By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia called on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. The JOBS Act has already been approved by the House Financial Services Committee, which Rep. Bachus chairs. Rep. Bachus said that the package of four bipartisan bills are aimed at “bolstering job creation, capital markets and the economy.”
Chairman Bachus said, “We know that small business is the growth engine of our economy. Yet today, many small companies find it hard to obtain the investments and financing they need to expand their operations and create jobs. Congress needs to remove unnecessary and outdated government barriers to growth so that our entrepreneurs have more freedom to access capital, hire workers, and grow their businesses and our economy.”
Rep. Bachus said that the “Key to building a strong recovery is fixing outdated and costly regulations that make it harder for small companies and entrepreneurs to create jobs. The progress we made today can build a strong foundation that encourages economic growth and job creation.”
“Since the start of the 112th Congress, the Financial Services Committee has been a leader in advancing ideas that will jumpstart our economy and create jobs. The bills that make up the legislative package announced today came out of our committee with strong bipartisan support. They will empower small businesses and entrepreneurs to invest, hire and expand. They will help put Americans back to work. Once we get the JOBS Act through the House, it will once again be up to the Senate to decide whether to join us in helping small businesses create jobs or continue to stand by and do nothing,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Bachus.
H.R. 2308, The SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, makes the SEC more responsible for its actions. According to Rep. Bachus’s press release, the bill introduced by Rep. Scott Garrett: “H.R. 2308 directs the SEC to conduct cost-benefit analyses of its regulations and proposed rules. H.R. 2308 also ensures that the benefits of the SEC regulations outweigh the costs. In a testament to how much H.R. 2308 is needed, a federal appeals court unanimously overturned one of the SEC’s Dodd-Frank rules last year because the court found the agency failed to properly conduct a cost-benefit analysis.”
H.R. 3606, the Reopening American Capital Markets to Emerging Growth Companies Act, is intended to make it easier for startup companies to hold initial public offerings (IPOs). The legislation “helps reduce the cost of going public for companies by phasing in certain Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations over a five-year period. This temporary reprieve from costly regulations will allow smaller companies to go public sooner, which directly leads to more job creation within the company. The legislation creates a new category of issuers, called an “Emerging Growth Company” (EGC), which would retain its status for five years or until it exceeds $1 billion in annual gross revenue or becomes a large accelerated filer. H.R. 3606 ensures investors are protected by requiring the EGCs to provide audited financial statements as well as establishing and maintaining internal controls over financial reporting.”
The third bill “H.R. 4014, introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga. The legislation fixes an omission in the Dodd-Frank Act that opens the door for third parties to obtain privileged information provided by financial institutions to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The bill requires the CFPB to preserve the confidentiality of privileged information it receives from financial institutions, as other banking regulators do.”
The final bill is another attempt to fix problems with Dodd Frank: “H.R. 1838, the Swaps Bailout Prevention Act, introduced by Rep. Nan Hayworth. The bipartisan legislation fixes a provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and Consumer Protection Act (Section 716) that increases systemic risk to the financial system by forcing derivatives trading units from regulated financial institutions into new entities that may be outside the purview of financial regulators. H.R. 1838 ensures derivatives trading units can be overseen by financial regulators and increases the capital available to finance job creation and economic activity.”
Congressman Bachus said, “For more than a year now the Committee has led efforts to get Americans back to work by removing government barriers to a recovery. Our jobs agenda continued today with four additional bills that empower job creators to invest, hire and expand.” Congressman Spencer Bachus is Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.
Republicans, included Rep. Bachus, Senator Shelby, and Rep. Rogers have been critical of Dodd-Frank and have vowed to overturn the Obama administration’s controversial legislation that expands the scope and authority of federal regulators if the party gains control of the White House and Senate in November.
President Barack H. Obama has criticized the House Republicans for gridlock in stalling jobs legislation. Rep. Bachus has responded to that criticism saying that the House has passed job bills; but they have stalled in the Democratic Party controlled U.S. Senate.
Rep. Bachus faces a Republican primary challenge from Blount County Probate Judge David Standridge, Tea Party Activist Al Mickle, and Alabama State Senator Scott Beason from Gardendale. The winner of the March 13th Republican Primary will face an Alabama Democratic Party opponent in the November 6th General Election. Birmingham attorney William “Bill” Barnes is facing Leeds retired U.S. Air Force Coloney Penny Huggins Bailey in the March 13th Democratic Party Primary.
Alabama’s 6th Congressional District consists of all or parts of Blount, Bibb, Coosa, Shelby, Chilton, and Jefferson Counties.
To read Congressman Bachus’s press release and more about the bills go to:
Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels
Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192.
Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.
The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.”
Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.”
“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.
As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.
ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.
ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.
Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence
The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two.
Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on five of those counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another count.
Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”
Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.”
“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.
Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his entrance should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.
“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law. Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”
Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.
University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday.
“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”
Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game.
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.
Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83
The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.
Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.
“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”
Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.
Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.
The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.
While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.
Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”
His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.
Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.
This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.