News

PBS.org

Today is Confederate Memorial Day. Many across the South will recognize Confederate soldiers who fell during the Civil War. It’s one of three of these uniquely Southern holidays.  There is some controversy that surrounds these days of observance in Alabama and elsewhere in the South.

 

Confederate Memorial Day and the birthdays of Robert E. Lee Day and Jefferson Davis make up the trio of holidays related to the Civil War.

 

Steve Murray is the director of the Alabama Archives and History. He says Confederate Memorial Day has a long history…   

A new report says travelers spent more than $13 billion in the state of Alabama last year.

The study was conducted for the state tourism agency by an economist at Auburn University in Montgomery. It says more than 25 million travelers spent a total of $13.4 billion in the state in 2016 on hotels, shopping, transportation and restaurants.

That represents an increase of 5.4 percent from 2015. Tourism Director Lee Sentell says travel spending has doubled in the state over the last 14 years.

kisluvkis [Flickr]

Cats that have been neutered or spayed as part of a TNR program will have one ear "tipped".  The veterinarian will trim the tip of an ear so that if the cat is picked up in the future it can easily be identified as a one that has already had the surgery.

***********************

Alabama is expanding its Amber Alert guidelines for missing children.    Governor Kay Ivey says Alabama will no longer wait for a missing child to be reported "abducted" for an Amber Alert to be issued.

The decision comes after an incident in Bessemer on Wednesday where a vehicle with a child inside was stolen but did not immediately qualify for the alert.

Alabama Historical Association Meeting in Auburn

Apr 21, 2017

Alabama is getting the chance to celebrate its state history in Auburn this weekend.

The Alabama Historical Association is holding its 70th annual meeting at Auburn University this weekend. The meeting is open to anyone who shares an interest in Alabama’s history from its founding and through modern times. It will feature papers on Alabama history and tours of historic houses and sites around Auburn University. The meeting will also feature two keynote speakers, whose speeches will be themed around Alabama’s upcoming Bicentennial and the state’s history during World War One.

The state House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would mandate insurance coverage for autism therapy.

Representatives voted 100-0 in favor of the bill yesterday. It now moves to the Alabama Senate. The bill mandates coverage of an autism treatment called applied behavioral analysis therapy. The Autism Society of Alabama says Alabama is one of only five states that does not require the coverage. Parents whose children have autism and have received the therapy have called it “life-changing”, but it’s also very expensive.

Alabama lawmakers are one step closer to allowing a Birmingham-area church to establish its own police force.

The House Public Safety Committee approved a measure that would allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church to set up its own police department. Church officials say they need their own police force to keep their school and their more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

Roy Moore
AP

The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld the suspension of Chief Justice Roy Moore due to his actions following a landmark legal decision allowing gay marriage in the state.

The specially-appointed court issued their ruling yesterday afternoon. Judges upheld the findings that Chief Justice Moore violated judicial ethics, and that his suspension for the remainder of his term on the court was justified.

Honda STEAM Connections Tour Visits UA

Apr 19, 2017
Allison Mollenkamp

The Honda STEAM Connections Tour raced to the University of Alabama today to expose local students to science and engineering. 

The Honda STEAM Connections Tour and the UA College of Engineering invited over three hundred middle and high school students tour engineering facilities and hear from engineering students and professionals.

The event is meant to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering. Many of these fields support motorsports.

Mobile River Named 4th-Most Endangered River

Apr 19, 2017
Mobile River
Wikimedia

Rough waters may be ahead for the Mobile Bay Basin.

The 2017 Most Endangered Rivers report named the Mobile River and Mobile Bay Basin as the fourth most endangered river in the country. The Mobile River System accounts for fourteen percent of all freshwater flowing in the United States. The Mobile Bay, its delta, and the rivers that sustain them are under threat, largely due to mismanagement of water resources along with waste and overuse of water.

The Alabama Senate voted to protect faith-based adoption organizations refusing to place children with gay parents or in certain other households because of their religious beliefs.

The Alabama Senate approved that bill on a 22-9 vote yesterday.

The legislation would prohibit the state from refusing to license or sign contracts with faith-based adoption groups that refuse certain adoption placements because of their religious beliefs.

Alabama lawmakers have voted to require high schoolers pass a civics exam before graduating.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the bill 68-31 Tuesday. 

 Decatur Republican Representative Terri Collins says her legislation is intended to ensure young people know how their government works.

The exams will be introduced during the next school year and are identical to the naturalization test given by the federal government. Students could take the 100 question quiz until they pass it.

The Alabama Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun in Alabama without a getting a permit. In the state House, debate has been postponed on a bill that would close a loophole currently exempting faith-based day cares from state regulation.

Senators are scheduled to debate the concealed weapon proposal submitted by Republican Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa this evening.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama lawmakers are expected to debate a proposal that would require all day care facilities to be regulated by the state, and would end a longstanding exemption for faith-based facilities.

The bill is currently scheduled at the end of tomorrow’s debate agenda in the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Pebblin Warren, the bill's sponsor, says the faith-based loophole leaves children vulnerable to abuse and neglect. VOICES for Alabama's Children says Alabama is one of only seven states broadly exempting faith-based day care facilities from regulation.

Water Protection Groups Release Sewage Map

Apr 17, 2017
Sewage spill
Nelson Brooke / Black Warrior Riverkeeper

Several water protection organizations have released an interactive map of the sewage spills that occurred in Alabama last year.

According to the map, over 46 million gallons of sewage were released into community streams and waterways across the state. The map was created by nine different water protection groups across the state to accompany a petition they sent to the Alabama Environmental Management Commission.

Easter Pets

Apr 15, 2017
Trish Hamme [Flickr]

Like most holidays, Easter is filled with risks to our pets.  The chocolate and the artificially sweetened treats containing Xylitol are pet hazards lurking in the Easter basket. along with the colorful plastic grass that can cause major intestinal problems if your pet eats it.  The Easter Lily is especially toxic to cats.  But Easter pets like bunnies, chicks and ducklings have no place in the Easter basket - unless you intend to raise rabbits, chickens and ducks.

********************

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“For me, it was just a day of resolve and resolution, and I said ‘sign me up,” says James Stewart

“Well, the first thing I tell them is that I went to jail, and they go ‘Oooh, Grandmama,” and I say well, let me explain…” recalled Eloise Gaffney.

“It was just…you knew God was on your side,” says Washington Booker. “And we knew that it didn’t matter what we were facing. You knew if God was on your side, you’d overcome it.”

Stan Ingold

All year long on Alabama Public Radio we’re looking back on pivotal moments in the fight for civil rights. Many of the landmarks in the battle against segregation can voter discrimination are now tourist attractions. We have already looked at sites in Selma and Montgomery on Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail and now we head to Birmingham.

Alabama lawmakers delayed a vote on a proposed gas tax increase to pay for road and bridge construction after the bill ran into heavy opposition.  

 House Speaker Mac McCutcheon says the bill is likely dead for the session.

Resignations continue to roll into Governor Ivey’s office. Alabama’s Secretary of Law Enforcement Stan Stabler is leaving, after taking over for former Secretary Spencer Collier. Both men were embroiled in allegations that former Governor Robert Bentley had an affair with former top aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Her husband, John Mason, also resigned as head of Bentley’s office of faith based initiatives. Ron Sparks is also leaving as chief of the newly eliminated office of rural development.

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption, and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have pointed out plenty of problems. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out.  I looked into the on-going complaints over how Alabama judges sentence people to death.  

The Alabama Senate has voted to allow a church to form its own police force.    Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a law enforcement department.  

The church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has signed a bill ending the state's policy of allowing judges to override juries recommendations in death penalty cases. Alabama was the only state where a judge could sentence someone to death even when a jury recommends life imprisonment. The judicial override issue was part of Alabama Public Radio's series on judicial and prison reform. The measure passed the House last week after a rare showing of bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled legislature.

Alabama’s newest Governor is settling into office. Republican Kay Ivey became Alabama’s second female Governor after Robert Bentley resigned over an alleged sex scandal. His departure marks the end of a trio of legal tangles involving some of the most powerful people in the state. APR’s Pat Duggins has more on the national coverage that went along with it. …

If Alabama has to attract national attention, this probably isn’t what the legislature had in mind…

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is out and Governor Kay Ivey is in. After Bentley announced his resignation ahead of an impeachment hearing, his successor would become the state's second female governor and the first to rise through the political ranks on her own. Kay Ivey is the first Republican woman elected lieutenant governor of Alabama and the first Republican to hold that office for two straight terms. Alabama's first female governor was Lurleen Wallace. She was wife of four-term Governor George C. Wallace.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has resigned after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of violating state campaign finance law. The attorney general's office announced the resignation with a plea deal. Bentley's voice began choking with emotion as he addressed reporters at the Alabama Capitol. He said he always tried to live up to the high expectations placed on the person who holds the esteemed office. He apologized for mistakes. Click here to listen to Governor Bentley's resignation address...

 Veteran Affairs health benefits have been extended to more than 142,000 veterans living in rural Alabama. 

Al.com reports that the extension of federal program was approved by Congress to allow vets living more than a certain distance from a VA facility to seek private medical care outside of the Department of Veteran Affairs. The program was voted to allow the program to last until the $1 billion within the program is used up.

Congress voted on the program's extension on Wednesday.

wikipedia

Israel's advanced missile defense system is being designed in northern Alabama.   

Al.com reports that the system named David's Sling was partially designed in Huntsville to help Israel's defense against regional enemies such as Iran, Palestine, Turkey, and other countries in the Middle East. The defense system is designed to intercept enemy drones, planes, medium- to long-range rockets, tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The system is named after the David and Goliath Bible story.

Dog Bites

Apr 8, 2017
40Brown (Laurie Moy) [Flickr]

Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 9-15, 2017. Remember that any dog can bite if it is frightened or provoked enough.  Consider ways that you can keep your pet safe from any situation which could harm it or threaten it.  That's the best way to prevent dog bites!

*************************

red flags
John David Mercer / AP / Press-Register

Dangerous surf conditions are causing lots of problems on the Alabama coast during spring break season.

Red flags are flying to warn people about hazardous rip currents that can quickly and easily pull swimmers out to sea. But in Gulf Shores, Ala., lifeguards have still had to rescue at least five people since Saturday. Beach safety director Scott Smothers tells WALA-TV one man had to be resuscitated but is now doing OK.

Lifeguard Jordan Russell says he had to help a 6-year-old boy and the boy's sister after both got pulled away from the beach on Tuesday.

Pages