Fast food workers and civil rights groups are appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging an Alabama state law blocking the city of Birmingham's plans to raise the minimum wage.

The plaintiffs appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday.

Birmingham was poised to raise the minimum hourly wage in the city to $10.10 last year. But before the wage hike was implemented, the Alabama Legislature swiftly passed a law requiring a uniform state minimum wage.

 House representatives have passed a bill requiring cell phone companies in the state to hand over location data to law enforcement agencies when asked. 

The measure says communication providers would need to share a person's location in a situation involving a risk of death or serious bodily harm. It passed without opposition Thursday.

Republican Rep. Tommy Hanes of Scottsboro sponsored the bill and says it will save lives.

St. Clair Prison
Equal Justice Initiative

The lawmaker sponsoring Gov. Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction plan says the bill will most likely be scaled down before heading to a committee vote next week.

Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster says the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote next Tuesday on a smaller version. He says senators are currently working out the bill's specifics.

Bentley was seeking to build four new prisons. Ward says the new proposal will still be substantial.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Republicans in the state House of Representatives have elected Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter of Rainsville, Alabama as their new majority leader.

The Republican Caucus announced that decision yesterday.

Ledbetter, formerly the mayor of Rainsville, was elected to the Alabama House in 2014. Ledbetter released a statement saying he was grateful for the confidence placed in him by the caucus. He is the first freshman representative to hold the position in Alabama’s history.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. 

 The committee voted 6-3 for the bill Wednesday after a fiery public hearing in which some state sheriffs spoke both against and in favor of the bill.  The bill by Republican Senator Gerald Allen now moves to the Senate floor.

Draper inmates
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

The state Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a plan to build four new, massive prisons in Alabama this afternoon.

The bill would authorize Alabama’s Department of Corrections to build three massive new men’s prisons and a new women’s prison, and would close over a dozen of the state’s existing prison facilities.

It would be financed by an $800 million bond issue that would leave the state paying $50 million a year for thirty years. Supporters including Governor Robert Bentley say the new prisons would save about that much money in operating costs.

State lawmakers are planning to debate a bill that would require all day care facilities to be licensed and end a longstanding exemption for church-affiliated day cares.

The House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill later this morning.

VOICES for Alabama's Children, a nonprofit advocacy organization, says Alabama is one of only seven states that exempt faith-based day cares from state regulation. VOICES Executive Director Melanie Bridgeforth says the bill is aimed at protecting children.

Authorities in Gulf Shores, Alabama, are trying to determine why an SUV driven by a 72-year-old man accelerated and hit members of a high school band at the start of a Mardi Gras parade.

Tuesday morning's accident injured 12 students. At a news conference, city spokesman Grant Brown said three were in critical but stable condition as of Tuesday afternoon. Police Chief Ed Delmore said investigators have obtained a search warrant for the vehicle. They hope to get electronic data from the 2008 Ford Expedition. Investigators also were looking at video of the accident.

The Alabama House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a bill prohibiting judges from imposing a death sentence after a jury recommends life imprisonment.

Alabama is the only state that allows judicial override of jury sentence recommendations in capital murder cases.

Lawmakers sponsoring the legislation will hold a press conference later today in Montgomery.

Organizers of the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma are going forward with this year’s event. But a lack of support from the city of Selma is forcing a few changes.

Event planners are moving musical performances following a dispute with city hall over fees. Selma Mayor Darrio Melton says the city needs nearly $24,000 to cover various city services. Organizers say they won't pay the city.

They announced yesterday that the annual weekend music festival will be held on private property instead of city streets, as in years past.

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