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Daily News Digest – May 5, 2020

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The Boeing Company


Good morning!
Don’t forget to look up in the skies today for the famed “Red Tails” of the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing as they perform flyovers of the state’s hospitals to honor health care workers. See the flight paths HERE .
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, May 5.



1. Lawmakers return to very different session

Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon strikes the gavel as the Alabama House of Representatives restarts the session at the State House in Montgomery, Ala., on Monday, May 4, 2020. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
  • The Alabama Legislature resumed Monday a legislative session that looks much different from when it began three months ago.
  • Wearing masks and sitting apart, lawmakers gathered without lobbyists in the hallways or members of the public in the galleries, kept out of the State House over coronavirus health concerns. In the House, many Democrats stayed home Monday in protest, saying lawmakers shouldn’t be meeting or passing budgets yet.
  • Despite COVID-19 and the shuttering of businesses in March and April, revenue in the state’s General Fund budget is still up, according to April net receipt reports.
  • April revenues in the General Fund were $183.8 million, up 5.6% from April 2019. Year-to-date, the General Fund is up 9.7% over last year.
  • The General Fund has about 40 sources of revenue, the largest of which are the insurance company premium tax, interest on the Alabama Trust Fund, and state deposits.
  • Education Trust Fund revenues were down nearly $345 million, or 54.4% in April compared to April 2019, but that was expected. That fund relies heavily on income and sales taxes.
  • Income tax collection was down $394 million compared to last April. Alabamians have been given until July 15 to file their 2019 tax returns and payments.
  • While the General Fund and education budgets are the stated purpose of resuming the session that must end by May 18, they’re not the only bills in play.
  • Senators on Tuesday could consider legislation giving them and their House colleagues significant say in how the state’s nearly $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief money, and future funds, are spent.
  • And a bill from Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, that offers businesses civil immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits advanced through committee Monday.
  • Senate Bill 330, first reported by ADN in March, was expanded Monday to cover more entities, including health care providers, educational entities, churches, government bodies and cultural institutions.
  • The bill says covered entities “shall not be liable for any damages, injury, or death suffered by any person or entity as a result of, or in connection with a health emergency claim that results from any act or omission of the covered entity.”
  • There’s a lot to unpack here.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell and Caroline Beck HERE.



2. Bill would change state of emergency, public health order rules

  • Some state senators want more say in extended emergency orders like the ones put in place in response to the coronavirus.
  • Current law says the Alabama governor can issue a state of emergency for up to 60 days. A bill filed Monday in the State House would limit that to 14 days and then require legislative approval for an extension.
  • Senate Bill 334 also says that no public health order issued by the state health officer will take effect until it is signed by the governor and delivered to the secretary of state. Current orders, like the late March order that closed many Alabama businesses and limited public gatherings, are signed by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris alone.
  • The bill is sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn and has several co-sponsors, including Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston.
  • “It brings the legislative body into the picture, and also makes the governor put his or her signature on the line with the state health officer, because the governor is a state elected person, the state health officer is not, so this way it holds the elected officials accountable to the people and holds theses orders accountable,” Whatley told Alabama Daily News Monday evening.
  • Whatley said the bill is not a criticism of Harris.
  • If the bill got through the Legislature in its current shortened session, it would need Ivey’s signature.
  • “With any legislation, we will watch the process play out, and if needed, the governor will offer her input before a bill reaches her desk,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola told Alabama Daily News Monday night.
  • “However, when Legislative leadership informed the governor that they were resuming session amidst a health crisis, they assured her that they would only be addressing budgets and local bills, and that is what Gov. Ivey looks forward to reviewing.”
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell and Caroline Beck HERE.
  • Meanwhile, Harris says he is watching to see if the state is experiencing an upswing in coronavirus activity after the lifted stay-home order.
  • Alabama on Monday reported 800 new cases of COVID-19 over a three-day period, bringing the total to more than 8,000 and nearly 300 deaths from the disease, according to numbers from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • But Harris said the state just received more than 10,000 new tests, which could account for the jump in new cases.
  • Read more on that from Kim Chandler HERE.





A message from

The Boeing Company

  • Progress continues on America’s rocket — the Space Launch System (SLS) that will be used to send the first woman and next man to the moon and eventually Mars — thanks to Boeing employees in Alabama.
  • The Boeing and NASA SLS teams recently completed rigorous reviews to ensure the first core stage will be prepared to resume testing when facilities are safe to reopen.
  • The Boeing-built SLS is NASA’s most powerful rocket since the Apollo-era Saturn V, which was also developed in Alabama.
  • As the prime contractor for the design, development, test and production of the launch vehicle’s core stage, as well as development of the flight avionics suite, Boeing manages the SLS program out of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.




3. Senate passes $1.25 billion bond issue

  • The Alabama State Senate on Monday passed legislation to authorize an $1.25 billion bond issue to fund school construction and other capital improvement projects.
  • Senate Bill 242 passed 29-0 in the Senate and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. First proposed by Gov. Kay Ivey in her State of the State address, the bond issue would help K-12 schools and state colleges pay for capital improvements, from construction projects to technology upgrades.
  • Originally set at $1 billion, Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, amended the bill to add another $250,000 to the bond issue.
  • Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, who is sponsoring the bill, said it was a good idea before the coronavirus hit, but an even better idea now that the outbreak has impacted budgets and economies.
  • The last bond issue for school construction was passed 12 years ago under then-Gov. Bob Riley. Part of the current bond proposal would retire about $67 million from the last bond issue and replace it with money borrowed at a lower interest rate, Orr said.
  • Full story HERE.



4. Bill would change funding for students in growing systems

  • A bill in the Alabama Senate would change the per-student funding model for growing K-12 schools, taking less burden off of local systems to pay for additional students, advocates say.
  • Currently, systems receive a per-pupil allocation from the state based on prior year enrollments.
  • Senate Bill 316 would change the funding formula to account for enrollment increases, projecting growth based on the previous two years’ enrollment growth.
  • “The goal is to make sure we’re covering the cost of the students and not putting it on local systems,” bill sponsor Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Fairhope, told Alabama Daily News. “We don’t want to penalize growing systems.”
  • Senate Bill 316 was approved in the Senate education budget committee Monday evening.
  • “If you’re system is declining, you’re still getting funding on prior-year numbers,” Elliott told committee members.
  • Elliott worked with the Alabama State Department of Education on SB316.
  • “It’s a rewrite of the way we fund student growth,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey told Alabama Daily News. “It is a more reasonable growth model.”
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



5. Trump’s China rhetoric aimed at boosting US leverage

  • The Trump administration is making ever louder pronouncements casting blame on China for the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to tarnish China’s global reputation and give the U.S. leverage on trade and other aspects of U.S.-China competition.
  • The State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House have all launched public efforts in recent days to lay bare what they say is clear evidence that China tried to mask the scale of the outbreak and then refused to provide critical access to U.S. and global scientists that could have saved lives. More than 250,000 people have died globally from COVID-19, including more than 68,000 in the U.S.
  • The Trump administration, a senior administration official says, is trying to convince the world that China isn’t playing by the same rules as everyone else, and that bad publicity may be the biggest punishment for an intensely proud emerging superpower.
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Lawmakers return to very different legislative session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Bill would change state of emergency, public health order rules


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State monitors virus numbers after stay-home order lifted


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill changes state funding for students in growing school systems


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate passes $1.25 billion bond issue for schools


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Trump’s China rhetoric aimed at boosting US leverage


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – State House preview: Lawmakers want say in spending of federal coronavirus funds


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – DAs look to Legislature for funding help after COVID-19


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mackey outlines phased plan to reopen schools


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Dr. Jeremy Smith: Support Needed For Quality Care To Continue


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS -DHS report: China hid virus’ severity to hoard supplies


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 4, 2020


AL.COM  – Alabama House meets with 59 Republicans, 1 Democrat


AL.COM   – Alabama Senate passes $1.25 billion bond issue for schools, colleges


AL.COM  – Cummings Aerospace relocating to Huntsville’s Redstone Gateway


AL.COM  – ‘Hope’ to see changes soon on church restrictions, AG Steve Marshall says


AL.COM  – UAB cuts pay, adds furloughs to battle shortfall topping $230 million


AL.COM  – Alabama restaurant named James Beard Award finalist


AL.COM  – Carnival: No cruises from Mobile until at least September 1


AL.COM  – 7 Alabama counties see greatest corovonavirus case increase; 7,898 cases statewide


AL.COM  – ‘I am scared of dying in here’: Lawsuit demands release of 18 immigrants from Alabama ICE facility


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Legislature returns to work amid coronavirus outbreak


Montgomery Advertiser – All-SEC Alabama lineman remembers Don Shula, one of the greatest pro coaches of all time


Montgomery Advertiser – Coalition petitions Alabama Supreme Court to release detained youths amid coronavirus


YellowHammer News – Jeff Sessions demands ‘Pearl Harbor-like’ congressional investigation into China coronavirus ‘cover-up’


YellowHammer News – UAB announces temporary expense reduction strategies due to COVID-19


YellowHammer News – Alabama Dept. of Labor says it has sent out $503M in unemployment claims


Tuscaloosa News – Deputy dogs sniff out suspect in smoker


Tuscaloosa News – Small business aid a focus of Restart Tuscaloosa talks


Tuscaloosa News – Longtime newspaper publisher Brandt Ayers dead at 85


Decatur Daily – Lawmakers return to changed legislative session


Decatur Daily – Alabama banks approve $1.42 billion in 2nd round of loan program


Decatur Daily – Wayne Farms settles disability discrimination lawsuit


Times Daily – Ministers offering short messages of hope


Times Daily – Shoals COVID-19 cases rise sharply


Times Daily – Lawmakers return to changed legislative session


Anniston Star – Anniston police chief announces retirement


Anniston Star – Public buildings in Anniston reopen after ‘stay at home’ order relaxed


Anniston Star – Alabama lawmakers return to changed legislative session


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH: 298 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 as more than 8,100 test positive


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – With masks and distancing, lawmakers return to changed legislative session


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Senate passes $1.25 billion bond issue for schools


WAFF Huntsville – Lawmakers return to changed legislative session


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville aiming for July completion of Cecil Ashburn lane expansion


WAFF Huntsville – UAB Huntsville medical students contact tracing for state public health department


Gadsden Times – Southside seniors pick up caps, gowns for unspecified graduation day


Gadsden Times – Alabama Legislature returns to work amid coronavirus outbreak


Gadsden Times – Grants available for nonprofits affected by COVID-19


Dothan Eagle – Alabama tops 8,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases


Dothan Eagle – UPDATED: Red Tails flying over Flowers, Southeast Health to honor COVID-19 frontline heroes


Dothan Eagle – Houston County Commission extends suspension of in-person transactions


Troy Messenger – Troy man charged with murder


Troy Messenger – JCA benefits from GivingTuesday effort


Troy Messenger – Allen: Churches, small biz should open


Opelika-Auburn News – F-16 flyover planned to honor frontline heroes


Opelika-Auburn News – O-A News launches Local Marketing Grant program


Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: Alabama Air National Guard to flyover Auburn, state to salute frontline heroes; Opelika court extends restrictions


Daily Mountain Eagle – GALLERY: Free pet food distributed to locals


Daily Mountain Eagle – 2 arrested after raid at Travel Rite Inn in Jasper


Daily Mountain Eagle – County offices remain closed for two more weeks


Trussville Tribune – Family of former Trussville Police Chief Irving ‘Goose’ Nash speaks of the man behind the badge


Trussville Tribune – Trussville mayor rallies with small businesses, sends letter to governor


Trussville Tribune – Trussville Fire Marshal Jeff Fore dies following medical emergency


Athens News Courier – State extends vehicle registration, renewal, tax deadline


Athens News Courier – Trump’s anti-China rhetoric aimed at boosting U.S. leverage


Athens News Courier – Lawmakers return for shortened session


Sand Mountain Reporter – Bur-Tex Hosiery donates 40,000 masks | Transitions operations to make 2 million masks per week


Sand Mountain Reporter – Boaz school bus fleet suffers storm damage


Sand Mountain Reporter – County Courthouses to remain closed to public | Commission sets May 18 open date unless COVID-19 cases spike


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama’s public schools could reopen in June


WSFA Montgomery – State inmate sought after escape from Butler County Jail


WSFA Montgomery – Economic distress fuels mental health concerns; suicides and overdoses expected to rise


WKRG Mobile – 3 charged in killing of store security guard over virus mask


WKRG Mobile – Fort Walton Beach woman charged with child abuse after 6-year-old found covered in fleas in home scattered with dog feces


WKRG Mobile – Video shows man wipe nose on Dollar Tree worker’s shirt after being asked to wear mask


WTVY Dothan – Those facing charges could soon plead guilty using Zoom


WTVY Dothan – Silent protest at Hartford Square


WTVY Dothan – Ala. National Guard plans flyovers to salute COVID-19 response efforts


WASHINGTON POST  – The coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis


WASHINGTON POST  – Tyson says nation’s pork production is down 50%, despite Trump’s order to keep meat plants open


WASHINGTON POST  – Millions of baby boomers are getting caught in the country’s broken retirement system


NEW YORK TIMES  – Census Field Operations Restart This Week on Limited Basis


NEW YORK TIMES  – Martin Luther King’s Traffic Ticket Changed History’s Course


NEW YORK TIMES  – Money for Welfare Instead Funded Concerts, Lobbyists and Football Games, Audit Finds

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