The Associated Press


Private School Tax Credits
7:43 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Governor Bentley Blocked From Signing School Tax Bill

A circuit court judge has extended an order preventing the governor from signing a private school tax credit bill.
Credit Al Whitaker / WHNT News 19

A judge is extending is an order preventing the governor from signing a private school tax credit bill. 

  Circuit Court Judge Charles Price ruled Wednesday that a temporary restraining order will remain in effect until a court hearing on March 15.

Spokesmen for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and House Speaker Mike Hubbard say they will appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court.

Read more
Landscape Olympics
7:36 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Auburn Hosts 60 Colleges In Landscape Competition

Auburn University will host the "Landscape Olympics" this weekend.

  More than 800 students from 60 colleges will be at Auburn University this weekend for a national event known as the "Landscape Olympics."

Auburn's team of 40 students will show off their skills in 28 events, including tree climbing.

The National Collegiate Landscape Competition attracts recruiters from 50 companies, including Caterpillar and John Deere. They will be at Auburn scouting for the nation's top prospects during the event.

Read more
General Fund
5:03 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

No Raise For Ala. Workers In Panel Approved Budget

Alabama state non-education employees would not get a cost-of-living raise or merit pay raises under a General Fund budget approved by a Senate Committee.
Credit Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama state non-education employees would not get a cost-of-living raise or merit pay raises under a $1.74 billion General Fund budget approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance and Taxation-General Fund Committee.

The budget for 2013-14 is mostly level with the budget for the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. It is just a slight increase from the budget recommended by Gov. Robert Bentley. The chairman of the committee, Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur, said the economy is improving but there is still a shortage of tax revenue for the General Fund budget.

Read more
School safety legislation
6:42 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Ala. Governor Vetoes School Firearms Legislation

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has vetoed a Franklin County school safety bill that would have authorized some teachers to carry firearms.

The bill would allow teachers and other school personnel in Franklin County and Russellville city schools to train as reserve county sheriff's deputies and then carry firearms in school.

Read more
Brewery church fundraiser
6:36 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Ala Church Holding Fundraiser in Brewery

Birmingham's Church of the Reconciler will have a fundraiser at a downtown brew pub.
The Birmingham News/Tamika Moore

Brew pubs are springing up across Alabama since the state updated its alcohol laws, and one church is making the best of the trend.

A church is sponsoring a fundraiser at a brew pub in downtown Birmingham on Wednesday night. The event at Good People Brewing Co. will benefit the Church of the Reconciler, which serves a congregation that includes urban homeless.

Church pastor Matt Lacey says some people will think it's unusual for a church to hold an event at a pub. But he says many people don't see fellowship at church and in other places to be separate.

Read more
Private School Tax Credits
4:49 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Ala. Judge Plans To Rule On School Tax Credits

A judge plans to rule Wednesday on whether the governor can sign into law a bill providing private school tax credits.
Credit Trance Mist / Flickr

A judge plans to rule Wednesday on whether the governor can sign into law a bill providing private school tax credits.

Gov. Robert Bentley had planned to sign the bill Tuesday afternoon, but Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Charles Price temporarily put that on hold while he considers a lawsuit filed by the Alabama Education Association.

Price heard arguments Tuesday afternoon on whether the Legislature violated Alabama's open meeting law and its own operating rules in passing the bill in a series of quick votes Thursday night.

Read more
4:42 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Governor Bentley Endorses Abortion Clinic Regulations

Governor Robert Bentley says if the state Senate approves tougher abortion clinic regulations then he will sign them.
Credit State of Alabama

Alabama's governor says he will sign tougher abortion clinic regulations if the state Senate approves them.

Gov. Robert Bentley spoke Tuesday at a rally organized by abortion opponents in Montgomery. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and House Speaker Mike Hubbard also attended the rally.

The clinic regulatory bill has passed the House and is scheduled for a vote Wednesday in the Senate Health Committee. Committee Chairman Greg Reed says he expects the committee to approve the bill and send it to the Senate.

Read more
Extremist Groups
4:36 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Researchers Report Sharp Rise In 'Patriot' Groups

This graph from "The Year in Hate and Extremism" shows the rise in patriot and militia groups in the U.S. since 1995.
Credit Southern Poverty Law Center

A civil rights group that tracks extremist groups warns that President Obama's tenure and the gun control debate after the Connecticut school shooting have led to surging numbers of anti-government "patriot" groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Tuesday reported the rising numbers as it released its annual report on extremist groups.

The number of patriot groups, one category of extremist organizations tracked by the center, has risen dramatically over the past four years, from 149 groups in 2008 to 1,360 today.

Read more
Birmingham School Closings
6:38 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Concerns Raised About Birmingham School Closings

Daniel Payne Middle School students are protesting at the community meeting.
Jonathan Hardison

Parents and teachers are expressing concerns about plans to close seven schools and lay off 133 workers in Birmingham City Schools.

At a Monday night meeting, community members said they feared the consequences of one aspect of the plan: Consolidating some seventh- and eighth-grade students with high school students.

Stephannie Huey says she's taught at the middle school and high school level, and doesn't think the two groups will mix well. She said middle school students would be exposed to more sexual activity, drugs and cigarettes.

Read more
Private Schools Tax Credit
6:25 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Ala. Governor to Sign Private School Tax Credits

Gov. Robert Bentley says he'll sign legislation that provides tax credits to parents who move their kids out of failing public schools into private schools.

Gov. Robert Bentley is ready to sign legislation providing tax credits to parents who move their children from failing public schools to private schools.

Republicans in the Legislature passed the bill on a party-line vote Thursday night, but the Legislature can't officially deliver the bill to the governor until Tuesday afternoon. Bentley says he will sign it after getting it. He calls it one of the best pieces of legislation passed in years.

The Alliance for School Choice says Alabama with become the 12th state with a tax credit program.

Read more
Alabama Seafood Summit
6:21 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Ala Seafood Leaders Gathering in Mobile

Leaders of Alabama's seafood industry are gathering in Mobile to discuss ways to increase demand for their products.

Officials from the governor to coastal industry executives will take part in the Alabama Seafood Summit being held Tuesday at the Mobile Convention Center.

The head of Alabama Marine Resources, Chris Blankenship, says the industry's economic impact is down almost $100 million annually since the BP oil spill in 2010.

He says the state's seafood industry needs to regain market share, and that's the goal of the summit.

Read more
School Safety
4:42 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Gov. Bentley Says Alabama Police Hold School Safety Answers

Governor Robert Bentley says he believes the ultimate solution to the state's school safety issue rests with law enforcement.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he believes the ultimate solution to the school safety issue rests with law enforcement.

The governor Monday addressed the opening session of a two-day seminar on school safety at a Montgomery hotel. Bentley, legislators and education officials have been discussing how to keep schools safe since the December shootings at a Connecticut elementary school.

Read more
Payday Loans
4:30 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Alabama Legislators Seek Limits On Payday Loans

Several pieces of legislation seek to place limits on payday and title loans in Alabama.
Credit Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

Several Alabama legislators are proposing bills to place restrictions on payday and title loans, including capping the interest rates.

Legislators say their bills would limit annual interest rates at 36 percent. The loans can now have annualized rates of 456 percent on payday loans and 300 percent on title loans.

Democrat Ron Scott of Fairfield says he's optimistic about passage because the bills have a broad range of support, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, AARP and Arise Citizens' Policy Project.

Read more
Macon County-Jobs
4:18 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Macon County Land 1st CSX Select Site In Alabama

Macon County gets first CSX Select Site in Alabama.
Credit David Antis / Wikimedia Commons

A 277-acre site in Macon County is the first in Alabama chosen as a CSX Select Site.

Officials announced the selection Monday. CSX started the Select Site program last year to work with economic developers to create a list of sites that are ready for development and that have direct rail service by CSX. The railroad screens potential sites with a site selection consulting firm. A senior location consultant with that firm, Jonathan Gemmen of the Austin Co., says the Macon County site near Notasulga is close to Interstate 85, Auburn University and Tuskegee University.

Read more
School Safety Summit
6:30 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Governor Set to Address School Safety Summit

Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to address participants at a school safety summit.

The Virtual Alabama School Safety Summit will kick off Monday morning in Montgomery.

A number of topics will be covered, including new technologies that are now available.

Virtual Alabama is a high-tech information and system that helps first-responders during emergencies as public buildings, such as schools and colleges.

Other topics will include behavioral issues in schools and effective emergency operation plans.