By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday the Alabama House of Representatives voted to carry over debate on House Bill 8, The Alabama Firearms Protection Amendment.
HB 8 creates a constitutional amendment (CA) to, “the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 to provide that citizens of Alabama have a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny; and to provide that no international treaty or international law shall prohibit, limit, or otherwise interfere with a citizen’s fundamental right to bear arms.” This amendment if passed by the legislature and voted into the Constitution by the people of Alabama would give Alabama’s 1901 Constitution the strongest gun protection provisions in the country.
HB 8 is sponsored by Representative Mike Jones (R) from Andalusia.
Rep. Merika Coleman Evans (D) from Birmingham asked, ‘If this bill were to pass, what actual net affect would this have? Are we just sending a message or will we have a net impact?
Rep. Jones said that both 2nd amendment decisions were 5-4 decisions so if there is a change in the makeup of the Supreme Court where future Supreme Court decisions were made allowing governments to infringe upon gun rights then the language in this Amendment would give the state of Alabama legal standing to challenge future federal gun control efforts under the Tenth Amendment. Jones (an attorney) said, “It would give us standing in court. You don’t get into court without standing.” Jones acknowledged that the Supremacy clause in the Constitution would mean that an international treaty ratified by the Congress and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as Constitutional would nullify this amendment to the Alabama Constitution; but argued that it likely would trump a treaty signed by the President and enforced solely by executive order. Jones said that this amendment would change the level of judicial review to “strict scrutiny” which is a very difficult standard to meet.
Representative Jim McClendon (R) from Springville said to Jones, “I appreciate you bringing the bill.” McClendon said many of his constituents have contacted him about their concerns that their gun rights could be infringed upon.
Rep. Micky Hammon (R) from Decatur said, “We have met people all over the state that are concerned about gun rights.” “We need to give the people of Alabama maximum protection from both international law and from Washington.”
Rep. Laura Hall (D) from Huntsville said, “I come from a family that loves to hunt. I do think that as we have this conversation there has to be a happy medium. This does not make any sense to me what you are trying to do.” “Why is this important?”
An amendment passed to the bill adding a second “international” in front of “law” to make it clear that the amendment applies to international law.
Rep Jones said that this amendment is the most that we can do as a state to protect citizens gun rights. “If it is properly ratified it would have authority in our state.” “The power that you and I and the people of the state of Alabama have is to amend the Constitution of the State of Alabama.”
Rep. John Rogers (D) from Birmingham said, “This amendment is kind of confusing to me.” “I have no problem with guns.” “Why are we getting involved in something internationally?”
Rep. Mary Moore (D) from Birmingham said that Congress would not agree to any treaty that would violate the U.S. Constitution. “We would hope that there would be a great uprising if Congress passed a treaty that violated what the Constitution already says.” Moore said that the amendment was just a, “Feel good moment” and was “Just another exercise to make us look like we are unlearned.”
The bill appeared to be headed toward passage when Minority Leader Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden was waiting in line to speak. Before his turn to speak, a motion was entered to hold over this debate and move on to the next item on the calendar.
Rep. Ford told ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ that he had intended to add an amendment to the CA prohibiting employers from prohibiting employees from keeping their lawful firearms locked in their personal vehicles in company parking lot. Under current Alabama law, a business owner can arbitrarily fire any employee simply for having a gun in his automobile even if the employee has a permit for the weapon.
Rep. Ford and Senator Roger Bedford (D) from Russellville have led a bipartisan effort to protect the gun rights of Alabama workers.
The extremely powerful and well-funded Business Council of Alabama (BCA) has opposed any move that might in any way infringe on corporations’ power to do whatever they want to do regarding guns. Republican legislators are fearful of angering either the deep pockets of the BCA or Alabama gun owners. The delay gives the House leadership time to address this issue at a later date.
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.”