By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia said that Alabama’s recovery from the devastating tornadoes in April 2011 will be aided by the release of nearly $120 million in additional federal disaster assistance.
U.S. Representative Bachus said, “Alabama and the communities in our part of the state have made great strides in rebuilding after the tornadoes, but many long-term needs remain. We had many neighborhoods, businesses, and in some cases communities that were completely wiped out and it has been a long road back for them. It is my hope that this assistance will help accelerate the recovery process and restore a stable housing and tax base in the communities most heavily impacted by the historic storms.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that $49.1 million in community development block grant (CDBG) money will be distributed directly to the State of Alabama. 80% of those funds will be directed to six counties including Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties.
The City of Birmingham will receive $17.5 million. $43.7 million will go to the City of Tuscaloosa and Jefferson County is expected to receive $9.1 million under the package.
Bachus said that the funds were authorized by a disaster relief bill approved in January which he supported.
In his press release Bachus explanined that HUD addressed a discrepancy in the treatment of multi-family housing. Congressman Bachus raised that issue on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives back on June 25, 2012. Both Tuscaloosa and Birmingham’s Pratt City community sustained heavy damage to multi-family housing in the tornados that ripped through the heart of those communities. Bachus said that the multi-family housing was particularly disadvantaged by the discrepancy in the formula used to allocate relief aid.
Gov. Bentley said, “There are still several communities suffering from the long-term effects of the 2011 storms. This funding will go a long way in helping those communities recover. I am very appreciative of HUD for recognizing the long-term needs of people in our state, and we will continue working together to help our communities rebuild. I also want to thank each member of Alabama’s congressional delegation for their hard work in helping us secure additional funding.”
Birmingham Mayor William Bell said, “This funding will go a long way in continuing the work in Pratt City and other areas around the City of Birmingham. As we approach the 2 year anniversary of the devastating tornadoes of April 27th, we want those who were impacted to know that we will continue to work for more funding, more opportunities and more progress in that area. Our thanks go out to HUD, Congresswoman Sewell and Congressman Bachus for helping us secure these funds.”
The disaster recovery assistance announced last week is in addition to almost $56 million in storm relief aid that HUD approved in 2012.
Jones campaign director blasts Tuberville for saying $600 “too much” for out-of-work Alabamians
The communications director for U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’s re-election campaign on Wednesday called out Tommy Tuberville for saying that $600 in emergency unemployment aid was too much for Alabamians.
“Tommy Tuberville once again proves he’s out of touch with Alabama. When he ‘resigned’ from his job as a football coach he took a $5.1 million payout for himself. To this day, he receives $800 a week in State Retirement funds for a coaching job he ‘quit’ in 2008,” said Owen Kilmer, communications Director for Jones’s Senate campaign, in a statement Wednesday.
“But he says $600 in emergency benefits is ‘way too much’ for people in Alabama who lost their jobs in this crisis through no fault of their own. Tuberville says $600 is ‘way too much’ to help people put food on the table and pay utilities,” Kilmer continued. “No wonder, when asked about how to handle this crisis, he said ‘I wouldn’t have a clue.’ It’s true. He doesn’t.”
Tuberville, the Republican Senate nominee, is trying to unseat Jones in the November general election. Jones has called the former Auburn football coach and first-time political candidate an “unprepared hyper-partisan.”
Alabama Power is returning $100 million to customers
The Alabama Public Service Commission approved a plan Tuesday to credit Alabama Power Company customers on their October bills. The move returns approximately $100 million to Alabama Power Company customers.
“Putting money back into the pockets of hard-working Alabamians is one of the ways we can help on the road to recovery,” Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh said on social media. “Alabama Power to refund $100 million to customers.”
The typical Alabama Power customer will receive a $25 credit on their October bill. The newly approved credit is on top of a 3 percent rate reduction that customers are already enjoying in 2020. This previous rate cuts and the October credit amount to about $300 million in savings for Alabama Power customers this year.
“We appreciate the commission voting today to expedite this credit for our customers,” said Richard Hutto, Alabama Power’s vice president of regulatory affairs.
The global economic collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt people across Alabama. It has also dramatically lowered fuel costs for Alabama Power Company’s plants.
A typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month is expected to receive a credit of $25. Customers who use more energy will receive a larger credit. Customers who use less power receive a smaller credit but had a smaller bill to begin with. Adjustments to fuel costs are typically calculated at the end of the year, with savings passed to customers beginning in January, but due to the economic downturn and pandemic-related job losses, Alabama Power and the PSC are rushing that money to Alabama families and businesses.
“Many of our customers have been hurt by COVID-19. We hope this credit will provide some additional relief at this difficult time,” Hutto explained.
The 3 percent rate reduction, that took effect in January, was based on earlier estimates of lower costs for fuel and other expenses for 2020. The rate reduction alone equates to about a $4.50-per-month reduction for the typical residential customer.
“Our employees are working every day to keep costs low while providing industry-leading reliability for our customers,” Hutto added.
Alabama Power said in a statement that their total retail price is below the national average and has been for decades. When adjusted for inflation, the price customers pay for electricity is lower today than it was 30 years ago.
Alabama Power has been assisting customers in other ways during the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the start of the pandemic, the company has suspended disconnects and late payment fees for customers hurt by the coronavirus.
Cavanaugh is seeking another term as president of the Commission.
“It is crucial that we have strong pro-jobs conservatives supporting President Trump’s agenda at all levels of government,” Cavanaugh said on social media.
Mimi Penhale, Russell Bedsole advance to GOP runoff in HD49
Republican voters in House District 49 went to the polls Tuesday to nominate their next representative. Miriam “Mimi” Penhale and Russell Bedsole received the most votes and will advance on to the special Republican primary runoff scheduled for Sept. 1.
“What an incredible day!” Bedsole said. “Thank you friends and family for your love, support, and prayers. We had a great showing today and we are on to a runoff. Looking forward to getting back out and winning this thing on September 1st.”
“THANK YOU Bibb, Chilton and Shelby County!” Penhale said on social media. “I’m looking forward to earning your vote, again, on September 1 in the runoff.”
The election was very tight between the two. Mimi Penhale received 829 votes, or 31.4 percent of the votes. Russell Bedsole received 919 votes, or 34.8 percent.
The rest of the votes was split among the other four candidates. James Dean received less than 1 percent, Chuck Martin received 24.3 percent, Jackson McNeely received 2.16 percent and Donna Strong received 6.71 percent.
There were 2,639 votes cast on Tuesday. Voter turnout was 8.88 percent.
Bedsole serves on the Alabaster City Council, Pemhale is the director of the Shelby County Legislative office.
The eventual winner of the Republican nomination will face Democrat Cheryl Patton in the special general election on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield, announced her resignation to accept an appointment as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties. The winner will serve the remainder of Weaver’s term, which ends in late 2022.
Jimmy Reynolds, Ben Robbins qualify as Republicans for Alabama House District 33
The Alabama Republican Party on Tuesday closed its candidate qualifying period for the Alabama House of Representatives District 33 special primary election scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 6.
Jimmy Reynolds Jr. and Ben Robbins have qualified to run for the District 33 seat in the special Republican primary.
“Our district is a wonderful place to raise a family,” Robbins said in a statement. “We owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave them with more opportunities than we had, and I believe fresh ideas, bold leadership and true conservative values are the foundation of that success.”
Robbins serves on multiple community boards, including Habitat for Humanity, as co-president of Leadership Sylacauga and serves the Talladega Rotary Club as a past-president. He is also active with several local Chambers of Commerce and the Sylacauga Young Professionals. He is a seventh-generation Talladega County resident and the grandson of former Childersburg Mayor Robert Limbaugh. He and his wife Melanie have one son.
Jimmy Reynolds Jr. is a visual arts teacher at Sylacauga City School System. He previously worked for HHGregg Inc. and Tweeter Home Entertainment. Reynolds has a business management degree from Auburn University and lives in Hollins.
The Republican Special Primary Election will be held on Oct. 6, 2020, with the General Election scheduled for Jan. 19, 2021.
The vacancy in House District 33 occurred following the sudden passing of State Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga, in July.
House District 33 consists of portions of Clay, Coosa and Talladega Counties.