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Shelby says that passage of funding deal is outstanding news

Brandon Moseley

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The Senate voted Thursday to advances an appropriations package with funding to secure the border and fund the government to try to avoid another government shutdown.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, voted to approve a comprehensive funding package that includes the seven remaining Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bills.

“Passage of this funding legislation is outstanding news for the people of our state and nation,” Shelby said. “I am pleased that we were able to negotiate in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to meet each other half way, finishing out the year’s appropriations process to better secure America. The bill contains critical funding for border security and many essential priorities throughout the country.”

“The legislation will impact the entire state of Alabama by funding important projects that will influence our state’s agriculture, transportation, law enforcement and civil space industries,” Shelby said. “I look forward to seeing Alabama benefit from the resources included in this comprehensive package and plan to continue working to promote the best interests of the state.”

The appropriations package, H.J. Res. 31, was approved by a vote of 83 to 16.

The bill includes FY2019 funding bills for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and related agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Interior, Environment and related agencies; State, Foreign Operations and related programs; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies. Each of these appropriations bills were passed by a strong majority of committee members when reported out of the Appropriations Committee earlier this year.

Following passage in the Senate and the House, the bill will be sent to the president’s desk for his signature.

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The legislation contains a number of provisions impacting Alabama.

The funding bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and related agencies includes language and funding for the relocation and construction of a new ARS Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn as part of the agency’s capital improvement strategy. The bill includes $1 million for catfish research, $1 million to explore salmonella exposure in livestock, $1 million for poultry research and $3 million for pollinator research. Auburn University will also partner with ARS for training and workforce development of scientists for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility. It also includes language specifying that Rural Water and Waste Disposal program account that projects utilizing iron and steel shall use iron and steel products produced in the United States.

The bill maintains funding at $150 million for new watershed projects. Includes language to exempt watershed projects that impact areas greater than 250,000 acres to allow WFPO funds to be used to expand irrigation agriculture in Alabama.
The bill will provide $2 million for APHIS to partner with state departments of agriculture to combat the spread of cogon grass, an invasive noxious weed that is taking over Alabama forests and pastures and is inedible by most wildlife once mature, while increasing the burn risk. Alabama is one of two states impacted.

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The bill retains language directing the Department to develop a rural development wastewater pilot program to coordinate with a regional university in the Southeast to solve untreated raw sewage issues with innovative technologies and strategic management and regulatory models.

The Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies bill includes bill language to allow NOAA and Gulf states to participate in and receive funding for cooperative enforcement agreements in state waters. It also provides $5 million within NOAA for VORTEX-SE in collaboration with NSF to continue work on tornado formation studies in the southeast.

The bill includes report language and $2 million for university based research regarding the Industrial Internet of Things. It also provides $2.6 million for NOAA to implement the Seafood Import Monitoring Program and includes funding and report language for the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Initiative. The bill provides $23.5 million to support increased staffing efforts at the National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and continues to provide funding for remote water sensing research that is currently ongoing at the University of Alabama.

The bill provides increases to Byrne JAG, COPS Hiring and COAP will assist state and local law enforcement and public health officials in Alabama combat violent crime and the opioid crisis. It also provides $385 million for FBI Construction, which supports the ongoing and growing efforts in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as Senate report language supporting TEDAC and HDS efforts stands and new statement language highlighting TEDAC’s accreditation.

The bill contains report language directing USTR to establish an exclusion process for tariffs imposed on goods subject to Section 301 tariffs in Round 3 provides $35 million for additive manufacturing for Marshall Space Flight Center; $2.15 billion for the Space Launch System, with $150 million of those funds applied towards the Exploration Upper Stage engine. This funding will ensure the earliest possible crewed launch of SLS, as well as prepare for a regular cadence of heavy lift science and human exploration missions. The bill also includes $100 million for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion, of which $70 million is for a flight demonstration mission by 2024.

The funding bill for Financial Services and General Government includes: language to temporarily extend the Northern District of Alabama judgeship; and language to prohibit completion of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recreational off-highway vehicles rule making in FY2019 until further study.

The Homeland Security funding bill was the major sticking point that led to the partial government shut down for 35 days. President Donald Trump’s insisted that the Congress provide him with $5.7 billion to build a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Congressional Democrats refused.

The Homeland Security bill does provide $20 million for capital improvements and infrastructure modernization for the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, as well as $66 million for training and education. It includes $25 million, $21 million above the budget request, for the Secret Service’s National Computer Forensics Institute in Hoover to expand training for State and local law enforcement and legal and judicial professionals in computer forensics and cyber investigations. It also includes $7 million for the Explosive Detection Canine Program to continue scientifically validated canine mobile sensing technology for explosives detection, which will be developed in collaboration with Auburn University and provides $120 million, $95 million above the budget request, to restore the aging Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk Helicopter.

The Interior, Environment and related agencies bill includes NPS Land Acquisition funding for the Little River Canyon project; USFS Land Acquisition funding for the Alabama Wild Wonders project; continuing funding for the Muscle Shoals NPS Heritage Partnership Program; increased funding for USGS Cooperative Research Units; $15 million for the EPA Technical Assistance Grant Program; $115 million for the OSM Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Program with $10 million for the State of Alabama; $228 million for the EPA State and Local Air Quality Management Grants in addition to report language directing the EPA to distribute the grants in the same manner as 2015 and continues a general provision to ensure that the EPA requires the use of American iron and steel in State Revolving Fund projects.

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies provides funding for BUILD, FAA Grants-in-aid for Airports, FAA contract towers, FAA advanced materials/structural safety, Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program and CDBG. It also includes report language regarding autonomous vehicles and advanced materials and structural safety in aviation; as well as $6 million for low- and no-emission bus testing research that will take place at Auburn University; $20 million for MARAD’s Small Shipyard Grant program; and increases infrastructure investments within the bill will provide Alabama an additional $52.6 million for roads, bridges and tunnels above the FAST Act authorized levels.

The State, Foreign Operations and related programs supports international programs and operations that strengthen national security and advance American interests abroad.

Shelby is the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was one of the four congressional negotiators who developed the bipartisan compromise legislation on Tuesday night.

Trump is expected to sign the bill averting a second government shutdown.

The president also is expected to declare a state of emergency and unilaterally decide to build the border wall. While Trump does not have the votes in either House to pass border wall funding; it is doubtful that Democrats have the votes in the Republican Senate to overturn his emergency declaration either.

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Elections

Opponents accuse Tuberville of supporting amnesty for undocumented immigrants

Brandon Moseley

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The Senate campaign is heating up as the top three candidates are all going negative. Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville has attacked Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) and former Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions of being career politicians. Both Byrne and Tuberville has attacked Sessions for not having adequately served President Donald J. Trump (R) while Attorney General. Byrne has even attacked Tuberville’s coaching abilities. The latest attacks on Tuberville accuse him of supporting amnesty for illegal aliens. Sessions even accused Tuberville of being a “tourist.”

Wednesday, Sessions announced a new television ad called “Tuberville for Amnesty.”

Byrne and Tuberville point to an August speech by Coach Tuberville when he said: “There are people coming across the border that need jobs… and we want them to come over here… Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.”

The Tuberville campaign called the attack “fake news” on Twitter.

Sessions’ campaign manager Jon Jones said, “Tuberville is claiming that his own words are ‘fake news.’ All of them? Tommy Tuberville needs to read the transcript. It is clear that Tuberville supports immigration amnesty, and he is attempting to trick Alabama voters to believe otherwise. In contrast, Jeff Sessions has done more than just say he wants to fix the border – he has already worked alongside President Trump to stop illegal immigration.”

The new Sessions ad reads: “Tuberville is trying to trick you, hiding his support for immigration amnesty.” Then plays an audio clip of the Tuberville comment from August

Tuesday, Byrne told reporters in Trussville: “I can tell you right now this issue about Tommy Tuberville’s position on amnesty is a key issue. And so we’re going to keep telling people about his position on that and let him explain why he doesn’t think that’s amnesty.”

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“Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens,” Tuberville is quoted in the ad.

Tuberville has denied supporting amnesty and says that he supports President Trump’s immigration agenda.

The Sessions ad further charges: “And Tuberville’s not even from Alabama, he’s a tourist here. He lives, pays taxes and even votes in Florida.”

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On Tuesday, the Tuberville campaign responded with an attack ad of their own.

“The career politicians are desperate to hang on to their paychecks and power, so they have started airing negative ads full of false attacks and baseless distortions,” Tuberville said. “Our new commercial allows us to respond with some hard truths about which candidate wants to drain the D.C. swamp and is tough enough to actually help President Trump get the job done.”

The Tuberville ad has Byrne with former Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sessions with Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) who led the impeachment effort against President Trump. The ad even connects Sessions and Byrne with Sen. Mitt Romney (the only Republican in either House of Congress who found that the President did anything wrong.)

State Representative Arnold Mooney, former Chief Justice Roy Moore, Ruth Page Nelson, and businessman Stanley Adair are also running for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones (D).

The Republican primary is March 3.

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Elections

Hasdorff calls for “out-of-touch” Mike Bloomberg to visit an Alabama Farm

Brandon Moseley

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Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Terri Hasdorff challenged billionaire Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg to come visit an Alabama farm.

Hasdorff’s comments followed the re-release of Bloomberg statements dismissing farmers as lacking the “grey matter” to do other jobs.

In a 2016 speech at Oxford University in England, the former New York City Mayor said that he “could teach anybody, even the people in this room” to be a farmer. “You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”

“I am appalled at how out-of-touch Mr. Bloomberg is about how much work goes into successful farming,” Hasdorff said. “I’m personally inviting him to Alabama’s Second District where I would be happy to take him to one of our nearly 10,000 farms and give him a tour maybe we can even get him to roll up his sleeves and put in a little bit of real work!”

Alabama has a long, storied history as an agricultural states Even now, agriculture and forestry remains the largest industry in the state of Alabama.

“Alabama’s farmers are the backbone of our state,” Hasdorff continued. “The fact that someone like Michael Bloomberg feels he is entitled to belittle their hard work is appalling – but this is what the far left really thinks of real America. This is what out of touch Democrats and coastal elites believe. Mr. Bloomberg was just the one caught on tape.”

Hasdorff is part of a crowded Republican primary field on March 3. The Alabama Democratic presidential primary is also on March 3.

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“This is why I’m running for Congress,” Hasdorff added. “We need leaders who understand the needs and struggles of hard-working Americans – farmers, manufacturers, people who keep our country fed and moving. We need real leaders who will fight for our people, not leaders who would have government replace true hard work and the American spirit.”

Hasdorff worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison in the George H.W. Bush (R) Administration. There she worked with faith leaders across the country. She worked on Capitol Hill for six years where her most meaningful assignments focused on keeping the government and Washington, D.C. elites from discriminating against churches and faith-based organizations. Hasdorff worked on the Ten Commandments Defense Act, defending the right of states to display the Ten Commandments in courthouses and public places. She served as a senior advisor on the Charitable Choice language, which put the Faith-Based initiative into law and still protects faith based organizations from discrimination when accessing federal funding. Hasdorff has worked on pro-life, pro-family legislation. Terri also worked in the George W. Bush Administration as America’s faith-based representative to the world. Hasdorff graduated from Samford University.

Second Congressional District incumbent Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is not running for another term.

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Josh Moon

How Alabama’s government stays broken

Josh Moon

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — or even any kind of scientist — to figure out that Alabama’s state government is broken. 

I mean, really, just look around. At the poverty, the poor education, the racism, the arrested public officials, the in-your-face public corruption and the complete disregard for the welfare of the majority of the people in the state. 

But, while the overall awfulness of Alabama’s governance might be easy to diagnose, the underlying causes — the daily examples that explain just how it stays so broken — are far harder to put your finger on. Because they are mostly wrapped up in mundane occurrences that take place within the walls of the State House or the capitol or the Supreme Court chambers or some other government building. 

Things like SB117/HB140. 

Those are the official names for a bill in both the senate and house that will “clarify existing law relating to disposal of solid waste.” 

Sounds innocent enough, right? Just gonna get this minor landfill situation straightened out. No biggie. 

Ah, but see, SB117/HB140 is the prime example of Alabama’s broken government. 

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It is the prime example of how your lawmakers aren’t working for you. It is the perfect encapsulation of everything that is wrong in this state.

Basically this landfill bill would make it OK to cover existing landfills with artificial covers, instead of the six inches of earth that is currently required. 

Now, this still doesn’t sound like a big deal. And it won’t be one if you don’t mind third-world diseases, the smell of rotting meat, frequent fires, coyotes and feral dogs roaming your streets and rats. Lots and lots of rats. 

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Applying six inches of earth each day to cover the garbage dumped at landfills prevents those things, the EPA figured out long ago. And it set those parameters in the rules it recommends to states. Alabama agreed, and the state adopted that rule, along with others, into law several years ago. 

Regular landfills have to cover with six inches of earth every day. Construction landfills have to do so once per week. 

This is a simple law. 

But if you operate a landfill, it’s an expensive one. And a time consuming one. 

Ah, but luckily, those laws are environmental laws. And in Alabama, we figured out long ago that environmental laws can be cumbersome and expensive, so we set up a bit of a … let’s just call it a workaround. 

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management. 

You’ll find we do this a lot — set up an entity that lies somewhere between the laws and the enforcement of the laws whose only job it seems is to give free passes to the bigwigs and corporations who violate those specific laws. 

We do it with the Ethics Commission. With the Public Service Commission. And with ADEM. 

It’s genius, really. The laws are still on the books and no one has to overtly roll back protections that would lead to rotting garbage attracting disease carrying rodents by the thousands. 

Instead, just get ADEM to quietly stop enforcing the law. 

Which is exactly what ADEM has done in this case. It was allowing landfills all over the state to cover garbage with tarps and various other materials. The tarps and other covers inevitably got holes in them, and a Noah’s Ark-level of animals descended upon the landfills to dine and spread the garbage all over adjoining neighborhoods. 

The neighbors, tired of the smell and the disease and the roaming animals, sued, citing in their legal filing horror stories of living near these maggot farms that smelled like death. 

They sued ADEM for failing to do its job, and for essentially rewriting the law to allow businesses to do whatever they wanted to do. 

And lo and behold, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agreed with them. In a lengthy, detailed decision entered last October, the five-judge panel noted that ADEM didn’t have the authority to rewrite the law. 

The case is now before the Alabama Supreme Court, but everyone knows that the Appeals Court judges are correct. 

But why bother with trying to win over judges when you can instead just change the laws through the crooks in the Alabama Legislature? 

And so, here we are, with a handful of lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature willing to attach their names to legislation that will allow businesses to ignore the standards imposed by the EPA, ignore the standards that are commonplace in most other states and change Alabama law to benefit a handful of landfill owners at the expense of thousands of Alabama citizens. 

And this, kids, is how Alabama’s government stays broken.

 

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Courts

U.S. Attorney Jay Town to serve as working group co-chair on presidential commission

Staff

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via WHNT

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town will serve as a Co-Chair of the Criminal Justice System Personnel Intersection Working Group on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.  The working group will examine how police, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and correctional authorities intersect so that the system of criminal justice can enhance its ability to prevent and control crime and serve the victims of crime.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as working group Co-Chair on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice,” Town said.  “The Criminal Justice System Personnel Intersection Working Group will address a multitude of issues seeking to broaden the relationships between every layer of law enforcement, improve relations between the community and the justice system, and find innovative ways to reduce crime as a result.  I look forward to joining my colleagues in this incredibly important and collective effort to help this Administration identify effective and systemic criminal justice reforms that will reduce and prevent crime in America.”

On October 28, 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Order No. 13896, authorizing and designating the Attorney General to create such a Commission that would explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime.  Attorney General William P. Barr announced the establishment of the Commission on January 22, 2020.

The Executive Order instructs the Commission to conduct its study by focusing on the law enforcement officers who are tasked with reducing crime on a daily basis. It also directs the Commission to research “important current issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” and recommends a variety of subjects for study, such as, but not limited to:

  • The challenges to law enforcement associated with mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, and other social factors that influence crime and strain criminal justice resources;
  • The recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of law enforcement officers, including in rural and tribal communities;
  • Refusals by State and local prosecutors to enforce laws or prosecute categories of crimes;
  • The need to promote public confidence and respect for the law and law enforcement officers; and
  • The effects of technological innovations on law enforcement and the criminal justice system, including the challenges and opportunities presented by such innovations.

In studying these issues, the Commission will be assisted by “working groups.”  These working groups will consist of subject matter experts across the federal and state government and have a particularized focus on distinct issues the Commission will review (e.g. “Technology”).  They will assist and facilitate the Commission’s study of these issues, and provide advice and counsel on their specific subject.  The working groups, which will include our federal partners from the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and other federal agencies, will provide much needed expertise and insight on the important issues affecting law enforcement.  This Commission requires a team effort.  Such a rich variety of federal and state government participation is essential to the work at hand.  Once the Commission completes its study, it will recommend the best measures to empower American law enforcement to combat the criminal threats of our time, and to restore the utmost public confidence in our law enforcement to protect and serve.

In forming the Commission, the Department of Justice has marshaled together the expertise and experiences of all sectors of the law enforcement community—urban police departments, county sheriffs, state attorneys general and prosecutors, elected officials, United States Attorneys, and federal law enforcement agencies.  They come from distinct states, cities, counties, and towns across the country but share a common mission of safeguarding their respective communities from a variety of threats.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years

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