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Senate Health Committee Passes Pro-Life Bills

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, April 2 the Alabama Senate Health Committee, chaired by Senator Greg Reed (R) from Jasper, held a public hearing on a package of bills related to abortion.

Predictably, Pro-Life advocates and abortion advocates were both on hand to state their cases for and against the proposed legislation.  The Senate Health Committee gave favorable reports to HB 490, HB 493, and HB 494.

Nikema Williams the Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast said in a written statement,

“Let’s be clear: these bills reflect an extreme and out-of-touch personal agenda on the part of politicians who are driving them.  They seek to delay or even prevent a woman from receiving medical care, putting her health and life at risk.  It’s time our elected officials stand up for the women of Alabama and stop playing politics with women’s lives.”

The CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Staci Fox said,

“Planned Parenthood will continue to fight these harmful restrictions with everything we’ve got—in the state house and the courthouse. This very week, politicians in Alabama are considering further dangerous restrictions on abortion, including a patently unconstitutional bill that could ban abortion as early as six weeks. It’s clear that this law is part of the same dangerous agenda to end access to safe and constitutionally protected medical care in Alabama.”

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Cheryl Ciamarra with Alabamians United for Life said that HB 494 will,

“…reduce statutory rape and coverup of sexual abuse of minors tomorrow in Alabama…a very reasonable measure to insure Minor girls (under 18) have actual parental involvement when making an irreversible abortion decision by passage of HB 494.”

Rep. Jones sponsored HB 494 which strengthens the requirement that minors must have consent before they can have an abortion in the state of Alabama.  Rep. Jones said that his legislation would require that the parent actually bring the minor in for an abortion rather than the miner simply show up at a clinic with a signed consent form.  It also requires that the parent provide proof that they are actually the parent, such as the birth certificate.

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Rep. Jones said, “This is so the 40 year old boyfriend doesn’t claim to be the parent of the 16 year old girlfriend.”

Ciamarra said in a written statement,

“Planned Parenthood of Southeast located in Birmingham Alabama has repeatedly disregarded Alabama Parental notification and consent laws as evidenced by its repeated violation records that can be viewed at the AL Dept. of Public Health website…This dirty little secret of covering up statutory rape of minor girls has been exposed by live Action, where Lila Rose posing as a 14 year old with a 31 year old boyfriend recorded their director saying the Planned Parenthood center can bend the rules (inferring her parents would never know she was pregnant or terminated the life of their grandchild). This is illegal activity in Alabama, which has pushed the State Legislature to request these forms to be signed in the presence of the parent and the abortion provider.”

Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R) from Indian Springs is the sponsor of the Heartbeat bill, HB490, which bans performing abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, Susan Watson, said of the passage of the abortion bills in the State House of Representatives,  “Although the fetal heartbeat bill is the most controversial, it should be noted that all of the bills present grave consequences to women.”

Director Watson said, “All of these bills are another attempt by politicians to own a woman’s body. Reproductive health choices should only be made by the woman, her doctor, her family and her faith—not by the opinions and faiths of unqualified elected officials.  They’re not in the exam room and each woman’s story is different.”

Meg Tillman from Huntsville spoke in opposition to the bill.  She said that a heartbeat is not a right to personhood.  She said that she was concerned that if this bill is passed doctors who perform abortion would leave the State of Alabama.

Opponents of the legislation said that with the right equipment a fetal heart beat can be detected as early as six weeks.  The critics claimed that this bill would effectively abolish all abortions in Alabama.  They also were concerned that the requirement that abortion clinics store the information would be too harsh a burden on the clinic operators.

Rep. Kurt Wallace (R) from Maplesville is the sponsor of the Perinatal Hospice bill, HB493.  It would provide compassionate option information to families for severe fetal anomalies through providing perinatal hospice services.

Rosalyn McDermott from Huntsville said, “All four of these bills are attempts to limit women’s rights to an abortion and there will be challenges like there was to last year’s bill.”

Longtime Pro-Life advocate Cheryl Ciamarra (R) told the Alabama Political Reporter, “The ACLU was opposed to every one of those bills. Why would they be opposed to giving women more information?”  Mrs. Ciamarra is running for state representative in Alabama House District 43 where incumbent Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin is retiring.

All three of the Pro-Life bills before the committee were passed.  To become law the bills have to be brought to the Senate floor and passed by the Senate.  Today (May 2) and tomorrow (May 3) are the last days of the 2014 legislative session.  If not passed by the Senate the bills will die from a lack of time.

The Health Committee also gave a favorable report to HB 291 sponsored by Rep. Jim McClendon from Springville, dealing with Palliative Care and Quality of Life.  HB 291 creates a state Advisory Council on Palliative Care appointed by the State Health Officer.  Palliative care focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. Unlike hospice care, palliative medicine covers all disease stages, including those receiving treatment for curable illnesses, those living with chronic diseases, and patients nearing the end of their life.

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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Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

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IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”

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Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

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National

AUM poll suggests Alabamians divided on prison reform proposals

90 percent of Alabamians favor some type of reform to the state’s prison systems, but there is little agreement on what efforts should be pursued.

Brandon Moseley

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Last week, a poll by Auburn University at Montgomery’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration found that approximately 90 percent of Alabamians favor some type of reform to the state’s prison systems, but there is little agreement on which reform efforts should be pursued.

  • 36.6 percent: “Reduce or eliminate criminal sentences for non-violent crimes.”
  • 30.3 percent: “Parole inmates convicted of non-violent crimes.”
  • 25.9 percent: “Increase funding to improve existing prison facilities.”
  • 21.4 percent: “Construct new prisons to be operated by the state.”
  • 14.5 percent: “Contract with private firms to construct new prisons the state would then lease to operate.”
  • 27.5 percent: “Increase funding for prison staff such as correctional officers, healthcare providers, educators, etc.”
  • 15.2 percent: “Increase funding for probation officers.”
  • 9.9 percent: “I support none of these options.”

The totals do not add up to 100 because it was a “select all that apply” poll.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan of signing a decades-long lease with private prison contractors was the least popular idea. Repairing the existing prisons 25.9 percent support while constructing new prisons had just 21.4 percent support.

The most popular prison reform measures, according to AUM poll director David Hughes, address prison overcrowding through criminal sentencing reforms.

“Approximately 37 percent of respondents support policies to reduce or eliminate sentences for non-violent offenders, and another 30 percent support paroling inmates convicted of non-violent crimes,” Hughes said.

The governor has included justice reform proposals in her all-encompassing plan. Those proposals were going to be considered by the Legislature in the 2020 legislative session but because of the coronavirus, the 2020 legislative session was cut short and the Legislature went home without addressing that or many other issues.

Much less popular is Ivey’s plan to build three new mega-prisons in Escambia, Elmore and Bibb counties.

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“Only 21 percent of respondents supported a proposal to build new prisons the state would then directly operate,” Hughes said. “The least popular proposal we polled involved the state contracting with private firms to construct new prisons the state would then lease. Only 14 percent of respondents approved of this reform measure.”

The state has grossly underfunded its prison system for decades and the Alabama Department of Corrections is still dangerously overcrowded and understaffed, despite recent efforts by the Legislature to deal with its chronic underfunding of the system.

A U.S. Justice Department investigation begun by the Obama administration and concluded by the Trump administration declared that the state has the most dangerous prison system in the country. The prisons are plagued by rampant drug use, extreme violence, and the prisons have not done a good job at preparing prisoners to return to society.

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The poor track record of rehabilitating prisoners means that inmates are released without job skills, education and still battling mental health issues and drug dependency. Too many inevitably reoffend and get sent back to prison exacerbating the overcrowding situation.

The U.S. Department of Justice warned the state in July that it was violating prisoners’ constitutional rights and that the attorney general may file or join lawsuits to intervene. A federal court has already found that the prisons were understaffed by a thousand guards and that inmates were not receiving necessary mental health care.

The AUM Poll was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3. It solicited online participation from 1,072 registered voters in Alabama. Respondents were weighted according demographic factors such as age, gender, race, education and income to produce a more representative sample of Alabama’s voting age population.

The survey has a 4-point margin of error.

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Federal assistance following Sally tops $100 million, one month remains to apply

The deadline to register for assistance from FEMA and the SBA is Nov. 19, 2020.

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Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

About a month after the federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Sally, over $100 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved for survivors.

The funds include grants from FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help with uninsured or underinsured losses.

“Alabamians, particularly in our coastal communities are still working to get back on their feet following the impacts from Hurricane Sally. I remain grateful to the Trump Administration and the team at FEMA for helping provide this immediate relief for Alabamians,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “I encourage folks in the eligible counties to take advantage of any of this assistance as we work to recover from Hurricane Sally.”

FEMA disaster assistance can help you start on your road to recovery. Alabama homeowners, renters and businesses who had property damage or loss related to Hurricane Sally have one month left to register and apply for federal disaster assistance.

The deadline to register for assistance from FEMA and the SBA is Nov. 19, 2020.

“FEMA is here with our state and federal partners to help Alabama communities and survivors recover from the devastating storm and flooding,” said Allan Jarvis, federal coordinating officer for the Hurricane Sally disaster in Alabama. “Register for assistance if you have uninsured disaster losses.”

Survivors should register even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but eligible homeowners and renters may be able to receive FEMA grants or SBA low interest loans for losses not covered by insurance to help pay for basic home repairs, temporary rental assistance and other needs such as replacing personal property.

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Survivors in Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties have until Thursday, Nov. 19, to apply for federal disaster help.

Register for assistance in one of three ways:

  • Online by logging onto DisasterAssistance.gov
  • The FEMA app: Visit fema.gov/mobile-app or your phone’s app store
  • Call 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Language translators also are available. Toll-free numbers are open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight CST, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

Survivors who have questions about SBA low-interest disaster loans may contact the Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339), email at [email protected] or visit SBA’s website at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov.

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Courts

Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

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That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.

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