State Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Sheffield, provided a legislative update to the Shoals Republican Club at their monthly breakfast Saturday.
Stutts said, “It has been a pretty contentious session.”
“We have had a lot of non-Republican bills,” Stutts said. “It started with the special session for the gas tax. Then there was the lottery bill. Medical marijuana is coming up.”
“I finally got a bill on the calendar,” Stutts said. “Those of us who voted against the gas tax — we kind of were in Purgatory, where we could not get our bills on the calendar. Well, I am out of Purgatory now.”
“There were two competing lottery bills,” Stutts said. “One was very wide open. The one that passed was a very simple paper lottery.”
“A lottery is a very poor way to fund government,” Stutts said. “I an not for either one, but if you really want a lottery we got the wrong one.” The analysis shows that, “72 percent of millennials won’t play a paper ticket lottery. They want to play it on their phones. We passed the very very restrictive paper lottery. I personally don’t think that it will generate near as much money as the sponsors said and it has built in protections for the Poarch Creek Indians.”
“There are only three companies that manage the lottery in the country,” Stutts said. “We will be contracting with one of them. 25 percent goes to local convenience stores.” “20 percent goes to the out of state company that runs the lottery. That money goes to the out of state company and does not get recycled in to our economy. A lottery is not a financially sound way to run the economy.”
Stutts said that it goes to the House next and will probably be on the ballot. “All the money will go to the general fund.”
“We probably are going to have a special session in the fall to deal with prisons,” Stutts said. “We met last week with the U.S. Attorney at lunch as a caucus.”
“Probably the best thing for the state is a negotiated settlement,” Stutts said. “We have to show that we are doing something and are not just ignoring the court.”
Stutts said that the state has to make substantial progress on the prisons to show the Justice Department that they don’t need to do anything else. We need to deal with this.
Stutts said that the education budget passed the Senate on Thursday. “The education budget is $7.1 billion; the largest by far in the history of the state.”
The group also heard from Alabama Policy Institute senior analyst Pepper Byars.
County Commissioner David Black announced that Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan will be meeting with Republican in Hamilton for breakfast next week.
The Shoals Republican club meets for breakfast at the TVA Credit Union Conference Center on South Wilson Dam Road at 8:00 a.m. in Muscle Shoals in Colbert County. Next month’s speaker will be Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose. Byrne is a 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate.
Alabama lawmaker pre-files legislation to allow removal of Confederate monuments
If passed, the measure would permit counties and cities to relocate historic monuments currently located on public property.
Alabama State Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, introduced legislation this week in advance of the 2021 legislative session that, if passed, would permit counties and cities to relocate historic monuments currently located on public property. Givan’s bill, HB8, would also provide for the relocation of historic memorials to sites appropriate for public display.
“Across the state of Alabama, citizens are calling for the removal of prominently placed statues and monuments that are insensitive or offensive to the communities that surround them,” Givan said. “City and county governments must be able to address the demands of their citizens. This legislation provides a tool for local governments to safely remove these artifacts so that they can be moved to a site more appropriate for preserving or displaying the historical monument.”
Removing the monuments and historical markers is currently illegal under Alabama’s Memorial Preservation Act, which the state Legislature passed in 2017. Givan has been an outspoken opponent of that Republican-sponsored legislation. In 2018, Givan introduced a measure to repeal the bill that barred the removal of monuments.
“I believe HB8 can achieve bipartisan support,” Givan said. “My bill seeks to balance the wishes of the people. It respects the will of communities that want the monuments removed. It also respects those who wish to preserve history. With this legislation, Confederate monuments could be relocated to a public site, like Confederate Memorial Park, whose purpose and mission is to interpret and tell these stories. When the Legislature convenes, I hope to have the support of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
If enacted, HB8 would permit county and municipal governments to remove memorial monuments, including permanent statues, portraits and markers, located on public property in their jurisdictions. It would require a transfer of ownership of the removed monuments to the Alabama Department of Archives and History or the Alabama Historical Commission. Finally, the bill would instruct Archives and History or the Historical Commission to maintain and display monuments removed by local authorities in a location accessible for public display.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps track of Confederate monuments and memorials across the country, released an update to its Whose Heritage report, which tracks symbols of the Confederacy on public land across the United States. They report at least 30 Confederate symbols have been removed or relocated since George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.
These include 24 monuments removed, 5 monuments relocated and the Mississippi state flag replaced. Since the Charleston church shooting in 2015, 115 total symbols have been removed from public spaces. These include 87 monuments that have been removed or relocated from public spaces. At least 78 monuments were removed and nine were relocated.
SPLC says there are still nearly 1,800 Confederate symbols on public land, and 739 of those symbols are monuments. The SPLC has prepared an “action guide” to help community activists target Confederate historical markers and memorials for removal.
President Donald Trump has denounced what he calls “cancel culture” that seeks to remove historical monuments and statutes.
“There is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure,” Trump said. “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”
Senate pro tem requests general fund committee begin hearings in July
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.
Part-time employee in lieutenant governor’s office tests positive for COVID-19
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.
Three workers at ADOC headquarters among latest to test positive for COVID-19
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.