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NRA Wins Hard Fought Victory in Gun Bill

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 286. The Omnibus Gun bill sponsored by Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale and carried in the House of Representatives by Representatives Ed Henry (R) from Hartselle was a priority of the Alabama National Rifleman’s Association (NRA).

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said, “After all of the changes to this bill, I applaud Sen. Beason and Rep. Henry for not losing focus and guiding this bill to passage. This is a good bill that protects our Second Amendment rights and allows Alabamians to better protect themselves.” “In a time when Washington D.C. is attempting to take away our guns and limit our rights, it is refreshing to see our elected officials in Alabama listening to constituents and responding in a positive way. The best way to reduce gun crime is to allow law-abiding citizens to bear arms, and that is exactly what this bill does.”

House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said, “I have always been a supporter of the second amendment and was prepared to bring an amendment to the Republicans’ signature gun bill that would have protected an employees’ right to keep their firearm stored safely in their vehicle while parked at work. But Republicans did not want to vote on this amendment. Doing so would have put them in between the Business Council of Alabama, which opposed the amendment, and the NRA, which supports the amendment. In the end, the Republican Supermajority passed a heavily watered-down version of the amendment in a different gun bill. This legislation was a part of the Republicans’ legislative agenda for this year, and they almost couldn’t pass it because of the divide between the business interests that fund their campaigns and many of the grassroots voters that elected them in the first place.”

The Alabama Political Reporter talked with Barry Cleland and other members of Alabama Gun Rights (AGR) and they were jubilant over passage of the bill. The Omnibus Gun Bill allows those who possess a valid Alabama pistol permit to keep firearms stored in their vehicle while at work. It will also allow anyone who has a valid Alabama hunting license store an unloaded rifle or shotgun in their vehicle while at work. It allows Alabamans to transport a handgun in a vehicle without an Alabama pistol permit as long as the handgun is unloaded, locked in a container and out of reach of the driver or passenger. It changes Alabama from being a “May Issue” concealed carry permit system to a “Shall Issue” permit system and requires that a sheriff must issue or deny the carry permit within thirty days. If someone is denied a permit, a written denial must be provided and the applicant will have an opportunity to appeal. Applicants can ask for a five year concealed carry permit, but any Alabama Concealed Carry Permit expires if you get residency in another state. SB286 requires that sheriffs use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for background check on concealed pistol permits. SB286 allows for all other valid state-issued concealed carry permits to be recognized in Alabama.

Importantly Alabama’s firearms preemption statute reserves to the state legislature complete control over regulation and policy relating to firearms, ammunition and firearm accessories. It also extends the Castle Doctrine to places of business.

Rep. Ed Henry (R) from Hartselle said on the floor of the Alabama House that the conference committee had limited the exemption for weapons carry in county commission and city council meetings to just when Commission or Council was actually meeting. As long the building is not a court house it will be legal to carry in those buildings if there is not a meeting in session. Alabama citizens will be able to concealed carry in sporting events unless there are security measures in place. If there are no guards, barricades, metal detector, or biometric screening at the sporting you would not be allowed to carry there. You can carry if there are no security measures and there is not sign at the facility prohibiting carry there. Any Alabama citizen who can legally possess a gun will now be able to carry that weapon openly provided that it is secured, unless there is a sign posted publicly on that property by the property owner forbidding weapon carry there (that would also prevent concealed carry).

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Henry said that buildings and facilities that prohibit weapons carry (concealed or open) must post signs. Businesses can not prevent people from keeping guns in their cars if they have permits. Nothing in the law will be construed to prevent law enforcement for acting if they have a reasonable suspicion that a person may about to commit a crime.

Rep. Henry said, “We should have the right to protect ourselves. It is not up to the Governor. It is not up to the police to protect us we want to be able to protect ourselves.”

Rep. James Buskey (D) from Mobile said, “I want to vote with the Mobile Chamber of Commerce and the BCA. I am standing up here fighting for their position.” “I am with them on this issue.” I am with the BCA on this issue until I hear something different from them.”

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Rep. Henry said, “BCA was at the table and we did our best to give them what they wanted. They demanded an opt out clause for businesses I couldn’t do that.” “BCA does not support the bill but they like it a lot better than the bill that came out of the Senate.”

The House voted to concur with the Senate by a margin of 73 to 28.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Alabama DHR announces grants providing temporary assistance for stabilizing child care

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Human Resources announced on Friday a new grant program to provide assistance to licensed child care providers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Temporary Assistance for Stabilizing Child Care, or TASCC, grant program’s purpose is to stabilize the number of child care providers that are open and providing services, as well as encourage providers to reopen.

DHR is now accepting applications for TASCC grants. The deadline to apply is August 7, 2020. The total grant amounts will be based on each provider’s daytime licensed capacity with a base rate of $300 per child.

To be eligible for a grant, licensed providers must be open or plan to reopen no later than August 17, 2020, and continue to remain open for a period of one year from the date of receiving the grant award. As of this week, 1,306 of Alabama’s 2,448 child care facilities were open in the state.

“We are proud to offer this program as a support and an incentive to an important sector of our economy. These grants will give the support many providers need to reopen and assist those already open,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “This program is going to be vital for our child care numbers to reach the level required to provide adequate services as parents return to work. We have already made significant strides in reopening facilities over the past several months; in April only 14 percent were open while now 53 percent are open.”

These grants will provide support for paying employees, purchasing classroom materials, providing meals, purchasing cleaning supplies, providing tuition relief for families, as well as other facility expenses.

DHR recommends child care providers read all guidance prior to submitting a TASCC application. Child care providers need to complete the application to determine the estimated grant amount. Grant applications will be processed as they are received and grants awarded once approved.

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An online fillable application is available for the TASCC grant at www.dhr.alabama.gov/child-care/. The application must include an Alabama STAARS Vendor Code in order to be processed. For questions regarding the application, please email DHR at [email protected].

 

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Gov. Ivey awards grant for new system to aid child abuse victims

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Gov. Kay Ivey delivers the 2019 state of the state address. (CHIP BROWNLEE/APR)

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded a $375,000 grant to establish a statewide network that will ensure that victims of child abuse receive immediate and professional medical care and other assistance.

The grant will enable the Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pediatrics to collaborate with the Alabama Network of Children Advocacy Centers in creating the Child Abuse Medical System.

 “Child abuse is a horrendous crime that robs children of their youth and can negatively affect their future if victims do not receive the proper professional assistance,” Ivey said. “I am thankful for this network that will ensure children get the professional attention they need and deserve.”

The medical system will be a coordinated statewide resource that includes pediatric physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and other medical professionals along with specialized sexual assault nurse examiners.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant.

“ADECA is pleased to join with Gov. Ivey and those dedicated people who are part of the Child Abuse Medical System to support these children at a time they need it most,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.

Ivey notified Tom Shufflebarger, CEO of Children’s of Alabama, that the grant had been approved.

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ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.

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U.S. Attorney Jay Town announces resignation

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Attorney Jay Town announced his resignation Friday. (WHNT)

Jay Town, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, on Friday announced his resignation and plans to work at a Huntsville defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company. 

Town’s resignation will be effective Wednesday, July 15, according to a press release. 

“After much thoughtful prayer and great personal consideration, I have made the decision to resign as the United States Attorney of the Northern District of Alabama.  I have tendered my resignation to Attorney General William Barr. General Barr expressed his gratitude for my service to the Department of Justice and to the Northern District and, despite having hoped I would continue in my role, understood and respected my decision,” Town said in a statement. 

“I am extremely grateful to President Trump, to whom I also tendered a letter, for his special trust and confidence in me to serve as the U.S. Attorney. It was an honor to be a part of this Administration with an unrivaled class of United States Attorneys from around the nation.  I will forever remain thankful to those who supported my nomination and my tenure as the U.S. Attorney,” Town continued.

Town said his job with the unnamed Huntsville defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company is to begin later this year, and the company is to announce his position “in a few weeks.” 

“The Attorney General of the United States will announce my replacement in the coming days or weeks,” Town said in the release.  

Town has served in his position since confirmation by the U.S. Senate in August 2017. Prior to that appointment, Town was a prosecutor in the Madison County District Attorney’s office from 2005 until 2017.

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Attorney General William Barr in a statement Friday offered gratitude for Town’s three years of service. 

“Jay’s leadership in his District has been immense.  His contributions to the Department of Justice have been extensive, especially his work on the China Initiative and most recently as a Working Group Chair on the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. I appreciate his service to our nation and to the Justice Department, and I wish him the very best,” Barr said in a statement.

The U.S. Justice Department in April 2019 notified Gov. Kay Ivey that the department’s lengthy investigation into the state’s prisons for men found systemic problems of violence, sexual assaults, drugs and corruption which are likely violations of the inmates’ Constitutional protections from cruel and unusual punishment. 

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Town’s office leads the discussions between the U.S Department of Justice and the state on the prison conditions. 

Problems with violence, deaths and drugs in Alabama’s overcrowded, understaffed prisons have not markedly improved in the year’s since the U.S. Department of Justice released its report.

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Health

Alabama’s daily COVID-19 deaths second highest since start of pandemic

In the past two weeks the state recorded 190 coronavirus deaths, a 38 percent increase from the previous two weeks.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama saw 35 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, the second highest daily number of deaths since the pandemic began. 

The previous record daily high was May 12, when the state recorded 37 coronavirus deaths. Prior to that, the high was on April 22, when Alabama saw 35 deaths from the virus. In the past two weeks the state recorded 190 coronavirus deaths, a 38 percent increase from the previous two weeks.

While cases have been surging since mid-June, deaths have largely remained stable. Deaths are considered a lagging indicator, meaning that it takes longer for deaths to begin rising after cases and hospitalizations begin rising.

“The fact that we’re seeing these sharp increases and hospitalization in cases over the past week or two is really concerning,” said UAB expert Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom earlier this week. “And we expect, given the lag that we know there is between cases and hospitalization — about a two-week lag, and a three-week lag between cases and deaths — that we’re on a part of the curve that we just don’t want to be on in our state.”

It’s unclear whether this new rise in deaths will become a trend, or whether it is a one-day anomaly, but the 14-day average of deaths per day is now nearly as high as the previous peak on May 14 — weeks after the state hit its first “peak” in cases per day in late April. The previous high of the 14-day average of deaths per day was 16 on May 14. The average is now at 14 deaths per day, on average.

The uptick in deaths comes after days of record-high new daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The state added 1,304 new COVID-19 cases Friday, down from Thursday’s record-high of 2,164, but the trend of rising daily cases has continued largely unabated since early June. 

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The 14-day average of daily tests was at an all-time high Friday, at 8,125, which was 308 more tests than the previous high, set Wednesday. The percent of tests that were positive also increased, however, so the new cases can’t be attributed solely to more testing. 

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The 14-day average of the percent positivity was 14.22 on Friday. Excluding Thursday’s figure, because the Alabama Department of Public Health didn’t publish total tests administered on Thursday, which threw  off percent positive figures, Friday’s 14-day average was the highest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic. 

There were a few higher 14-day average percent positivity days in April, but those numbers were skewed as well, because ADPH wasn’t able to collect all testing data from commercial labs during that time period. 

Along with surging new cases, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Thursday was higher than it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic. On Thursday 1,125 coronavirus patients were being treated in state hospitals, which was the fifth straight day of record current hospitalizations. 

UAB Hospital’s COVID-19 Intensive care units were nearing their existing capacity earlier this week. The hospital has both a COVID ICU and a COVID acute care unit designated to keep patients separated from those who don’t have the virus, but it has more space in other non-COVID units should it need to add additional bed space.

Hospitals in Madison County this week are also seeing a surge of COVID-19 patients. Paul Finley, the mayor of the city of Madison, told reporters Wednesday that local hospitals were reporting record numbers.

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