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Division in the House: AL Democrats Hold Tense Reorganizational Meeting (W/Video)

Lee Hedgepeth

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By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – The State Democratic Executive Committee, the governing body of the Alabama Democratic Party, met last Saturday at the Crump Center in Montgomery. With this being the party’s quadrennial reorganizational meeting, many thought change was sure to surface. Not much did, and a vocal minority of the committee’s members had no problem pointing that out.

Beginning at eleven and lasting several hours, the SDEC meeting had what previously-interim party chair Nancy Worley said was the longest agenda since her involvement in the party began. On it: the filling of 56 committee seats left vacant after the Democratic primary on June 3, the election of executive board members, including Chair of the Party, and resolving unfilled candidacies for public office.

Before those items were addressed, though, officer reports were made by executive board members.

ADP Treasurer Ed Gentle reported that since the beginning of 2014, the party has been able to raise $219,000, with expenses at only about $16,000 a month, a feat nearly miraculous given recent historical precedent. In addition, ADP has been able to pay off its debt to one of its more significant creditors.

Dr. Joe Reed, Chair of the Minority Caucus, gave the longest report, speaking at times to different audiences about the direction, vision, and future of the Alabama Democratic Party, but doing so in no uncertain terms.

“We have some Democrats that are anxious and willing to work. and we’ve got to give them every chance to work, whether they are black or white, young or old – we’ve got to give them every chance to work,” Reed began.

“I don’t care whether you’re an over the mountain Democrat or a down in the valley Democrat. It’s irrelevant if you don’t have some vision, courage, and commitment to build this party. I’m going to pledge to you – all of you – that we’re going to work together to build this party.”

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Dr. Reed continued, and his message became even more frank:

“You can have the numbers – and I’m talking to the blacks now – you can have the numbers, but if we don’t have the vision, the work, and the commitment, we have nothing. We have nothing. Like I said this morning [in the minority caucus session] when we elect folks to the executive board, we’ve got to be sure, we’ve got to be certain that whites have their fair share in this party and at the executive level. This is what we’ve got to be doing to build this party.” Video of Reed’s comments can be viewed here.

After this speech, Dr. Reed suggested that he would later move to – and ask for support in – filling only a few, pre-screened committee seats, and carrying over the election of the rest of the 56 vacancies, a move a minority in the room viewed as undemocratic and an effective power grab. This motion was later voted on and approved by a vast majority of the SDEC – a nearly five to one margin.

Much of the most tense moments of the meeting surrounded this vote to delay the nomination of any new committee members, something which typically happens without delay at every organizational meeting.

“I object vociferously, Madame Chair!” One SDEC member shouted at the suggestion of a delayed election.

After a voice vote and a call of “division in the house,” a standing vote was taken and the motion clearly gained passage, delaying committee member elections until at least the SDEC’s next meeting. When the ruling was made, one SDEC member stormed out of the room; another noted verbally, “This meeting continues under protest.” Watch the video of the vote, the walk out, and the call out here.

Some candidates for various public offices across the State addressed the meeting, as well. Democratic candidate for Alabama Attorney General Joe Hubbard, for example, told the crowd he would do more than just think of ways to sue President Obama every day, referring to comments made by current AG Luther Strange. He also told the story of a woman who approached him in the grocery store to tell him “Big” Luther’s leg’s are long so “he can get away from the law.” “No one is above the law,” Hubbard told his fellow Democrats.

Video of Hubbard’s speech can be seen here.

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AlabamaWorks releases business survey to identify COVID-19 impact

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AlabamaWorks has announced a new tool for all businesses, large and small, related to the COVID-19 impact and future focus of the workforce in the state.

The Alabama COVID-19 Workforce Response Survey is designed to help the state fully understand the impact of this pandemic on the state’s workforce as well as provide a clear path forward for businesses, industry and state government.

“I am grateful to the Alabama Workforce Council for developing and deploying this much needed and user-friendly survey,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “As we work together to combat COVID-19’s impact, this tool will allow us to identify the needs of business and industry, resources that can help them and how we can best support Alabama’s businesses owners and hardworking Alabamians and their families.”

The official survey, which is critical for helping individual industry sectors recover from COVID-19, is available here: http://sm.aidt.edu/alabamaworks-survey.

“While these are challenging times, we fully understand that now, more than ever, business and industry leaders must continue to work together with Governor Ivey’s administration and various state agencies to move us all forward together,” noted Alabama Workforce Council Chairman Tim McCartney. “Rest assured there is an unwavering commitment to do everything we can to minimize the negative impact COVID-19 has on our businesses, our economy, the state and all of its citizens. Using the results from this survey, I know we can all make a difference in combating the challenges from this pandemic facing so many throughout Alabama.”

Responses to the survey will be accepted through Tuesday, April 21 at 5 p.m. All businesses are highly encouraged to participate as the responses will help to protect Alabama’s workforce, manage the impact of COVID-19 and guide the allocation of various resources.

Additionally, another tool was released earlier this week for hard-working Alabamians from Governor Ivey’s office to help connect people to resources and resources to people. ALtogetherAlabama.org is a one-stop-shop for all Alabamians meant to connect businesses, nonprofits, and people that need help with the available resources during this time.

For more information and resources on Alabama’s COVID-19 workforce recovery efforts please visithttps://alabamaworks.com/coronavirus/.

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Economy

Manufacture Alabama launches “Ask the Experts” webinar

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Ask the Experts: Employment Law Questions Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic is a new webinar being offered by Manufacture Alabama.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, disrupting the lives of everyone around our state, country, and the globe, employers are left with many questions and Manufacture Alabama wants to answer them.

Manufacture Alabama is the only trade association in the state dedicated exclusively to the competitive, legislative, regulatory, and operational interests and needs of manufacturers and their partner industries and businesses.

Manufacture Alabama has enlisted some of the top labor and employment attorneys in Alabama to bring you the first installment of a web series, ‘Ask the Experts.’ In the first installment, their experts will be answering your questions about implementing the new CARES Act Leave guidelines, and best practices for what to do if you have an employee test positive for COVID-19.

The attorneys will also be covering questions whether they are questions related to OSHA standards, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or the impact of the CARES Act, or anything else labor or employment-related.

Manufacture Alabama also wants to hear stories of the changes manufacturers have experienced in the workplace as a result of the pandemic, and how businesses have changed day to day operations.

Send your questions and responses regarding these topics to [email protected] and stay tuned.

The webinar will be published Tuesday, April 14.

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Governor

Governor awards grant to encourage entrepreneurship

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Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded a $580,000 to give a lift to innovation and entrepreneurship in Alabama.

The grant to the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama will help support the Alabama Launchpad, a program that encourages entrepreneurship in the state and nurtures new businesses.

“Innovation is alive and well in Alabama, and now more than ever as we work to rise above the coronavirus pandemic, we need every resource and program available to regain our footing,” Gov. Ivey said. “This program is a true representation of the American and the Alabama spirit to beat the odds at a time when we need it most.”

The Alabama Launchpad supports annual business plan competitions and provides contacts and guidance in the business, banking and academic areas to help participating upstart businesses succeed.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from the Alabama Research Alliance Trust Fund. Interest earned by the trust fund supports projects pertaining to new technology and innovation.

Gov. Ivey notified Steve Sowell, EDPA vice president, that the grant had been approved.

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

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Health

Lt. Gov. Ainsworth calls on churches, citizens to ring bells on Easter Sunday

Bill Britt

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Most churches in Alabama will not hold public services on Easter Sunday in compliance with the state’s stay-at-home order.

“Join us in ringing your church bell or a bell at home this Easter to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus,” Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth posted on social media.

In remembrance of the holy day, Ainsworth began a social media movement #RingForTheResurrection asking churches and citizens across Alabama to ring bells at noon on Easter Sunday.

“Social distancing guidelines require us to remain apart from our extended families, church members, and other individuals on a sacred religious holiday that normally encourages us to gather together,” Ainsworth said.  “But I realized that the simple act of ringing a bell can allow us to remain physically distant while being united in spirit.”

“We can stand together in unity – even as we’re staying apart,” he further wrote.

“Matthew 28:6 proclaims the hope that lives with the resurrection of Christ,” wrote Ainsworth. “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.”

Ainsworth’s message is trending under #RingForTheResurrection

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in Alabama, Ainsworth has been one of the state’s strongest and most active proponents of social distancing and self-isolation as a means to halt its spread, but he has also sought ways to bring the state’s citizens together even as they remain apart.

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“My wife, Kendall, our twin boys, Hunter and Hays, and our daughter, Addie, will be among those ringing a bell at noon on Sunday to celebrate the miracle of Easter,” Ainsworth said.  “While Gov. Ivey’s stay-at-home order, the public’s health and safety, and simple common sense prevent Christians from gathering in large groups even on the holiest of days, all of us can join together in spirit as we ring a bell to recognize that Christ has risen.”

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