Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

blog.al.com

The Alabama House has approved a bill aimed at allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools and state buildings. Representatives voted 77-19 Thursday for the proposed constitutional amendment that goes to the Senate and would also have to be approved by voters. Valley Republican Rep. DuWayne Bridges says Alabama should celebrate the country's religious roots. He predicted that Alabamians would overwhelmingly approve the measure. The legislation specifies that the display would have to be intermingled with other historical documents.

att.com

The Alabama Legislature has agreed to end the ability of landline phone customers to call the state's utility regulatory board with service complaints. The Alabama Senate voted 33-0 Thursday to approve a bill that does away with the Public Service Commission's authority to handle landline phone complaints. The bill passed the House earlier and now goes to the governor for his approval. The state's largest phone company, AT&T, pushed the legislation.

tanaholicapp.blogspot.com

The Alabama Legislature is set to regulate the use of tanning salons by teens. The Alabama Senate voted 23-3 Thursday to give final approval to a tanning bed regulatory bill. It passed the House earlier this month 92-2. The bill prohibits children 14 and under from using tanning beds unless prescribed by a physician. 15-year-olds could get a tan if a parent is present and gives written permission. 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds could get a tan with written permission from a parent.

The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches covering most of the state. One watch set to expire at 1 a.m. Friday includes Bibb, Dallas, Tuscaloosa Counties and others. Another watch set to expire at 3 a.m. includes Cullman, Etowah, Jefferson, Limestone and Montgomery counties, among others. A storm system moving eastward out of Mississippi will mean a threat of strong storms beginning in central Alabama Thursday night. The National Weather Service says chances are greatest northwest of a line extending roughly from Selma to Anniston.

http://ghs.butlerco.k12.al.us/

A south Alabama school superintendent says one high school erred in its attempt to limit prom attendance to "traditional couples." Greenville High School has since rescinded the rules that stated only male/female couples would be allowed to dance at the 2014 Junior/Senior Prom. Butler County Superintendent Amy Bryan says the school made a mistake and that discrimination of any kind would not be tolerated in the district. Bryan says the school administrator who issued the prom rules was mistaken in trying to micro-manage the event.

lutherstrange.com

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says he is concerned about what lawmakers' proposed General Fund budget will mean for his office. The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee on Wednesday approved a budget that zeroes out the office's current $7 million appropriation. The budget bill says the office should instead use $7 million from the national settlement with five big mortgage companies. Strange says it is troubling that lawmakers would not guarantee full funding for the office that prosecutes criminals and is trying the BP oil spill case. Gov.

opensecrets.org

Former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith kicked off his Democratic campaign for governor by calling for the creation of a state lottery to fund college scholarships and an expansion of the state Medicaid program under the federal health care law. Griffith says a healthier, better educated Alabama will lead to more jobs. Griffith outlined his campaign agenda of jobs, education and health care in a letter posted on his new campaign website Wednesday. In interviews, he called Republican incumbent Robert Bentley timid for not expanding Medicaid. Griffith was elected to Congress as a Democrat.

Legislative committees will be busy today with some high-profile bills set to be considered. 

The House Education Policy Committee will consider a bill that would allow teachers to read the opening prayers of Congress at the start of the school day and another bill to clarify that private schools are not subject to regulation by the State Department of Education. 

Also, the House Health Committee is considering multiple abortion bills - including one that would ban abortion after the fetal heartbeat is detected. 

The Associated Press

A summary of action in the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday, the 15th meeting day of the regular session:

HOUSE:

—Approved a bill creating a gap insurance program so schools destroyed by fire or a natural disaster can be rebuilt to current school standards. Goes to Senate.

—Approved a bill creating a board to govern the Local Government Health Insurance Program. Goes to Senate.

SENATE:

—Honored 2002 Olympic gold medalist Vonetta Flowers of Birmingham.

al.com

State and local officials are set to celebrate a milestone for a north Alabama auto engine plant. Gov. Robert Bentley, U.S. senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby and others plan to commemorate the production of the 3-millionth engine at Toyota Motor Manufacturing's plant in Huntsville. The plant produced a record 540,000 engines last year and is the only Toyota plant globally to build four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines. The celebration comes on the heels of an announcement Monday that firearms manufacturer Remington Outdoor Co. plans to expand to Huntsville.

APR

Nick Saban confirms he and a partner are working to open a Mercedes-Benz dealership in the Birmingham area.  Al.com reports the Alabama football coach said a statement Monday he's "honored to join the Mercedes family" and "extremely excited" about the business venture planned for Irondale.

npr.org

Republicans fighting a yearslong unionization effort at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee painted a grim picture in the days leading up to last week's vote. Workers rejected the United Auto Workers in a close vote, so attention turns now to whether the GOP can fulfill its promises that keeping the union out means more jobs will come rolling in. Regardless of what political consequences, if any, Republicans would face if that fails to happen, the Volkswagen vote established a playbook for denying the UAW its goal of expanding into foreign-owned plants in the region.

valmontfirearms.co.uk

A plan by Remington Outdoor Co. to open a plant in Huntsville that could employ thousands of workers has won the support of Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions. In a statement Sunday, Sessions said his office warmly welcomes the firearms manufacturer, and looks forward to the company's long-term success in the area. The company also makes ammunition and accessories. Sessions says the company's decision to open a plant in Huntsville "is great news and a further testament to the world class workforce" in the city. Although Remington officials haven't officially announced the deal, Gov.

auburnalabama.org

For former state Rep. Pete Turnham of Auburn, "The Monuments Men" is not a Hollywood movie about World War II. It's part of his life. The 93-year-old businessman spent the summer and fall of 1945 guarding a Bavarian castle where the Nazis hid thousands of artworks seized during the war. Turnham was the company commander for 200 troops who guarded Neuschwanstein Castle to make sure none of the art was stolen or destroyed while experts worked on returning it to the rightful owners.

bobikesbama.com

Bo Jackson is beginning his third annual charity bike ride from a city he knows well: Auburn. Organizers say this year's "Bo Bikes Bama" trek will begin on the Auburn University campus on April 19, the same day as the Tigers' A-Day spring football game. Participants can ride for either 22 or 62 miles, and money from registration fees and other fundraising goes to support the Governor's Emergency Relief Fund. The Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn started the bicycle rides after the deadly tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011.

archives.alabama.gov

The Alabama Department of Archives and History is opening a major new exhibit in Montgomery. A ribbon cutting is being held Saturday on the lawn of the Archives building for a new centerpiece exhibition called "Alabama Voices." Gov. Robert Bentley and first lady Dianne Bentley will attend. The department says the exhibit is the result of a decade of research, planning and fundraising. It covers the sweep of Alabama history from the early 1700s until today. The exhibition includes more than 800 artifacts and hundreds of images.

commons.wikimedia.org

Valentine's Day will be special for members of an Alabama National Guard unit that's coming home from Afghanistan. About 190 members of the 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade are returning home to Mobile on Friday morning. The troops will be welcomed by family members and friends at an armory in the port city. The group deployed in April 2013, traveling first to Fort Hood in Texas for training. Then they moved overseas to Afghanistan. The soldiers assisted with management operations for five base camps in Kabul.

Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

A gay man whose husband was killed in a car accident is filing a federal lawsuit challenging the Alabama laws that prohibit the recognition of his marriage, which was legally performed in Massachusetts. The lawsuit in Montgomery federal court seeks to overturn Alabama's bans on the recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Plaintiff Paul Hard and David Fancher, both of Montgomery, were married in 2011. Three months later, Fancher was killed in a car accident.

legislature.state.al.us

The Alabama House is calling on Congress to convene a state-led convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to impose limits on the federal government. A resolution sponsored by Republican Rep. Ken Johnson of Moulton cleared the Alabama House on Thursday and now goes to the Senate. It proposes a convention under Article V of the Constitution. It would be limited to imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

blog.al.com

Alabama's newest congressman, Rep. Bradley Byrne, will have opposition after all in his first re-election bid. Democrat Burton LeFlore is seeking a rematch after losing to Byrne, a Republican, in the December special election to represent Alabama's 1st Congressional District. LeFlore's name was left off the initial candidate list distributed by the Alabama Democratic Party when qualifying ended last week. The winner of the Republican primary for Alabama's 6th Congressional District will also face opposition from a Democrat. Democrat Avery Vise qualified to run for the seat.

selmacityschools.org

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice says a new leadership team should be in place at the Selma schools by the last week of February. Bice says state education officials are assembling the team because the state Board of Education voted unanimously to take over the Selma city school system. The takeover follows the arrest of a Selma High School teacher on charges of inappropriate sexual conduct with a student and an investigation by the state Department of Education.

legislature.state.al.us

An Alabama lawmaker is seeking to let public school teachers begin each day by reading opening prayers that were given in Congress. The House Education Policy held a public hearing Wednesday on the legislation. The bill would set aside 15 minutes at the start of each school day to study the procedures of Congress, and give a verbatim reading of a congressional opening prayer. Bill sponsor, Rep. Steve Hurst, says teachers could choose a prayer that related to the day's lesson. He says teachers might choose a prayer that was said on a particular day in history.

wikipedia commons

The Alabama Senate has again passed a bill to ban smoking in many work places and in many businesses. Democratic Sen. Vivian Davis Figures guided her bill through the Senate on a 21-8 vote Tuesday. Figures has passed similar legislation in the Senate before, only to have it die in the House. Figures is uncertain how it will fare in the House this time. Her bill bans smoking in most businesses, but bars and private clubs are excluded. It also does not affect smoking in homes, unless the homes provide day care services.

tanaholicapp.blogspot.com

The state House of Representatives has voted to ban teens from using tanning beds unless they have a parent's written consent. Representatives approved the proposal Tuesday by a vote of 92-2. The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate. Teens age 16 and 17 would have to have a parent's written consent to use a tanning bed. Fifteen-year-olds would need to have a parent's written consent, and have the parent present at the tanning facility during the tanning sessions. Children 14 and younger would be banned from using tanning beds unless it was prescribed by a doctor.

NPR

Gov. Robert Bentley is issuing a statewide state of emergency in advance of dangerous winter weather that's forecast to hit the state. The state of emergency begins at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Bentley says the state is taking no chances as the winter weather nears the state. The governor says he is urging schools to close if they are in an area predicted to have snow and ice accumulations. He is urging people to be cautious and avoid all unnecessary travel. Bentley says a wrecker unit of the Alabama National Guard is on standby with crews positions throughout north Alabama.

opensecrets.org

Former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville is running for governor as a Democrat. Griffith turned in his qualifying papers at state party headquarters in Montgomery shortly before the deadline on Friday. Griffith served as a Democrat in the Alabama Senate and then was elected to Congress to represent part of north Alabama. After his election he switched to the Republican Party and lost a GOP primary bid to Mo Brooks, who now represents the 5th District. Griffith recently rejoined the Democratic Party.

A summary of action in the Alabama Legislature on Thursday, the 11th meeting day of the regular session:

HOUSE:

—Approved a bill to give deployed military members extra time to renew their vehicle registration. Goes to Senate.

— Approved a bill to specify that write-in votes will only be counted if there are enough votes to impact the race, or if there is a request. Goes to Senate.

SENATE:

Roy Moore
AP

Known for fighting to display the Ten Commandments in his state's judicial building, Alabama's chief justice is jumping into the national gay marriage debate. Roy Moore has sent letters to all 50 governors urging them to get their legislatures to call for a convention to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizing only unions between one man and one woman. Moore says the country's moral foundation is under attack, and a state-initiated convention under Article V of the Constitution is the only way to stop it. An Article V convention has never been held.

The Univeristy of Central Florida / library.ucf.edu

An administrator from the University of Central Florida has been named president of the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Trustees unanimously selected Tony G. Waldrop as president during a meeting Thursday. Waldrop is provost and executive vice president at Central Florida, which is located in Orlando. He also held administrative positions at the University of North Carolina and the University of Illinois. At South Alabama, Waldrop replaces the late Gordon Moulton, who retired last July 1 and died in September.

The Associated Press

A summary of action in the Alabama Legislature on Wednesday, a committee meeting day:

COMMITTEES:

—Senate Finance and Taxation-General Fund Committee approved a bill to give a one-time pension bonus to retired state employees. Goes to Senate.

—Senate Finance and Taxation-General Fund Committee approved a House-passed bill to provide an income tax credit to Alabama families that adopt children in Alabama. Goes to Senate.

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