Associated Press

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A prison construction plan is headed to a key vote in committee.    The House Judiciary Committee will vote Tuesday on the proposal to build, or lease, up to four prisons in the state.  

 Senator Cam Ward, the bill's sponsor, said the vote is "do or die" for the legislation as lawmakers head into the final week of the legislative session.

The Alabama House of Representatives has finally approved new legislative districts for the state – after house Democrats delayed a vote by having the bill read aloud for sixteen hours.

Representatives approved the districts yesterday on a 70-30, strictly party-line vote.

Back in January, federal judges ordered the GOP-controlled Legislature to redraw lines before next year’s election after ruling some districts were gerrymandered by race.

A bill requiring insurance companies in the state to pay for autism therapy has passed the Senate budget committee. But the committee chairman is threatening not to advance the bill, as he continues negotiations.

The superintendent of Selma’s city school system has been placed on administrative leave for reportedly violating her contract.

The Selma Times-Journal reports Angela Mangum was suspended earlier this week after failing to notify Selma’s school board she was pursuing other employment opportunities.

The Senate Leadership Fund is planning a $2.6 million television ad buy on behalf of Senator Luther Strange as the group seeks to ward off challengers for the Senate seat previously held by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The super political action committee, with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced the buy yesterday in a show of fiscal force leading up to the Aug. 15 Republican primary.

Senate Leadership Fund spokesman Chris Pack said the buy is just a fraction of what the group plans on spending to support Strange.

A circuit judge has ruled that parts of Alabama’s Workman’s Compensation Act are unconstitutional – meaning the whole act is unconstitutional, because of a non-severability statute.

The Gadsden Times reports Jefferson County Circuit Judge Pat Ballard found fault with statutes capping recovery for workers permanently but not totally disabled at $220 per week, and capping attorney’s fees at 15 percent.

Emergency managers in Alabama are gearing up for the beginning of hurricane season next month.

The state of Alabama will hold its annual hurricane drill today. State officials including Governor Kay Ivey will gather in Clanton for the procedure.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency holds the exercise each year to practice its procedures and to ensure coordination between various local, state and federal agencies.

Authorities say dozens of athletes and coaches from across the South have fallen ill at a college baseball tournament in Alabama, and the cause is -- as of now -- a mystery.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said people affected by the outbreak are from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

WSFA-TV reports the athletes and coaches were competing in the Southern States Athletic Conference championship tournament in Montgomery when they became ill.

State senators approved a general fund budget last night after a long and at times contentious debate.

The budget passed the Senate 23 to 4. The House of Representatives had previously approved the $1.8 billion spending plan, but the bill will now head back to the house to decide whether representatives will go along with mostly minor Senate changes.

The Alabama Senate has approved new legislative districts over the objections of black Democrats who said the plan was gerrymandered to maintain GOP control of the state's largest county. 

Senators on Thursday approved the new districts in a 25-7 party line vote after Democrats used procedural tactics to delay a vote for several hours.

Alabama’s education budget has passed the state House.

The House of Representatives unanimously approved the $6.4 billion budget proposal yesterday.

Tuscaloosa Rep. Bill Poole says the budget will keep state schools mostly funded at the same levels as last year but provides some increases for K-12 schools. It also sets aside money to hire more than 150 more teachers in fourth through sixth grades.

The proposal now heads back to the Senate, where it was previously stalled by a legislator who argued that more money should be spent on grade schools.

The race to more permanently fill the U.S. Senate Seat formerly held by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions is heating up. But one potential candidate is complaining that GOP officials are treating appointee Luther Strange as an incumbent, and discouraging challengers from running against him.

Senators are asking a budget committee to vote this week on an autism bill that would require insurers to pay for an intensive therapy.

Senator Dick Brewbaker of Pike Road said Tuesday that 26 of 35 senators signed a petition asked for a committee vote this week instead of waiting. Brewbaker says the bill deserves a vote because the legislative clock is rapidly winding down

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill
legislature.state.al.us

Alabama's secretary of state says nearly 100 political candidates and donation groups have broken state campaign finance rules.

Yesterday, Secretary John Merrill publicly released the names of all the candidates and political action committees that failed to disclose donations by this year's January cutoff date. He says the release is intended to compel the offending PACs and candidates to file financial records of campaign contributions they either received or spent in 2016.

Legislation that would require health insurers to cover an intensive autism therapy has stalled in the state Senate after passing the House of Representatives unanimously.

The House on April 20 voted 100-0 to mandate coverage of applied behavioral analysis therapy, also called ABA therapy. However, the bill was not assigned to a Senate committee until a week later and the committee chairman said it will be another week before the bill has a public hearing.

Black lawmakers in the Alabama Legislature are criticizing new district lines that are being drawn after a federal court ruled that Republicans relied too heavily on race last time.

Rep John Knight, a Montgomery Democrat, says the new proposal is unacceptable. Back in January, federal judges ordered Alabama lawmakers to redistrict after ruling that 12 districts in the state were gerrymandered.

Alabama Confederate Monument
Wikimedia

State lawmakers are approaching a decision on whether to prevent changes to long-standing monuments in the state, including Confederate memorials.

The state House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on a bill that would forbid any alterations or removal of markers that have stood for more than 20 years.

Gov. Kay Ivey could sign the legislation into law if the House passes it. A spokeswoman says Ivey’s office will review the bill if it is approved.

Alabama officials are forming a task force to address concerns about private information about crime victims inappropriately posted to a state website for court records.

The task force as well as other steps are reportedly being taken after a review of Alacourt.com by The Associated Press found the names, home addresses, telephone numbers and other information of rape victims and children who have been molested publicly available on the state-run website.

State officials say they're also adding a feature to the website designed to keep that sensitive information private.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

State lawmakers gave their final approval yesterday to a bill protecting faith-based adoption agencies that refuse to place children with gay parents, or in certain other households, due to their religious beliefs.

The bill would prohibit the state from refusing to license or do business with faith-based adoption groups that refuse placements on religious grounds. Supporters argue the measure is needed to make sure the groups can reasonably operate. Critics, such as the state’s only openly gay lawmaker, Rep. Patricia Todd, say it’s blatant discrimination.

Alabama education officials are investigating a series of mistakes after publicly releasing incorrect information about state graduation rates.

Some local superintendents complained that graduation rates posted to the state's website late last week were too low. The Alabama Department of Education acknowledged the error in a statement released yesterday.

Representatives approved the bill Tuesday with an 84-11 vote. It now moves to the Alabama Senate.

The United States Supreme Court will not reconsider the appeal of an Alabama death row inmate scheduled to be executed next month.

Yesterday, Supreme Court justices refused the rehearing request by Tommy Arthur, who has had seven execution dates postponed so far.

Another challenger has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by former Attorney General Luther Strange.

Dr. Randy Brinson, a Montgomery gastroenterologist and chairman of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, announced Monday he is running to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former Senate seat.

Brinson is the founder of Redeem The Vote, a group aimed at getting young evangelical Christians involved in politics. In his announcement, Brinson said voters are frustrated with "corruption, self-dealing and venality of politicians."

A new report says travelers spent more than $13 billion in the state of Alabama last year.

The study was conducted for the state tourism agency by an economist at Auburn University in Montgomery. It says more than 25 million travelers spent a total of $13.4 billion in the state in 2016 on hotels, shopping, transportation and restaurants.

That represents an increase of 5.4 percent from 2015. Tourism Director Lee Sentell says travel spending has doubled in the state over the last 14 years.

Alabama is expanding its Amber Alert guidelines for missing children.    Governor Kay Ivey says Alabama will no longer wait for a missing child to be reported "abducted" for an Amber Alert to be issued.

The decision comes after an incident in Bessemer on Wednesday where a vehicle with a child inside was stolen but did not immediately qualify for the alert.

The state House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would mandate insurance coverage for autism therapy.

Representatives voted 100-0 in favor of the bill yesterday. It now moves to the Alabama Senate. The bill mandates coverage of an autism treatment called applied behavioral analysis therapy. The Autism Society of Alabama says Alabama is one of only five states that does not require the coverage. Parents whose children have autism and have received the therapy have called it “life-changing”, but it’s also very expensive.

Alabama lawmakers are one step closer to allowing a Birmingham-area church to establish its own police force.

The House Public Safety Committee approved a measure that would allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church to set up its own police department. Church officials say they need their own police force to keep their school and their more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

Roy Moore
AP

The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld the suspension of Chief Justice Roy Moore due to his actions following a landmark legal decision allowing gay marriage in the state.

The specially-appointed court issued their ruling yesterday afternoon. Judges upheld the findings that Chief Justice Moore violated judicial ethics, and that his suspension for the remainder of his term on the court was justified.

Alabama lawmakers have voted to require high schoolers pass a civics exam before graduating.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the bill 68-31 Tuesday. 

 Decatur Republican Representative Terri Collins says her legislation is intended to ensure young people know how their government works.

The exams will be introduced during the next school year and are identical to the naturalization test given by the federal government. Students could take the 100 question quiz until they pass it.

The Alabama Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun in Alabama without a getting a permit. In the state House, debate has been postponed on a bill that would close a loophole currently exempting faith-based day cares from state regulation.

Senators are scheduled to debate the concealed weapon proposal submitted by Republican Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa this evening.

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