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State, Mo Brooks sue to block counting of immigrants in 2020 census

Chip Brownlee

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It’s long been feared Alabama might lose a congressional seat when reapportionment happens after the 2020 census, but Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Congressman Mo Brooks said that wouldn’t be a possibility if the U.S. Census Bureau would stop counting people who immigrated illegally to the United States in the census.

The AG’s office — on behalf of the state — and Congressman Mo Brooks, a Republican, filed a lawsuit in federal court this week against the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Commerce, alleging that the bureau’s census practices disadvantage Alabama and could lead to the state losing both a congressional seat and a vote in the Electoral College.

The census, conducted every ten years, is used to determine congressional districts, federal funding that is based on population and the number of electors each state gets in the Electoral College, the body that formally elects the president.

The Census Bureau has a longstanding practice of counting all residents of a state, whether they are citizens, immigrants or living illegally in the United States, so long as they choose to respond to the Census.

The State and Brooks say Alabama — and other states like Ohio and Montana — could lose a congressional seat or miss out on a new seat to states with a “larger illegal alien population.”

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“Alabama’s loss will be another state’s gain, as states with a growing illegal alien population will be the beneficiary of this reapportionment,” Marshall said. “I have joined with Congressman Mo Brooks in filing suit against the federal government to stop the inclusion of illegal aliens in the census’s apportionment population. The Constitution does not permit the dilution of our legal residents’ right to equal representation in this manner.”

Alabama and Brooks’ lawsuit will likely face an uphill battle in federal court, where precedent is on the side of counting total population, regardless of voter eligibility or citizenship status. The Supreme Court in 2016 reaffirmed the use of total population — at least for state legislative reapportionment — rejecting an argument from two Texans who said total population shouldn’t be the metric.

“Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 States and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries,” the court wrote in its opinion. “Appellants have shown no reason for the Court to disturb this longstanding use of total population.”

The decision was a unanimous 8-0, and the court fell back on decades of precedent that Though he had some disagreement with the theory behind the court’s opinion, even conservative Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the judgment.

“I agree with the majority’s ultimate disposition of this case. As far as the original understanding of the Constitution is concerned, a State has wide latitude in selecting its population base for apportionment,” Thomas wrote. “It can use total population, eligible voters, or any other nondiscriminatory voter base.”

The Census Bureau’s “Residence Rule” allows foreign nationals living in the U.S. to be counted in the census and allocated to the states based on their “usual residence.” Brooks and the State argue in the lawsuit that the practice violates the 14th Amendment and its Equal Protection Clause.

“This lawsuit will have significant and enduring effects on Alabama and other states harmed by unconstitutional census methods,” Brooks said. “Fundamentally, the issue is fair and equal representation for United States citizens. While some stand for illegal aliens, I stand for American citizens.”

The Constitution calls for an “actual enumeration” of the “number of persons in each State.” But the lawsuit argues for a different interpretation of the term “person.”

“The phrase ‘persons in each State’ was understood at both the Founding and in the Reconstruction era to be restricted to aliens who have been lawfully admitted to the body politic constituted by the Constitution,” Alabama’s lawsuit reads. “Aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States did not qualify because they are not entitled to political representation. Thus, the actual enumeration of the population cannot include such aliens.”

On the other side, proponents of the bureau’s rules — and the Supreme Court — say the Equal Protection Clause is the precise reason why total population should be used.

“Nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates—children, their parents, even their grandparents, for example, have a stake in a strong public-education system—and in receiving constituent services, such as help navigating public-benefits bureaucracies,” the court wrote in its 2016 opinion. “By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total-population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”

The State and Brooks are seeking to have the practice of counting total population ruled unconstitutional.

“The loss of an Alabama Congressional seat will be a huge loss in Alabama’s political influence and will diminish Alabama’s influence in Congress and its importance in presidential elections,”  Brooks said.

The lawsuit comes as the Census Bureau plans to ask respondents about their citizenship status for the first time in decades, leading to concerns from some Democrats that immigrants will be undercounted in the 2020 census because they will be afraid or anxious to respond about their status.

The last time the Census Bureau asked all U.S. households about their citizenship status was in 1950.

Since then, the question has been included on some long-form versions of the census — which were sent to a smaller group of households until 2000, when it was discontinued after that year’s census— and the American Community Survey, which has been sent to 3.5 million households annually since 2005.

Seventeen other largely Democratic states are suing to block the Trump administration’s inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

 

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Shelby announces rural development investments in Alabama

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is granting $694,000 in federal funding for various energy-efficiency projects in rural Alabama. The grants are provided through the USDA Rural Energy for America program.

“It is vital that we continue investing in Alabama’s rural areas to promote economic development and growth,” said Senator Shelby. “These grants will allow farmers, ranchers, and small businesses to save on production costs while improving efficiency. I am proud that the USDA has awarded this funding to our state, and I look forward to continuing to help Alabama’s farmers and rural communities.”

The USDA’s Rural Energy for America program assists farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses in developing renewable energy systems and in making energy-efficient improvements to their operations.

The rural development grants range in value from $105,554 to $32,500,

The grants will be used for improvements in Baldwin, Calhoun, Conecuh, Cullman, Elmore, Escambia, and Marshall counties.

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Senator Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Appropriations. The Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill in May.

The legislation was approved by the full Senate in early August as part of a four-bill appropriations package, H.R. 6147.

Senator Richard Shelby was first elected to the Senate in 1986. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Alabama State Senate prior to his Senate service.

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Peter Joffrion challenges Mo Brooks to debates

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, Democratic Congressional candidate Peter Joffrion is challenging incumbent Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) to a series of debates across Alabama’s 5thCongressional District.

This is the second time that Joffrion has offered to discuss the terms of a debate with Brooks, to include location, ticketing, and security. Joffrion has proposed holding that first debate the week of September 10.

“Avoiding his constituents and only engaging like-minded voters in safe spaces has worked for my opponent in the past, but the threats to his incumbency are gaining traction,” Joffrion said. “This will be Brooks’ first run against an opponent who enjoys the support of many in the district who have new-found interest in politics since the 2016 elections. These constituents have used their newly engaged state to unleash massive activism for candidates they feel are listening to them.”
Joffrion’s campaign said that “Brooks’ weak showing in the June Republican primary illustrated that his own North Alabama voters are dissatisfied with their current representation and the manner in which Mr. Brooks conducts himself.”

The Joffrion campaign has proposed that debates be held in each of the counties that make up the Fifth Congressional District: Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Morgan and most of Jackson.

Peter Joffrion grew up in North Alabama. After graduating from law school at the University of Alabama, Joffrion went to work in the City Attorney’s office. He worked there for 22 years.

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His wife Kerry is an ordained minister and the founder and CEO of Turning Point Group, a company committed to the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of U.S. military veterans. Joffrion is retired from the city. Joffrion is active in his Church

Since retiring from his post as Huntsville’s City Attorney, Peter has been active in his church and has served for 11 years as a tutor and mentor at the Boys and Girls Club.

Mo Brooks is also an attorney. He was a prosecutor, a state legislator, and a county commissioner before running for Congress. In 2008, voters elected Parker Griffith (D) to Congress. Brooks announced that he was running as a Republican against Griffith in 2010. Before the election, Griffith switched to the Republican Party. Undeterred, Brooks ran for the office anyway, unseating Griffith in the 2010 GOP Primary. Brooks beat Griffith again in the 2012 Republican Primary. Griffith switched parties again and was the Democratic party nominee for governor in 2014.

Brooks defeated Republican primary opponent, Clayton Hinchman, 61.26 percent to 38.74.

Brooks is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and one of the most vocal supporters of the space program in the Congress.

The general election will be November 6.

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Jones expresses concerns over Trump Administration policies

Brandon Moseley

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Monday, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) held a town hall event at the historic A.H. Parker High School in Birmingham.

“It was because of the incredible work that you did that I am here representing as the first Democratic Senator to represent Alabama in 25 years,” Sen. Jones said.

“The first thing I did was co-sponsor a bill to re-authorize the CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program) program.” Jones said that CHIP’s renewal, “Was definitely related to what we did on December 12.”

“We are losing healthcare in our rural areas left and right,” Sen. Jones said. “I talk about the need for Alabama to expand Medicaid. The two things I have done is to introduce a bill to call a lot of folks hands on this Medicaid issue.” Jones said that his bill would require them to give a study every year on all the good things Medicaid expansion has done in other states as well as all of the dollars being lost in states that did not expand Medicaid. “I have introduced another bill with Senator Warner to roll back to where we would have been with the original Affordable Healthcare Act.”

Sen. Jones said that President Donald J. Trump’s (R) Administration has done a lot to “sabotage” the Affordable Care Act. “They are doing everything in their power to, as the President said, to just let it blow up. There is only so much we can do with a slim minority. Elections have consequences.”

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Jones said that Texas is suing to overturn the provision of the Affordable Care Act outlawing pre-existing conditions and the state of Alabama has joined the lawsuit. “The Department of Justice under Attorney General Sessions is no longer protecting the ACA.”

Jones said that Trump’s tariffs, “Were ill advised.”

“NAFTA really hurt Alabama, when it first passed.” Jones said. “Textiles moved overseas or shut down.” Trump instituted a tariff on automobiles, but also on automatic parts. “Mercedes changed the trajectory of Alabama’s economy. Alabama is the third highest producer of automobiles behind Michigan and South Carolina. The trade war that he is escalating with China is really hurting. I have been very outspoken about this.”

“Soybean prices have gone down and pork prices have gone down,” Jones said.

Jones said that he has cosponsored legislation with Senator Alexander from Tennessee to make the administration prove that tariffs are needed for national security.

“Those BMWs and Mercedes are not a national security threat,” Jones stated.

“I have co-sponsored about 90 bills, 80 of them are bipartisan,” Jones said. “There is more bipartisanship in Congress than you see on CSPAN. We passed an opioid bill unanimously out of committee that I hope will get to the floor of the Senate.”

“It is very important that EPA takes another look at that North Birmingham site,” Sen. Jones said. “Mayor Woodfin did the right thing,” when he asked the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider adding the 35th Avenue Superfund site to the National Prioritization List.

Jones said that both he and U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Selma) have both sent letters the EPA asking them to reconsider the decision not to place the 35th Avenue site on the SuperFund prioritization list.

“The EPAs decision not to place the site on the NPL was understandable given the level of opposition,” Jones said. We now know however that that decision was undermined by an illegal misinformation campaign.
“Residents deserve better from their federal state and local government,” Jones said.

State Representative Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) said, “The people of North Birmingham are suffering and nobody has talked to us. Nobody has called a meeting with the citizens in the affected areas. I filed the original complaint in 1989, again in 2005 and again in 2009.”

Jones asked the crowd if they wanted to hear Mary speak on, “Or do you want to have a town hall?”

“I was not a U.S. Senator when all of that was going on,” Sen. Jones said.

Jones did acknowledge when asked that he was the attorney for disgraced state Representative Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham) early on in that case. Jones said that there was a point in that process where Robinson went from defending to cooperating with the investigation to expose wider corruption; but that he could not go into details.

On Saturday, Doug Jones nominated Alvin “Peck” Fox to be Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. The Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee rejected Jones’s nominee and instead re-elected incumbent Nancy Worley to another term.

“We have got to have a party that exercises leadership and we don’t have that now,” Jones told the people at the town hall. The state party needs to be sending field operatives out to the candidates to ask them what they need and needs to be active on social media. “We don’t have that. Our party is sitting on $850,000 and they have not done anything with that. There are only two people down there (at Democratic Party Headquarters in Montgomery).”

“Our party is fielding the best set of candidates it has fielded in 20 years,” Jones said. “This is not going to be a giant blue wave.” It is a gradual process. “We have not played a longball game. It starts with the efforts of the candidates. I have believed for many years, that we as a state can only progress if we have a viable two party system.”

An audience member asked if we were on the verge of a third world war.

“I don’t think we have been on the verge of a Third World War, but what has been happening with Russian interference in our election is putting this Democracy in great peril,” Jones said.

Jones said that the Russians had been working “To sow discord, to make sure that they promoted one part of society against another one. The ability of the Russian government to influence this coming election if frightening.”

“One of the problems is that the President is conflating the terms collusion with interference,” Jones said. “We do have some sanctions going on, but whatever we are doing is not enough.”

“They are also looking at interfering with the power grid,” Jones added.

Jones was critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and added, “When you see the President cozying up to him at Helsinki you should be concerned.”

Jones also addressed the North Korea situation.

“I was disappointed that the President cut out those military exercises in South Korea before seeing Kim Jung-un did what he said he was going to do and we are now seeing information that he is not doing what he sees he is doing,” Jones said.

Senator Jones also discussed the Robert Mueller investigation.

“The president calls this a hoax and that is dangerous,” Jones said. “The Russian interference is not a hoax and Robert Mueller need to finish his job no matter where the chips may fall.”

A constituent asked if he would vote to impeach Rod Rosenstein,

“That would be a constitutional crisis,” Jones said. “That is not going to happen. I have seen absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Rod Rosenstein has done anything to impeach him over.”

Jones also discussed the Farm Bill and the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation.

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Brewton has been awarded a $2.8 million EDA grant

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced that it has awarded $2,800,000 to fund infrastructure improvements for the City of Brewton. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R), Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) and U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) made statement praising the grant award.

“As a result of this grant, the South Alabama region will have the opportunity to foster future growth and economic advancements,” said Senator Shelby. “I am proud that the City of Brewton is receiving the funding to support necessary water infrastructure improvements, which will enhance the local business community, increase economic diversification, and drive current and future investments.”

“Great news for Brewton! The U.S. Department of Commerce is awarding a $2.8 million grant to help improve infrastructure,” Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said in a statement. “The project is expected to create 300 jobs and spur $5.9 million in private investment. Thank you to President Donald J. Trump, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and the U.S. Economic Development Administration for their continued support of rural America. In order to thrive economically, our communities need safe, reliable, and modern infrastructure, and this grant will ensure that Brewton has the infrastructure necessary to attract and retain new industry.”

“As the President has said, countless towns and cities throughout the United States are in need of new and updated infrastructure,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Brewton’s water and sewer upgrades will aid the local commercial community, providing further growth and new jobs to the region.”

“I thank Secretary Ross and the Department of Commerce for making this grant possible,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R). “To the members of the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission and the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission, thank you for your work in submitting this grant request and all you do to improve the infrastructure and increase economic development possibilities in your area. This grant will surely mean more jobs and more investments in our great state. We are committed to improving the lives of Alabamians and the receiving of this grant is a huge leap forward.”

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The grant will fund the construction of new water and sewer facilities to serve the City of Brewton and outlying areas in the region. This will include the construction of water and sewer infrastructure that will adequately supply and benefit a new high tech business in the area. Additionally, it will upgrade and expand the existing services currently available to allow future growth and economic development.

EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon the applicant’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility, and the availability of funding.

Brewton is the County seat of Escambia County.

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State, Mo Brooks sue to block counting of immigrants in 2020 census

by Chip Brownlee Read Time: 5 min
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