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Daily News Digest – September 9, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, September 9.


1. Changes coming to distribution of state’s $1.9B CARES Act funds

  • State leaders this week are beginning the process of shifting some of the previously allocated $1.9 billion federal CARES Act money, the vast majority of which hasn’t yet been spent.
  • State Finance Director Kelly Butler on Tuesday discussed with top lawmakers reallocating money to provide funding for the state’s unemployment compensation fund, a Finance Department spokeswoman confirmed to Alabama Daily News Tuesday night.
  • Currently, the state’s unemployment insurance benefits trust fund could run out next month, drained as a record-number of people were put out of work by the shuttering of businesses due to the coronavirus.
  • The distribution plan, passed by the Legislature and signed into law, allows Gov. Kay Ivey to change the flow of funds with the unanimous approval of six top lawmakers: the Speaker of the House, the Senate President Pro Tem and the four budget chairmen. The full Legislature does not need to approve the changes.
  • “Conversations remain ongoing about the various options for uses of the remaining CARES Act money allocated to Alabama,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said on Tuesday
  • A finalized proposal for moving the funds, including the amount to be allocated for unemployment, is expected in the coming days.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



2. McConnell proposes ‘targeted’ virus aid, but Dems say not enough

  • The Senate prepared to vote this week on a trimmed-down Republican coronavirus relief package, though it only has a slim chance of passage in the face of Democrats’ insistence for more sweeping aid.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the approximately $500 billion measure on Tuesday as senators returned to Washington for an abbreviated pre-election session.
  • Republicans struggling to retain their Senate majority this fall have been divided, with some GOP senators in close races anxious to respond further to the pandemic, even as conservatives are tiring of all the spending and passing legislation in concert with liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • McConnell called the package “a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis, the issues where bipartisanship should be especially possible.” They included school aid, new money for vaccines and testing, and a second round of the popular Paycheck Protection Program for smaller businesses.
  • Democrats demanded a far larger bill, including hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments, more generous jobless benefits, and help for renters and homeowners, along with other provisions in the House Democrats’ $3.5 billion relief bill that passed in May.
  • “Get real, Mitch McConnell,” Pelosi said during a Bloomberg interview. “It’s only a ‘check the box’ so that some of his endangered Republican senators can go home and say, ‘Well, see, I tried.’ But it isn’t trying…”
  • Read Andrew Taylor’s full story from Washington HERE.



3. Tuscaloosa allowing bars to reopen after pandemic shutdown

  • The city of Tuscaloosa eased pandemic restrictions and began allowing bars to reopen with limits Tuesday, days after the University of Alabama reported nearly 850 new cases of the coronavirus, which has affected more than 2,000 students at the school.
  • The change followed complaints from bar owners that a two-week shutdown, meant to stem the spread of the illness on campus, was unfair and hurting business. But critics charged that allowing bars to reopen after the closure would make it easier for the new coronavirus to infect people.
  • School and city officials said the university appears to be headed in the right direction in combating the virus despite reporting 846 new cases Friday. That equaled 121 new cases daily from Aug. 28-Sept. 3 as opposed to more 160 new cases reported each day from Aug. 25-27.
  • Full story HERE.



4. Trump, Biden and the road to 270 electoral votes

  • For such a volatile year, the White House race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden has been remarkably consistent.
  • With Election Day just eight weeks away, Biden is maintaining the same comfortable lead in most national polls that he enjoyed through the summer. He also has an advantage, though narrower, in many of the battleground states that will decide the election. Trump remains in striking distance, banking on the intensity of his most loyal supporters and the hope that disillusioned Republicans ultimately swing his way.
  • Still, both parties are braced for the prospect of sudden changes ahead, particularly as Trump makes an aggressive pitch to white suburban voters focused on safety and fear of violent unrest. It’s unclear how well his rhetoric will resonate, but Democrats insist it can’t be ignored, especially in the upper Midwest.
  • That’s especially true in Minnesota, a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972. Democrats there say they’re increasingly concerned that the state is genuinely in play this year.
  • “Trump can win Minnesota,” said Rep. Dean Phillips, who in 2018 became the first Democrat to win his suburban Minneapolis district since 1960. “It’s real. It’s absolutely real.”
  • This full story is worth your time. Plus you get to play with your own electoral map. Read more HERE.



5. State to hold its annual infant and maternal mortality summit virtually

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health will hold its annual summit on maternal and infant mortality today during a virtual event that is free and open to the public.
  • This year’s event is called “Examining the Roots: The Impact of Maternal Mortality on Infant Mortality,” and will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday.
  • The summit will explore the connection between women’s health and healthy birth outcomes; the state of rural health care for women; and COVID-19, health and mortality in Alabama.
  • As of 2018, Alabama’s infant mortality rate was 7.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births – the lowest recorded rate yet for Alabama.
  • The state’s infant mortality rate has decreased in recent years but disparities between the survival rates of Black and white infants and mothers still persist.
  • The 2018 Black infant mortality rate was 11 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Alabama compared to the white infant mortality rate of 5.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, according to ADPH.
  • Those wishing to tune into the virtual summit must register online.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



News Briefs


Montgomery approves hazard pay bonus for front-line workers

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Officials in Alabama’s capital city have approved a hazard pay bonus for first responders and some workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Montgomery’s city-county personnel board voted Tuesday to give qualifying city workers an extra $2.50 per hour through the end of the year, news outlets reported.
  • The Montgomery County Commission also voted Tuesday to extend hazard pay to qualifying county workers, including some sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, intake and transport clerks and youth facility detention officers.
  • “Montgomery’s front line city employees have taken care of us, so we will use every tool at our disposal to take care of them,” Mayor Steven Reed said in a statement Tuesday.
  • The funds were made available through the federal CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion aid package passed by Congress in March to help states cope with the coronavirus pandemic and outbreak-related expenses.

Madison County delays capital trials, citing pandemic

  • HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A north Alabama county is delaying all capital murder trials because the courthouse doesn’t have enough room for would-be jurors to stay away from each other during the pandemic.
  • Attorneys typically call a larger-than-normal number of potential jurors for capital cases, and the presiding judge in Madison County, Ruth Ann Hall, told WHNT-TV the courthouse in Huntsville doesn’t have enough space to allow for proper social distancing in those instances.
  • So capital cases will be on hold until 2021, delaying justice for both crime victims and defendants.
  • “I indicated to the judges that we simply could not try any capital murder cases this year, because you know, we have one courtroom we can get 30 people in for voir dire and jury selection. For capital murder you need three to four times that, minimum,” said Hall.
  • At least three capital murder cases were set to be tried this year, said District Attorney Rob Broussard. The first case on the calendar involved Warren Hardy, who is charged in the death of Kathleen Lundy, 72, of Huntsville in August 2016.
  • Trials in other kinds of cases are scheduled to resume next month in Madison County.

Police: Man charged with brandishing gun at protesters

  • HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A man seen brandishing a gun at Black Lives Matter protesters in Alabama was arrested and accused of being drunk, authorities said.
  • Scott Christopher Davis, 51, was charged Sunday with public intoxication and possession of a firearm, news outlets reported.
  • Huntsville police were called to the protest near Courthouse Square Sunday evening on reports of a man harassing protesters.
  • Teddy Young with ‘Black Lives Matter Huntsville Division’ told WAFF-TV that a man approached a woman and her wife and called “them all kind of names” before threatening the woman, stating “he would smoke her if she looked at him.”
  • Young said the man was “very inebriated” and bumped into him when Young tried to diffuse the situation. Protesters yelled that the man was reaching for a weapon, Young said.
  • Young credited the police on how they handled the situation. He said officers gave the protesters tips on how to “pursue some ramifications on the gentleman.”
  • It’s unclear whether Davis had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Workers to replace faulty arch on new interstate bridge

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Workers must replace a faulty arch on a new interstate bridge that is meant to be a gateway into Tuscaloosa, delaying the project by months.
  • A metal arch that was erected on the eastbound side of a new Interstate 20/59 bridge over McFarland Boulevard was twisted, The Tuscaloosa News reported. The arch will be removed so a new structure can be installed along with a newly fabricated arch for the westbound side.
  • The work is being performed by Brasfield & Gorrie, the Birmingham-based contractor that was awarded the $83.4 million project in 2018, said John D. McWilliams, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation.
  • “Although the arch does not pose any danger to the traveling public, it does not meet the Alabama Department of Transportation’s specifications,” said McWilliams. “The contractor and ALDOT worked together to find a solution, but it was ultimately determined that a replacement was required.”
  • While the project was supposed to be done by December, the problem combined with wet weather early in the year will push back completion to summer 2021 at the earliest, McWilliams said.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Changes coming to distribution of state’s $1.9B CARES Act funds

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – McConnell proposes ‘targeted’ virus aid, but Dems say not enough

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tuscaloosa allowing bars to reopen after pandemic shutdown

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump, Biden and the road to 270 electoral votes

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In battlegrounds, absentee ballot rejections could triple

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Effort to get those with mental illnesses out of jails expands

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dems cast doubts about vaccine, Trump responds

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Leah Nelson: Worsley case shows how system fails

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – September 8, 2020

AL.COM – Alabama adds 405 new coronavirus cases; How many COVID cases has your county had since March?

AL.COM  – Alabama internet vouchers are in the mail, state agency says

AL.COM   – Judge hears testimony in trial challenging curbside voting ban

AL.COM – Electrical fires raise concerns in Alabama State House

AL.COM – Gordon Parks photos referenced in ‘Lovecraft Country’ coming to Mobile

AL.COM – Auburn reports its COVID cases from third week of classes

Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery city and county approve hazard pay

Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery Public Schools budget hearing

Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Way less’: MPS budget hearing focused on need for more local funding

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – COVID-19 pandemic impacts Alabama’s gas tax

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Locust Fork schools going online after multiple positive COVID tests

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Almost 3,000 homes proposed in new development on Highway 150

Tuscaloosa News – Last of Tuscaloosa Amphitheater’s 2020 shows rescheduled

Decatur Daily – Decatur council shares online sales tax with schools; short-term camp sites approved

Decatur Daily – Increased property tax collections boosting Morgan’s bottom line

Decatur Daily – Three Athens students named to National Merit semifinalist list

Times Daily – Yellow fever, Spanish flu led to death, fear in city

Times Daily – TVA prepares to transfer remains to Chickasaws

Times Daily – Aerotek hiring event scheduled for Thursday

Anniston Star – Cooks, boaters bid farewell to summer at Ten Island park

Anniston Star – Alabama pumpkin patches, orchards hopeful for a bump in attendance this fall

Anniston Star – In-person classes begin for Anniston schools

YellowHammer News – Northrop Grumman awarded contract for next-generation ICBM; Some work to be conducted in Alabama

YellowHammer News – Alabama Power again honored as one of nation’s best utilities for economic development, job creation

YellowHammer News – Dr. Alice Smith is a 2020 Woman of Impact

Gadsden Times – Gadsden City School students will have option of face-to-face learning starting Sept. 28

Gadsden Times – City approves $1.3 million in TIF funds for new road connecting parts of Coosa Landing

Gadsden Times – Have you seen this man? Collinsville police want to know

Dothan Eagle – Victim identified in South Lena Street shooting; suspect sought

Dothan Eagle – Arkansas man sentenced for killing Ozark woman, body driven in suitcase across state lines

Dothan Eagle – Dothan man accused of choking girlfriend during altercation

Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn city to revisit short-term rentals

Opelika-Auburn News – Nearly 600 new COVID-19 cases reported last week at Auburn University

Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn police searching for missing teen

WSFA Montgomery – New COVID-19 cases reduced by half following Ala. mask mandate

WSFA Montgomery – Suspect charged in Montgomery fatal shooting

WSFA Montgomery – The state’s Risk Indicator Dashboard is changing colors again, but for the worse

WAFF Huntsville – ‘Premium’ section of Point Mallard Campground to soon be for short term rentals only

WAFF Huntsville – New safety precautions for Madison County Courthouse jurors, jury trials

WAFF Huntsville – Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce creates partnerships to help restaurants and families in need

WKRG Mobile – Murphy, Daphne volleyball game rescheduled out of abundance of caution over coronavirus concern

WKRG Mobile – Mom pays $260 each week for childcare due to MCPSS COVID-19 closures

WKRG Mobile – MPD: Woman arrested after leaving child alone in hotel room for eight hours

WTVY Dothan – Drive-up COVID testing in Hartford on Thursday, September 17

WTVY Dothan – Another mural in downtown Enterprise almost complete

WTVY Dothan – 26 deaths in Louisiana attributed to Hurricane Laura

WASHINGTON POST – Justice Dept. intervenes on behalf of Trump in defamation case brought by woman who accused him of rape

WASHINGTON POST – White House lawn, Rose Garden being re-sodded after damage from GOP convention

WASHINGTON POST – Campaign of contrasts: Trump’s raucous crowds vs. Biden’s distanced gatherings

NEW YORK TIMES – Drugmaker Pauses Covid-19 Vaccine Trial for Safety Review

NEW YORK TIMES – Website Crashes and Cyberattacks Welcome Students Back to School

NEW YORK TIMES – Justice Dept. Intervenes to Help Trump in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Lawsuit

WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Stock Futures Rise After Tech Selloff

WALL STREET JOURNAL – Investors Shun Risky Assets as Tech Trade Stalls

WALL STREET JOURNAL – Apple Countersues ‘Fortnite’ Maker Epic Games, Seeks Punitive Damages



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