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Daily News Digest – September 21, 2020

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Monday, September 21.

1. Coastal recovery continues

Photo: Hal Yeager, Governor’s Office
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved Alabama’s Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia counties for individual and public assistance following Hurricane Sally and subsequent flooding.
  • Sunday’s disaster declaration makes federal funding available to help people in the affected counties pay for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured losses. Federal funds can also help state and local governments pay for emergency measures taken to protect residents in those three counties.
  • About 40,000 Alabama homes and businesses remain without electricity, mostly in rural parts of Baldwin County.
  • Alabama Power says its crews have restored service to 99% of customers who can receive it.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey, who toured the area with other state leaders Friday, said the emergency declarations are an important step toward full recovery.
  • ”When I was on the coast Friday, it was clear that there has been significant damage, and people are in need of relief,” Ivey said Sunday night. “My office has been working on putting in the request for individual and public assistance to help bring the needed aid, and I appreciate FEMA for quickly delivering to the people of Alabama. Being approved for individual and public assistance is an important step in the recovery process.”
  • Read more HERE.



2. Second gas tax increase coming Oct. 1

  • Alabamians will pay 2 cents per gallon more for gasoline starting Oct. 1 when the second installment of the state’s 10-cent tax increase goes into effect.
  • The state’s share of taxes on gasoline will rise to 26 cents per gallon, which will include 8 cents under the 2019-passed Rebuild Alabama Act and the 18 cents that existed before the new law was passed.
  • The 6-cent increase that began Sept. 1, 2019 under the Rebuild Alabama Act has raised millions for road projects, but new revenue is less than expected at least in part because of COVID-19.
  • The Rebuild Alabama Act tax collections from October 2019 through August were about $174.5 million, an average of $15.86 million monthly. That’s 2.01% below the cumulative projections, said Kirk Fulford, deputy director of the Legislative Services Agency’s Fiscal Division.
  • Tony Harris of the Alabama Department of Transportation said $122 million in Rebuild-funded projects were underway in fiscal year 2020. Funding includes $30.13 million for 28 ATRIP-II projects to improve the state’s highway system; $82 million that is combined with other money, including federal funds, for other ALDOT projects; and $10.2 million for 43 projects in the act-created Annual Grant Program to help county and municipal governments with local projects.
  • Read more about gas tax collections and what projects are ongoing from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



3. Supreme Court battle could shift election priorities

  • This election year’s “October surprise” came early.
  • The 2020 presidential contest was shaping up to be a referendum on President Donald Trump’s leadership, including the tumultuous last six months of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Now, after the death of longtime Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the battle to fill her seat is reshuffling voters’ priorities and campaigns’ strategies.
  • Four years ago, the allure of conservative Supreme Court appointments helped persuade skeptical Republicans to support Donald Trump for president. Two years ago, a contentious clash over Trump’s choice of Brett Kavanaugh for the court was credited with bolstering GOP gains in the Senate in an otherwise bad midterm election.
  • And now, just 44 days before Trump’s reelection will be decided, Republicans are again looking to a Supreme Court nomination fight to unite the party as it faces the very real possibility of losing the White House and control of the Senate this fall.
  • GOP leaders are optimistic they can pull it off. In the turbulent Trump era, nothing has motivated the Republican Party’s disparate factions to come home quite like the prospect of a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.
  • However, Democrats say it could motivate voters to fight harder against Trump and Republicans as the Senate breaks the norms with an unprecedented confirmation at a time when Americans are deciding crucial elections.
  • “Everything Americans value is at stake,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democratic senators on a conference call Saturday.
  • In all likelihood, Trump will have already nominated Ginsburg’s replacement by the time he and Democratic nominee Joe Biden debate eight days from now.
  • Read more about the Supreme Court battle HERE.



4. Trump backs possible TikTok deal

  • President Donald Trump said Saturday he’s given his “blessing” to a proposed deal that would see the popular video-sharing app TikTok partner with Oracle and Walmart and form a U.S. company.
  • Trump has targeted Chinese-owned TikTok for national security and data privacy concerns in the latest flashpoint in the rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. The president’s support for a deal comes just a day after the Commerce Department announced restrictions that if put in place could eventually make it nearly impossible for TikTok’s legions of younger fans to use the app.
  • Don’t know what TikTok is? You’re not alone. But chances are your kids or nieces or nephews do. The app has more than 100 million users in the United States, most of whom are young people.
  • The administration contends that the user data collected by the app could be shared with the Chinese government. On Saturday, Trump said the U.S.-based TikTok “will have nothing to do with China.”
  • Trump has been demanding that the U.S. operations of TikTok be sold to a U.S. company or else be shut down. He’s also been targeting WeChat, another Chinese-owned app.
  • Read more HERE.


5. SEC football is here

  • It’s almost hard to believe, but the start of Southeastern Conference football is six days away.
  • The conference has eight teams ranked in the latest AP top 25, including five in the top 10.
  • The 10th-ranked Auburn Tigers will be among the first to play Saturday, hosting a No. 23 Kentucky team that would love to score the upset.
  • The second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide kicks off Saturday at Missouri, a team that will be missing several players due to COVID-19 protocols.
  • Nick Saban and his squad are determined to shore up the defense, which at times last year gave up significant amounts of points in critical games.
  • The return of All-American linebacker Dylan Moses, who missed last season with an injury, will help in that regard.
  • “I want to be able to put a punctuation mark on the back end of my Alabama career,” said Moses, a 2018 finalist for the Butkus Award. “At the same time, I want to be able to affect my teammates. That’s the reason I came back.”
  • Read more about Alabama’s defensive focus HERE.
  • See the latest AP Top 25 HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Emergency declaration approved on Alabama coast; 40K still without power


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 2-cent gas tax increase coming Oct. 1


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP hopeful Supreme Court battle will help shift election


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 2020 Watch: Is this suddenly a new election?


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump backs proposed deal to keep TikTok operating in US


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AP Top 25: No. 12 Miami rises; Marshall jumps into rankings


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama coordinator expects better from Crimson Tide defense


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump promises to replace Ginsburg with a woman – and soon


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tropical Storm Beta churns slowly toward Texas, Louisiana


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – NTSB: ‘limited fire safety practices’ worsened marina fire


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weekend Digest, September 20, 2020


AL.COM – Alabama adds 677 new coronavirus cases; latest county-by-county case numbers


AL.COM – Ruth Bader Ginsburg and an Alabama Air Force officer opened doors for women everywhere in 1973


AL.COM – Hurricane Sally aftermath: Trump declares disaster in coastal Alabama as recovery continues


AL.COM – Barbara Lagoa, possible Supreme Court nominee, sits on federal appeals court serving Alabama


AL.COM – Contributor Ramzee Robinson: Alabama football and racial justice: a 50-year-old partnership


AL.COM – Contributor Cameron Smith: Give up your political doomsday cults


AL.COM – Opioid crisis roars back in Alabama as overdoses rise during pandemic


AL.COM – Bienville Square: Storm damage hurts, but it’s not the end


Montgomery Advertiser – Robert Graetz, minister who helped organize Montgomery Bus Boycott, dies at 92


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery police conduct death investigation after body found Sunday morning


Montgomery Advertiser – Find year-round lake life in Titus community


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama women’s pay activist reflects on death of Justice Ginsburg


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama State Fair adds extra security measures after night of chaos


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa police searching for missing 66-year-old woman


Tuscaloosa News – Updated order allows more inside large bars, taverns in Tuscaloosa


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa City Superintendent Mike Daria earns state Innovator Award


Tuscaloosa News – Easterseals’ Christmas ornament reflects spirit of togetherness


Decatur Daily – Mayoral candidates had contrasting styles dealing with City Councils


Decatur Daily – Delayed capital murder trial won’t include statements made after defendant served whiskey


Decatur Daily – 2-cent gas tax increase coming Oct. 1


Times Daily – Hospital Officials: COVID cases lessening but we can’t let up


Times Daily – Trustees approve budget $3.9 million in hole


Times Daily – Alabama Extension Service offering seeds for fall vegetable crops


Anniston Star – Pink parade reminds public of challenges of childhood cancer


Anniston Star – Homecoming queen crowned in family-room ceremony


YellowHammer News – Alabama Power completes restoration following historic Hurricane Sally


YellowHammer News – Doug Jones fundraises off of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death


YellowHammer News – Rotating Detonation Engine test-fired for first time at UAH’s Johnson Research Center


Gadsden Times – Gadsden healthcare facilities fear patients neglecting other conditions because of COVID-19 concerns


Gadsden Times – DeKalb County incident leads to attempted murder charge against Florida man


Gadsden Times – Gadsden hospitals seeing fewer COVID-19 inpatients now; looking ahead they have concerns


Dothan Eagle – Second man charged in Lena Street shooting death


Dothan Eagle – Answer Man: Are golf carts illegal on public roadways?


Dothan Eagle – Edwards: Why did she come here and why did she go?


Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC reports ebb and flow in COVID-19 cases


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn sends help to hurricane victims


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn University’s McCrary Institute to host discussion on election security


WSFA Montgomery – Death investigation underway after Montgomery man’s body found


WSFA Montgomery – Oldest living Marine celebrates 107th birthday in Kannapolis


WSFA Montgomery – Georgia, Alabama bringing up the rear in rankings of census completion


WAFF Huntsville – Crowd gathers in downtown Huntsville for vigil to honor Justice Ginsburg


WAFF Huntsville – Volunteer group help families in South Alabama impacted by Hurricane Sally


WAFF Huntsville – Pedestrian killed by train in Decatur


WKRG Mobile – Superintendent to decide Monday whether to extend post-Sally school closures


WKRG Mobile – Road to Recovery: Lake Forest undergoing cleanup after Hurricane Sally


WKRG Mobile – Motorcyclist dies in crash in South Memphis


WTVY Dothan – Alaqua Animal Refuge officials release Hurricane Sally update


WTVY Dothan – Florida road closure update


WTVY Dothan – Georgia, Alabama bringing up the rear in rankings of census completion


WASHINGTON POST – Republicans prepare to move quickly on Supreme Court opening as Trump weighs top contenders


WASHINGTON POST – Biden warns that a quick replacement of Ginsburg would “plunge us deeper into the abyss”


WASHINGTON POST – The fall opening of colleges: Upheaval, pandemic weirdness and a fragile stability


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19 Live Updates: Deaths Near 1 Million Globally and 200,000 in the U.S.


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump and Democrats Brace for Showdown Over Supreme Court Seat


NEW YORK TIMES – With Flags, Crosses and Photos Mourning 200,000 Dead


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Biden Leads Trump Among Latino Voters, Poll Shows


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Supreme Court Vacancy Sets Off Debate as Trump Plans for Ginsburg Successor


WALL STREET JOURNAL – TikTok Deal Faces Questions Over Security, Ownership



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