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2013 Legislative Session
10:33 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Expert: Alabama to See More Money for Education

The Legislature's top financial expert is forecasting lawmakers will have more money to appropriate for education programs, but less for other state operations.

The director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, Norris Green, gave legislators a forecast Tuesday showing that revenue for the education budget should grow by $238 million in the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1. That means the budget could grow from $5.55 billion this fiscal year to $5.79 billion in the new year.

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Montgomery Grade Scandal
10:10 am
Tue February 5, 2013

4 Workers to be Reinstated in Grade-Changing Case

School System Attorney Spud Seale.
montgomerylawyers.com

Montgomery school officials say four of the seven Montgomery Public Schools employees placed on paid administrative leave during an investigation into improper grade changing will be reinstated.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports (http://on.mgmadv.com/11PrgPY) that three employees were cleared of all wrongdoing, and a fourth was found to have only followed the directions of a supervisor.

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Midland City Standoff
6:46 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Authorities: Captor Shot and Boy Freed Safely From Six-Day Hostage Ordeal in Underground Bunker

After seven days spent hostage in Jimmy Lee Dykes' underground bunker in Midland City, 5-year-old Ethan is free.
Joe Songer/jsonger@al.com

Officials say law enforcement officers stormed an underground bunker in southeastern Alabama, freeing a 5-year-old boy and shooting his captor to death after they became convinced the child was in imminent danger.


Authorities said 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes had taken the child off a school bus after fatally shooting the driver on Jan 29. Dykes had remained holed up in the bunker with the child.


Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said late Monday that Dykes was armed when officers entered the bunker to rescue the child.

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2013 Legislative Session
6:37 am
Tue February 5, 2013

3 Ala. Lawmakers Support Religious Freedom Bill

A crew prepares the Ten Commandments monument for movement from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003. Roy Moore fought attempts to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Bu
Mobile Register file/Mike Kittrell

A handful of Republican Alabama lawmakers are pushing a bill to make it legal to display the Ten Commandments in any public building in the state.


WAFF-TV reports a pre-filed bill sponsored by Republican state Sen. Gerald Dial and has gained support from Sen. Shadrack McGill and Sen. Clay Scofield.


Dial says the bill — titled the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment — could act as a safeguard for constituents who have expressed concerns over being sued for displaying the Ten Commandments in public places.

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2013 Legislative Session
6:31 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Alabama Legislators to Get Financial Forecasts

Alabama finance officials will give lawmakers an overview of the state's financial situation before the start of the 2013 legislative session.
montgomeryalrealestate.org

Alabama legislators will get an overview of the state's financial situation before they begin their 2013 legislative session at noon.

The director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, Norris Green, and the state finance director, Marquita Davis, are scheduled to address legislators at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Capitol. The financial overview is the traditional kickoff for each year's session.

Midland City Standoff
5:16 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

The Week-long Midland City Hostage Situation Has Ended

Reporters await the announcement that the Midland City hostage situation has ended.
Credit Dothan Eagle

The week-long hostage ordeal of a 5-year-old Alabama boy is over. Officials say the man who killed a bus driver and took the boy from a school bus last Tuesday is dead.  The drama played out in an underground bunker where retired truck driver Jim Dykes had held the boy.


Authorities say a decision was made to storm the bunker because the child was in imminent danger.


Steve Richardson with the FBI's office in Mobile said at a news conference Monday afternoon that negotiations deteriorated and that 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes had been seen with a gun.

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Governor-Roads
4:50 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Gov. Bentley Announces 302 Road Projects

Gov. Robert Bentley has announced 302 road and bridge projects that the state will finance with bond sales.
Credit State of Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley has announced 302 more road and bridge projects that the state will finance with bond sales.


The 302 projects announced Monday total $398 million. That boosts his Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program to 439 projects totaling $613 million.


The largest projects include $18.7 million in Tuscaloosa to extend Fifth Avenue to Hackberry Lane at the University of Alabama campus and $16.6 million in Foley to extend Pride Drive from Alabama Highway 59 to County Road 20.

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Party Switch
4:17 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Rep. Laird Leaves Democrats To Be Independent

Rep. Richard Laird of Roanoke has switched parties from the Democratic Party to an independent.
Credit http://www.legislature.state.al.us/house/house.html

One of the veteran Democrats in the Alabama House, Rep. Richard Laird of Roanoke, has announced he's becoming an independent.


Laird said Monday the Democratic Party today is much different than it was when he was first elected to the House in 1978. He said the party has lost its conservative core.


Laird said he will meet with the Republican caucus in the House, even though he's not joining the House's majority party.

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Auburn Toomer's Corner
7:28 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Toomer's Oaks to be Removed After April Game

Auburn University officials say students and the public will have one final chance to roll the dying Toomer's Corner oak trees before they're removed in April.
espn.go.com

An Auburn University official says the iconic Toomer's Corner oak trees will likely be removed a few days after an April 20 football game.


Auburn University students and the public will get one final chance to roll the dying Toomer's Oaks before they are removed after the A-Day football game.


Dan King, Auburn's assistant vice president of facilities, says tells the Opelika-Auburn News (http://bit.ly/XO3wsy) that trees will likely be removed within a week or two following the game.

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Tuscaloosa Tornado Recovery
7:21 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Tuscaloosa Council to Vote on Storm Recovery Money

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox walks with President Obama as they tour the storm damage on April 29, 2011.
pedimentbooks.com

The city council in Tuscaloosa is expected to vote Tuesday on a contract that would secure a $10 million line of credit to help fund storm recovery efforts.


The Tuscaloosa News reports (http://bit.ly/URA3B4) that if approved, it would mark the first money the city would borrow to pay for the millions of dollars in costs associated with rebuilding and cleaning up Tuscaloosa following the tornado of April 27, 2011.

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2013 Legislative Session
6:32 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Alabama Legislature Faces Gun Right Bills

Democratic Rep. Craig Ford is one of a few Alabama lawmakers introducing gun control legislation during the 2013 legislative session.
legislature.state.al.us

The Alabama Legislature will face several gun rights bills when it convenes Tuesday for its 2013 session.

Republican Rep. Mike Jones of Andalusia is offering a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Second Amendment rights the benefit of "strict scrutiny." That would require a compelling interest before regulating gun rights and would require that any limits on guns be narrowly tailored. The legislation is patterned after a bill the National Rifle Association got passed in Louisiana.

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Politics & Government
6:25 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Ala. Legislation Would Exonerate Scottsboro Boys

The Scottsboro Boys, with their attorney, under guard by the state militia.
en.wikipedia.org

A group of lawmakers and others will have a news conference to announce legislation being introduced to exonerate the nine Scottsboro Boys, accused of raping two white women in 1931.

A news conference has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the Alabama Statehouse.


A group that includes Democratic and Republican lawmakers says it is supporting a resolution and a bill that would exonerate the men, now deceased, known as the Scottsboro Boys.

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Voting Rights Act
9:23 am
Sun February 3, 2013

US Supreme Court To Hear Alabama Case Feb. 27

The nation's highest court will hear arguments Feb. 27 in efforts by an Alabama county to stop enforcement of part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Credit Matt Wade / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Feb. 27 in efforts by an Alabama county to stop enforcement of part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.


The court initially agreed in November to hear the case brought by Shelby County, and it has now set the date for attorneys to present their arguments.

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Rosa Parks' 100th
9:12 am
Sun February 3, 2013

Montgomery Observes Rosa Parks' 100th Birthday

Rosa Parks in 1955. Montgomery is honoring civil rights icon Parks with a downtown project.
Credit USIA / Wikimedia Commons

Montgomery is observing the 100th anniversary of the birth of civil rights icon Rosa Parks with a public art project downtown.

A 96-foot by 40-foot wall is covered in chalkboard paint and has space for people to complete the sentence "Before I die I want to..."

Montgomery's director of development, Chad Emerson, told the Montgomery Advertiser that citizens came up with the idea and volunteers did the work.

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Traffic Deaths
9:04 am
Sun February 3, 2013

Ala. Agency Says Trauma Care Has Cut Crash Deaths

Officials say an expanded trauma network has reduced the rate of traffic deaths drastically since 2007
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A new report by Alabama health officials says the rate of traffic deaths has fallen drastically since the state established a trauma network in 2007.

The numbers released by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Hospital Association show deaths from vehicle crashes dropped from 27.64 per 100,000 people in 2006 to a rate of 18.05 per 100,000 people in 2011.

Dr. John Campbell, the retired state emergency services medical director, says the results show spending on trauma care has paid off for Alabama.

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