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Daily News Digest – May 28, 2019

Presented by

the Alabama Wholesale Beer Association

Good morning! Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend.
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, May 28.

1. The Home Stretch.

So, here we are in what is maybe, probably, definitely the last week of the 2019 Regular Session.
Today is the 25th legislative day, and lawmakers are prepared to meet for the 26th, 27th, and 28th days, if necessary.
Of course, that leaves two legislative days in the tank if something crazy happens. Also, by ending two calendar weeks early, the’ll have saved some taxpayer money, which will be a useful fact if/when a special session on prisons is called.
But, there’s plenty of work left to do in this session. Here are a few, um, I’d call them items…
  • The Budgets. There are still a few snags to work out, including how the state’s match to the Children’s Health Insurance Program is funded. That line item is not an island unto itself, as it impacts other agencies as well (ALDOT, ALEA, the courts). ADN’s Mary Sell has your budget primer story for the home stretch, which really is a must-read for State House types.
  • Education reform. It looks like the charter school funding parity bill is dead, but Sen. Del Marsh’s big education governance overhaul bill is through committee and is in position to pass  the House this week once placed on the calendar. Senate Bill 397 passed without dissent in the Senate, so you’d think it has a good shot downstairs.
  • Literacy & Computer Science. Bills seeking to improve literacy (House Bill 388) and computer science education (House Bill 216) are out of committee and in position for floor votes in the Senate this week. These are two big ones for the education community and their allies in the Legislature.
  • Broadband. While the big utility broadband bill passed last week, Sen. Clay Scofield’s bill to expand and enhance the state’s existing rural broadband grant program is still awaiting a vote in the House. Senate Bill 90 is #2 on the second proposed Special Order Calendar and could get a vote today if the House moves through the education budget quickly.
  • Pardons & Paroles. The news that the state had to pay out a $1 million settlement in a wrongful parole lawsuit only helps the case of those trying to reform the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Rep. Connie Rowe’s House Bill 380is first up in Senate Judiciary today, and the only question is whether lawmakers will pass it now or save it for a possible special session on prisons later this year.
The Advertiser’s Brian Lyman has a good last-week-of-session preview story in today’s paper that’s worth a read.


2. Once dead, cannabis compromise makes comeback.

  • Last week, it appeared that Sen. Tim Melson’s medical marijuana bill was dead upon arrival in the House of Representatives.
  • That would be problematic because two popular laws regulating experimental research programs – Carly’s Law and Leni’s Law – were part of the bill and expire this year if the Legislature doesn’t take action.
  • Now, a compromise has been worked out in the House Health Committee that will see the extension of those laws plus a new state commission charged with studying and recommending cannabis policies for the future.
  • That committee is scheduled to meet today at 10:00.
  • Caroline Beck and Mary Sell talked to all the parties involved and had the scoop late last week behind the paywall.
  • Their updated story fresh for today is HERE.

A message from

the Alabama Wholesale Beer Association

A new economic impact study shows Alabama’s beer industry contributes $2.8 billion annually to the state economy.
What’s more, the study shows that 20,436 state jobs are impacted by the beer industry, accounting for $784 million each year in wages and benefits and generating $528 million annually in business, personal and consumption taxes.
Beer serves Alabama , and the Alabama Wholesale Beer Association is proud to represent distributors throughout the state and the more than 4,000 workers they employ.
Thank you to Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature for supporting Alabama’s beer industry and the jobs it creates!

3. Abortion ban may not be final law.

  • Tired of talking about abortion yet? Yeah, me too.
  • But this is an important story…
  • Alabama’s recently-enacted law almost totally banning abortions in the state may not be the law most lawmakers actually want.
  • Bill sponsor Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, has made clear she prefers a “heartbeat” law that includes exceptions for rape and incest. She told ADN’s Mary Sell that she thinks that’s where most Alabama lawmakers are. Of course, what they passed did not include exceptions for rape and incest because they believed that was the best way to get the law before the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade.
  • Interestingly, the law does include an exception for women who could harm themselves or attempt to end their pregnancy due to mental illness. It would have to be verified by two doctors, one of whom must be a psychiatrist.
  • This isn’t not a wide-open mental health loophole – in fact, lawmakers actively sought to avoid that. But, it’s not hard to see how this exception could be taken advantage of.
  • Read the full story from Mary Sell HERE.


4. Haney faces scrutiny again.

  • Alabama real estate investor Franklin Haney contributed $1 million to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, and now that donation is under federal investigation.
  • The contribution from Haney, a prolific political donor, came as he was seeking regulatory approval and financial support from the government for his long-shot bid to acquire the mothballed Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in northeastern Alabama. More than two years later, he still hasn’t closed the deal.
  • Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has given prosecutors information regarding Haney and his son, Frank Haney Jr., and the nuclear plant project.
  • Haney had briefly hired Cohen to help obtain money for the Bellefonte project from potential investors. Cohen is now serving a three-year prison sentence for tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations.
  • Haney also came under scrutiny for state-based political donations. His business donated thousands in 2013 and 2015 to political action committees that supported former Gov. Robert Bentley, who later recommended that Bellefonte be put up for sale.
  • Haney is suing the Tennessee Valley Authority for scrapping a deal to sell the unfinished nuclear plant to him back in November 2016.
  • Full story from Richard Lardner HERE.


5. In case you missed it…


Some readers might be catching back up to the news today after unplugging over weekend. If that’s you, here are a few stories to get you up to speed.
Parole settlement reached
  • As referenced earlier, the state of Alabama will pay $1 million to three families of murder victims killed by a man they say was wrongfully paroled.
  • The families of Colton Lee, Marie Martin and Martha Reliford allege that the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles should not have paroled Jimmy O’Neal Spencer and failed to properly supervise him once he was released. Spencer is accused of killing all three in Guntersville in July 2018.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall are supporting legislation to overhaul the Pardons and Paroles Board and give the governor the power to appoint the director of the parole board, as well as put into place sentence minimums that inmates must serve before becoming eligible for parole.
  • “I am angry, certainly at Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, but I am also angry that a process designed to protect the public from deviant criminals like Spencer utterly failed them, as well as little Colton,” said Marshall, who recused himself from settlement negotiations because he knew two of the victims.
  • Read the full story from Blake Paterson HERE.
Census numbers
  • New census estimates are out and they show what Alabama cities are shrinking and which are growing.
  • Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile continue to lose population, while Huntsville is growing strong and could be Alabama’s largest city within six years. Huntsville will almost certainly overtake Montgomery as the state’s second largest city within a few years.
  • Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Madison and Hoover have all grown at a fast pace. Tuscaloosa is now in the 100,000 club.
  • Read more from Ramsay Archibald and see the list of the states’s 35 largest cities now compared to the 2010 census HERE.
Two fewer weeks
  • The time between primary elections and primary runoffs in Alabama will shrink from six weeks to four weeks under a bill that cleared the Alabama Legislature on Thursday.
  • That means two fewer weeks of campaign advertising and less money spent by candidates, Secretary of State John Merrill said Thursday.
  • “We believe that will make most people very happy,” Merrill said. House Bill 247 was a priority for him this year, he said.
  • The bill was sponsored by Rep. Rhett Marques, R-Enterprise, and passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. It now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature. If it becomes law, it goes into effect immediately, in time for the 2020 election.
  • Merrill said it applies to all elections — municipal, county, state and federal.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Budget sticking points remain as Legislature enters final week
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Once dead, cannabis compromise makes comeback
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Abortion ban may not be final law
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama donation to Trump’s inaugural comes under scrutiny
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matthew Stokes: Why not do more?
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State to pay victims’ families $1M over suspect’s parole
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump breaks with Japan’s Abe on North Korean missile tests
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Impeach Trump? Most 2020 Democrats tiptoe past the question
AL.COM  – Old Shelby Hotel ‘a total loss’ following Sunday fire
AL.COM  – Columnist Roy Johnson: ‘You can’t learn too much,’ says Alabama State student, aspiring software engineer
AL.COM  – Police investigate $1 million in drugs washed up on Orange Beach
AL.COM  – Franklin Haney’s $1 million donation to Trump faces scrutiny in Alabama nuclear plant deal
AL.COM  – Commissioner says Alabama prison system culture must change
Montgomery Advertiser – Budgets, education bills pending near end of legislative session
Montgomery Advertiser – Elmore man charged with murder in shooting death of his wife
Montgomery Advertiser – The 2019 Gathering of Eagles starts Tuesday, 9 members to visit Montgomery
Montgomery Advertiser – Officer accused of sexually abusing 15-year-old killed himself, Mississippi police say
YellowHammer News – Legislation would incentivize tech companies to ‘stay and grow’ in Alabama
YellowHammer News – Grant to University of Alabama establishes Alabama Power Innovation Fund
YellowHammer News – Auburn University nursing researchers use therapy dogs to assist dementia patients
Dothan Eagle – Dothan teens charged with murder in Florida Avenue shooting
Dothan Eagle – Rolling Thunder takes its final ride in Washington, though Trump says it will return
Dothan Eagle – Today In History, May 27: Bismarck
Tuscaloosa News – Budgets remain a sticking point as Alabama Legislature enters final week
Tuscaloosa News – New Tuscaloosa pay plan could bring raises to all city workers
Tuscaloosa News – MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Young adults are told to save for retirement as soon as possible. But is this the best advice?
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama man killed in boating accident on Lake Wheeler
Decatur Daily – Budgets remain a sticking point as Legislature enters final week
Decatur Daily – House leaders: Abortion ban ‘not necessarily’ final law in Alabama
Decatur Daily – Fantasy sports bill stalls in Senate
Decatur Daily – ‘Finally home’: Sailor killed in 1941 at Pearl Harbor buried in Limestone County on Memorial Day
Decatur Daily – City, museum group want meeting on civil rights museum
Decatur Daily – Boy dies in Smith Lake boating accident
Times Daily – House leaders: Abortion ban ‘not necessarily’ final law in Alabama
Times Daily – Ceremonies honor fallen heroes
Times Daily – Bradley Byrne to hold Florence meeting on Saturday
Gadsden Times – Patriots Association unveils memorial addition, holds annual program
Gadsden Times – Etowah County detention deputy faces felony drug charges
Anniston Star – Fallen honored at Memorial Day ceremony
Anniston Star – American Legion post, Young Marines hold sunrise flag-raising
Anniston Star  – Budgets remain a sticking point as Legislature enters final week
Andalusia Star News – Community pays tribute to those who served
Andalusia Star News – Byrne plans town hall here Friday
Andalusia Star News – Rave Reviews: Auditorium impresses audience
Opelika-Auburn News – UPDATED MONDAY: Services announced for ‘Voice of the Auburn Tigers’ Rod Bramblett, wife, who both died after tragic car accident
Opelika-Auburn News – Teen girl killed near Salem when vehicle overturns; several water deaths reported in region
Daily Mountain Eagle – Honoring the fallen
Trussville Tribune – Trussville man publishes book, ‘From The Cross To The Throne’
Trussville Tribune – McCalla man charged with capital murder for death of wife
WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery’s roughest roads to get temporary smoothing over
WSFA Montgomery – 1 teen killed, 1 critically injured after being ejected in crash
WSFA Montgomery – Thousands of US kindergartners unvaccinated without waivers
Fox 6 Birmingham – Veterans, volunteers place thousands of roses on graves at Alabama National Cemetery
Fox 6 Birmingham – Fire destroys historic hotel in Shelby County
Fox 6 Birmingham – First responders discuss staying cool while in gear
WAFF Huntsville – Tennessee Valley honors our fallen veterans on Memorial Day
WAFF Huntsville – WWII hero laid to rest in north Alabama after nearly 80 years
WAFF Huntsville – Ga. man dies after fall at DeSoto Falls State Park
WKRG Mobile – BREAKING: Boyfriend arrested for Magnolia Road murder
WKRG Mobile – Giant fish to help feed Mobile homeless
WTVY Dothan – Dothan’s Beau Benton remembers his old co-worker Rod Bramblett
WTVY Dothan – Police believe truck driver who went berserk may have used drugs
WTVY Dothan – CSX increasing train speeds along Georgia and Alabama route
WASHINGTON POST  – Drug company to face first opioid trial in Oklahoma as families of the dead seek recompense
WASHINGTON POST  – Republican lawmaker criticizes Trump for sharing heavily edited video of Pelosi
NEW YORK TIMES  – How Mount Everest’s popularity turned fatal
NEW YORK TIMES  – Female Veterans, and a Memorial to Them, Struggle to Honor Women Who Served
NEW YORK TIMES  – Fearing Supreme Court Loss, New York Tries to Make Gun Case Vanish

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