4/5: Tornado Masters, impeach the courts and the media pretends it doesn’t understand…

Guest today:

  • 8:00 AM – Doctor of Political Science Dr. Jess Brown

I love Alabama politics. The media acts like the legislature has the ability to snap their fingers and collect revenue.

The media acts like they don’t remember Gov. Bob Riley get his ass handed to him when he tried to do it…

In the first year of his administration, Riley proposed “Amendment One“, which would have made swift changes to the state’s tax system. The plan essentially consisted of income tax breaks for lower brackets, offset by various tax hikes on consumption, property and income from higher brackets. Part of the problem that this plan sought to address was the strong dependence the Alabama tax system placed upon sales tax, which makes the state budget dependent upon the economy in the state. The plan was estimated to yield an overall state revenue increase of $1.2 billion per year.[8] The plan also included accountability reforms, including changes to teacher tenure policies, accountability for school systems, and bans on pass-through pork. This plan also included provisions for a scholarship program for Alabama students to attend college and funding of other education initiatives.

Support as well as opposition for this plan came from traditionally opposing forces in Alabama, crossing party lines. This included support from pro-business organizations, including the Business Council of Alabama and many Chambers of Commerce, as well as prominent education organizations, including the Alabama Education Association. Other progressively-minded non-profit groups supported this plan, including many organizations that had sought changes in the Alabama tax system for many years. These organizations saw this as an opportunity for Alabama to invest in the future of the state through investments in education and governmental reforms. Riley also presented this plan using Christian terms, building upon language already present in the state to argue that the Alabama tax system placed the heaviest burden upon the poorest citizens of the state. Opponents to the plan included the Alabama chapter of the Christian Coalition (splitting with the national Christian Coalition who endorsed the plan), and the Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA). A number of the people who opposed this plan, included both organizations mentioned, had strongly supported Riley for Governor in 2002. These opponents based a campaign upon a criticism of the state legislature and used the complexity of the plans to claim that taxes would go up on people in the state. While proponents had pointed to studies of the plan showing the majority of Alabamians seeing a lower overall tax burden, polls indicated that most citizens – likely influenced by the proposed property tax increase – believed their personal taxes would be higher under the plan.

Amendment One was rejected by voters on September 9, 2003, with 68 percent opposed. While Riley’s Amendment One was soundly rejected by Alabama voters, it did gain him national recognition. For his leadership in addressing the state’s fiscal crisis, Governor Riley was named the “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine[9] in 2003, and Time magazine hailed him for being one of the nation’s “most courageous politicians.”[10]

The overwhelming rejection of this plan forced Riley to mend fences within his own base and seek to do some reforms without the broad tax increases that Amendment One sought. Some parts of the proposal have been enacted, such as efforts to raise the minimum tax threshold in Alabama.

I say all that to say this, the media pretends they don’t get this… Why?

Spending from the state General Fund would drop $341.7 million – 19.7 percent – from this year’s expected spending, under a state operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year that a legislative panel approved Wednesday.

The state Medicaid agency, which provides health care for more than 900,000 lower-income and disabled Alabamians, would absorb 51 percent of the proposed cut in spending from the General Fund, a major source of money for non-education services.

“We’re going to do everything we possibly can to responsibly structure a program that allows services to continue with the least amount of disruption. But it is hard to envision there won’t be some significant changes with this level of funding,” said state health officer Don Williamson, who at Gov. Robert Bentley’s request is helping to oversee Medicaid’s finances.

Under the proposed budget, Williamson said, the state Medicaid agency next year might have to cut payments it makes to doctors, hospitals and other providers that serve Medicaid patients. He said such cuts would raise the likelihood of some providers refusing to see Medicaid patients.

General Fund spending would total $1.39 billion in fiscal 2013, which starts Oct. 1, under the state operating budget approved Wednesday by the Ways and Means General Fund Committee of the state House of Representatives. That would be less than the $1.43 billion spent from the General Fund in fiscal 2005.

The committee-passed operating budget for noneducation agencies also would appropriate in fiscal 2013 about $12 billion in federal grants, state fuel taxes and other money outside the General Fund.

Even so, state Rep. Jim Barton, R-Mobile, said the proposed cut in General Fund money would have ‘devastating effects across the state of Alabama,’ in part because the loss of each $1 in General Fund money will cost some agencies about $2 in federal matching money. Also, while some state offices get no money from the General Fund, others depend on it for most of their funds.

Blah, Blah, Blah… Raise taxes. Not happening. Next solution please… The answer is cut services. Period. That has to happen.

Unless Alabama’s “raise our taxes” crowd wants to start donating money to the legislature AND we know that is not happening.

Speaking of tools in our media… Is anyone besides me going to call out the Governor and legislature on their silly pandering?

Pandering is fun! <– Nice press release WHNT! Maybe do some reporting on it?

More praising a non-existent feat…

Local: Gov. Bentley Signs ‘Heroes For Hire‘ Act‎ WHNT
Bentley’s Heroes for Hire Act Makes Local Organization Proud‎ WAAY
Bentley signs ‘Heroes‘ bill to help veterans get jobs‎ Gadsden Times
all 101 news articles »

And then there is this….

The Heroes for Hire Act will provide a tax credit of $1,000 for a business that hires an unemployed veteran. The law also offers a credit of up to $2,000 to help an unemployed veteran cover the costs of starting a small business.

“I think it will have a great impact on Alabama because we know that companies want to hire veterans,” said Sheila McFerran, who is the Director of Program Development at Still Serving Veterans.

“They can understand and see the value they bring not only to the organization, but to the community. This proclamation that Governor Bentley is signing is going to have a huge impact not only on north Alabama, but the whole state of Alabama,” McFerran said


Impeach the Supreme Court?

You think the idea is laughable? Thomas Jefferson disagreed with you.

Jefferson believed Supreme Court justices who undermine the principles of the Constitution ought to be impeached, and that wasn’t just idle talk. During his presidency, Jefferson led the effort to oust Justice Samuel Chase, arguing that Chase was improperly seizing power. The Senate acquitted Chase in 1805, and no Justice has been impeached since, but as the Supreme Court threatens to nullify the health-care law, Jefferson’s idea is worth revisiting.


First, Congress’s authority in passing the law rests on an elementary syllogism: You don’t have to drive, but if you do, the government can make you buy insurance. The logical structure at work here is that if you are going to do something (drive, for example), the government can make you purchase a commercial product (insurance, for example), so long as it has a good reason for doing so (making sure you can pay for any damage you do). That logic is obviously satisfied in the health-care context. You are going to use medical care, so the government can make you buy insurance in order to make sure you can pay for it. Liberty, like every other human and constitutional right, is not absolute. Under some circumstances, it can be regulated.

Which leads to the second point: critics of the health-care law say the only reason the rest of us have to pay for medical services used by people who have no money is that laws require hospitals to treat people who come in for emergencies regardless of their ability to pay. In other words, the critics say, the only reason there is a social cost—the only reason the syllogism works—is because of the underlying laws requiring hospitals to treat the poor.

Unlike silly examples involving broccoli and cell phones, that so-called “bootstrap” argument is sound. But here the critics drop their ideological mask as surely as the court dropped it in the Gonzales ruling. Their argument can be restated thusly: if you repeal laws requiring hospitals to treat the poor, you eliminate the constitutional basis for mandatory insurance coverage.

An actual Constitutional professor says Obama misspoke

Constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor and former mentor to President Barack Obama, said the president “obviously misspoke” earlier this week when he made comments about the Supreme Court possibly overturning the health-care law.

Mr. Tribe, who calls the president was one of his best students, said in an interview: “He didn’t say what he meant…and having said that, in order to avoid misleading anyone, he had to clarify it.”

Mr. Tribe said he saw no reason for the president to express his views on the matter, because everyone already knows he wants the case upheld.

“I don’t think anything was gained by his making these comments and I don’t think any harm was done,” Mr. Tribe said, “except by public confusion.”

The dust-up began Monday, when Mr. Obama was asked about the law and said it would be a prime example of judicial overreach if the Supreme Court ruled against it. “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” he said.

Republicans latched onto President Obama’s remarks, pointing out that it passed with 60 votes in the Senate, just achieving the supermajority needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, and by 219-212 in the House. They also lampooned the president by saying the Supreme Court exists to decide on the constitutionality of laws. The president taught law, including Constitutional law, for 12 years at the University of Chicago and has a degree from Harvard Law School.

On Wednesday, the White House defended President Obama’s remarks about the Supreme Court, saying he wasn’t trying to threaten justices into upholding the health-care law.

“It’s the reverse of intimidation,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a nearly hour-long briefing with reporters that was dominated by questions about the president’s remarks. He said the president was making an “unremarkable observation” that when it comes to matters of national economic importance, the court generally defers to Congress.

Mr. Carney said the president “obviously believes” the Supreme Court can and does overturn laws passed by Congress. “He certainly was not contending that the Supreme Court doesn’t have as its right and responsibility the ability to overturn laws passed by Congress as unconstitutional,” Mr. Carney said.

What also makes sense is the lefts fascination with the courts striking down laws they don’t like, Alabama’s immigration law for example. Which, by the way, his administration is asking courts to strike down…

I would like to pretend I am shocked about Tornado Masters being an unscrupulous business but I can’t…

Tornado Masters, the Toney-based storm shelter company essentially shut down by a Madison County judge on Tuesday, is unlikely to appeal the ruling.

“I can’t fight the state of Alabama,” Leslie Holt, president of Tornado Masters, said Wednesday. “I can’t even pay my own bills.”

Madison County Circuit Court Judge Dennis O’Dell issued a permanent injunction against Tornado Masters on Tuesday after finding the business sold storm shelters that did not meet the safety specifications it claimed.

O’Dell’s order was a win for the state, which sought to put Tornado Masters out of business after receiving information from more than a dozen customers about safety issues with the shelters .

Holt, whose father Grady Holt owns Tornado Masters, said he was ‘disappointed’ with O’Dell’s ruling.

‘Tornado Masters stands behind our claims about its shelters,’ Leslie Holt said. ‘We’re in the business of keeping people safe during severe weather and we take that seriously.

‘We still feel we operated under the rules. We feel confident that anybody who has one of our shelters will be safe in that shelter.’ O’Dell disagreed that the shelters would withstand an EF-5 tornado or met FEMA shelter specifications, ruling that ‘in a number of instances, the representations about timeliness, quality and safety were false.’ Allen Brinkley, one of the attorneys who represented Tornado Masters in the two day hearing last month, said the cost of an appeal would be ‘prohibitive.’

Why am I not surprised? Because on April 28th someone with Tornado Masters called WVNN/WZYP/WUMP’s simulcast of tornado info and told a long story about a lost love one and ended the call with something like “I wish they had bought a shelter from Tornado Masters” and they would still be safe… I went off. I couldn’t believe any business would do such a thing.

So when I found out they were a scam, lets just say I was not shocked.

Charter Schools Bill is under assault…

Critics of a proposal to allow charter schools in Alabama praised the sponsor’s move to substantially scale down the bill but pressed for further changes during a House committee meeting.

Wednesday marked the third meeting in which the House Ways and Means Education Committee discussed House Bill 541, the so-called ‘Education Options Act,’ but the committee did not vote on it. Rep. Jay Love, the Montgomery Republican who chairs the committee, said the vote will take place today.

The bill’s opponents pressed for a vote next week, to provide more time to review the alternate version of the bill sent to committee members Tuesday night.

As compared with the original proposal, the new bill would: • Allow charters to be created only in districts with lowperforming schools, instead of statewide, as the original bill proposed.

• Reduce the maximum number of charter schools created before 2017 from 50 to 20; • Require that charter schools must be created near low-performing schools.

• Increase the size of a state council with the power to overrule local districts on creating charters from nine to 11 members and mandate that the state superintendent and two members of the state board of education be included.

• Give charter schools the option to enroll or not enroll their employees in state retirement programs.

I guess I understand those changes, but why in the world would a school enroll their teacher in the state retirement program? They want to cut costs…


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