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Weekend Digest – December 22, 2019

Presented by

the Alabama Accountability Act Coalition




Good afternoon!
Only three more sleeps till Christmas!
Here’s your Weekend Digest for December 22.



1. Commission approves draft medical marijuana bill

  • The Alabama Medical Marijuana Study Commission has approved draft legislation for lawmakers to debate in the 2020 session.
  • The 18-member commission that has been working to develop legislation since the summer on Friday voted via e-mail to move it forward. The vote was 12 ayes, three nays and three abstentions, Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, told Alabama Daily News.
  • “I think that’s pretty good,” Melson said about the final vote.
  • Melson will sponsor the new bill in the Senate, but some changes are possible before then, he said. The commission was making changes to the draft as recently as last week.
  • “There will be a little tweaking, nothing major,” he said. “I’m sure between now and then, we may see some logistical issues we as a commission didn’t think of, but businessmen and farmers may think of.”
  • You can read the full story from Mary Sell HERE.



2. Charter Schools awarded $1.5M

  • Two public charter school groups in Alabama will each receive $1.5 million to help start new charter schools in the state as part of a grant competition from New Schools Alabama.
  • The Montgomery Education Foundation and i3 Academy in Birmingham were the recipients of this year’s awards. Each organization will receive a three year grant totaling $1.5 million.
  • The Montgomery Education Foundation is in the process of starting three conversion charter schools, which take existing schools along with the student population and operate them under new leadership and rules meant to encourage improvement.The Montgomery County Board of Education in November approved the conversion of Davis Elementary, Nixon Elementary and Bellingrath High School.
  • i3 Academy is a start-up charter school locating in the former First Baptist Church in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Birmingham. It is designed to educate 420 students in grades K-5, which will be enrolled via a lottery under the state’s charter schools law.
  • Funding for the grant competition was made possible by a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education awarded to New Schools for Alabama to help start 15 new high-quality charter schools over the next five years.
  • Read my full story on the charter school grants HERE.









A message from

the Alabama Accountability Act Coalition

This holiday season give the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.

3. Beware of shopping scams

  • If you’ve still got some last minute holiday shopping to do, you might want to be aware of some scams that could be targeting shoppers.
  • One popular last-minute gift is gift cards or prepaid reloadable cards, which can be purchased at places like grocery stores and convenience stores. As many as 70% of Americans will buy a gift card of some kind this season.
  • According to AARP Alabama, gift card fraud revs up during the holiday season. Nearly 20% of adults report that they have either given or received a gift card that had no funds on it. Thieves often hit store gift card racks, scan the numbers of the cards, then monitor them. When the card is bought and activated, the scammers steal the funds.
  • “The holiday season brings good cheer and time with family and friends,” said Evey Owen, Interim Associate State Director of Communications for AARP Alabama. “Unfortunately, while we are in a state of joy and giving, scammers use this as an opportunity to deceive and steal people’s hard earned money.”
  • Read more about the potential scams and how to avoid them from ADN’s Will Whatley HERE.


4. Impeachment future foggy

  • President Donald Trump is in sunny Florida, while plans for his impeachment trial back in Washington remained clouded. Senate leaders jockeying for leverage have failed to agree on procedures for the trial.
  • Trump is still expected to be acquitted of both charges in the Senate, where Republicans have the majority, in what will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. Proceedings are expected to begin in January.
  • But the impasse between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer over whether there will be new witnesses and testimony — along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal so far to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate — have left the situation unresolved.
  • “Nancy Pelosi is looking for a Quid Pro Quo with the Senate. Why aren’t we Impeaching her?” Trump tweeted, mocking one of the accusations against him before heading out for a two-week stay at his Mar-a-Lago resort for the holidays.
  • You can read more about the future of the impeachment process HERE.


5. Week in Good News

Woman given new home after previous home destroyed by tornado

  • Earnestine Reese was one of the many Lee County residents who lost their homes during the March tornadoes this year.
  • Her story went viral after a video of her talking with her relatives, surrounded by the wreckage surfaced online, saying that she was just thankful to be alive.
  • The Christian organization, Samaritan’s Purse, heard about Reese and immediately offered to assist not only the community around her but help build her a new home.
  • Reese was presented with keys to her new home on Saturday that was not only paid in full but also had its own safe room that she could use in case of another storm.
  •  Read this heart warming story from Opelika-Auburn News HERE.

A message from


  • Can you believe it? The 2020 legislative session is only 44 days away!
  • As your company or organization plans its advocacy efforts, consider utilizing the unique promotional benefits of Alabama Daily News.
  • Simply put, there is no better way to put your message directly in front of the decision makers that matter than by advertising in the Daily News.
  • Updated packages for email, web and combination promotions are available for 2020, but the space is going quickly.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medical marijuana commission approves draft bill
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Two Alabama charter school programs awarded $1.5M each
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Scams targeting holiday shoppers in Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Plans for impeachment trial get foggy before holiday break
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Another record: Alabama unemployment 2.7% in November
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Port dredging provision in spending bill could complete ‘transformative’ Alabama project
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Agencies spar over parolee training program
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 20, 2019
AL.COM – What were the findings of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission?
AL.COM – New dredging program could be boon for Port of Mobile
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: That thing no one wants to hear
AL.COM – Alabama Bicentennial in the Kyrgyz Republic
AL.COM – Philip Lutzenkirchen’s father fights distracted driving 5 years after tragic crash
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: All I want for Christmas is a public records law that works
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Decatur has a toxic problem. An NDA could keep details secret
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – ‘Tipping point’ for University of South Alabama research funding
ANNISTON STAR – Bicycles get into grateful hands at annual giveaway
ANNISTON STAR – Editor Anthony Cook: Christianity Today magazine misses golden opportunity in Trump editorial
DOTHAN EAGLE – Fallen naval officer had the ‘heart of a warrior’
WASHINGTON POST – 1 in every 4 circuit court judges is now a Trump appointee
WASHINGTON POST – Trump touts Putin speaking out against his impeachment
WASHINGTON POST – House freshmen get an education in limits of power and legislative pragmatism
NEW YORK TIMES – Fear and Loyalty: How Donald Trump Took Over the Republican Party
NEW YORK TIMES – More Than 1 in 5 U.S. Papers Has Closed. This Is the Result
NEW YORK TIMES – The Movement to Bring Death Closer: Home-funeral guides believe that families can benefit from tending to — and spending time with — the bodies of their deceased

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