Presented by the
Yes For The Best Education Committee
Good morning!

Today is the eighth legislative day of the 2020 Regular Session.

We are six days out of the March 3 primary elections.

Also, somehow today isn't Friday.

Here's your Daily News for Thursday, February 27.
1. Trump urges calm on Coronavirus
  • President Donald Trump declared that a widespread U.S. outbreak of the new respiratory virus sweeping the globe isn’t inevitable even as top health authorities at his side warned Americans that more infections are coming.
  • At a White House news conference, Trump sought to minimize fears as he insisted the U.S. is “very, very ready” for whatever the COVID-19 outbreak brings. He put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of coordinating the efforts.
  • Trump credited border restrictions that have blocked people coming into the U.S. from China for keeping infections low. But now countries around the world — from South Korea and Japan to Italy and Iran — are experiencing growing numbers of cases. Asked if it was time to either lift the China restrictions or take steps for travelers from elsewhere, he said: “At a right time we may do that. Right now it’s not the time.”
  • Read more and watch the full press conference HERE.
2. Trans treatment bill advances
  • Two Alabama legislative committees approved a bill Wednesday that would ban gender therapies for minors such as prescription hormones or gender reassignment surgery. 
  • Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, and Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, are the sponsors of the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act. 
  • Allen said last week that children who struggle with their gender identity should receive mental health counseling and not medications or surgeries that cause physical changes. 
  • The Alabama House Health Committee approved Allen's bill Wednesday morning, news outlets reported. Later, the Senate Health Committee approved Shelnutt’s bill in a 10-1 vote. Both bills will move on to the full House and full Senate for consideration, respectively.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
A message from the
Yes For The Best Education Committee
  • Raise your hand if you like being dead last in math? How about 49th in reading?

  • Just what I thought. We’re NOT ok with that. So let’s change it.

  • We’re one of the last states in the U.S. to elect its school boards.

  • On Tuesday March 3rd, Vote YES on Amendment One to change that.

  • Our 2-year college system did the same thing a few years ago, and it’s changing for the better.

  • Vote YES on Amendment One, March 3rd.

Paid for by Yes For The Best Education Committee
P.O. Box 11000 Montgomery, AL 36191
3. Smoking/vaping in cars bill faces uncertainty in the Senate
Photo credit: Dionne Whetstone, House of Representatives
  • The Alabama House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to ban smoking tobacco and using vaping products in vehicles when children younger than 14 are present. But as the bill moves to the Senate, some lawmakers are concerned about policing people’s actions within their property.
  • The House last week approved House Bill 46, by Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham, in a 78-19 vote. It was amended to add the vaping prohibition and to say that smoking or vaping with children in the car is a secondary violation, not a primary reason a driver can be pulled over. The violation comes with a fine not to exceed $100.
  • Senators in both parties say they need to review the bill and aren't sure how they'll vote.
  • “I think it is irresponsible to smoke around children but do we really need a law to say that?” Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, said.
  • Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham also expressed skepticism.
  • "I think that second-hand smoke is serious, but I think we've got to kind of balance between the parent and the situation as it relates to the child and the limitations," Smitherman said.
  • Also, another bill from Rep. April Weaver, R-Brierfield, would ban vaping in "no smoking" areas.
  • Read the full story from ADN's Abby Driggers and Devin Pavlou HERE.
4. Poll shows tightening race in AL-2
  • A new poll shows that the Republican primary contest for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District could be tightening.
  • Yesterday, the Alabama Forestry Association released a survey of 403 likely Republican primary voters with a margin for error of +/- 5%.
  • Asked who they would vote for if the primary were today, 30% said Jeff Coleman. The rest of the results show a three-way race for the second spot in a likely GOP runoff between Jessica Taylor at 18%; Barry Moore at 17%; and Troy King at 15%.
  • Almost 20% of likely voters were undecided about the Tuesday primary.
  • Forestry is not backing a candidate in this race, but the industry has a significant presence in AL-2.
  • Inside Alabama Politics subscribers got the first look at these numbers yesterday (it pays to subscribe!).
  • We now have a more complete story up on Alabama Daily News HERE.
My stories/interviews of the three leading candidates for the GOP Senate nomination are all finished and online.

Many thanks to the candidates and campaign staffs for making time for these sit-downs during the hectic homestretch of the race.

I hope the interviews provided some clarity on what kind of senator each of the candidates might be, including some differences between them.

Read/listen to each of them via the links below.

Also, not for nothing but our "In the Weeds" podcast is back, with these interviews comprising the first three episodes of Season Two.

Note that the first episode w/ Sessions has the longer political analysis from David Mowery and me, if you're into that kind of thing.

We'll be doing more shows with interesting guests going forward, and I'm eager for your ideas.

Here are some links to subscribe to "In the Weeds" with Alabama Daily News via various podcast platforms ( don't forget to rate and leave a review! ):

News Briefs
Flooding is expected to continue on some rivers in South

  • Significant flooding is likely to continue throughout the week on some rivers in Alabama, Mississippi and northwest Florida, forecasters said.
  • Two Alabama waterways —Bayou Sara in Saraland and the Alabama River near Clairborne Dam — are forecast to remain above major flood stage for much of the week, The National Weather Service said Wednesday.
  • Moderate flooding was also occurring in some spots on the Tombigbee River and on the Mobile River at Barry Steam Plant.
  • In Mississippi, some minor flooding was occuring along the Chickasawhay, Pascagoula and Leaf rivers. In Florida, there is moderate flooding on the Escambia River near Century.

Alabama man gets 198 years in prison for child sex crimes

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A 66-year-old man has been sentenced to nearly 200 years in prison for sexually assaulting a young girl in Elmore County.
  • Dennis Long received a 198-year sentence from Circuit Judge Bill Lewis in Elmore County court on Tuesday. Long was convicted in December of sodomy and sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. The abuse began when she was 9, news outlets reported. 
  • Long also has two prior child sex offenses from the 1980s and 1990s, according to court records. He was offered a plea deal on the most recent conviction with a recommended sentence of 35 years, but he decided to go to trial. 
  • Lewis said he sentenced Long well above guidelines for the crime because he didn't want the man to be let out of prison again. The guidelines called for about 17 years, Lewis said.
  • "When everyone in Alabama wants to let everyone out, it forces judges to put in stiff sentences," the judge said. 

Workers discover decomposing body in covered manhole

  • BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) — Police in Alabama are trying to determine what happened to a woman whose body was found 15 feet (5 meters) below ground in a storm drain.
  • The Bessemer Police Department was dispatched to the scene Tuesday afternoon after county workers reported finding the badly-decomposed body in a covered manhole at the corner of an intersection.
  • "In my 30 years with the Bessemer Police Department, I've never seen a body recovered from a storm drain," Bessemer Police Chief Mike Roper said.
  • Investigators said the body appeared to be female, but an identity and a cause of death will have to be confirmed by an autopsy because of the state of decomposition, according to the agency. Police haven't said whether foul play is suspected.
  • Agencies in the area said they're looking into whether any missing persons reports may be connected to the discovery.
  • No additional details were released.

Alabama judge convicted on ethics charges after retirement

  • CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — A longtime Alabama judge who retired after being accused of wrongly sending court work to his son has been convicted on multiple judicial ethics charges.
  • Records show the Alabama Court of the Judiciary returned the judgment Monday against former Cullman County District Judge Kim Chaney, who had five terms in office and was reportedly the state's longest-serving district judge. 
  • Chaney retired recently as investigators accused him of wrongly sending $105,000 in court-appointed legal work to his attorney son, Alex Chaney, from 2015 through 2017. Chaney also was accused of wrongly ruling in cases involving his son. 
  • Chaney, who did not contest the allegations, was ordered to pay about $3,700 in court costs. He was convicted on three judicial ethics charges involving six different rules, including a prohibition against nepotism.
  • Chaney served nearly 30 years in the position before retiring and being found guilty, and the Cullman Bar Association unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday praising Chaney's record and ethics despite the conviction, The Cullman Times reported. The resolution said Chaney became Alabama's longest-tenured district judge in 2018.
  •  "We had about 20 people at the meeting, and of those, everyone in attendance was in favor of doing this resolution in support of Judge Chaney," said Annette Parker, president of the organization.
  • Chaney worked as a deputy and county prosecutor before becoming a judge.

A message from the
Safe Surgery Coalition
Dangerous legislation has been re-introduced in the Alabama Legislature which would allow people who are not medical doctors or trained surgeons to perform surgery on or around your eyes.

Similar legislation was rejected in 2019 and we ask that Alabama lawmakers once again stand in the best interests of patient safety and quality of care.

INSIDE ALABAMA POLITICS - Inside Alabama Politics – February 26, 2020

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Trump urges calm as US reports worrisome new virus case

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Survey: Coleman leading AL-2 race; second spot in runoff up for grabs

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Committees approve bill banning gender treatment for minors

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Ban on smoking in cars with children progresses, but concern over rights remain

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Bill to give voters option to end police jurisdictions passes first vote

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - In the Weeds: Sessions campaigns as the consistent conservative he’s always been

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - In the Weeds: Tuberville disrupts Senate race as ‘outsider’

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - In the Weeds: A career of fighting has led Byrne to Senate showdown

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Daily News Digest – February 26, 2020

AL.COM  - Mike Bloomberg is spending big in Alabama. Will it win him the primary?
AL.COM  - Federal anti-lynching legislation passes 65 years after Emmett Till’s murder
AL.COM  - ‘People died’: Mobile Mardi Gras group’s signage generates outrage; Airbus reacts
AL.COM  - Alabama lawmakers to consider these 12 bills affecting women
AL.COM  - Alabama’s food tax on the chopping block again
AL.COM  - Despite Senate experience, Sessions finds himself in ‘tough race’
Montgomery Advertiser - Clanton man gets 30 years in prison for killing 2 in July 4 boat crash on Lake Jordan

Montgomery Advertiser - Families sue Alabama prison officials over suicide deaths

Montgomery Advertiser - Alabama Senate committee approves cut to death penalty appeals

YellowHammer News - Alabama House, Senate committees approve bill to ban transgender meds, surgeries for minors

YellowHammer News - Reed, South celebrate nearly $1.4 billion in recent West Alabama coal investments

YellowHammer News - Poll shows tight race for second runoff spot in AL-02 GOP primary

Anniston Star - Keep calm and cover your cough: Alabama health experts say COVID-19 virus contained in U.S. so far

Anniston Star - Ban on smoking in cars with children progresses, but concern over rights remain

Anniston Star - Deputies say guns were stolen from Hollis store

Tuscaloosa News - Ole Miss apologizes to black protesters arrested in 1970

Tuscaloosa News - HOME, CDBG application window closes Friday

Tuscaloosa News - Council votes to condemn, demolish Bar 17

Decatur Daily - Morgan jail introduces full-body scanner to combat contraband

Decatur Daily - Sheriff: Former Limestone commission chair made harassing Facebook posts

Decatur Daily - German court upholds restrictions on law clerk's headscarf

Times Daily - Police: 1 dead, 1 injured in shooting

Times Daily - No autopsy report yet in Tuscumbia shooting

Times Daily - Ban on smoking in cars with children progresses, but concern over rights remain

Troy Messenger - Tubberville speaks to PCRW on Senate race

Opelika-Auburn News - Opelika approves teacher pay raises; deal with Auburn U

Opelika-Auburn News - Lee County Boys and Girls Clubs celebrate 30 years

Opelika-Auburn News - Auburn ACE Club presents black history

Dothan Eagle - Dothan man sentenced to 14 years in prison will serve 30 months, get probation

Dothan Eagle - State granted third extension to determine whether or not to seek death penalty in 2018 murder case

Dothan Eagle - Community leaders tour Dothan Technology Center to discover what's cooking

Gadsden Times - Alleged abuse victim bound for care facility

Gadsden Times - ‘Hometown Heroes’ shares local black history

Gadsden Times - Thomas: Know the history of your hometown

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - Ban on smoking in cars with children progresses, but concern over rights remain

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - In the Weeds: A career of fighting has led Byrne to Senate showdown

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - Women working in local government trying to show other women career opportunities

WAFF Huntsville - In the Weeds: A career of fighting has led Byrne to Senate showdown

WAFF Huntsville - Ban on smoking in cars with children progresses, but concern over rights remain

WAFF Huntsville - ATF fire and bomb training at Redstone Arsenal

WSFA Montgomery - 'Strong’ law enforcement presence expected at south Ala. schools Thursday

WSFA Montgomery - Bill banning gender therapies for minors passes committees

WSFA Montgomery - Mighty Mara: Baby born with rare spinal defect is beating the odds, and giving back

WKRG Mobile - Satsuma residents continue seeing flooding rising

WKRG Mobile - TripAdvisor ranks Pensacola Beach No. 4 among ‘Best Beaches in America’

WKRG Mobile - Death investigation underway in Fairhope

WTVY Dothan - Florida Caverns State Park campground closing in on opening

WTVY Dothan - Judge reduces sentence for teen who killed friend

WTVY Dothan - New charges mean child sex abuse suspect is back in jail
WASHINGTON POST  - Trump keeps his coronavirus news conference focused on one high-risk patient: Himself
WASHINGTON POST  - Mike Pence was criticized for his handling of Indiana’s HIV outbreak. He will lead the U.S. coronavirus response
WASHINGTON POST  - This chart is the best explanation of middle-class finances you will ever see
NEW YORK TIMES  - Retired, or Hoping to Be, and Saddled With Student Loans
NEW YORK TIMES  - C.D.C. Confirms First Possible Community Transmission of Coronavirus in U.S.
Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)