MONTGOMERY – A bill to allow Alabamians to donate some of their income tax return to the construction of a wall on the U.S. southern border by checking a box on their tax return documents could get a vote in the Alabama Senate this week.
Eight GOP members on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee voted in favor of the legislation from Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, on Tuesday. Two democrats, Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D- Birmingham, and Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma, voted against it. Read more.
Birmingham City Council
After weeks of debate, the Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve the proposed development of a Major League Baseball Youth Academy at the city’s George Ward Park, though it remains unclear whether the MLB Youth Foundation is still interested in pursuing the project in the wake of the controversy surrounding it.
Though the MLBYF apparently had nixed its plans for the academy after receiving pushback from residents of the surrounding neighborhood, councilors said they did not believe a “vocal minority” should scuttle the project, arguing that it would benefit youth from all of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods.
Despite the lengthy discussion on the proposal and on a proposed compromise that was soundly rejected, almost every councilor voted in favor of the academy, leaving the project’s fate in the hands of the MLBYF. Read more.
A report out Tuesday published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute ranks the health of all 67 counties in Alabama. This year, Shelby County comes in first. Jefferson County ranks in the top third. The report compares differences based on location as well as race and ethnicity. Read more.
Coal Tax Cut Endangers Federal Black Lung Fund (Associated Press)
Del Marsh Files Bill to Eliminate Common Core in Alabama (AL.com)
Former Linden Editor to Goodloe Sutton: 'I Don't Think You Have Realized the Damage You Have Done' (Montgomery Advertiser)
Warren Takes Aim at Electoral College in 3-Day Trip to the South (Associated Press)
Ali Massoud, a 2011 graduate of Hoover High School, says he was disappointed at a video depicting white students who attend Hoover schools using the N-word and anti-Semitic slurs. But he wasn’t surprised.
“I think a lot of students of color who have been through the Hoover High School system have seen small aggressions on display, and so the fact that this was caught on camera shows the rest of the world that those things are not just in our minds” Massoud says. “They are real and they are happening.”
Massoud and others want to know what school officials plan to do about it. Recently, Massoud started a petition demanding Hoover City Schools take meaningful action to address racism within the system. Read more.
The Klansmen who bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, killing four black girls, did not face justice for years. In 1977, then-Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley won a conviction against Robert Chambliss for his role in the attack. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that two others were tried and convicted. Senator Doug Jones led those later prosecutions and writes about it in his memoir “Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Cvil Rights.” Read more.
WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives tackled a package of bills the week ending in March 8 that addressed voting, campaign financing and influence peddling. The votes split mostly along party lines, including among Alabama’s representatives. Read more.
The Alabama Legislature will face tough choices this year on solving problems of the state’s crowded, obsolete and under-funded prison system, and the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama is preparing a series of briefings to address “a system in crisis.”
PARCA, a non-profit organization that does nonpartisan research on issues facing state and local governments in Alabama, outlined problems that it said could lead to a federal takeover of the prisons system if they are not solved.
Gov. Kay Ivey has proposed the construction of three new men’s prisons at a cost of $950 million as one step toward dealing with the issues of crowding, health care and crumbling facilities. Read more.
Ivey’s Budget Proposes Shifting Funds, Including Moving CHIP Costs to Education Fund, as Part of Plan to Improve Roads and Bridges
MONTGOMERY – Gov. Kay Ivey is proposing a redistribution of some tax revenue — including more than $30 million from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund — to help sell her initiative to raise more revenue for building roads and bridges. Read more.
The state’s roads are in bad shape. Those potholes and accidents cost the average driver in the Birmingham area about $1,800 a year, according to a new report from a transportation group.
The report comes as state lawmakers prepare to convene next week in Montgomery for the start of the legislative session. Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to announce a plan to improve state infrastructure Tuesday. She supports a gas tax increase for roads and bridges.
More than 40 percent of Birmingham’s major roads and highways are in poor or mediocre condition according to Trip, a national transportation nonprofit research group. Read more.
The Birmingham school board informed the state this week that it denied an application for a Woodlawn-area charter school. This marks the third charter school proposal Birmingham has rejected since 2017. Read more.
Four years ago the Black Warrior Riverkeeper roused public opinion to keep the Shepherd Bend coal mine from opening. Now the river protection advocacy organization is warning of another proposed mining operation – this one three miles upstream on the Mulberry Fork from Shepherd Bend.
What’s called the No.5 Mine is in the Walker County community of Dovertown, near the city of Cordova. Mays Mining Inc. would operate the mine at a former industrial site that was left with contaminated groundwater, according to Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke. Read more.
U.S. Steel Corporation will restart work on its electric arc furnace in Fairfield. The $215 million initiative will replace the former blast furnace at Fairfield Works. The project started almost four years ago, but was put on hold due to poor market demand for steel. Ty West, editor-in-chief of the Birmingham Business Journal, says this is good news. Read more.
Birmingham Police Chief Urges Residents to Become More Active in Crime Prevention, Describes New Approach to Policing
In a presentation to neighborhood officers, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith laid out a new strategy for the department and urged residents to be proactive in addressing crime in their communities.
“We have to get real about it,” he said. “We cannot do things the way we always did.”
Thursday’s meeting, which took place after a swearing-in ceremony for newly elected neighborhood officers, was one of the first major presentations of Smith’s strategy since he took the job in June. Smith described his first six months on the job as playing “catch-up” with a department that had fallen “behind the curve” in its approach to fighting crime.
“When I took over, I did an analysis of the department,” he said. “Over time, from 2014 to 2018, crime has doubled … We have to do a lot to bring this police department back to where it needs to be.” Read more.