Associated Press

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Alabama ranked 44th in an annual national assessment of child well-being that looks at poverty, education and health access. 

 The Kids Count report was released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Only Arkansas, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mississippi ranked lower than Alabama.

Alabama improved in 11 of 16 indicators. The state ranked well, for example, in the percentage of children with health insurance. Only three percent of children were without health insurance.

Gulf Coast states are considering a proposal that would extend the federal red snapper season for recreational anglers, in what has been a contentious and long-running debate.

According to officials in Alabama and Louisiana, the U.S. Commerce Department has told them that if all Gulf states close their state waters to recreational snapper fishing on weekdays through at least September 4, a weekends-only federal season for red snapper could begin as early as this weekend.

ice.gov

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee has been charged in connection to a fire inside the Etowah County Detention Center.     

Etowah County Lt. Robin Grant tells local media that 22-year-old Okiemute Omatie of Lagos, Nigeria, is charged with one count of first-degree arson and one count of destruction of state property in connection with the May 26 fire.

Students will be paying a little more to attend the University of West Alabama this fall.

The university’s Board of Trustees has approved a 4.5 percent increase in tuition in order to address some anticipated increases in operating expenses in the upcoming fiscal year. The Tuscaloosa News reports the annual rates for Alabama residents’ tuition would increase by about $327 dollars per year. Out of state students will pay $655 more next year.

Graduate tuition is also increasing, by around $263 for state residents and $454 for out-of-state grad students.

Fellow Republicans are pressing President Donald Trump to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.   

And if he does, they want the president to hand them over to Congress or else possibly face a subpoena.

The request is a sign of escalating fallout from riveting testimony from Comey last week of undue pressure from Trump. Trump has responded to Comey's assertions by accusing him of lying.

traillink.com

A $333,000 grant has been awarded to Decatur and will be used to extend the Bill Sims Bike Trail farther into the southwest part of the city. 

Republican state Senator Arthur Orr, of Decatur, said Friday the federal grant is administered through the Alabama Department of Transportation's Transportation Alternative Program.

The Decatur Daily reports the roughly 1-mile asphalt trail would run along the north side of Modaus Road from Cedar Ridge Middle School to Jack Allen Private Drive near Jack Allen Sports Complex.

Alabama death row
EJI

The state of Alabama put Robert Melson to death last night for killing three people during a 1994 robbery of a Gadsden fast food restaurant.

Melson was pronounced dead at 10:27 p.m. last night, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. It’s the second execution of the year in Alabama.

The Gadsden school board has voted to search for a new superintendent rather than extend the contract of their existing leader. But the decision was deeply contested, and is drawing sharp dissent from board members.

The Gadsden Times reports the city Board of Education voted 4-3 earlier this week to begin a nationwide search for a new superintendent. Current Superintendent Ed Miller will leave once his contract expires in August.

Republican Representative Mike Jones of Andalusia is taking over as chairman of the House Rules Committee.House Speaker Mac McCutcheon announced the appointment Wednesday.Jones is perhaps best known for organizing the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment investigation of former Governor Robert Bentley.  Bentley resigned the same day the committee began hearings.McCutcheon said Jones showed "attention to detail and fairness" during the difficult task that won him praise from colleagues.   

A man who has been held in jail in Alabama for a full decade without a trial wants his case dismissed.

A judge will hold a hearing later today on the request to dismiss murder charges against Kharon Davis of Dothan, Ala. Davis was arrested in 2007 in the shooting death of Pete Reaves and has pleaded not guilty.

A judge has scheduled a hearing for a request to move a police officer’s murder trial out of Montgomery and to another city.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin scheduled the hearing for Tuesday, June 13. Montgomery police officer Aaron Smith faces a murder charge for the shooting death of 58-year-old Greg Gunn. That shooting occurred in February 2016 when Smith stopped Gunn as he was walking home late at night from a neighborhood card game.

Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International

A disease that's affecting bats nationwide has been found in a species in Alabama for the first time. 

 A statement from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says white-nose syndrome has now been detected in the southeastern bat.

Officials in Gardendale, Alabama may be allowed to establish their own school system, but it won’t be this fall.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala is delaying her order to let the Birmingham suburb of Gardendale split from Jefferson County Schools and establish its own school system.

Alabama death row
EJI

A death row inmate in Alabama is looking to halt his upcoming execution due to the use of a sedative that his lawyers say has “failed to work properly in four states”.

Attorneys for inmate Robert Melson appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week for an emergency stay of his execution. Melson is scheduled to be put to death a week from today for the killings of three Gadsden restaurant employees during a 1995 robbery.

Bullock Correctional Facility
ADOC

An inmate was recently killed at a state prison in southeast Alabama, according to authorities.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says 41 year old James Edwards Rodgers was attacked by two inmates with makeshift knives yesterday afternoon. The attack occurred at the Bullock Correctional Facility near Union Springs, Alabama. Rodgers died in the infirmary shortly after the attack.

Correctional authorities say 19 year old Paul Johnson and 35 year old Christopher Hand will be charged with murder. A motive for the stabbing is unknown.

Alabama’s largest city wants to play host to more movies, and a new film office is trying to lure movie productions to the area.

Al.com reports Film Birmingham is now officially open for business after operating behind the scenes for more than a year. The office is an initiative started by Create Birmingham, who are also planning to launch a website targeting the film industry.

Film Birmingham officials say that instead of focusing on big-budget movies like the city of Atlanta does, they will be more focused on recruiting small- to mid-sized productions to the Magic City.

A law that would regulate ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft failed to pass the Legislature this year. It’s unclear when or if those companies will begin service in certain Alabama communities.

Uber is blaming the cities involved. Al.com reports a spokesperson for Uber singled out Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson as being primarily responsible for the stalled legislation.

An inmate once called the "Houdini" of Alabama's death row for escaping seven past execution dates was put to death early this morning for a 1982 contract killing.

Tommy Arthur, 75, was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. this morning following a lethal injection, according to correctional authorities said. Arthur was convicted of killing riverboat engineer Troy Wicker, who was fatally shot as he slept in his bed in Muscle Shoals.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay on the execution of an Alabama prison inmate.

The nation's high court stayed the execution of Tommy Arthur, "pending further order" from the justices, late Thursday afternoon. Arthur was scheduled to be executed Thursday evening.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is warning Centre residents about potentially unhealthy levels of two synthetic compounds in its water.

The Department announced earlier this week that the compounds, known as PFOS and PFOA, were recently found in the city of Centre's water. It says residents should consider "using alternate sources of drinking water."

Centre Water has begun buying water from the Cherokee County Water Authority and blending the two to drive down the PFOS and PFOA numbers. The water will continue to be tested.

Lawyers for former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard say his ethics conviction is "legally baseless" and prosecutors stretched the bounds of the state law to bring charges against him.

 Hubbard's lawyers filed the appeal Wednesday in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. They are seeking to overturn his 2016 conviction on ethics charges.  Hubbard was convicted of wrongly accepting investments, employment and financial advice from people with business before the Alabama Legislature.

Alabama death row
EJI

An Alabama inmate who has had seven past executions postponed is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection tomorrow.

Tommy Arthur still maintains his innocence, but he conceded in a phone interview with the Associated Press from prison that his hopes of winning another reprieve are diminishing. Still, the 75-year-old inmate says he "won't give up."

Investigators believe the three Alabama mosques broken into in March were robbed by the same man – and that he committed a series of burglaries at mosques across the country earlier this year.

According to the Gadsden Times, detectives say three mosques in Alabama, two in Arizona and one in Virginia were broken into earlier this year.

 Alabama lawmakers have given final approval to new legislative districts.

The Alabama Senate voted 21-8 to approve the redistricting legislation. It now goes to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature.

An Alabama bill requiring some insurers to cover autism treatment for children is set to become law.

The state House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday morning to go along with Senate changes and send the bill to the governor. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey's press office has indicated she will sign the bill later this morning unless a legal review finds problems.

The mandate applies to employers with 51 or more employees.

Lawmakers in both chambers of Alabama’s legislature have approved an education budget. Now it’s just waiting on Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s signature to go into effect for the upcoming fiscal year.

Lawmakers gave final approval to the $6.4 billion education trust fund early this morning. The budget will keep Alabama’s schools mostly funded at the same levels as this past year, but it does provide for some increases for K-12 schools and other programs.

Alabama State Senator Cam Ward says his prison construction bill is dead for this year’s legislative session.

Ward made the pronouncement yesterday. He says the bill already had heavy opposition in the House and was wounded further by tensions over redistricting and other issues in the final days of the session. Ward says opposed lawmakers had threatened to filibuster the bill.

Republicans are pushing toward a redistricting vote over the objections of House Democrats as Alabama lawmakers burned plenty of midnight oil last night.

The House of Representatives met until nearly 4 a.m. this morning. Representatives will resume debate later this morning after lawmakers get a few hours of sleep.

Republicans have the votes to approve the proposed new legislative district lines. But black lawmakers in the House are once again using delaying tactics to protest the plan. They argue the new districts diminish the influence of black voters statewide.

Greg Griffin
Mickey Welsh / Montgomery Advertiser

A white Alabama police officer charged with killing a black man last year is now asking the black judge currently hearing the case to step aside.

Attorneys for Aaron Smith are asking Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin to recuse himself from Smith’s case based on a Facebook post he reportedly wrote shortly after the shooting. WSFA reports the motion includes a copy of a post in which Griffin writes he was stopped by Montgomery police because he was black and walking down a street.

The Alabama Senate has voted in favor of a bill that would require insurers to cover autism therapy but only until the child turns 18.

Senators voted 33-1 Tuesday to mandate the coverage of applied behavioral analysis, an intensive therapy for those with autism.

The House approved the bill unanimously earlier this session. The bill now heads back to the House, where Representatives will decide whether to go along with Senate changes to the bill.

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