Connect with us

National

Rogers addresses Montgomery Chamber of Commerce

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Congressman Mike Rogers, who represents Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District, spoke to the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday at their monthly ‘Eggs and Issues’ event.

“Congratulation on the F35 that is a big deal,” Rogers said of the Air Force’s newest fighter jet that will be replacing the F16s at Montgomery’s Donnelly Field. “We need to get the T-100 for Macon County. I am real optimistic that we can get that done. We will know in a month or so.”

Italian based Leonardo DRS has entered their T-100 into the Air Force’s T-X competition. The T-100 is the only T-X team to announce an entirely new manufacturing facility, to be built at the iconic Moton Field where the Tuskegee Airmen trained in Alabama. The Air Force is looking for an advanced jet trainer aircraft to replace its existing fleet of aging jet trainers.

Rep. Rogers said that when this Congress came into office they wanted to start getting rid of some of the regulations passed by the Obama Administration, so they started using the congressional review act which allows Congress to vote to overturn any administrative regulation passed in the last six months.

“We used it to get rid of 16 regulations that we thought the last President used erroneously,” Rep. Rogers said. “The new President also began working to roll back regulations.” As regulations were rolled back, the economy began coming back.

Rep. Rogers said that the House passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, and it would have also passed the Senate but Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, voted “No.”

Rogers said that healthcare affects everyone in the country so a major change like that “It ought to be hard,” but promised, “If we keep the House in the fall and pick up 2 or 3 seats in the Senate it (the repeal of Obamacare) will come back.”

Public Service Announcement

Rogers praised the appointment and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. “We have a center right country, we should have a center right Supreme Court.”

“I did not think we could get the tax cuts package done,” Rogers said. “There is a reason that it has been 36 years.” When the bill passed, Republicans were trailing Democrats 17 points on a generic congressional ballot in polls, “All because of the negative press. A month later that was cut in half. People started getting bonuses and pay increases.” Two million workers got bonuses. “Companies like Wal-Mart raised their minimum wage. That is how it should be done.” Local companies like Protective Life and Regions Bank did the same. Russell Lands in Alexander City gave a $500 bonus. “The average worker in my district got $935 in tax relief. That is real money. More important is what it is doing to grow the economy. “Alabama Power is not paying as much in taxes so have come off on their rates. The average homeowner is getting $10 a month back.”

Rep. Rogers said that most businesses have reinvested their tax savings in their business. That is a new plant, a new location, or for a small business that could be a new truck. The regulations roll back and the tax cuts have led to a rising stock market. “$5 trillion in new wealth has been created in this economy. We had a press conference and the fake news would not cover it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“We passed the Farm Bill out of the House and the Senate,” Rogers said. “It is in conference committee now.” A lot of people don’t understand how important the farm bill is. It sets the rules of the game for agriculture for the next five years. 80 percent is food stamps 20 percent is the farm bill. We have to combine it with the food stamps to get it passed. We expect in six months that we will get it done before we leave in September.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy retired, and the President nominated Brett Kavanaugh. Rogers said, “We fully expect that nominee to get confirmed before the election.”

The House is out for its August recess; but the Senate is still in, Rogers said. A 1,000 people have not gotten confirmed. 93 judicial nominees are waiting to be confirmed. “Mitch McConnel said that this Congress will be remembered as the Congress that reshaped the federal judiciary.”

Congress authorized a major increase in defense spending. Rogers said that the military has been underfunded and that we have become dangerously vulnerable as a result. Since World War II, our policy has been that we could fight two serious wars at the same time and protect the homeland. That had dropped to the point that we could only fight one serious war and protect the homeland, and recently it had gotten so bad that even that has been in doubt.

“We have got equipment that you just can’t repair anymore,” Rogers said. “You have got to replace it. We passed the largest military pay increase in years and we increased the size of the force. It is going to take several years to build it back up. “We had to do an enormous amount of vote buying to get the defense bill passed.” I told some of my fiscal conservative friends, “It does not matter what the deficit is if you are dead.”

“The temperature has gone down some,” under President Trump Rogers said. “This president gave lethal aid to Ukraine where the last president wouldn’t.” Syria used chemical weapons and cruise missiles shot that down. “The world saw that this President was not all talk but is capable of action. Kim Young Un saw that and it had an effect.”

Rogers said that Congress has passed the NDAA (the National Defense Authorization Act).

“The NDAA is the rules of the game,” Rogers said. “When it comes to make sure that our men and women have what they need at least at some level. This was a more bipartisan bill. We got it done in July that is the earliest it has been done in 40 years. Because it is named after John McCain that was done on a bipartisan

“A research company has been hired to study how to implement a space force so that we could do that in next year’s NDAA,” Rogers said. “People don’t realize how dependent we have become on space.” Smartphones, television, communications, GPS, UAVs, are all dependent on satellites. “That is our eyes and ears up there.”

“China and Russia have realized how dependent that we have become on satellites,” Rogers said. “They have got offensive capability and that is all that I can say in this room. We need our own offensive capability so that if they mess with our satellite s they know we will takes their out.”

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

National

Governor declares state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Zeta

Zeta is currently a tropical storm over the Gulf of Mexico, but it is predicted to make landfall as a category one hurricane.

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

A satellite image of Tropical Storm Zeta. (VIA NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday issued a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Zeta approaches the Gulf Coast.

“Ahead of Tropical Storm Zeta’s anticipated landfall Wednesday evening as a Category 1 hurricane, I am issuing a state of emergency effective today at 4:00 p.m.,” Ivey said. “While this storm is not expected to have an impact as large as storms we’ve seen move through the Gulf earlier this year, we want to be in the best place possible to respond to anticipated rain, storm surge and mass power outage. I encourage everyone to remain weather aware and tuned in to their trusted news source as this storm could shift direction or change intensity. We continue to track the path of this storm and will stay in touch with the people of Alabama with any updates.”

Zeta is currently a tropical storm over the Gulf of Mexico, but it is predicted to make landfall as a category one hurricane. The National Hurricane Center is predicting Zeta to make landfall in Mississippi on Wednesday and then proceed toward Alabama, but these storms can and do move.

A more easterly track could prove devastating to the Alabama Gulf Coast as was the case with Hurricane Sally, which shifted course in September, hitting Alabama, though Zeta is expected to be weaker than Sally at landfall.

The storm surge from the Mississippi-Alabama border to Dauphin Island is forecast to be 5 to 8 feet. Mobile Bay to the Alabama-Florida border is expected to have 3 to 5 feet of storm surge and from the border to Navarre, Florida, could experience 2 to 4 feet of storm surge.

Hurricane force winds are a possibility with this storm. Tropical force winds are expected to be an issue for Southern Mississippi and Alabama well inland. There is expected to be heavy rainfall across the state Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

The Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency announced that sandbags are available inside the county commission office at Robertsdale Central Annex (22251 Palmer Street) until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday or while they last.

Public Service Announcement

Bring any help and shovels you will need. There is a limit of just 25 bags per person. Alabama’s coastal counties are currently under a Tropical Storm Warning, a Storm Surge Warning for Mobile County and a High Rip Current and High Surf Warning.

Congressman Bradley Byrne said, “I just finished up briefings from Alabama EMA, FEMA, and the National Hurricane Center regarding #Zeta. We should not take this storm lightly and should start making preparations right away. After sundown Wednesday, I’d encourage everyone in Southwest Alabama to stay home and off the roads until sunrise Thursday. This storm will have impacts as far north as Montgomery, so those in Washington, Clarke, and Monroe counties will see tropical storm force winds and heavy rain. I’d encourage everyone to charge their phones and other necessary electronics. If you have an emergency during the storm, call 911 and do not try to drive.”

Coastal Alabama is still in the process of recovering from Hurricane Sally which hit the state on Sept. 15.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Elections

FarmPAC endorses congressional candidate Barry Moore

“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said.

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Congressional candidate Barry Moore (VIA MOORE CAMPAIGN)

Republican congressional candidate Barry Moore thanked the Alabama Farmers Federation political action committee, FarmPAC, for endorsing Moore in next week’s 2nd Congressional District general election race.

“I’ve always been proud of the fact that I grew up on a farm,” Moore said. “Farm life teaches you to respect God’s good earth and everything in it. It taught me the value of hard work, and that not everything, like the weather, will always go the way you want it to no matter what you do or how hard you work. That’s something I think a lot of people these days could do with learning.”

“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said. “I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of our farmers and all the businesses that support and rely on them, just like I’ve always been. District 2 is an agricultural district first and foremost, and we can’t forget that.”

“I look forward to working in the next Congress to support Alabama’s farmers and agribusiness by making it easier for them to access new markets and new technologies,” Moore added. “We also need to make sure they aren’t weighed down by excessive regulations and have the backing they need from Washington to compete globally. I have every confidence that, given a chance, Alabama’s farmers can compete with anyone, anywhere. My job in Congress will be to make sure they have that chance.”

A full list of FarmPAC’s endorsements is available here. FarmPAC previously endorsed Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary, but he was bested by Moore in a Republican primary runoff.

Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall for the open seat.

Moore is a veteran, small businessman, husband, and father of four from Enterprise. Moore and his wife, Heather, own a waste management business in Enterprise. Moore was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

Public Service Announcement

Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is retiring from Congress after five terms.

Continue Reading

National

Jones votes against Amy Coney Barrett confirmation

Since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in September, Jones said he would not vote for a nominee, no matter who it was, until after the Nov. 3 general election.

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Sen. Doug Jones speaks on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones voted with his party and one GOP Senator against the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to the United States Supreme Court.

“This process has been perhaps one of the most blatantly hypocritical in the history of the Senate and has further eroded trust in the independence of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the American people,” Jones said. “By forcing this vote only eight days before an election, Mitch McConnell has prioritized temporary political gain over the long term integrity of both institutions. I also believe his decision to force through this confirmation instead of negotiating a bipartisan COVID relief package is an insult to the millions of Americans who are suffering as a result of this pandemic.”

Since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in September, Jones said he would not vote for a nominee, no matter who it was, until after the Nov. 3 general election.

“I voted no today because I refuse to be a party to Mitch McConnell’s power grab, to the hyper-politicization of the Senate and the courts, and to denying the American people a voice in this process while voting for the next President is already underway,” Jones added. “Now that Justice Barrett has been confirmed, it is my sincere hope that she will rule in a way that protects our institutions, our democracy, and the rule of law.”

In 2016, Republicans in the United States Senate blocked the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by President Barack Obama, saying his nomination was too close to the 2016 election.

But Jones’s “no” vote on Barrett was quickly denounced by Republicans, including his general election opponent Tommy Tuberville. Republicans attacked Jones for his vote against Barrett’s confirmation.

“Senator Doug Jones continued to thumb his nose at our state’s majority with his ‘no’ vote,” said Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan. “He has once again put the interests of his left wing groups first while ignoring those he is supposed to represent.”

Public Service Announcement

Lathan said Alabama voters will snub Jones for his vote next week.

“Alabama will relieve him of his duties on November 3rd when Tommy Tuberville is elected as Alabama’s new U. S. Senator. Doug Jones will be a paragraph in a history book as future political pundits study how to be a failure in the arena of public service — ignoring the majority ends your tenure,” Lathan said.

Tuberville was sharply critical of his general election opponent.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Instead of standing up for our conservative Alabama values and voting to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Doug Jones voted against her nomination and represented the liberal beliefs of his high-dollar campaign donors in California and New York,” Tuberville claimed.

“But Doug can’t help himself because he’s a liberal to his core — just like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, and AOC,” Tuberville continued. “Ever since becoming our temporary senator, Doug Jones has opposed everything Alabamians support and supported everything Alabamians oppose.”

“Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones voted no today on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Deputy Press Secretary Paige Lindgren. “In September, before the President’s nominee was even announced, Jones stated he would not meet with or vote in favor of any nomination to the court. Jones previously voted against Trump-nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh.”

“Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones has long since given up on representing Alabama, and his vote against Amy Coney Barrett is no different,” Lindgren said. “Alabamians overwhelmingly support Justice Barrett’s place on the Supreme Court and yet their junior Senator has obstructed President Trump at every turn. Jones has once again shown that his loyalty lies with Washington Democrats and not Alabama families.”

“The latest poll has Jones down by 14 points against Trump-endorsed Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville,” Lindgren added.

Barrett won confirmation on a 52 to 48 vote. She was given the oath of office at a ceremony at the White House by Justice Clarence Thomas. The election is next week.

Continue Reading

Health

CDC confirmed expanded “close contact” definition to Alabama officials in August

It is unclear why the CDC waited until late October to update or clarify its public-facing guidance on its website.

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

New federal guidance on how a person is determined to have been in close contact with someone infected by COVID-19 won’t impact how Alabama works to mitigate the disease, said the state’s top health official. That’s because the state was already aware of the expanded definition in August before the change was made public last week.

It is unclear why the CDC waited until late October to update or clarify its public-facing guidance on its website when it was giving more precise definitions to at least one state health department and receiving questions from public health officials about the definition.

The delay in announcing the change is raising questions about how state health officials nationwide have been determining the public’s possible exposure to the deadly disease and if contact tracing and mitigation efforts will be made more time- and resource-intensive with the more inclusive definition in place.

The CDC on Wednesday expanded the definition of “close contact” to mean a person can be at risk of contracting COVID-19 if that person is within six feet of an infected person for a period of at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.

The previous definition stated a person should quarantine if they were within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. Alternately, in other areas of the CDC’s website, the language stated “a total of 15 minutes” in the definition of close contact.

“What they changed their definition to is something they had verbally confirmed to us months ago, and we have always been using that definition,” said Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, speaking to APR on Friday.

Harris said a support team from the CDC was in Alabama in July as the Alabama Department of Public Health was preparing plans to reopen schools. Harris said the question was asked of CDC staff because his department was getting questions on the definition of close contact from school officials.

Public Service Announcement

APDH staff took the definition then of “a total of 15 minutes” to mean that there could be several exposures over a period of time equaling that 15 minute threshold, so they asked CDC to clarify that assertion.

“When those folks were here we asked the CDC people directly. Can you confirm for us what that means, and they said, it adds up to a total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period,” Harris said. “And we even got somebody to commit to that in an email somewhere.”

Melissa Morrison, CDC’s career epidemiology field officer working at the ADPH in Montgomery, in an Aug. 13 email to ADPH’s director of the office of governmental affairs, quotes a statement Morrison attributes to her CDC colleague, CDC public health advisor Kelly Bishop. Harris shared the email with APR.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Yes, I did get a response from the contact tracing team. The 15 minutes for a close contact is cumulative, and they said ‘The time period for the cumulative exposure should start from 2 days before the cases’ illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection date) until the time the patient is isolated,” Morrison quotes Bishop in the email.

In the August email, Bishop goes on to say, as attributed by Morrison, that “as of now there is no established upper limit on the time period (i.e. 48, 72 hours etc).”

The CDC’s expanded definition was reflected in an Aug. 20 statement from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“The 15-minute time is a cumulative period of time. For example, a close contact might be within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive person for 5 minutes each at 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. This is a standard based on guidance from the CDC,” the statement reads.

In an email to APR on Friday, Harris said he’d discussed the matter with Morrison on Friday who “emphasized that the guidance this week from CDC was NOT a change but rather a clarification. They simply used the MMWR corrections story as a convenient time to make the point.”

Harris was referring to a CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Wednesday that detailed findings by Vermont health officials showing that a prison worker contracted COVID-19 during an eight-hour shift in which the worker had 22 close contacts with an infected inmate totaling 17 minutes.

The CDC in statements to numerous news outlets, and to APR, cite that Vermont study in connection to Wednesday’s definition change.

“That’s kind of why they said it out loud,” Harris said of the study and the Wednesday announcement. “But I have to say, when I saw that updated guidance I thought, ‘I can’t believe anybody ever thought otherwise.’”

Different pages on the CDC’s website on Saturday defined close contact as both being “a total of 15 minutes or more” and “a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period,” confusing the matter further, and numerous other state health departments had not yet updated their websites Saturday to reflect the CDC’s expanded definition.

A CDC spokesman in an email to APR on Wednesday noted the Vermont study on the prison worker and said “CDC clarified the amount of time it would take for someone to be considered a close contact exposed to a person with COVID-19.”

“The CDC website now defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Previous language defined a close contact as someone who spent at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of a confirmed case,” CDC spokesman Scott Pauley told APR by email Wednesday.

Pauley didn’t respond to APR’s question on Friday asking why the CDC waited until Wednesday to update its guidance online, given that ADPH had confirmed the definition of close contact in August. He also didn’t respond to a request to verify the statement Morrison attributed to her CDC colleague in the August email.

“To us, we thought if it says a total, that means you must be adding up smaller amounts to get to 15 minutes, or you wouldn’t use the word total,” Harris said. “When they changed it this week, I don’t know the details of why that happened, but I think, obviously, everybody didn’t have the same message everywhere.”

Dr. Bertha Hidalgo, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at UAB’s Department of Epidemiology, told APR on Friday that her understanding prior to Wednesday’s expanded definition was that a contact was defined as someone who was exposed to the COVID-19 positive individual for at least 15 min or more at a time and explained that the updated guidance complicates how public health officials will engage in contact tracing.

“This means significant efforts for contact tracing moving forward, in effect needing to identify every person that person came into contact with during the possible exposure timeframe,” she said.

It was unclear Monday how the definition change impacts Alabama’s Guidesafe COVID-19 exposure notification app, which notifies a user if they come into close contact with an infected person. The app was developed by ADPH and University of Alabama at Birmingham, thanks to a partnership between Apple and Google’s combined development of the technology, and alerts users to possible exposure while keeping all users’ identities anonymous.

Sue Feldman, professor of health informatics, UAB School of Health Professions, in a message to APR on Friday said that due to the anonymity of the app, it would be difficult, but not impossible, to update the app to take into consideration the CDC’s expanded guidance.

“We are taking this into consideration for our next update,” Feldman said in the message.

Also unclear is how many other states that have similar exposure notification apps, also using Google and Apple’s technology, aren’t yet using the expanded definition of a “close contact.” Colorado is to roll out that state’s app on Sunday, and according to Colorado Public Radio News the app will notify a user that they’ve been exposed if they come “within six feet of the phone of someone who tested positive for at least ten minutes.”

New York’s exposure notification app also appears to use the old CDC guidance, and will alert users if they come “within 6 feet of your phone for longer than 10 minutes,” according to the state’s website.

The updated definition, which health departments refer to when conducting contact tracing, is likely to have a serious impact on schools, workplaces and other group settings where personal contact may stretch over longer periods of time including multiple interactions.

It greatly expands the pool of people considered at risk of transmission. “It’s easy to accumulate 15 minutes in small increments when you spend all day together — a few minutes at the water cooler, a few minutes in the elevator, and so on,” Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers told The Washington Post. “I expect this will result in many more people being identified as close contacts.”

The clarification comes as cases and hospitalizations are rising both in Alabama and nationwide. Alabama’s 14-day average of cases has increased 41.2 percent over the past two weeks. The percentage of tests that are positive has increased from roughly 13 percent to more than 20 percent over the past 14 days. The U.S. average of new daily infections is now at its highest point of the pandemic, with 481,372 cases reported in a week, according to CNN and Johns Hopkins University.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement