News

Alabama’s Legislature is once again scrambling to find additional funding in a special session.

Governor Robert Bentley reconvened the House and Senate in order to find new revenue for Medicaid, infrastructure, and state debt repayment. One of the most popular approaches seems to be constitutional amendment to establish a state lottery to direct revenue into Alabama’s General Fund budget. Several legislators are pushing their own versions of lottery bills, many of which include other forms of gambling as well.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama’s Senate and House of Representatives are back in Montgomery once again to try and find a solution to the state’s budget woes.

Governor Robert Bentley called the special session of the state’s legislature to find funding for Medicaid, infrastructure and state debt repayment. One of the most popular plans is to amend the state constitution to set up a lottery, with revenue directed into Alabama’s ailing General Fund.

A Senate committee approves dueling lottery bills as lawmakers try to strike a compromise on gambling.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee pushed the bills through this afternoon. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says the bills were a work in progress and he wanted a vehicle for negotiations on the Senate floor.

Members of Alabama’s House of Representatives have elected Republican Representative Mac McCutcheon of Capshaw, Alabama as the new Speaker of the House.

McCutcheon received 68 votes during yesterday’s election. He promised to be fair to Representatives on both sides of the aisle, and says the days of “imperial speakership are over”.

McCutcheon replaces former House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Hubbard was removed from office after he was convicted of felony ethics violations.

Alabama lawmakers head into special session today.

The main topic of discussion will be Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed constitutional amendment creating a state lottery. If the House and Senate agree, then voters would get the final say in November. Bentley wants lotto revenue to go to the general fund with an eye on funding Medicaid.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says it’s a last-ditch effort by the governor to raise money…

APR Video: Senator Del Marsh on Lottery

Aug 15, 2016

APR news director Pat Duggins sat down with Alabama Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh to discuss a proposed state lottery. The House and Senate are meeting in special session to discuss lotto, as a way to provide revenue for the general fund and Medicaid.

https://goo.gl/4V7wRS

The Alabama House and Senate are set to gather in special session today.

Governor Robert Bentley wants lawmakers to consider a constitutional amendment to create a state lottery. If the legislature says yes, then state voters will get to vote up or down on the idea in November. The Governor wants the money to go the general fund to help pay for Medicaid.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says lawmakers will have questions and suggestions.

American Humane Association

The  Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs.

Interacting with an animal can be very theraputic for humans. While other animals, such as horses and cats can be great therapy animals, dogs really excel in helping humans who are going through a difficult or troubling time. A certified Therapy Dog can make a significant contribution to many treatment programs. 

  

  

Dogs began helping our military forces as early as World War I, but it wasn't until World War II that the Army established its first K-9 Corps. They serve as scouts, detection specialists for explosives, and assist on guard duty to protect US service men and women around the world. Nowadays, dogs have their own military service records and can be awarded commendations for outstanding service. It is not possible to count the number of lives military dogs have saved, sometimes at the extreme cost of their own. The Military Dog category seeks to recognize the dedication and valor of these extraordinary animals.

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

A judge has scheduled a September hearing on motions filed in former House Speaker Mike Hubbard ethics case. APR’s Stan Ingold has more…

Former House Speaker Mike Hubbard is looking to overturn his criminal conviction.

Circuit Judge Jacob Walker scheduled a September second hearing on post-trial motions filed in the case. The judge did not elaborate. A jury convicted Hubbard on twelve state ethics law violations. Because of this, he was automatically removed from office after the felony conviction.

Growing Up Behind the 8-Ball

Aug 12, 2016
Keith Huffman

Great talent can come at all ages. Mozart was writing music when he was five years old, and Picasso did his first oil painting at nine. Of course, some young prodigies can do things other than art and music.

The rural community of Gordo is known for things like its annual celebration called Mule Day. Visitors line the streets to watch a parade of mules and tractors. The town’s dry, so you can’t drink. You might wonder what people did for fun years ago. For Bruce Falls, it was pool.    

Alabama is joining eleven other states today to ask a federal judge to block the implementation of a federal directive on bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas is considering a preliminary injunction that would keep the new directive from being enforced. That means schools across the country wouldn’t have to worry about complying for now.

The Alabama Board of Education has named the state’s new superintendent.  APR Student Reporter Jalen Drummond has the details…

Michael Sentance of Massachusetts will be the Alabama Public School’s top official.  Sentance won the position by a narrow margin with five votes after board members voted on candidates for several rounds. 

With all of the wet weather along the Gulf Coast, The National Weather service is issuing a Flash Flood Watch in that area for the next few days. 

The flood watch is effect for some areas until Saturday morning.  It stretches along the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

The NWS says periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected through Friday across portions of coastal southwest Alabama.

APR wins National NABJ Award

Aug 10, 2016

The National Association of Black Journalists named Alabama Public Radio the winner of its  “Salute to Excellence” award. This national honor is for APR’s documentary “More Bridges to Cross,” about the 50th anniversary of “bloody Sunday.” It was on March 7, 1965 when voting rights marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma were attacked by a sheriff’s posse armed with clubs and tear gas.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley visited two Tuscaloosa mental health facilities yesterday. He wants to stress the need for Medicaid funding in the state.

The Governor visited the Arc of Tuscaloosa County and Indian Rivers Mental Health Clinic. Both facilities help individuals with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities. And both organizations depend heavily on Medicaid funding in order to provide services. Bentley is advocating for an increase of at least $85 million in Medicaid funding to stave off cuts.

Latest on Moore hearing, Hubbard seeks new trial

Aug 9, 2016

The fate of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is still up in the air. APR’s Alex AuBuchon was in Montgomery for yesterday’s hearing. He files this report.

The dozens of Roy Moore supporters that packed the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building yesterday will be pleased to learn the Chief Justice hasn’t been thrown out of office -- just yet.

Roy Moore
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is headed to trial next month.

The nine members of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary decided yesterday’s hearing wasn’t enough to address the ethics charges against Chief Justice Moore. The Chief Justice is accused of abusing his power as chief justice to promote an agenda against same-sex marriage. The Judicial Inquiry Commission says Moore encouraged the state’s probate judges to defy a U.S. Supreme Court decision that had already legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The fate of Alabama’s embattled Chief Justice now rests with the Court of the Judiciary. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has the latest from Montgomery.

Supporters of Chief Justice Roy Moore and gay rights advocates packed the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building this afternoon.

The state Court of the Judiciary heard oral arguments this afternoon in a case that could result in Moore’s removal from office.

Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore will appear before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary this afternoon.

Moore is facing judicial ethics violations that could result in his removal from the head of the Alabama Supreme Court. The charges stem from an order Moore gave the state's probate judges back in January encouraging them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. That was in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

The Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation has received a one million dollar gift from an anonymous donor.

The Gadsden Times reports the gift received Monday will be used to develop a new agriculture center. The center will focus on giving students hands-on training to help them develop skills related to agriculture.

The center will be located on 20-plus acres behind the Helen Keller School.  

A hearing Monday will determine the course of the judicial ethics case against suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary is set to consider a request by judicial investigators to convict Moore of violating canons of conduct without a trial. That could result in Moore's immediate removal from office.

 

Moore opposes the request, and lawyers will present arguments during a hearing. The court says Moore's trial will begin September 28th if the case continues.

APR

We’re looking back on the tornadoes that hit the state five years ago on April 27, 2011. Twelve percent of Tuscaloosa was destroyed, over fifty people were killed, and countless lives were changed forever. The very first victim of the tornado APR met face to face was Steve Miller. Now, five years later, I checked in to see how Miller is doing…

Stan Ingold

An E-F-5 tornado ripped through the small northwest Alabama community leveling much of the town.  

“This is one of the hardest hit areas, you see, it looks like land has been cleared, especially this area we’re fixing to go to over here.

Police Chief Merrell Potter and I drove around Phil Campbell to survey the damage…

It looks like, almost like pasture land that’s just been cleared off, you can tell there used to be houses there but the green grass is starting to grow up through the debris that has been cleared.”

SWIRLL
Alex AuBuchon / APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking back at the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011. The storms impacted homeowners and businesses, and you’ve heard from many of them during our coverage.

Now we’ll look ahead. For the past two months, dozens of scientists have been conducting groundbreaking research on tornadoes and severe weather right here in Alabama.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the impact that research could have on meteorologists' understanding of severe weather and forecasters’ ability to predict it.

American Humane Association

 The 2016 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways.  Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories:  Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement Dogs, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs. 

The Law Enforcement Dog category includes what we often think of as police dogs, animals specially trained to patrol, search buildings, track criminals, and to detect drugs, narcotics and explosive devices. 

The Arson Dog category includes animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire.  Every year hundreds of lives (and billions of dollars in property) are lost as a result of fires that were set intentionally.  The dog works with a handler who is a law enforcement officer trained to investigate fire scenes.

  *******************   

Blossom: Renaissance Pig

Aug 6, 2016
Parker Branton

It's festival season in Alabama, and a common face you will see isn’t what you would expect. APR student reporter Parker Branton traveled around the state, and not for the music, or the corn dogs. Here is the saga of Blossom the Painting Pig...

Festival goers look over the masterpieces painted by what more than a few of her fans refer to as a modern day “pigcasso.” Scott and Jackie McQueen are the owners of this talented swine. After years of begging for a pig, Jackie got more than she bargained for.

“Our little pig’s name is Blossom.”

2011 Tornadoes: A Forecaster's nightmare

Aug 6, 2016

The April 2011 tornado outbreak caused widespread destruction, costing lives and billions of dollars in damage.  Local TV weathercasters helped spread the word on where tornadoes were and where they’re going. But what happens when the weatherman becomes a victim of the severe weather while he’s on the air? APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the story of one forecaster where on April 27th, 2011, the saying the story hits close to home takes on a whole new meaning.

Ask anyone in the TV news business, and they’ll tell you people tune in mostly for the weather.

Fairfield's fiscal future

Aug 6, 2016

It's been more than four months since the Wal-Mart store in Fairfield closed its doors, leaving many people to find goods and services elsewhere. City Leaders are scrambling to not only plug holes in the city's budget but create more economic opportunities to people that have lost their jobs.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates traveled to Fairfield to find out what’s next…

It’s a quiet morning on Gary Avenue in downtown Fairfield.  The Magic City Grille is open for breakfast and Beauty Land Cosmetics is opening its doors for business. 

Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed constitutional amendment authorizing a state lottery would send proceeds from ticket sales to the state's general fund.

The proposal says any proceeds from the lottery after expenses and prizes would go to the general fund for "ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the state."

Some have said the money should be directed specifically toward education.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s effort to have his ethics charges dismissed has been thrown out by a federal judge.

Yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton issued an order dismissing Moore’s lawsuit against the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission. Alabama’s chief justice is facing ethics charges that could result in his removal from office, and Judge Allbritton says that state process should continue without federal interference.

Pages