Category: Government

Britt Dominates in Fundraising for U.S. Senate Race

Katie Boyd Britt, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, holds a huge fundraising advantage over U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and three other candidates for the Republican nomination to succeed Shelby in Alabama’s 2022 GOP primary election, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Elections Commission.

Brooks, who is giving up his 5th District seat after five terms representing the Tennessee Valley area, held a commanding lead in recent polls and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

In financial reports for the three-month period ended Sept. 31, Britt listed $1.53 million in net contributions during the period and $3.76 million since she resigned as president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and entered the race during the summer.

She reported expenditures of $394,448 during the quarter and had a cash balance of $3.34 million at the end of September.

Brooks reported net contributions of $663,074 during the three-month period and a total of $1.79 million overall. He listed expenditures of $507,623 and an account balance of $1.86 million. He had entered the race with $1.1 million left over from previous campaigns for the House of Representatives.

Montgomery business executive Lynda Blanchard, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Slovenia, reported contributions of $1,958 but listed refunds of $12,100 for a net of minus $10,142 during the quarter. She made loans totaling $5.11 million to her campaign earlier this year and ended September with a cash balance of $4.51 million. Read more.

Reapportionment Special Session Oct. 28, Maps May Not Be Released Until Next Week

Lawmakers will be back in Montgomery starting Oct. 28 to decide new congressional, state Senate and House and state school board district boundaries in a special session.

The proposed maps, still being drafted, aren’t likely to be made public until late next week, raising some concerns about how much community reaction could be heard in a fast-paced special session. Read more.

Committee Recompiling State Constitution Close to Final Vote

The commission deciding what changes should be made to Alabama’s constitution is close to a final vote, with most members agreeing Wednesday about alterations to three sections containing racist language.

The group decided to take another week to review all of the final suggested revisions before taking a final vote, most likely during the special session on reapportionment, which could happen as soon as the last week of October.

“I just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page because at the end of the day, I’m going to take this document back to the Legislature, and I want to say that this is a document that was bipartisan,” said Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, who chairs the commission. Read more.

Who’s Running? 2022 Alabama House Races Update

There are about 20 open Alabama House seats ahead of the 2022 election cycle and several incumbents have announced primary challengers. Here’s an update on who is and isn’t running. Candidates have until Jan. 28 to qualify. Meanwhile, legislative districts could change, some likely significantly, when lawmakers later this month or early next month redraw lines with new census data.

GOP Rematch in HD73?

Recently elected Rep. Kenneth Paschal, R-Pelham, may again face Republican Leigh Hulsey of Helena for House District 73 seat in Shelby County. Read more.

Birmingham Library Delays Plans to Close Four Branches After City Officials Protest

The Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees has delayed a proposed vote to shut down four library branches after receiving criticism from city leaders, including Mayor Randall Woodfin.

In a letter to BPL staff sent out Oct. 8, board President Eunice Johnson Rogers said the board would consider shutting down the BPL’s East Ensley, Ensley, North Avondale and Titusville locations during its Oct. 12 meeting.

“Now we are challenged with supporting Mayor Woodfin’s vision of decreasing the number of Birmingham Public Library physical locations,” Rogers wrote. “After careful consideration, the BPL Board of Trustees recommends the permanent closure of the East Ensley, Ensley, North Avondale and Titusville Branch Libraries. All branch libraries identified for closure are located less than three miles from another BPL location.”

Rogers’ letter said staff from those branches would be reassigned to work at the BPL’s Five Points West, Avondale and North Birmingham branches. Read more.

Work Scheduled to Tear Down Cooper Green Parking Deck, Building New Clinic

Demolition of the old Cooper Green Hospital parking lot is expected to begin later this year or early next year to make way for building a new indigent care clinic in that location, officials with Jefferson County and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System announced Tuesday.

Designs for the new clinic, planned to be about 150,000 square feet, are being worked on, and those involved hope it will be ready to open in 2½ to 3 years, David Randall, chief strategy officer for the UAB Health System, said during a press conference.

The project is expected to cost between $55 million and $65 million, Randall said. Read more.

No More Euphoria; Bham Council Revokes License of Infamous Club

The Birmingham City Council has revoked the business license of Club Euphoria, an Ensley nightclub deemed a “nuisance” by the surrounding neighborhood.

The council originally considered shutting the club down in June after repeated instances of gun violence inside and outside the club, including the June 13 killing of 21-year-old Euphoria patron Lykeria Briana Taylor. The council was split on revocation then, settling on a 13-week delay to give owners time to tighten up their safety plan.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Monica Hatcher, an attorney representing club owner Morris Bradley, told councilors that the club had “beefed up security” since June, including patrols around the surrounding neighborhoods to prevent club visitors from parking off-site.

But numerous residents argued that Bradley hadn’t done enough to address problems of parking and loud noise. “I have multiple documented occasions where the loud noise and the nuisance was such that neighbors were calling me at all hours of the night,” said Costella Adams Terrell, president of the Rising-West Princeton neighborhood association. Read more.

COVID-19 Federal Funds in Alabama Total $46B, Contribute to Big 2021 Tax Revenues

About $46.8 billion. Billion with a B.

That’s how much federal COVID-19 relief money has gone to Alabama residents, businesses and government agencies since the pandemic began.

About $30.3 billion of that has been given directly to individuals and businesses to assist them, Kirk Fulford, deputy director of the Legislative Services Agency, told state lawmakers recently. About $6.3 billion was in the Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans to help businesses weather the economic drought caused by COVID-related shutdowns.

And nearly twice that much, $12.6 billion, has gone directly to individuals in stimulus checks.

The money had a big impact on the state’s record tax receipts for fiscal 2021, which ended last week, Fulford said. That’s especially true in the Education Trust Fund, where sales and income tax are the main contributors. Read more.

Stephens Left as Last Man Sitting, Recesses JeffCo Commission After Other Commissioners Had to Bolt

They say it’s lonely at the top. As Thursday’s meeting of the Jefferson County Commission neared its end, it was lonely on the dais.

Commission President Jimmie Stephens was the only commissioner remaining after others were either absent or had to leave because of other commitments.

“I guess I’m the last man standing on this particular deal,” Stephens said after recessing the session. “This is not the pattern, practice or the way we do business. We have commissioners who had other commitments, and this did run over very long. We wanted to give the citizens an opportunity to speak.

“At the end of that, we did do what was needed and necessary to take care of the business of the county,” he continued. “We’ll have a full quorum next meeting and continue the operations and business.” Read more.