Connect with us

In Case You Missed It

Luther Strange Asks Supreme Court to Block Obama’s Plan

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, January 26, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) announced that Alabama is among a bipartisan coalition of 29 states and state agencies asking the United States Supreme Court to immediately halt President Barack H. Obama’s administration’s CO2 rule for power plants which the states argue is both unlawful and job-killing.  The states argue that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power rule is an unprecedented attempt to reorder the nation’s energy sector and violates federal law.

luther_strangeAttorney General Luther Strange said, “Once again, President Obama has attempted to radically expand the power of the federal government by adopting policies through executive action that Congress has refused to enact.  But the scope of President Obama’s job-killing Clean Power Plan is unprecedented.  If this new EPA rule is allowed to go into effect, it will shutter coal-fired power plants around the country, resulting in higher electricity costs and fewer jobs. The United States Supreme Court should act to immediately stay this rule until the lower courts can address the serious concerns the states have raised about its legality.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “The Obama Administration has exceeded its authority in imposing a plan that will kill jobs and significantly raise electric bills for all Americans.  This power grab will force a massive reordering of nearly every state’s electric grid and result in less-reliable service for all customers. Such far-reaching actions raise serious concerns about the power of the federal government.”

The states won a major case in June when the Court blocked EPA’s mercury emissions rules.  Undeterred by the defeat, the Obama released new rules on ozone and CO2 rules which effectively did the same thing.

The bipartisan coalition of states challenged the EPA’s power plan on October 23, 2015, the  day it was published. Those urging  the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately halt the EPA’s unlawful power plan include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Public Service Commission, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

The states in their filing point to the Court’s decision last term in  Michigan v. EPA: “The day after this Court ruled in Michigan  that  EPA  had  violated  the  Clean  Air  Act  (CAA)  in  enacting  its  rule regulating  fossil  fuel-fired  power  plants  under  Section  112  of  the  CAA,  42  U.S.C.§ 7412, EPA boasted  in an official blog post  that the Court’s decision  was  effectively a nullity.  Because the rule had not been stayed during the years of litigation, EPA assured its supporters that “the majority of power plants are already in compliance or well on their way to compliance. Then, in reliance on EPA’s representation that most power plants had already fully complied,  the  DC  Circuit  responded  to  this Court’s  remand  by  declining  to  vacate  the  rule  that  this  Court  had  declared unlawful….In short, EPA extracted  nearly $10 billion a year in compliance from power plants before this Court could even review the rule, Michigan, 135 S. Ct. at  2706, and then successfully used  that  unlawfully-mandated  compliance to keep the  rule  in  place  even  after  this  Court  declared  that  the  agency  had  violated  the law.  In the present case, EPA is seeking to similarly circumvent judicial review, but on an even larger scale and this time directly targeting the states.”

Public Service Announcement

The states claim that the Plan is, “The most far reaching and burdensome rule EPA has ever forced onto the States. Relying on five words in a rarely-used provision of the CAA—“best system of emission reduction”—EPA  claims the authority  to require  States  to achieve massive  carbon  dioxide  emission reductions that EPA has calculated based on “shifting” electric  generation away from fossil fuel-fired power plants to other sources of energy—such as wind and solar—that  EPA  prefers.”

The states claim that, “If this Court does not enter a stay, the Plan will continue to unlawfully impose massive and irreparable harms upon the sovereign states, as well as irreversible changes in the energy markets.  In the proceedings before the DC Circuit, the 27 states that sought to stay the Plan and the 18 States that defended it submitted declarations explaining that states are already expending significant time and resources to implement the Power Plan. These federally mandated efforts are forcing states to expend money and resources, displacing the states’ ability to achieve their own sovereign priorities, and requiring some states to change their laws to enable or accommodate a shift from fossil fuel-fired generation to other sources of energy.  And parties on all sides agree that the Plan is currently forcing businesses to shutter plants and make other decisions with long-term and fundamental impacts on energy markets, further compounding the injury to states as market regulators and energy consumers.  Only a stay from this Court now can ensure that EPA will not, in another year or two, once more boast that it has rendered this Court’s review practically meaningless.  Absent a stay, the Power Plan will throughout the lifespan of this litigation—force massive, irreversible changes in terms of state policies and resources, power plant shutdowns, and investments in wind and solar power.”

The new CO2 rules combined with low natural gas prices and already ongoing federal litigation have already led Alabama Power to shut down a number of coal fired power plants in Alabama.  President Obama’s ongoing ‘War on Coal’ has led to the loss of thousands of good paying coal mining jobs as well as transportation sector jobs which were tied to moving coal across the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Luther Strange has said that he wakes up every day thinking of new ways to fight the Obama Administration.

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.

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It

Tuberville calls for term limits, balanced budget and lobbying reform

Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville (TUBERVILLE CAMPAIGN)

Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville’s campaign began emphasizing key structural reforms that the Republican nominee hopes to advance if elected to the U.S. Senate including congressional term limits, withholding lawmakers’ paychecks unless a balanced budget is passed and a ban on former officials becoming lobbyists.

“Only an outsider like me can help President Trump drain the Swamp, and any of the proposals outlined in this ad will begin the process of pulling the plug,” Tuberville said in a statement. “Doug Jones has had his chance, and he failed our state, so now it’s time to elect a senator who will work to fundamentally change the way that Washington operates.”

Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.

“You know Washington politicians could learn a lot from the folks in small town Alabama, but Doug Jones … he’s too liberal to teach them,” Tuberville added.

Polls consistently show that term limits are popular with people across both political parties, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that imposing term limits would be adding a qualification to be a member of Congress and that can only be done by constitutional amendment.

It is an unspoken truth that when Americans send someone to Congress they never come back. They either keep getting re-elected like Alabama’s own Sen. Richard Shelby, who is in his sixth term in the Senate after four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. On the other hand, they may become lobbyists getting paid to influence their colleagues on behalf of corporations, foreign governments or some well funded non-government organization.

Tuberville said he would ban that practice.

Public Service Announcement

A balanced budget amendment almost passed in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.

Since that failure, Congress has increasingly passed bigger and bigger budget deficits. The U.S. government borrowed more money during the eight years of President George W. Bush’s presidency than the government had borrowed in the first 224 years of the country combined.

President Barack Obama followed and the TARP program propped up the post-Great Recession economy. Rather than cutting the deficit, President Donald Trump invested billions in the military and a tax cut without cutting domestic spending. The 2020 coronavirus crisis has further grown the budget.

ADVERTISEMENT

The government has borrowed trillions to prop up the economy and provide stimulus while investing billions into medical research and treating the virus victims. Congress is currently debating a fifth stimulus package that would add more to the deficit.

Both a balanced budget amendment and a term limits amendment would have to be ratified by the states if passed by Congress. Tuberville is challenging incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Public Service Announcement

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

ADVERTISEMENT

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.

 

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison

Published

on

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Public Service Announcement

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

ADVERTISEMENT

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

Published

on

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Public Service Announcement
Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

ADVERTISEMENT

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement