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Daily News Digest – November 15, 2018

PRESENTED BY the Stop The HIT Coalition


Good morning! Brrrr, it’s cold. Here’s some hot Daily News to warm you up on this Thursday, November 15.

1. Gary Palmer elected to House GOP Leadership team.

  • Congressman Gary Palmer was elected by his House GOP peers to serve as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, an in-house think tank of sorts that promotes conservative ideas among the House Republican Conference.
  • The selection puts Palmer on the House GOP Leadership team for the upcoming 116th Congress alongside Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
  • “I appreciate the faith that my colleagues have placed in me and am grateful for their support,” Palmer said after the vote.
  • Before his service in Congress, Palmer led the Alabama Policy Institute, a Birmingham-based think tank that studied state problems and proposed conservative solutions.
  • Chairing the Republican Policy Committee has been a career springboard for many congressman, including former Rep. Tom Price, who would go on to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services, former Rep. James Lankford, who is now a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, and former Rep. Dick Cheney, who later became Secretary of Defense and Vice President of the United States.
  • Full story on Palmer HERE.
  • Story on the other House Leadership elections HERE.

2. Pardons & Paroles Plan.

  • Remember a few weeks back when controversy at the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles bubbled to the surface?
  • Gov. Kay Ivey replaced the chairman and she and Attorney General Steve Marshall asked the Board to come up with a a plan to correct its problems.
  • Well that plan was submitted to the Governor’s Office last night.
  • To those familiar with the problems, the corrective priorities are somewhat obvious: improve executive leadership, show more respect toward victims and law enforcement, and ensure better notice of parole hearings.
  • WSFA’s Jenn Horton has been on this story from day one, and her report on the corrective action plan is worth a read/watch HERE.
  • I asked Sen. Cam Ward, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, what he thought of the plan as written. Ward is a proponent of criminal justice reform, but has been critical of the Pardons & Paroles Board behavior.
  • “I support whatever it takes to get them to follow their own written policy,” he told me. “Gov Ivey managed this situation well and I support her efforts. I believe ultimately we will have to have a legislative initiative to rein in their abuse of discretion.”


A Message from the Stop The HIT Coalition

  • What is responsible for shredding billions of dollars more than Banksy?
  • That’s right, the 2020 Health Insurance Tax (HIT).
  • It will add more than $16 billion to the cost of insurance for middle-class families in 2020.
  • Absent immediate Senate action, the 2020 HIT will begin driving up the cost of care for hardworking Alabamians in 2020.
  • Senator Doug Jones can help address skyrocketing healthcare costs by co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation (S. 3063) to suspend the Health Insurance Tax in 2020.
  • Ask Senator Jones to stop the HIT on Alabama small businesses and hardworking families.


3. Marshall critic accused of creepy conduct.

  • Billy McFarland, an Alabama Republican donor and former Judson College administrator, is accused of sending sexually harassing messages to a former student.
  • In a federal lawsuit, the student says McFarland approached her about starting an online roleplay relationship for which he would pay her $2,000 and a cash bonus.
  • It’s not the first incident of this nature for McFarland.
  • A Marengo County judge issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of “harassing communications” toward a college-age woman last September. He pleaded no contest and paid restitution.
  • And text and Facebook messages shared with ADN show McFarland doing this same type of thing with multiple women.
  • If his name sounds familiar, Billy was once named a “Rising Republican Star” by the ALGOP. Yet, this last cycle he made himself useful to Democrats by attacking Attorney General Steve Marshall and supporting his opponent Joe Siegelman.
  • Accusing Marshall of misdeeds, McFarland declared, “In today’s politics, nothing is kept secret forever.”
  • Indeed. Full story HERE.


4. Bentley, Mason spotted in Vegas.

  • Alabama’s former governor and the woman who helped lead to his political downfall were spotted in together in Las Vegas Wednesday night.
  • Former Gov. Robert Bentley and his senior adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason were seen walking through the Las Vegas airport where slot machines line the walkways.
  • A photo later circulated on Twitter causing many to speculate what the two were doing together in Las Vegas.
  • Alabama Daily News confirmed the photo’s authenticity from time and location meta data. A message sent to Mason asking for her comment was not returned.
  • Turns out there is a dermatology convention in town this week, which might explain why they are there together. Mason works for Bentley managing his Tuscaloosa dermatology practice.
  • I don’t know. I admit feeling a bit icky running this. They are two private people now and can do whatever they want, I suppose.
  • Could just be two colleagues on a business trip, right? But also a rash decision being seen in public in this way, no?
  • Anyway, put the pieces together and decide for yourself HERE.

5. News Briefs.

Trump backs Criminal Justice Reform
  • President Donald Trump announced his support for the first major rewrite of the nation’s criminal justice sentencing laws in a generation, but it remains to be seen whether the proposal can pass Congress.
  • Trump said the bill “will make our communities safer and give former inmates a second chance at life after they have served their time.”
  • No Democrats attended the announcement, but many support the goals of the plan and some like Van Jones are publicly crediting Trump with striking a tone of unity.
  • Read more HERE.
Avenatti Arrested
  • Michael Avenatti, who skyrocketed to fame as a critic of President Donald Trump and the lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels, was arrested Wednesday and booked on a felony domestic violence charge, Los Angeles police said.
  • The alleged victim in the case had visible injuries, according to Officer Tony Im, a police spokesman. But Avenatti slammed the allegation as “completely bogus” and “fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation” in a statement released by his law firm.
  • Avenatti, who has said he’s mulling a 2020 presidential run, posted $50,000 bail and was released about four hours after he was arrested Wednesday on the same block where he lives in a skyscraper apartment.
  • Read more HERE.
Bloomberg mulling run
  • Having spent a fortune to help elect Democrats this fall, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared lifetime allegiance to the Democratic Party and outlined an aggressive timeline for deciding whether to run for president.
  • “I think January, February would be about as late as you can do it and as early as you can gather enough information,” Bloomberg told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
  • The 76-year-old billionaire said his decision would have little to do with other Democratic presidential prospects. He conceded that “it’s much too early to tell” whether he has a legitimate chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and, with it, the chance to take on another New York billionaire, President Donald Trump.
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump backs 1st major rewrite of sentencing laws in decades
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – McCarthy, Scalise picked to lead House GOP
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Michael Avenatti arrested in LA on domestic violence charge
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Gary Palmer elected Policy Committee Chairman
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Marshall antagonist accused of sexual misconduct
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bentley, Mason spotted in Las Vegas
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bloomberg likely to decide on 2020 bid by early next year
AL.COM – Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant under investigation by NRC.
AL.COM – Sen. Doug Jones confirms he’s running again in 2020.
AL.COM – Alabama parole board tightens rules on violent offenders.
AL.COM – Alabama sheriff’s race decided by coin toss.
AL.COM – ‘Bridge2Nowhere’ or ‘Good project’: Alabama can weigh-in on bridge to beaches.
AL.COM – After 9-year-old dies, experts say talk to your kids about suicide.
AL.COM – Worst trade-war fallout yet to come, say some state leaders.
AL.COM – Northern California wildfire death toll at 56 with 130 missing, many who are elderly
AL.COM – 15-year-old girl missing from St. Clair County
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Jefferson County indictments raise serious questions about Ethics Commission’s actions
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Ring the (cow)bell: Macon-East’s Madisyn Kennedy signs with Mississippi State
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Man wanted in Highland Avenue homicide turns himself in
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – MPS Board of Education voices support of proposed millage increase
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Conference of Mayors holds summit in Montgomery
DOTHAN EAGLE – Ricky Herring sworn in as Houston County Commissioner, while Chairman Mark Culver announces this will be his last term
DOTHAN EAGLE – Dothan man charged in 11-year-old double murder denied bond
DOTHAN EAGLE – Storm damage disrupts Carver Magnet School
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – UA, Auburn students compete to raise blood donations
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Teenager accused of shooting 61-year-old victim in Greensboro
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Testimony details grisly beating of Samantha Payne
DECATUR DAILY – A new Rebel home: West Morgan gets access to new $6.8 million gym
DECATUR DAILY – Waddle gets 40-year sentence in 2015 fatal stabbing
DECATUR DAILY – 45 years after founding jewelry store, Jimmy D. Smith plans to officially retire
TIMES DAILY – Man charged with child sex abuse
TIMES DAILY – Residents voice need for enticing jobs
TIMES DAILY – Clerk swears in first Sheffield Junior City Council
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Gary Palmer elected to key House leadership role
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – At least two dead, 44 injured in overturned tour bus traveling from Huntsville
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – None of the ‘voter suppression’ stories pushed by the media in the run-up to the election came to fruition, including Alabama’s
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – Thousands expected at Saturday airshow
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – At 90, she’s suddenly award-winning artist
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – Roll up your sleeves
TROY MESSENGER – Signing Day: Five Trojans secure scholarships
TROY MESSENGER – CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: Adams Glass to hold annual open house
TROY MESSENGER – Robbery suspect arrested
THE ANNISTON STAR – Vote on City Hall move could come next week
THE ANNISTON STAR – Season’s first freeze expected Thursday night
THE ANNISTON STAR – Jail, gas tax top concerns for new Calhoun County Commission
GADSDEN TIMES – GECEMA urges preparedness for winter weather
GADSDEN TIMES – Gadsden Civil Service Board to meet
GADSDEN TIMES – YMCA sets annual luncheon with mayor
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Murder case from post-game shooting heads to grand jury; testimony describes the scene
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – No. 9 Auburn rolls over Mississippi College in final tune-up for Maui
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Probable cause found against fourth suspect in Cusseta home invasion, murder case
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – ‘Auburn on the move’: Leath gives state of the university address
CULLMAN TIMES – Wreck slows U.S. 278 traffic
CULLMAN TIMES – Arrests, incidents reports for Nov. 9-13, 2018
CULLMAN TIMES – Cares & Shares food drive runs through Friday
SHELBY COUNTY REPORTER – Helena schools to combat hunger with bus driver challenge food drive
SHELBY COUNTY REPORTER – OMMS students hold ‘Can you Can’ food drive
THE MADISON RECORD – Madison City Council approves school board’s property tax proposal, residents voice strong support
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – Oakman band celebrates successful season
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – Reid to transition into chief’s role
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – Curry cheerleader to be in Varsity Spirit parade at Disney World
NEW YORK TIMES – Facebook Cuts Ties With Definers Public Affairs Following Outcry
NEW YORK TIMES – Republicans and Democrats Cannot Agree on Absolutely Anything. Except This.
NEW YORK TIMES – ICE Nominee Seeks Approval Against Democrats’ Demands to Abolish Agency
WASHINGTON POST – Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for five suspects in killing of Jamal Khashoggi
WASHINGTON POST – Whitaker traveled unorthodox path to top of Justice Dept.
WASHINGTON POST – Britain’s Brexit secretary resigns, throwing Theresa May’s government in jeopardy
USA TODAY – While Kemp’s campaign says ‘election is over,’ Abrams’ campaign claims ‘major victory’ following federal judge’s ruling
USA TODAY – Pike County massacre: How the largest homicide investigation in Ohio history unfolded
USA TODAY – Deadly winter storm roaring from Deep South to New England; 80 million brace for snow, ice, sleet
POLITICO – Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing
POLITICO – Freshmen emerge as Instagram stars
POLITICO – Avenatti arrested in domestic violence case

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