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Daily News Digest – May 19, 2020

Presented by

The Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition


Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, May 19.



1. We’re done here, for now

  • Alabama’s elected leaders have approved a plan to spend $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief money, despite some senators saying they were left out of the process prior to their vote on Monday.
  • “Some meetings took place in our absence that we weren’t involved in and I thought that was inappropriate,” Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, told reporters.
  • House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said House members were worried about slowing down the process of passing the state budgets and getting relief funds to those who needed them immediately, but there was no nefarious intent behind their meetings with Ivey last week.
  • “The House was willing to step up and bring suggestions to the governor,” McCutcheon said on Monday. “We were not working against the Senate. We were not working in secret. We were just doing our job as the House body.”
  • Monday was the final day of the 2020 regular legislative session in which many of the issues prominent in February were tabled in March as the session was delayed six weeks and state revenues fell in response to stay-home orders.
  • There had been a dispute in recent weeks between Ivey’s office and some in the Legislature over who should control the relief spending from Congress, but several senators on Sunday told Alabama Daily News they would vote for Ivey’s plan, which came in the form of an executive amendment to Senate Bill 161.
  • The Senate approved the executive amendment 30-1, the House later approved it 73-1. The lone no vote in the House, Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, who later said he’d intended to vote yes.
  • Marsh also said that trust between the governor and the Senate will have to be “rebuilt” moving forward during future discussion of COVID-19 relief funds and spending on new prisons.
  • Read the whole story, including where the money is going, from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



2. State budgets now law

  • Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the state’s two budgets Monday after a unique and at some points tense final weeks of the 2020 regular legislative session.
  • “I appreciate the hard work of the Legislature during an unprecedented regular session,” Ivey said in an emailed statement.
  • “While we have yet to know the full impact of COVID-19 on our state, these budgets will ensure continuity of government, while being fiscally responsible. There is more work to be done, and I look forward to working with the Legislature in the days ahead.”
  • A record-breaking $7.2 billion Education Trust Fund budget was approved, as well as a $2.3 billion General Fund budget, both for fiscal year 2021, which begins in October.
  • Ivey also signed a bill authorizing a $1.25 billion bond issue for K-12 and higher education capital improvement projects.
  • Both budgets have increases from the current fiscal year, but are considerably less than what was proposed before the coronavirus pandemic hit Alabama and impacted state revenues. Budget writers said they do not expect proration, or automatic spending cuts, on this fiscal year’s budget.
  • The education budget has an increase of $91 million over this year, which is about $300 million less from what was proposed at the beginning of the session.
  • The General Fund saw an overall increase of $167.3 million from the current year’s budget.
  • The biggest expenses in the General Fund budget are for Medicaid at $820 million; the Alabama Department of Corrections at $544 million; the Alabama Department of Public Health at $106 million with a significant portion of that paying for health insurance for low-income children; and the Alabama Department of Mental Health at $154 million.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.








A message from

The Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the significant need and demand for the expansion of rural broadband all across Alabama.
  • Fast and reliable internet is something that all Alabamians should enjoy, not just those who are fortunate enough to live within the current coverage areas.
  • Our children, our economy and our livelihood depend on it.







3. As prison project moves forward, lawmakers still have questions

  • Some Alabama lawmakers say they still have questions about Gov. Kay Ivey’s possible selection of private companies to build three state prisons, a process that so far has largely excluded the Legislature.
  • Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, told Alabama Daily News he plans to send Ivey’s office a letter this week asking if contracting out prison services is an option she’s considering or in bids recently submitted to the Alabama Department of Corrections.
  • “I’m just going to ask point blank,” Ward said. “I am going to be 100% opposed to privately run prisons.
  • “That’s a big policy shift that the Legislature should be involved in.”
  • Ivey has previously said the prisons would be leased from developers, but run and staffed by ADOC.
  • “The state will operate the prisons,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said Monday.
  • The U.S. Justice Department last year said violent and crowded conditions in Alabama prisons violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Justice Department said understaffing and overcrowding were a primary driver of the violence, but also mentioned the need to improve facility conditions.
  • Lawmakers expect Ivey to call a special session of the Legislature later this year to address a package of criminal justice-related bills that didn’t pass in the regular session because of a COVID-19-caused hiatus.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



4. Farmers Federation responds to Brooks’ radio criticism

  • Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell is responding to comments recently made by 5th District Congressman Mo Brooks regarding the organization’s advocacy efforts for trade with China.
  • During an appearance on the Dale Jackson radio show in Huntsville, Brooks accused farming groups, chambers of commerce, Walmart and other “entities” of siding with China over American interests.
  • “They use entities like ALFA, the [American] Farm Bureau, other farm unions around the United States… the Chinese are very good at putting those entities in a position where they are unwilling to do what it necessary to balance out trade with China or eliminate our dependency on China on so many things that are critical for life sustenance in America, medicines being number one.”
  • In a letter to Brooks obtained by Alabama Daily News, Parnell took serious issue with the congressman’s comments, calling them “not only unfair” but untrue.
  • “It is also an insult to the Alabama farmers who have endured punitive tariffs and low commodity prices while standing with President Donald Trump to hold China accountable.”
  • Parnell also said Brooks left out some important information in his radio criticism, namely that agriculture products are a “bright spot” in the trade imbalance.
  • “The Chinese people purchase more agricultural products from the U.S. than they export to the U.S. If you are truly concerned about addressing the overall trade deficit with China, you should be on the frontline advocating for more access for U.S. agricultural goods in China, rather than continuing this self-serving, divisive rhetoric which does nothing to advance the cause of liberty.”
  • Read the full story HERE.



5. Tuberville responds to Sessions letter

  • Last week, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions penned a “letter to the people of Alabama” detailing his reasons for recusing himself from the investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 election.
  • Today, Sessions’ opponent Tommy Tuberville is responding with his own letter, accusing Sessions of being the reason for President Donald Trump’s legal troubles over the past few years.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Throughout this campaign, Sessions has claimed that nameless, faceless Justice Department bureaucrats demanded that he recuse himself from the investigation, and he had no other choice than stepping down. 
“So, without even a courtesy call to the man who appointed him, Sessions abandoned his president and fed him to the wolves, and he almost bought down the entire Trump presidency in the process.
“The truth is that Sessions did, in fact, have several other options, but he lacked the courage and selflessness to seriously consider any of them.
“If Sessions was unsure he could remain loyal to the president, perhaps the easiest option would have been to decline the cabinet post when it was first offered, but, instead, he went in the other direction.”
  • Read the full letter from Tuberville HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers approve Ivey’s $1.8B coronavirus spending plan


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey signs state budgets into law


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As prison project moves forward, lawmakers still have questions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Farmers Federation responds to Brooks’ radio criticism


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hubbard asks Supreme Court to reconsider ethics conviction


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tuberville: Sessions ‘ran away’ when Trump needed him most


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New report analyzes structure of ALSDE, recommends overhaul of internal functions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 2016 repeat? Trump revives Clinton playbook to battle Biden


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 2020 Watch: Battleground map taking shape for Biden, Trump


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Powell: Recovery may begin by summer, will likely be slow


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 18, 2020


AL.COM  – Alabama wants Space Command HQ, but winning will be harder


AL.COM – Huntsville Hospital to offer coronavirus tests to anyone who wants a test


AL.COM – U.S. Space & Rocket Center lays off more than a third of staff


AL.COM – State inmate dies by apparent suicide at William Donaldson Correctional Facility


AL.COM – Alabama lawmakers approve Ivey’s plan for $1.8 billion in CARES Act funds


AL.COM – 42% of Alabama 343 new coronavirus cases from 4 counties; latest county-by-county numbers


AL.COM – Alabama water parks looking to reopen


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Legislature agrees to Gov. Kay Ivey proposals on COVID-19 federal money


Montgomery Advertiser – Man in critical condition after Forbes Drive shooting


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery man accused of stealing Glock pistol during armed robbery


YellowHammer News – Mac McCutcheon praises Ivey, the state of Alabama on its COVID-19 response


YellowHammer News – Sessions earned $108K for speeches after leaving the Trump administration, including $24K from Scaramucci conference


YellowHammer News – Alabama legislature approves Ivey executive amendment on CARES Act funds; 2020 regular session ends


Decatur Daily – Space Force’s spaceplane launches on ULA rocket


Decatur Daily – Ivey signs state budgets into law


Decatur Daily – Lawmakers approve Ivey’s $1.8B coronavirus spending plan


Times Daily – Tuscumbia schools named among best for music education


Times Daily – Lawmakers approve Ivey’s $1.8B coronavirus spending plan


Times Daily – Ivey signs state budgets into law


Anniston Star – Alabama lawmakers approve Ivey’s $1.8B coronavirus spending plan


Anniston Star – Ivey signs Alabama’s state budgets into law


Anniston Star – Jacksonville school board looking at three superintendent candidates; vote could come Thursday


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Moderna: COVID-19 vaccine trial shows promising results


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Senator: Legislature could have gotten prisons built at lower cost but politics got in the way


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Lawmakers approve Ivey’s $1.8B coronavirus spending plan


WAFF Huntsville – Police: Athens woman shoots passing driver while aiming for another car


WAFF Huntsville – Ivey signs state budgets into law


WAFF Huntsville – New report recommends overhaul of state education department


Gadsden Times – Legislature agrees to Ivey’s proposals on COVID-19 federal money


Gadsden Times – Charges expected in Friday shooting


Gadsden Times – Etowah County receives food, shelter, COVID-19 funding


Troy Messenger – PCHS students receive diplomas


Troy Messenger – ‘All we could do was open and see what happened’


Troy Messenger – Community mourns loss of healthcare leader


Opelika-Auburn News – AU alum, local manager named president of Lee newspapers


Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: Skate park, tennis center open; Auburn, Opelika to open city buildings


Opelika-Auburn News – Watch now: Arbor Springs begins to ‘glimmers of hope’ in COVID-19 fight


Dothan Eagle – Dothan Houston County Library System opens with restrictions


Dothan Eagle – FBI: Links between Pensacola gunman, al-Qaida in shooting that killed Enterprise graduate


Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass drive-through COVID-19 testing available this week


Tuscaloosa News – Sheriff: Boy dead after police chase partly taped by TV crew


Tuscaloosa News – Supplier issue causes MBUSI to again halt production


Tuscaloosa News – Coronavirus death toll nears 500 in Alabama

Daily Mountain Eagle – Legislature approves Ivey plan for COVID relief cash


Daily Mountain Eagle – Legislature meets amid ‘animosity’ over COVID relief cash


Trussville Tribune – Legislature approves Ivey plan for COVID relief cash


Trussville Tribune – Early coronavirus vaccine results are encouraging


Trussville Tribune – Morning Update: Alabama COVID-19 cases surpass 12,000 with 488 dead; Blount County records first death


Athens News Courier – GRADUATION: Athens High sets rules for attending ceremony


Athens News Courier – ATHENS POLICE: 3 shootings in 1 night; bullet ‘narrowly missed’ toddler


Athens News Courier – UPDATE: Athens names interim chief for Athens Fire & Rescue


WSFA Montgomery – Virus prompts most presiding judges to postpone in-person court proceedings


WSFA Montgomery – Hard hit Greenville nursing home sanitized by Alabama National Guard


WSFA Montgomery – Man has life-threatening injuries after Montgomery shooting Thursday




WKRG Mobile – Missing doctor visits due to COVID fears could lead to bigger problems


WKRG Mobile – ECSO: Deputies looking for missing 36-year-old


WKRG Mobile – Mobile Airport Authority sees 90% passenger reduction due to COVID-19


WTVY Dothan – Alabama to allocate more than 2,000 vials of the COVID-19 fighting drug Remdesivir to 39 hospitals


WTVY Dothan – Dothan-Houston County libraries open back up


WTVY Dothan – Born in the shadow of 9/11, this senior graduates with two degrees amid another crisis


WASHINGTON POST – Trump threatens to permanently cut WHO funding, says he is taking hydroxychloroquine


WASHINGTON POST – The need to go is a big barrier to going out. Why public bathrooms are a stumbling block for reopening


WASHINGTON POST – Key GOP senator asks Trump for ‘detailed reasoning’ for State Dept. inspector general’s removal.


NEW YORK TIMES – 3 Gulf Coast States Get $88 Million for Fisheries Flooding


NEW YORK TIMES – Group of GOP State AGs Calls on Judge to Dismiss Flynn Case


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Turns His Ire Again on the W.H.O.



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