Tuesday Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill that would require students at trucking schools to take classes on identifying human trafficking. A second bill that would have exposed the men who purchase sex was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
House Bill 261 was sponsored by House Assistant Minority Leader Merika Coleman (D-Midfield) and State Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur). The pair also sponsored HB262, which passed both Houses; but was not signed by Ivey, citing a drafting error.
State Senators Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) and Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) carried the guided the bills through the Senate.
HB261 requires that all new commercial driver licensees undergo industry-specific human trafficking training. Truckers Against Trafficking, a national organization that trains truckers on identifying human trafficking victims in their daily work life, will work with junior colleges and trade schools to facilitate the training.
Alabama becomes the 9th state to partner with Truckers Against Trafficking and pass a law mandating human trafficking training for new CDL drivers.
HB262 would have clarified existing law to prohibit publishing photos of those charged with the act of prostitution, while allowing for publishing photos of those charged with soliciting or procuring prostitution. The bill was aimed at deterring “John’s” from purchasing sex and supporting human trafficking, while protecting potential victims of human trafficking from public identification. The goal is to create fear by would be sex buyers that their habits would be exposed thus making them more reluctant to be sex buyers. The women, girls, and boys who are being trafficked on the other hand would have their identities protected. Minors are already protected from being identified.
The bill passed the House, but in the Senate, State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) added an amendment that was intended to protect innocent “John’s” from public exposure. That bill would have required that the sex buyers be convicted versus merely arrested; before they could be publicly identified. That amendment contained a drafting error that made HB262 more ambiguous and potentially detrimental for the women who are selling the sex; but whom are seen as victims by the sponsors.
That perceived ambiguity in the Melson amendment, caused Governor Ivey’s staff to advise her to pocket veto HB262
Sponsors say that they will be re-introduce the bill next year. Rep. Coleman said that her and her team will work closely with the Governor’s Office and her Republican counterparts to ensure passage of a clean bill in the 2020 legislative session.
The Governor also signed two human trafficking resolutions: HJR145 and HJR244. HJR145 encourages ALEA to continue developing curriculum to ensure that every law enforcement officer and agent in the state is trained regarding human trafficking victim identification.
HJR244 creates the Alabama Healthcare Human Trafficking Training Program Commission, which is tasked with developing a training module for all healthcare related employees to readily identify and provide trauma-centered care for human trafficking victims.
“We are disappointed that HB262 was not signed, but are thankful for the diligence of the Governor’s staff in catching the drafting error,” said Rep. Coleman. “I look forward to working more closely with her office,” next year.
A ceremonial public signing for HB261 is expected in August.
Ivey announces development of coronavirus relief fund expenditure request form
Thursday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced a Coronavirus Relief Fund Expenditure Request Form has been developed for the public to submit for reimbursement for expenses incurred from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“As your governor, input from Alabama citizens is something I value and take into consideration each and every day,” Governor Ivey said. “I encourage anyone to submit your ideas on how our portion of the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund monies should be spent – anything that falls within the guidelines will be considered. Together, with the partnership of the people of our state, I am committed to making sure that Alabama is made as whole as possible from responding to this virus.”
On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the congressionally approved Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. Among other provisions, the CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, of which roughly $1.8 billion has been allotted to the State of Alabama.
The CARES Act requires that the payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund only be used to cover expenses that: are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID–19; were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends on December 30, 2020.
In addition to federal guidelines, Alabama ACT 2020-199 (SB161) requires the State to only spend federal Coronavirus Relief Fund monies in one of the following categories: Reimburse state agencies for expenditures directly related to the coronavirus pandemic; Reimburse local governments for expenditures directly related to the coronavirus pandemic; Support the delivery of healthcare and related services to citizens of the Alabama related to the coronavirus pandemic; Support citizens, businesses, and non-profits and faith-based organizations of the state directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic; Reimbursement of equipment and infrastructure necessary for remote work and public access to the functions of state government directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, including the Legislature; Expenditures related to technology and infrastructure related to remote instruction and learning; Reimbursement of costs necessary to address the coronavirus pandemic by the Department of Corrections; Reimbursement of costs necessary to ensure access to the courts during the coronavirus pandemic; Reimburse the State General Fund for supplemental appropriations to the Alabama Department of Public Health; and/or For any lawful purpose as provided by the United States Congress, the United States Treasury Department, or any other federal entity of competent jurisdiction.
All information will be processed by Governor’s Office.
The Coronavirus Relief Fund Expenditure Request Form is available here.
The legislature had sought appropriations control over the $1.8 billion, requiring the governor to call a special session to appropriate the money. Senate leadership even went so far as to produce a wish list that included $200 million for a new Statehouse. Ivey rejected those demands and threatened to veto the state budgets if the legislature did not amend those demands, which had been added to a supplemental appropriations bill.
The coronavirus crisis and the economic shutdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus has done enormous damage to the economy. The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report claiming that it will take a decade for the economy to fully recover from the virus and the forced economic shutdown. Since February 27, 110,173 Americans have died from COVID-19, including 651 Alabamians. Globally the death toll from the global pandemic has reached 393,316. Many states and some nations are still under economic lockdown orders.
Governor authorizes use of National Guard after violent protests in Birmingham
Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday said she supports the right for people to protest peacefully in the wake of the death of a Minneapolis man at the hands of police, but cautioned against the sort of violent protest and looting that occurred in Birmingham early Monday morning.
Ivey also authorized the Alabama National Guard to active up to 1,000 guardsmen as a “preparedness measure” but said there was no immediate need to deploy them.
In her statement, Ivey hints at outsiders from other states who seek to ratchet up the violence, but she doesn’t outright say that’s what happened in Birmingham early Monday morning, when some burned businesses, attempted to tear down one Confederate monument, tore down another and attacked several reporters. There has been no publicized evidence that the violence was caused by people from outside Alabama, however.
“Like so many others throughout the country and around the world, I, too, was shocked and angered by the tragic actions that led to the senseless death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis. It is a death that should have never happened, and it is a tragedy for which that too many people, especially African Americans, are all too familiar,” Ivey said in a statement. “Regretfully, the natural anger and frustration of Mr. Floyd’s death has now spread to our state and what started out as peaceful protests in some of our cities yesterday afternoon turned ugly last night.”
“While no state has a richer history than Alabama in terms of using peaceful protests to lead the country – and the world – to positive change, I agree with Alabama native, Congressman John Lewis, who this weekend said ‘rioting, looting and burning is not the way,’” Ivey continued. “Congressman Lewis marched alongside other Alabamians who would go on to become heroes of the movement. They were young, brave and determined. Many were beaten, arrested and jailed. But they all — Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, attorney and civil rights activist Fred Gray and others – led the fight for change in a peaceful way.”
“I will always support the right of the people of Alabama to peacefully lift your voices in anger and frustration. After all, our great country was born out of the desire to be free and the desire for freedom has repeatedly led to making positive change for the betterment of society,” Ivey said. “However, we will not allow our cities to become a target for those, especially from other states, who choose to use violence and destruction to make their point. What I saw happen last night in Birmingham was unbecoming of all those who have worked to make Birmingham the great city it is. Going forward, this cannot be tolerated. State assets are available to any local government that makes the request. We will show respect to ourselves and to each other through this process.”
A separate press release from Ivey’s office states that the authorization to activate Alabama National Guardsmen “serves as a preparedness measure, should local and state law enforcement need additional support.”
“While there is no immediate need for us to deploy our Guard, I have given authorization to Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon to be on standby, should our local and state law enforcement need additional support,” Ivey said in a statement.
“The Alabama National Guard stands ready to assist when peaceful protests become violent and dangerous to our public safety,” Ivey continues. “I will always support the right of the people of Alabama to peacefully lift your voices in anger and frustration. However, we will not allow our cities to become a target for those, especially from other states, who choose to use violence and destruction to make their point.”
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Monday declared a state of emergency and announced a citywide curfew in response to the violence hours before. He said Birmingham police will be enforcing the curfew beginning Monday, but said there was no immediate need for additional assistance from the Alabama National Guard.
“I’ve been in constant contact with the governor’s chief of staff. As of now, there will be no activating the National Guard,” Woodfin told reporters during a press conference Monday.
Governor awards grants for bulletproof vests
Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded grants totaling $46,960 to help state law enforcement agencies and the University of Alabama Police Department equip officers with new bulletproof vests.
“Making sure our state’s law enforcement officers have updated protective equipment is vital to increasing officer safety,” Gov. Ivey said. “I am pleased to assist these agencies in their efforts to provide up-to-date models of protective vests.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is using $27,783 to purchase new bulletproof vests for state troopers across Alabama.
Grant funds of $12,490 will enable the Alabama Department of Corrections to purchase bulletproof vests for officers in the department’s K-9 Unit.
The University of Alabama is using a $6,687 grant to purchase new bulletproof vests for university police.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Justice. “ADECA joins Gov. Ivey in support of our state’s police and corrections officers,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “These grants will assist these three groups in their efforts to make the jobs of our law enforcement officers safer.”
ADECA manages a wide range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, infrastructure upgrades, recreation, energy conservation, water resources management and career development.
Opinion | Marsh hurls accusations at Gov. Ivey. Is he barking mad?
Appearing on the latest edition of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Sen. President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, blamed Gov. Kay Ivey for the loss of some 450,000 jobs in Alabama.
It’s an absurd accusation that any thinking Alabamian knows is a lie. But Marsh wants to hurt Ivey because she exposed him as little more than a petty, greedy-gut politico.
Still stinging from the public humiliation he suffered after Ivey revealed his “wish list” — which included taking $200 million in COVID-19 relief money to build a new State House — Marsh is leveling a cascade of recriminations against the popular governor.
However, what is astonishing is that he would spew brazen lies about Ivey during raging loss and uncertainty caused by a worldwide pandemic. This latest fiction about Ivey creating widespread economic calamity is the unseemly work of a hollow man without empathy, wisdom or decency.
This insane assertion that Ivey is somehow responsible for thousands suffering is as cravenly evil as it is politically stupid.
“The policies that have been put in place by the [Ivey] administration have 450,000 people out of work,” Marsh told show host Don Daily.
Only a fool, a nutjob or a politician would blame Ivey for losing some 450,000 jobs, but there was Marsh, on public television, showing he is perhaps all three.
In the middle of his barking-mad comments, Marsh somehow forgot to mention that he was a member of Ivey’s Executive Committee on the COVID-19 task force and helped make the very policies he now claims led to joblessness and financial ruin for many Alabamians.
Marsh is merely making it up as he goes because his fragile ego, pompous character and rank inhumanity suddenly became fully displayed for every Alabamian to see when he doubled down on building a new State House.
And so, like a guy caught with his pants down, Marsh is pointing his finger at Ivey to distract from his naked indifference toward the struggles of his fellow Alabamians.
Marsh’s plan to spend the CARES Act funds on a State House and other pet projects ignored the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of the state’s most vulnerable citizens and businesses.
Ivey wanted the nearly $1.9 billion in CARES funds to go to help those individuals, businesses and institutions affected by COVID-19. Marsh wanted it as a Senate piggybank, so, he lashes out at her rather than reflect on how he and the State Senate could do better in the future.
Anyone who blames others for their failings is a weakling, not a leader.
Marsh came to power under a scheme hatched around 2008, by then-Gov. Bob Riley. The plan was to make Mike Hubbard the speaker of the House, Marsh as pro tem and Bradley Byrne as governor. Riley would act as the shadow puppet master pulling the strings of power from behind a thin curtain of secrecy, allowing him to make untold riches without public accountability.
Byrne losing the governor’s race to the hapless State Rep. Dr. Doctor Robert Bentley was the first glitch in the plan (yes, during the 2010 campaign for governor, Bentley changed his name to Doctor Robert Julian Bentley so the title Doctor would appear next to his name on the primary ballot).
The second problem for the venture was Hubbard’s avarice, which landed him on the wrong side of the ethics laws he, Riley, Byrne and Marsh championed. Of course, the ethics laws were never meant to apply to them. They were designed to trap Democrats.
Marsh has floundered since Hubbard’s grand departure and with Riley sinking further into the background, it is now apparent that Riley was the brains, Hubbard the muscle and Marsh the errand boy, picking up bags of cash to finance the operation.
Gofers rarely rise to power without the public noticing they’re not quite up for the job, and so it is with Marsh that his office has shown the limits of his abilities.
Marsh wanted to control the COVID-19 relief money to spend on pork projects as he’d done in the past, but Ivey didn’t allow it. To be outsmarted is one thing, but to be beaten by a woman is too much for a guy like Marsh.
Ivey burned Marsh like a girl scout roasting marshmallows over a campfire.
Senator Marshmallow, anyone?
Poor Marsh, with his political career in turmoil, picked the wrong target in Ivey.
Some look at Ivey and see a kind, grandmotherly figure. Ivey is as tough as a junkyard dog, and now Marsh knows what her bite feels like.
Ivey didn’t cause massive job losses. COVID-19 did that. But Marsh got his feelings hurt, bless his heart, so he wants to take Ivey down.
Just like his scheme to commandeer the COVID-19 funds from the people didn’t work, his attack on Ivey won’t either.
People see Marsh for what he is, and it’s neither strong nor competent; it’s weak and ineffectual.
Marsh stood behind Ivey when she announced the state’s health orders wearing an American flag style mask.
He voted for her executive amendment.
And now he lies.
In times of real crisis, true leaders emerge while others of lesser abilities whine. Marsh is complaining. Ivey is leading.
And so the public watches as The Masked Marshmallow takes on Iron-jawed Ivey. It’s not tricky to see how this cage match turns out.
Marshmallow, down in three.
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