house floor
Fox 6 Birmingham – B’ham police investigating 2 homicides Saturday in Smithfield community
Fox 6 Birmingham – Work Week Forecast: Possible strong storms Monday
WAFF Huntsville – Second Parkland survivor dies in apparent suicide
WAFF Huntsville – Gurley church damaged in fire
WAFF Huntsville – AG Marshall, state comptroller warn of scammers sending fraudulent checks
WKRG Mobile – 2.5 magnitude earthquake reported in Escambia County Alabama
WTVY Dothan – Two-vehicle wreck ends in one man being shot in Eufaula
WTVY Dothan – Structure fire destroys Headland home
WASHINGTON POST  – Mueller did not find the Trump campaign conspired with Russia, attorney general says
WASHINGTON POST  – Mueller’s punt on obstruction question throws issue into the political arena
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Declares Victory, and a War on His Enemies
NEW YORK TIMES  – The New York Times: No Collusion, No ‘Exoneration’


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