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Medicaid Funding
7:35 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Williamson Says Money Runs Out For Medicaid After 2014

State health officer Don Williamson says he doesn't know where funding for Alabama's Medicaid Program will come from after 2014.
Credit al.com

State Health Officer Don Williamson told Alabama lawmakers that money will be available to fund Alabama's Medicaid program at a minimal level through 2014.

But Williamson told a joint meeting of the House and Senate General Fund budget committees Wednesday he did not know where the money would come from after 2014 to run the health insurance program for the economically disadvantaged.

Williamson is also the interim director of the Alabama Medicaid Program.

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Trust Fund Payback
7:29 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Ala. Governor Signs Law To Repay Trust Fund

Gov. Bentley signed a bill today that mandates repaying the Alabama Trust Fund by 2026.
Credit http://governor.alabama.gov / Office of the Governor

Gov. Robert Bentley and legislative leaders kept a promise Wednesday to enact legislation requiring the repayment of $437 million taken from a state trust fund to bolster state budgets.

Bentley signed a bill passed by the Legislature that mandates the repayment to the trust fund through annual appropriations concluding in 2026. The bill was the first passed by the Legislature in the current session.

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School Flexibility
7:23 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

School Flexibility Bill Headed To Senate For Vote

A bill to allow city and county school systems to opt out of state education laws could come up in the Senate for final vote next week.

Legislation that would allow city and county school systems to opt out of state education laws could come up for a final vote in the Senate next week.

A school flexibility bill cleared the House on Feb. 14 and was approved by the Senate Education Committee in a 5-3 vote Wednesday, with Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no. A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says the bill is a priority and could come up for a vote as early as Tuesday.

Gov. Robert Bentley says he's ready to sign whatever version of the bill the Legislature passes.

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Historic Rehabilitation
4:44 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

House Panel Votes For Credits For Historic Work

A bill now goes to the full House for debate that would give tax credits for rehabbing structures built before 1936.
Credit Trance Mist / Flickr

A House committee has approved a bill that would provide tax credits for rehabilitating historic structures or non-historic buildings that were built before 1936.


The House education budget committee approved the bill unanimously. The sponsor, Republican Sen. Victor Gaston of Mobile, told committee members it would encourage home and business owners to make improvements to historic structures.

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UA Drug Roundup
8:07 am
Wed February 20, 2013

UA Students Could Face Expulsion After Drug Sweep

totalfratmove.com

University of Alabama authorities say the students arrested as part of a massive drug sweep centered around the school will be referred to its judicial affairs process.

University spokeswoman Cathy Andreen said that after the judicial reviews are completed, students will receive sanctions up to and including expulsion.


The students also face criminal charges. Authorities say the drug sweep resulted in the arrest of about 100 people.

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Trust Fund bill
6:53 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Ala. Legislature Approves Bill to Repay Savings

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says he'll make good on his promise to voters and sign legislation that requires full repayment of money transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund to the General Fund Budget.
AP Photo/Alabama Governor's Office, Jamie Martin

The Alabama House has given final passage to a bill that requires full repayment of money transferred from an oil and gas revenues savings account to the state's General Fund budget.


The House voted 90-0 Thursday to approve an amendment put on in the Senate that requires repayment of the money even if the Legislature doesn't appropriate the funds.

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Abortion Legislation
6:36 am
Wed February 20, 2013

House Passes Bill to Stiffen Abortion Clinic Rules

rawstory.com

The Alabama House has passed legislation that would stiffen the requirements for abortion clinics in the state. Opponents of the bill said the tougher rules would force most abortion clinics to close.


The bill would place requirements on the facilities such as requiring clinics to have wider hallways. The bill would require clinics to have a doctor available when an abortion is performed.

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Casino Crackdown
6:28 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Ala Black Caucus Critical of Casino Raid

Baracades are installed at the entrance to Victoryland Casino in Shorter, Ala. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, after Attorney Gen. Luther Strange shut the casino down.
AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh

Members of Alabama's legislative black caucus are criticizing the state's latest crackdown on the VictoryLand casino at Shorter.

State Rep. Pebblin Warren of Tuskegee says a raid at VictoryLand is unfair to Macon County residents who voted to legalize bingo.


She says it's also unfair that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians continue operating their three casinos when VictoryLand is shutdown.


State Rep. Alvin Holmes of Montgomery says he's worried that people who work at VictoryLand are out of jobs.

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Alabama Casinos
4:32 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Poarch Band, McGregor Respond To Suit, Raid

The Wind Creek Casino in Atmore is one of three casinos run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians that AG Luther Strange seeks to close.
Credit PCI Gaming / Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Gambling operators say the state is overstepping its bounds by trying to shut down four casinos in Alabama.


The Poarch Band of Creek Indians says the state lacks the power to shut down its three electronic bingo operations in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka.


The state filed suit Tuesday claiming the gambling centers are illegal.


And an attorney for VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor says the state's raid on the east Alabama casino is improper. McGregor lawyer Joe Espy says no court has ever ruled that VictoryLand's machines are illegal.

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Drug Roundup
4:22 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

UA Students Arrested In West Ala. Drug Sweep

Some of the mugshots of the 99 people, most of them students, rounded up in today's drug bust in West Alabama.
Credit Tuscaloosa News

Authorities say a drug sweep centered around the University of Alabama campus has resulted in the arrest of about 100 people, many of them students.


The West Alabama Narcotics Task Force began a series of busts early Tuesday. Authorities say more than two dozen students were arrested on the Alabama campus, many of them in residence halls.


Officials say 99 people were arrested in all, with charges including sale or possession of marijuana. Authorities also confiscated small amounts of cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and prescription medications.

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Campaign Finance
4:10 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Court Will Hear Campaign Donation Limits Appeal

The nation's highest court will hear a challenge from an Alabama man that looks to change campaign finance law.
Credit www.usda.gov / Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to campaign finance laws limiting how much an individual can give to political campaigns.


The justices on Tuesday decided to hear an appeal from Shaun McCutcheon of Alabama and the Republican National Committee. They are arguing that it's unconstitutional to stop a donor from giving more than $46,200 to political candidates and $70,800 to political committees and PACs.

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Poarch Band of Creek Indians
8:33 am
Tue February 19, 2013

State of Ala Sues to Close 3 Indian Casinos

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has filed a lawsuit against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
americasvoiceonline.org

The state of Alabama is trying to shut down Indian casinos in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka.

Attorney General Luther Strange's office filed suit Tuesday against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The lawsuit asks a court to stop the use of illegal slot machines at the group's Wind Creek Casino in Atmore, the Creek Casino in Montgomery and the Creek Casino in Wetumpka.

Federal law doesn't allow state police to enforce state law on Indian lands. But the lawsuit says the Poarch Band can't operate slot machines or lotteries that are illegal everywhere else in Alabama.

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Disabled Cruise Ship
5:10 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Coast Guard Says Cause Of Cruise Ship Fire Was A Leak

U.S. Customs and Border Protection provided assistance to the disabled Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship when it arrived in Mobile Feb. 14.
Credit U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr

A Coast Guard official says the cause of the engine-room fire on the Carnival cruise ship Triumph was a leak in a fuel oil return line.


In a teleconference Monday, Cmdr. Teresa Hatfield estimated that the investigation of the disabled ship would take six months.


She said the Bahamas is leading the investigation, with the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board leading U.S. interests in the probe.

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Children Deaths-Bridge
4:59 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Ala. To Appeal Ruling For New Trial In Bridge Deaths

The state plans to appeal ruling for a new trial for a man accused of throwing four small children off a coastal bridge in 2009.

Prosecutors say they'll ask the Alabama Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision throwing out the 2009 conviction and death sentence of a man accused of throwing four small children off a coastal bridge.


The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday ordered a new trial for Lam Luong. The court ruled publicity surrounding the case made it impossible for the suspect to have a fair trial in Mobile where the crime occurred.


Attorney General's office spokeswoman Joy Patterson said Monday the state plans to appeal.

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Birmingham Contamination
4:46 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

B'ham Residents To Get Info On Contamination Tests

Hundres of Birmingham residents will receive letters from the EPA this week detailing the results of contamination testing on their property.
Credit http://epa.gov/ / Environmental Protection Agency

Hundreds of residents of north Birmingham should be receiving letters from federal environmental regulators detailing the results of contamination testing on their property.


The letters are headed for residents of the Harriman Park, Collegeville and Fairmont neighborhoods, which are locate in a federal Superfund area. That gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to clean industrial pollution and penalize companies found responsible.

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