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Affordable Care Act is constitutional, comments from state lawmakers

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Staff Report

Today the SCOTUS ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the liberal wing of the court to uphold the law.

In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

In what seems like a universal surprise a majority of the Court has accepted the Administration’s backup argument that, as Roberts put it, “the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition — not owning health insurance — that triggers a tax — the required payment to IRS.” Actually, this was the Administration’s second backup argument: first argument was Commerce Clause, second was Necessary and Proper Clause, and third was as a tax. The third argument won.

The Solicitor General’s defense of ACA, it might be worth noting that the tax defense of the mandate was, indeed, an argument that the government lawyer did advance.

The opinions collectively are a monster. The Chief’s opinion is 59 pages, Justice Ginsburg’s opinion is 61 pages, the four dissenters are 65 pages, followed by a short two-pager from Justice Thomas. So, the total impact of the opinion is still not clear.

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Here are comments from Alabama so far.

Governor Bentley Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare

MONTGOMERY – Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

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“I am deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision.  The health care law is an overreach by the federal government that creates more regulation, bureaucracy, and a dramatic increase in costs to taxpayers.  The ACA is the single worst piece of legislation to come out of Congress.  This law must be repealed.

People need more choices, not fewer choices.  Bigger government is not the answer.  Market-based solutions are the best solutions to giving the public the most affordable options.”

 

Lt. Governor Ivey Responds to Supreme Court 

Decision on Obama Care

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (June 28, 2012) – The Supreme Court’s ruling today, upholding major portions of Obamacare,  perpetuates the illusion that taxpayers can and should provide healthcare for every citizen, in spite of the fact that the country is broke!  If our elected leadership in Washington does not overturn this law, it will bring America down.  Like the former great powers of Europe and other nations in human history, America will spend and tax itself into weakness and, God forbid, collapse.  The President’s trillion dollar takeover of the American healthcare system is wrong for the federal budget, is in opposition of our constitutional principles and wrong for Alabama.  I support efforts to improve our healthcare system by restoring state flexibility, promoting free markets and competition while empowering consumer choice.  Even though the individual mandate was upheld, the Court struck down the mandate requiring states to expand Medicaid coverage, which will not require Alabama to spend hundreds of millions of dollars beginning in 2019.

This continues to be a state and national emergency with major tax implications.  Citizens, we must be vigilant, active and passionate about our deep concern over this unfunded, non-sustainable mandate from those in Washington who would tax us into oblivion.  We must begin the process to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Aderholt Statement on Supreme Court’s Decision on the President’s Health Care Law 
High Court Upholds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision regarding the President’s health care law.

“Most Americans agree that the President’s health care law is taking America down the wrong path and government mandated health care is not what they want. Health care decisions that are made at the federal level only make it more difficult for small businesses and families to afford quality coverage. Putting health care decisions in the hands of unelected Washington bureaucrats and using taxpayer dollars to provide for abortions is simply bad policy. My concern is the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the majority of the President’s health care law is a devastating step toward socialized medicine for our nation.”

“House Republicans will continue to work to repeal the President’s flawed health care law, so that we enact common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans access to the care they need, from the doctors they choose, at a lower cost. I think you will see House Republicans act quickly once again to fully repeal the law and implement patient-centered reforms that ensure families and doctors make health care decisions.”

Aderholt currently serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science; and Agriculture Subcommittees, and also serves on the Helsinki Commission. 

For more information about Aderholt’s work in Congress visit www.aderholt.house.gov.

 

NFIB/ALABAMA Statement on Supreme Court’s ‘Obamacare’ Ruling

MONTGOMERY, June 28, 2012 — Rosemary Elebash, state director of NFIB/Alabama, made the following statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law. NFIB joined Alabama and 25 other states in challenging the law:

“While we’re certainly disappointed, NFIB respects the decision to uphold the individual mandate by the Supreme Court. Clearly, this mandate has now become a tax on all Americans and a broken campaign promise from President Obama not to raise taxes.

“NFIB is concerned about the precedent this will set in Congress’ ability to mandate other aspects of our lives, but we’ll move forward from today to continue to fight, harder than ever, for real health-care reform for our membership.

“Under the health-care law, small-business owners are going to face an onslaught of taxes and mandates, resulting in job loss and closed businesses. NFIB will continue to fight for the repeal of health-care in the halls of Congress. Only with a full repeal of the law will Congress have the ability to go back to the drawing board to craft real reform that makes reducing costs a number one priority.

“The power and control of health-care decisions should be in the hands of the consumer, not the government.”

Armistead Reacts to Supreme Court Decision on Obamacare

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –  Bill Armistead, Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare:

“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court has essentially created the largest tax increase in American history. There is no need to refer to it as Obamacare from this point forward. It is now the Obama Health Care Tax. This tax will continue to make it harder for small businesses to hire more workers, during a time when Alabamians desperately need jobs. Without a change in leadership, Americans will continue to suffer under an over-reaching, out-of-touch federal government. Polls have consistently shown that this piece of legislation, that was jammed down our throats by Obama and Congressional Democrats, is wildly unpopular and should be repealed.

“We need a President in the White House who understands that market-based solutions that offer patients more choice, not less, is the answer to rising health care costs. Governor Romney has made it clear that the primary objective on his first day as President will be to fully repeal this tax and start over.  The stakes have never been higher for a  general election. It is now up to the American people to ensure the repeal of this tax by electing Mitt Romney as our next President on November 6th.”

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

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IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”

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Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

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AUM poll suggests Alabamians divided on prison reform proposals

90 percent of Alabamians favor some type of reform to the state’s prison systems, but there is little agreement on what efforts should be pursued.

Brandon Moseley

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Last week, a poll by Auburn University at Montgomery’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration found that approximately 90 percent of Alabamians favor some type of reform to the state’s prison systems, but there is little agreement on which reform efforts should be pursued.

  • 36.6 percent: “Reduce or eliminate criminal sentences for non-violent crimes.”
  • 30.3 percent: “Parole inmates convicted of non-violent crimes.”
  • 25.9 percent: “Increase funding to improve existing prison facilities.”
  • 21.4 percent: “Construct new prisons to be operated by the state.”
  • 14.5 percent: “Contract with private firms to construct new prisons the state would then lease to operate.”
  • 27.5 percent: “Increase funding for prison staff such as correctional officers, healthcare providers, educators, etc.”
  • 15.2 percent: “Increase funding for probation officers.”
  • 9.9 percent: “I support none of these options.”

The totals do not add up to 100 because it was a “select all that apply” poll.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan of signing a decades-long lease with private prison contractors was the least popular idea. Repairing the existing prisons 25.9 percent support while constructing new prisons had just 21.4 percent support.

The most popular prison reform measures, according to AUM poll director David Hughes, address prison overcrowding through criminal sentencing reforms.

“Approximately 37 percent of respondents support policies to reduce or eliminate sentences for non-violent offenders, and another 30 percent support paroling inmates convicted of non-violent crimes,” Hughes said.

The governor has included justice reform proposals in her all-encompassing plan. Those proposals were going to be considered by the Legislature in the 2020 legislative session but because of the coronavirus, the 2020 legislative session was cut short and the Legislature went home without addressing that or many other issues.

Much less popular is Ivey’s plan to build three new mega-prisons in Escambia, Elmore and Bibb counties.

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“Only 21 percent of respondents supported a proposal to build new prisons the state would then directly operate,” Hughes said. “The least popular proposal we polled involved the state contracting with private firms to construct new prisons the state would then lease. Only 14 percent of respondents approved of this reform measure.”

The state has grossly underfunded its prison system for decades and the Alabama Department of Corrections is still dangerously overcrowded and understaffed, despite recent efforts by the Legislature to deal with its chronic underfunding of the system.

A U.S. Justice Department investigation begun by the Obama administration and concluded by the Trump administration declared that the state has the most dangerous prison system in the country. The prisons are plagued by rampant drug use, extreme violence, and the prisons have not done a good job at preparing prisoners to return to society.

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The poor track record of rehabilitating prisoners means that inmates are released without job skills, education and still battling mental health issues and drug dependency. Too many inevitably reoffend and get sent back to prison exacerbating the overcrowding situation.

The U.S. Department of Justice warned the state in July that it was violating prisoners’ constitutional rights and that the attorney general may file or join lawsuits to intervene. A federal court has already found that the prisons were understaffed by a thousand guards and that inmates were not receiving necessary mental health care.

The AUM Poll was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3. It solicited online participation from 1,072 registered voters in Alabama. Respondents were weighted according demographic factors such as age, gender, race, education and income to produce a more representative sample of Alabama’s voting age population.

The survey has a 4-point margin of error.

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Federal assistance following Sally tops $100 million, one month remains to apply

The deadline to register for assistance from FEMA and the SBA is Nov. 19, 2020.

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Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

About a month after the federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Sally, over $100 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved for survivors.

The funds include grants from FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help with uninsured or underinsured losses.

“Alabamians, particularly in our coastal communities are still working to get back on their feet following the impacts from Hurricane Sally. I remain grateful to the Trump Administration and the team at FEMA for helping provide this immediate relief for Alabamians,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “I encourage folks in the eligible counties to take advantage of any of this assistance as we work to recover from Hurricane Sally.”

FEMA disaster assistance can help you start on your road to recovery. Alabama homeowners, renters and businesses who had property damage or loss related to Hurricane Sally have one month left to register and apply for federal disaster assistance.

The deadline to register for assistance from FEMA and the SBA is Nov. 19, 2020.

“FEMA is here with our state and federal partners to help Alabama communities and survivors recover from the devastating storm and flooding,” said Allan Jarvis, federal coordinating officer for the Hurricane Sally disaster in Alabama. “Register for assistance if you have uninsured disaster losses.”

Survivors should register even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but eligible homeowners and renters may be able to receive FEMA grants or SBA low interest loans for losses not covered by insurance to help pay for basic home repairs, temporary rental assistance and other needs such as replacing personal property.

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Survivors in Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties have until Thursday, Nov. 19, to apply for federal disaster help.

Register for assistance in one of three ways:

  • Online by logging onto DisasterAssistance.gov
  • The FEMA app: Visit fema.gov/mobile-app or your phone’s app store
  • Call 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Language translators also are available. Toll-free numbers are open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight CST, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

Survivors who have questions about SBA low-interest disaster loans may contact the Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339), email at [email protected] or visit SBA’s website at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov.

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Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

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Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

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That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.

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