Author: Glenn Stephens

Ivey Budget Proposal Includes North Alabama Forensics Lab, Taylor Hardin Addition

Gov. Kay Ivey’s proposed 2021 General Fund budget includes money for a range of one-time projects focused on mental health, forensic sciences and youth services. 

Ivey’s budget includes funds for a new forensic science lab in North Alabama and more beds at one of the state’s three mental health hospitals in Tuscaloosa. 

Also, money for renovations at the Department of Youth Services’ residential facility near Montgomery is included in capital project line items totaling $95.3 million.  Read more.

Jones Calls for Changes in the Impeachment Process

U.S. Senator Doug Jones today said that, in the aftermath of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, he’d like to see procedural changes that would streamline the process in the future.

“We’re done, we’re through, we’re moving on. We’re already talking to colleagues about new legislation that we’ll be introducing, one of which may deal with this impeachment,” he said. “I’d like to see some new processes and new rules in place. There’s a lot of talk. There may be some things seen in the next couple or three weeks about that.”

Jones made the remarks after speaking to a full house of Cumberland School of Law students and faculty at Samford University in a talk designed to give the future lawyers from his alma mater insight into how he thought through the process and reached what he said was not a political decision on his part.
Read more.

Carter’s Pastor Picked by Trump to Help Former Prisoners Return to Society

Tony Lowden was at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Thursday, speaking to the County Commission.

Today, the pastor of former President Jimmy Carter was introduced as President Donald Trump’s appointment as “reentry czar” to help former prisoners as they step back into society.

The appointment came during the President’s speech at the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit in Charlotte.
Read more.

Jones Says His Vote to Convict Trump Was Not Partisan

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones today said that after considering the evidence through the lens of a prosecutor, he had no choice but to convict President Donald Trump of the impeachment charges brought by the House of Representatives.

Ultimately, Jones said, it came down to a president putting his personal interests above the interests of the nation.

Jones made the remarks to Cumberland School of Law students and faculty at Samford University in a talk designed to give the future lawyers from his alma mater insight into how he thought through the process and reached what he said was not political decision on his part.
Read more.

Lawmakers Pitch Reserve Account for General Fund

Recent growth in Alabama’s General Fund revenues has some lawmakers wanting to save for future lean years.

A bill filed Thursday in the Alabama Senate would create the General Fund Budget Reserve Fund.

“Although we are currently enjoying the benefits of the longest period of growth that I am aware of, we will have an economic downturn – we always do,” Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, said. He’s sponsoring the legislation.

“Creating a reserve and planning for a rainy day is just good public policy. When we save for a rainy day, we will be better prepared when tough times come.”
Read more.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would Abolish State Auditor’s Office

A proposal in the Alabama State House would do away with the Alabama Auditor’s Office and transfer its duties to the Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts Department.

The auditor’s position is created in the Alabama Constitution, so abolishing it would have to be approved by voters through a constitutional amendment. 

With voter approval, Senate Bill 83 from Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Gadsden, would shutter the office when Auditor Jim Zeigler’s current term ends in 2022.
Read more.

Three North Jefferson Zoning Proposals Win County Commission Approval

Three zoning matters approved today by the Jefferson County Commission provide evidence that growth is coming to the northern part of the county.
Commissioners approved one zoning case in Morris and two in Mount Olive. The property at 950 Kimberly Cut-Off Road in Morris set the stage for a two-lot residential subdivision, changing the property from A-1 agricultural to R-1 single family.

One case heard today makes way for a 63-lot subdivision at 4901 and 4851 Newfound Road in Mount Olive, rezoning from I-3 industrial and A-1 agricultural to R-7 planned unit development. The other proposes 204 lots at Brookside Coalburg Road and 3885 Hodges Cemetery Road in Mount Olive, shifting the site from I-3 surface mining and I-3 industrial to R-7 planned unit development.
Read more.

Iowa’s Election Problems Can’t Happen in Alabama, Merrill Says

Problems like the ones in the Iowa Democratic caucus cannot happen in Alabama because the state holds elections, not closed meetings of political parties to select candidates, the state’s top elections official said Thursday.

“A caucus is not like any election that we have here,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said. “A caucus is administered and counted by (political) parties in Iowa and not by the secretary of state. It has nothing to do with the election process in that state.

 “People running the election do not do so on a regular basis,” Merrill said.
Read more.

JeffCo Commission Approves Fees for Credit, Debit Card Payments to Revenue Department

Travis Hulsey was a bit late for the Jefferson County Commission meeting this morning at the courthouse in Bessemer.

“I got caught up in some traffic,” he said later.

Upon arrival, Hulsey learned that his request for convenience fees on credit and debit card use for over-the-counter payments to the county’s Revenue Department didn’t face the traffic jam it did two weeks ago. It passed on unanimous consent along with 49 other resolutions.

The resolution that passed was Hulsey’s original request of a 1 percent convenience fee, with a $1.95 minimum.
Read more.

Birmingham City Council Delays Vote on Five Points West/CrossPlex Grant

The Birmingham City Council on Monday delayed voting on an item granting funding to the Five Points West/CrossPlex Business Alliance under the city’s Building Opportunities for Lasting Development (BOLD) initiative.

The grant, proposed by Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office, would give the Five Points West/CrossPlex Business Alliance $26,500 to use for a variety of initiatives, including the creation of five new murals, the development of a training and resource program for the area’s business community, the establishment of a business office for the alliance, and the collection of data regarding businesses and commercial properties in the Five Points West commercial corridor.
Read more.