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ALGOP slams Jones for vote against appeals court nominee Daniel Bress

Brandon Moseley

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The U.S. Senate confirmed attorney Daniel Bress to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, bringing the number of President Donald Trump’s appointees on the court to seven. U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, voted against Bress.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman criticized Sen. Jones for his vote against the Trump nominee.

“Once again, Senator Doug Jones has voted NO on one of President Donald J. Trump’s nominees – this time it’s Daniel Bress for the U.S. Court of Appeals,” ALGOP said. “Alabama supports President Trump. Senator Jones doesn’t. It’s time for a change.”

“Another @DougJones day on ignoring the majority of Alabama in the highest approval rated state (AL) for @realDonaldTrump,” Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said on Twitter.

Lathan also drew attention to recent comments reportedly made by Jones where National Journal reports that Jones said he’d do what he could to avoid confirming another Trump nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jones voted against Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh even though polling showed that the majority of Alabamians supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Senators were divided along a party line vote, 53 to 45 over Bress. There were strong objections to Bress from California’s Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

“I’m very disappointed the Daniel Bress nomination is moving forward to fill a California seat on the Ninth Circuit,” Sen. Feinstein said on Twitter. “Both @SenKamalaHarris and I objected to his lack of connections to our state. He’s not the right nominee for this lifetime position.”

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Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris objected to what she felt were Bress’s limited ties to California.

“It’s important to remember that it’s a president’s job to nominate judges – not appoint them,” Sen. Harris said in a statement in May. “Advising and consenting to judicial nominees for vacancies in California is one of my key duties as U.S. Senator. It is clear that this role is not being honored by the White House or the Senate Judiciary Committee. Daniel Bress has been nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, but he has lived and practiced law in the Washington, D.C. area for more than a decade. He clerked for two federal judges on the East Coast, and has voted in Virginia for roughly the last decade. Put plainly, Daniel Bress does not live in California and he is not a California lawyer. He lacks strong ties to the local legal community that, if confirmed, would appear in his courtroom every day. This nomination is yet another egregious violation of the norms under which the Senate once operated. I will continue to oppose Bress’ nomination.”

Daniel Bress is a Kirkland & Ellis litigation partner. He was formerly a clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Trump administration nominated Bress in January to a California-based seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, selecting him to fill the vacancy left by Judge Alex Kozinski. Kozinski retired in late 2017 facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

Democrats argued that Bress is an East Coast lawyer with little claim to a California seat. Republicans pointed out that Bress was born and raised in rural California and still sometimes lives and litigates there.

Bress, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee said, “When my wife’s career brought us from San Francisco to Washington, I chose to continue making California central to my practice. I’ve been involved in cases at all levels of the California court system, federal and state and worked on more litigation in California than any other state by far.”

“It has been my great privilege to be a practicing lawyer in those courts; I could not be more excited about the possibility of returning home and serving our legal system in a part of our country that means so much to me,” Bress said.

Bress described his boyhood in Gilroy, California, as the “most formative experience” of his life. “Those who know me well know that I’m never happier than when I’m back home in Gilroy writing briefs, working in the family orchard, or visiting with old friends.”

The Ninth Circuit for decades has been the federal appeals court that was seen as “the most aggressively liberal” and early in the administration states or groups suing the Trump administration would “judge shop” for a liberal judge in the 9th Circuit to rule against the administration and in their favor. The Trump Administration has aggressively looked to shape the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Bress’s confirmation means that seven Trump appointees now sit on the San Francisco-based court.

Alabama is the state where Trump has his highest approval.

Republicans hope that Alabama voters will vote against Jones and for a Senator more likely to support the President’s nominees.

(Original reporting by Law.com and Townhall contributed to this report.)

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Governor awards $9.5 million in grants to expand internet access

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Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded 20 grants totaling more than $9.5 million to provide high-speed internet access to numerous communities throughout Alabama.

The grants, part of the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, were awarded to nine broadband providers to fund multiple projects in their coverage areas.

“Availability of high-speed internet has always been vital, but the events of the past several weeks magnify just how imperative it is that all Alabamians have access to broadband,” Gov. Ivey said. “I am pleased to support these projects and look forward to the day when every household, school, healthcare facility, emergency service and business throughout Alabama is afforded broadband availability.”

The fund, which is being administered through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, was created by the Alabama Legislature in 2018 to provide high-speed internet to rural and underserved areas of the state.

“As our day-to-day way of living has been impacted over the past few weeks, it has underscored the value and necessity of high-speed broadband services. That is something that Governor Ivey, the Legislature and ADECA have been working to address through the Broadband Accessibility Fund,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “ADECA takes its role in administering this program seriously and is honored to be entrusted with the responsibility.”

This latest round of Broadband Accessibility grants came from applications submitted in late December 2019. Additional awards from this round of applications could also be announced.

Grants awarded and coverage areas are:

  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – $224,175 to provide broadband services in north Lowndes County including 301 households and 15 businesses.
  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – $289,100 for service in southwest Autauga and southeast Dallas counties including 343 households and 38 businesses.
  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – $480,200 for service in northwest Autauga, northeast Dallas and south Chilton counties including nearly 500 households and 31 businesses.
  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – $682,325 for service adjacent to the town of Billingsley in Autauga County which includes 656 households and 45 businesses.
  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – $1.06 million for service in Chilton County south of the city of Clanton and north of the town of Billingsley which is in neighboring Autauga County. The project will offer service to 1,093 households and 41 businesses.
  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – $557,987 for service in north-central Autauga County and parts of south-central Chilton County to include service offerings to 743 households and 21 businesses.
  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – $531,650 for service in southeast Chilton County, northeast Autauga County and northwest Elmore County including 509 households and 17 businesses.
  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – $279,300 for service in northwest Chilton County and east Bibb County including 409 households and 12 businesses.
  • Charter Communications – $336,830 for service in the town of Autaugaville in Autauga County including 641 household and 14 businesses.
  • Comcast of Alabama – $820,750 to service the Town of Dauphin Island in Mobile County including 2,500 households and 24 businesses.
  • Hayneville Telephone Co. – $205,705 for service in Lowndes County’s Black Belt and Hicks Hill communities including 258 households and four businesses.
  • Hayneville Telephone Co. – $125,671 for service in an area southeast of the town of Hayneville including 187 households and one business.
  • Hayneville Telephone Co. – $143,265 for service southwest of the town of Hayneville including 191 households and two businesses.
  • Hayneville Fiber Transport Inc. (Camellia Communications) – $90,072 for service in the Butler County community of Poorhouse community northeast of the city of Greenville.
  • JTM Broadband – $404,414 for service in Lauderdale County east of the town of Killen including 1,303 households and 247 businesses.
  • Mon-Cre Telephone Cooperative – $529,707 for service in north Crenshaw County and south Montgomery County including 350 households.
  • National Telephone of Alabama – $357,171 for service in the Red Rock community in Colbert County including 205 households and six businesses.
  • Roanoke Telephone Co. – $308,882 – for service in an area of south Randolph County between the municipalities of Roanoke and Wadley including 269 households and four businesses.
  • Troy Cablevision – $1.38 million for service in parts of Coffee, Covington, Geneva and Houston counties including 1,190 households and 80 businesses.
  • Troy Cablevision – $750,625 for service in parts of Coffee, Crenshaw and Pike counties including 603 households and 38 businesses.

ADECA administers a wide range of programs that support law enforcement, victim programs, economic development, water resource management, energy conservation and recreation.

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Alabama exploring empty hotels to bolster hospital bed capacity

Chip Brownlee

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Gov. Kay Ivey said on a conference with lawmakers and state officials Monday that the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are considering using hotels, especially in Alabama’s large metro areas, to expand hospital bed capacity.

The discussions come as public health experts warn that hospitals could face a surge in patients as the coronavirus pandemic spreads in Alabama and hospitals begin reporting more hospitalizations.

“The governor continues to explore all options to combat COVID-19,” the governor’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, said when APR asked about the plans. “A decision has not been finalized, but her priority remains focused on the health, safety and well-being of all Alabamians.”

On the conference call Monday, Ivey told lawmakers that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is visiting the city’s major metro areas to study facilities that could be used to provide extra hospital bed capacity if a surge in patients materializes, according to several lawmakers and elected officials who were on the call.

Ivey said on the call that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at ways it can contract with empty hotels to expand hospital bed capacity quickly to avoid an overwhelming of the state’s medical facilities with COVID-19 patients.

The Corps of Engineers is surveying potential sites in Tuscaloosa County, Lee County, Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Huntsville. The discussions seem to mirror a nationwide plan being discussed by leaders of the Army Corps of Engineers.

It’s not clear when any of these popup hospitals could be functional in Alabama. More information or some kind of report on the possibility of using the hotels is expected by the end of the week, lawmakers who listened to the call said. But that would only be the first step of the process.

Some experts have also recommended using closed rural hospitals across the state to increase bed capacity. “While there is not a specific plan to do so at this time, the governor is not ruling out any option,” Maiola said of re-opening rural hospitals. “The health of Alabamians is of the utmost importance.”

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States across the country are looking at hotels — largely empty during the economic shutdown — as potential venues to bolster bed capacity. Washington purchased motels to add bed capacity early on its outbreak. The Army Corps of Engineers, according to McClatchy, explored using hotels in New York City.

The Corps then played a large role in New York, setting up a number of temporary hospitals at convention centers, colleges and other sites in the city, which is now the epicenter of a national outbreak.

The commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, told Fox News that residents of other parts of the country can expect to see pop-up field hospitals like those appearing in New York City.

The hotels, officials said, would be the easiest to convert into extra hospital bed capacity because there are already individual bathrooms for each room and often air conditioning and heat for each individual room.

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Madison, Baldwin counties lead state in population growth

Jessa Reid Bolling

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Madison County and Baldwin County have seen the most growth of the 67 counties in the state, according to new data.

The state saw an increase in the population of 15,504 citizens in the most recent available year. Of the increase, 11,284 were in Madison and Baldwin counties, accounting for 73 percent of that increase.

The data, based on new U.S. Census data that reflects estimated population changes between July of 2018, and July of 2019, was organized and mapped out by the nonpartisan Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA).

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) organized and mapped out data from the recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates to show the percentage of population increases in each county. 

The Huntsville metropolitan statistical area (MSA), which includes Madison and Limestone, posted the strongest gain among MSAs, with an estimated 8,643 new residents. Nearby counties like Morgan, Marshall, Cullman, Colbert, and Lauderdale also gained.

Between July 1, 2018, and July 1, 2019, population growth was more widespread in Alabama than it had been the year before. 29 counties saw growth compared to 22 in 2018. That more dispersed growth included more positive growth in some rural counties, particularly in North Alabama and Southeast Alabama.

The 2020 Census is currently underway and that will give even more recent and accurate numbers. 

Click here to begin filling out the 2020 Census questionnaire.

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Census could cost Alabama a congressional seat

Jessa Reid Bolling

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With the 2020 Census underway, Alabama could be at risk of losing a congressional seat due to a slowly growing population.

Census data also determines the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. Congressional and state legislative districts are also drawn using census data. 

The census results will also show what communities need certain services like roads, schools, clinics and more.

The results will also determine the amount of federal funds that will be allocated to programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Head Start and others. 

Projections from The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) indicate the loss of a Congressional seat and that Alabama is vulnerable to be the state that loses that seat due to a low growing population. 

PARCA found that Alabama’s population grew 2.3 percent since 2010 and that every other southeastern state, except Mississippi, has outpaced Alabama’s population growth rate. Nationally, 34 states grew their population faster than Alabama did between 2010 and 2018. 

As of March 25, Alabama’s self-participation rate is slightly ahead of the nation at 27.7 percent compared to 26.2 percent. For comparison, the state’s final self-response rate in 2010 was 62.5 percent. Within Alabama, Autauga County leads all counties at 33.4 percent. 

“An accurate Census count is now more important than ever as state and local governments will be coping with a very different post-pandemic reality,” a statement from PARCA read. 

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To ensure all Alabamians are counted in the 2020 Census, an advisory group called Alabama Counts! was formed to promote the census at the state and local level. 

“Even if the efforts of Alabama Counts! Are exceedingly successful, Alabama may well lose a congressional seat,” PARCA’s projection read. “Census workers simply cannot count people who are not here. And Alabama is simply not growing as fast as other states.”

Click here to begin filling out the 2020 Census questionnaire.

 

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