News

hubbard trial
Brynn Anderson / AP

A jury has been chosen, and Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial will begin next week.

Hubbard is facing nearly two dozen felony ethics charges accusing him of using his position as Speaker and past position as chairman of Alabama’s Republican Party for personal gain for himself and his businesses. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Hubbard has pleaded not guilty and maintains he didn’t do anything illegal.

Lawyers have picked a jury for House Speaker Mike Hubbard's ethics trial scheduled to start next week. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

The panel of 12 jurors and four alternates is made up of five black men, four white men, four black women and three white women.

The Montgomery Advertiser and al.com reports that Lee County Judge Jacob Walker instructed the panel not to discuss the high-profile case.

The Alabama Education Association is taking public school teachers’ insurance provider to court.

The group says the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan, or PEEHIP, violated Alabama’s open meetings law. Late last month, the PEEHIP board approved massive premium and rate hikes which teachers say will wipe out their first pay increase in nine years. AEA says the rate hikes were decided during a secret board meeting, which violates state law.

Sheila Remington is the President of the AEA and the plaintiff in the lawsuit. She explains her position.

City of Spanish Fort

             

The Alabama Department of Transportation is getting ready for the beginning of hurricane season on June first. Drivers in South Alabama will be seeing more workers along Interstate 65 tomorrow. 

Josh Phillips is a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation. He says they will be conducting a drill to practice reversing the traffic flow between Mobile and Montgomery.

Advocates for people infected with the virus that causes AIDS are meeting in Huntsville starting today. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the group wants to stop laws making the spread of HIV a crime.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the southern U.S. ground zero for the highest number of patients with HIV or full-blown AIDS.

Organizers of the “HIV Is Not a Crime” conference say that’s why brought their event to Alabama. They want to fight state laws like the one that Alabama almost passed last year.

Jury selection is ongoing in the trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

About 100 of the 140 Lee County residents were on hand as the selection process began in Opelika. 

Republican Speaker Mike Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges of using his political position for personal gain back in October 2014. Hubbard has maintained his innocence throughout the indictments. 

Hubbard faces removal from office if he’s convicted.

MARTE
Alabama Astrobiotics

Alabama’s state preschool program has been named the best in the country for ten years running.

The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks pre-kindergarten programs across the country each year based on quality. For the tenth year in a row, the institute named Alabama’s state-funded First Class Pre-K program the nation’s best. Alabama met or exceeded all of the institute’s quality benchmarks examining things like student-to-teacher ratios and educator qualifications.

Meet MARTE 3.0

May 15, 2016

A team of University of Alabama engineering students is defending its national championship, not in football, but in a NASA space mining robot competition. MARTE 3.0 will compete against close to fifty other entries from universities. The robot that digs the most simulated moon dirt wins. Click on the second "YouTube" link...

A Montgomery man was killed in a crash Saturday night at the Selma Motorsports Park, according to local officials.

33-year-old Darren Dwayne Bryant of Montgomery was driving a pickup truck on the track Saturday night at approximately 8 p.m. when the truck was rear-ended by another vehicle. The truck veered into another lane and then overturned. Bryant died as he was being transported to a local hospital.

Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson says the Dallas County Sheriff's Department is treating the event as an accident.

Mergers for seven of Alabama's community colleges originally planned for this summer are on hold until 2017.

Three east Alabama community colleges were expected to form one regional institution upon final approval by the Alabama Community College System board of trustees this July. Those colleges are Southern Union State Community College in Opelika, Wadley and Valley; Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City, Childersburg and Talladega; and Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is criticizing the Obama administration's directive to let transgender students in public schools use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released a joint statement Friday saying both federal agencies plan to ensure all students, including transgender students, can enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment. Both federal agencies plan to treat students' gender identity as the students' sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX regulations.

mosquito
Wikimedia

Mosquito season is approaching, and public health officials in Alabama are working to get a better understanding of what resources are available for mosquito control efforts amid rising concerns over the Zika virus.

Alabama Department of Public Health Emergency Preparedness Director Andy Mullins says his office is awaiting the results of an assessment to determine what kinds of mosquito control resources are available at the city and county level throughout the state.

Pet Transformation

May 14, 2016
eileen (outlier) [Flickr]

Great pets aren't so much born as they are made.  They become great pets because they have owners who love them, take care of them and spend time with them.  Almost any dog or cat can be a great pet, given the chance.

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twitter.com

Governor Robert Bentley's longtime spokeswoman is resigning next month.

Communications director Jennifer Ardis says that she wanted a change after nearly 10 years in the governor's office, six with Bentley and four with Gov. Bob Riley.           

Ardis will take over June 16 as the director of communications and external affairs for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Ardis said she was interested in new challenges and a change of pace after a decade in the governor's officer.

Tour de Bay
Mobile Sports Authority

Alabama state prosecutors are looking to drop their charges against a former north Alabama police officer accused of assaulting an Indian man during a suspicious person investigation.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a motion to dismiss the case against Eric Parker in Limestone County Circuit Court yesterday. Parker was recorded slamming 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel to the ground in February of last year. Patel was out for a walk when he was approached by police.

The tug of war continues over the fate of Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison. An appellate court stopped tonight’s execution. That prompted the state of Alabama to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also involves part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial…

Crestmont kids animals
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Attorneys for death row inmate Vernon Madison will spend today looking for a last minute stay of execution. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also points out a part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial.

Vernon Madison is on Alabama’s death row after Mobile County Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae overrode the jury’s recommendation of life in prison. Alabama is the only state in the nation where a judge can do that.

Lawyers for the state of Alabama are asking an appellate court to allow the execution of a death row inmate this week.

Vernon Madison is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday night for the 1985 murder of Mobile police office Julius Schulte.

The state attorney general's office told the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday that a lower court decided correctly that Madison is mentally competent and can be executed.

A lockdown has been lifted at one Alabama prison where inmates had been refusing to work. At another facility, the strike is still on.

Alabama Department of Corrections officials say they’ve taken Elmore Correctional Facility off lockdown. Spokesman Bob Horton says about 80 percent of the 300 inmates who were striking at that facility have begun reporting to their assigned jobs again.

Blossom: Renaissance Pig

May 11, 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.”

Alabama’s Chief Justice could soon be kicked out of office, again, due to his defiance of a federal court order. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more about the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission’s investigation.

The commission is investigating six counts of judicial ethics violations against Chief Justice Roy Moore. The charges stem from an order Moore issued in January instructing all of the state’s probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, defying a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The fate of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The panel filed six counts of judicial ethics violations against Moore and suspended him from office pending an investigation.

The charges stem from an order he issued to all of the state’s probate judges instructing them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The order was issued in January, six months after and in direct defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Common threads link the effort to remove Roy Moore as Alabama's chief justice with the case that resulted in his ouster from the same post more than a decade ago.

Each case involves Moore's conservative Christian beliefs and his views on the power of federal courts.

The Republican is suspended and faces a trial after judicial investigators filed a complaint Friday.  It accuses him of failing to respect U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal court decisions that cleared the way for gay marriage.

Alabama Supreme Court
Chris Pruitt / Wikimedia

An Alabama judicial regulatory body will decide whether Roy Moore should be removed as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court.

Moore faces removal from the bench over his effort to block same-sex marriage from coming to Alabama despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed ethics charges against Moore late last week, accusing him of abusing his authority and failing to respect the judiciary.

Tennessee Valley Authority engineers say water temperature tests being performed on Wheeler Lake this week could improve efficiency at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and keep power rates from increasing. 

The Decatur Daily reports that a team of TVA engineers is collecting water temperature and velocity information from the lake to use in computer forecasting models, which can help run TVA's dams and nuclear plants more efficiently.

 State lawmakers ended the 2016 session with three big items of unfinished business: the oil spill settlement division; Medicaid funding and prison construction. 

Governor Robert Bentley recently said he's considering calling a special session later this year for another try.

The governor's $800 million prison construction plan was the centerpiece of his agenda, but didn't get approved by lawmakers.

slate.com

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended with pay from his office and faces removal from the bench. The action comes from his effort to block same-sex marriage from coming to Alabama despite the U.S. Supreme Court that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.   

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission on Friday filed ethics charges against Moore accusing him of abusing his authority and failing to respect the judiciary

Druid City Iron Dog

May 7, 2016
DruidCityIronDog.com

Next Saturday morning, May 14, 2016, make your way to Lake Lurleen State Park for the most unique dog competition in the area!

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Lawyers for an Alabama death row inmate are asking a federal court to stop his execution next week, saying he is incompetent because of mental illness, strokes and dementia.

Attorneys for 65-year-old Vernon Madison filed the emergency stay request Wednesday in federal court in Mobile.

Madison is scheduled to get a lethal injection May 12. He was convicted in the 1985 slaying of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte.

The Alabama legislative session is over. Lawmakers have returned home, but some say very little was accomplished. APR’s MacKenzie Bates talks to one legislator who says there is still a lot work to do.

Lawmakers ended the session without agreeing a on a variety of issues like Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction proposal, how the state should spend the BP settlement from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the lack of money to fund the state’s Medicaid program.

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