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http://governor.alabama.gov / Office of the Governor

Gov. Robert Bentley's tax return shows he's still not receiving any income from being governor, but he and his wife reported an adjusted gross income of nearly $373,000 for 2013. About $233,000 of that came from Bentley selling his interest in the building where his medical practice was located in Tuscaloosa. Much of the remainder was from IRA distributions and Social Security. The governor and first lady paid more than $81,000 in taxes. They also donated more than $15,000 to charities. Bentley has been releasing his tax returns every year since he ran for governor in 2010.

Most of the Democrats seeking the top offices in Alabama are scheduled to be in Huntsville for a political event Thursday. The event is being called "Hot Dogs and Yellow Dogs." Organizer and host Pam Miles says it will include gubernatorial candidates Parker Griffith and Kevin Bass, lieutenant governor candidate James Fields, attorney general candidate Joe Hubbard, state auditor candidate Miranda Joseph, and agriculture commissioner candidate Doug Smith. They are seeking offices currently held by Republicans. A dozen legislative candidates are also scheduled to attend the event Thursday.

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Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is scheduled to be in Alabama next week. Palin will speak at an event organized by the Baldwin County Republican Party on April 25 at the Wharf in Orange Beach. The former Alaska governor last visited Baldwin County on May 3, 2011, when she delivered a speech to the Exceptional Foundation. Palin has pursued a career as a political commentator, public speaker and author since running with John McCain in 2008.

www.politico.com

A crowded field of seven candidates is running in the GOP primary for Alabama's 6th Congressional District. The 6th Congressional District is strongly Republican, but political observers say it encompasses a diversity of GOP voices, from a strong business community to active tea party groups. The seat is open after Rep. Spencer Bachus decided not to seek re-election. Gardendale Sen. Scott Beason, Harbert Management Corp. vice president Will Brooke, Homewood Rep.

Judge Rules in Favor of Indian Casinos in Alabama

Apr 14, 2014
Poarch Band of Creek Indians

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state which challenged the rights of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to operate three casinos in Alabama.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins ruled Friday that the state has no authority to prohibit the activity on Indian lands.

commons.wikimedia.org

Attorneys for a group of poor Alabama schoolchildren and their parents are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to considering scrapping Alabama's property tax system.

The group maintains in a petition filed with the court that Alabama's property tax system is unfair to minority students.

The Alabama Legislature's 2014 session has come to a close. The House and Senate wrapped up their session about 7:30 p.m. Thursday after passing the state education budget. Numerous bills died on the last night, including one rewriting Alabama's open meetings law and another keeping secret the companies that supply drugs for lethal injections. Other dead bills included legislation protecting spay-neuter clinics and one banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The session ended earlier than normal. The Legislature usually goes to nearly midnight on its last meeting day.

Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

The mother of an accident victim is now involved in a federal lawsuit filed by his same-sex partner, who is trying to overturn Alabama's ban on gay marriage. A federal judge in Montgomery says Pat Fancher can intervene in a lawsuit filed after the death of 53-year-old David Fancher. Fancher's longtime partner, Paul Hard, sued in December. The two men were legally married in Massachusetts, but Alabama law doesn't recognize same-sex marriages. Hard's lawsuit asks a court to strike down Alabama laws banning same-sex unions.

AP

The Alabama Legislature has passed a bill requiring people to apply for three jobs before seeking welfare benefits. The Senate voted 28-1 Thursday to go along with changes the House made in the bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur. The bill applies to applications for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly called welfare. It not only requires applicants to apply for three jobs, but to keep applying for jobs once they receive benefits. The Senate also gave final approval Thursday to a bill providing new penalties for welfare fraud.

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Programs are being planned across Alabama this weekend to help people sign up for health insurance through the federally operated marketplace before Monday's night deadline. Alabama Arise says enrollment events are being held Saturday at St. Stephens AME Church and the Moorer Public Library in Mobile, as well as at Medical Outreach Ministries in Montgomery. The student-led group Bama Covered is planning an event Sunday afternoon in Railroad Park in Birmingham. Mayor William Bell and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell will speak, and people will provide assistance to anyone wanting to enroll.

opensecrets.org

Democrat Parker Griffith and Republican Robert Bentley are both 71, both doctors and both running for governor. But Griffith is emphasizing their differences in his race for governor. Griffith says he would repeal the state immigration law that Bentley signed and replace it with a law that doesn't put so many regulations on businesses. He says he would also expand the state Medicaid program under the federal health care law, and he would repeal the Alabama Accountability Act and its private school scholarships.

Al Hicks/New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation

Federal officials say a disease known to be fatal in bats has been found in two animals in the Bankhead National Forest in Lawrence County, north Alabama. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said in a statement Thursday that two bats in the Armstrong and Backwards-Confusion caves tested positive for white-nose syndrome. USDA officials say white-nose syndrome is fungal growth around the muzzle and wings of hibernating bats that has quickly spread from New York and has been found as far south as Georgia and Alabama.

bcjubilee.org

The 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march is a year away, and both cities are making plans to draw big crowds next year. Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, County Commission Chairman Elton Dean and Alabama State University President Gwendolyn Boyd announced Tuesday that Montgomery is planning two big weekends of events that they expect to draw thousands. In Selma, a founder of the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, state Sen. Hank Sanders, says next year's celebration will be the biggest ever, with more than 50 events.

legislature.state.al.us

The Alabama Senate has added $1 million to the state tourism department's proposed budget for grants that will be doled out at lawmakers' recommendation.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that each House district will get $5,000 and each Senate district will get $15,000 to help distribute.

National Public Radio

Former CIA agent Valerie Plame is scheduled to speak to University of Alabama students and screen a documentary about her experiences. University officials say Plame will speak with students of Stephen Schwab, a UA adjunct assistant professor and former CIA analyst, when she visits the Tuscaloosa campus March 31. She's also expected to screen the film at 7:30 p.m. March 31 in Farrah Hall. That event is free and open to the public.

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A federal judge is delaying enforcement of an Alabama law regulating abortion clinics for one more week while he tries to rule on a lawsuit challenging the law. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson had planned to rule on the lawsuit by Monday. But he issued an order extending a prohibition against enforcing the law through April 2 to give him more time to rule. The American Civil Liberties Union and abortion clinic operators are challenging an Alabama law that requires doctors at abortion clinics to have privileges to admit patients to local hospitals.

A northwest Alabama man is suing General Motors, claiming his daughter's death was caused by an ignition switch that is the subject of a large recall. Steve Smith filed the suit Monday in Lauderdale County Circuit Court on behalf of his daughter, Aubrey Wallace Williams. The suit says the ignition in her 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt went out on Dec. 4, 2013, causing the vehicle to become uncontrollable. Her car crossed into the oncoming lane and hit an 18-wheeler log truck. She was killed instantly. GM spokesman Jim Cain says he can't comment on specific litigation.

Associated Press

The deadline is approaching in nine south Alabama counties for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most non-profit organizations to apply for federal disaster loans due to the frost and freezing temperatures on March 25-29, 2013. The Small Business Administration says the deadline is April 14 in Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Covington, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe and Washington counties. The loans are for working capital and can be up to $2 million. The interest rates are 4 percent for eligible small businesses and 2.875 percent for non-profit organizations.

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The student Senate at the University of Alabama delayed considering a resolution that opposed racial segregation within the school's fraternities and sororities. Student government representatives voted Thursday to send the resolution to a committee rather than consider its merits. The student newspaper, the Crimson White, reports the move killed the resolution for this year.

Chief Justice Roy Moore says Alabama's secretary of state should have been required to determine whether President Obama was born in the United States and qualified to be on the state ballot in 2012. The all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court's dismissal of a case that sought to require the secretary of state to demand a birth certificate from presidential candidates. Moore and Justice Tom Parker dissented. Moore writes the secretary of state is a gatekeeper and has a duty to determine if candidates are natural-born U.S. citizens.

The Alabama Senate has approved a bill to allow people to carry loaded handguns in their vehicles without getting pistol permit. The bill by Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale cleared the Senate 20-7 Wednesday night and now goes to the House for consideration. Currently, people without a pistol permit can carry a handgun in their vehicles provided it is unloaded and out of reach. They need to buy a pistol permit from a county sheriff to carry a loaded gun in their vehicles. Beason said citizens shouldn't have to buy a permit to protect themselves.

Alabama State House
Trance Mist / Flickr

The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would reorganize much of the legislative branch of state government. Representatives voted 64-30 for the bill Thursday. Republicans said the changes would streamline a hodgepodge of existing oversight. Democrats expressed concerns that it will give the majority party too much power over legislative functions. The bill consolidates operations under a reconfigured Legislative Council of lawmakers.

Associated Press

In the first federal oil lease sale since the government said BP PLC can again get federal contracts, BP has bids on 31 tracts in the central Gulf of Mexico. The sale is also the first since 2008 offering tracts in the eastern gulf, but nobody bid on any of those tracts. A total of 42 companies bid on 326 blocks in the central gulf, and one company — Exxon Mobil Corp. — bid on three blocks in the western gulf. The bids will be opened and read out starting at 9 a.m. CDT.

Laurie Avocado / Wikimedia Commons

A proposal to study the impact of using a marijuana derivative to treat seizures is one step closer to becoming state law. A House Committee on Tuesday voted to fund a $1 million University of Alabama At Birmingham study on the effectiveness of using cannabidiol to control seizures. Parents of children with seizure disorders are seeking the marijuana oil, which does not get users high, based on anecdotal evidence that it is effective. The study bill was a compromise. The original version would have protected families from a drug conviction if arrested for possession.

The Associated Press

The House of Representatives narrowly approved an education budget that divided lawmakers over the lack of a teacher pay raise. Representatives approved the $5.9 billion budget in a 51-47 vote Tuesday. Tuscaloosa Republican Rep. Bill Poole says the plan puts more money toward insurance. He says that should help avoid large premium increases for current and retired education employees. Poole argued that was the best use of limited funds. Democrats contended teachers deserve a raise after going several years without one.

legislature.state.al.us

Alabama Rep. Alvin Holmes approached the House floor microphones during a contentious debate on an abortion bill and landed in the national spotlight by saying 99 percent of white lawmakers would want their daughters to have an abortion if pregnant by a black man. Holmes, who was one of the first blacks elected to Alabama's Legislature, has become known for statements — sometimes outlandish and sometimes funny — during a political career that has spanned 40 years in a conservative Southern state with a long history of civil rights struggles.

Vox Efx / Flickr

The Alabama secretary of state's office is planning to have staff traveling the state starting Monday to provide photo IDs to voters who need them for the upcoming elections. Secretary of State Jim Bennett says the mobile site visits are in addition to the IDs being available in his Montgomery office and at county boards of registrars. The visits will take about two months. They begin Monday in Alberta and Waterloo. Tuesday's schedule includes Maplesville, Thorsby and Athens. The tour wraps up May 12 in Hoover.

The Associated Press

The Legislature's effort to rewrite the lengthy Alabama Constitution article by article has stalled A Senate committee delayed action Wednesday on four proposed constitutional amendments that would rewrite four articles of the Constitution. Committee members say the issue is over for now, with only seven meeting days remaining in the 2014 legislative session. The chairman of the Senate Constitution and Elections Committee, Republican Sen.

University of North Alabama

The president of the University of North Alabama is retiring.

The school says William G. Cale Jr. is stepping down after more than nine years in the position.

Trustees will discuss the process for finding a replacement during a meeting set for March 17, and the university says Cale will be available to assist during a period of transition.

Cale came to North Alabama from Penn State University-Altoona, where he was the chief executive and dean. He also worked at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

Cale and his wife plan to remain in the Florence area.

The Associated Press

A summary of action in the Alabama Legislature on Wednesday, the 21st meeting day of the regular session:

HOUSE:

—Passed a bill to name the queen honey bee as the official state agriculture insect of Alabama. Goes to Senate.

—Passed a bill establishing a new process for grandparents to petition for visitation rights with their grandchildren. Goes to Senate.

SENATE:

—Stalled on a bill to restructure the Birmingham Water Works Board.

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