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Daily News Digest – May 6, 2021

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, May 6.


1. Strap in

  • It’s going to be quite a day at the State House.
  • The Alabama House of Representatives gavels into session at 8:00 this morning and, almost immediately, will resume the unfinished business of the medical marijuana debate.
  • In case you didn’t stay up until midnight Tuesday, here’s where we stand: the body was debating a substitute bill that combines several committee amendments. So that debate will resume before eventually moving on to debate on the bill itself. Every member has the opportunity to speak for two ten-minute increments on bills, substitutes and amendments, which a handful used Tuesday to draw out debate. Expect the same today, but it likely won’t be enough to stop a vote on the bill. (Read more about Tuesday’s debate HERE).
  • Seeing as how there were 69 yes votes for the Budget Isolation Resolution procedural hurdle, there are more than enough votes for passage. It’s just a matter of when it happens.
  • After that, the House will move on to gambling.
  • Three pieces of legislation are on the proposed agenda:  a constitutional amendment that would go before voters in November 2022 and two enabling bills fleshing out the details of gambling policy and enforcement procedures. (Read more about the details of the package HERE).
  • Sixty two is the number to keep in mind. That’s how many votes it will take to pass the constitutional amendment and to overcome the BIR.
  • My sense is that proponents of the bill probably have the votes, but it is going to be very close. The group to watch is House Democrats. Whereas it has been conventional wisdom that Democrats would support a bill that legalized and protected the dog track casinos, there’s talk of dissent within the caucus. If more than seven or eight Democrats drop off, that could be enough to kill the package.
  • Of course, that’s assuming there’s a vote today. It’s a good bet that, just as they have with medical marijuana, a handful of House Republicans furnished with Alabama Policy Institute talking points will filibuster the gambling package. They could be joined by Democrats who object to certain locations being left out of the bill.
  • Keep in mind: after medical marijuana is done, the House will have to adopt a special order calendar, then take up the bills, each of which requires at least one extra vote on a substitute from committee. That’s a lot of motions for House members to filibuster.
  • I’m not sure there’s enough time to completely stop a vote on the constitutional amendment, but it’s likely to be a late night either way.
  • See you at the State House!




2. Harris: herd immunity possible by mid-summer if vaccine rate increases

  • Alabama could reach herd immunity from COVID-19 by mid-summer, the state’s top doctor told lawmakers on Wednesday. But it could take longer if the vaccine rate continues to decrease.
  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said around 70% of the state, or 3.5 million Alabamians, will need to either be fully vaccinated or have antibodies from previous infections in order for the state to reach a level of immunity that will stop significant spreading of the disease.
  • “If we reach herd immunity, what we’ll see is a dramatic decrease in cases but it’s unlikely that it will ever completely disappear,” Harris said.
  • The herd immunity numbers Harris presented are based off a model from Dr. Suzanne Judd, director of the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
  • Harris said a sign he would like to see that shows herd immunity has been reached is less than 100 new cases a day, or less than 1,400 cases every 14 days, and less than 100 hospitalizations per day.
  • So far, around 1.5 million Alabamians have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 1.1 million have completed the vaccine series, representing 23% of the total state population, according to Bamatracker’s vaccine dashboard.
  • Read more from Caroline Beck HERE.



3. Redistricting process starts with contentious first meeting

  • A lack of data and a lot of personalities appear to be specific challenges for the group of lawmakers tasked with redrawing the district maps that will be used in state and federal elections for the next 10 years.
  • The Alabama Legislature’s Joint Reapportionment Committee met for the first time in this round of post-Census redistricting to discuss a framework for how the process will play out. The panel is charged with developing new maps for Alabama’s seven congressional districts, eight state school board seats, 35 State Senate seats and 105 seats in the House of Representatives.
  • Actual maps are a long way off, however, as the U.S. Census Bureau won’t have the district-level data ready until August, committee leaders said.
  • “Our final data won’t come until September, but we should have working numbers on Aug. 16,” said Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, who co-chairs the committee. “After that, we’ll have six to eight weeks to draw these plans.”
  • Pringle and fellow co-chair Sen. Jim McClendon said that their goal is to draw districts that are equitable and can withstand a court challenge.
  • About five minutes into the meeting it became clear that the process could be a contentious one going forward between Republicans and Democrats on the committee.
  • Read more HERE.



4. ‘John-shaming’ bill advances to the Senate with change

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill allowing for the public release of photos of those who solicit prostitutes, but members requested a significant change.
  • As written and passed by the House, House Bill 271 by Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, would allow for the release of law enforcements’ mugshots of those arrested for hiring or seeking to hire prostitutes. The Senate committee wants it changed on the Senate floor to allow for the release of photos only upon convictions.
  • “It’s as simple as this: you’re innocent until proven guilty,” Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham said.
  • Current law doesn’t allow without a court order the release of photographs of anyone arrested for prostitution.
  • Coleman’s bill, previously dubbed the “John-shaming bill” is intended to discourage soliciting prostitutes and is an effort to curb human trafficking and prostitution.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.



5. Liz Cheney clings to GOP post as Trump endorses replacement

  • No. 3 House Republican Liz Cheney was clinging to her post as party leaders lined up behind an heir apparent, signaling that fallout over her clashes with former President Donald Trump was becoming too much for her to overcome.
  • Unbowed, Cheney on Wednesday implored her GOP colleagues to pry themselves from a Trump “cult of personality,” declaring that the party and even American democracy were at stake. “History is watching,” she said.
  • Trump issued a statement giving his “COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement” to Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney. Stefanik, a 36-year-old Trump loyalist who’s played an increasingly visible role within the GOP, responded quickly, highlighting his backing to colleagues who will decide her political future.
  • “Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!” she tweeted.
  • The day’s events left the careers of Cheney and Stefanik seemingly racing in opposite directions, as if to contrast the fates awaiting Trump critics and backers in today’s GOP.
  • Read more from Alan Fram HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House debates medical marijuana into the night


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Revamped gambling package goes to House floor


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Harris: Herd immunity possible by mid-summer if vaccine rate increases


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Redistricting process starts in the Legislature with contentious first meeting


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘John-shaming’ bill advances to Senate with change


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Liz Cheney clings to GOP post as Trump endorses replacement


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trooper charged in child rape hid checkered FBI past


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mac Gipson: Explaining how Alabama’s new alcohol delivery laws will work


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Literacy Act requirement delay advances, needs one more vote


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden, Ivey: states not using vaccines could lose them


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 5, 2021


AL.COM – Alabama asset forfeiture bill went from broad reforms to ‘best we can do’


AL.COM – Medical marijuana bill returning to Alabama House with chance to pass


AL.COM – Alabama’s Africatown can tell stories of slavery in ways few others can, officials say


AL.COM – ‘Should’ve never happened’: U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville on ‘fever pitch’ riots at Capitol


AL.COM – Alabama grows at edges: Huntsville, beaches buoy state, Census estimates show


AL.COM – Alabama company gets $614 million contracts to house child immigrants in Texas


AL.COM – Space tourists, including one with Alabama ties, lining up 60 years after first U.S. manned mission


AL.COM – SBA has a $5 billion grant program for small businesses: Here’s who qualifies


Montgomery Advertiser – Officials say EF1 tornado hit east Prattville, Millbrook during Tuesday’s storms


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama medical marijuana bill delayed by House filibuster despite strong support


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘If we don’t use it, we could lose it’: Alabama pushes COVID vaccine as CVS offers shots without appointments


Decatur Daily – Mayor, council clash over need for Fire Department rescue boat


Decatur Daily – COVID vaccinations available today


Decatur Daily – Storm causes limited damage, power outages


Times Daily – Site clearing for ag event center nears start


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals Council delays vote on garbage rate increase


Times Daily – Redistricting process begins


Anniston Star – Herbicide spraying catches attention of Cleburne commission, residents


Anniston Star – State’s COVID-19 emergency status to end, but hospital staff say keep on masking


Anniston Star – Judicial, DA pay changes go to the governor


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – New efforts behind bill that reforms accessibility to bodycam footage


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Floodwaters can be contaminated and require professional cleaning


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Who to call in Birmingham when storm drains are clogged


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama medical marijuana bill delayed by House filibuster despite strong support


Tuscaloosa News – High winds, dangerous storms linked to prolonged Comcast outage


Tuscaloosa News – ‘If we don’t use it, we could lose it’: Alabama pushes COVID vaccine as CVS offers shots without appointments


YellowHammer News – FuelFox provides 21st century convenience to Regions Tradition golfers


YellowHammer News – UAH hockey fails to gain conference; Program will be suspended immediately


YellowHammer News – Legislature passes bill to designate ‘Official Aquarium of Alabama’


Gadsden Times – Officials say EF1 tornado hit east Prattville, Millbrook during Tuesday’s storms


Gadsden Times – Southside council to consider business license application for recovery home


Gadsden Times – As Southern cemeteries prepare for ‘Decoration,’ upkeep is a concern for some


Dothan Eagle – US birth rate falls to lowest point in more than a century


Dothan Eagle – Trump’s Facebook fate will be decided today; US birth rate hits 50-year low; Chauvin seeks new trial


Dothan Eagle – Lawyer: Iran diplomat will not appeal bomb plot conviction


Opelika-Auburn News – The Power of Will: Auburn family starts nonprofit in memory of son lost to cancer


WSFA Montgomery – State health officer updates lawmakers on herd immunity in Alabama


WSFA Montgomery – EF1 tornado causes destruction in Millbrook


WSFA Montgomery – Reward offered in Montgomery pawn shop robbery


WAFF Huntsville – Two guns, knife found in backpack at New Hope High School; student facing charges


WAFF Huntsville – Judge strikes down CDC halt on evictions; what Alabamians need to know


WAFF Huntsville – Lawmakers still debating medical mariajuana bill, some Alabamians want it passed


WKRG Mobile – Police: Infant caught in standoff with Louisiana murder suspect dies at Mobile hospital


WKRG Mobile – Deputies searching for missing 11-year-old boy


WKRG Mobile – Top Stories for May 5: Ironic? U.S. reporting lowest birth rate in century, woman gives birth to 9 when expecting 7


WTVY Dothan – Providence Christian student awarded scholarship from Association of Service agencies


WTVY Dothan – Henry County veterinarians offering rabies clinic this weekend


WTVY Dothan – 14-year old charged in Dothan murder


WASHINGTON POST – Biden commits to waiving vaccine patents, driving wedge with pharmaceutical companies


WASHINGTON POST – India breaks its own records again with 412,000 new cases and nearly 4,000 deaths in 24 hours


WASHINGTON POST – Federal judge vacates CDC’s nationwide eviction moratorium


NEW YORK TIMES – ‘Turning the Corner’: U.S. Covid Outlook Reaches Most Hopeful Point Yet


NEW YORK TIMES – Facebook’s ‘Supreme Court’ Tells Zuckerberg He’s the Decider


NEW YORK TIMES – In Turning on Liz Cheney, G.O.P. Bows to Trump’s Election Lies


WALL STREET JOURNAL – A Global Operation Warp Speed Is Needed to Unlock World-Wide Vaccine Production


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Backs Waiver of Intellectual Property Protection for Covid-19 Vaccines


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Unemployment Claims Are Expected to Continue Easing




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