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Bachus Receives Award for his Efforts to Repeal Death Tax

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia has been recognized by a national seniors group for his efforts to abolish the estate tax, better known as the “death” tax.

Representative Bachus said in a written statement, “The death tax is fundamentally unfair to families that work to build assets to pass on to their children and grandchildren so they can enjoy a better standard of living. It is often small businesses and family farms that feel the brunt of taxes that can seem almost confiscatory. In my view, people are taxed enough during their lifetimes and there is a point where the reach of the federal government should stop.”

The 60 Plus Association awarded Rep. Bachus it’s Benjamin Franklin Award for his support of legislation to permanently abolish the estate tax. Rep. Bachus has cosponsored two bills which were introduced in the 113th Congress (H.R. 147 and H.R. 2429) that would fully repeal the tax.

The Chairman of the 60 Plus Association, Jim Martin, said in a written statement released by Congressman Bachus’s office, “It was Franklin who famously said there are two certainties in life, death and taxes, but because of the estate or ‘death’ tax, there is a third certainty – taxes after death. 60 Plus decided to give a Benjamin Franklin Award to those who support repeal. 60 Plus honors Representative Bachus with this award because he is working hard to get rid of that third certainty – taxes after death – and make Mr. Franklin’s Accurate once again.”

While we are alive the government taxes all the wages that we earn. If we save money the interest on the savings is also taxed, as are profits, capital gains, rents, dividends, etc then when we die the government demands 45% (or more depending on our state’s inheritance laws) of what we have left above a certain exemption level. The 2013 exemption amount is $5,250,000.
The death tax can be devastating for farmers and small businessmen. A farm or business can easily be worth more than the exemption by itself. Families are left with the difficult decision to either sell the farm or business to pay the taxes or give the government all of their liquid assets and go into debt to pay the tax bill and this is before any divisions of assets called on by the will.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman said in a June statement in support of legislation to repeal the estate tax said, “Individuals, family partnerships and family corporations own 98 percent of our nation’s 2 million farms and ranches. When estate taxes on an agricultural business exceed cash and other liquid assets, surviving family partners may be forced to sell land, buildings or equipment needed to keep their businesses running. This not only can cripple a farm or ranch operation, but also hurts the rural communities and businesses that agriculture supports.”

The AFBF says that 85% of farm and ranch assets are illiquid in things like fields, forests, brood cows, tractors, homes, barns, combines, silos, etc. This leaves farm families with few options to generate cash to pay the estate tax. According to the AFBF, Recent increases in agriculture cropland values, on average 15 percent from 2011 to 2012, have greatly expanded the number of farms and ranches that now top the estate tax exemption. “Farm Bureau believes the estate tax should be eliminated permanently,” Stallman said. “We fully support The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 to get the job done.”

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The group made the presentation of the Benjamin Franklin Award to Congressman Bachus during a Capitol Hill program.

Congressman Spencer Bachus represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District and is the longest serving member of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation.

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Health

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

Eddie Burkhalter

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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. 

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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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Economy

Freelancers, gig workers can begin filing unemployment claims

Chip Brownlee

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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 www.labor.alabama.gov 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:

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  • 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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Health

Two hospital employees in Huntsville test positive for COVID-19

Chip Brownlee

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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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Crime

Alabama inmate killed by another inmate at Ventress Correctional

Eddie Burkhalter

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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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