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Alabama's unemployment rate is holding steady at a record low level.

Gov. Kay Ivey's office says the state's jobless rate was 3.5 percent last month. That's the same as November, when the state matched its all-time low for unemployment.

Ivey's office says the December rate means nearly 2.1 million people were employed overall in the state. That's the most ever, surpassing the December number by about 45,000 residents.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is clashing with some state lawmakers over a proposal to significantly alter the position of lieutenant governor.

Republican Sen. Gerald Dial is proposing legislation that would strip the lieutenant governor of any legislative duties, so that they would no longer preside over the Alabama Senate. The sole function of the post would be to succeed the governor in the event of his or her death, removal or resignation.

Rather than the lieutenant governor, the Senate would elect a sitting senator as presiding officer.

Harley Barber
via Instagram

A University of Alabama student who repeatedly used a racial slur in videos on social media received immediate condemnation from her sorority and her school.

UA President Stuart Bell called the videos “highly offensive and deeply hurtful” and says the student, Harley Barber, is no longer enrolled at the university.

The videos, in which Barber repeatedly uses a racial slur for African-Americans, were first posted on a private Instagram account. However, recordings of the videos were widely shared on social media and eventually caught the attention of school administrators.

The Alabama Senate has approved a bill that would take the state out of the marriage business. 

The measure Senators approved yesterday would do away with marriage licenses issued by county officials as well as the state requirement for married couples to have a wedding ceremony. Couples would instead sign and submit a form.

The bill comes as a few probate judges in Alabama still refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone so that they don’t have to issue them to same-sex couples.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s state law requiring people to show government issued photo ID at the polls.

The lawsuit was one of the latest battles between voting rights advocates who say these measures are aimed at suppressing voter turnout and conservative states that argue they’re needed to prevent voter fraud.

Troy is about to see a big economic boost with more than 350 new jobs coming to the city after a leading firearms maker announced it will soon build a facility there.

Gov. Kay Ivey's office confirmed yesterday that Kimber Manufacturing, based in Yonkers, New York, will invest $38 million over the next five years. The facility should be up and running by early 2019. Ivey says Kimber's investment in Troy will create a significant number of high-paying design engineering and manufacturing jobs.

Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda have reportedly chosen Alabama as the site of a new $1.6 billion joint-venture auto manufacturing plant, a person briefed on the decision said Tuesday.  

 The plant will employ about 4,000 people and will be built in the Huntsville area in Limestone County, said the person, who asked to remain anonymous because the location hasn't been officially announced. Officials in Alabama are expected to hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the plant site.

Etowah Co. Jail food
Reuters

Two advocacy groups have sued Alabama sheriffs seeking records about whether the sheriffs are profiting from the food they serve in their jails.

The Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights and the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice filed the lawsuit yesterday against 49 sheriffs they said did not comply with a public records request.

Governor Kay Ivey will take center stage as she gives her first State of the State address since being catapulted to the governor's office nine months ago.    

Ivey will give the traditional Tuesday night speech from the Alabama Capitol on the opening day of the 2018 legislative session.

al.com

A fire has destroyed the home of a woman who accused U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct. Authorities say, however, that there is no indication the blaze had anything to do with the allegations. 

EMoore accuser Tina Johnson of Gadsden lost her home Wednesday in a fire that's under investigation by arson specialists in Etowah County.

A statement from the sheriff's office says authorities are speaking to a person of interest about the fire. The statement says investigators don't believe the fire is linked to Moore or the allegations against him.

Alabama lawmakers return to Montgomery on Tuesday to begin the 2018 legislative session. Here are seven issues to watch throughout the session.

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PRISON SPENDING

Alabama is facing a court order to improve conditions in its prisons after a federal judge last year ruled that mental health care was "horrendously inadequate." State lawmakers this session will deal with the price tag of trying to comply with the ruling against the state.

Corfman 14
Family photo

A woman who says failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her when she was 14 has filed a defamation lawsuit against Moore and his campaign.

Leigh Corfman filed the lawsuit yesterday. She argues Moore and his campaign defamed her and made false statements as they denied various sexual misconduct accusations in the midst of the U.S. Senate race.

Corfman says Moore sexually abused her when she was 14 and then "called me a liar and immoral when I publicly disclosed his misconduct."

Justice Glenn Murdock is stepping down from the Alabama Supreme Court.  

Murdock announced his resignation Thursday in a letter to Governor Kay Ivey. Murdock said his resignation will be effective on Jan. 16.

Hobson
Brynn Anderson / AP

The man who ran former Chief Justice Roy Moore’s failed bid for U.S. Senate in Alabama is now running for a U.S. congressional seat himself.

Rich Hobson announced yesterday that he is running as a Republican for the 2nd District congressional seat currently held by U.S. Representative Martha Roby. That district includes most of metropolitan Montgomery and the Wiregrass region in southeast Alabama. Roby won her last bid for re-election in 2016 with less than 50 percent of the vote, after withdrawing her support of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

H. Brandt Ayers
Getty

The chairman of an Alabama newspaper company has been accused of assaulting female employees by spanking them while he was a newsroom executive decades ago.

Multiple news outlets have reported that at least three women are accusing H. Brandt Ayers, the chairman of Consolidated Publishing Co., of hitting and assaulting them while Ayers was the publisher at the Anniston Star. Consolidated operates that newspaper along with five others.

The University of South Alabama will be purchasing two new medical robots, thanks to funds approved by the foundation board.

The USA foundation board approved $4.6 million to the university. Around $1.7 million of the total funds will be used toward two DaVinci surgical robotics systems. Health officials at the university say the systems would have a major impact on the school's medical center.

The medical center will receive one of DaVinci's new Xi models, and the USA Children's and Women's Hospital also will get a Xi to replace its older Si model.

State health officials say incidents of the flu are on the rise across Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Public Health says flu activity is picking up for the season, and urged people to get vaccinated if they haven't already.

Health officials say if you're going to get vaccinated, you should request the "quadrivalent vaccine" that protects against four different strains of flu. It is the only version that protects against the Type B / Yamagata flu strain which is currently circulating in Alabama.

al.com

Doug Jones was certified as the winner of the December 12th special election to fill Alabama's open U.S. Senate seat. Election officials say Jones won with just under twenty-two thousand votes. Defeated U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore reacted to Alabama finalizing the election results by again saying experts agree the election was "fraudulent."  

He made the comment in a brief statement Thursday afternoon, shortly after a state board officially declared Democrat Doug Jones the winner of the Dec. 12 election.

Roy Moore has filed a lawsuit to try to stop Alabama officials from certifying Democrat Doug Jones as the winner of the U.S. Senate race.

The court filing occurred just ahead of today's meeting of a state canvassing board to officially declare Jones the winner of the Dec. 12 special election. Jones defeated Moore by about 20,000 votes.

Moore's attorney wrote that he believes there were irregularities during the election and says there should be a fraud investigation and eventually a new election.

A judge has refused to give a new trial to a man who spent a decade in jail before going to trial on murder charges. 

Houston County Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton last week refused a grant Kharon Davis a new trial. The case drew national attention because Davis was held without bond for 10 years before going to trial

A jury in September found Davis guilty of murder in the 2007 shooting death of Pete Reaves. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Police say they've apprehended a suspect in a series of shootings that left one person dead and four others injured in an Alabama town. 

Troy police officers were responding to reports of gunshots at a residence on Sunday when they found a wounded 29-year-old man on the kitchen floor, authorities said. They found two other gunshot victims — a man and a woman — in a bedroom, police said. Another wounded person ended up at a hospital after being driven there in a private vehicle.

 A nonprofit organization is helping Auburn University students with unplanned pregnancies. 

The Opelika-Auburn News reports that Baby Steps was created to provide support to Auburn University students for mothers and fathers who are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. The nonprofit is renting a five-bedroom house opened in September and is located near the university's campus.

Air force officials and business leaders hope a new innovation center could bring big changes to the city of Montgomery.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports Maxwell Air Force Base plans to build an innovation center outside the gates of the facility, where researchers at the prestigious Air University can collaborate with the nation’s top tech and business minds.

The state of Alabama has set a date for the execution of a terminally ill man.

Al.com reports the Alabama Supreme Court ordered yesterday that 60-year-old Doyle Lee Hamm is scheduled to be put to death on February 22. Hamm has spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row.

He was convicted in the murder of Patrick Cunningham, a hotel employee in Cullman, Alabama. Cunningham was killed during a robbery that apparently netted just over 400 dollars. Hamm confessed to the murder, and two other men agreed to testify against him in exchange for lesser charges.

Doug Jones won last night's special election for U.S. Senate, defeating Roy Moore by 1.5% of the vote in last night’s election. Moore’s camp, though, is looking for a possible recount.

Moore refused to concede the election last night, and told his supporters “When the vote is this close, it’s not over. We still have to go by the rules, by this recount provision.”

With ~92% of precincts reporting, multiple media outlets report Democrat Doug Jones has won Alabama's special election for U.S. Senate.

Statewide, UNOFFICIAL election results are as follows:

Doug Jones: 589,531 (49.6%)

Roy Moore: 581,225 (48.9%)

Write-ins (total): 18,727 (1.6%)

Senator Richard Shelby says he decided to cast a write-in ballot in the state's upcoming Senate election because of allegations that GOP 

   nominee Roy Moore molested a girl when she was 14.

Shelby told CNN in an interview Sunday that the accusation was the "tipping point" in his decision not to vote for Moore. He says he wrote in the name of a "distinguished" Republican instead.

Shelby previously announced his refusal to vote for Moore, but he explained it during the interview.

Authorities say an inmate who escaped from an Alabama prison has been recaptured in Florida.  

The Alabama Department of Corrections said in a news release that 27-year-old Antwone Wilson was apprehended early Saturday by federal marshals and sheriff's deputies at a hotel in Titusville, Florida.

Authorities say Wilson escaped Monday from the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, Alabama. He is serving a sentence of life without parole for a first-degree robbery conviction.

Lewis
Jefferson County Jail

Three Birmingham-area officials were arrested yesterday on felony state ethics charges.

In a news release last night, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Sherry Lewis, chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Water Works, was arrested along with Jerry Jones, a former vice president at Arcadis (the Water Works' preferred engineering firm) and Mt. Vernon Mayor Terry Williams, who also owns Global Solutions International Inc., an Arcadis subcontractor.

The state of Alabama has received a $1.5 million grant to help expand a program aimed at strengthening early childhood education across the state.

Governor Kay Ivey’s office says the grant comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and will help expand Alabama’s Pre-K through Third Grade Integrated Approach to Early Learning. WSFA-TV reports that program is the first pillar of Ivey’s new education initiative, Strong Start, Strong Finish.

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