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Weekend Digest- February 17, 2019

Here is your Daily News for February 17, 2019.

1. New FEMA Director

  • Prattville native Jeff Byard has been nominated by President Trump to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency after it’s former director, Brock Long, resigned earlier this week.
  • Byard has held several positions with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency before he joined FEMA in 2017.
  • Byard has done work with FEMA in response to Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida and he is currently the associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery for FEMA.
  • Byard led Alabama’s large-scale state evacuation during Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and handled the state’s response and recovery operations for the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill.
  • In 2011, he dealt with one of the country’s largest and costliest tornado outbreaks when the so-called Super Outbreak hit Alabama and also pummeled Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi.
  • Now, the Senate has to confirm Byard. There has been no date set yet for his confirmation hearing.
  • You can read more about it from Marty Roney at the Montgomery Advertiser.

2.New DNC Election

  • Former State Senator Myron Penn announced on Friday that he’ll be running for chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party in the new leadership elections that are to take place in the next 90 days.
  • Penn is the first challenger to come forward to run against current Chair Nancy Worley, who won re-election last year amid a contentious election.
  • The Democratic National Committee ordered that a new election be taken up for the chair and vice-chair of the Alabama Democratic Party after complaints were sent.
  • Even though Penn is running against Worley, he said he doesn’t consider himself to be opposing her.
  • “I’m tired of sides. We shouldn’t have sides within our family,” Penn said.
  • Penn is an attorney from Union Springs and served as senator for District 28 from 2003 to 2011.
  • Penn said that his main focus, if he does become chairman would be on fundraising.
  • “Funding is the mother’s milk of campaigns. Our candidates need money to run,” Penn said.
  • You can read more info about Penn HERE.

3. National Emergency

  • A top adviser to President Donald Trump indicated Sunday that Trump is prepared to issue the first veto of his term if Congress votes to disapprove of his declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that “the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration.”
  • Asked if that meant Trump was ready to veto, Miller added, “He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed.”
  • California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has already said that he would sue “imminently” to block the order, after the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Citizen announced Friday they were taking legal action.
  • Democrats are planning to introduce a resolution disapproving of the declaration once Congress returns to session and it is likely to pass Congress.
  • Several Republican senators are already indicating they would vote against Trump — though there do not yet appear to be enough votes to override a veto by the president.
  • Miller insisted that Congress granted the president wide berth under the National Emergencies Act to take action.
  • But Trump’s declaration goes beyond previous emergencies in shifting money after Congress blocked his funding request for the wall, which will likely factor in legal challenges.
  • Read more about it HERE.

4. API: Conservative approach to the gas tax

  • Conservative think tank Alabama Policy Institute is issuing its take one of the biggest issues facing the state: the declining conditions of our roads and bridges and an impending plan to raise the state’s gas tax to improve infrastructure.
  • API suggests that the Legislature should consider more options that just a “bare-bones tax increase” as the only solution to solving infrastructure problems.
  • Lawmakers should reform the way the state raises and spends the gas tax revenue, the group argues in its two-part op-ed in Alabama Daily News.
  • Here is a snippet:
  • “… any tax increase should be accompanied by reform. Alabama’s budget processes are archaic and filed with misaligned appropriations. There is no better time for a conservative to negotiate for hard-fought change than when their vote is suddenly needed on a revenue measure.”
  • You can read more of API’s column HERE.

5. Week In Good News

A Few Good Dogs
  • The Westminster Dog Show happened this week and The Wire Fox Terrier, named King, took home the big prize.
  • While the Wire Fox may have the best facial hair of the all the breeds, I think we can agree that they are all very good dogs.
  • You can check out some cute pics of the event HERE.
Ozark School Finally Gets Deserved Recognition
  • D.A. Smith Middle School in Ozark was first built in 1939 for the area’s African-American students and has long been part of Alabama’s contentious history of desegregating schools.
  • The school has gone through many transitions and name changes in its lifetime, but now the school, and it’s original name will remain on the Alabama register of Landmarks and Heritage.
  • It’s a fascinating story about fighting to recognize Alabama’s history through it’s schools and I recommend you give it a read.
  • You can read it from the Dothan Eagle HERE.
Salamanders and Superpowers
  • As long as you don’t cut off their heads, these smiling salamanders can grow back a nearly perfect replica of any body part, including up to half of their brain.
  • To understand how they evolved this level of healing, researchers looked to the animal’s genome (which is 10 times the size of the human genome).
  • They reported the most complete assembly of DNA yet for the striking creatures.
  • This kind of research paves the way for advances in regenerative medicine for humans.
  • Read more about it HERE


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Trump picks former Alabama official to lead FEMA
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Myron Penn to run for Alabama Democratic Party chair
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Confederate statue law to stay in effect amid appeal
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds: Prisons, pre-filed bills and Governor Kay Ivey.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Alabama Policy Institute: A Conservative Approach to the Gas Tax
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– White House indicates Trump to veto disapproval of emergency
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Toll planned for $2B bridge span crossing Mobile River, bay
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Plan to honor former mayor convicted of bribery
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: The Langford Crossplex? What a plan.
AL.COM – ‘Resistance can be fun’: Angela Davis speaks in Alabama after award snub.
AL.COM – With fires for resistance still burning, Angela Davis comes home.
AL.COM – Abortion opponents in Alabama aim for outright ban.
AL.COM – Alabama education department digging in to 2017 graduation rates.
AL.COM – Contributor Frances Coleman: A Catholic gives Baptists a heads-up about what’s coming.
YELLOWHAMMMER NEWS – Gee’s Bend has the nation’s first electric ferry.
YELLOWHAMMMER NEWS – SOS John Merrill: We’re looking to address absentee ballot fraud this legislative session.
YELLOWHAMMMER NEWS – State Rep. Tommy Hanes on gas tax hike: ‘I’m going to be a no,’
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Local Music Legends talk interracial collaboration during Civil Rights Era.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Disputes between lawmakers begin over gas tax funds.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Bill would limit police control to boundaries of a city.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Editorial: EPA must take action on toxic chemicals.
GADSDEN TIMES– Editorial:  Goodyear announcement troubling, but a heads-up.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Vigil for Victims of Hate and Violence held on capitol steps.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Contributor Joe Godfrey: State should control alcohol sales.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Daughter takes over seat of longest serving state senator.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Editorial: The least bitter pill.
WASHINGTON POST – ‘Finish that wall’: Trump seeks to turn his failure to build the wall into campaign rallying cry.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Colbert King: The black men of the Civil War were America’s original ‘dreamers’.
WASHINGTON POST – Why Donald Trump Jr.’s ‘loser teachers’ comment was ‘a chilling moment’ for educators around the world.
WASHINGTON POST – Amazon paid no federal taxes on $11.2 billion in profits last year.
NEW YORK TIMES – With Trump’s Tough Deterrents, Many Asylum Seekers on the Border are Giving Up
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump’s Attempt to Circumvent Congress Leaves Uneasy Senate Republicans With Hard Choice
NEW YORK TIMES – Do American Women Still Need an Equal Rights Amendment?

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