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Ford Calls Out Bentley on Billion Plan to Downsize State Government

Brandon Moseley



By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Monday State Representative Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said, “You can’t cut a billion dollars from the budget without it hurting Alabama’s working families. Our schools, law enforcement, and firefighters can’t afford any more cuts in their budgets. How are we going to keep and recruit quality teachers, firefighters, or law enforcement officers if we keep cutting their pay and benefits? The Republicans have cut so much from Medicaid that the program may collapse. This would have a devastating affect on hospitals and nursing homes and cut access to healthcare for everyone,” said Rep. Ford responding to Gov. Bentley’s Announcement that Republicans plan to cut $1 Billion from the state budget.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) said on Thursday, “The bottom line is this: We made a promise to the voters to right-size Alabama government, and we’re living up to that promise.  During challenging financial times, taxpayers re-evaluate their own spending and make adjustments.  State government must do the same.  That’s the idea behind enacting these savings.  Through the efforts of my office and the support of our legislative leadership, I’m proud to announce we can achieve a billion dollars in annual savings for the taxpayers of Alabama.”

According to notes prepared by the Alabama Department of Finance, Governor Bentley and the Republican legislature have already taken actions which already have or will generate $675 million in current and projected savings.  This number includes savings from: the 2011 Pension Reform Measures which save taxpayers $181.5 million a year; the 2012 Pension Reform Measures which will save the people of Alabama $164.1 million a year; right-sizing the state workforce which saved the state $181.3 million annually; SEIB/PEEHIP reform which generated $61.3 million a year in savings; repealing the costly DROP program which saved $58.5 million a year; cutting the money spent defending indigent felons saved $19.4 million a year; and various bond refinancings which will save almost $93 million over the life of the bonds.  The Republicans estimate that they have already saved the state $674.4 million and have announced that they plan to carve another $325.6 million out of future state budgets.

Alabama Speaker of the House (R) from Auburn said, “It is our constant duty to ensure state government is operating as efficiently as possible and that taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.  We must examine every dime of state spending, set priorities and, like every Alabama business and family, make the government live within its means.  I wish our mindset was shared by Washington.  We’re tightening our belts while President Obama and tax-and-spend liberals have piled on trillions in debt.  Alabamians can be proud of the conservative state leaders they’ve elected and the fiscally responsible course we are charting for this state.”

Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said, “One billion dollars is a very aggressive goal. But Governor Bentley further revealed that due to their efforts to trim budgets and cut spending over the past year and a half, they have already implemented cost cutting measures that saved $674 million. That means they are already over 60% of their way to the goal! That is impressive and Governor Bentley and our Republican legislators are to be commended for their commitment to efficiency and right-sizing government.”

Rep. Ford remains unconvinced, “If you are born with money, then maybe you won’t feel the pain of these cuts. But most people have to work for a living, and cutting funding for our schools, fire protection, law enforcement, and Medicaid will only put our safety, health and economic future in peril. We have cut the state budgets to the bone. Any more cuts would be dangerous and irresponsible.”

Representative Ford is the Democratic Party Minority Leader of the Alabama State House of Representatives.



Three firefighters, police officer in Mobile test positive for COVID-19

Eddie Burkhalter



Three firefighters and a police officer in Mobile have tested positive for COVID-19, city officials said Tuesday.

James Barber, executive director of public safety with the city of Mobile, said during a press conference Tuesday that the four city employees tested positive.

The positives come after Mobile-based Synergy Laboratories donated 500 “test kits” and 131 asymptomatic first responders were given the 10-minute rapid blood tests on Monday.  

Barber said the four employees have been quarantined at home until swab tests confirm the virus and physicians provide further guidance.

The rapid blood tests search for antibodies in the blood, which could show a past infection, but not necessarily active infections that are still contagious.

The swab tests will confirm an active infection if one exists. It’s possible the first responders have already recovered from the virus and are no longer contagious.

“That testing continues today,” Barber said of the rapid blood testing of first responders.

Barber said he didn’t have results from Tuesday’s testing yet, but that Monday’s testing resulted in just more than 3 percent of those tested showing positive results for COVID-19. 


There were 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death from the virus in Mobile County as of Tuesday evening, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. 

As of Tuesday evening, there were 999 confirmed COVID-19 cases across Alabama, 13 confirmed deaths from the virus and 23 total reported deaths, some of them not yet confirmed as being caused by the virus.

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Freelancers, gig workers can begin filing unemployment claims

Chip Brownlee



Stock Photo

Employees like freelancers and the self-employed can now file for an unemployment claim in Alabama, the Alabama Department of Labor said Tuesday, under the CARES Act, the coronavirus response bill passed by Congress and signed by the president last week.

The Alabama Department of Labor is encouraging employees who believe they may qualify for programs under the CARES Act to file a claim.

These employees will also need to certify weekly to continue to let the department know that they remain unemployed.

Although ADOL does not yet have technical guidance or a start date regarding the CARES Act programs, benefits may be paid retroactively from the time the employee separated from his or her job or otherwise became eligible under the federal CARES Act, not from the time the application was submitted or approved.

In Alabama, many freelancers, independent contractors and the self-employed are not typically able to file for unemployment insurance.

Last week, more than 70,000 people filed an initial jobless claim. Claims can be filed online at or by calling 1-866-234-5382.

The Department of Labor is asking for patience when trying to file a claim.

ADOL says employees who may be affected include:

  • The self-employed
  • Church employees
  • Non-profit and governmental employees
  • Independent contractors
  • Gig economy workers
  • Those who have exhausted their regular UI benefits.

These employees should also meet one of these conditions:

  • The individual has been diagnosed; or
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed; or
  • The individual is providing care to a household or family member; or
  • A child or other person for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility as a result of COVID-19; or
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency; or
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine; or
  • The individual was scheduled to start work and does not have a job as a result of COVID-19; or
  • The individual has become “the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19”; or
  • The individual has to quit their job because of COVID-19; or
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed because of COVID-19.

This list is not exhaustive.

Further details regarding the CARES Act programs will be forthcoming, the department says, including information regarding Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides for an additional $600 a week in unemployment compensation benefits.

The additional $600 weekly benefit will only be available for weeks beginning March 29, 2020

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Two hospital employees in Huntsville test positive for COVID-19

Chip Brownlee



Stock Photo/Huntsville, Alabama

A physician and another employee at Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville, Alabama, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the hospital said Tuesday.

“Crestwood Medical Center learned that 2 of our associates (one physician and one employee) have tested positive for COVID-19,” spokesperson Lori Light said in a statement Tuesday.

One is in the hospital for care while the other is at home under quarantine.

The hospital has also had two patients test positive in the Emergency Department, but neither of the patients needed inpatient care, the spokesperson said.

“Working in coordination with the health department, we are following established CDC procedures to identify and communicate directly with any potentially exposed staff and patients,” the Crestwood Medical Center spokesperson said.

Overall, there are at least 13 COVID-19 patients in Madison County, the hospital’s CEO Dr. Pam Hudson said Tuesday during a briefing.

There are 11 inpatients at Huntsville Hospital’s facilities, according to Huntsville Hospital spokesperson Susan Esslinger.

In Alabama, the number of positive cases is nearing 1,000. At least 23 deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported. The Alabama Department of Public Health has officially confirmed 13.

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Alabama inmate killed by another inmate at Ventress Correctional

Eddie Burkhalter



via the Alabama Department of Corrections

A Birmingham man serving at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton was killed by another inmate, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. 

Dennis Benson, 40, who was serving a 36-month sentence for possession of a controlled substance and receiving stolen property, died March 30 after being attacked by another inmate, ADOC said in a statement. 

“The ADOC condemns all violence in its facilities, and the fatal actions taken against Benson by another inmate are being thoroughly investigated,” the department said in a statement.

Benson’s cause of death is pending a full autopsy, and more information will be available upon the conclusion of the investigation into his death, according to the department. 

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