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Jeb Bush Launches New PAC

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, January 6, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush launched a new political action committee (PAC), Right to Rise. While not formally declaring that he will be a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, the move allows him to raise money, measuring early support for a Jeb Bush Presidential run. The move warns other GOP rivals that Jeb Bush is likely entering the race and is notice to potential Bush operatives and donors not to commit to another candidate just yet.

Former President George W. Bush (R) wrote on Facebook, “Today, Jeb Bush is launching Right to Rise, a leadership PAC dedicated to making America a place of unlimited opportunity. Laura and I are proud to support my brother by making a contribution.”

The PAC’s website wrote, “We believe passionately that the Right to Rise — to move up the income ladder based on merit, hard work and earned success — is the central moral promise of American economic life. We are optimists who believe that America’s opportunities have never been greater than they are right now. But we know America is falling short of its promise.”

Right to Rise lamented that, “Too many of the poor have lost hope that a path to a better life is within their grasp. While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners…been a lost decade for the rest of America. We are not leading – at home or abroad.”

The PAC stated, “At the Right to Rise PAC, we will support candidates who want to restore the promise of America with a positive, conservative vision of reform and renewal. We believe the income gap is real, but that only conservative principles can solve it by removing the barriers to upward mobility. We will celebrate success and risk-taking, protect liberty, cherish free enterprise, strengthen our national defense, embrace the energy revolution, fix our broken and obsolete immigration system, and give all children a better future by transforming our education system through choice, high standards and accountability. We will strive to put our fiscal house back in order, re-limit government and ensure that America is a welcoming society.”

On October 7, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was in Birmingham for a fundraiser for the powerful Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and its influential ProgressPAC. The BCA held a reception, dinner, photo opportunity, and leadership round table with Gov. Jeb Bush at the Sheraton in Birmingham. According to information provided by BCA, contributions for the Chairman’s Dinner were used to support BCA’s political action committee, ProgressPAC.

Former President George W. Bush (R) told Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade at that time, “[Jeb] and I had a conversation. I of course was pushing for him to run for president, he of course was saying, ‘I haven’t made up my mind.’” President Bush said, “I truly don’t think he has, and plus I don’t think he liked it that his older brother was pushing him…He [Jeb] understands what it’s like to be president for not only the person running or serving, plus family. He’s seen his dad, he’s seen his brother. And so, he’s a very thoughtful man, and he’s weighing his options.”

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Jeb and George’s father, George H. Bush (R) was President of the United States from 1989 to 1993.  No Republican ticket for President has been successful without a Bush on the ticket as either President or Vice President since 1972, when Richard M. Nixon won re-election. Then a former Congressman George H. Bush was Nixon’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

Several Alabama State legislators recently attended an education reform summit in Washington promoting school choice, where Jeb Bush was the headline speaker.

Cygnal, a Montgomery-based political strategy, research, media, and public relations firm, released polling data in July showing that at that time former Florida Governor Jeb Bush would lead the crowded field of 2016 GOP presidential aspirants.  Bush then leads the field with 19.6 percent of the vote, followed by Dr. Ben Carson with 12.6 percent.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul polled in third with just 10.6 percent at this point. Next were New Jersey Governor Chris Christie with 8.8 percent, Texas Governor Rick Perry with 7.2 percent, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz with 5.6 percent. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum won the Alabama Republican Presidential Primary in 2012, but had dropped to only 5.3 percent support. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker round out the field with just 3.9 percent and 3.6 percent respectively. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was not included in this poll, although there is speculation that the 2012 Republican nominee might be tempted to run given the relative weakness of the Republican field.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with six and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook.

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Health

Cases jump in Alabama nursing homes, tests still scarce, association says

Eddie Burkhalter

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Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama nursing homes have jumped in recent days, and delays in getting test kits and test results is putting lives at greater risk, according to the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

As of Monday, 31 nursing homes in 17 counties had confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to a statement from Alabama Nursing Home Association President Brandon Farmer.

The last update from ANHA on March 28 noted eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in six nursing homes across the state.

John Matson, director of communications at ANHA, told APR in a message Monday that the organization was uncertain how many individual COVID-19 cases were currently in the 31 homes.

“These reports involve residents, staff members or both at nursing homes in rural and urban locations. These nursing homes are following the reporting guidelines and implementing isolation procedures,” Farmer said in the statement. “I predict the number of nursing homes with cases will grow as more tests are administered and the results are returned. As previously stated, the delays in receiving test kits and test results are beyond our control yet places our residents and employees at great risk.”

State nursing homes have stopped visitations and early on began screening staff for symptoms of the virus and strengthening infection control measures, Farmer noted in the statement.

“They continue to practice infection control guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and isolate residents who test positive or are believed to have been exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive. Like other health care providers, nursing homes need a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Infection control measures will only be as effective as our ability to secure PPE,” Farmer said.

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Economy

Gov. Ivey launches state guide to COVID-19 relief efforts

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Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced the launch of altogetheralabama.org, an online resource that will serve as a hub of information for the state’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

The site becomes the state’s official guide to COVID-19 relief efforts, to help empower those impacted by the outbreak and those who want to offer support.

“We wanted to quickly create a trusted resource that centralizes information, resources and opportunities for businesses and individuals in need of support,” Governor Ivey said. “We are all in this together.”

The website is designed to be a comprehensive guide to aid in navigating all issues related to the COVID-19 response. Individuals and business owners can seek help and identify state and federal resources that can provide a lifeline in the form of low-interest loans and financial assistance.

Business owners, for example, can learn about the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which launched April 3 to provide a direct incentive for them to keep their workers on the payroll. Displaced workers, meanwhile, can use the site to learn about enhanced unemployment benefits.

“It’s important for Alabama’s business owners and its workforce to take full advantage of the resources being made available through the federal government’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief package,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “The site is meant to expedite the process so both employers and employees can get back up on their feet as fast as possible.”

At the same time, the site will function as a pathway for Alabama’s good corporate citizens and the general public to offer support and solutions that can help spark recovery across the state. It will act as a portal for companies, non-profits and individuals to volunteer, make donations of supplies, offer an assistance program, and even post job openings.

The site was developed in partnership with Opportunity Alabama, a non-profit organization that promotes investment in the state’s designated Opportunity Zones. It was facilitated by a partnership with Alabama Power.

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“Over the last two years, Opportunity Zones have allowed us to build a network of stakeholders that care deeply about helping distressed places,” said Alex Flachsbart, Opportunity Alabama founder and CEO. “We hope this site will provide a gateway linking our network to those businesses and communities in economic distress, no matter where they are in Alabama.”

“These are challenging times,” added Governor Ivey. “We needed a place to efficiently and rapidly post and disseminate information – as soon as it’s available – for all affected parties. Thank you for your support and partnership in helping bring Alabama together.”

Any business, program or individual who would like to join ALtogether as a resource in COVID-19 response and relief can register at altogetheralabama.org/join.

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National

How Alabama is tracking COVID-19 hospitalizations

Chip Brownlee

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Alabama on Saturday started publicly reporting the number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 on its data dashboard. As of Monday morning, 240 people have been hospitalized since March 13, according to that data.

The day before ADPH began publishing the number of cumulative hospitalizations on its dashboard, I reported that 255 people were hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and another 586 people were hospitalized with a suspected case of the virus awaiting test results.

The number I reported Friday night, which I got from State Health Officer Scott Harris, is not the same number that ADPH began publishing on its dashboard Saturday morning. They do not align.

It might look like he gave me wrong numbers, or that I reported them out incorrectly. That’s not the case. Let me explain why.

The number of hospitalizations displayed on the Department of Public Health’s data dashboard (240) is a cumulative total of hospitalizations since March 13. That number is obtained by ADPH’s epidemiologists as they investigate each confirmed case of the virus. The epidemiologists follow up with everyone who has tested positive for the virus and determine if the person has been hospitalized.

“The way that works is you have a positive test that comes through. Our epidemiology staff contacts the patient. They ask, ‘Hey, what is your story? How old are you? What’re your symptoms? And were you in the hospital?’,” Harris told me.

The epidemiology staff also perform contact-tracing, asking those who have tested positive who they were around, who they live with, where they work and a lot more. These investigations clearly take time.

“It’s a cumulative number because we can’t call these people every single day for the next two weeks to found out who’s still in the hospital and how many cases are hospitalized at the moment,” Harris said.

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The reality is that there are only so many investigators and a ton of confirmed cases. There will inevitably be a delay in reporting the cumulative total as epidemiologists investigate each positive case.

This brings us to the numbers I reported Friday night.

That data (255 confirmed, 586 suspected) was obtained from the Alabama Incident Management System, or AIMS. It’s the same system that is activated when there is a major hurricane, tornadoes or even an ice storm. Hospitals directly update these numbers daily, sometimes more.

The differences in the way the two numbers are obtained explain why the number I reported Friday night was higher than the cumulative total now displayed on the ADPH’s dashboard (and on our dashboard). It was simply more current.

But even the numbers from the Alabama Incident Management System are not perfect. Hospitals voluntarily report that data to the Department of Public Health.

Alabama does not have a law authorizing a statewide hospital discharge database, unlike 48 other states, Harris said, which makes tracking real-time hospitalization data difficult.

“We actually had legislation that we introduced this year to do that, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen now because the session is gone,” Harris said.

So the Alabama Department of Public Health has to ask hospitals to voluntarily report their hospitalization data in AIMS. Most of the state’s hospitals are doing so, Harris said. But it’s still possible that some hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients who are not reflected in the AIMS data.

While the state’s public-facing data dashboard is currently showing the cumulative total obtained by epidemiology staff at ADPH, Harris said the Department of Public Health will soon display the AIMS data instead.

“The question people want to know is not how many people have been in the hospital over the past week,” Harris said. “They want to know how many people are in the hospital today.”

When that switch happens, the number may appear to jump, but it’s really just a more current dataset.

 

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Economy

BCA partners with Alabama Public Television to help small businesses

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The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) will present the Small Business Exchange on Alabama Public Television (APT) Thursday night, an event designed to help small businesses apply for federal stimulus funding under the new CARES Act.

In partnership with APT, BCA will bring together experts in business, banking, accounting and law to answer phone calls from Alabama business owners and employers as they grapple with the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s economy. New federal loans are now available for small businesses, but funding is limited in some cases and quick action is required.

“We have to make sure that Alabama’s small businesses get the loans and support they deserve in these tough economic times,” said Katie Boyd Britt, President and CEO of BCA.  “These business owners need as much help as we can give them to work through the process.  The first step in getting Alabama back to work is to get this loan money flowing to our businesses.

“Our team of experts is donating their time and resources because this is a critical time for small businesses,” said Britt.  “This federal funding can and will save companies and save jobs, so the BCA is facilitating this process in any way we can.”

There are $10 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans and $349 billion in Paycheck Protection Loans available to help the nation’s small businesses.  Each program has different eligibility criteria, financing, and application processes.  For the most part, small businesses of fewer than 500 employees, sole proprietors, freelancers and the self-employed, independent contractors, and 501(c)(6) organizations are eligible for one or both programs.

Because there has been confusion about the programs, too many business owners are uncertain about availability, qualifications, requirements and deadlines for each loan program.  The point of the Small Business Exchange is to get that much-needed information to business owners as quickly as possible.

The Small Business Exchange program airs Thursday night on APT from 7-8 p.m.  BCA experts will be available to answer questions from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Thursday night.  In addition, experts will be available for consultation from 9.a.m. to noon Friday.

To ask a question or consult with our BCA experts during these times, the phone number is 1-833-BCA4BIZ (1-833-222-4249).

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