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Weekend Digest- February 16, 2019

Good Afternoon!
Here is your Weekend Digest for Sunday, February 16!

1. Medical Marijuana bill heads to first vote

  • A medical marijuana bill is headed to its first vote in the Alabama Legislature as advocates hope to gain traction after years of setbacks in Montgomery.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the legislation Wednesday and could vote the same day.
  • The bill by Republican Sen. Tim Melson would allow people to be prescribed medical marijuana for certain conditions, including cancer, anxiety and chronic pain, and to purchase cannabis products at a dispensary licensed by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.
  • Medical marijuana advocates for years made little headway in Montgomery. A medical marijuana bill in 2013 won the so-called “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill that year in the House of Representatives.
  • A bill cleared the Alabama Senate last year but the measure faces continued skepticism in the House of Representatives and opposition from Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.


2. Monday final day to register for upcoming election

  • Monday is the final day to register to vote in the March 3 primary elections in Alabama.
  • People have until midnight to electronically register to vote in the election. Voters can check their registration status and polling places at the Alabama secretary of state’s website.
  • Voters will cast ballots in the presidential, senate and congressional races as well as a number of state races.
  • In addition to the presidential primary, the most notable race is the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
  • The primary winner will face U.S. Sen. Doug Jones in November.
  • Alabama voters will also decide a proposed constitutional amendment to abolish the elected state school board and replace it with a commission appointed by the governor.
  • Read the whole story HERE.


3. Forensics lab and Taylor Hardin addition part of Ivey’s budget proposal

  • Gov. Kay Ivey’s proposed 2021 General Fund budget includes money for a range of one-time projects focused on mental health, forensic sciences and youth services.
  • Ivey’s budget includes funds for a new forensic science lab in North Alabama and more beds at one of the state’s three mental health hospitals in Tuscaloosa.
  • Also, money for renovations at the Department of Youth Services’ residential facility near Montgomery is included in capital project line items totaling $95.3 million.
  • “These investments in such critical projects help address greater challenges in our state,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said.
  • “For example, making an investment to increase the number of beds in Taylor Hardin not only helps further the work being done there, but also lessens the burdens on other mental health facilities, as well as our prison system. These are one-time expenses, and with our budgets being in a strong position, now is the time to make these necessary improvements.”
  • Lawmakers will be assessing these requests as they finalize the 2021 budget in the coming months.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.


4. Democratic hopefuls now test strength among minority voters

  • Now, as the election calendar turns to Nevada and South Carolina, states with substantial minority populations, that “anybody” moves closer to being identified.
  • But the next stage in the nominating fight will test candidates such as Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Their success thus far has come in front of overwhelmingly white electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire.
  • It’s also a potential last comeback opportunity for former Vice President Joe Biden. He finished poorly in those first two contests but argues he has durable support among the minority voters who will soon make their choices.
  • Nevada’s caucuses are this coming Saturday and will feature a growing population of Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Yet no single place in the early going is as important as South Carolina.
  • Read more about the upcoming primary elections HERE.


5. Column: A love letter to Alabama

  • Did everyone have a nice Valentine’s Day?
  • Well, here is a little more love to spread around. This time about the state we all are fortunate enough to live in.
  • Will Whatley has a column this week expressing his love for all parts of the state, and its not just about the football:
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“But there’s so much more to our sweet home than just college football. No matter your interest, there’s something for everyone here. Birmingham is the site of medical innovations and a budding culinary scene that’s garnering national attention. It’s also the spot to be for good music along with Muscle Shoals. Montgomery is a city on the rise thanks to growing industries and the military. Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras and the MoonPie Drop. And Huntsville can build a heck of a rocket.”
  • You can Will’s full column HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medical marijuana bill heads to first vote in Legislature
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Monday final day to register for upcoming Alabama elections
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey budget proposal includes North Alabama forensics lab, Taylor Hardin addition
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Democratic hopefuls now test strength among minority voters
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Column: A love letter to Alabama
AL.COM – Tim James on Shelby-Talladega toll bridge: ‘You can’t have growth without traffic’.
AL.COM – Angry Tommy Tuberville denies he’s for immigrant amnesty.
AL.COM – Undocumented Alabamian savors rare victory in immigration court.
AL.COM – Hunted for first time since 1916, about 300 sandhill cranes killed in Alabama.
AL.COM – Jim and Jackie Zeigler: Couple battles efforts to abolish their public positions.
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Does real manliness depend on one’s sexual orientation?
AL.COM – Contributor Jack Bernard: A closer look at the money in the presidential race.
AL.COM – Contributor Will Rutland: The clock is ticking (toward 4:20) on medical marijuana bill in Alabama.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Recent heavy rains continue to affect Alabama Power lakes.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Finding Birmingham’s next A.G. Gaston.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Rep. Clouse: Would like to have lottery vote this November — Gaming commission should have been done 6-7 months ago.
TIMES DAILY – Flu cases in Shoals slightly below the state average.
TIMES DAILY – Alabamians overwhelmingly want lottery.
TIMES DAILY – Bills seek financial transparency from licensing boards, AHSAA.
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – One-third of all plant and animal species could be extinct in 50 years, study warns.
GADSDEN TIMES – The Gadsden Times: Time to take state sales tax off grocery purchases.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Stephen Cooper: ‘Just Mercy’ and justice don’t exist in Alabama.
OPELIKA AUBURN NEWS – Senate confirms new Auburn board terms for trio.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Sales tax collections show local retailers fared well during holiday season.
WASHINGTON POST – Barr’s internal reviews and re-investigations feed resentment, suspicion inside Justice Dept.
WASHINGTON POST – Medicare payment change is making it harder for some patients to get home health car
NEW YORK TIMES – A Presidency Increasingly Guided by Suspicion and Distrust
NEW YORK TIMES – An Old and Contested Solution to Boost Reading Scores: Phonics

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