News

A coalition of environmental activists is sounding the alarm about a plan the Tennessee Valley Authority is considering for storing its coal ash.

The TVA is closing down existing coal ash pond storage facilities at 10 power plants.

Alabama lawmakers will hit the midpoint of the 2016 session next week with major votes on state budgets and other issues ahead of them. The House of Representatives will vote Tuesday on a General Fund budget that Governor Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto. The governor is seeking an additional $100 million for Medicaid. The budget before the House would only provide $15 million. Gambling legislation stalled in the first half of the legislative session. Bill sponsors said they are discussing changes in the hopes of getting a floor vote in the second half of the session.

elsie esq. (Les Chatfield) / [Flickr]

Rain doesn't seem like a serious threat to your pet's safety, unless it is torrential or continues for days.  As drainage systems overload and the water backs up flooding can occur, putting you and your best friend at risk.  

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Prison Riot Near Mobile

Mar 12, 2016

An early morning riot was reportedly sparked by a fight between a prisoner and a guard that left the officer stabbed nine times at the Holman Corrections Facility, north of Mobile. A SWAT team known as the Department of Corrections Emergency Response Team entered the prison and brought the fighting under control. Photos on news sites show inmates setting fires, wearing makeshift masks, and moving around the prison. Holman is the only correctional center in the state where executions are performed. Alabama has a chronic prisoner overcrowding problem.

Fairfield city leaders have voted to dissolve the city's police department as leaders look to address financial hardships, but the mayor says city council has no authority to make that decision.

The Fairfield City Council voted 4-0 to disband the police department during a meeting Friday. A resolution to disband the department failed in a 3-3 vote earlier this week.

Alabama's attorney general is appealing a recent ruling that declared the state's death penalty sentencing system unconstitutional.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tracie Todd doesn't have the authority to prevent the state from seeking the death penalty against defendants who are charged with capital murder.

In Alabama death penalty cases, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final say. It’s not uncommon for state judges to overturn a jury recommendation of life in prison in favor of the death penalty.

Gov. Robert Bentley is hinting that lawmakers could be back in special session if they fail to pass a budget that he feels adequately funds Medicaid.

Bentley says he would veto any budget without an additional $100 million for Medicaid. While lawmakers could override his veto, Bentley says that did not preclude a special session.

Commissioner Stephanie Azar says Medicaid needs that amount to avoid cuts and continue a switch to managed care.

A bare-bones General Fund budget that could mean deep cuts for Medicaid passed a House committee and could see a House vote next week.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the draft budget yesterday, putting it in line for a House vote next week. The state Medicaid commissioner says this budget will result in some deep cuts to Medicaid and other state services. Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto the budget unless lawmakers find more Medicaid funding.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's prison construction proposal is facing its first legislative test.

Bentley is asking lawmakers to approve an $800 million bond issue to build four new prisons and close most existing facilities. Some members of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee questioned aspects of the project during a public hearing Wednesday.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday to approve an education budget that gives teachers their first pay raise in several years.

The spending plan would give a 4 percent raise to teachers making less than $75,000 annually, and a 2 percent raise to all other teachers in the state.

All 105 state representatives approved the budget, sending it to the Alabama Senate for consideration.

In 2013, lawmakers approved a 2 percent pay raise for teachers, but that was offset by increases in benefit costs. The last raise before that came in 2007.

Montgomery city officials are planning their own investigation of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports the decision was made after complaints from the officer's colleagues…

Mayor Todd Strange told The Montgomery Advertiser that officers are unhappy, concerned and upset over the arrest of Officer Aaron Smith.

Federal labor officials are suing an international automotive supplier and managers of the company’s plant in Selma. They claim the company retaliated against employees who raised concerns over dangerous working conditions and inadequate benefits.

According to a complaint filed late last week, three employees at Lear Corporation's Renosol Seating plant in Selma complained to federal labor officials two years ago that they'd been exposed to a chemical that caused health problems and were treated unfairly when they were transferred to another facility.

The U.S. Supreme Court says Alabama’s highest court overstepped its bounds when it invalidated a lesbian mother’s adoption. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more.

 The Supreme Court ruled unanimously to throw out an Alabama Supreme Court decision denying a lesbian woman adoption rights she had previously been granted.

The woman had adopted three children with a former partner. When she tried to ensure her visitation rights, the Alabama Supreme Court said her adoption was invalid.

A new study at the University of Alabama is looking to study parents of children who have cancer.

The research is being conducted by the College of Human Environmental Sciences to see how parents of a child with cancer react while the child is going through treatment.

Dr. Sherwood Burns-Nader is heading up the study. She feels this survey can help future parents cope better with the process.

A Huntsville school district's plan to use students' social media posts to justify disciplinary action or expulsion raises serious First Amendment concerns, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.

Last week, the Huntsville City Schools system updated its safety guidelines to allow the superintendent to monitor students' public social media accounts if they have a history of violence or gang activity, or if their behavior endangers students and employees.

Service Dog Etiquette

Mar 5, 2016
American Humane Association

Jingles (part Lab, part Golden Retriever) is a Guide Dog that was a finalist in Service Dog category for the 2013 American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards.  Her little friend, Maizie, is a diabetic alert dog.  Together they help their human deal with multiple disabilities.  What a great team!

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Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is taking on a new position as chairman of Don Trump's advisory committee on national security.

Trump named the Mobile Republican to the post yesterday. A release from the Trump campaign says he's honored to have Sessions as a member of his team.

The announcement comes a week after Sessions endorsed the New York businessman for the GOP nomination for president.

A Jefferson County judge has ruled Alabama’s method of imposing the death penalty unconstitutional.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tracie Todd sided with defense attorneys who argued that Alabama’s death penalty statute was extremely similar to Florida’s, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s law was unconstitutional in January.

In death penalty cases in Alabama and Florida, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final decision. It’s not uncommon for Alabama judges to overrule a jury suggestion of life in prison and impose the death penalty.

Selma will honor its history as a center for voting rights activism this weekend. The annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee marks the fifty-first anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Officials expect crowds will be down from the numbers that visited for the fiftieth anniversary and to see President Barack Obama speak. The weekend will include an education summit tomorrow, a hip-hop summit on Saturday, and the bridge crossing on Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

A House committee has approved an education budget that would give most of the state’s teachers a 4% pay raise.

Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved a $6.3 billion spending plan for 2017.

The 4% raise would go to teachers making less than $75,000 annually. Others would get a 2% raise.

The budget would also provide funding to hire an additional 475 teachers in 7th through 12th grades.

Budget Chairman Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa says the budget makes the best use of the state's finite resources.

An EF-2 Tornado ripped through parts of Birmingham last night. APR student reporter Parker Branton has more…

Two tornados ripped through parts of Jefferson County.

The tornado was rated EF2 by a survey crew in Bessemer from the National Weather Service this morning.  There was also EF1 damage near McAlla.

Matt Grantham is a Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He described what path the tornado took.

Damage crews are combing an area in southwest Jefferson County as a possible tornado site. At least four people were injured and taken to a local hospital in the Bessemer and McCalla areas near Interstate-459. Jason Holmes is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He says preliminary data shows a twister is likely to blame for the injuries and damage in that area…

“We have had numerous reports of trees and powerlines down and a few reports of some structures damage. We do not know the extent of the damage but we will be out in that area.”

Voter turnout in the state looks "extraordinarily high," pointing to a projected turnout as high as 60 to 70 percent in one county.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says there were a few minor hiccups around the state as polls opened this morning, but nothing that directly affected voting or voter participation.

The state of Alabama is taking part in Super Tuesday and the SEC primary election today, and some of the ballots being counted this year are a little special.

The Alabama Secretary of State’s office teamed up with America’s armed services to make Alabama the first state in the country to accept online votes from military members deployed overseas. Election officials tested the system out with Montgomery’s municipal election last year and they say it’s ready for Super Tuesday.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says voting for deployed soldiers used to be a hassle.

Presidential hopefuls flooded the state of Alabama this weekend. APR student reporter Parker Branton has more…

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at Miles College in Birmingham while Florida Senator Marco Rubio made two stops at Samford University and the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center. Businessman Donald Trump also made an appearance in Huntsville.

Secretary Clinton praised Mayor William Bell of Birmingham for his work to raise the minimum working wage.

Marco Rubio
Parker Branton / APR

Democrats and Republicans made stops throughout the state of Alabama this weekend.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio made two stops, at Samford University in Birmingham and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at Miles College in Birmingham.

At the Space and Rocket Center, Rubio told the crowd he will win if he gets the nomination.

 A north Alabama school superintendent says a state law regarding virtual schools needs to be clarified to allow state funding to follow the students.

The Decatur Daily reports that Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay says he believes virtual schools should receive funding if they are fully educating students. Two Morgan County superintendents say more time is needed to allow systems to get used to virtual school rules before any funding changes are made.

 

Fans of writer Harper Lee came from as far as Maryland to Monroeville over the weekend for a candlelight vigil for the author who died just over a week ago. I was there to put together this audio postcard with remembrances of To Kill A Mockingbird.

Alabama voters head to the polls next week to name their picks for presidential nominees.

Super Tuesday, with contests in 12 states, represents the biggest single-day delegate haul in the entire nomination process. This also marks what is known as the SEC Primary where several southern states brought their elections dates together to draw more interest from the candidates. Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ben Carson all plan stops in Alabama before Tuesday's election.

American Humane Association - Facebook

As the American Humane Association says, "Move over Oscars - it's time for the Pawscars!"  Since animal actors and performers are not eligible to receive Oscars, the "Pawscars" were created to recognize excellence in these talented animals who help to make movies so special!

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