News

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.

The Mardi Gras season is coming to a close in Mobile tomorrow. Fat Tuesday is the culmination of the party filled season, and officials estimate over one million people have visited the Port City. Judy Gulledge is the Executive Director for the Mobile Carnival Association. She says the city touts its family friendly atmosphere and fun for everybody approach to the festivities.

Yet another inmate has been killed at a state prison near Montgomery.

An Alabama Department of Corrections statement says 36-year-old DeMarko Quinta Carlisle was stabbed to death during an altercation at Elmore Correctional Facility yesterday. The agency has a suspect, but officials aren't releasing that prisoner's name. They say the motive isn't known.

Organizers of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma say they plan to move forward with the event, despite the city of Selma asking for $23,000 to provide police, fire, and other city services for the gathering.

Organizer and civil rights activist Faya Rose Touré says "everything is a go" for the march and celebration, which coincides with the anniversary of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" march. Demonstrators were beaten on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma during that famous march.

Touré says they will not pay the $23,000 requested by Selma's city hall.

UA Student Health Center
University of Alabama

Several students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa have been diagnosed with the mumps, according to state health officials.

The Alabama Department of Public Health issued a news release Friday saying it's investigating those cases and working with the school to contact additional students and faculty members that may have been exposed to the disease.

Spay Day 2017

Feb 25, 2017
hmr86 (HM Razi) [Flickr]

This momma cat's litter may seem small, but it's the start of something that could become overwhelming when you start counting possible future litters.  Spaying the Momma Cat will go a long way toward helping to stem the tide of pet overpopulation.


A finalist for Alabama’s state school superintendent position has filed a civil lawsuit against a state school board member and others. He’s accusing them of orchestrating a scheme and ethics complaint last year to knock him out of the running to be the state's next education chief.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Craig Pouncey filed the lawsuit yesterday in Montgomery. It names board member Mary Scott Hunter, Deputy Superintendent Philip Cleveland and others as defendants.

Alabama death row
EJI

Alabama may be close to putting an end to the unusual practice of allowing judges to hand down death sentences in capital murder cases despite a jury recommendation for life in prison.

The state Senate approved a bill yesterday that would end the state's status as the only one in the U.S. that allows a judge to override a jury when sentencing capital murder cases.

Senators approved the bill 30-1. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where a similar bill has cleared committee but faces an uncertain future on the House floor.

State Senate Approves Bill Revising Alabama Accountability Act

Feb 23, 2017

The Alabama State Senators have approved a bill that will revise the Alabama Accountability Act.

The Alabama Accountability Act is a thirty-million dollar program was implemented in 2013. It is the nation’s first refundable tax credit for educational expenses. The act provides state income tax credits for donations to scholarship granting organizations.

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Alabama

Feb 23, 2017

This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Alabama. The National Weather Service says the peak storm season in Alabama begins in March and can last until May. While there are no major storm outbreaks in the forecast, now is the time to get ready.

Jason Beaman is a warning coordination meteorologist at the national weather service in Mobile. He says residents should remain prepared because Alabama sees tornados every year.

The Alabama Senate may debate a bill later today that would prohibit judges from imposing a death sentence after a jury has already recommended life imprisonment.

Alabama is currently the only state in the country that allows judicial override of sentences in capital murder cases.

New State AG Addresses Law Enforcement on Cyber Crimes in Tuscaloosa

Feb 22, 2017
Alex Aubuchon / APR

Law enforcement officers across the state are learning how to take the fight on crime online.

The Joint Electronic Crimes Task Force is hosting two eight-hour sessions at the University of Alabama’s campus. The free training is the first of its kind in West Alabama, and teaches officers about how to get warrants for electronic data, and how to handle digital forensics evidence.

An Alabama Senate committee has advanced a bill to let faith-based adoption agencies, including those that care for state foster children, turn away gay couples on religious grounds. 

The Senate Health Committee on Wednesday voted 6-1 for the legislation that would prohibit the state from refusing to license or sign contracts with adoption groups that refuse services to people on religious grounds.

The long-time Republican majority leader in the House of Representative has stepped down a week after surviving a confidence vote.  

Republican Representative Micky Hammon of Decatur announced Wednesday that he was stepping down as majority leader. He will continue to hold his House seat.

 Hammon, in a brief statement, said it was time for new leadership for House Republicans.

Hammon has served as majority leader since Republicans won a legislative majority in 2010.

Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville says he’s considering running for governor of Alabama next year.

The 62-year-old Arkansas native tells the Associated Press that he's discussing his options with potential backers. Tuberville says he's awaiting poll results that will gauge public support.

Tuberville coached at Auburn from 1999 to 2008 before finishing his career at Texas Tech and Cincinnati. He's among the most successful coaches in Auburn history, but spent part of his tenure at odds with the school's most powerful boosters.

An Alabama senator says the federal government should cover most of the cost of caring for county jail inmates with mental illnesses.

Sen. Cam Ward, a Republican from Alabaster, says counties currently pay for the entirety of detainees' psychiatric health care. He has introduced a bill that would shift 70 percent of those costs to the federal government under the Medicaid system.

The legislation would also allow county inmates to resume federal mental health care benefits immediately after release.

Governor Robert Bentley has created a task force that will investigate removing the 4-percent sales tax from groceries.  

The governor signed an executive order Tuesday to create the Grocery Tax Task Force. He says removing the tax on groceries could save consumers up to $400 million every year.

The task force will deliver its recommendations to the governor by June 1.

Bentley first mentioned the idea in his annual State of the State address, but some legislators have long advocated for removing the tax as a way to help the working class.

Exports of Alabama-made products totaled well over $20 billion last year, according to Governor Robert Bentley.

The Tuscaloosa News reports that’s a new record high for exports in the state. The previous record was $19.6 billion in 2012.

Mark Potok
SPLC

The news headlines over the past year have been dominated by tensions. Conflicts over illegal immigration, refugee resettlement, terrorism and community race relations all led to deep divisions nationwide. Those conflicts also became the center of a bitterly contested Presidential election.

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released its latest list and analysis of extremist and hate groups nationwide, and it appears that climate bred new hate groups.

Mark Potok is a senior fellow with the SPLC. He’s the primary editor of their HateWatch list and wrote an analysis of this year’s results.

prison overcrowding
Equal Justice Initiative

Prison officials in Alabama are investing the beating death of an inmate who was attacked by other prisoners late last week — the second deadly attack on a state prisoner within a 24 hour span.

In the most recent case, the Alabama Department of Corrections says 41-year-old David Sanders was found badly beaten and unresponsive in a dorm of the Elmore Correctional Facility on Thursday.

Sanders was flown to a Montgomery hospital, where he died of his injuries on Saturday.

Authorities say four inmates are suspected in the death.

Alabama wildlife officials say the federal government is still overestimating the amount of red snapper caught in the Gulf of Mexico.  

A new report from the Alabama Marine Resources Division says a mandatory state reporting program estimates the state's charter boats and private recreational anglers caught about 1.5 million pounds of snapper last year.

That number compares to a federal survey program that estimates more than 2.7 million pounds of red snapper were landed in Alabama.

Pages