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Bachus Calls On House to Pass JOBS Act

Brandon Moseley

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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 Congress needs to remove unnecessary and outdated government barriers to growth so that our entrepreneurs have more freedom to access capital, hire workers, and grow their businesses and our economy.”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 Bachus said that the “Key to building a strong recovery is fixing outdated and costly regulations that make it harder for small companies and entrepreneurs to create jobs.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.”

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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.

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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:

http://bachus.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1251

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with six and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook.

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National

Lawmaker files bill to ban treatments for transgender kids

Jessa Reid Bolling

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Republican Wes Allen, R-Troy, filed a bill to prevent doctors from providing hormone replacement therapy or puberty suppressing drugs to people younger than 19 who identify as transgender.

HB303, the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,  would make it a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for doctors to prescribe puberty-blocking medications or opposite gender hormones to minors. Allen’s legislation would also ban hysterectomy, mastectomy or castration surgeries from being performed on minors.

“I was shocked when I found out doctors in Alabama were prescribing these types of drugs to children,” Allen said in a news release. “This is something you hear about happening in California or New York but it is happening right here in Alabama and it’s time we put a stop to that practice.”

Allen said that children experiencing gender dysphoria are struggling with a psychological disorder and that they need therapeutic treatment from mental health professionals instead of medical intervention that would leave their bodies “permanently mutilated.” 

“These children are suffering from a psychological disorder, just as someone who is suffering with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia but we treat those patients and try to help them. We should treat these psychological disorders as well.”

In 2018, a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said that:

  • “Transgender identities and diverse gender expressions do not constitute a mental disorder; 
  • Variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity, and binary definitions of gender do not always reflect emerging gender identities; 
  • Gender identity evolves as an interplay of biology, development, socialization, and culture; and
  • If a mental health issue exists, it most often stems from stigma and negative experiences rather than being intrinsic to the child”

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in 2018 that it was removing “gender identity disorder” from its global manual of diagnoses and reclassify “gender identity disorder” as “gender incongruence,” which is now listed under the sexual health chapter rather than the mental disorders chapter. 

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In a 2018 interview, Dr. Lale Say, a reproductive health expert at the WHO, said that gender incongruence was removed from the list of mental health disorders because “we had a better understanding that this was not actually a mental health condition and leaving it there was causing stigma. So in order to reduce the stigma, while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions, this was placed in a different chapter.”

In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association revised the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to remove the term “gender identity disorder” from the manual and add the term “gender dysphoria.”

Allen’s bill will be considered by the Alabama House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

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Elections

Doug Jones raises $2.4 million in first fundraising period of 2020

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U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, raised $2.4 million in the first fundraising period of 2020, according to his reelection campaign, which was $500,000 more than he raised during the fourth quarter of 2019. 

Jones has $7.4 million cash at hand, according to his campaign, which released the totals on Thursday. Jones’s latest campaign finance reports weren’t yet posted to the Federal Election Commission website on Thursday. 

“Alabamians across the state are showing their commitment to Doug’s message of One Alabama and his proven track record of standing up for all Alabamians,” said Doug Turner, Senior Advisor for Jones’s campaign, in a statement Thursday. Doug’s work to support working families, fund our HBCUs, modernize our military and expand and protect our health care is resonating with folks throughout Alabama. We are well-positioned to continue to grow our grassroots support and win in November.” 

Jones ended 2019 leading all of his Republican contenders in fundraising, ending the year with $5 million in cash.

 

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Courts

Alabama Democratic Party lawsuit was back in court on Thursday

Josh Moon

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The dispute goes on forever and the lawsuit never ends. 

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge on Thursday delayed a decision on whether he has the standing to settle an internal dispute within the Alabama Democratic Party but indicated that he’s leaning towards ruling that he does. 

Judge Greg Griffin said he would rule soon on the matter, but made no promise that the decision would come before Alabama’s primary elections on March 3. 

Thursday’s hearing was the latest in the seemingly endless fight over control of the ADP and was the next step in a lawsuit brought by former ADP chairwoman Nancy Worley. Worley and her supporters, which have proven to be a decided minority of the State Democratic Executive Committee, filed the lawsuit late last year after the Democratic National Committee invalidated her re-election as chair and forced the party to change its bylaws and hold new elections. 

Those new elections resulted in Rep. Chris England being elected as party chairman and former Rep. Patricia Todd being elected vice-chair. The new party leadership has the backing of the national party, which pulled funding from ADP because Worley and others refused to rewrite the state party’s bylaws to be more inclusive. 

Worley filed her initial lawsuit prior to the elections in which she was booted out of her position, and Griffin, who was widely criticized for his handling of the case, granted a temporary restraining order that prevented the Reform Caucus of the ADP from meeting. That decision by Griffin was immediately overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court, in a rare, late-Friday evening emergency ruling. 

However, the ALSC did not rule on whether Griffin had standing to settle a dispute within the state party. The court left that question up to Griffin, which was why Thursday’s hearing was held. 

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The entire thing seems to be an exercise in futility at this point. 

The ADP has moved on, with England certifying candidates and DNC officials clearly recognizing him as the rightful party chair. The DNC has no desire to work with Worley, who was stripped of her credentials for failing to follow directives and bylaws of the party. 

Even if Griffin creates a reason to invalidate England’s election, it doesn’t seem to matter much. The DNC has validated it, and it accepted the ADP’s new bylaws and changes to leadership structure. 

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If Worley were to prevail in court, it’s unclear exactly what she would win.

 

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House

House passes landfill bill allowing alternative materials as temporary cover

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to change the statutory definition so that temporary “cover” in landfills can be a material other than “earth.”

House Bill 140 is sponsored by State Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton.

The bill allows landfills to use alternative daily covers in place of earth to cover landfills until the next business day. “The EPA has allowed this since 1979,” Baker said. It would save landfills the cost of using earth for daily cover.

“This does not change anything in the operating rules for landfills,” Baker said.

A number of members from both parties expressed concerns about this bill on Tuesday, so the bill was carried over until Thursday.

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon told reporters, “Sometimes in a debate you can see that the debate is not a filibuster or anti-debate; but rather is an honest effort by members to understand a bill.”

“There was a lot of misinformation out there,” McCutcheon said. The Environmental Services Agency and ADEM were brought in to explain the members and address their concerns.

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McCutcheon said that human biosolids is a separate issue and that Rep. Tommy Hanes has introduced legislation dealing with that issue.

Alternative daily cover is often described as cover material other than earthen material placed on the surface of the active face of a municipal solid waste landfill at the end of each operating day. It is utilized to control vectors, fires, odors, blowing litter, and scavenging. Federal and various state regulations require landfill operators to use such earthen material unless other materials are allowed as alternatives. (Mitchell Williams writing on Oct 31 in JDSUPRA)

Soil cover can use valuable air space. Further, it can generate the need to excavate and haul soil to the facility. Alternative daily covers are often advocated to be a more efficient and cost-effective means of cover. (Williams)

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Baker said that it would be up to ADEM (the Alabama Department of Environmental Management) in the permit whether to allow a proposed alternative cover or not.

Baker said, “This bill does not change any of the materials used as cover.” “This would keep us from having to use that good earth in landfills when other materials are available. If it becomes a nuisance ADEM can revoke a cover on the permit. Daily cover has to be approved at the discretion of ADEM.”

Baker said that only materials not constituted as a risk to health or are not a hazard can be used.

An environmental attorney shared the list of ADEM alternative covers with the Alabama Political Reporter. The list includes: auto fluff, excavated waste, synthetic tarps, coal ash, petroleum contaminated soil, automotive shredder residue, shredder fluff, wiring insulation, contaminated soils, paper mill (including wood debris, ash shaker grit, clarifier sludge, dregs, lime), 50% on-site soil and 50% tire chips, spray-on polymer-based materials, reusable geosynthetic cover, automobile shredder fluff, tarps, foundry sand, clay emulsion known as USA Cover Top clay emulsion, non-hazardous contaminated soil, non-hazardous solid waste clarifier sludge, steckle dust all generated from Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa Inc., non-coal ash from Kimberly Clark operations, lagoon sludge from Armstrong World Industries operations, meltshop refractory material from Outokumpu Stainless USA operations, paper mill waste (non-coal ash, slaker grits, dregs, and lime), biodegradable synthetic film, fly ash, residue from wood chipper or paper, slurry with a fire retardant and tactifierl,Posi Shell Cover System, waste Cover, foundry waste, 50% soil and 50% automobile shredder fluff, incinerator ash, green waste to soil
Sure Clay Emulsion Coating, alternative cover materials (manufactured), compost produced by IREP Montgomery-MRF, LLC, 50% saw dust mixed with 50% soil, and waste soils considered to be special waste.

McCutcheon said that members did not understand that these were just temporary covers. That was explained to them.

Alabama landfills have used alternative covers for years; but three people sued saying that this was not allowed under Alabama law and that ADEM had exceeded its mandate by permitting alternate covers. On October 11, 2019 the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals found in favor of the plaintiffs.

HB140, if passed, would address this oversight in the Alabama legal code so that ADEM and the landfills can legally continue to use alternate covers and not have the added expense of quarrying dirt for daily cover.

A Senate version of the same bill received a favorable report last week from the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee.

HB140 now goes to the Alabama Senate.

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