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Daily News Digest – March 8, 2021

Good morning!

Hope you had a fun and restful weekend. A new edition of Inside Alabama Politics is out tomorrow, so make sure your subscription is in order and your tips are in my inbox.

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:
“People aren’t irredeemable, and we should give those people who do something wrong a chance to atone for their social sins. We can’t do that if we just write them off and toss them aside. All that does is further engrain those feelings into their belief system. If we want true change, we need to focus on education, a chance for redemption, and a welcoming back into the fold. If unity is truly the goal, we need to focus on ways to extend grace instead of the lash of the whip.”
  • Read the full piece HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmaker: During pandemic ‘compassionate care’ needed in health facility visitor policies
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State budgets, legislative authority, gambling bills in State House next week
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Highlights of the $1.9T COVID bill nearing final passage
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – EXPLAINER: 5 key takeaways from the February jobs report
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Cuomo defiant as top New York lawmakers call on him to quit
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Will Whatley: What Would Lincoln Do?
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State Health Officer: Please wear masks after April 9
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden marks ‘Bloody Sunday’ by signing voting rights order
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Op-ed: Building a Better Criminal Justice System Together
AL.COM – Bloody Sunday 2021: Legacy of civil rights giants loom large in Selma
AL.COM  – COVID in Alabama: Faith helps people through pandemic
AL.COM – 7 Alabama cities could go from ‘metro’ to ‘micro’ under proposal
AL.COM – Union in Amazon effort disavows social-media boycott call
AL.COM – 3rd stimulus check update: Payments will start in March; how much you could get and who qualifies
AL.COM – Columnist Dana McCain: Ivey finds a balance between public health and personal liberty
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: A reasonable monuments bill deserves reconsideration
Montgomery Advertiser – Despite going virtual because of COVID, ‘Bloody Sunday’ events remain strong, spiritual
Montgomery Advertiser – Sheyann Webb-Christburg known as the “Youngest Freedom Fighter” tells her story of Bloody Sunday
Montgomery Advertiser – 56th Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee
Decatur Daily – State budgets, legislative authority, gambling bills in Statehouse this week
Decatur Daily – 2 Moulton residents indicted on porn charges
Decatur Daily – Police: Man charged with capital murder, sexual torture of girl gave conflicting statements
Times Daily – State budgets, gambling bills await action
Times Daily – COVID-19 numbers continue to decline while hospitals await vaccines
Times Daily – Public hearing Thursday will outline Colbert recycling options, costs
Anniston Star – Loss of a House seat could lead to a tough primary for two Alabama GOP incumbents
Anniston Star – Kiwanians adopt drive-thru technique for annual pancake sale
Anniston Star – Gun owners increase in number, ammo supply decreases
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Health officials say you shouldn’t compare COVID-19 vaccines based on effectiveness
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Man critically injured in Center Point shooting
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Anti-abortion protester shoots himself in leg outside clinic
Tuscaloosa News – Gov. Kay Ivey asserted emergency powers. Now, Alabama legislators may try to limit them
Tuscaloosa News – PHOTOS: Kentuck Festival Will Be Live For 50th Anniversary Show
Tuscaloosa News – Kentuck plans to bring its Festival of the Arts back in October, after a pandemic year off
YellowHammer News – Mo Brooks: Stopping H.R. 1, amnesty keys to winning in 2022 midterms — ‘Then we will be able to neuter Joe Biden’
YellowHammer News – Packaging Corp. of America plans $440 million project at Alabama mill
YellowHammer News – Rep. Aderholt warns congressional Democrats moving to allow for taxpayer-funded abortions
Gadsden Times – DeKalb investigators seek information after three dogs apparently poisoned
Gadsden Times – Gov. Kay Ivey asserted emergency powers. Now, Alabama legislators may try to limit them
Dothan Eagle – A YEAR OF COVID-19: School systems facing challenges in return to normalcy
Dothan Eagle – Answer Man: What do the numbers on this red sign signify?
Dothan Eagle – Dothan among 144 cities that could lose status as metro areas
Opelika-Auburn News – Ky. mayor: Confederate statue won’t be on city property
Opelika-Auburn News – The Latest: Serena Williams ‘proud’ of Meghan for interview
Opelika-Auburn News – The Latest: Norway’s marriages dropped 19% due to pandemic
WSFA Montgomery – Harris delivers remarks to Brown Chapel AME Church on 56 anniversary of Bloody Sunday
WSFA Montgomery – 2nd Tuskegee Airmen Legacy Commemoration Day event held virtually
WSFA Montgomery – Martin & Coretta King Unity Breakfast turned into drive-in event
WAFF Huntsville – Moores Mill Volunteer Fire Department and Little River Canyon National Preserve officials conduct prescribed burns
WAFF Huntsville – Criminal justice reform group puts up billboard addressing Mayor Battle in Huntsville
WAFF Huntsville – Educators prepare students in the Shoals for standardized tests
WKRG Mobile – Mobile woman tells her story of alleged domestic violence attack, suspect charged with domestic violence in the past
WKRG Mobile – Meghan Markle describes suicidal thoughts, anguish about hurtful discussions about son
WKRG Mobile – EXPLAINER: What’s happened so far at China’s annual congress
WTVY Dothan – Gun and knife show wraps up at National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds
WTVY Dothan – Both Alabama Senators Tuberville, Shelby vote against COVID relief bill
WTVY Dothan – Local law enforcement prepare for spring breakers and tourists
WASHINGTON POST – U.S. proposes interim power-sharing government with Taliban in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON POST – Biden directs fresh review of Title IX rule on campus sexual assault
WASHINGTON POST – Narrow relief bill victory provides warning signs for broader Democratic agenda
NEW YORK TIMES – Top State Leader Says ‘Cuomo Must Resign.’ Governor Says ‘No Way.’
NEW YORK TIMES – In the Stimulus Bill, a Policy Revolution in Aid for Children
NEW YORK TIMES – ‘I Just Didn’t Want to Be Alive Anymore’: Meghan Says Life as Royal Made Her Suicidal
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Covid-19 Aid Bill Heads Back to House After Tense Senate Vote
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Tech Stocks Poised to Decline as Bond Yields Rise
WALL STREET JOURNAL – GE Nears Deal to Combine Aircraft-Leasing Unit With AerCap




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