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Daily News Digest – September 23, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, September 23.


1. No Labor Day spike in state virus numbers

  • Alabama has not seen a significant increase or change in COVID-19 cases, deaths or hospitalizations since the Labor Day holiday two weeks ago, state health officials say.
  • Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers said the state’s overall COVID-19 numbers have increased very little since Labor Day, but people shouldn’t become lenient in health safety practices.
  • “It is very important that we continue to remind people that whether the holiday has passed, and maybe we’re not seeing anything creep back up, that we cannot afford to abandon what we have done and what we have worked so hard to achieve,” Landers told Alabama Daily News.
  • More than 11,000 new cases have been confirmed and 240 people have died of COVID-19 since Labor Day in Alabama.
  • Hospitalizations in Alabama are at roughly the same level as before the July 4 holiday, which was blamed for a summertime increase in cases.
  • Landers said Labor Day was the first holiday in the state where the state-wide mask order was in place and has shown to be helpful in slowing the spread.
  • According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, there were 262 new cases per 100,000 people in Alabama in the last two weeks.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


2. New commission to study state’s prisons for future uses=

  • A new commission will evaluate the state’s existing prisons to determine which should remain operational and which could be repurposed for future use by the Alabama Department of Corrections, another state agency or sold for private use.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday used an executive order to create the Alabama Prison Repurposing Commission.
  • Ivey and the Alabama Department of Corrections are currently negotiating with two private developers to build three large men’s prisons. Up to 11 yet-to-be identified current prisons around the state will be closed. There are 13 now, though large portions of one, Holman Correctional Facility, were closed earlier this year because of extreme dilapidation.
  • “The Alabama Prison Repurposing Commission will provide recommendations based on in-depth facility analysis considering both the impact on the state and local community as well the financial ramifications to potentially repurpose or decommission some of our current prison infrastructures,” Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement Tuesday.
  • The Alabama Prison Repurposing Commission will present a report which will include recommendations for the future of each existing male prison facility. It will be presented to Ivey and legislative leaders on or before Sept. 1, 2023, or 90 days after completion of the third new prison.
  • The state will lease the facilities and staff them with state officers. Ivey has said the state will not spend more than $88 million a year on the new prisons, money she said will come from the cost savings of closing out-of-date and aging facilities.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



3. Shutdown avoided: House passes funding bill

  • In a sweeping bipartisan vote that takes a government shutdown off the table, the House passed a temporary government-wide funding bill Tuesday night, shortly after President Donald Trump prevailed in a behind-the-scenes fight over agriculture subsidies.
  • The stopgap measure will keep federal agencies fully up and running into December, giving lame-duck lawmakers time to digest the election and decide whether to pass the annual government funding bills by then or kick them to the next administration. The budget year ends Sept. 30.
  • The 359-57 vote came after considerable behind-the-scenes battling over proposed add-ons. The final agreement gives the administration continued immediate authority to dole out Agriculture Department subsidies in the run-up to Election Day. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., retreated from an initial draft that sparked a furor with Republicans and farm-state Democrats, who said she was interfering with the routine implementation of the rural safety net as low crop prices and Trump’s own tariffs slam farm country.
  • “It’s a big deal. This is cash flow to mom and pop businesses all over rural America,” said Texas Rep. Michael Conaway, top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee. “They get them every year in October. They come like clockwork.”
  • Alabama Reps. Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt and Terri Sewell voted for the bill. Reps. Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer voted against it. Rep. Bradley Byrne was not present to vote, still home dealing with storm damage issues in his coastal district.
  • Read more HERE.


4. SCOTUS vote could happen before election

  • Senate Republicans are charging ahead with plans to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before the Nov. 3 election, launching a divisive fight over Democratic objections before a nominee is even announced.
  • Trump said Tuesday he will name his choice Saturday, confident of support. Democrats say it’s too close to the election, and the winner of the presidency should name the new justice. But under GOP planning, the Senate could vote Oct. 29.
  • “I guess we have all the votes we’re going to need,” Trump told WJBX FOX 2 in Detroit. “I think it’s going to happen.”
  • Republicans believe the court fight will energize voters for Trump, boosting the party and potentially deflating Democrats who cannot stop the lifetime appointment for a conservative justice. The Senate is controlled by Republicans, 53-47, with a simple majority needed for confirmation. The one remaining possible Republican holdout, Mitt Romney of Utah, said Tuesday he supports taking a vote.
  • Full story HERE.


5. Stacy Column: Find your voice, but don’t lose your mind


  • For a few weeks, I had been thinking through a column about how we shouldn’t let politics dominate our lives so much. In such a heated political environment, my thinking went, it’s easy to let ideology dictate our personalities to the point where we develop crippling anxiety, ruin relationships and keep ourselves from enjoying life. In such a crazy election year, it’s best to take a breather now and then and keep things in perspective, I planned to write.
  • Then, on Friday, longtime Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. She was 87 and had been battling pancreatic cancer, so her passing was not exactly a shock. Still, the moment I saw the text from a friend conveying the news, my heart skipped a beat and then pounded heavy in my chest because I knew what it meant: things are about to get out of control. I mean, this year has already at times felt like the threshold of hell, and yet, as hot as it has been, adding Supreme Court confirmation politics into the mix is like dropping napalm onto a small brushfire.
  • So, that cute little column about keeping calm has taken a turn. Though the stakes have been raised to impossible heights, I’ll humbly offer my political analysis, an opinion on the situation and some personal advice.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Chances are something you really don’t like is going to happen in the next five weeks. If you’re a conservative, it might be Trump getting defeated or the Senate falling into Democratic hands. If you’re a liberal, it might be Trump winning or the cherished Ginsburg seat being filled by a conservative. My advice is to accept this likelihood now and don’t spend the next several weeks agonizing over your preferred political outcomes. I’m not saying stop caring about your personal convictions. As someone who worked in professional politics for many years, I understand and value passion for principles. With the future of the Republic at stake, who leads our country is as important as ever, and our votes and voices shouldn’t be taken lightly. But don’t let your politics dominate your life and, most importantly, don’t let politics destroy relationships. It’s not worth it.”
  • Read my full column HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – No Labor Day holiday spike in COVID-19 cases in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New commission to study state’s prisons for future uses


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House easily passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate GOP plans vote on Trump’s court pick before election


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stacy Column: find your voice, but don’t lose your mind


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pandemic, new rule increase Medicaid enrollment


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey creates Alabama STEM Council


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump interviews Barrett while weighing a high court nominee


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Burkette pleads guilty to campaign charge


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – September 21, 2020


AL.COM – Alabama adds 583 new COVID cases, hospitalizations tick upwards


AL.COM – COVID-19 made Alabama Gulf Coast more popular than Miami, Airbnb says


AL.COM – Panel to recommend what to do with Alabama’s old prisons


AL.COM – Alabama utility drops 3M lawsuit over chemical contamination


AL.COM – Stimulus payments: 150,000 Alabamians are still owed first stimulus payment


AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: I’m a straight middle-aged white man. I didn’t know I owed RBG, too


AL.COM – Alabama hospitals start widespread use of plasma treatments for coronavirus


AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Tuberville tries replay after Voting Rights Act fumble, Jones replies


AL.COM – Prekindergarten a ‘shining success’ in rural Alabama: Black Belt 2020


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Herculean task’: Montgomery County Courthouse prepares to tackle COVID case backlog


Montgomery Advertiser – Dreamland Montgomery will temporarily close as pandemic continues


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Herculean task’: Montgomery County Courthouse prepares to tackle COVID case backlog


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Jon Mattingly: Officer involved in Breonna Taylor shooting sends candid email to LMPD colleagues


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham fire station working to tackle bed bug problem


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Urgent care and doctor’s visits may take more time than usual


Tuscaloosa News – League of Women Voters to host drive-through voter registration events


Tuscaloosa News – Petitions seek to restore full band at Alabama football games


Tuscaloosa News – PARA breaks ground on the all-inclusive playground at Sokol Park


Decatur Daily – Alabama 20 overpass construction could start in early 2021


Decatur Daily – Trees vs. traffic: Experts say pruning can be aesthetically pleasing in Decatur neighborhood


Decatur Daily – Testimony: Woman paid $30,000 to have Hartselle man killed


Times Daily – Man charged in Ace Hardware fire remains jailed


Times Daily – UNA COVID numbers on downward trend


Times Daily – Lexington police, churches lead relief effort


Anniston Star – Oxford EMS to fold next week, Health Care Authority to run ambulance service starting Oct. 1


Anniston Star – Oxford Police use 3D scanning to document crash scenes


YellowHammer News – Kim Caudle Lewis is a 2020 Woman of Impact


YellowHammer News – Mo Brooks heralded as national ‘rock star’ on border security, supporting American workers


YellowHammer News – Energy Institute of Alabama members spearhead Hurricane Sally recovery efforts


Gadsden Times – Gadsden approves $51 million budget


Gadsden Times – Etowah County Commission approves 2021 budget


Dothan Eagle – NARFE cancels lunch program


Dothan Eagle – Search warrant leads to three drug arrests


Dothan Eagle – Man eludes police during chase; arrested


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn University COVID-19 numbers on the decline


Opelika-Auburn News – Senior U.S. election officials talk security, trust, during AU webinar


Opelika-Auburn News – Hospitalizations rise over weekend, ventilator usage falls to one


WSFA Montgomery – SEC to use new COVID-19 contact tracing technology for players


WSFA Montgomery – CDC’s Halloween guidance discourages activities like trick-or-treating due to COVID-19


WSFA Montgomery – Auburn, Alabama prepare to welcome back fans


WAFF Huntsville – CDC’s Halloween guidance discourages activities like trick-or-treating due to COVID-19


WAFF Huntsville – Afternoon Forecast; Beta brings more humidity, rain


WAFF Huntsville – West Huntsville one step closer to a new fire station


WKRG Mobile – MCSO searching for missing 4-year-old girl in Mobile


WKRG Mobile – Gov. Ivey creates prison reform panel to evaluate State system


WKRG Mobile – Mobile Police make arrest in identity theft ring


WTVY Dothan – National Voter Registration Day: encouraging citizens to register


WTVY Dothan – Enterprise Rotary club hosting annual fundraiser with a twist


WTVY Dothan – Enterprise dedicates newest downtown mural


WASHINGTON POST – Partisan fight over Supreme Court could affect issues and image


WASHINGTON POST – Trump appears to secure a Senate majority for his Supreme Court pick, even before naming one


WASHINGTON POST – The Trump team knocks on doors. Biden’s supporters dial phones. Voters in North Carolina see two very different campaigns, each risky.


NEW YORK TIMES – With Court Prize in Sight, Republicans Unite Behind Trump Once Again


NEW YORK TIMES – Fourth-Largest U.S. School District to Allow Students Back in Classrooms


NEW YORK TIMES – Justice Dept. Case Against Google Is Said to Focus on Search Dominance


WALL STREET JOURNAL – House Passes Short-Term Spending Bill to Keep Government Funded Through Dec. 11


WALL STREET JOURNAL – CME, Nasdaq to Launch Water Futures Contract


WALL STREET JOURNAL – GOP Senators Push to Confirm Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee by Election Day



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