Alex AuBuchon

News Host / Reporter

Alex AuBuchon is APR’s Morning Edition host and also writes news and feature stories. He got his start in nonprofit radio at the University of Tennessee’s venerable WUTK-FM.

AuBuchon started as a student DJ before quickly falling in with the news team. He spent a semester on the news staff and then a year as News Director, delivering live newscasts and teaching broadcast workshops to undergraduate journalism students.

AuBuchon then switched over to commercial radio, taking a job as Operations Manager and Assistant News Director for a group of four radio stations in his hometown of Paris, Tennessee. He scheduled traffic and automation breaks and did administrative work for four stations during the week, and delivered newscasts and maintained a popular news website on the weekends.

Alex crossed back over to public radio in January 2015, moving to Alabama to wake up early and give listeners the news they need to get ready for the day.

Alabama's Gulf Coast governor's mansion is vacant this Memorial Day. And, for that matter, every other day.

The 50-year-old house and land are worth $1 million, but the state hasn't repaired the building since it was damaged by a hurricane 18 years ago.

Fixing the mansion could present a political risk amid current debates over tax increases and spending cuts, and Gov. Robert Bentley doesn't need the house because he owns property nearby.

So the 7,500-square-foot governor’s mansion sits with boarded-up windows on a lot overlooking the beach.

A federal judge has ruled once more that gays and lesbians have the right to marry in all Alabama counties, but placed her decision on hold until the U.S Supreme Court issues their ruling on same-sex marriage nationally.

U.S District Judge Callie Granade ruled yesterday saying once again that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and ordered all probate judges to stop enforcing that ban. But her order won’t go into effect until a U.S. Supreme Court decision which is expected to be handed down sometime next month.

A federal appeals court has upheld the bribery conviction and prison sentence of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

Yesterday, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Siegelman was not entitled to a new trial. The judges also upheld Siegelman's 78-month sentence.

This ruling is the latest legal blow to former Governor Siegelman, who has been fighting to overturn his 2006 conviction in a government corruption case. A federal jury convicted Siegelman of appointing former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a state board in exchange for campaign donations.

The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a General Fund budget that slashes $200 million from state agencies, after GOP lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on tax increases.

Representatives voted 66-36 for the spending plan yesterday. Most Democrats voted against the budget after criticizing the cuts.

The budget bill now heads to the Alabama Senate. House Speaker Mike Hubbard says his plan is to work with Senators for the rest of the legislative session to avoid some of the state agency cuts.

Alabama workers are facing layoffs at the state’s Blue Bell Creameries facilities and at Walter Energy.

Blue Bell is trimming its workforce nationally due to the temporary closure over listeria concerns. Over 250 Blue Bell employees in the state will be temporarily furloughed, with another 45 losing their jobs entirely. Blue Bell recently stated that they’ll be cutting a third of their workforce nationwide.

With only eight days left in the current legislative session, state lawmakers are running short on both time and options to patch a $200 million hole in the General Fund Budget.

The Alabama House of Representatives is set to vote tomorrow on a budget draft totaling $1.6 billion for next year. That would cut around 200 million dollars from funding for a wide variety of state agencies. House Speaker Mike Hubbard says his aim is to get that budget onto the Senate floor, and then work with Senators on a possible solution to avoid those cuts.

Alabama’s general fund budget is slowly starting to take shape after some action in the state house.

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee has approved a budget that makes deep cuts to state agencies. The budget would cut Medicaid, mental health and state prisons corrections by five percent. Other state agencies would be cut by nine percent.

This proposal would impact the general fund budget. Alabama’s schools are funded by a separate spending plan.

A judge recently stopped another effort from Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s defense to have his ethics case dismissed.

Lee County Judge Jacob Walker III granted a state motion to kill subpoenas against Governor Robert Bentley and the custodian of records for the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Hubbard’s lawyers say those subpoenas were necessary to learn about possible communication records from Governor Bentley regarding Attorney General Luther Strange recusing himself from the case and appointing chief prosecutor Van Davis.

Aliceville oil train derailment
Reuters

The Alabama House of Representatives has delayed debate on a series of GOP-backed tax bills aimed at solving the state's General Fund Budget shortfall.

Yesterday, leaders in the legislature chose not to debate that series of tax bills that have divided Alabama’s Republican party. House Rules Chairman Mac McCutcheon says the budget bills are still being worked on.

The main piece of legislators’ new revenue plan is a 25-cents-per-pack cigarette tax increase.

Supporters and critics of legalized gambling and an Alabama state lottery are scheduled to meet in Montgomery today.

If approved by voters, the measure would allow casino gambling at four state dog tracks along with lotto drawings. Critics of lotteries claim they’re a tax on the poor and a study by the non-partisan John Locke Foundation in North Carolina appears to support that idea.

Foundation spokesman Mitch Kokai says they examined who bought tickets during the first year of North Carolina’s lottery in 2007.

A federal judge in Alabama recently ruled to leave a temporary restraining order in place against a Hyundai auto supplier after the company was accused of firing an employee during a federal safety investigation.

The ruling is a continuation of an order requested by the U.S. Labor Department after Lear Corp. fired former employee Kimberly King for making public allegations about exposure to hazardous chemicals in the plant.

King and several other employees had developed asthma and other breathing problems after working in the plant.

Republicans in the Alabama House are backing off proposals to furlough state employees for two days and to suspend longevity bonuses for a year.

Both ideas were considered to help the General Fund budget. But Speaker Mike Hubbard says they aren't needed after a change to a cigarette tax bill.

The proposals drew criticisms from Democrats who say they're pleased to see the ideas dropped.

The Alabama House Health Committee recently approved a series of abortion restrictions that opponents say would ban most abortions in the state.

The committee approved three separate pieces of legislation, including one bill that would prohibit abortion providers from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Bill sponsor Terri Collins says the end of a person's life is defined by the absence of a heartbeat, so it makes sense that the beginning of life should be defined by the presence of one.

Republican lawmakers in Alabama’s House of Representatives have a new proposal to end the state's budget crisis.

Yesterday, House leaders announced a plan to fix the General Fund budget shortfall through a combination of cost-cutting, consolidation and new taxes. They plan to raise taxes on cigarettes and car rentals, cap paid state employee holidays and transfer revenue from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund.

The proposal would raise nearly $200 million in new revenue. That’s less than half the $541 million Gov. Robert Bentley wants to raise.

Republican lawmakers seem to be turning toward gambling to shore up Alabama’s General Fund Budget, but Gov. Robert Bentley says that won’t provide enough money to stave off deep cuts to law enforcement and other state agencies.

Bentley spoke to the Associated Press yesterday in Dothan. He says the drafts of lottery and casino legislation proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh would bring Las Vegas-style gambling to the state of Alabama, which he says is not the budget solution the state needs.

Workers at a Selma auto parts manufacturer have signed a petition asking the United Auto Workers union to leave them alone.

Nearly 80 percent of employees at the Lear Corporation-owned Renosol Seating plant signed a petition asking the UAW to stop investigating a nearly year-long dispute.

A bill to create a new independent governing board for Alabama's two-year college system has hit a stumbling block in the Senate.

Yesterday, the state Senate delayed a vote on a bill to remove the junior college system from the oversight of the state Board of Education after one senator raised several objections to the current version.

The state school board is fighting the legislation and, in March, they unanimously approved a resolution opposing the measure.

After voters rejected a tax hike proposal last month, the Baldwin County Commission and Baldwin County School Board are looking for more input.

There will be a joint public meeting this evening to begin the process of moving forward from the referendum that would have helped pay for a 10 year, $350 million capital construction project.

Charles Gruber is the chairman of the Baldwin County Commission. He believes the referendum was shot down by voters because the public was not able to voice any concerns about the tax.

The U.S. Supreme Court began to hear arguments yesterday as to whether state bans on same-sex marriage are federally constitutional.

In Tuscaloosa, advocates gathered in the shadow of Denny Chimes at the University of Alabama for a candlelight vigil in support of gay marriage and gay rights in general.

Meredith Bagley is a communications professor at the University of Alabama and one of the organizers of last night's event. She explains why they chose a candlelight vigil.

Alabamians are remembering the April 27th, 2011 tornadoes that rampaged across the state.

Now, the National Weather Service in Alabama is using a new severe weather warning system.

Stephen Latimer is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville. He says this new system provides more details about the storms.

Today is the four year anniversary of the tornado outbreak that killed more than 200 Alabamians. The damage was widespread across the state, including in Tuscaloosa.

Mayor Walter Maddox rode out the EF4 tornado at Tuscaloosa's City Hall. He says the moments after that were spent surveying the 12.5 percent of the city that was destroyed in just six minutes.

Two bodies have been recovered and five other sailors are missing after a powerful storm capsized several sailboats participating in a regatta near Mobile Bay.

Authorities say most, but not all those missing were participating in the Dauphin Island Regatta, which included over 100 sailboats and nearly 200 participants. Crews are still searching for the five missing sailors.

Martin Jay Creasman
Alabama Department of Corrections

A 51 year old escapee from a Morgan County prison has been arrested on accusations that he stole a pickup truck and crashed it into two women, killing them both.

Birmingham police allege Martin Jay Creasman stole a pickup truck from a Birmingham auto shop, then crashed into a car containing 92 year old Margie Lovell and 69 year old Linda Jones. The two women were on their way to a church meeting. The Avondale United Methodist Church released a statement on Twitter saying Lovell and Jones were "well-loved" and "pillars of [their] congregation".

Another Alabama death row inmate is petitioning courts to order his release.

Donnis George Musgrove has been on death row for 27 years since being convicted of capital murder in February 1988. His request for release comes after two other men once on Alabama's death row are now enjoying freedom.

Blue Bell Creameries announced Thursday it will be closing all its facilities including a plant in Sylacauga, Alabama for cleaning and retraining in response to a listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell ice cream.

The company says the program comes after a thorough review of all its internal operations and discussions with expert microbiologists.

Alabama’s Senate could be debating allowing medical marijuana in the state soon, since a Senate committee approved a comprehensive medical marijuana bill yesterday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4 to 3 to pass the measure. The bill was likely able to pass committee because three Republican senators failed to attend the meeting.

The legislation, if passed, would allow patients who suffer from 25 specific conditions to purchase a maximum of ten ounces of medical marijuana per month from a state-regulated dispensary.

Michelle Obama
Ben Baker / Redux

Gov. Robert Bentley is giving lawmakers what he calls an "unvarnished" view of the cuts to state government that will occur without new revenue.

The governor sent a memo to each member of the Alabama Legislature last night. That memo describes the emergency operation plans state agencies produced in response to a draft budget lawmakers have already reviewed.

The reductions on the table include the layoff of more than 1,000 state employees, including 600 court employees and 132 law enforcement officers.

Governor Robert Bentley says the state faces a “real crisis” with its budget. Bentley is now taking his fight to fill the state’s coffers to the streets.

The governor is continuing his tour of speaking engagements to rally support for his proposed $541 million tax proposal. He spoke at Guntersville State Park yesterday.

Selma-based Hyundai supplier Lear Corporation is disputing allegations that it fired a whistleblower in a federal safety investigation.

Lear said on Friday that allegations of employees being exposed to the hazardous chemical TDI are false. The company says the air in the plant has been tested by multiple independent parties.

However, NBC recently reported that a Yale University medical clinic tested blood samples from nearly twenty workers, and five showed exposure to the chemical.

Despite a dire budget situation that may force two thirds of Alabama's state parks to close, two of the parks remaining open are planning to build new hotels on site.

Both Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores and Oak Mountain State Park south of Birmingham are finalizing major upgrade plans to their facilities, which include multi million dollar hotels.

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