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Daily News Digest – May 19, 2021

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Alabama Municipal Electric Authority



Good morning!

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



1. Ivey taking ‘hard look’ at Literacy Act delay

  • Gov. Kay Ivey is being asked to veto a bill approved Monday to delay until 2024 a requirement that third grade students who can’t read proficiently must repeat the grade.
  • Legislation to delay by two years the holdback requirement for third graders under the 2019 Literacy Act was one of the significant votes on lawmakers’ final day of the session.
  • “It is accurate that we are hearing from concerned parties regarding the Literacy Act delay,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola told Alabama Daily News Tuesday. “The governor is certainly taking a hard look at this and is exploring all options. Education policy is important to the governor, and as we review, we will provide an update on where she leans on this decision.”
  • The Alabama Literacy Act, aimed at improving young students’ reading abilities, includes requirements for enhanced teacher training, student screenings and additional help for struggling readers, including summer programs. Lawmakers and Ivey have dedicated millions of dollars to the effort. Supporters of the act point to data showing that if students aren’t proficient in reading by the third grade, their chances of academic success later, including graduating high school, are greatly diminished.
  • “I would love for her to (veto it),” Rep. Terri Collins told Alabama Daily News on Tuesday. “In my opinion, it doesn’t support her Strong Start, Strong Finish initiative and I know she’s been a big supporter of the Literacy Act.”
  • But the delay bill’s supporters, including the Alabama Education Association and the Superintendent’s Association of Alabama celebrated its passage Monday night arguing it’s an important measure in light of the learning disruption caused by COVID-19.
  • Bill sponsor Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, said he is urging Ivey to sign it.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.



2. Reed: ‘I feel great’ about session’s productivity

  • After his first session leading the Alabama Senate, President Pro Tem Greg Reed said he feels “great” about the productivity of the session that ended Monday and that the upper chamber “rallied together” despite the challenges of COVID-19.
  • Alabama lawmakers completed the 2021 Regular Session this week having expended all 30 meeting days within 105 calendar days allowed under Alabama’s constitution. Because last year’s session was cut short by the pandemic, the Legislature had more than the usual amount of issues to tackle beginning in February.
  • In an interview with Alabama Daily News, Reed said one challenge this year was tackling more than the normal legislative load because the 2020 session was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • “In the first year of a quadrennium, you’ve got a lot of really specific things you’re trying to do the first year,” Reed said. “This quadrennium, of course, was the infrastructure, which was kind of a huge issue for both chambers and for the governor. You get to the second session, well we didn’t really have a second session. So you wind up in the third session and you had a lot of things that had kind of been held over for individual members that needed to do things in their districts, topics that were important to them, specifically that they wanted to work on.”
  • “I talked with Republican and Democrat members on the issues that were important to them and we got an enormous amount of those things accomplished.”
  • We talked about gambling, economic development, education and State House access.
  • Read about our full discussion HERE.





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3. White House tries to calm economic fears

  • White House officials are seeking to quell anxiety about inflation and the pace of hiring — issuing a memo Tuesday that highlights robust economic gains as the United States gets vaccinated and recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The memo says the administration is “focused on an economic strategy of containing the virus and growing the economy from the bottom-up and middle-out. Data suggest that this strategy is working.” It is from Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, and Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.
  • The administration had until recently been basking in optimism about the economy, only to face a worrisome set of reports that showed a jump in consumer prices and a disappointing level of hiring in April. The memo is an attempt to promote a sunnier narrative and stress the need for additional spending to be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
  • Critics seized on the recent economic reports to suggest that the $1.9 trillion relief package was so big it would fuel inflation and to contend that its enhanced unemployment benefits were encouraging Americans to forgo working.
  • “Democrats insisted on continuing to pay people more not to work,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a Monday speech. “Instead of an agenda to reopen America, Democrats muscled through policies that would actually prolong parts of this crisis. And that’s what’s happened.”
  • Supply bottlenecks for basic goods such as autos contributed to a 0.8% surge in consumer prices in April, the biggest monthly increase in more than a decade. Fears that inflation could persist came from higher gas prices following the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline and shortage of homes being listed for sale.
  • Read more HERE.



4. Conservatives see big issues come to fore at SCOTUS

  • Abortion. Guns. Religion. A Trump-fortified conservative majority is making its presence felt at the Supreme Court by quickly wading into high-profile social issues that have been a goal of the right for decades.
  • For years, frustrated conservatives, including some justices, chided a court with a majority of Republican appointees for not going far enough or passing on issues they thought demanded the court’s attention.
  • Now, with three appointees of former President Donald Trump on the nine-member court, longer-serving conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas can cobble together five-justice majorities even without the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts.
  • The justices announced Monday that they will hear an abortion case that could undermine nearly 50 years of abortion rights rulings and agreed last month to decide whether Americans have a constitutional right to carry guns in public for self-defense.
  • A decision to hear a case takes just four votes and is no guarantee of its outcome. But on guns and abortion in particular, the court with a less-conservative lineup passed up several opportunities to wade in. Court votes on whether or not to take up cases are not public.
  • Thomas, the longest-serving current justice, has long complained about his colleagues’ timidity on these topics. For nearly 30 years, he has called on the court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that extended abortion rights across the country. He was one of four justices who would have overturned Roe in 1992, in his first term on the court.
  • Read more HERE.



5. US encouraging Israel to wind down Gaza offensive

  • President Joe Biden and administration officials have encouraged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials to wind down the bombardment of Gaza, a person with knowledge of the discussions said Tuesday, as the Israeli and Palestinian death tolls mounted and pressure grew on Biden to move more forcefully to stop the fighting.
  • Top Biden administration officials underscored to the Israelis on Monday and Tuesday that time is not on their side in terms of international objections to nine days of Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rockets, and that it is in their interest to wind down the operations soon, according to the official, who was not authorized to comment publicly on the private talks and spoke on condition of anonymity.
  • The account shows Biden administration officials going further privately in messaging to Netanyahu than they have previously revealed. A White House readout of a Biden call to Netanyahu on Monday said Biden had expressed support for a cease-fire, but said nothing about the U.S. urging Israel to bring fighting to a close.
  • Read more HERE.


ICYMI: Restaurant COVID income tax waived

  • There was a lot of news out of the State House early this week. If you don’t believe me just take a look at yesterday’s digest.
  • One important story that you may have missed is how, in its last act of the 2021 Regular Session, the Alabama Legislature ensured that restaurant owners don’t have to pay state income taxes on the newest round of COVID-19 federal relief.
  • Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, earlier in the session sponsored a bill to clarify tax code to ensure restaurant grants in the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan don’t raise the state income tax liability for owners. It also would have untaxed the plan’s enhanced child tax credit, earned income tax credit and child and dependent care tax credit.
  • But that bill didn’t move because legislative leaders said it could wait until a special session later this year, or even early in the 2022 session.
  • Roberts instead got the restaurant language on the existing House Bill 227 to allow for an income tax credit for the construction of storm shelters.
  • Read the full story from Mary Sell HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey taking ‘hard look’ at Literacy Act delay bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Reed: ‘I feel great’ about session’s productivity


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Charles Barkley gives money to employees at his high school


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – White House tries to calm economic fears


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Conservatives push big issues to fore at Supreme Court


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AP source: US encouraging Israel to wind down Gaza offensive


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In last move of session, Legislature removes state income tax on restaurants’ federal rescue money


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Vaccine passports’ ban passes final vote


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill to allow citations instead of arrests goes to Ivey


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Literacy Act requirement delay passes final vote


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Curbside voting ban goes to governor


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Sexual assault survivor ‘bill of rights’ goes to governor


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill to change governor’s control state of emergency orders dies


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Legislature: What passed and failed on the last day


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Gambling bill dies as Alabama legislative session ends


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama lawmakers OK legislation to lift yoga ban in schools


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judge dismisses suit seeking to block Alabama prison leases


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 18, 2021


AL.COM – Auburn continuing work on $94.5 million culinary education center, hotel


AL.COM – This Alabama school system fired teachers, gave administrators $20,000 in bonuses


AL.COM – Amazon to bring fulfillment center to Huntsville, create 500 jobs


AL.COM – Birmingham, Montgomery will commemorate 60th anniversary of historic Freedom Rides with immersive exhibit


AL.COM – Mo Brooks picks up first endorsement from senator in Senate campaign


AL.COM – Alabama offers free online summer learning to battle student COVID slide


AL.COM – Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle dropped as defendant in bullied student lawsuit


AL.COM – Mayor proposes $455 million Birmingham budget, projects economic recovery


AL.COM – 3 men killed in Alabama prisons as state faces Justice Department lawsuit


AL.COM – Biden ends Trump’s ‘Heroes Garden’ plan; 6 Alabama statues would have been included


AL.COM – Africatown concerns remain unresolved in Mobile zoning code, activists claim


Montgomery Advertiser – Police involved shooting on Gibbons Drive in Montgomery


Montgomery Advertiser – Man killed by police in exchange of gunfire at east Montgomery hotel


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery changes street drinking rules for downtown and Cloverdale


Decatur Daily – Pandemic hasn’t derailed Decatur budget, per mid-year review


Decatur Daily – Prosecutor: Murder defendant had alcohol in system, driving 100 mph


Decatur Daily – Mayor proposes reorganization of Street and Environmental, Engineering departments


Times Daily – Utility pole replacement will cause some power outages in Cherokee


Times Daily – Arts Alive’s return deemed a major success


Times Daily – Helen Keller Hospital employees get pandemic bonus


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Can fully vaccinated people still spread the virus?


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham PD: Child shot Tuesday night in Ensley


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ALEA investigating after suspect shot dead at end of police pursuit in Blount County


Tuscaloosa News – Settlement reached in lawsuit over Covington County jail death


Tuscaloosa News – Ceremony marks opening of new bank building, neighboring workforce and development center


Tuscaloosa News – Despite cool spring, annual daylily sale is ready to bloom in Gordo


YellowHammer News – U.S. national security efforts strengthened by latest ULA launch


YellowHammer News – Alabama First Class Pre-K program adds 135 classrooms ahead of 2021-2022 school year


YellowHammer News – Alabama Senate unanimously passes bill protecting ‘born alive’ abortion survivors, sending bill to governor


Gadsden Times – Settlement reached in lawsuit over Covington County jail death


Gadsden Times – Rowe enters guilty plea in 2014, 2015 murder cases


Gadsden Times – Hearing set for Wednesday as rendering plant defendants try to keep documents under wraps


Dothan Eagle – Prosecutor finds deputies justified in shooting of Black man


Dothan Eagle – Hearing aid contest winners grateful, emotional and relieved


Dothan Eagle – Alabama town magistrate stabbed in City Hall attack


Opelika-Auburn News – Amid threats to members, House to vote on new security


Opelika-Auburn News – Amid threats to members, House to vote on new security


Opelika-Auburn News – Transgender treatment ban fails in Alabama Legislature


WSFA Montgomery – National Public Works Week celebrates workers at the heart of commuities


WSFA Montgomery – Can fully vaccinated people still spread the virus?


WSFA Montgomery – MPD: Kidnapping suspect killed in gunfire exchange with officers


WAFF Huntsville – Early morning fire destroys mobile home in Toney


WAFF Huntsville – Amazon Fulfillment Center bringing 500 jobs to Huntsville


WAFF Huntsville – MPD: Kidnapping suspect killed in gunfire exchange with officers


WKRG Mobile – Mobile City Council to have major make over


WKRG Mobile – Victim’s family speaks out in Bayou La Batre brawl involving Theodore head football coach


WKRG Mobile – Victim’s family speaks out in Bayou La Batre brawl involving Theodore head football coach


WTVY Dothan – Montgomery Police Department: Kidnapping suspect killed in gunfire exchange with officers


WTVY Dothan – Southeast Health honors volunteers who make vaccination clinics possible


WTVY Dothan – Summer camp safety protocols in place as registrations fill up


WASHINGTON POST – Biden is increasingly at odds with other Democrats over Israel


WASHINGTON POST – Diplomatic pressure mounts for a cease-fire as Israel, Hamas continue attacks


WASHINGTON POST – Investigation of Trump Organization now exploring possible criminal conduct, N.Y. attorney general’s office says


NEW YORK TIMES – Live Updates: France Leads Push for Cease-Fire in Gaza, but Fighting Drags On


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid Live Updates: India Reports Highest Daily Death Toll of Any Country


NEW YORK TIMES – New York’s Attorney General Joins Criminal Inquiry Into Trump Organization


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Asia Suffers Outbreaks Where Covid-19 Had Seemed Beaten


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Slip, With Tech Leading Losses


WALL STREET JOURNAL – SPAC Selloff Bruises Individual Investors



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