Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama
Upping the ante
Could 2024 be the year a gaming bill gets passed in the Alabama Legislature? According to a lawmaker who isn’t exactly known for being an enthusiastic supporter of the issue, “gaming is being seriously considered” this time around. The 2024 legislative session doesn’t begin until February but, rest assured, the negotiations and deals are already underway. Leadership is publicly stressing the need for regulation to shut down the numerous illegal operations throughout the state, while others are highlighting job growth and the potential billions in revenue. As usual, illegal operators and out-of-state gaming interests are expected to put up the same fight against it. And, of course, if it did pass then it would be up to Alabama voters. For those of you who would prefer a simple lottery bill, the powers that be will never allow that to happen without gaming firmly attached.
First-term U.S. Rep. Dale Strong will officially be unopposed for his re-election campaign next year. Daniel Boman of Winfield filed to run against Strong in the Republican Primary on the last day of party qualifying, but sources say he was denied ballot access by the State Republican Party. A challenge will filed questioning Boman’s Republican credentials and fitness as a candidate based on both his party switch from Republican to Democrat after the 2010 election and the fact he currently faces criminal charges for theft and has been disbarred. Strong has no Democratic challenger. The fact that Strong has no re-election challenger should not be a surprise as he has never drawn challenger during his years as a Madison County Commissioner or as chairman of the Commission. Insiders cite Strong’s high energy leadership style and aggressive schedule of personal appearances across the District as reasons why no one sought to challenge him.
Lomax looks ahead
State Rep. James Lomax reportedly has a busy legislative session ahead. We hear the District 20 legislator plans to tackle a number of issues in the upcoming 2024 session, including fighting for more transparency on “junk fees” from sites like Ticketmaster and restricting the sale of lab-grown meat. The Grissom graduate is seen as a rising star in Alabama politics, popular with voters and fellow lawmakers alike.
The worm returns
The internet has recently taken notice of the return of NASA’s 1975-1992 logo, nicknamed “the worm.” But the squirmy letters, which were retired more than 30 years ago, actually made their unofficial comeback in 2020. The past couple of years the work has continued to pop up – like on this Alabama-designed SLS rocket for Artemis in 2022. Meanwhile, the circle NASA logo, aka “the meatball”, continues to be the official logo but keep an eye out for more of the worm’s “retro, modern design of the agency’s logo” that NASA says will help capture the excitement of a new, modern era of human spaceflight.
Big shoes to fill
The city of Huntsville has some big shoes to fill. Henry Thornton, the external relations officer for the mayor’s office, has taken a job with Meta, formerly known as Facebook. Thornton has earned a reputation of being a diligent and discerning advocate for the city of Huntsville and the region. While he will be missed as an integral member of Mayor Tommy Battle’s team, Thornton is sticking around the Tennessee Valley – he is based at Meta’s Huntsville Data Center in the North Huntsville Industrial Park.
Mind this Space (Command)
There’s no other way to put it: Alabama’s political bench in Washington shut down capital plans for the ambitious construction of Space Command headquarters on Peterson AFB. Between Reps. Mike Rogers and Strong on Armed Services, Rep. Jerry Carl on Appropriations, and Sens. Katie Britt on Homeland Security Appropriations and Tommy Tuberville on Armed Services — the annual defense spending bill passed by Congress this week has trace amount of these lawmakers’ unfinished business between Space Command and the Rocket City.