By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Policy Institute (API) President Gary Palmer admits as he wrote his API end year report, “For conservatives, the election was a major disappointment.”
President Palmer said, “However, it is also a fact that we cannot let it become a self-defeating discouragement …we have to get up and get back to work because we have a lot to do. All is not lost. The Republicans still control the U.S. House of Representatives and there are 30 states with Republican governors, the most in 12 years. Republicans control both chambers of legislatures in 26 states and one chamber in four others, regained the State Senate in Wisconsin, and took both chambers in the Arkansas Legislature for the first time since 1887. Holding this many governorships and state legislatures is critical. For at least the next two years, the battle for conservative principles will be fought largely at the state level.”
Palmer said that the battle over Obamacare is still being fought, the latest Kaiser Foundation poll shows only 38% support it, and a new law suit has been filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation challenging its constitutionality. Meanwhile, at least eight states, including Alabama, have declared that they will not set up health insurance exchanges.
Pres. Palmer said, “API will be in the middle of every effort against more encroachments by the federal government on issues from health care to education to energy policy while also working on critical state issues.”
Palmer said that API’s policy staff in 2012 provided Alabama legislators with a solid analysis of health exchanges and the long-term ramifications of setting them up. Palmer said API, “API directly confronted efforts to set up an Alabama-run health insurance exchange under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). An Alabama-run exchange under the PPACA would cost the state anywhere from $34-$50 million annually, according to the Alabama Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission, and would be forced to meet the same standards as a federally-run exchange in Alabama.”
Pres. Palmer praised Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s “wise decision” not to expand the Medicaid Program in the state. Palmer said, “With Alabama again facing budget concerns in 2012, API pushed back against expanding Medicaid under PPACA. The Supreme Court’s PPACA decision opened the door for Alabama to reject an expansion of Medicaid that would cost the cash-strapped state anywhere from $470 to $693 million from 2014 to 2019. Alabama should not expand any program where it already struggles to meet its current obligations.”
Other examples of API research and policy recommendations being acted upon by legislators in 2012 Palmer pointed to include: prison reforms, legislative pay, and health Insurance exchanges.
Pres. Palmer said that API did have some set legislative setbacks. Among these were charter schools. “API again led the way in pushing for quality public charter schools in areas with the poorest educational outcomes in the state. This year’s charter school legislation started with a strong footing, including many provisions based on API recommendations. However, the legislative process combined with intense opposition from the Alabama Education Association (AEA), Alabama’s education union, to create a convoluted mess that would have virtually assured there would be no charter schools in Alabama in the foreseeable future.”
Pres. Palmer believes that the decline in print media presents an opportunity for API to increase its influence. Palmer said, “With three of the four major newspapers in Alabama reducing distribution of a print version to just three days a week, API has a great opportunity to reach even more people through a newly designed website and our social media outreach. Cutbacks in print media personnel also give API a greater opportunity to provide analysis and insight on key issues to overburdened reporters trying to find credible sources for stories. For instance, Cameron Smith, API’s Policy Director and General Counsel, has been asked by The Birmingham News to write weekly for AL.com.”
Palmer said that in addition to their major studies, API published 54 Guide to the Issues online in 2012, introduced By the Numbers, a new feature designed to consolidate a current issue into a one-page infographic that presents facts and statistics without editorializing, and increased their web presence with greater coverage and a new website.
Palmer said, “In 2013, we will continue to provide critical reports and insights that can guide state legislators in their efforts to do what is best for Alabama. We make a major difference in Alabama and have an impact at the national level as well. Our recommendations on energy policy have gained national attention and our draft plan for immigration reform has also been well received.” “In terms of radio, TV, and national media coverage, 2012 was a record year with coverage of API reports and events carried by every major state media outlet as well as national and international coverage.”
Pres. Palmer said, “We will be working on issues of immediate importance, while at the same time continuing to invest in generational change through an effort to reach college-age students via a summer seminar at Samford University, cosponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and API. The inaugural First Principles of Freedom summer program was held July 2012 and attracted students from as far away as Canada and Connecticut.” A second conference has already been scheduled for July 2013.
Palmer said, “Frankly, the disappointment of the outcome of the election hangs over us like a dark cloud, myself included. But we cannot let that dark cloud overshadow the fact that 2012 has been one of the most productive years in API’s 23-year history. We have never been needed more than we will be in 2013. Alabama will be one of the states that will become a line of defense against the federal government policies that threaten our economic well-being and our freedom.”
Governor meets with VIP
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey invited a special guest to meet with her in the Governor’s office on Friday.
Fourth grade student Cate McGriff met with Governor Ivey Friday afternoon. The discussion was described as wide-ranging and productive. The governor and McGriff covered everything from school to their love of dogs.
Gov. Ivey asked Miss. McGriff what her favorite subject in school is.
McGriff replied that it was math. She also told the governor that she wanted to attend Auburn University just like Gov. Ivey did.
Ivey asked Cate what she wanted to be when she grows up, after she attends Auburn.
McGriff said that she wanted to be an engineer.
Ivey advised her to keep working hard on her math.
Ivey shared that when she was a young intern for Governor Lurleen Wallace, the only other woman to serve as Governor in Alabama history, she had the opportunity to sit behind the governor’s desk. Ivey then asked Cate if she wanted to sit behind the desk, and they recreated the governor’s own photo behind Governor Wallace’s desk.
Cate and Governor Ivey both were wearing their red power suits and Auburn masks.
McGriff was joined by her parents and two siblings, Claire and Sam.
The McGriff family frequently tune in to the governor’s regular COVID press conferences. Cate also was given the chance to stand behind the lectern in the Old House Chamber.
Governors frequently meet with very important people including: Presidents, CEOs, congressmen, Senators, scientists, University presidents, state legislators, county commissioners, economic developers, and fourth graders.
CDC issues Halloween guidance
Today is Halloween. Many people are celebrating this year’s holiday at home as a nuclear family due to the coronavirus global pandemic. If you are going to still trick or treat this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance on trick or treating.
“Traditional Halloween activities are fun, but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or influenza,” the CDC warned. “Plan alternate ways to participate in Halloween.”
To make trick-or-treating safer: avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters, give out treats outdoors, if possible, set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take, wash your hands before handling treats, wear a mask or cloth face covering.
The CDC has also issued guidance on proper mask wearing. Make your cloth mask part of your costume. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult. Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of two or anyone who has trouble breathing.
Remember to always stay at least six feet away from others who do not live with you. Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.
Don’t let excitement about the holiday distract you from proper COVID-19 procedures. Wash your hands. Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Parents should supervise young children using hand sanitizer. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.
Other suggestions for enjoying Halloween activities during the global COVID-19 pandemic include: decorating and carving pumpkins, decorate your home for Halloween, and you can walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. You could also visit an orchard, forest, or corn maze. You can also go on an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Visit a pumpkin patch or orchard. Whatever you do or wherever you go be sure to remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after touching frequently touched surfaces, pumpkins, or apples.
The CDC also suggested that you can hide Halloween treats in and around your house and hold a Halloween treat hunt with household members. The CDC suggested that you can hold an outdoor costume parade or contest so everyone can show off their costumes. Another suggestion is that you host an outdoor Halloween movie night with friends or neighbors or an indoor movie night with just your household members.
Etowah County Republicans rally for Trump
The Etowah County Republican Party and the Trump campaign will be holding a Celebrate America rally and prayer meeting on Sunday in anticipation of Tuesday’s general election.
“We the People plan to peacefully assemble at our town square Tomorrow, November 1st at 2:00 PM to rally around President Trump and pray for our nation, our first responders, and for our President,” organizers said.
Remarks will be made by special guest Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville.
Singer songwriters Camille and Haley will perform.
Pastors Mark Gidley, Joey Jones and Bruce Word will be speaking.
“Bring your friends and family as we pray, celebrate and rally for America!” organizers said. “Our outdoor program and rally will be an amazing hour that you will not want to miss! Please mark your calendars and please share.”
Patriotic attire, American flags, and Trump flags are welcome. The event will be in the Rainbow City Town hall parking lot.
Robert Aderholt is in his twelfth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District is where Trump had his greatest margin of victory in the entire country in 2016.
President Trump and Congressman Aderholt both face Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s general election.
Jones says Senate race a choice between “substance and leadership, and nothing”
“One of the great disappointments in this campaign is that Alabama is not really getting choices between substance and substance,” Jones said.
Speaking outside the Calhoun County Democratic Party headquarters in Anniston on Friday, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, told a group of supporters that Alabamians haven’t gotten a look at what his Republican opponent might do if he wins the Nov. 3 election.
“One of the great disappointments in this campaign is that Alabama is not really getting choices between substance and substance,” Jones said. “They’re getting a choice between substance and leadership, and nothing — nothing. We have not heard anything from Tommy Tuberville about what he really wants to do.”
While Jones has held numerous interviews with the media, and regular web briefings over the summer and in recent weeks, Tuberville’s campaign seems to prefer the safety of keeping Tuberville from making possible gaffs or damaging statements in interviews.
Tuberville hasn’t agreed to interviews with traditional media outlets, or to debate Jones, and instead has focused on conservative talk radio spots, speaking to smaller Republican groups and at private parties.
Tuberville’s campaign has ignored or denied our numerous attempts to interview Tuberville, including another request on Friday. He also declined to attend a student forum held at Auburn University on Wednesday, which Jones attended. The forum was sponsored by the Auburn College Republicans and College Democrats.
“If you ever hear something Tommy Tuberville says, it is just simply this: ‘Build a wall. No amnesty. Drain the swamp.’ That ain’t him. That’s Donald Trump,” Jones said. “He cannot think for himself. He doesn’t think for himself.”
Jones spoke of his record of working to help veterans through legislation. And he referred to Tuberville’s nonprofit for veterans and reporting that indicates, through tax records, that less than a third of the money raised for Tuberville’s charity went to help veterans.
“I don’t just create charities and send only pennies on the dollar. I do things for the veterans of this state and this country,” Jones said.
Jones also made a case for Alabamians to remember the contributions past Democrats made in the state. Jones said it was Democratic Sen. John Sparkman who helped build Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal.
“It was a Democrat, Lester Hill, who built the rural hospitals around here that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and Tommy Tuberville are trying to destroy,” Jones said. “It was Howell Heflin who built up agriculture in this state. Those are the Democrats. It was Franklin Rosevelt that put electricity in this state. We’re going to do the same thing for broadband. People forget those things. They forget those things because we’ve let other people define us with lies.”
Jones plans to visit Jefferson County on Saturday, then on to the Black Belt and Mobile on Sunday with another stop in Birmingham on Monday afternoon.
“The goal is to get everybody out. That’s the thing if we want to continue to ensure Alabama moves forward — moves forward and not backwards, to continue to have somebody, if I do say so myself, somebody that’s just not going to damn embarrass us,” Jones said.
“We’ve had too much of that in Alabama,” Jones said, “and I bet you it won’t be a year that Tommy Tuberville would be an embarrassment to this state because he doesn’t know the issues. He doesn’t know what to do, and he’s dang sure not going to know what to do when Donald Trump is not president of the United States.”
Jones encouraged supporters to be skeptical of recent polling. One such recent poll, by Auburn University at Montgomery, puts Tuberville ahead of Jones by 12 percentage points, 54 to 42.1. An internal poll by Tuberville’s campaign puts Tuberville ahead by 15 percentage points, while an internal poll from the Jones camp put Jones ahead by one percentage point.
“Don’t listen to these polling folks that come in, and they don’t know Alabama, and they don’t know what they’re doing. We’re tracking this race, and I can tell you, everything has been moving in our direction the last two months,” Jones said.
People standing along roadsides holding his signs and showing support, Jones said, is “the energy we’ve got out there. That’s what you can’t poll.”
Ellen Bass of Anniston, standing outside the Calhoun County Democratic Party headquarters just after Jones spoke, told APR that she has numerous Republican friends who are voting for Jones.
“My hat’s off to them because they’re coming out,” Bass said. “They recognize that he is a better candidate.”
Ciara Smith, 21, newly elected to the Anniston City Council, told APR outside the headquarters building that Jones is the better candidate.
“I think that he’s educated. I think that he speaks with passion and heart,” Smith said. “And he knows what he’s talking about, which is important, and which is more than we can say about the other candidate.”
Speaking to APR after his speech to supporters, Jones said that he feels very good about the state of his campaign.
“Everything we’re seeing is moving in our direction,” Jones said. “And the more he stays hidden, the better it is for us.”