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Alabama Democrat condemned for remarks on abortion bill

Brandon Moseley

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On Wednesday, Republicans denounced comments by State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, suggesting that children killed in abortions would have to be killed in the electric chair later if they had lived.

Rogers made the comments on the floor of the Alabama Statehouse on Tuesday while debating State Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, over a Pro-Life bill that she had sponsored. While Collins continued to extoll the merits of her bill to ban most abortions in the state, others were horrified by Rogers’ comments during the floor debate with Collins.

“Rep. Rogers’ remarks are chilling,” said Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper. “Kill them now, or you kill them later? His comments should be condemned at the state and national level.”

“Every human life, no matter how weak or small, has inherent dignity because we are all made in the image of God,” Reed continued. “House Bill 314, which the House passed 74 to 3, recognizes and protects the dignity of human life, and the Alabama Senate looks forward to debating and voting on this important pro-life measure in the coming days.”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan denounced Rogers’ comments as stunningly abhorrent and callous words  from the debate on the abortion bill.

“So easy for every human alive to pontificate and decide why others in the womb, who can’t speak, should be destroyed and denied their life,” Lathan said. “Thanks to the AL House Republicans for passing one of the toughest abortion bills in the nation yesterday. Babies are pro-life if you could ask them.”

“This is one of the most horrific statements I’ve ever heard from an elected official, and it follows the previous disgusting comments from Gov. (Ralph) Northam in Virginia,” said Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose. “The American people must put our foot down and say enough is enough. Every single life is precious and worth fighting for. I’m disappointed Alabama has a senator in Doug Jones who is unabashedly pro-abortion and refuses to stand up to this type of extremism from members of his own party. Alabama deserves a 100 percent pro-life voice representing us in the Senate.”

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Byrne is running for the seat currently held by Jones.

The Alabama Political Reporter reported samples of Rogers’ comments that ran for over 20 minutes in multiple appearances on the floor of the House.

To see our original report:

Near-total abortion ban passes the House of Representatives

Rogers is now serving in his 10th term in the Alabama House of Representatives, representing the city of Birmingham. He is 78 years old.

Rogers is a professional photographer and according to his bio on the state Legislature’s website, is the director of minority affairs for the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is very involved in his community and serves on the board of a number of charities as well as the Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

HB314 passed the Alabama House 72 to 3 after most Democrats walked out leaving Rogers to filibuster. The bill, that would outlaw abortion except to save the life of the mother, is before the Alabama Senate.

Collins said she is pleased that the bill passed and is hopeful that it will lead to the U.S. Supreme Court reversing its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Update: When HB314 passed the House only three representatives voted against it.  A number of Democrats who had left the chamber have since changed their vote to no, so the updated vote is 72 to 26.

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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Senate pro tem requests general fund committee begin hearings in July

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Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, announced today that he has asked Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee Chairman Greg Albritton, R-Range, to begin holding General Fund Committee meetings in preparation for the next session.

In an effort to be better prepared because of uncertainty in state revenue as a result of COVID-19 pandemic Senator Albritton has agreed with Senator Marsh and has invited Legislative Services, the Department of Finance, Pardons and Paroles, Corrections and the Personnel Department to provide updates to the committee.

“Typically, we begin this process closer to sessions however because of uncertainty about state income and possibility of special sessions, we felt like it was important to get started much earlier than usual in this process,” Senator Albritton said. “The Legislature has done an excellent job managing our budgets over the past few years. So much so that Alabama was able to weather the storm of the COVID-19 shutdown this year with little impact to our vital state services. We understand that we will not have final revenue projections until after July 15th, but we must continue to do our due diligence and ensure that we use taxpayer money sensibly.”

“We want to make sure that all public money is being used wisely, now and in the future,” Senator Marsh said. “We have many pressing issues facing the state such as a potential $2 billion-dollar prison reform proposal and a stunning lack of rural broadband investment which need to be addressed whenever the Legislature is back in session and it is our duty to make sure we are prepared and kept up to speed on these matters. Furthermore, the taxpayers deserve a clear and transparent view of how their money is being used.”

The hearings are scheduled to begin July 9 in the Alabama State House.

 

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Part-time employee in lieutenant governor’s office tests positive for COVID-19

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A part-time employee in Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth’s office, who the office said works only a handful of hours each week, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, according to a press statement.

The employee, whose work area is separated from the rest of the staff, last worked in the office on the morning of Thursday, June 18.

All members of the office staff have been tested or are in the process of being tested for COVID-19 in response, and, thus far, no additional positive results have been reported.

In addition, the State House suite has been thoroughly cleaned and will remain closed until all employees’ test results have been returned.

Employees are working remotely from home, and phones are being answered in order to continue providing services to the citizens who need them.

 

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Three workers at ADOC headquarters among latest to test positive for COVID-19

Eddie Burkhalter

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Sixteen more Alabama Department of Corrections employees, including three at the department’s headquarters in Montgomery, have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The department’s latest update, released Monday evening, puts the total of confirmed cases among employees at 99, with 73 cases still active. 

Five more inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 as well, including inmates at the Donaldson Correctional Facility, the Easterling Correctional Facility, the Kilby Correctional Facility, the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women and the St. Clair Correctional Facility.

18 of 27 confirmed cases among inmates remained active as of Monday, according to ADOC. 

Of the department’s 28 facilities, there have been confirmed COVID-19 cases among staff or inmates in 21. Of the state’s approximately 22,000 inmates, 214 had been tested as of Friday. 

Areas inside numerous state prisons are under quarantine, with ADOC staff either limiting inmate movements to those areas or checking for symptoms regularly and conducting twice daily temperature checks, according to the department.

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Still work to be done on an Alabama gambling deal

Josh Moon

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A grand deal on gambling is possible in Alabama, but there’s still a long way to go. 

That was essentially the message that representatives from the Poarch Creek Indians and owners of non-Indian casinos around the state gave Friday to Gov. Kay Ivey’s Study Group on Gambling Policy. The 12-member group heard presentations, via Zoom, from representatives from all the tracks and casinos in the state, as it continues in its quest to put together a proposal that Ivey and state lawmakers can use to hopefully craft future gambling legislation. 

To move forward with almost any legislation will require an agreement of some sort between PCI, Lewis Benefield, who operates VictoryLand and the Birmingham Race Course, and Nat Winn, the CEO of GreeneTrack. The owners of smaller electronic bingo halls in Greene and Lowndes Counties will also have some input. 

The tug of war between these various entities has, over the last several years, prevented an expansion of gambling. It also has left the state in a weird situation in which casinos are operating on a daily basis but there are numerous legal questions and the state is making very little in the way of tax dollars from any of them. 

But with public support for lotteries, sportsbooks and even full casino gambling at all-time highs (even a majority of Republican voters surveyed said they support full casinos in the state), and with neighboring states rapidly expanding offerings, state lawmakers seem ready to push through legislation to make it happen. 

And now, it seems, the two sides in this fight — PCI and the track owners — are ready to make a deal. 

“I feel like there’s a plan out there that would benefit all of us,” said Benefield, who is the son-in-law of Milton McGregor, who passed away in 2018. “I’d like to see us put together something that gets these customers back from surrounding states. I just really feel like we can work together.”

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Benefield wasn’t alone in those feelings. 

“We stand ready to sit down and talk (about a grand deal) with anyone,” said Arthur Mothershed, who, as vice president of business development for PCI, handled the tribe’s presentation on Friday. 

Mothershed and Benefield have each said previously, and APR has reported, that the tribe and the non-Indian entities have held several discussions over the last few months in a quest to work out a deal. 

There is a new, old player involved, however. 

Former Gov. Jim Folsom, now a lobbyist, represented several Greene County electronic bingo entities, including GreeneTrack, during the conference. Folsom and others representing the bingo casinos told the group that bingo is essentially the financial lifeblood for their county, and that without it multiple county services could go unfunded. 

Ivey’s study group has met four times with the goal of providing state lawmakers with clear answers on questions of revenue, risks and options for gaming types. Any legislation approved by lawmakers would have to be approved by voters.

 

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