News

The list of Presidential candidates coming to Alabama keeps growing.

The Alabama Secretary of State’s office says Republican Doctor Ben Carson will be making a stop at Auburn University-Montgomery on Monday.  The time of the event has not been confirmed yet.

Carson is the fourth candidate for the White House to come to Alabama in the next few days.  Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton will be in Birmingham on Saturday.  Republican candidate Marco Rubio will also be in the magic city.

Alabama State House
Associated Press

The Alabama Senate has approved a bare-bones General Fund budget that could mean some fundamental changes to the way Medicaid operates in Alabama.

Senators approved the$1.8 billion spending bill yesterday on a 24-10 vote. The budget does not provide any additional money for Medicaid. Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar says the agency needs an additional $100 million to maintain current services and continue its planned transition to managed patient care.

Alabama’s governor has signed a bill that prevents cities from setting their own minimum wage. 

Governor Robert Bentley signed the bill in to law shortly after the State Senate approved it by more than 2-to-1 vote.  The majority of the votes fell along party lines.

Republican lawmakers supported the bill that will block the Birmingham City Council, which voted to increase their city’s minimum wage to $10.10.  That minimum wage hike set to go in to effect on Monday.

Alabama lawmakers are quickly moving to block a minimum wage hike that has already been approved in Birmingham.

The Alabama Senate could vote today to give final passage to a bill stripping cities of the ability to set their own minimum wages.

Republican Rep. David Faulkner of Mountain Brook says his bill will maintain uniformity across the state. Faulkner says it would be an undue burden on businesses to allow hundreds of different minimum wages across Alabama.

A Senate committee is debating a proposal to have Alabama join multi-state lottery games like Mega-Millions and Powerball.

The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Trip Pittman of Montrose wants the state join the multi-state games instead of creating its own lottery scheme. The bill is an alternative proposal to other lottery bills that have stalled because of a lack of consensus over the details.

If approved by lawmakers, voters would have the final say on whether lottery ticket sales will be allowed in the state.

Parts of the Gulf Coast are reeling after a bout of severe weather that caused Governor Robert Bentley to declare a preemptive state of emergency.

A storm reportedly knocked down trees and damaged property in Reform, Alabama, but no one was hurt. The National Weather Service tweeted that radar indicated a possible tornado in that area.

NWS radar also showed a tornado briefly touching down in Hackleburg, in northwest Alabama. Some roofs were damaged, but no injuries were reported.

Strong storms could be making their way across southern Alabama once again starting tonight.

The storms, which could produce isolated tornadoes will likely start late this afternoon and should dissipate by early Wednesday morning. Areas along the line between Camden and Mobile and later the I-65 corridor will likely be affected by the storms.

Joe Maniscalco is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mobile. He says the storms come from a combination of factors.

A group of fast food workers and others are traveling from Huntsville to Montgomery for a rally in support of local control of minimum wages.

Workers will be joined by clergy, community supporters, and elected officials. The group will be meeting this morning at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham before holding a rally at the state Capitol in Montgomery at 1 PM.

Huntsville city leaders have announced that Google is bringing high-speed fiber optic Internet and television service to the area.

Mayor Tommy Battle and Google representatives and others made the announcement today at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Battle expects faster Internet speeds to boost the local workforce and help provide more opportunities for residents to work from home.

Monroeville Mockingbird statue
G.M. Andrews / Getty

The town of Monroeville said goodbye to writer Harper Lee over the weekend. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the author of “To Kill A Mockingbird” was laid to rest in the hometown she made famous.

Actress Catherine Keener’s portrayal of Harper Lee in the Oscar-winning film Capote is the closest most of the world ever got to knowing the reclusive writer of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” A dozen or so close friends and family members attended her funeral on Saturday with police officers outside the church to keep onlookers away.

Today's funeral for "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee was as private as her later life in the town of Monroeville. A few dozen family members gathered Saturday at the First United Methodist Church. Her hometown was the inspiration for southern town depicted in her Pulitzer Prize winning classic "To Kill a Mockingbird." Her casket was taken by silver hearse to the adjacent cemetery where her father, A.C. Lee and sister, Alice Lee, are buried. Two uniformed Monroeville police officers stood outside the church during the private service.

CJ is 2016 Top Dog

Feb 20, 2016
AKC - American Kennel Club

In his first six months as a show dog, CJ won 17 Best In Show titles - make that 18 BIS titles, after beating out more than 2,700 dogs representing almost 200 breeds to win the most prestigious dog show in the USA!  

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A Montgomery federal prosecutor says claims of prosecutorial misconduct in the ethics case against House Speaker Mike Hubbard should play out in state court. U.S. Attorney George Beck responded to a letter from legislators seeking a probe of the Hubbard prosecution. Beck says it was not a "federal issue." He added that legislators have their own power to investigate. More than three dozen legislators sent a letter Thursday to Beck and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch seeking the probe.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Alabama native Harper Lee died this morning at the age 89.

Lee is best known for “To Kill A Mockingbird”, the story of a girl nicknamed Scout growing up in a Depression-era Southern town. It tells the story of about how a black man was wrongly accused of raping a white woman, and Scout's father, the resolute lawyer Atticus Finch, defends him despite threats and the scorn of many.

Literary world mourns reports of Harper Lee's death...

Feb 19, 2016
APR

City officials in Monroeville, Alabama are confirming reports of the death of "To Kill A Mockinbird" author Harper Lee. Tune in for more details during All Things Considered. Also, click below to hear members of the Alabama Public Radio's Pat Duggins, Stan Ingold, Alex AuBuchon, and MacKenzie Bates reading from Lee's classic "Mockingbird," on the eve of the release of her follow-up book, "Go Set A Watchman..."

http://apr.org/post/apr-news-team-reads-kill-mockingbird

A federal judge says he will uphold Alabama’s photo ID requirement for voters in the upcoming primary elections.

U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler denied a preliminary injunction sought by groups challenging the state law requiring voters to present photo identification. The groups had asked the judge to expand the state's alternative identification process so people without a photo ID could vote by presenting other documents or identification.

The National League of Women’s Voters launched a website that is a “one-stop-shop” for voting information ahead of Alabama’s presidential primary.  Vote 4-1-1-dot-org provides nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information.

Kathryn Berg is First Vice President of the league of women’s voters of Alabama. She says the website sorts out the differences between partisan primary votes and the general election for President…

Alabama: Jesse Owens' starting block

Feb 18, 2016

The movie “Race” debuts in theaters today across the United States.  The biopic depicts legendary Track and Field athlete Jesse Owens and his journey to winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates traveled to Owens’s hometown in Northern Alabama, where a park and museum keeps his memory alive

When you talk about the Olympics, names like swimmers Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz or gymnast Gabby Douglas may come to mind. But in 1936, Alabama Native Jesse Owens staked his claim as one of the greatest Olympians in American history.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

The Alabama House of Representatives approved measures to cement the state’s right-to-work status and to ban the sale of fetal tissue yesterday.

One bill would amend the state’s constitution to prevent companies from requiring their employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The practice has already been prohibited under state law, but Republicans say adding the language to the state constitution will make Alabama more appealing to industry. Lawmakers fell three votes short of passing the measure last week. Yesterday, the bill passed 69-33.

Gov. Robert Bentley is placing the head of Alabama's state law enforcement agency on medical leave.

Bentley announced the decision today about Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier. The medical leave will last for as long as three months, allowing Collier time to recover from what the governor's office describes as an upcoming back surgery.

Bentley is appointing Stan Stabler as acting director during Collier's absence. Stabler is currently the chief of the dignitary protection unit at ALEA.

Alabama’s House of Representatives has approved a bill to block cities from setting their own local minimum wages. The bill would also roll back Birmingham's wage increase to $10.10 per hour, set to take effect March 1.

Legislators approved the GOP-backed bill last night on a 71-31 vote after cutting off a filibuster by House Democrats. The measure now moves to the Alabama Senate.

Alabama doesn’t have a state minimum wage. Instead, it uses the federal minimum of $7.25.

The Alabama House is debating on proposed legislation that would prevent cities from setting local minimum wages.

The Republican-backed bill is on the legislative fast track as the city of Birmingham seeks to expedite a minimum wage increase approved last year for all workers within the city limits.

Birmingham leaders sought to raise the city's hourly minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017 and planned to begin with an $8.25 minimum wage March 1.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has its own wish list for the current legislative session.

The SPLC’s 2016 Legislative Guide focuses on issues like education, economics and equal rights. The guide doesn't just outline problems; it also offers possible solutions.

Rhonda Brownstein is the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. She says more state money needs to be allocated to education, not jails.

Seventy six schools in Alabama are wondering what’s next after they were a list of failing schools. The state education department used different criteria for determining failing schools. The current list ranked schools as passing or failing based on last year’s ACT test reading and math scores. That led to ten more schools than last year being included on the list. Dr. Clarence Sutton is the principal of Tuscaloosa’s Central High School, which made the list this year. He takes issue with referring to the schools as “failing”.

Alabama State Capitol
Wikimedia

State lawmakers may vote today on a measure that would block cities from setting local minimum wages.

Last week, the Birmingham City Council voted to expedite the effective date of a planned minimum wage increase to March 1. Republican state Rep. David Faulkner of Mountain Brook filed a bill that would mandate uniform minimum wages in Alabama and void any local wage ordinances.

Alabama has no state minimum wage and uses the federal wage floor of $7.25.

Advocates for low-income workers say local governments are better suited to handle local wage regulations.

grwepr [Flickr]

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Ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft are getting the green light to operate in the City of Huntsville.

The Huntsville City Council approved two ordinances last night to allow the companies to begin service in the Rocket City.  The first requires the businesses to seek council approval for a license.  The other sets the fees for the licenses.

Birmingham recently approved the use of ride-sharing companies.  Mobile and Montgomery also have Uber.   

Alabama voters are facing a deadline if they want to take part in the March primary elections. Today is the last day to hand in your registration form in person. APR student reporter Tori Martinez breaks down the deadlines.

Monday is the last day for Alabamians to register online for the so-called SEC Primaries. Registration forms sent in the mail have to be postmarked by Saturday, and Friday is the last day to hand-deliver your forms.

Advocacy groups representing three states, including Alabama want changes to a national form regarding proof of Citizenship to register to vote.

The 30 groups want a federal elections official to throw out the rule in Alabama, Georgia and Kansas

The groups sent a letter to the new executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, arguing the impact would be particularly significant because 2016 is a presidential election year when people typically register in greater numbers.

Advanced Band
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Say “the blues,” and Mississippi might come to mind. But Alabama has just as much heritage when it comes to this musical form, and for the past 20 years, the Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Blues Project has been working to preserve that heritage for future generations. Tomorrow, the nonprofit will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a concert in Tuscaloosa. APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports some of the musicians are only as big as their guitars.

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