House Passes Bill Blocking Local Minimum Wages, Inspection Train Rolls Through Alabama

Feb 17, 2016

Alabama’s House of Representatives has approved a bill to block cities from setting their own local minimum wages. The bill would also roll back Birmingham's wage increase to $10.10 per hour, set to take effect March 1.

Legislators approved the GOP-backed bill last night on a 71-31 vote after cutting off a filibuster by House Democrats. The measure now moves to the Alabama Senate.

Alabama doesn’t have a state minimum wage. Instead, it uses the federal minimum of $7.25.

Bill sponsor Rep. David Faulkner argues a local minimum wage increase would hurt job creation, and the state should have a uniform minimum wage.

House Democrats say the federal minimum keeps working families in poverty and the state’s lawmakers are overstepping their bounds.

The Birmingham City Council voted to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 next month and then to $10.10 in 2017. City governments in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa are also considering a minimum wage increase.

Passenger rail service could be coming back to Alabama’s gulf coast.

A VIP Inspection Train is moving along the coast route. The combination of public officials and industry representatives will investigate the potential of bringing passenger rail service back to the corridor between New Orleans, Mobile, and Jacksonville, Florida.

Jerry Gehman is the Surface Transportation Advisor to the Mayor’s Staff for the city of Atmore. He says the return of passenger rail would open up new options for travelers.

“Rail service offers an alternative form of transportation for people who cannot drive, or are physically impaired, or want a different form of transportation that is not as confining as air service as well as other forms of transportation.

The inspection train will stop in Atmore tomorrow and the passengers will spend the night there. Service was previously suspended after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the local railroad infrastructure.

This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and Alabama started it in convincing fashion with tornado warnings in several counties.

The National Weather Service in Alabama will spend the next few days reviewing safety and storm spotting.

Cody Lindsey is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mobile. He says they will be covering a number of topics concerning severe weather.

“We have a schedule throughout the week. Each day, we will talk about a different topic: Monday the 15th, the topic is severe thunderstorms, Tuesday the 16th we will cover lightning, on Wednesday the 17th, tornado safety, as we go into Thursday the topic will be flooding and flash flooding, and then on Friday we will promote weather alerts.”

Tips on staying safe in severe weather, storm spotting and other information can be found on the Alabama National Weather Service social media and websites.

Federal officials say a wildfire that began near a Mississippi nature preserve and spread to Alabama is nearly contained.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Brittany Petersen released a statement last night saying the fire is now 90 percent contained after burning nearly 4250 acres of land.

Officials say the fire began on private property. It has burned 2,208 acres of the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Firefighters are continuing cleanup efforts, monitoring roads and potential hot spots. Monday’s rain helped with containment efforts, but thunderstorms grounded air operations.

The Alabama and Mississippi forestry commissions, the Jackson County, Mississippi Office of Emergency Services and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources are all helping battle the fire.