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Alabama’s leaders remember Sept. 11

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley 
Alabama Political Reporter

On Sept. 11, 2001, a team of Muslim terrorist operatives led by Muhammed Atta with the al Qaeda organizations launched a series of attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol.  Three of the four attacks were successful.  The passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 however made a valiant attempt to retake their airplane.  The terrorists crashed the plane into farmland in Pennsylvania to prevent the passengers from succeeding in that effort.  The passengers of flight 93 likely saved the lives of hundreds of Americans on the ground.  When the WTC towers collapsed nearly 3,000 Americans lay dead, including over 200 New York City Firemen and 77 police officers.  The nation was shocked by that day’s events and many remember this day every year.

Many Alabama leaders commented on this unofficial day of national remembrance.

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said, “Let us never forget the events of September 11, 2001, but let us also never forget the resilience of the United States. The strength of our nation comes from our people.”

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, said, “On today’s anniversary of September 11, 2001, let us remember those we lost on that terrible day. May we never forget the bravery shown during that time of unspeakable tragedy.”

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, said, “Sixteen years ago today we witnessed one of the darkest days in US history. A terrorist attack against innocent civilians that resulted in the loss of almost 3,000 lives. Earlier this year, Ann and I visited Ground Zero in New York City and walked around the memorial looking at the names of those who were lost that day in the World Trade Towers. It was a somber and moving reminder that each name represented a loved one…a son or daughter, a husband or wife, a brother or sister…a family. 
Today we remember those who were lost and those who have given their lives in defense of our freedom since that day, including the 106 Alabama servicemen and women. On this day we also take great pride and great hope in the strength of our nation and our ability to come together in times of tragedy to help one another and to stand together in defense of our freedom.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore said, “Today, we remember one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. Thousands of innocent Americans lost their lives on 9/11 and many more have lost their lives since, fighting radical Islamic terrorism around the world.  As a nation, we lost so much that September day. But what we gained was a reminder that through it all – even when facing down evil itself – American perseverance, courage, patriotism, and spirit will always prevail.”

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., said, “The shock and pain of the 9/11 attacks are as vivid today as they were sixteen years ago, and each of us remembers where we were at that moment when the world changed. For America, it marks a time of collective mourning, national unity, and strengthened resolve. For a generation of brave men and women in uniform, it began a chapter of uncommon bravery and sacrifice in the face of senseless terrorism. Today, and every day, let us hold close the memory of those who fell in that first battle of the war against terror, and together resolve: never again.”

Strange and Moore will be on the ballot in a Republican Party Primary runoff on September 26 for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who is now U.S. Attorney General.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, said, “September 11th was a dark day for our country with the deadly terrorist attacks in 2001 and the attack in Benghazi in 2012. We will never forget and I hope folks across East Alabama will say a special prayer for our country and the families that lost loved ones.  May God continue to bless the United States of America.”

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said, “On this day sixteen years ago, America showed the world our strength. When we needed to most, Americans banded together and united against forces that aimed to destroy our way of life. We will #NeverForget the souls lost that day and we honor those who have given their lives since defending our country by preserving their memory.”

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said, “It was a dark day on a clear September morning 16 years ago. Let’s never forget those who died, those who lost loved ones and those who sacrificed unselfishly for our country.”

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, said, “We must never forget the atrocities of the attack on our country on September 11, 2001. Today is a day to mourn those we lost on 9/11 and to remember the first responders who faced the attack that day. We are a nation which will not be broken by terrorism.”

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said, “September 11, 2001 forever changed the United States and the world. Today, we reflect on the lives lost and remember the brave first responders who defied human nature and ran into the fire. In the days following the attacks, we saw national unity like never before. May we channel that sense of pride and unity today and every day.”

President Donald Trump said in a remembrance ceremony at the Pentagon, “For the families with us on this anniversary, we know that not a single day goes by when you don’t think about the loved ones stolen from your life.  Today, our entire nation grieves with you and with every family of those 2,977 innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists 16 years ago.”

Trump said, “We can honor their sacrifice by pledging our resolve to do whatever we must to keep our people safe.   On that day, not only did the world change, but we all changed.  Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we face. But in that hour of darkness, we also came together with renewed purpose.  Our differences never looked so small, our common bonds never felt so strong.”  Trump said, “That September morning, each of those brave Americans died as they had lived:  as heroes doing their duty and protecting us and our country.  We mourn them, we honor them, and we pledge to never, ever forget them.”

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House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

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Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.

 

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Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

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Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

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Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

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Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

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Alabama’s leaders remember Sept. 11

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 5 min
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