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Daily News Digest – May 4, 2021

Good morning!

Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you!

Here’s your Daily News with accompanying GIFs, per tradition.


1. Ivey: Health orders to end


  • Citing improved infection rates, fewer hospitalizations and more widespread immunizations, Gov. Kay Ivey said Monday the state’s current public health order will end on May 31, barring a sharp rise in cases.
  • A state of emergency declared because of the health threat will end July 6, she said in a statement.
  • “For over a year now, Alabamians, like people around the globe, have made sacrifices and adjusted to a temporary ‘new normal.’ We have learned much since last year, and this is absolutely now a managed pandemic. Our infection rates and hospitalizations are in better shape, and over 1.5 million Alabamians have had at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Ivey said.
  • Read more from Jay Reeves HERE.


2. Gambling package ready to proceed


  • Today is the 28th legislative day of the 30-day regular session of the Alabama Legislature, meaning there are three days left to pass legislation.
  • The House and Senate each have a full slate of legislation on today’s agendas, though nothing too controversial. (There is a hot rumor that medical marijuana may be added on to the House special order calendar today, but we won’t know for sure until later.)
  • For now, all eyes are on the wide-ranging gambling package that is ready to proceed in the House. There was a public hearing on the lottery portion of the bill yesterday, but the real action will come today in committee when the House substitute bills are introduced.
  • As expected, members of the House took their time making revisions to what passed out of the Senate last month. Rep. Chris Blackshear, R-Smith’s Station, is quarterbacking the package in the House. The Governor’s office has also been more involved behind the scenes.
  • ADN obtained draft copies of the substitute bills. According to the drafts, the revamped plan would increase the tax on casinos and sports betting, write the Alabama Gambling Regulatory Commission and its enforcement authority into the constitution and more strictly ban gambling interests from offering gifts or campaign contributions to public officials.
  • There are other changes, from verbiage and organization to enforcement. There are also other factors at play, including the likelihood that “lottery only” amendments will surface either in committee or on the House floor.
  • ADN Insiders can read more about all this and the draft bills themselves HERE.
  • Not an ADN Insider? It’s our premium subscription service where paid subscribers get all the latest scoops and stories from inside Alabama politics. Subscribe today HERE.



3. Judicial, DA pay changes near final passage

  • A bill to change the pay structure for judges around the state and give them a raise could get final passage in the Legislature today.
  • Senate Bill 292 was amended in the House to also change the compensation schedule of district attorneys and the state attorney general.
  • Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, who sponsored the bill, said he plans to concur with the changes this week.
  • Current law says circuit judges’ salaries are set by statute and then district and appellate judges and supreme court justices’ salaries are based on circuit judges’ pay. Senate Bill 292 sets separate initial salaries for the various judges, as well as district attorneys and the attorney general, and provides for 7.5% raises each term.
  • “What we’re trying to get some clarification on who is getting paid what and why,” Albritton told Alabama Daily News.
  • Circuit judges’ salaries would start at $140,000; district judges’ would start at $139,000. Appellate court judges initial salaries would be $174,000. The chief justice of the state would earn $176,000, associate justices would get $175,000.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.



4. Census privacy case begins

  • The fight over whether the U.S. Census Bureau can use a controversial statistical technique to keep people’s information private in the numbers used for drawing political districts on Monday went before a judicial panel that must decide if the method provides enough data accuracy.
  • A panel of three federal judges heard arguments on whether the method known as “differential privacy” meets the federal legal requirement for keeping private the personal information of people who participated in the 2020 census while still allowing the numbers to be sufficiently accurate for the highly partisan process of redrawing congressional and legislative districts. Differential privacy adds mathematical “noise,” or intentional errors, to the data to obscure any given individual’s identity while still providing statistically valid information.
  • Because a panel of three federal district judges will decide the matter, any appeal of the lawsuit brought by the state of Alabama could go straight to the Supreme Court.
  • Separately, another lawsuit brought by Alabama over the 2020 census was dismissed Monday at the request of the state. The lawsuit had tried to force the Census Bureau to exclude residents who are in the country illegally from the numbers used for divvying up congressional seats among the states. Alabama claimed it would lose a congressional seat if those residents were included, but the state defied expectations by keeping its seventh seat when the apportionment numbers were released last week.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler and Mike Schneider HERE.


5. Flurry of diplomatic contacts fuel Iran deal speculation

  • A flurry of diplomatic contacts and reports of major progress suggest that indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran may be nearing an agreement. That’s despite efforts by U.S. officials to play down chances of an imminent deal that would bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • With the negotiations in Vienna on hiatus, the U.S. and Britain denied Iranian reports that any agreement was at hand with Iran for a swap of American and British prisoners. Such an exchange could be a confidence-building measure to revive the nuclear deal.
  • A U.S. return to the deal would be the biggest and most controversial foreign policy initiative in the early months of Joe Biden’s presidency. It would revive a deal that top Biden aides put together during their years in the Obama administration, only to see President Donald Trump pull out and try to prevent the U.S. from ever returning. Rejoining it — and making the concessions required to do so — would enrage Republicans and likely unsettle Israel and Gulf Arab allies.
  • Read more from Matthew Lee HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey: health orders to end


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House to consider revamped gambling package (ADN Insiders)


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lottery, casino bill faces hearing, vote at session end


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judicial, DA pay changes near final passage


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judges hear arguments over contentious Census privacy tool


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Flurry of diplomatic contacts fuel Iran deal speculation


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Whose ‘Big Lie’? Trump’s proclamation a new GOP litmus test


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Charges raised to capital murder in Alabama toddler’s death




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – TSA extends face-mask requirement on planes until September


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In final days of 2021 session, House may tackle three heated issues


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would allow police to issue citations rather make than arrests


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Vaccine hesitancy a problem in effort to return to ‘normal’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 3, 2021


AL.COM  – Alabama’s state of emergency to end July 6; COVID public health order goes away in 4 weeks


AL.COM – Alabama to build fifth veteran’s home in Enterprise


AL.COM – Idaho transgender athlete ban challenged in federal appeals court


AL.COM – New Alabama law will make it easier to track campaign funds for city candidates


AL.COM – Former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones joins D.C. lobbying firm


AL.COM – Man freed from prison by Bryan Stevenson shares his story: ‘The impossible is obtainable’.


AL.COM – Transgender rights, gambling, marijuana: Alabama Republican lawmakers engage in new ‘culture wars’


AL.COM – 12 Alabama counties now under burn ban


AL.COM – Columnist Dana McCain: Alabama district attorneys make bad faith argument on medical marijuana


Montgomery Advertiser – Ivey announces end dates for Alabama’s COVID-19 public health order, state of emergency


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery Chamber of Commerce named one of the nation’s top economic development groups


Montgomery Advertiser – U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks talks about why he is running for U.S. Senate


Decatur Daily – Motion to limit quarry trucks fails in Limestone


Decatur Daily – 3 days left, but no vote yet on gambling, marijuana, transgender bills


Decatur Daily – Council picks Shaw for development director


Times Daily – Shoals employers struggling to hire workers


Times Daily – House must tackle 3 heated issues in final days of 2021 session



Times Daily – Bill would allow issuing citations in place of arrests


Anniston Star – In final days of 2021 session, House may tackle three heated issues


Anniston Star – Bill would allow police to issue citations rather than make arrests



WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Desmon Ray’s family views body cam video of his death by BPD


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Leaders react to Gov. Ivey’s plan to end COVID-19 restrictions


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – How to keep your kids safe on the playground


Tuscaloosa News – Brookwood’s new playground part of effort to train future teachers


Tuscaloosa News – Ivey announces end dates for Alabama’s COVID-19 public health order, state of emergency


Tuscaloosa News – PHOTOS: Brookwood playground opening seals a community vision


YellowHammer News – Yellowhammer set to honor Bill Poole with 2021 Power of Service Award


YellowHammer News – Ivey announces final end dates for COVID-19 public health order, state of emergency — ‘Alabama is open’ and ‘moving forward’


YellowHammer News – State Sen. Beasley opposes new mega-prison construction, Urges renovating and maintaining smaller existing facilities


Gadsden Times – Neighbor reports smoke; Southside, RBC firefighters contain blaze


Gadsden Times – Marshall County sheriff commends inmates who helped jailer during assault


Gadsden Times – DeKalb County Korean War MIA to be buried in June, in Georgia


Dothan Eagle – Prince Harry, Jennifer Lopez make voices heard at Vax Live


Dothan Eagle – Impact of devastating Indian virus surge spreads to politics


Dothan Eagle – US begins reuniting some families separated at Mexico border


Opelika-Auburn News – Striking oil here could be worth billions of dollars. Not everyone is happy


Opelika-Auburn News – 3 killed, 27 hospitalized after boat capsizes off San Diego


Opelika-Auburn News – Democrats seek narrow path to rein in cost of medicines


WSFA Montgomery – Proposed lottery proceeds would go toward academic scholarships


WSFA Montgomery – Technology from an Auburn-based materials company used in at-home COVID-19 tests


WSFA Montgomery – Longtime Montgomery police chaplain, Brick-A-Day Church pastor dies


WAFF Huntsville – New HEMSI EMS Academy launching in hopes to develop more employees


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville business owners begin applying for Restaurant Revitalization Funds


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville City Council Member Bill Kling encourages others to get COVID vaccine


WKRG Mobile – Southern Miss issues statement as search continues for missing swimmer off Dauphin Island


WKRG Mobile – Pensacola woman claims she found cigarette wrapped up with taco


WKRG Mobile – Medical Moment: Dangers of Melanoma


WTVY Dothan – Troy University 3D printing program teaching students how to problem solve


WTVY Dothan – High demand for truck drivers


WTVY Dothan – Eufaula police investigate Sunday morning shooting death of Eufaula man


WASHINGTON POST – U.S. trustee opposes NRA bankruptcy petition in blow to gun rights group


WASHINGTON POST – As schools expand racial equity work, conservatives see a new threat in critical race theory


WASHINGTON POST – Biden says he will raise refugee cap from 15,000 to 62,500, after widespread criticism for extending Trump-era levels


NEW YORK TIMES – Why Rising Diversity Might Not Help Democrats as Much as They Hope


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19 Live Updates: Pfizer Vaccine Is Set to Be Approved for Adolescents in U.S.


NEW YORK TIMES – $100 as a Vaccine Incentive? Experiment Suggests It Can Pay Off.


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Epic Games CEO Slams Apple’s Fees as Unfair on Trial’s First Day


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Edge Lower With Tech Retreating


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Under Armour Paying $9 Million to Resolve SEC Accounting Probe



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