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Economy

Trump warned against it in 1993, now it’s coming home to Alabama

Bill Britt

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Over 25  years ago, then-business mogul Donald Trump sued the federal government over what he believed was the unfair advantage it afforded Indian gaming over the private sector.

The same battle is playing out in Alabama where Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, have filed a bill that guarantees the Poarch Band of Creek Indians will keep its billion-dollar-a-year, tax-free monopoly over gaming in the state while denying private operators even a chance to compete.

Speaking before the U.S. Congress in 1993, the future president threw away his prepared remarks telling lawmakers that he decided it was “very boring” and “politically correct.”

The future commander-in-chief railed against what he saw as the outsized privilege given by the government to tribal interests while denying private owners a fair seat at the table.

During the hearing, then-New Jersey Rep. Robert Torricelli backed Trump saying that, “Indian tribes not only enjoy a competitive advantage over the Trumps of the world — tribes are not taxed on the profits from casinos — but also are not subject to the stringent background checks and audits to which Atlantic City casino owners must submit,” as reported by the New Jersey Monthly.

“There are no regulations to ensure that the games [on reservations] are honest,” Torricelli said.

Tribal games played at PCI’s three casinos are unregulated, enjoy tax-free status on all income from gaming and non-gaming and are not held to the same standards as other businesses in the state.

A bill by Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, would give the private sector a more level playing field with the tribe, which is what Trump argued for in 1993.

The question before the Republican-controlled legislature is will it continue to allow the Indians to have an unfair advantage over the would-be Trumps of the world or will they level the field for the private sector as Trump himself asked for in 1993.

Marsh first supported McClendon’s bill but recently experienced a change of heart and is now backing legislation that is decidedly pro-PCI and anti-private business.

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His sudden about-face is widely seen as him falling under the sway of PCI’s excessive campaign war-chest. Marsh is considering a run for U.S. Senate and those close to him politically are suggesting that Marsh, who is polling dead last in the race, needs PCI money to be competitive.

As a private casino owner, Trump unsuccessfully fought against legislative interference that favored tribal gambling over private entities, but that is changing on a federal level.

According to Gambling Compliance, the leading provider of independent legal regulatory and business intelligence to the global gambling industry, President Donald Trump Administration, “has proven to be a big plus for the gaming industry — so far.” Gambling Compliance points to the appointment of “Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court [which] led to the abolition of the sports-betting ban in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.”

While the president is expanding highly regulated gaming, Marsh and Albritton want to restrict gaming to “paper only,” which cuts about two-thirds of the revenue the state could receive under McClendon’s bill.

A 2017 study by the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries found that the 47 U.S. lotteries projected gross sales of $73.5 billion for traditional lottery products. It also saw the eight states that offered video lottery terminals added an additional $7 billion.

Marsh and Albritton’s plan would outlaw VLTs and other tech-games but allows the Indians to operate them, giving the tribe another considerable advantage.

McClendon’s legislation spreads the opportunity for growth in state tax revenue by permitting VLTs at the state’s existing pari-mutuel racetracks located in Jefferson, Macon, Greene and Mobile counties. PCI owns the track in Mobile County which gives them the same gaming opportunities while still maintaining their three unregulated-tax-free casinos. His bill allows a state lottery to be played at these locations because the counties each passed a constitutional amendment years ago allowing gambling at the four sites.

Understanding an important section in the lottery CA — one some don’t want you to understand

Legislation championed by Marsh and Albritton also stymies the lottery’s profitability because it ignores the future of the industry. McClendon’s doesn’t.

NASPL found that technology-powered games generated a newer player-base, especially among millennials with no cannibalization of retail store sales.

According to its study, “The Atlantic Lottery (Canada) experienced a 7 percent increase in revenue when it began offering internet gaming, [and] recently, following the introduction of internet-accessible games, the Michigan Lottery experienced a two-year rise in total sales of nearly 20 percent, which translated to a 23 percent increase in commissions paid to lottery retailers and an almost 20 percent increase in contributions to education programs.”

In the last election cycle alone, PCI contributed more than $1.4 million to primarily Republican candidates.

In 2015, they made common cause with then-Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, to kill a lottery bill sponsored by Marsh.

During the 2010 campaign that saw Republicans wrestle control of the State House from Democrat control, Marsh and Hubbard funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from PCI through Republican State Leadership Committee and back to PACs controlled by the pair.

Alabama’s U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby has warned of PCI’s growing influence in the state.

Businessman Donald Trump warned against the Indians’ unfair advantage.

Under Marsh and Albritton’s bill, these warnings are ignored. If Marsh and Albritton’s plan is adopted not only will the legislature fail to correct what Trump exposed in 1993 they will enhance the tribe’s monopoly.

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Economy

NAALC to hold public union event in Madison

The event will allow a variety of labor union members and officials to meet and discuss pertinent issues and planning. 

Josh Moon

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The North Alabama Area Labor Council will hold a solidarity event on Saturday in Madison, with several area labor union members present to answer questions from the public. 

The event, which will start at 9 a.m. at the Steamfitters and Pipefitters Union Hall on Madison Blvd., also will allow a variety of labor union members and officials to meet and discuss pertinent issues and planning. 

According to a press release from the NAALC, a number of current representatives from area unions will be present, including members from the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1858, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 44, IAMAW Local 2766, Ironworkers Local 477, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stagehand Employees Local 900, American Postal Workers Union Local 259 and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Employees Local 27.

The union reps plan to discuss basic issues with anyone interested, such as the basic benefits of union membership and how to form a union at your local workplace. 

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Economy

New unemployment claims decreased last week

Fewer people joined the unemployment rolls last week compared to the week before.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 7,964 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, down from 8,581 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of the claims filed between Oct. 11 and Oct. 17, there were 4,032 related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s 51 percent, compared to 36 percent the previous week.

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Economy

Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”

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Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

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Courts

Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.

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