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Daily News Digest – March 29, 2018

Good morning! Praise the Lord and pass the Cracker Jack, it’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Go Cubs Go. Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, March 29.

1. More like “Sine Don’t,” amirite? Bad blood in House / Senate delays session another day.

Boy, that really escalated quickly. 

  • State lawmakers have been talking for weeks about how the relative harmony and productivity of this year’s session would allow them to take care of business and adjourn five days early, saving taxpayers money and making most folks happy.
  • Hold your horses on that.
  • On Wednesday, simmering bitterness between the House and Senate over passing each body’s respective legislation finally boiled over and resulted in both chambers adjourning for the day with key legislation still on the floor.
  • In the end, it’s not that big of a deal given that the Legislature still has PLENTY of time left to work this session. And they’ll be back at it today at 9:00.
  • Still, it was really something to see the under-the-surface tensions between the House and Senate come into specific relief.


  • Read my take on the kerfuffle and where things stand HERE.
  • Read Mary Sell’s report for the Decatur Daily HERE.
  • Read Kim Chandler and Mallory Moench’s story for the Associated Press HERE.
  • Read Brian Lyman’s story in The Montgomery Advertiser HERE. (Points to Lyman for the Jean Paul Sartre-inspired headline. Hell is, indeed, other people.)

2. Drama aside, things are getting done.

Inter-chamber drama aside, lots of things got done Wednesday in the State House.

Most of the high-profile legislation still alive at the end of the session has now passed and should/has become law…

  • The “must pass” Medicaid funding bills: Done.
  • The Simplified Sales and Use Tax fix: Done.
  • The fentanyl-opioid abuse bill: Done.
  • The State Pilotage Commission for the Port Authority: reauthorized, and heavy a non-voting member.
  • The Alabama Rural Broadband Act: Law.
  • The Attorney General’s Data Breach bill: Law.

What’s Next

  • Interestingly, the brief delay gives Gov. Kay Ivey a little more time to send legislation back over to the Legislature with executive amendments. After they adjourn “sine die,” a veto kills a bill for good.
  • The Senate should give final passage to the Education Trust Fund budget today, no problem.
  • The House appears poised to give final passage to HB317, the Department of Commerce’s much-watched economic development bill.
  • Less likely is passage of the racial profiling bill. Even though it passed unanimously in the Senate, support is just not there in the House. Time is running out and leadership just wants to deal with Senate bills. Not giving up, Rep. Merika Coleman is trying to get it on the agenda one last time. Read more on that from Mike Cason HERE and from Brian Lyman HERE.

3. Trump fires VA Secretary, hires White House doctor.

  • President Donald Trump fired VA Secretary David Shulkin Wednesday. Full story HERE.
  • An otherwise popular VA Secretary, Shulkin got in hot water recently after it was revealed he accepted improper gifts traveling overseas to the French Open tennis tournament. Shulkin refunded the money and his chief of staff who tried to cover it up was fired.
  • Now Shulkin is gone, too, and replacing him is White House doctor Ronny Jackson. Before everyone gets worked up about how Trump hired his own personal doctor, remember that Jackson was also President Obama’s physician.
  • Still, this is a problematic move.
  • Jackson is a medical doctor with no managerial experience, whereas Shulkin came from the hospital management industry and had received good marks for improving VA services.
  • Hours after his firing, Shulkin claimed in the New York Times that he was pushed out because of his opposition to privatizing VA services. Meh, I don’t know about that.
  • The VA is one of the biggest, most complex bureaucracies on the face of the planet. It’s very important to have strong leadership, as we know all too well in Central Alabama.

4. Justice investigate FISA abuses.

  • Remember how amid all the Russia investigation drama, a lot of folks had problems with the way FBI/DOJ officials went about obtaining secret warrants and conducting surveillance?
  • Well, now the Justice Department has launched a probe to see exactly what happened.
  • Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Wednesday he will review potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses by both the Justice Department and the FBI, following requests from Congress and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
  • The Office of the Inspector General released this statement:

“The OIG will initiate a review that will examine the Justice Department’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) relating to a certain U.S. person. As part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source.”

Read more from FOX NEWS.

5. News briefs

  • Remember how AXIOS reported that President Trump wanted to “go after” Amazon? Hours later, Amazon stock began taking a tumble. Wall Street “is now fearful that the long-awaited Trump vs. Amazon battle could finally be on the horizon.”Maybe piling on a bit, Apple CEO Tim Cook ROASTED Amazon’s Headquarters beauty contest. Should have chosen Alabama, Bezos.
  • Roy Moore got some bad news. A Montgomery judge has denied Moore’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit from Leigh Corfman, who accused Moore of sexually abusing her decades ago. Corfman is suing for defamation after Moore called her a liar. Also denied was Moore’s motion to move the case to Etowah County. Read more.
  • The decision to add a question to the 2020 Census asking about legal citizenship status is drawing predictable fire from critics. After first defending the move, the White House now says it had nothing to do with it. Nah, doesn’t sound like Stephen Miller at all. Read more.
  • Jimmy Rane’s Great Southern Wood in Abbeville says it will boost employee benefits with savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Read more in The Dothan Eagle.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – More like “Sine Don’t.” House / Senate feud delays session another day. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers stretch out session amid tensions, stalemates. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Gov. Kay Ivey signs rural broadband bill into law. ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – STACY COLUMN: A good year for budgets at the state, federal level

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Racial profiling bill stalls again in the House.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Divided Alabama Senate approves ethics exemption.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – State mulls outsourcing: MPS workers respond at board meeting. 

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Divided Alabama Senate approves economic developer bill after long debate.

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

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Advertiser joins legal effort to unseal Alabama execution protocol.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Hyundai plant’s future rides on new-look Santa Fe.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Students taught smart web practices at Google Learning Initiative workshop.

AL.COM – Racial profiling bill stalls; session extended one day.

AL.COM – Judge denies Roy Moore’s request to dismiss accuser’s lawsuit.

AL.COM – Tim Vines to lead state’s largest health insurer.

AL.COM – U.S. Supreme Court won’t review case of convicted Lee County cop-killer.

AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald:  Milton McGregor epitaph: No bill of sale surfaced.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – House concurs on Education Budget, passes bonus money for education retirees.

DECATUR DAILY – School resource officer bill pending in Senate.

DECATUR DAILY – Morgan sheriff seeks to dismiss lawsuit by blogger.

DECATUR DAILY – Tense moments as legislative session nears end.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Black women wielding influence in state politics.

GADSDEN TIMES – Remembering a Topeka schoolgirl who made history.

ANNISTON STAR – Nasty Alabama politics. Again.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump taps his doctor to replace Shulkin at VA, choosing personal chemistry over traditional qualifications.

WASHINGTON POST – Stormy Daniels’s lawyer pushes to depose Trump and says Americans have been told ‘a bucket of lies’.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s lawyer raised possibility of pardons for Manafort, Flynn last summer.

NEW YORK TIMES – Book Excerpt: How Birmingham Shaped MLK’s Civil Rights’ Struggle

NEW YORK TIMES – Under Ben Carson, HUD Scales Back Fair Housing Enforcement

NEW YORK TIMES – Contributor David J. Shulkin:  Privatizing the V.A. Will Hurt Veterans

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