Concerns raised that ‘dark money’ behind trying to get Justice Brett Kavanaugh to change his vote in case Milligan plaintiffs ask SCOTUS to deny Alabama’s appeal for a stay in redistricting case

 Alabama Redistricting map, which creates two possible Black voting age majority districts

From reports by Patrick Darrington and Bill Britt, Alabama Political Reporters

On Tuesday, attorneys representing the Milligan plaintiffs in the Allen v. Milligan suit filed a response to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to deny Allen’s emergency request for a stay that was filed last week with the high court.
Two weeks ago, a federal district court ruled that Alabama’s 2023 congressional map passed by the legislature in July failed to create a “remedy” to the previous map’s dilution of Black voting power. Secretary of State Wes Allen on behalf of the state filed an appeal to stay that decision but the district court refused the stay prompting Allen to make an emergency request to the Supreme Court to freeze the decision.
In June of 2023, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision , with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh voting with the three liberal judges: Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, that Alabama had violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by not redistricting to allow Black voters a chance to select two of the seven Alabama Congresspersons, when Black people were 27% of the Black voting age population in the state.
The Alabama State Legislature in August 2023 held a Special Session on redistricting and produced a Congressional Redistricting Map which did not create two districts that could elect a Black candidate, in defiance of the Supreme Court and a special three judge appellate court in Alabama. In part, the Alabama Legislature was hoping for a rehearing of their case by the Supreme Court, with the possibility of flipping the vote of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and declaring Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act unenforceable.
Bill Britt of Alabama Political Reporters has found a connection between Leonard Leo, Director of the Federalist Society and other groups, dark money supporters of a conservative agenda on the Supreme Court, personal vacation trips and other benefits offered to Justices Thomas, Alito, and others by billionaires with business interests before the courts, the Republican leaders of the Alabama Legislature, Alabama District Attorney Steve Marshall, and others. This group is pushing to get the Alabama redistricting case back before the U. S. Supreme Court, so they can influence Justice Brett Kavanaugh to change his vote and kill the Alabama two district redistricting plan.
The Alabama redistricting case has national implications for the future composition and control of the U. S. House of Representatives, since there are similar redistricting cases in Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, North Carolina, and other states to create opportunities for the election of Black candidates, who are likely to be Democrats replacing incumbent Republican Congresspersons. The Republicans currently control the House of Representatives by a five-seat majority which could evaporate if redistricting is done in these southern states.
U. S. Supreme Court considering the State of Alabama’s emergency appeal
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who handles cases from Alabama, gave the Allen vs Milligan plaintiffs in the litigation until Sept.19 to issue their response to the stay. The counsel for the plaintiffs did so and in their filing stressed that Alabama defied both the district court and Supreme Court’s previous rulings.  Much of the response argues the map put forth by the state plainly fails to remedy issues with the prior map by not implementing two majority Black districts as was ordered.
“The Secretary of State (Wes Allen), and legislative defendants, are free to make whatever arguments they wish to the Special Master about their preferred redistricting criteria for formulating the remedial map,” the filing stated. “What the Secretary cannot do is pretend this motion is something other than what it is: a request to defy this court’s decision by implementing a “remedy” that cures nothing and prevents Black voters from having an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in a second congressional district. The Court should deny Alabama’s application for stay pending appeal and summarily affirm the district court’s decision below.”
In June, the Supreme Court sided with the district court and ruled in Allen v. Milligan that Alabama’s 2021 congressional map likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and diluted Black voting power. The district court ordered Alabama to create a second majority, Black district or “something close to it.” Yet, Alabama defied this order backed by the Supreme Court and kept only one majority Black district. 
The state has attempted to argue they were trying to keep intact “communities of interest.” The Milligan counsel attacked this argument in the filing stating the legislature changed the criteria and factors involved with determining “communities of interest” and that those communities are not a “trump card” to ignore Section 2 or the creation of a second majority Black district.
“More fundamentally, nothing in the law justifies treating state-selected communities of interest as a “trump card” that overrides compliance with [Section 2] or nullifies Plaintiffs’ showing that Black Alabamians are geographically compact enough to comprise a reasonably configured second opportunity district,” the counsel wrote. “To the contrary, a rule that made certain retrofitted, attorney-identified communities of interest or map-drawing requirements inviolable would radically rewrite the [Section 2] inquiry, which “for more than forty years … has expressly provided that a violation is established based on the ‘totality of circumstances.’”

The response also mentioned the peculiar nature of how Alabama passed the Senate version of the congressional map and the state’s confidence in getting the case heard “anew” by the Supreme Court. APR originally reported in July this was due to high ranking ALGOP members including Attorney General Steve Marshall acquiring “intelligence” Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh could potentially flip his vote to overturn Section 2 of the VRA. 

However, new reporting from APR has discovered the dark money connections supporting this disobedience. in D.C. supporting the ALGOP’s deliberate disobedience of Supreme Court orders and attempts to overturn Section 2 of the VRA. 
The report details connections between far-right figure Leonard Leo labeled the “hidden architect of the Supreme Court”, Marshall, Solicitor General Edmund LaCour and a D.C. law firm called Consovoy McCarthy. Leo is infamous for supporting high stakes political challenges to attempt to overturn Supreme Court decisions like Roe and it appears he is now attempting to support an upheaval of voting rights law.
“These previously unreported connections between Alabama officials who led the state’s 2023 redistricting process and various players seeking to reshape America may be the reason Alabama’s Republican-controlled legislature gambled on a rehearing before the U.S. Supreme Court,” Bill Britt wrote, “in hopes their inside intelligence was right in believing Kavanaugh would change his previous vote in Allen v. Milligan.”
In Allen’s stay request he asked the Supreme Court to decide by at least Oct. 4 in hopes the current map will be used in the upcoming election cycle. The Milligan attorney closed their brief by stating Alabama’s actions would harm substantial portion of the public.
“Alabama’s flagrant disregard of court orders and significant lack of responsiveness” to a sizeable portion of the electorate harms the strong public interest in protecting the right to vote and the rule of law.”


Newswire: Historically Black Land-Grant (1890) Universities deprived of $12.6 Billion in funding over three decades, Biden Administration reveals

 Statue of Booker T. Washington on campus of Tuskegee University, an 1890 Historically Black Land Grant 

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Historically Black land-grant universities across 16 states have been denied a staggering $12.6 billion in funding over the past 30 years, according to the Biden administration. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack announced that they have contacted governors in each affected state, urging them to rectify the funding gap, which has had its most significant impact in Tennessee, according to a news release. Tennessee State University has suffered an underfunding deficit of $2.1 billion.

“Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished historically Black colleges and universities to operate with inadequate resources and delay critical investments in everything from campus infrastructure to research and development to student support services,” Cardona emphasized.

Similar letters were dispatched to governors in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The nation’s land-grant universities, established in the 19th century, were designed to advance agricultural education and research. While federal law mandates equitable distribution of state funding for all land-grant universities, this has not been realized for many historically Black institutions, as revealed in a comprehensive analysis.

Utilizing data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the federal agencies uncovered funding disparities in 16 out of 18 states hosting Black land grants. Only Delaware and Ohio provided equitable funding.

Cardona spoke fervently about the accomplishments of HBCUs and their impact on various professions. “The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to have made record investments in our HBCUs, but to compete in the 21st century, we need state leaders to step up and live up to their legally required obligations to our historically Black land-grant institutions,” Cardona demanded.

Vilsack echoed Cardona’s sentiments, recognizing these institutions’ pivotal role in agricultural advancements. He emphasized the need for governors to invest in HBCUs at levels commensurate with their contributions to society and the economy.

In a news release, administration officials noted that the Second Morrill Act of 1890 mandated that states establishing a second land-grant university for Black students ensure equitable distribution of state funds between their 1862 and 1890 land-grant institutions. The 1862 land-grant universities were established through the First Morrill Act of 1862, which provided states with federal land to support the colleges.

Drawing on data from the National Center for Education Statistics from 1987 to 2020, the departments calculated the amount these institutions would have received if their state funding per student equaled that of 1862 institutions. Officials said the discrepancies in appropriated funding ranged from $172 million to $2.1 billion, creating significant financial disparities. Over the past three decades, these funds could have been channeled towards crucial infrastructure and student services, enhancing the universities’ capacity to pursue grants and expand educational opportunities.

The Departments of Education and Agriculture said they have extended their offer to collaborate with each state’s budget office to analyze the funding data and redress the disparities in investments for 1890 HBCUs that have faced chronic underfunding.

Each letter outlined the specific underfunding per student for each state’s 1890 HBCUs between 1987 and 2020 and suggested remedies for the situation. “We want to make abundantly clear that it is not necessary to reduce funding to other institutions, nor make a reduction in general fund allocations to (HBCUs) in addressing these disparities,” the secretaries wrote. “We are at an inflection point that will determine our place in the world as leaders. We need to solidify our country as the top producer of talent and innovation – demonstrating to the global community that nothing can beat American ingenuity.”

They continued: “The state that serves as our nation’s economic engine for the next generation is sure to be one that fully realizes all its assets and is committed to ensuring that opportunity is equally distributed. Given the career opportunities that will be available due to recent bipartisan federal investments for key industries, strengthening these universities to provide tomorrow’s workforce will enhance your state’s economic viability.”

Newswire : Kamala Harris stands strong against racist attacks, affirms readiness to lead

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

In the face of a sustained Republican campaign to stoke fears among white voters, Vice President Kamala Harris remains resolute, highlighting her trailblazing achievements and defending her legacy against racially charged attacks.
Prominent figures within the Republican Party have continued the GOP’s attempt to cast doubt on President Joe Biden’s ability to complete a potential second term, equating a vote for him with a de facto endorsement of Harris as president. Former South Carolina Governor and GOP Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley asserted, “A vote for Joe Biden is a vote for Kamala Harris,” while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, positioning himself as a contender for the 2024 presidential race, labeled Harris as “impeachment insurance.”
“They feel the need to attack because they’re scared that we will win based on the merit of the work that Joe Biden and I, and our administration, has done,” Harris responded. She further emphasized the historic barriers she has shattered throughout her career, including being the first woman district attorney in San Francisco and the first Black woman to serve as California’s attorney general.
When questioned about her readiness to assume the highest office, if necessary, Harris affirmed her preparedness while expressing confidence in Biden’s leadership. “Joe Biden is going to be fine. Let me tell you something: I work with Joe Biden every day,” she told CBS News. “The work that our administration has accomplished under Joe Biden’s leadership is transformative.”

Newswire: University of Alabama condemns fans’ use of racist, homophobic slurs in viral video from Texas game

By: Wilton Jackson, Sports Illustrated

Alabama fans were overheard shouting racist and homophobic slurs at three Texas players in a viral video filmed during the Crimson Tide’s 34-24 loss to the Longhorns on Saturday night.

Fans behind the Texas sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., yelled homophobic and racist language at Longhorns defensive backs Jelani McDonald and X’Avion Brice as well as running back Quintrevion Wisner.
Among the slurs that can be heard on the video are Alabama fans calling the Texas players –“faggots” and advising them “to go back to the projects”.
In the wake of the video’s circulation on social media, Alabama released a statement to The Austin American-Statesman, saying the university does not condone the behavior and that such behavior “will not be tolerated” in its venues.
“We are disgusted by reports of vile language and inappropriate behavior Saturday night,” the statement read, per Danny Davis of The American-Statesman. “It’s not representative of UA and our values. We expect all attendees to act with class and respect towards others. Fans are strongly encouraged to report issues to our security resources on-site. Game day and delayed reports are appropriately addressed, and anyone found to be in violation of our rules and expectations will be promptly removed and may be banned from future events.

Newswire: FDA approves updated COVID-19 vaccines amid rising cases and hospitalizations

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved updated COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech in response to the surge in cases and hospitalizations. Both manufacturers have reported that their vaccines demonstrate effectiveness against the currently dominant EG.5 strain in the United States.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an independent expert group advising the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will now assess the safety and efficacy of these updated vaccines and provide recommendations for their deployment. Following approval by the CDC director, the vaccines will be available for administration. The advisory group plans to convene immediately, suggesting that the vaccines may soon be accessible at select pharmacies and healthcare facilities.
Health authorities have emphasized the urgency of vaccination once the shots become available. The new release coincides with a late summer surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and growing concerns over the potential impact of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus, in the upcoming fall and winter seasons.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, underlined the importance of vaccination in protecting against severe COVID-19 consequences.
“The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated,” Marks stated in a news release.
Dr. Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, noted that despite an increase in infection rates and hospitalizations, the rates of severe disease, hospitalizations, and death are still significantly lower than in previous years.
Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, highlighted the significance of this decision, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise again. He said that nearly all individuals aged six months or older in the U.S. are eligible for this season’s COVID-19 vaccine, even if they have not been previously vaccinated.
The updated vaccines are approved for individuals 12 and older, with emergency use authorization for those aged six months to 11 years. The bivalent Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are no longer authorized for use in the United States.
According to the FDA, babies and young children from six months to four years who have not been vaccinated can receive three doses of the updated Pfizer/BioNTech shot or two doses of the updated Moderna booster. Those who have been previously vaccinated will follow specific dosage guidelines. For those five and older, a single dose of the updated vaccines is recommended at least two months after their last COVID-19 shot, irrespective of previous vaccination.
Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, emphasized the critical role of updated vaccines in protecting the population during the peak respiratory virus season. “COVID-19 remains a leading cause of death in the U.S. and poses a significant threat to vulnerable populations, particularly as we enter peak respiratory virus season,” Bancel stated.
The mRNA vaccines have been adjusted to combat the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus and related strains. The FDA anticipates that COVID-19 vaccine compositions may need annual updates, similar to seasonal influenza vaccines.

Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, stated, “Our goal is to provide people worldwide with COVID-19 vaccines that are adapted to circulating virus variants or sub-lineages.”

The updated vaccines, administered in a single dose, are expected to be available at no cost to those in need.
Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine has not yet received FDA authorization but is currently under review for individuals aged 12 and older.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans cover the total cost of vaccines, eliminating co-pays for insured individuals. The uninsured or underinsured can access the vaccine at no cost through the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, a temporary initiative set to conclude by December 2024.
Officials noted that this is the first instance of vaccines being provided through the commercial market. According to CNN, during a Pfizer investor call in October, officials estimated a potential list price of $110 to $130 per single dose for adults.

Court strikes down Alabama Legislature’s congressional map in scathing opinion

Evan Milligan, lead plaintiff in Allen vs Milligan redistricting case, speaks in front of U. S. Supreme Court at rally, when case was heard and decided 5 to 4 in favor of Black voting rights in Alabama.

By: Zach Schonfeld, The Hill, with some additional materials from other sources

A three-judge panel struck down Alabama’s new congressional map Tuesday, finding the GOP-led state fell short of complying with the Supreme Court’s recent directive.
The ruling paves the way for a court-appointed official to instead draw the lines for the 2024 election cycle.
“And we are struck by the extraordinary circumstance we face,” the federal judges wrote in a 196-page opinion.
“We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature — faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district — responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district,” they continued.
The ruling orders a court-appointed special master to submit three new maps by Sept. 25 that fix the dilution of Black voters in the state. It could provide a boost to Democrats as they attempt to retake the U. S. House of Representatives in 2024.There are similar redistricting cases, under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia ,North Carolina, Arkansas and other states.
Alabama had submitted the new map after the Supreme Court in June blocked the state’s previous iteration in a 5-4 decision for likely violating the Voting Rights Act. Alabama’s map included one majority-Black district out of the state’s seven total districts, despite 27 percent of the state’s population being Black.
The Supreme Court’s decision affirmed a lower ruling that mandated the state draw new lines that “will need to include two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it.”
But the Republican-led legislature then refused to draw a second majority-Black district.
It instead maintained Alabama’s one majority-Black district — which is represented by the state’s lone congressional Democrat, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, — and only increased the percentage of Black voters in the 2nd Congressional District from 30 percent to 40 percent. The Legislature’s plan reduced the Black voting age population in Sewell’s district from 56% to 50.5%
“We discern no basis in federal law to accept a map the State admits falls short of this required remedy,” the judges wrote. 
The panel comprised one Clinton appointee, Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus, and two Trump appointees, District Judge Anna Manasco and District Judge Terry Moorer.
State officials previously indicated the boundaries need to be finalized by about Oct. 1, so it can be in place for next year’s primary. 
After the court-appointed official submits its three maps, the state or other parties will have three days to object. A hearing would then be held Oct. 3, if necessary.
“[W]e have no reason to believe that allowing the Legislature still another opportunity to draw yet another map will yield a map that includes an additional opportunity district,” the judges wrote. “Moreover, counsel for the State has informed the Court that, even if the Court were to grant the Legislature yet another opportunity to draw a map, it would be practically impossible for the Legislature to reconvene and do so in advance of the 2024 election cycle.
One group of plaintiffs — individual voters and voting rights advocates — in a joint statement said Alabama “openly admits its intention” to defy the Supreme Court and the law.
“Sixty years ago, former Governor George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door to stop Black people from desegregating the University of Alabama,” they said. “He moved only when the federal government forced him to do so. History is repeating itself and the district court’s decision confirms that Alabama is again on the losing side. We demand that Alabama again move out of the way and obey our laws — we demand our voting rights.”

The Hill has reached out to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s (R) office for comment. Knowledgeable observers of Alabama politics feel that Marshall plans to try to get the case before the Supreme Court again ,in an effort to reverse their 5 to 4 decision in favor of more and fairer representation for Black voters in the state.
Evan Milligan, the lead plaintiff in Allen v. Milligan and executive director of Alabama Forward, stated that the fight was not over to ensure fair voting maps.

“We’re thankful that the federal court heard our argument,” Milligan said. “We are thankful to the many people who also heard our argument and showed their support by filling the federal courtroom and even the overflow room a few weeks ago. Prior to that hearing, we had hoped our state legislature and governor would have heard us as well. Had they listened to the Supreme Court, we could have saved our state some money and avoided this Groundhogs’s Day loop that some in our state want us to remain trapped within. Nevertheless, we know that fair maps provide a way out of this trap. And we will do every decent thing in our power to ensure that our state produces district maps that comply with the Voting Rights Act our elders fought and died to realize for us. Amen and onward.”

Anneshia Hardy, executive director of Alabama Values, also commented stating, “The court’s decision to strike down the state’s unfair and discriminatory congressional map for the second time underscores the urgency and necessity for organizers, advocates, and community members to continue to demand fair and equitable representation. While we share in the collective relief and hope that springs from this ruling, our focus remains on the journey ahead. The fight for fair representation is far from over, and Alabama Values remains diligent in ensuring that the redrawing process is transparent, inclusive, and truly reflective of our state’s diverse population. We deeply appreciate the ongoing support and engagement from Alabamians across the state, and we will continue to champion the cause for fair maps. This isn’t just about lines on a map; it’s about the rights, voices, and futures of Alabamians”

Newswire : Democrats introduce bill to eradicate solitary confinement, highlighting racial disparities

Woman prisoner in solitary confinement

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

A group of House Democrats is spearheading legislative efforts to dismantle the practice of solitary confinement, a punitive measure that disproportionately affects Black and brown inmates within the American penal system.

Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, a passionate advocate for criminal justice reform, leads this critical initiative. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Sydney Kamlager-Dove of California, and Jamaal Bowman of New York are among Bush’s colleagues joining the effort. Together, they have introduced groundbreaking legislation to abolish solitary confinement within federal prisons and jails, effectively addressing a glaring issue within the nation’s correctional system.

The proposed legislation does not merely seek to banish this punitive practice; it also aims to institute vital due process safeguards for individuals where solitary confinement is the sole recourse. Further, the bill offers incentives to states, encouraging them to adopt similar legislation at the local level, fostering a more equitable and humane justice system.

Bush minced no words in denouncing the practice of isolating incarcerated individuals, referring to it as a “moral catastrophe.” She underscored the gravity of the situation, citing United Nations experts who have characterized solitary confinement as psychological torture. “This practice is traumatic for people subjected to it, harmful to communities, and alarmingly, it disproportionately impacts Black and brown individuals, young people, LGBTQ+ members, and other marginalized communities,” Bush passionately asserted.

Rep. Bowman echoed Bush’s sentiments, declaring that such a method of imprisonment has no place in the United States. He emphasized the stark reality that harsh practices like solitary confinement directly target marginalized groups, particularly people of color. “We must put an end to this cruel and traumatic form of punishment for the well-being of all,” Bowman insisted.

Rep. Kamlager-Dove expressed her profound disapproval of solitary confinement, likening it to a grave human rights violation that would be condemned in any other context or country. She also emphasized the necessity of treating incarcerated individuals as human beings, mainly if the goal is rehabilitation and significantly reducing recidivism rates.

“If we aspire for those within the penal system to emerge rehabilitated and less likely to re-offend, we must prioritize treating them as individuals deserving of dignity and respect,” Kamlager-Dove stated.

Newswire : The jobless rate for Blacks drops

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet Today


The jobless rate for Blacks dropped, but not far enough to catch up with other ethnic groups.

The August jobless rate for Black men fell to 5.0 percent compared to the seasonally adjusted average in August 2022 to 6.0 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate for Black women was a seasonal adjusted 4.7 percent in August compared with 5.9 percent in August 2022. 

Employment continued to trend up in health care, leisure and hospitality, social assistance, and construction. Employment in transportation and warehousing declined.

The unemployment rate for Blacks compared with Whites, Hispanics, and women was much higher.

The jobless rate for Whites is 3.4 percent, and for Asians is 3.1 percent; the rates for both groups rose in August. The unemployment rate for Hispanic men is 4.3 percent and 4.4 percent for Hispanic women.

The jobless rate for adult women stands at 3.2 percent, for teenagers, 12.2 percent, for Blacks, 5.0 percent, and for Hispanics the rate it was 4.9 percent and 4.3 and 4.4 percent for Hispanic women.

Newswire: Demands for Medicaid expansion increase amid coalition growth, new data

Calls for Medicaid expansion in Alabama continue to gain momentum amid a growing coalition and new research detailing the benefits for Alabama citizens.
The coalition, called Cover Alabama, is a non-partisan alliance of over 100 organizations including consumer groups, businesses, faith groups and health care providers. Cover Alabama is also part of a campaign by Alabama Arise to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap.

A report by Community Catalyst in collaboration with Cover Alabama last week found that Medicaid expansion would greatly benefit the working class in Alabama and also spur labor force participation.
The report found the following:
“Approximately 300,000 Alabamians are in the coverage gap – they have no affordable health coverage options because policymakers will not expand Medicaid. An additional 61,000 people in Alabama are at risk of ending up in the coverage gap because of the unwinding of COVID-19 pandemic-era Medicaid policies.
Because of centuries of systemic racism and classism, nearly half of those who would gain coverage if Alabama expanded Medicaid are people of color and nearly 60 percent live below the poverty line.
Over half a million workers in the coverage gap were employed in front-line or essential industries, and about 15 percent of adults had a disability.
Medicaid expansion is a proven solution to help people join and stay in the workforce. States that have expanded Medicaid have seen a greater increase in labor force participation among people with incomes below 138 percent of the poverty line than states that have not expanded.”
In response to the report, Debbie Smith, the Cover Alabama campaign director, said that health coverage should be accessible to all Alabamians.
“Every Alabamian should be able to get the medical care they need to survive and thrive,” Smith said. “Removing financial barriers to health care would make our workforce more robust and more productive. It’s time for Alabama policymakers to close the health coverage gap and invest in a healthier future for our state and for our people.”
The report also found that the most common industries that left workers in the coverage gap in Alabama included construction and food services.

Adam Keller, the political coordinator for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), created a resolution for his union to join Cover Alabama and support calling on elected officials to pass Medicaid expansion. Keller said he was inspired because of the stories of his co-workers who skipped medical appointments or fell into medical debt because they had no coverage despite being full-time, middle-class workers and the role labor should play in expanding Medicaid.
“It was a matter of impacting some of our members directly but [Medicaid expansion] would help all of our members indirectly, at the very least, and it’s the right thing to do for working people,” Keller said. “It’s a shame that hundreds of thousands of our neighbors would gain health insurance through this policy. And we have money sitting on the table waiting to be used. And we should do it because it’s the right thing to do. And we need people the highest offices to care about everyday working-class Alabamians. And I think the more of us who use our voice, the louder we are.”
Keller told APR he was able to get the North Alabama Labor Council to join Cover Alabama’s coalition. Keller is currently an organizer with Alabama Arise as well but had already organized the efforts to get the labor movement involved prior to taking on that role.
Although Medicaid appears to be beneficial to working-class people, often many working-class people vote or state their opposition to the policy.
Keller said he thinks those sentiments are due to “divide and conquer tactics” from wealthy elites to distract working-class people along racial, religious and gendered lines.
“The wealthy powerful elites in this state have had a lot of practice, and spent a lot of time and money and energy keeping us divided,” Keller said. “I think through the power of solidarity as people begin to look out for one another and struggle alongside each other to improve each other’s lives. To help out their own families and families of their neighbors, I think that can change folks.”
Keller also sent a letter to Gov. Kay Ivey regarding the passing of the resolution. Ivey would respond by sending a letter to Keller and stating that, “Medicaid expansion in Alabama will continue to be a serious consideration” of hers. However, she indicated that the cost of providing the care was the major concern preventing its adoption as state policy.

Emily Stewart, executive director of Community Catalyst, said: “Health care in America is far too expensive for far too many people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. … This report is further proof of what communities across the state already know: Medicaid works. It’s past time for politicians in Alabama to listen to their constituents and act.”

Eutaw City Council holds routine meeting

At its regular meeting on August 22, 2023, the Eutaw City Council handled routine business for the city.

The Council heard a presentation from Tom Bowman of Business Computer Systems of Tuscaloosa for complete office IT support, including phones and security cameras, which are linked to the computer systems. The Council agreed to a contract for these services, to be negotiated with the Mayor, to include all technology related equipment at City Hall.

At the recommendation of Ralph Liverman, Financial Advisor, the Council voted to set up a separate bank account, in Merchants and Farmers Bank for road and bridge repair funds coming from the 2019 Rebuild Alabama Act and to develop a ‘Transportation Plan’ as required by the State of Alabama for the expenditure of these funds.

Liverman said he expected that $33,000 would be received in the next fiscal year (2023-24) from the Rebuild Alabama Act. The Transportation Plan calls for giving priority to repair of the Lower Gainesville Road and repairs needed on Woodfield Avenue. The priority for this plan does not change other priorities for the use of state gas tax monies, FEMA funds and others for already scheduled road, bridg and drainage repair plans previously adopted by the City Council.

The Council approved an agreement for payment of $8,445.25 in back water and sewer charges for King Village, Greene County Housing Authority. These funds will be repaid at the rate of $703.77 per month for 12 months, beginning October 1, 2023. Based on the agreement, no interest or late charges were levied to make repayment easier for GCHA.

The Council approved advertising for bids, for a company to conduct an environmental assessment of Brownfield sites, within the city limits, that could be ameliorated and improved.

In other business, the Council approved the following:

• Travel and per diem for the Mayor and Council members to attend the Alabama Association of Regional Councils (AARC) Annual Conference at
Perdido Beach on October 8-11, 2023.
• Payment of a claim of $2,323.70 for repairs to a truck, owned by Rev. Michael Barton, after a collision with a vechile driven by a city employee.
• Received financial reports on city bank accounts for the period October 1, 2022 to July 31, 2023 in Merchants and Farmers; and water accounts in Citizens Trust Bank, for the same period.
• Agreed to pay all bills incurred to the meeting date.

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Johnson asked Kevin Gorskey to make a presentation on behalf of Phi-Air-Medical, a company that provides helicopter transportation of sick and injured people to area hospitals from the heliport at the Greene County Hospital. Gorskey explained that his company offers coverage for helicopter medical services for $65.00 a year membership to families in Greene County. If you join his service, you get helicopter rides to medical service and the company collects, whatever your insurance agrees to pay, instead of a potentially very high bill.

Mayor Johnson said that she would look into this service as a potential fringe benefit for city employees and to encourage other area businesses to consider the service as well.