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Daily News Digest – September 2, 2020

Presented by the

Medical Association of the State of Alabama


Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, September 2.


1. Burkette resigns

  • State Sen. David Burkette, D-Montgomery, resigned his seat in the Alabama Senate Tuesday, citing health concerns and discussions with prosecutors who have been investigating potential ethics violations.
  • His resignation letter to Gov. Kay Ivey and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, did not elaborate on the reasons why. In an interview Tuesday, Burkette confirmed his ongoing discussions with prosecutors, but said that he was bound by a confidentiality agreement not to discuss terms.
  • Multiple sources told Alabama Daily News that Burkette’s resignation was imminent after negotiating a plea agreement with state and local prosecutors for ethics code violations stemming back to his 2018 election to the Senate. Last year, the Alabama Ethics Commission referred unnamed violations to Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey.
  • Representatives from Bailey’s office and the Attorney General’s office had no information of any plea agreements as of Tuesday afternoon.
  • Burkette said he is stepping down due to “mounting pressure” and concerns about his health in the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Burkette suffered a stroke in December 2018 and has worked through several months of therapy. His recovery progress was evident in the 2020 Regular Session of the Legislature.
  • “I’m just weary and it is time for me to step away and think about my health,” Burkette said.
  • “I’m going to miss the Senate. I hope people realize this is not Sen. Burkette’s plan, this is God’s plan.”
  • Read the full story HERE.



2. Bedsole wins in HD 49

  • Russell Bedsole has won the Republican nomination in the special election for House District 49.
  • Bedsole, a Shelby County deputy sheriff and Alabaster city councilman, won 1,249 votes to Mimi Penhale’s 1,183 votes in Tuesday’s special primary runoff election, according to unofficial results from the Alabama Secretary of State’s office. That’s a margin of just 66 votes.
  • A press release from the Alabama Republican Party said provisional ballots would be counted on Sept. 8, but said it appeared Bedsole had secured the GOP nomination. He will face Democratic nominee Cheryl Patton in a special general election on Nov. 17.
  • Read more HERE.




A message from the

Medical Association of the State of Alabama

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we function as a society and has fundamentally altered our healthcare delivery system.
In an effort to understand these changes and their effects, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama released a survey summary detailing the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on medical practices and care delivery.
The survey identified several key findings:
  • Public Health Concerns
  • Severe Financial Impact
  • Patient Volume Reductions
  • Telemedicine Increase
  • Liability Concerns
For more information on the survey findings and to continue reading the op-ed from Medical Association President, Dr. John Meigs, click here.

3. Decline in school enrollment in the Black Belt threatens economic stability, new report says

  • Alabama’s Black Belt region saw a 13% decline in public school enrollment in the last 25 years as a result of people and businesses moving away from the region, threatening its sustainability, a new report says.
  • As more Alabamians move to suburbs or cities they take with them their tax dollars, severely hindering those Black Belt schools and their local economies.
  • “The businesses don’t want to come until the people are there, and the people don’t want to come until the jobs are there and that is a spiral in the Black Belt,” said State Superintendent Eric Mackey on Monday.
  • Based on research done by the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center, Alabama’s public school enrollment in the 24 counties that comprise the Black Belt fell from 139,739 to 106,801 from 1995 to the 2019-2020 school year. This amount of decline is roughly the size of the city of Selma, the report says.
  • The report is part of a series by the Education Policy Center titled “Black Belt 2020,” highlighting various problems in the region.
  • The report also explained that out of the 74 schools listed as “failing” as part of the Alabama Accountability Act, 32, or 43%, are in the Black Belt.
  • Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, is the chair of the House Education Policy Committee and supports the idea of changing the “failing” label. She also thinks the way the bottom 6% are calculated should be re-evaluated and needs to include other factors other than test scores.
  • “(The failing list) is definitely worth schools looking at and being aware of, but it certainly doesn’t take into consideration those making great strides in improvement,” Collins told ADN.
  • The full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck is worth your time this morning.



4. General Fund revenues dip in August, still up year-over-year

  • Tax revenues into the state’s General Fund declined in August, but the fund’s growth is still up year-over-year despite six months of the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on businesses and citizens.
  • The General Fund, which supports non-education related state agencies, and the Education Trust Fund, are expected to end the 2020 fiscal year at the end of this month with more revenue than in 2019, Kirk Fulford, deputy director of the Legislative Services Agency, said Tuesday.
  • “In general, the whole story on the General Fund is, through March it was growing at a little over $100 million dollars, which was about 11.5%,” Fulford said. “And five months after that, it’s grown by $140 million, year-to-date growth of 7.2%.
  • Receipts now total just over $2 billion.
  • “… It grew, but it grew at a slower rate than what it was doing before COVID impacted it,” Fulford said.
  • Some of the revenues that have declined this year are the lodging tax on hotels, interests on state deposits, leasing taxes and oil and gas production taxes.
  • A bright spot in the General Fund continues to be the simplified sellers use tax, that 8% tax on online purchases. It’s up $64 million or 105% this year in the General Fund.
  • “We could go along right now with no growth and live within the budget we have,” said Sen. Greg Albritton, chair of the Senate’s General Fund committee.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



5. Prison announcement coming?

  • Gov. Kay Ivey is preparing for a major announcement in the coming days about her plan to lease three new men’s prisons from private developers, multiple sources told Alabama Daily News /Inside Alabama Politics this week.
  • Since May, Ivey and the Alabama Department of Corrections have been in a “confidential proposal evaluation period” with two companies that will buy land, finance the large prisons and then lease them back to the state. The location of the new facilities that will be major employers is a much-anticipated announcement.
  • In July, ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn assured lawmakers that the department would be able to pay for the new prison leases with savings left over from closing current dilapidated, crowded prisons that require greater staff and maintenance expenses.
  • “It is not our intent to come to the Legislature and ask for a plus-up in our allocation (in the General Fund budget) to pay for these leases,” Dunn said then.
  • The ADOC has said it will not spend more than $88 million a year on the 30-year leases.
  • Some lawmakers have questioned that expense if the state won’t ultimately own the prisons.
  • Subscribers to Inside Alabama Politics can read the full report HERE.



Op-Ed: Ainsworth on military stability commission’s ongoing work

  • Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth contributes an op-ed today discussing the role of Alabama’s Military Stabilization Commission, which he chairs.
  • It has been 15 years since the last military base realignment and closure process, and most everyone agrees we are due for another one. That can be a stressful endeavor for communities whose economies and ways of life depend on their local military installation.
  • As Ainsworth writes, the goal of the commission is to be organized ahead of time and reduce the stress that comes with it.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, for example, has an estimated economic impact of $2 billion annually in the River Region, and every officer in the U.S. Air Force passes through its gates to attend the Air War College at some point in their military career.
“But we must be mindful that Alabama’s military tradition and defense presence did not come naturally and without much hard work and influence. Virtually every city, county, and state across the nation competes to attract military infrastructure and the jobs and investment the comes with it, and if Alabama is going to retain and build upon our current bases, we have to continually make a strong and convincing case to federal officials and the Pentagon. 
“That is why the Alabama Military Stability Commission was created…”
  • Read the full op-ed HERE.




Inside Alabama Politics – Ivey prison plan announcement expected soon


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Montgomery Sen. David Burkette resigns


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bedsole wins in House District 49


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Decline in school enrollment in the Black Belt threatens economic stability, new report says


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – General Fund revenues dip in August, still up year-over-year


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ainsworth: Alabama Military Stabilization Commission at work


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Sheriff: Traffic stop shootout leaves man dead, K-9 wounded


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mnuchin says Trump still wants virus deal with Democrats


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Nick Saban, Alabama players hold protest march on campus


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Six statewide constitutional amendments on Nov. 3 ballot


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – September 1, 2020


AL.COM – Alabama adds almost 1,000 new coronavirus cases


AL.COM – Auburn parents, students say university COVID information’s ’jumbled’ and insufficient


AL.COM – $11.7 million in federal grants awarded to 5 Alabama airports


AL.COM – Alabaster council member appears to win GOP nomination for Alabama House seat


AL.COM – Sen. David Burkette resigns from Alabama Senate


AL.COM – State lets Alabama Power keep solar fee


AL.COM – Huntsville scientist will lead national study of ’space weather’


AL.COM – Alabama gives the OK to return to the buffet


AL.COM – Scientists want to step up DNA editing to make Alabama crops better


AL.COM – Auburn University’s COVID-19 case count rises to 517


AL.COM – Republican pollster has come far since working for baklava


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery Senator David Burkette resigns


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama State University unveils thermal screening technology that detects COVID-19 symptoms


Montgomery Advertiser – One in custody after standoff at mobile home park off Troy Highway


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Search on for missing boater after accident at Oliver Lock and Dam


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – State Sen. David Burkette resigns


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – State health leaders react to rise in COVID-19 cases on college campuses


Tuscaloosa News – Children’s museum re-opens with enhanced safety measures


Decatur Daily – Six statewide constitutional amendments on Nov. 3 ballot


Decatur Daily – State VA reopens Lawrence service office


Decatur Daily – New Decatur school board members outline priorities


Times Daily – Chloe’s Fund bake sale order deadline Wednesday


Times Daily – Stanley edges past Freeman for Sheffield’s mayoral runoff


Times Daily – Electric Cities of Alabama honors Muscle Shoals mayor


Anniston Star – Mark Edwards: Alabama football team’s protest a watershed moment for university, state and a schoolhouse door


Anniston Star – Schools reporting infections as Calhoun County coronavirus count rises Tuesday


Anniston Star – Anniston Council rescinds, reschedules vote to remove Confederate monument


YellowHammer News – David Burkette resigns from Alabama Senate amid ethics inquiry, health issues


YellowHammer News – Mo Brooks on U.S. Census-illegal alien lawsuit: ‘I hope that we will have a court order sometime this fall’


YellowHammer News – Alabama State University using cutting-edge technology to detect coronavirus indications


Gadsden Times – Rainbow City election decided by one vote as municipalities canvass ballots


Gadsden Times – Attalla man arrested in Florida for SORNA violation


Gadsden Times – Etowah Commission finalizes voting place change; 2021 holiday schedule


Dothan Eagle – Dothan is getting its first public electrical vehicle charging stations downtown


Dothan Eagle – Terence Dunlap glad to be back helping Troy Trojans defense


Dothan Eagle – Eufaula High School teacher’s aide charged with inappropriate act with student


Opelika-Auburn News – Today in sports history: Jimmy Connors, at 39, rallies in fifth set for US Open victory in 1991


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika council gets $63.2M budget plan


Opelika-Auburn News – After blasting Trump on violence, Biden now turns to schools


WSFA Montgomery – Over $28K in community relief funds awarded to area nonprofits, churches


WSFA Montgomery – Hospitals rebounding from PPE shortage, still face staffing concerns


WSFA Montgomery – ASU unveils new screening tech for students, staff


WAFF Huntsville – A closer look at a man indicted by a grand jury on two counts of capital murder


WAFF Huntsville – One man in critical condition following motorcycle crash


WAFF Huntsville – Two Lauderdale Co. nursing homes receive rapid testing machines


WKRG Mobile – Cyberattack, plus software failure, impacts Florida schools


WKRG Mobile – Tuscaloosa City Council to consider $400k in economic relief for bar owners


WKRG Mobile – Pence told ‘to be on standby’ for Trump hospital visit, book says


WTVY Dothan – Angie Casey to serve as community liaison for arts initiative


WTVY Dothan – Flu season could look different with COVID-19 guidelines in place


WTVY Dothan – Alabama Census Bowl begins Sept. 2


WASHINGTON POST – Upper Midwest emerges as most crucial Biden-Trump battleground


WASHINGTON POST – Postal Service audit finds gaps in timely processing and delivery of election mail


WASHINGTON POST – Trump administration announces eviction moratorium


NEW YORK TIMES – In Cities Republicans Have Ignored, Trump Sees Only Democratic Problems


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19 Live Updates: Trump’s New Virus Adviser Has Questioned Mask Use


NEW YORK TIMES – ‘Nobody Likes Snitching’: How Rules Against Parties Are Dividing Campuses


WALL STREET JOURNAL – S&P 500 Poised to Extend Rally After Notching Fresh Record


WALL STREET JOURNAL – TikTok Deal Talks Are Snarled Over Fate of App’s Algorithms


WALL STREET JOURNAL – White House to Target Hospitals for Uneven Covid-19 Data Reporting


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Abbott’s $5 Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test Gets Emergency-Use Status From FDA




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