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Daily News Digest – March 28, 2018

 Good morning! It’s Wednesday, March 28, and this is your Daily News.

1. Big day for BHAM: Stadium, BJCC upgrades are going to happen. 

  • Last week, the State Legislature did its part.
  • Yesterday, the Birmingham City Council stepped up and did theirs, and now a new downtown stadium and makeover for the BJCC complex will become a reality.
  • The new stadium is obviously the most eye-catching piece of the plan – and a hearty congrats to my old friend Coach Bill Clark and UAB for all this is going to mean for their football program.
  • But, the project is much bigger. Renovations to Legacy Arena promise to bring in lots of new exciting events – including college basketball tournaments, headliner concerts, and more.
  • BJCC Authority Board Chairman Dennis Lathem tells me their team went directly to the executives at the SEC, NCAA, ESPN and elsewhere to ask what they need out of a modern venue, and then crafted the remodeling plan around it.
  • With the political hurdles at the state & city behind them, developers now turn their attention to the real work of making this ambitious plan happen.
  • Read more and see cool pictures of project plans via stories from Erin Edgemon at and Alan Collins at Fox 6 Birmingham.  

2. Where we stand: last day of session?

  • Not so fast, my friends.
  • That was Senate Minority Leader Rodger Smitherman’s message to his colleagues Tuesday night as many in the Legislature were eager to vote on the remaining bills and adjourn for the year.
  • Read more HERE.
  • By slowing down bills the majority wants (Education Trust Fund budget, Economic developer bill), Smitherman is using his leverage in the Senate to get a vote on his racial profiling bill in the House.
  • We don’t have one day left – we have six days left, and we can use them as long as we have work to do,” Smitherman said after the Senate adjourned.
  • Translation: if y’all want to finish up early as planned, the House better to take up my racial profiling bill.
  • That may be easier said than done, though. Even though the measure passed unanimously in the Senate, House members I spoke to said there still isn’t enough support to pass the measure. That’s after an apparent compromise was reached on the bill.
  • Read more about what this all means and the state of play on the Legislature’s (maybe) last day HERE.
  • Also read great stories explaining the situation from State House reporters Kim Chandler, Brian Lyman, and Mike Cason.

3. Trump’s poll numbers are up. What’s different?

President Donald Trump is seeing some of his highest approval ratings since taking office.

An Associated Press poll showed Trump’s job approval among all Americans at 42 percent and a CNN poll showed it at 44 percent – both high water marks.

“Nearly half of Americans surveyed — 47 percent — say they approve of how Trump is handling the economy, his highest rating on any issue.”

What’s Different?

  • The new numbers clearly reflect a surging economy and the GOP tax cuts’ role in achieving that.
  • But, there’s more to take away here.
  • The biggest stories nationally the last few weeks haven’t been North Korea, the Russia investigation, government shutdowns or even Trump’s latest antics.
  • Rather, they have been the student movement to curtail gun rights and accusations that Trump had affairs with porn personalities.
  • In both instances, Trump has played against type in not lashing out via Twitter or from a rally podium at these would-be foils.
  • With the students, he invited them to the White House, engaged their ideas, and avoided reacting when activists called him names.
  • With the porn stars, he has carefully followed the advice of staff and lawyers to not lash out with personal attacks.
  • I think that’s significant, and perhaps plays a role in his improving numbers.
  • President Trump may not be able to control all the news that comes his way – but he can always control his reaction to it.
  • Imagine the possibilities!

4. Installation of President Steven Leath marks new era at Auburn.

Auburn University is installing new President Steven Leath this week in special ceremonies for students and the greater university community.

This is much more than a changing of the guard for Auburn. The university is marking this transition as an opportunity to reclaim and recommit to its core missions of research, instruction, and extension.

“Inspire, Innovate, Transform” 

In this new era of leadership, Auburn plans to:

  • Take student leadership to new heights;
  • Advance impactful and transformative research and scholarship;
  • Elevate its active engagement with the State of Alabama;
  • See Auburn graduates further expand their distinguished reputation in the marketplace; and
  • Continue to broaden its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Check out the special website and cool video dedicated to the installation HERE.

5. News briefs

  • Yesterday you read about a tragic Dothan murder. Today read about the victim, Bruenia Jennings, from her grieving mother in a touching interview in The Dothan Eagle.
  • Republican Rex Reynolds defeated Democrat Terry Jones to win House District 21 last night. If Reynolds hurries to Montgomery, he can cast a few votes on behalf of his constituents in the 2018 Regular Session. The win bodes well for Republicans and Reynolds, who will face Jones again in the regularly-scheduled election for the seat.
  • Rep. Patricia Todd – Alabama’s first openly gay lawmaker – bid farewell to her colleagues in the House yesterday as she prepares to retire. In her speech, she said the kindness and cordiality with which had been treated exceeded her expectations. It was a really nice moment. Read more here.
  • Even as the economic developer / ethics bill was amended to satisfy critics’s concerns, debate on the legislation got testy and personal at times between two Senators who are retiring at the end of the session. There seems to be enough support for the bill to pass, but it is being held up with the racial profiling dust up. Read Brian Lyman’s story in the Advertiser HERE and Mike Cason’s story in HERE.
  • Many on Capitol Hill want to go after Facebook and get answers on all this data sharing business. President Trump, however, has his eyes on Amazon. One is collecting data from every “like,” comment, and FarmVille choice you make, the other is literally listening in to your home. Should be interesting. Read AXIOS for more.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Birmingham City Council commits funds to new stadium

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Divided Senate delays vote on ethics exemption. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House delays vote on bill to track race in traffic stops

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poll: Trump benefits from economic policies.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Federal charges against man accused in child porn video case.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Education budget moving closer to Gov. Ivey’s desk.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Alabama Senate sees testy debate over economic developer bill.

AL.COM – Alabama Senate delays vote on bill exempting economic developers from ethics law.

AL.COM – Fate of other bills tied to stalled racial profiling measure.

AL.COM – Columnist John  Archibald:  Birmingham bought a stadium again: What a trip.

AL.COM – Liberians in Alabama to face deportation after White House deferral program ends.

AL.COM – Tommy Tuberville backing Tommy Battle in governor’s race.

AL.COM – The sun shines for Anthony Ray Hinton: Freed death row inmate releases memoir.

AL.COM – Huntsville stands behind Remington amid bankruptcy filing.

AL.COM – Army’s new Futures Command coming into clearer view in Alabama.

DECATUR DAILY – LawCo inmate food fund bill dead without senator’s signature.

ANNISTON STAR – Prepare for the sliming of Parkland student protesters.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Alabama’s first gay legislator bids farewell to House.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump privately presses for military to pay for border wall

NEW YORK TIMES – At Least Twelve States to Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question

NEW YORK TIMES – Medicare Is Cracking Down on Opioids. Doctors Fear Pain Patients Will Suffer.

NEW YORK TIMES – Contributor John Paul Stevens:  Repeal the Second Amendment

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