Alabama AG Steve Marshall continues to combat robocalls - Yellowhammer News

Alabama AG Steve Marshall continues to combat robocalls

Attorney General Steve Marshall on Thursday announced that 12 phone companies are adopting a set of principles to fight illegal robocalls as a result of the work of a bipartisan public and private coalition also involving 51 attorneys general.

This agreement to implement practices based on these principles is an important step forward to protect consumers, as well as to assist attorneys general in investigating and prosecuting bad actors, Marshall explained in a statement.

“Abusive and illegal robocalls are among the most common and annoying problems experienced by consumers, and finding ways to combat them has presented particular challenges,” Marshall said.

“I am encouraged that this partnership of attorneys general and phone companies has resulted in meaningful progress to help provide some relief to customers of these companies. We are committed to continue the sustained and comprehensive work that will be necessary to bring about significant reforms,” he added.

The coalition of phone companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon and Windstream.

The principles address the robocall problem in two main ways: prevention and enforcement.

Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:

  • Implementing call-blocking technology at the network level at no cost to customers.
  • Making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools.
  • Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source.
  • Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic.

Phone companies will assist attorneys general in anti-robocall enforcement by:

  • Knowing who their customers are so bad actors can be identified and investigated.
  • Investigating and taking action against suspicious callers – including notifying law enforcement and state attorneys general.
  • Working with law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to trace the origins of illegal robocalls.
  • Requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in traceback identification.

Going forward, phone companies will stay in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change.

In Alabama, Marshall and Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh have been among the leading voices working to combat robocalls and other unscrupulous telemarketing practices.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Former NFL star Michael Vick speaks in Alabama, credits God with turning life around

Former NFL star Michael Vick visited Alabama A&M University in Huntsville on Thursday, speaking to students about how he turned his life around after being infamously imprisoned for approximately 18 months from 2007-2009 due to his involvement in a dog-fighting ring.

According to a report by WAFF, Vick stressed the importance of second chances in life.

He also explained that for him, successfully taking advantage of his big second chance was due to Vick turning to God for answers.

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His faith, bolstered in prison, gave him clarity with what his life mission was, Vick told the students.

Vick also commented on the importance of positive role models in life.

“Second chances mean everything to me, man. People who stood at the forefront, who allowed me to be put in that space, they deserve all the credit. I was just a guy who needed them at a critical time in my life,” Vick said.

You can watch WAFF’s report here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

John Merrill on Mobile Bridge toll: ‘I’m not for putting an additional tax burden on the backs of people’

You can count Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill among those with reservations about supporting the proposed toll plan for the new I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge project offered by the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Merrill, who is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat up in 2020, told Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that he thought there were alternatives for the proposal.

“I’m not for putting an additional tax burden on the backs of people who would use that to gain access to a worksite or family members or church or social gatherings,” Merrill said, “when we can find a way to pay that toll that they believe that needs to be charged in order to make sure that project can become a reality.”

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“We’ve been able to do it before. We can do it again. We need to make sure we’re working with all of our public and private partners to make sure the basic viability of the project is where it needs to be before we start talking about these unbelievable numbers that are increasing the burdens on the backs of our people.”

Merrill pushed back against critics who had suggested the bridge not be built on the backs of taxpayers statewide, noting the amount of tax revenue generated by both Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

“You realize the enormous amount of resources that are generated in Baldwin and Mobile Counties through tax revenues, which is far, far superior to any other part of the state of Alabama,” he said. “So when people start talking about how tax burdens need to be shared, I’m sure that the people in Baldwin and Mobile Counties prefer to have all the ad Valorem taxes and all the sales taxes that are produced by people going to the beach just designated for and used for their part of the state each and every year instead of them sharing it with the entire state in the general fund or the education trust fund because they are able to supplement a lot of things that go on in Central Alabama and North Alabama because of what is generated in South Alabama. I’m quite sure they would like to keep all of those resources, too. So, when it comes to things like this, we all need to work together to come up with the best solution overall.”

Merrill urged the state to avoid building a “Taj Mahal-type project,” borrowing a phrase from former Gov. Fob James.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

State Rep. Tommy Hanes to introduce resolution calling for the expulsion of Ilhan Omar from Congress at ALGOP Summer Meeting

The Alabama Republican Party’s summer meeting in Auburn on Saturday may not be the ideal forum for such a gesture, but when State Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant) calls for the expulsion of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the U.S. House of Representatives, it certainly will not go unnoticed.

Earlier this week, Hanes announced he would pursue such a resolution that would encourage Alabama’s congressional delegation to call for the expulsion of the freshman Minnesota congresswoman.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Hanes offered justifications for his resolution.

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“What this resolution is going to do is ask our Alabama delegation in Washington to sort of get the ball rolling on this – see if they can unseat this lady,” Hanes said. “The reason for it is – in my opinion, she just continuously breaks the oath of office. She’s broken the office several times. She just completely ignores the U.S. Constitution, and she’s just totally against Israel.”

“So, we come up with the resolution to present to the body on Saturday, and hopefully it will pass,” he continued. “And it will sort of give a good clear shot at where the people in Alabama, at least the GOP, stand with Ms. Omar.”

The Jackson County Republican said he expected to have a lot of allies in pushing for this measure.

“Most conservative Republicans – I think you’ll find that most of them feel the same way we do about it,” Hanes said. “And what I mean is the way I feel about it and the way the Young Republicans here in Jackson County feel about it. I just can’t see them not passing it.”

See resolution below:

ALGOP Rep. Omar Expulsion Resolution (courtesy State Rep. Tommy Hanes)

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

7 Things: Ainsworth says tolls solution is not the citizens’ job, AEA vs. the kids, Alabama sheriff indicted and more …

7. Trouble in Alabama for the DNC

  • The Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Committee has officially recommended invalidating Democratic Party Chair Nancy Worley and Vice-chair Randy Kelley’s credentials since they have not followed mandates to accept new bylaws.
  • Previously, the DNC instructed Worley and Kelley to adopt new bylaws into the party and that a new election for chair and vice-chair were to be held within 90 days, but the deadline and extended deadline of August 17 to institute the bylaws were both missed.

6. Democrats really want the power to punish their foes

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  • U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has said that criminal charges should be brought against fossil fuel executives since they’ve “knowingly caused” destruction. The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was not specific on what crimes they committed or how this is part of the president’s job.
  • Sanders said this along with releasing his own “Green New Deal” that would “end the greed of the fossil fuel industry.” Sanders wants to move to “100% renewable energy.”

5. This is what actual anti-Semitism looks like

  • U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) responded to the news of a New York Times editor’s anti-Semitic comments by saying that the anti-Semitic editor could explain why The New York Times is constantly defending U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). Byrne stated, “It’s clear that anti-Semitism is growing and being adopted by the radical left. As a nation and as a people, we should always stand up against anti-Semitism.”
  • The political editor of The New York Times, Tom Wright-Piersanti, was outed for his history of anti-Semitic comments made on social media, such as, “I was going to say ‘Crappy Jew Year,’ but one of my resolutions is to be less anti-Semitic. So…HAPPY Jew Year. You Jews.”

4. 2020 will be all about that base

  • A new poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that President Donald Trump’s approval rating has dropped 36%, whereas his disapproval rating has spiked to 62%.
  • Among Republicans, eight out of 10 approve of Trump’s job performance, but 94% of Democrats disapprove of Trump. Independents are heavily swinging against Trump at this time.

3. Limestone County sheriff indicted

  • Limestone County Sheriff Michael Blakely has been indicted on 13 state ethics charges. Blakely’s attorney, Mark McDaniel, said that they will be pleading “not guilty,” and McDaniel has already said that he’s planning on arguing the constitutionality of the ethics laws in Alabama.
  • McDaniel wasn’t specific on what ethics act he’ll be challenging, but he argued that you could violate an ethics law without even knowing that you’ve done something wrong because of how “broad” the laws are.

2. The AEA fights for the status quo and stymies innovation

  • Lawmakers have decided to increase their investment in opening more public charter schools in Alabama, and now $800,000 will be contributed to the Alabama Public Charter School Commission, which is four times the amount that’s been contributed in the past.
  • Half of the investment will go to recruiting more charter schools to open in Alabama. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has said that some of the money will help legally defend the commission in lawsuits brought on by the Alabama Education Association.

1. The lieutenant governor wants government officials to do their job

  • After it was made clear that the October meeting of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority was going to be used for people to come and offer alternatives to the current plan to make the I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge a toll bridge, Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth advised that the responsibility isn’t on the citizens and it’s the Alabama Department of Transportation and director John Cooper’s responsibility to determine an alternate funding plan.
  • Ainsworth said that Cooper and ALDOT need to show up to the meeting with “a series of other alternatives.” He added, “And you’re going to see us come out and push on that pretty hard.”

Kellum seeking reelection to Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Judge J. Elizabeth “Beth” Kellum has officially announced her intention to seek reelection to a third term on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.

She will be on the statewide Republican primary ballot on March 3, 2020.

Speaking to a group of friends, family and supporters in Montgomery, Kellum on Thursday outlined her reasons for running for another term.

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“It’s been my privilege to serve the people of Alabama on the Court of Criminal Appeals, and I want to continue to serve them,” she said. “Our Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals hears every appeal of felony and misdemeanor cases and all post-conviction writs in criminal cases, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done these last several years.”

Kellum continued, “Our job as the Criminal Appeals Court is to review the actions and decisions of the trial courts, based on the records and evidence presented at those trials. We don’t make or interpret the laws. We are there to make sure the law, and the procedures laid down in the law, are followed correctly with fairness and without bias to either side.”

She pledged that fairness will continue on this important appellate court.

“My pledge to the people of Alabama is that I will continue to be fair and unbiased in every case that comes before the Court of Criminal Appeals,” Kellum concluded. “I believe that is the best way–indeed, the only way–we can ensure that justice and the rule of law is upheld in our Alabama trial courts.”

A native of Vance in Tuscaloosa County, Kellum graduated from Brookwood High School in 1977. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Alabama.

Her distinguished professional career began in 1985 when she became an assistant attorney general under then-Alabama Attorney General Charles Graddick. That role then led to an offer for Kellum to become a staff attorney for the Court of Criminal Appeals from 1987 until 1990.

In 1990, she entered private practice in Montgomery, but continued to be drawn to public service. Kellum returned to the Court of Criminal Appeals as a senior staff attorney in 1997 and served both the Court of Criminal Appeals and the State Supreme Court in this position until being elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals in 2008. She was reelected in 2014.

Kellum is a member of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery. She is also active in a number of local civic and political organizations.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn


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