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Here’s your Daily News for Monday, March 8.
1. Bill seeks changes to visitation policies
- One developing theme of this legislative session is lawmakers proposing to alter or do away with certain pandemic-related policies or procedures.
- Most of that has to do with how state government operates. But now, a bill from State Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, seeks to change the visitation policies at hospitals and nursing homes.
- He developed Senate Bill 307 after hearing from several families who lost loved ones to COVID-19 but were allowed little to no visitation access. That includes the family of Harold Sachs, the ALGOP chief of staff who died from the virus in November.
- “I think everyone needs compassionate care at the end of life,” Gudger told Alabama Daily News. “And I think they need their family to be there to help patients get over whatever illness or virus.”
- But it might not be as simple as passing a law.
- Hospital and nursing home officials know there are heartbreaking scenarios of patients dying alone during the pandemic, but they say the rules are beyond their control. Guidelines from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees health care facilities that get federal funding, aren’t arbitrary and not following them could mean citations and even loss of licenses.
- Read the full story from Mary Sell HERE.
- Also, in case you missed it, read Caroline Beck’s preview for this week of session HERE.
2. With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes
- With President Joe Biden on the verge of his first big legislative victory, a key moderate Democrat said Sunday he’s open to changing Senate rules that could allow for more party-line votes to push through other parts of the White House’s agenda such as voting rights.
- West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin stressed that he wants to keep the procedural hurdle known as the filibuster, saying major legislation should always have significant input from the minority party. But he noted there are other ways to change the rules that now effectively require 60 votes for most legislation. One example: the “talking filibuster,” which requires senators to slow a bill by holding the floor, but then grants an “up or down” simple majority vote if they give up.
- “The filibuster should be painful, it really should be painful and we’ve made it more comfortable over the years,” Manchin said. “Maybe it has to be more painful.”
- “If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk,” Manchin added. “I’m willing to look at any way we can, but I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.”
- Democrats are beginning to look to their next legislative priorities after an early signature win for Biden on Saturday, with the Senate approving a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on a party-line 50-49 vote.
- Final passage is expected Tuesday in the House if leaders can hold the support of progressives frustrated that the Senate narrowed unemployment benefits and stripped out an increase to the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
- Read more about what’s next HERE.
- Read more about the highlights of what’s in the relief bill HERE.
3. Cuomo defiant as top Dems turn against him
- The two top Democrats in New York’s legislature withdrew their support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment and undercounting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
- Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins became the first senior Democrat in the state to say the three-term governor should resign. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stopped short of demanding that Cuomo quit, but said in a statement that “it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”
- On Saturday, two more women who worked for Cuomo publicly accused him of inappropriate behavior, on the heels of other allegations in recent weeks.
- “Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.”
- Her public push for his resignation came shortly after a Sunday press conference where Cuomo said it would be “anti-democratic” for him to step down.
- “There is no way I resign,” Cuomo told reporters.
- Read more HERE.
4. Five key takeaways from the February jobs report
- America’s job market delivered a burst of strength in February. It lifted hopes that the rollout of viral vaccines, the distribution of federal aid and the increasing willingness and ability of consumers to go out and spend will invigorate the economy as the weather warms up.
- Employers added 379,000 jobs, the government said Friday, the most since October and far surpassing economists’ predictions. The unemployment rate, which dipped to 6.2%, has now dropped nearly every month since it peaked at 14.8% in April of last year after the pandemic erupted in the United States and inflicted breathtaking job losses.
- Read the five takeaways from the February jobs report HERE.
5. Will Whatley: What would Lincoln do?
- Will Whatley is back with a column this week analyzing “cancel culture” from a somewhat unexpected lens: the 16th president of the United States.
- Having studied Abraham Lincoln in college, Will says one of his defining, if under-appreciated, qualities was his preference for reconciliation over banishment.
- And if a nation and its leader could learn to forgive and heal after a bitter, bloody war, why can’t we tolerate those who have different views than our own?
- Here’s an excerpt:
- Read the full piece HERE.
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