Happy Sunday everyone. Only 9 days till Christmas!! Here is the news for December 16, 2018
1. Bicentennial begins with a Coke and a smile
- The yearlong celebration for Alabama’s bicentennial kicked off Friday on the state’s 199th birthday.
- Governor Kay Ivey was there to remark on how far the state of Alabama has come and what a bright future it has in front of it.
- She also gave her thanks to the Bicentennial committee for organizing the 400 events that will be taking place throughout all of next year and will reach all over the state.
- One of the highlights that the bicentennial committee remarked on was the traveling exhibit that will be going to each county in the state that will not only teach Alabama’s history, but is also a chance to showcase the people who make up Alabama’s past and present.
- A representative from Coca Cola United was also there to unveil the special bottle packaging to celebrate the bicentennial which will be available to purchase next spring.
- I also got the chance to talk with Rep. Will Dismukes about the landmark birthday as well as get some details from Lee Sentell, the Director of Tourism in Alabama, about the traveling exhibit.
- You can read all about the kick off in my write up on the event HERE.
2. Speaker recovering
- Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon was hospitalized on Friday after tests showed a blocked blood vessel in his heart.
- He has since been released from the hospital is now in recovery, treating the blockage with medication.
- His statement said that he was experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains on his way home from Orientation Week in Montgomery this week.
- There were many well wishes on Twitter wishing the speaker a speedy recovery.
- “Deb and I appreciate the prayers of healing that so many have made on my behalf, and I am well on the road to recovery,” McCutcheon said. “Tests indicated that I had a blocked blood vessel in my heart, which resulted in the fatigue and shortness of breath that I felt, and the issue will be treated with simple medication.”
- You can read more about the situation HERE.
3. Zinke resigns
- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, facing federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest, will be leaving the Trump administration at year’s end.
- President Trump, in tweeting Zinke’s departure, said the former Montana congressman “accomplished much during his tenure” and that a replacement would be announced next week.
- This departure comes only a week after Trump’s chief of staff announced his departure.
- Now that Democrats will control the House next year, Zinke will likely face an intense probe into his misconduct.
- According to Zinke’s resignation letter, he said that these claims are “meritless and false,” and that “to some, truth no longer matters.”
- Some of the accusations against Zinke that will be reviewed include his decision to block two tribes from opening a casino in Connecticut, his redrawing of boundaries to shrink a Utah national monument, and a report stating that the department spent more than $25,000 to provide security for Zinke and his wife when they took a vacation to Turkey and Greece.
- You can read more about the situation HERE.
4. New Obamacare ruling
- A federal judge in Texas on Friday night decided to strike down the Affordable Care Act and deem it unconstitutional.
- This does not change anything immediately for the Obama-era health care program, but this renewed legal battle could lead to another Supreme Court showdown.
- The timing is interesting politically: A divided government will soon be seated in Washington.
- Democrats won House majority in part by promising to protect Obamacare.
- GOP candidates also said they want to protect pre-existing conditions, but their long battle repeal and replace Obamacare had been effectively pushed off for another two years.
- So, can the Pelosi-led House and McConnell-run Senate find common ground on a bill to protect pre-existing conditions and other popular Obamacare provisions?
- Some legal analysts think the ruling is likely to be overturned due to its sweeping nature.
- Expect Democrats and Republicans to jockey over the political upshots. Democrats believe the ruling gives them political capital since Republicans have been the ones fighting the ACA since it was passed.
- Now in the House minority, Republicans will no longer have burden of one-party rule. Rather, they can watch Democrats try to pass things while throwing a wrench or two into the gears.
- Read more about the ruling HERE.
5. The Week in Good News
Here are some happy and hopeful reads to brighten up your weekend.
- Decatur’s city school board just made going to high school seem way cooler.
- The board approved a $70,000 contract for a program meant to let students gain real-world skills by planning and promoting a rock concert.
- This began when Sen. Arthur Orr obtained a $50,000 state grant as seed money for students to plan and market the concert, while the district is using $20,000 from its general fund to pay for the rest of the financing.
- The concerts are expected to happen in April and will feature the band, Velcro Pygmies, and will be family friendly with no profanity or inappropriate content.
- Check out the Decatur Daily for more details on the event and from ADN here.
- You may have thought that humans have already seen and reached every possible part of the world, but that’s not quite the case.
- Scientists found a cave in a remote part of British Colombia that is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty in it and has a roaring river running through it.
- It is charmingly referred to as “Sarlacc’s Pit,” because of its resemblance to the deep hole that is home to a desert creature in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.”
- Just goes to show that this world still has plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered.
- Read the rest of the story HERE.