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Weekend Digest- January 6, 2019

I hope everyone had a restful and fun holiday season. There is plenty of news today so let’s dive in. Here’s your Daily News for Sunday, January 6, 2019.

1. The Shutdown and Alabama

  • With little progress being made toward agreement on border wall funding and no clear sign to when the partial government shutdown will end, I thought we could take a closer look at how this partial government shutdown is impacting Alabama.
  • Sen. Doug Jones spoke with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union this morning and said that “Everything right now is all political posturing,” and that “I’m not going to give wall money just to give wall money…We’ve been talking about dollars and cents, but not plans.”
  • “Our state wants the government to be open for business,” Jones said. “I think that’s the most important thing for the people of Alabama right now….they want border security but they want government services.”
  • Sen. Richard Shelbytold Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo the president is right to insist on border security but that the two sides need to negotiate.
  • “But what we need to do, Maria, is get together. We need to secure our border. I think the president is absolutely right in this,” Shelby said.
  • “And I think we have got to quit the political posturing and get down to rational thinking, rational discussions. I know, this afternoon, some of my staff will be at the White House trying to negotiate to where we are and what can be done. This could be settled in 24 hours or less, if we could get together.”
But just how much is the shutdown affecting Alabama?
  • The 53,000 or so federal workers in Alabama are mostly Department of Defense who won’t be subject to furlough. Neither will the 6,300 who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Other federal employees could see furloughs, including 2,300 NASA employees in Huntsville, 500 or so non-essential Department of Justice workers, and 1,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture workers.
  • However, NASA thought ahead and made sure the moving of the test fuel tank to Huntsville by barge for the Space Launch System, will not be stopped.
  • The Dothan Eagle is reporting that the shutdown is preventing the city from receiving community development block grants.
  • WSFA 12 is reporting that the Women Infants and Children nutrition program, known as WIC, is running on state and local funds and everyone can still access benefits.
  • Also running normally is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, better known as food stamps. Funding should be fine through the end of the month but no one knows what happens come February.
  • And the Anniston Star is reporting that a federal system that allows employers to check the immigration status of potential new employees hasn’t been working this week.
  • You can read more about the talks going on in Washington over the shutdown HERE.

2. The USS Jeremiah Denton.

  • A new Navy warship will be named for Alabama’s Jeremiah Denton, the former U.S. Senator and well-known Vietnam veteran who survived torture as a prisoner of war.
  • Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer announced that a Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be named in Denton’s honor after it is build at the Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
  • Sen. Richard Shelby, who succeeded Denton in the Senate in 1987, praised the decision to honor him.
  • “Secretary Spencer’s decision to honor Admiral Jeremiah Denton embodies the significant impact of his courageous actions during the Vietnam War. Admiral Denton’s patriotism, sacrifice, and noble service to Alabama and our great nation will never be forgotten. He is very worthy of this honor, as his legacy merits this level of recognition,” said Senator Shelby.
  • Read more about Denton’s life and the new Destroyer ship that will be named after him and watch HERE.
  • And don’t miss Alabama Public Television Filmmaker Mark Fastoso’s award-winning documentary “JEREMIAH,” also available HERE.

3. New Trial for Death Row Inmate.

  • The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday ordered a new trial for an Alabama death row inmate, ruling that he had an inadequate defense at his trial nearly two decades ago.
  • A new trial was granted to Emanuel Aaron Gissendanner in a 6-2 decision because his defense counsel failed to do basic investigation to challenge the prosecution’s case at trial.
  • Gissendanner was convicted in the 2001 killing of 77-year-old Margaret Snellgrove in Dale County. Prosecutors argued that Gissendanner kidnapped and killed Snellgrove and then tried to cash one of her checks.
  • Dale County Circuit Judge Kenneth Quattlebaum, the judge who presided over the initial trial, ruled in 2010 that Gissendanner deserved a new trial.
  • Quattlebaum said defense attorneys didn’t do things like call alibi witnesses, consult a handwriting expert, or interview witnesses or review documents that could have undermined prosecution’s claims.
  • Check out Kim Chandler’s write up for the whole story HERE.

4. More Gas Tax Talk.

  • Kim Chandler has a new report out this morning on a possible gas tax increase.
  • She spoke to various legislators that are saying the crumbling roads and infrastructure problems in Alabama are too large to ignore any longer.
  • House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said that they are working on creating new legislation right now to raise the tax with the goal being a revenue stream that will not be too burdensome to consumers at the pump.
  • Even though there appears to be a more fervent support for the tax increase, it is still not a done deal for all Alabama lawmakers.
  • There are arguments about where exactly the money will go and that not everyone is being included in the talks for the new legislation.
  • House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said the Democratic Caucus has so far not been included in any discussions about legislation. He says that needs to change if they want to avoid what happened in 2017.
  • Read Kim’s full story HERE.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Navy Destroyer to be named after Jeremiah Denton
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Supreme Court orders new trial for death row inmate
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama steps up monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Each side accusing other of giving no ground on shutdown
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Lawmakers weigh possible gas tax measure in March session
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – California businessman pleads guilty in corruption case
AL.COM – Rains transform Delta into giant 13-mile wide river
AL.COM – Western Supermarkets closing marks end of era
AL.COM – Birmingham Civil Rights Institute cancels plan to honor Angela Davis
AL.COM – Hyundai production numbers down, but SUV surging
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Just say ‘I’m not paying that’ to Apple and other companies
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: Pleading with the powerful in 2019
DAILY YONDER – The Geography of Food Stamps
ALABAMA NEWS NETWORK – Selma Tourism Impacted by Government Shutdown
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: What have local industries done? A lot
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Columnist Tommy Stevenson’s At Large: Nixon and me: A chance foregone
GADSDEN TIMES – Should police video be made public?
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: A slam-dunk for the state Legislature.
ANNISTON STAR– The Anniston Star: The women in our Congress
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Judge denies expedited hearing on sale of Bellefonte plant
DOTHAN EAGLE – Government shutdown has prevented Dothan from receiving its community development block grants
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: USS Jeremiah Denton — a fitting honor for an American hero
WSFA– Government shutdown affects some housing loans, programs
WBRC – Alabama’s youngest residents potentially impacted by government shutdown
WASHINGTON POST – Pence and White House officials leave meeting with congressional aides with no end to shutdown
WASHINGTON POST – Amid backlash, Trump administration seeks to halt raises for top officials
WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post: Our privacy regime is broken. Congress needs to create new norms for a digital age
WASHINGTON POST – 1.4 million Florida ex-felons have voting rights restored
WASHINGTON POST – House lawmakers prepare rollout of gun-control proposal
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Jared Bernstein: Q and A on the big December jobs report
NEW YORK TIMES – The Border Wall: How a Potent Symbol Is Now Boxing Trump In
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Has Promised to Bring Jobs Back. His Tariffs Threaten to Send Them Away
NEW YORK TIMES – Contributor Reniqua Allen: The American Dream Isn’t for Black Millennials

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