Dye Sends Letter to Legislators Argues Passage of Lottery, Gaming

 

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Legendary Auburn coach Pat Dye, has written a letter to the Alabama Legislature explaining his support for a plan to create a State lottery and regulated gaming:

“Alabama is my home,” Dye wrote. “I have loved Alabama since Coach Bryant gave me my first coaching job in 1965.  So it saddens me to see the state I love facing this financial crisis.” 

Currently, the State’s General Fund Budget is not sufficiently funded to meet its obligations. The State faces an estimated $250 million shortfall, that would effect health services, law enforcement, and other budget obligations.
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Study Finds Alabama Failing in Best States for Working Moms, Dads

 

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY— A data analysis by wallethub.com found that Alabama is not such a good place for working moms and dads.

A new study identifying 2015’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms, found Alabama near the bottom in every metric.

This is also true in of the 2015’s Best & Worst States for working dads.

The Working Mom findings are based on an analysis of data obtained from:
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Strange, Byrne Applaud Supreme Court Ruling on EPA

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Monday, June 29, the US Supreme Court, in a controversial 5-4 ruling, sided with the energy companies and 23 states including Alabama, against restrictive new mercury emission rules by President Obama’s US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) said that the US Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Michigan is a significant victory, in what he called curbing the EPA’s unlawful regulatory overreach, at the expense of business and consumers.
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Oden Comments on US Supreme Court Decision Rejecting EPA Standards

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Monday, June 29, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled against new rules by President Obama’s US Environmental Protection Agency in a 5-4 ruling.  Alabama Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden (R) issued a stamen supporting the ruling by our nation’s highest court.

Commissioner Oden wrote, “I am pleased with the US Supreme Court’s ruling against the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ill-considered attempts to regulate power plants at tremendous cost to the people of Alabama. Today’s ruling on the Clean Air Act is a clear indication that the EPA has been operating outside of its legal authority in attempting to impose stringent emission regulations with no regard to the cost of implementation. The regulations in question would further limit emissions from coal-fired power plants, which would directly contribute to the removal of coal from our energy mix. However, challengers to the regulations have demonstrated the cost could far outweigh the perceived benefits. Herein lies the problem: Without the EPA running a cost-benefit analysis, there is no way to determine whether the EPA’s regulations are “appropriate and necessary.””

Com. Oden continued, “As a Public Service Commissioner in Alabama, it concerns me greatly that the EPA openly admits it did not take costs into account in determining to regulate emissions. How can we as a people allow a federal agency to operate in this manner? Fortunately for ratepayers in Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that it is not appropriate to impose billions of dollars of economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. The court ruled that the EPA must “consider cost — including cost of compliance — before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary.””

Com. Oden promised, “I will continue to keep a close eye on this issue. We cannot afford to let Obama’s EPA operate in such a careless manner. As long as I am allowed to serve you as Public Service Commissioner- Place 1, I will continue to fight against the EPA’s reckless regulations.”

Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) agrees with Com. Oden and has sponsored legislation in the House that would have delayed CO2 emissions regulations to give us more time to study the issue. Representative Palmer said in a statement on Facebook, “The EPA’s overregulation is costing people jobs, which has negative effects on people’s health. This is especially true of the most economically vulnerable among us.”

Rep. Palmer told a House Committee recently, “The EPA makes a habit out of claiming more authority than it rightfully has, particularly under this Administration.  The EPA’s proposed ‘Clean Power Plant’ rule is an example of this.  This rule would require power plants to reduce emissions by 30 percent in the next 15 years in order to achieve little to no environmental benefit. According to the NERA, an economic consulting and analysis firm, this proposal would cost between $41 and $73 billion per year. There is a strong possibility this rule will be struck down in court. In the meantime, it could do significant economic damage.” 

Rep. Palmer said, “This rule amounts to a massive tax increase on those Americans least able to pay it.  The Ratepayer Protection Act would shield states from being forced or coerced into complying with this unwise and possibly illegal rule.  I am glad to support this first step toward rolling back EPA’s overregulation.”

The Supreme Court ruling that the EPA has to consider economic costs into their rulemaking process likely makes new proposed EPA rules on mercury emissions, CO2 emissions, water, etc. will all have to go back to the EPA for review and revision.

Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.

 

It’s Time For A Real Solution To The Gambling Question

 

By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford 

Decisions made by the government and high profile court rulings consumed the news last week. Most of the breaking news has centered on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions. But there is one court ruling that hasn’t gotten as much attention, and it’s just as important to the people of Alabama because it has such a huge impact on the future of our state. 
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It’s not the chicken or the egg; It’s growing a better Alabama

By Rep. Darrio Melton

There has been a great deal of talk in the past weeks about racism, about equality, about opportunity.  As we come on the heels of Independence Day, there’s no better time to discuss what we should be doing–239 years after our Declaration of Independence–to form a more perfect union each day.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about expanding access to high-speed Internet and why that was so important for our communities, especially low-income communities.  It provides opportunities for education and job growth that will pay dividends for many years to come. 
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Reflections on Freedom as Independence Day Approaches

by Katherine Green Robertson

Raised to love my country and our flag, and because it’s reserved for time with my family, the Fourth of July is a day that I look forward to from the very first signs of summer.  For me, at least, I sense that this year will somewhat bittersweet. When we celebrate America’s independence, we necessarily celebrate freedom–unprecedented and unmatched by any other nation. For the first time in my life, I fear that my own freedom might actually be at stake.
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SpaceX Rocket Crashes

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Monday, June 29 NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued a statement on the loss Sunday of the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services 7 (CRS-7) mission.

Administrator Bolden said, “We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months. We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight. The commercial cargo program was designed to accommodate loss of cargo vehicles. We will continue operation of the station in a safe and effective way as we continue to use it as our test bed for preparing for longer duration missions farther into the solar system.”

Administrator Bolden said that, “A Progress vehicle is ready to launch July 3, followed in August by a Japanese HTV flight. Orbital ATK, our other commercial cargo partner, is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year.”

Bolden said that NASA has not lost confidence in SpaceX, “SpaceX has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first six cargo resupply missions to the station, and we know they can replicate that success. We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward. This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our ambitious human spaceflight program.”

On Sunday, June 28 the SpaceX CRS-7 mission was launched from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  The unmanned ship exploded shortly into its flight.

Also on Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 rocket launch on has been postponed.  The launch was supposed to deliver NOAA’s Jason-3 Earth observation satellite to orbit, and was scheduled for August 9th.

Until Sunday’s disappointment SpaceX has had seven successful missions to the International Space Station (ISS), including six official resupply missions for NASA,    

Meanwhile an Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch the GPS IIF-10 for the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday, July 15, from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. 

The U.S. military uses GPS satellites to provide navigational assistance for U.S. military operations on land, at sea, and in the air. Civilian users around the world also use and depend on GPS for highly accurate time, location, and velocity information. The GPS IIF-10 is a next-generation GPS satellite which incorporates various improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased signals, and enhanced performance for users.  The launch will be the 55th for the Atlas V launch since the vehicle’s inaugural launch in 2002 and the 27th flight of the 401 configuration.  The United Launch Alliance (ULA) has come under fire from Congress for its reliance on Russian built rocket engines.

On Friday, June 26 ULA CEO Tony Bruno testified that uncertainty in the National Defense Authorization Act could potentially eliminate competition and jeopardize assured American access to space.

CEO Tory Bruno testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces chaired by Congressman Mike Rogers (R from Saks).  Congress has wanted to move toward American built rocket engines and away from the Russian built RD-180.  Bruno said that the company needed more time to ensure a smooth transition to a domestic rocket engine. “To end use of the RD-180 engine and make commercial investments in a new engine and system that will meet our national launch requirements, ULA needs the ability to compete into the next decade.”  Bruno said, “The House has correctly addressed concern over the RD-180 engine by allowing ULA to use engines already on contract while prohibiting additional purchases, which reflects the original intent of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act.”

ULA has signed agreements with Blue Origin and Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop American built engines for its next-generation launch vehicle, Vulcan.

Bruno warned however that a new engine requires six to eight years to develop, test, certify and prepare for operational missions.  Also the new engine would not be a direct replacement of the Russian RD-180 and would require significant booster redesign.  Bruno said, “One cannot just plug a new ‘form-fit-function’ engine into a rocket and expect system reliability.  Neither engine under development by our partners would automatically work as a one-to-one replacement.”

Bruno said that ULA fully supports competition in the launch industry, but warned against giving SpaceX a monopoly because of ULA’s inability to import RD-180s from Russia.

Bruno told Congress, “We welcome competition on a fair and level playing field. However, if the current law is not modified, America will not have assured access to space and competition will have been unintentionally eliminated, giving the new entrant a monopoly.”  “ULA would like to continue its stellar service to our nation’s warfighter and intelligence community, but can only do so if the replacement for the Atlas V is cost competitive.”

Burno said that ULA needs to be able to use all of the engines currently on contract with Russia to allow for a smooth transition to an American-made engine.  Bruno said that ULA plans to retire the Delta IV Medium launch vehicle to eliminate the costs of maintaining two infrastructures and develop an American-made engine that provides 35 percent greater performance over the RD-180

Bruno said, “I am optimistic about the future of space launch, what my company does for this nation, and the great things that come from investing in American ingenuity to advance our space needs.” “ULA is proud of the combined century of Atlas and Delta launch heritage, and we are transforming to continue to be the nation’s provider with a more capable, more affordable next-generation launch vehicle.”

ULA said in a statement that since its inception in 2006, ULA has launched 96 missions with 100 percent mission success. ULA said that the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets are the more powerful and reliable in the world and are the only rockets that fully meet the needs of the U.S. national security community.

Chairman Mike Rogers said in a statement before the hearing, “The clock is ticking – our reliance on Russian rocket engines for national security space launches is ending.  It is not the time to fund new launch vehicles, or new infrastructure, or rely on unproven technologies.  It is the time for the Pentagon to harness the power of the American industrial base, and move with purpose and clarity in order to swiftly develop an American rocket propulsion system that ends our reliance on Russia as soon as possible.”

The problems with the SpaceX launch are an unexpected boost for ULA’s case for their being allowed to continue to import Russian built rocket engines.  U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote a letter to Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman John McCain on May 11 asking that Congress amend federal law so the Pentagon can retain “assured access to space”.

Pentagon officials feared that if anything went wrong with the SpaceX rocket that the U.S. military will not be able to launch satellites into space, without a backup option.  They claim that the military will lose access to the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets without being allowed to continue importing the Russian rocket engines.

United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Boeing Co (BA.N).  SpaceX is owned by Elon Musk, who cofounded Pay Pal and owns Tesla Motors.

In September, SpaceX and Boeing was awarded a $2.6 billion contract to fly astronauts to the ISS and back.  Currently American astronauts have to hitch a ride with the Russians if they want to get into space.  SpaceX’s Dragon rocket was supposed to be the launch vehicle for the Boeing built capsule.  It is not certain at this point how the investigation into Sunday’s launch will affect final development of that manned program. 

The SpaceX/Boeing proposal beat out a proposal by Sierra Nevada to fly its Dream Chaser vehicle to the ISS.  The Dream Chaser is currently investigating using the Huntsville International Airport for its landings and either a ULA Saturn V rocket for launch or a very big plane……that hasn’t been designed yet to get it into space.  

Tribe Begins Ad Campaign for Gambling Monopoly

 

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) have begun what is reportedly a $4 million dollar advertising campaign to win the right to hold a monopoly over gambling in Alabama. 

Full page ads began appearing in State newspapers. Even the small market of Lee County, home district of Speaker Mike Hubbard, was treated with a full broadsheet advertisement. Hubbard, who stands accused by the State of 23 felony counts of public corruption in receiving over $2 million dollars for himself, and his business interests, is backing a plan that would give PCI complete control over gaming in the State.
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Hubbard Hauls in Millions: Opinion


By Bill Britt

Alabama Political Reporter

As Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard made around $733,848.88 from “consulting contracts,” according to figures supplied by the Attorney General’s Office. This is just a portion of the $2,346,292.88 that Hubbard has fueled to himself, and to his business interests since 2010.

Of course, this does not include his salary as Speaker, his income from his radio holdings, or his paycheck, and State-provided insurance his wife receives from Auburn University. Just in consulting contracts alone, Hubbard was making around 18 times the average income of an Alabama family. Yet, with all of this money flowing into his bank account, Hubbard still cried poverty to investment banker Will Brooke, former Gov. Bob Riley, and others.
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