Connect with us

In Case You Missed It

It’s crunch time for the Senate candidates — and they’re not holding back

Chip Brownlee

Published

on

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

With the special election less than a week away, it’s crunch time for Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. Moore’s brought in former White House adviser Steve Bannon, and Jones isn’t holding back, either, running ads highlighting sexual assault allegations against Moore and hitting him hard in a speech in Birmingham Tuesday that his campaign labeled a major address.

“I believe women are every bit as capable as men, that they deserve to be elected to public office, and I damn sure believe and have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail — not to the United States Senate,” Jones said Tuesday.

What was expected to be a boring election for a safe Republican seat in an overwhelmingly red state has morphed into one of the most unpredictable and surprisingly contested general elections in Alabama’s recent history.

Moore, while not exactly a poster child for the Republican mainstream, was expected to be a shoe-in for the Senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions — but a month ago, allegations of sexual impropriety, including an allegation that a 32-year-old Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in 1979, have rocked his campaign.

Advertisement

He and his campaign have pushed back against the allegation by trying to discredit the three women who have accused him of sexual assault. And his plan seems to be working. While Jones held leads in several polls following the publication of the first bombshell report in The Washington Post, Moore now appears to have regained some momentum.

A CBS News Poll released Monday gave Moore a 6-point advantage, and a JMC Analytics Poll, which last month gave Jones a lead, now shows Moore with a 5-point edge. Two other recent polls, one from The Washington Post and one from Gravis Research, show Jones within the margin of error or with a slight lead.

As the election nears, Moore appears to be consolidating the support of the Republican Party, even after several of its national leaders distanced themselves from his campaign last month. The Republican National Committee this week began offering financial support to his campaign again just weeks after they had severed fundraising ties in the aftermath of the allegations.

Though the RNC’s support appears to be tepid, President Donald Trump’s doesn’t. He’s been firing off tweets in support of Moore in recent days and on Monday called Moore to offer him his full endorsement, appearing to fully align himself wholeheartedly with the former Alabama chief justice. Trump plans to hold a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday, just days ahead of the election, while his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, held a rally with Moore Tuesday.

Bannon and Moore went to war with the Republican establishment in Washington, whom they have blamed for the sexual assault allegations. Bannon, now-chairman of Breitbart News, on his second trip to Alabama in support of Moore, joined Moore in denouncing fake news and “all the lies from The Washington Post,” according to Politico.

Moore has been hitting Jones hard on his abortion stance. Jones, who has said women should have the freedom to “choose what happens to her own body,” has said he doesn’t support changing current state law on abortion, which prohibits abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization.

Moore said he is fighting a “spiritual battle” and that Jones can’t represent the state on social issues like abortion, transgender and gay rights, and gun rights.

“I think they’re afraid I’m going to take Alabama values to Washington,” Moore said. “I want to tell you, I can’t wait.”

Jones, though still the underdog, has a massive lead in fundraising, according to several reports, and has outpaced Moore at almost every step of the campaign, from public events to television campaign ads.

During his speech Monday, Jones positioned himself as the sane candidate who will be good for Alabama’s image and its business climate, pointing to Alabama’s involvement in a competition to get a $1.6 billion Toyota Mazda manufacturing facility that could bring more than 4,000 jobs.

“But a serious question that you have to ask yourself is this: does the idea of Senator Roy Moore, make it more or less likely that Toyota or anyone else would see Alabama’s image in such a negative way that they would cross Alabama off their list and move on to another state,” Jones said.

Repeating a common refrain from his campaign, Jones said Moore about be “bad for business in Alabama, bad for the economy, and bad for our country.” Moore’s tenure in Alabama politics, Jones said, has “never been a source of pride for the people of this state, only a source of embarrassment.”

“Roy Moore has spent his life using whatever position he was in to create conflict and division in order to promote his personal agenda,” Jones said. “He was kicked off the bench twice for violating his solemn oath of office by completely disregarding the Rule of Law and in the process has demeaned so many of the citizens of this state.”

Jones also pushed back against Moore’s criticisms of his gun rights stances and Trump’s accusations that he would be “bad on crime” and “bad for our Second Amendment.”

“Despite the silly name calling my record as a prosecutor speaks for itself and I am a supporter of the Second Amendment,” Jone said. “When you see me with a gun, I will be climbing into a deer stand or a turkey blind, not prancing around on a stage in cowboy outfit.”

Jones and Moore will face off in the special election set for next Tuesday, Dec. 12.

 

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

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.

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.

Advertisement

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.

 

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

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

Sam Mattison

Published

on

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.

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.

Advertisement

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.

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

Published

on

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.

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.

Advertisement

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.

Continue Reading

Authors

Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

It’s crunch time for the Senate candidates — and they’re not holding back

by Chip Brownlee Read Time: 5 min
0