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House Passes Birmingham Waterworks Reform Bill

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, May 5, the Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation reforming the Birmingham Waterworks Board to more accurately represent the diversity of the waterworks customers. SB89 was very contentious after it passed the Alabama Senate. On Wednesday, April 29 the controversial legislation passed out of committee with a favorable report.

On Thursday an angry Representative John Rogers (D-Birmingham) led a filibuster of everything on the calendar to force House Republicans to abandon the waterworks bill.  The only thing the Black Legislators allowed pass was a bill making the brown shrimp the State’s official crustacean.

Tuesday began with similar delaying tactics but this time Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was ready for them…..and punishment came in the forms of SB89.

State Representative Christopher John England (D-Tuscaloosa) wrote on Facebook: “The House is in session. The special order calendar I posted yesterday will have to wait. We are working on adopting a one bill substitute special order calendar to bring up SB89 which is also known as the Birmingham Water Works Board Bill. Once that bill passes, then we will be back on the other special order I posted yesterday.”

State Representative Tim Wadsworth (R-Winston County) wrote: “ In an effort to move the House body forward due to delaying tactics, a revised special order calendar is introduced that has Water Works Board bill on it. The special order calendar content (not the bill) is being debated. A special order calendar content can be debated under the rules for two hours. Purpose is to get the Water Works Board on the floor for an up or down vote. That way the issue is resolved in the House once and for all.”

After over two hours of debate the House Republican Super Majority invoked cloture ending debate and forcing a vote. The bill passed.  SB89 has now passed both Houses of the legislature.

SB89 would reform the Birmingham Waterworks Board (BWWB) so that counties where the BWWB has water customers or assets will be provided representation on the BWWB.  Additionally, SB89 would lo limit the terms of all board members including members appointed prior to this act becoming applicable to the board; limit the compensation and expenses of the board members; to specify that the board members would be covered by the State Ethics Law and could not be elected officials.  SB89 would also provide for notice and a public hearing prior to the board adopting any rate increase; and specifies that the board would be subject to the Alabama Open Meetings Act.

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SB89 was sponsored by Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia).

To get back on schedule the House reconvened after dinner.

Among the bills passed Tuesday night was HB211 which reorganizes the legislature giving vast new powers to a legislative council of 16.  Both the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem would have even greater influence in how the legislature conducts business according to critics of the controversial legislation.

Again cloture was invoked and after the 46 page bill was read out loud HB211 was passed at 11:35 pm.

Rep Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) filibustered the “Tim Tebow bill.” HB 236. Rep. Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) said, “We had to adjourn at midnight so as not to burn another legislative day.”  The “Tim Tebow bill” would allow homeschooled children to participate in public school extracurricular activities.  Rep. Butler said, “This bill is unfinished business so we will pick it back up on this Thursday.”

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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Elections

Tallassee mayor endorses Jeff Coleman

Brandon Moseley

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Republican Congressional candidate Jeff Coleman has received the endorsement of Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock. Coleman is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the July 14 Republican primary runoff.

“Alabama needs a strong conservative candidate who will not back down from a challenge, and will represent the voice, people, and values of those who live in Alabama and District 2,” Hammock said. “Jeff Coleman has my full support and endorsement.”

Coleman thanked Hammock for the endorsement.

“Mayor Hammock’s leadership is evident by the respect the community has for him,” Coleman said. “He is a leader not just for Tallassee but for the surrounding area as a whole. It is an honor to have the support and endorsement of Mayor Hammock and many more in the Tallassee community!”

Tallassee is on the Tallapoosa River and is in both Elmore and Tallapoosa Counties. The city has a population of 4,581 in 2018, which is down from its peak in 1999 of 5,858.

Coleman now has the endorsements of the mayors of Luverne, Dothan, Millbrook, Geneva, and Florala.

Coleman is a native of Dothan. He is the fifth generation of his family to head the family business, Coleman Worldwide Moving, based in Dothan. He recently stepped down as President and CEO in order to run for Congress. Coleman is a former Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama. Coleman is one of the wealthiest people in Alabama.

Coleman has been endorsed by BCA and the Alabama Farmers Federation, as well as the Alabama Realtors Association, Alabama Home Builders Association, Alabama Retail Association, Alabama Trucking Association, Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Coleman is a graduate from Northview High School where he was a member of the 1981 Football team that won the Alabama High School Football State Championship. He has a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama and a Master’s in Business Administration from Troy University in Dothan. He is an Eagle Scout, a 2011 Graduate of Leadership Alabama and a 2015 Graduate of the Air War College National Security Forum. Coleman served two terms as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Alabama.

Coleman is running in the Republican primary runoff against former State Rep. Barry Moore on July 14. The eventual Republican nominee for the open 2nd Congressional District seat will face Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall in the November general election.

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Opinion | Somebody, please, take the lead

Joey Kennedy

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Gov. Kay Ivey held a press conference to update the COVID-19 situation in Alabama Friday May 8, 2020 in Montgomery, Ala. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Just like Donald Trump on the national level, Gov. Kay Ivey has bungled containing the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Alabama is showing record cases and hospitalization levels.

But while Ivey extended the Safer-at-Home order though July 31, she didn’t add any new restrictions. The governor says requiring masks is simply too difficult to manage and enforce.

Nobody said fighting the virus would be easy. The problem is neither Ivey nor many other governors, along with the White House, didn’t really make containment much of a priority.

Testing is still inadequate, nearly a half-year after the pandemic started. Alabama’s first diagnosed case was March 13. Since then – as of Wednesday – Alabama has racked up more than 30,000 cases with more than 900 deaths. Nationally, there have been more than 2.6 million cases and nearly 130,000 deaths.

When the pandemic was young, Ivey responded well, ordering everybody to stay home except for essential workers. She did much better than the governors in the state’s surrounding Alabama. But just as with most states across the Southeast, after a few weeks Ivey’s resolve cracked. Like the governors of states like Georgia and Florida, which are also seeing a spike in infections and are setting records.

Ivey should tighten up the restrictions, including closing the state’s beaches over the July 4th weekend. Bars, gyms, and other places where large crowds gather, usually not social distancing and many without masks, should be restricted.

Yes, such measure will continue to cause economic pain, but such restrictions would slow the spread of the virus. We’ve already seen that not just in the United States, but across many parts of the world.

Ivey and health officials also need to increase testing and contact tracing.

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Yes, all of that is difficult, but what are the consequences? More deaths. Just how many deaths are acceptable? Is it 1,000 (we’re almost there), or 2,000, or 5,000? Is any number unacceptable. It doesn’t suffice for elected officials to claim even one death is too many when, through their own actions, thousands and thousands have died in Alabama and across the nation.

And those numbers don’t include infected and once hospitalized patients who are left with permanent organ and lung damage.

Cities like Birmingham and Montgomery have mandatory mask laws, and they need to be enforced because a lot of people are going out without their masks. Still, there are many laws on the books that are difficult to enforce; that doesn’t mean those laws don’t have value. A statewide mandatory mask order if, nothing else, would lead more people to wear masks, plus it would give support to businesses who refuse to allow people inside without masks.

UAB is planning to bring students back on campus when the fall semester begins in late August, but there will be strict safety measures to follow, including wearing masks, social distancing, handwashing, and regular health checks.

Ivey says if the rate of cases and hospitalizations doesn’t slow, she’ll enact more stringent measures. But when she finally gets around to making those decisions, it could very well be too late.

Indeed, it may be too late already.

We’ve seen what indecisive leadership does during a pandemic. What we need to see – in Alabama and nationally – is a more determined response that helps put the virus in check. That includes mask wearing, increased testing, and contact tracing.

Every day that doesn’t happen, more people will get sick and die when they didn’t have to.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

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Congress

Sewell votes in favor of $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, on Wednesday voted in favor of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild American infrastructure.

“Our country is in serious need of bold and comprehensive infrastructure reform,” Sewell said. “This was true before the coronavirus pandemic and it has become increasingly urgent as we continue to grapple with the ongoing healthcare and economic crises resulting from the pandemic.”

“As a member of the Rural Broadband Task Force and a representative of a district that lacks adequate and comprehensive internet access, I am pleased that H.R.2 includes our bill the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, comprehensive legislation which invests$100 billion for high-speed broadband infrastructure in underserved communities,” said Sewell. “This investment will go a long way toward helping people across my district have access to the high-speed, affordable internet services that are necessary in today’s economy. Additionally, the bill’s $40 billion investment in new wastewater infrastructure will be transformative for countless residents of Alabama’s 7th District who lack access to affordable and efficient wastewater services. If we fail to make these investments now, our Nation’s aging infrastructure will continue to collapse and millions of Americans will be left out of our hopeful economic recovery.”

As a member of the House Rural Broadband Task Force, Sewell co-led introduction of H.R. 7302, the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, which invests $100 billion to build high-speed broadband in unserved and underserved communities and ensures that internet service will be affordable. H.R. 7302 provided the framework for the broadband provisions in H.R. 2.

Two of Rep. Sewell’s bills are included as key provisions in H.R. 2. H.R. 1680, New Markets Tax Credit Extension Act of 2019 is designed to spur private investment in low-income rural communities and urban neighborhoods by providing tax credits for private investments made in underserved communities. H.R. 3967, the Municipal Bond Market Support Act of 2019, would help local governments, non-profits, schools, hospitals, universities and other entities reduce costs associated with infrastructure and development projects.

Sewell also co-led three amendments to H.R. 2 that passed this week. These amendments would expand the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in DOT research, support HBCU infrastructure development, and create a carbon capture, utilization, and storage technology commercialization program and direct an air capture technology program within the Department of Energy.

Sewell’s office said that in light of the pandemic and as schools consider how best to provide resources to students remotely, H.R.2 will provide critical access to both students and teleworkers across Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.

H.R. 2 would invest more than $1.5 trillion in roads, bridges, transit systems, schools, housing, broadband access and other essential infrastructure.

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H.R. 2 now goes to the Senate, where Senate Republicans are likely to make a number of changes to the legislation. The Senate’s 60 votes to end a filibuster rule; however means that any infrastructure bill will have to have bipartisan support to pass the Senate.

Sewell is a member of the House leadership and is in her fifth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. Sewell had no primary challenger and no Republican is running against her in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Elections

Alabama Republican Assembly endorses Barry Moore

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidates Barry Moore’s campaign on Wednesday said the Alabama Republican Assembly has endorsed him for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.

Jennifer Montrose is the President of the Alabama Republican Assembly.

“We must have elected leaders who are committed to governing honestly and ethically and believe Barry Moore can best help our state and nation move forward in the November election,” Montrose said. “We hope you will agree with us and vote for this outstanding individual who we believe is committed to Life, Liberty and Family.”

Moore thanked the group in a statement.

“I want to thank the Alabama Republican Assembly for the vote of confidence this endorsement represents,” Moore said. “It’s an honor to be recognized in this way by this fine group of Conservatives.”

“I’ve always been committed to the conservative values I share with the ARA, and I’ll continue to fight for our Constitution, our rights, and our freedoms when I’m in Congress,” Moore continued. “I’ll do this not only to justify the faith groups like the ARA have in me but because it’s what I believe is right. The ARA knows I have a proven conservative voting record and I will always protect our 2nd amendment, take a pro-life stance, support term limits, and stand with President Trump.”

The Alabama Republican Assembly calls itself “the Republican Wing of the Republican Party.”

Moore continues to receive endorsements from prominent Alabama politicians and groups from across the state in his bid to go to the United States Congress.

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Moore faces Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary runoff on July 14. Moore served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 until 2018 and has been endorsed by both current and former members who served with him there.

Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) said, “I have served in the Alabama House with Rep. Barry Moore; and found him to be one of our Top Five Conservatives every year. I served with him at the RNC Convention in 2016 when Rep. Moore was one of the first to endorse Trump. He is still strongly aligned with Trump. I enthusiastically endorse Barry Moore for Congressional District 2!.”

Rep. Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery) said, “When Rep. Barry Moore served in the State House he chaired the Military and Veterans Affairs committee. He was instrumental in bringing the F-35 to Montgomery and he well understands the needs of our Veterans and the importance of our military bases to Alabama. He will always work to support both. I am proud to support Barry Moore for our next Congressman.”

Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur)said, “Barry Moore is a man of integrity and honor. He will represent Alabama well.”

Former Rep. Barry Mask (R-Alexander City) said, “Barry Moore is a fighting conservative who has been through the fire. As a veteran, he stands with our country and will fight to preserve it. He was a Trump man early on and has earned our trust.”

“It’s humbling to have so many leading Alabama Republicans endorse me in this race,” Moore said. “These are the people I served within the Alabama House, and they know me and what I stand for. I appreciate their endorsements, and I will do everything I can to honor their trust by continuing to represent the people of our District and our conservative values in Congress. I thank everyone who’s endorsed me, and those who have supported me in this race. I look forward to serving the people of Alabama and District 2 as their next Congressman.”

Moore has been endorsed by the Eagle Forum, Conservative Christians of Alabama, the American Workers Coalition, the Club for Growth, and the House Freedom Fund. He is a former member of the Alabama Legislature, a small businessman, a veteran, a husband, and a father of four from Enterprise.

Moore and his wife Heather own a waste disposal company. Moore is a small businessman, a veteran, a husband, and a father of four from Enterprise. He has a degree from Auburn University.

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