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Ending an 18-year battle, Senate passes Widow’s Tax repeal

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Senators Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced that their legislation to repeal the Military Widow’s Tax has passed the United States Senate as a part of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill now goes to the President to be signed into law.

Legislation has been repeatedly introduced in the Senate for nearly two decades to roll back the Military Widow’s Tax, which was enacted in 1972. Since introducing the Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019  in March, Senators Jones and Collins have worked tirelessly to gain support among their colleagues in both the Senate and House and to make the case on behalf of the 67,000 surviving spouses – including more than 2,000 in Alabama – who are impacted by the Military Widow’s Tax. Under their leadership, the bill earned a record-high 78 total cosponsors in the Senate and 384 in the House of Representatives.

“When we introduced this legislation, we knew we were fighting an uphill battle on behalf of these surviving spouses. But together, we were undeterred by the task and committed to them that this was the year it would finally get done. There is no more noble cause than to do the right thing for military families who have lost their loved one in service to our country. We took up this fight for those surviving spouses and their families, and I’m honored to be standing with them as we finally put this injustice behind us,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“This provision we secured in the NDAA is a major victory for surviving military and retiree spouses to whom we are deeply indebted. The Military Widow’s Tax was an unfair offset that prevented as many as 67,000 surviving spouses—including more than 260 from Maine—from receiving the full benefits they deserve,” said Senator Susan Collins. “This problem goes back decades, but this year we finally solved it once and for all. I appreciate the overwhelming support we received from our colleagues as well as veterans advocates who helped make this possible.”

“This is an exciting day for more than 67,000 military widows and widowers who have been waiting years for the survivor benefits they are owed,” said Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “When brave men and women pay the ultimate sacrifice serving our nation, it’s our duty to provide economic security for their loved ones. OurWidow’s Tax Elimination Act  follows through on this important obligation, and ensures that military families who have sacrificed the unimaginable are provided more financial certainty.”

“Surviving family members of fallen servicemembers have already lost an important part of their lives.  Denying them access to the full benefits earned by their loved one’s sacrifice creates an undue burden on their finances.  No surviving spouse should have to face this unexpected and unfair cut to their benefits. Congress’ bipartisan action to fully repeal the military widow’s tax is a much-needed improvement,” said Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

“For 26 years, I have been denied the full benefits that my husband earned and paid for to help take care of his family in the event of tragedy. The long fight to repeal the Military Widow’s Tax has been difficult and none of us want to talk repeatedly about the deaths of our spouses, but that has been necessary to inform our public officials and ask for their help. Though I will be 76 when my husband’s benefits are fully reinstated, I am happy to know that those who sadly become military widows and widowers in the future will no longer have to fight this battle year after year. My own senator from Alabama, Senator Doug Jones, has championed our cause with passion and persistence and led with bipartisanship to see this bill finally passed! In Alabama terms, he carried the ball into the end zone!” said Cathy Milford, a surviving military spouse from Mobile, Alabama.

“On behalf of the 67,000 widows across the United States, I want to say thank you to Senator Jones for his stellar leadership in the elimination of the Widow’s Tax. We in Alabama are so proud of our Senator Doug Jones, who has been the catalyst to coordinate the bipartisan support for this legislation. Many people have worked tirelessly for almost 20 years, and finally with the leadership of Senator Jones, this is happening. What a gift and we want to thank him,” said Anne Hartline of Vestavia Hills, Alabama, who serves as Chair of the Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee to the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).

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“The reality is, this probably would not have happened without Senator Jones’ unbelievable spirit of getting things done. The entire House and Senate have come together to produce something that is going to change the life of the widows of the men and women who’ve passed serving their country. My wife and I have been involved in this for almost 20 years, and we have lost many friends who have lost their lives over the years. This particular bill is going to make a huge difference to the widows who are surviving. It would have never happened without Senator Jones and the bipartisan effort that we’ve seen take place over the past year,” said retired General Charles Krulak, 31stCommandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

 

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Congress

Sewell votes in favor of $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, on Wednesday voted in favor of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild American infrastructure.

“Our country is in serious need of bold and comprehensive infrastructure reform,” Sewell said. “This was true before the coronavirus pandemic and it has become increasingly urgent as we continue to grapple with the ongoing healthcare and economic crises resulting from the pandemic.”

“As a member of the Rural Broadband Task Force and a representative of a district that lacks adequate and comprehensive internet access, I am pleased that H.R.2 includes our bill the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, comprehensive legislation which invests$100 billion for high-speed broadband infrastructure in underserved communities,” said Sewell. “This investment will go a long way toward helping people across my district have access to the high-speed, affordable internet services that are necessary in today’s economy. Additionally, the bill’s $40 billion investment in new wastewater infrastructure will be transformative for countless residents of Alabama’s 7th District who lack access to affordable and efficient wastewater services. If we fail to make these investments now, our Nation’s aging infrastructure will continue to collapse and millions of Americans will be left out of our hopeful economic recovery.”

As a member of the House Rural Broadband Task Force, Sewell co-led introduction of H.R. 7302, the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, which invests $100 billion to build high-speed broadband in unserved and underserved communities and ensures that internet service will be affordable. H.R. 7302 provided the framework for the broadband provisions in H.R. 2.

Two of Rep. Sewell’s bills are included as key provisions in H.R. 2. H.R. 1680, New Markets Tax Credit Extension Act of 2019 is designed to spur private investment in low-income rural communities and urban neighborhoods by providing tax credits for private investments made in underserved communities. H.R. 3967, the Municipal Bond Market Support Act of 2019, would help local governments, non-profits, schools, hospitals, universities and other entities reduce costs associated with infrastructure and development projects.

Sewell also co-led three amendments to H.R. 2 that passed this week. These amendments would expand the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in DOT research, support HBCU infrastructure development, and create a carbon capture, utilization, and storage technology commercialization program and direct an air capture technology program within the Department of Energy.

Sewell’s office said that in light of the pandemic and as schools consider how best to provide resources to students remotely, H.R.2 will provide critical access to both students and teleworkers across Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.

H.R. 2 would invest more than $1.5 trillion in roads, bridges, transit systems, schools, housing, broadband access and other essential infrastructure.

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H.R. 2 now goes to the Senate, where Senate Republicans are likely to make a number of changes to the legislation. The Senate’s 60 votes to end a filibuster rule; however means that any infrastructure bill will have to have bipartisan support to pass the Senate.

Sewell is a member of the House leadership and is in her fifth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. Sewell had no primary challenger and no Republican is running against her in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Elections

Alabama Republican Assembly endorses Barry Moore

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidates Barry Moore’s campaign on Wednesday said the Alabama Republican Assembly has endorsed him for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.

Jennifer Montrose is the President of the Alabama Republican Assembly.

“We must have elected leaders who are committed to governing honestly and ethically and believe Barry Moore can best help our state and nation move forward in the November election,” Montrose said. “We hope you will agree with us and vote for this outstanding individual who we believe is committed to Life, Liberty and Family.”

Moore thanked the group in a statement.

“I want to thank the Alabama Republican Assembly for the vote of confidence this endorsement represents,” Moore said. “It’s an honor to be recognized in this way by this fine group of Conservatives.”

“I’ve always been committed to the conservative values I share with the ARA, and I’ll continue to fight for our Constitution, our rights, and our freedoms when I’m in Congress,” Moore continued. “I’ll do this not only to justify the faith groups like the ARA have in me but because it’s what I believe is right. The ARA knows I have a proven conservative voting record and I will always protect our 2nd amendment, take a pro-life stance, support term limits, and stand with President Trump.”

The Alabama Republican Assembly calls itself “the Republican Wing of the Republican Party.”

Moore continues to receive endorsements from prominent Alabama politicians and groups from across the state in his bid to go to the United States Congress.

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Moore faces Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary runoff on July 14. Moore served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 until 2018 and has been endorsed by both current and former members who served with him there.

Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) said, “I have served in the Alabama House with Rep. Barry Moore; and found him to be one of our Top Five Conservatives every year. I served with him at the RNC Convention in 2016 when Rep. Moore was one of the first to endorse Trump. He is still strongly aligned with Trump. I enthusiastically endorse Barry Moore for Congressional District 2!.”

Rep. Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery) said, “When Rep. Barry Moore served in the State House he chaired the Military and Veterans Affairs committee. He was instrumental in bringing the F-35 to Montgomery and he well understands the needs of our Veterans and the importance of our military bases to Alabama. He will always work to support both. I am proud to support Barry Moore for our next Congressman.”

Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur)said, “Barry Moore is a man of integrity and honor. He will represent Alabama well.”

Former Rep. Barry Mask (R-Alexander City) said, “Barry Moore is a fighting conservative who has been through the fire. As a veteran, he stands with our country and will fight to preserve it. He was a Trump man early on and has earned our trust.”

“It’s humbling to have so many leading Alabama Republicans endorse me in this race,” Moore said. “These are the people I served within the Alabama House, and they know me and what I stand for. I appreciate their endorsements, and I will do everything I can to honor their trust by continuing to represent the people of our District and our conservative values in Congress. I thank everyone who’s endorsed me, and those who have supported me in this race. I look forward to serving the people of Alabama and District 2 as their next Congressman.”

Moore has been endorsed by the Eagle Forum, Conservative Christians of Alabama, the American Workers Coalition, the Club for Growth, and the House Freedom Fund. He is a former member of the Alabama Legislature, a small businessman, a veteran, a husband, and a father of four from Enterprise.

Moore and his wife Heather own a waste disposal company. Moore is a small businessman, a veteran, a husband, and a father of four from Enterprise. He has a degree from Auburn University.

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National

Aderholt honors Jack Thompson

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, gave a speech this week on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, honoring former Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Jack Thompson, who passed away on Sunday.

“I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Jack Alexander Thompson from Montgomery, Alabama,” Aderholt said. “Jack Thompson passed away on Sunday after a full life of eighty-eight years. He was an upstanding citizen of our state and a respected member of the Montgomery community.”

“Jack Thompson was an Alabamian through and through, as he was born in Colbert County in 1932 and remained in the state his entire life,” Aderholt continued. “After graduating from Colbert County High School, Jack Thompson married his sweetheart, Ruth Hester, at the age of twenty. Jack and Ruth were married for sixty-seven years and raised four wonderful children, which led to the additional joy of having grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

“As a student, Jack dedicated his studies to agriculture, which is evident that it played a big role in his life for as long as he lived,” Aderholt said. “He earned is B.S. in Agriculture from Auburn University and his master’s in animal science from the University of Tennessee. If it was not clear before these degrees, it was clear afterwards – Jack was going to make a difference in agriculture and better the lives of many people along the way.”

“For the following thirty-one years Jack worked for the Auburn University Extension Service, where he engaged with 4-H students, Cattlemen, and Agronomy farmers in Montgomery, Elmore, and Limestone counties,” Aderholt said. “After retiring, Jack went on to own a farm in Athens, Alabama and served as the Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture before assuming the role of Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries for four years. Jack also combined his two passions, agriculture and Auburn University, and lobbied for financing to construct the Ag and Industries Thompson Bishop Sparks Diagnostic Lab on Auburn’s campus. This was quite the undertaking, but Jack got it done, and he went on to do much more.”

“As a volunteer, Jack Thompson’s list of service roles is incredible,” Aderholt said. “He was president of the Athens-Limestone Chamber of Commerce; Campaign Chairman of the United Way; president of the Limestone County Cattlemen’s Association, a lifetime Director of the State Cattlemen’s Association; a lifetime member of the Athens Industrial Development Association; and was a board member at the Salvation Army. Jack also worked with 4-H kids in coordinating with state, district, and local steer shows and managed livestock for what is now the Alabama National Fair.”

“Jack Thompson is now survived by his four children; David Thompson, Keith Thompson, Susan Woodham, and Janice Thompson,” Aderholt said. “In addition, he is survived by his sister, Ann Thomas, and his eleven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. It is with a heavy heart for the family of Mr. Jack Thompson and the community of Montgomery, Alabama that I submit this statement into the Congressional Record in recognition of the life of Mr. Jack Thompson. His legacy will live on well into the future.”

Aderholt represents Alabama’s 4th Congressional District.

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Economy

Secretaries of state share joint statement on importance of USMCA launch

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Following the completion of the necessary measures to comply with commitments under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Agreement officially enters into force today, July 1, 2020.

As Secretaries of State who oversee the business filings process in the respective states of Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, and Wyoming, Secretaries John H. Merrill (Alabama), Paul D. Pate (Iowa), Michael G. Adams (Kentucky), Kyle Ardoin (Louisiana), Michael Watson (Mississippi), John R. Ashcroft (Missouri), Bob Evnen (Nebraska), Frank LaRose (Ohio), Ruth Hughs (Texas), and Edward A. Buchanan (Wyoming) recognize and appreciate firsthand the positive impact the USMCA will have on entrepreneurs across the country.

“Alabama’s international engagement fuels job growth and increases exports. The success of Alabama businesses depends on the participation and competitiveness of our global counterparts. Alabama totaled $6.6 billion in exports to Canada and Mexico in 2018, supporting families and businesses across the state” noted Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill. “I was delighted to join President Donald J. Trump in January of this year as he signed this mutually beneficial agreement, and I look forward to its future success.”

“The USMCA is a great opportunity for Iowa’s farmers, businesses and families. The launch of this agreement comes at a vital time for our country and will provide a much needed boost to our economy. Canada and Mexico bought $6.5 billion worth of goods from Iowa in 2018 and this deal ensures our partnerships with these neighbors will continue,” stated Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.

“The USMCA entering into force is a great deal and a win for American and Louisiana workers. The USMCA will help support and grow our economy, boost small businesses, help our farmers, manufacturers, and workers, and ensure more Louisiana-made products can be sent internationally. Trade is important to Louisiana’s economy and this deal will help boost both,” stated Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin.

“During a time when the future of our economy seems nebulous, the USCMA creates a portal for modern opportunities and prosperous partnerships,” said Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson. “The enhanced agreement will undoubtedly revive businesses and help boost innovation in our state. I applaud President Trump’s leadership and dedication to ensuring a fair playing field for Mississippi farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs.”

“Missouri is grateful for this historic agreement, which will help Missouri agriculture and businesses grow with more jobs and increasing exports.  As our economy recovers, getting businesses and people back to work, this will help ensure success for large and small businesses who compete and form partnerships with our neighbors.  We stand ready to assist our entrepreneurs and businesses,” replied Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft.

Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen noted, “The USMCA provides expanded opportunities for Nebraska’s livestock industry, and our ag commodity and specialty crop producers. The USMCA builds on the successes and corrects the problems of NAFTA, and gives us expanded opportunities for Nebraska’s ag trade with our friends in Mexico and Canada. This excellent agreement now serves as a template for other international free trade agreements, so we have cause for optimism on many fronts.”

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“Today is a day Ohio’s farmers and entrepreneurs have been waiting for,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. “As our nation’s economy continues to recover, the USMCA is a much needed boost as they compete on the global stage. Thanks to the leadership of President Trump, Senator Portman and bipartisan leaders from across our nation, Ohio is poised for our next giant leap, and my office looks forward to helping make it happen.”

“Last year alone, trade between Texas and its two largest trade partners—Mexico and Canada—totaled more than $200 billion. This exchange supports the more than 950,000 Texas jobs that are tied directly to trade with Mexico and Canada,” said Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs. “The implementation of the USMCA provides tremendous benefit to all parties involved in the trade deal and will help to ensure years of mutual economic benefit and prosperity for all. We look forward to further strengthening our relationship with our trade partners as we enter a new era of innovation and success.”

“The USMCA trade deal has high standards and rebalances North American trade to provide a stronger market for Wyoming’s and our Nation’s goods. This is a great day for our country, as businesses will better be able to participate in cross-border trade. USMCA ensures fair business practices by our neighbors and now the advantage will be back in the hands of the American worker,” stated Wyoming Secretary of State Edward Buchanan.

This historic trade agreement will result in freer markets, fairer trade, and strong economic growth across North America, creating new opportunities for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and business owners.

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