Alabama

Alabama legalizing to-go beer from breweries

18 hours ago

A new law will loosen Alabama's alcohol laws to let craft breweries sell to-go beer directly to consumers.

Alabama's 25 or so brewers have been selling beer in retail stores for several years. But they could only sell draft beer by the glass to customers who visited a brewery.

A law that was approved this year and takes effect Wednesday will let the breweries sell six packs, large bottles and other containers of beer directly to consumers.

Alabama was previously the only state that banned such sales.

Authorities urge extreme caution on state's waterways

18 hours ago

Authorities are urging boaters to take extreme caution on the Alabama waterways during the busy Memorial Day weekend.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's Marine Patrol Division assistant commander Mark Fuller says they are urging caution to boaters because alcohol and lack of lighting are common factors in accidents and fatalities.

Fuller says marine patrol officers usually work on a probable cause basis when it comes to boating under the influence.

The Alabama Supreme Court is voiding its earlier decision not to recognize a lesbian couple's adoption that was carried out in another state.

The opinion announced today falls into line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in March.  It says the Alabama court erred in declaring the adoption held in Georgia invalid.

State Medicaid officials say they opposed Medicaid language temporarily inserted in the 2013 budget that could have benefited a client of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar testified today that Medicaid officials were caught off guard by language added in the House.  It would have set requirements for any pharmacy benefit manager the state might hire.

Hubbard trial continues, Alabama Voting App rolls out

May 25, 2016

The former chief of staff for the Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has testified in the ethics trial of his former boss.

Josh Blades testified today that he was upset and concerned about "legal implications" after learning that language added to a 2013 budget bill could have benefited one of Hubbard's clients.

Blades said he learned later that a group that would get the work was paying Hubbard through a consulting contract. The language was stripped in conference committee.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley files a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier.

Bentley's attorneys say in the motion filed today that claims Collier makes in his complaint are vague and should be dismissed or clarified.

Bentley fired Collier in March and said an internal review found possible misuse of state funds within the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Alabama's unemployment rate is down slightly to 6.1 percent.

Wage and salary employment increased by 16,500 jobs in April, with the largest number of jobs coming in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. The professional and business services sector added another 3,500 jobs.

The state's jobless rate remains well above the national rate of 5 percent, however.

Alabama unemployment is worst in Wilcox County at 12.8 percent. Shelby County has the state's lowest job rate at 4 percent.

The Alabama Department of Education has restored funding to a reading program that educators feared was in danger at many public schools.

Earlier this week, superintendents were scrambling for funding to replace a $7.5 million cut to the Alabama Reading Initiative, which allows for reading coaches in public schools. The cuts were performance-based, and many schools with above-average reading scores were in danger of cutting out their Reading Initiative programs entirely.

Jury selection is ongoing in the trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

About 100 of the 140 Lee County residents were on hand as the selection process began in Opelika. 

Republican Speaker Mike Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges of using his political position for personal gain back in October 2014. Hubbard has maintained his innocence throughout the indictments. 

Hubbard faces removal from office if he’s convicted.

The tug of war continues over the fate of Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison. An appellate court stopped tonight’s execution. That prompted the state of Alabama to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also involves part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial…

Lawyers for the state of Alabama are asking an appellate court to allow the execution of a death row inmate this week.

Vernon Madison is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday night for the 1985 murder of Mobile police office Julius Schulte.

The state attorney general's office told the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday that a lower court decided correctly that Madison is mentally competent and can be executed.

Alabama’s Chief Justice could soon be kicked out of office, again, due to his defiance of a federal court order. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more about the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission’s investigation.

The commission is investigating six counts of judicial ethics violations against Chief Justice Roy Moore. The charges stem from an order Moore issued in January instructing all of the state’s probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, defying a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Common threads link the effort to remove Roy Moore as Alabama's chief justice with the case that resulted in his ouster from the same post more than a decade ago.

Each case involves Moore's conservative Christian beliefs and his views on the power of federal courts.

The Republican is suspended and faces a trial after judicial investigators filed a complaint Friday.  It accuses him of failing to respect U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal court decisions that cleared the way for gay marriage.

Lawyers for an Alabama death row inmate are asking a federal court to stop his execution next week, saying he is incompetent because of mental illness, strokes and dementia.

Attorneys for 65-year-old Vernon Madison filed the emergency stay request Wednesday in federal court in Mobile.

Madison is scheduled to get a lethal injection May 12. He was convicted in the 1985 slaying of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte.

Lawmakers have left Montgomery after the Legislative Session ended Thursday morning.  The House and Senate could not agree on a wide range of issues like how to use the BP Settlement Money and the Prison Construction Bill.

Craig Ford is the Alabama House Minority Leader.  The Gadsden Democrat says a plan to fully fund Medicaid by allowing Alabamians to vote on a gaming bill should have been approved…

Lawmakers are continuing to disagree over how much of the state's oil spill settlement funds should go to road projects and how much to the Gulf coast.

The roadblock threatened to doom legislation doling out the settlement dollars.

A Senate budget committee was scheduled to vote today on legislation to use $191 million for coastal road projects and $450 million for state debt repayment.

Students took part in a program that teaches the history of the blues in Alabama.

The Dothan Eagle reports that Mixon Elementary School students jammed with members of the Alabama Blues Project to learn more about the genre's history through the Blues in the Schools program.

The band performed for students at the school for about an hour Thursday, interjecting lessons about the blues and its roots in the Wiregrass between songs.

DraftKings, FanDuel agree to cease operations in Alabama

Apr 30, 2016

Alabama's attorney general says online fantasy sports betting sites have each entered into a settlement to cease operations in the state in a few days.

Attorney General Luther Strange said in a statement Friday that DraftKings and FanDuel will cease operations effective May 2. Strange said his office issued the cease and desist letters to both in early April.

Gas tax, lottery bills dead as legislature nears end

Apr 30, 2016

Lawmakers return to Montgomery on Tuesday for the two days of the 2016 legislative session. Legislators have a number of high-profile bills left to consider before sine die, but many noteworthy bills have already met the chopping block. Though Gov. Robert Bentley in March said he thought Alabama voters would overwhelmingly approve a state lottery if given the chance. A variety of lottery and gambling legislation failed to gain traction during the 2016 session. 

Embattled Gov. Robert Bentley is maintaining he has done nothing illegal or unethical, a day after Alabama lawmakers revived an impeachment effort against him.

Bentley initially tried to sidestep impeachment questions. He says the past year has been "difficult" and implored people to trust him.

Bentley last month acknowledged making inappropriate remarks to a female political adviser.

A state lawmaker says he has enough signatures to re-ignite an impeachment effort against Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.

Republican Rep. Ed Henry says he’s obtained 23 signatures on impeachment articles.

The announcement came after the House passed a rule change requiring 21 votes to start an impeachment investigation. That thwarted Henry's earlier effort with 11 signatures.

It was on this date five years ago when a super tornado outbreak hit parts of west and west-central Alabama in 2011.

Over fifty people were killed in the city of Tuscaloosa and twelve percent of the town was destroyed. 

Tuscaloosa’s Acting Planning Director Phillip O’Leary spent the first hours after the tornado in his office. When he finally visited the damage zone, one thing stuck with him…

A bill to prohibit a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure has advanced in the Alabama Legislature.

The Senate voted 30-2 today for Republican Sen. Phil Williams' bill. A companion bill in the House has passed out of committee.

The legislation would prohibit a procedure called dilation and evacuation, or "D&E." The bill would allow the procedure in the event of a "serious health risk to the mother."

The bill's supporters describe the procedure as "heinous" and "barbaric."

A state tax break that some say sparked a renaissance in downtown Birmingham and elsewhere will end unless Alabama senators agree to extend the program.

A bill to extend the tax credits for seven years has stalled amid opposition from Senate leaders. Sen. Trip Pittman says that he did not anticipate any action on the legislation this year.

The three-year program, approved in 2013, gave up to $20 million in tax credits each year for historic building renovation.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is not responding to the state auditor's order to testify before him.

Bentley issued the statement today, a day after State Auditor Jim Zeigler ordered Bentley to appear before him to answer questions about the use of state funds and his relationship with a former staffer.

Bentley says the appropriate legal process was through the Alabama Ethics Commission where Zeigler has already filed a complaint.  The governor said he is cooperating fully with the commission.

As Alabama's 2016 legislative session quickly nears its end, a state senator is making a final push for a lottery.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee voted today for a bare-bones constitutional amendment that would allow Alabamians to vote on the issue but provides few other details.

Several senators say they voted in favor of the amendment with the understanding Republican Sen. Jim McClendon would rework his bill with more details before bringing it to a vote on the Senate floor.

Tuscaloosa officials are seeking money to replace the city's old passenger train station.

A City Council committee voted Tuesday to select an architect to design the new station and to apply for a grant through the Southern Rail Commission.

Mayor Walt Maddox tells The Tuscaloosa News he fears the city will lose Amtrak service unless it invests in a new station.

2011 Tornadoes: A Forecaster's nightmare

Apr 20, 2016

The April 2011 tornado outbreak caused widespread destruction, costing lives and billions of dollars in damage.  Local TV weathercasters helped spread the word on where tornadoes were and where they’re going. But what happens when the weatherman becomes a victim of the severe weather while he’s on the air? APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the story of one forecaster where on April 27th, 2011, the saying the story hits close to home takes on a whole new meaning.

Ask anyone in the TV news business, and they’ll tell you people tune in mostly for the weather.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's former law enforcement secretary is suing his former boss, claiming he was wrongly fired.

Spencer Collier, who the day after his firing accused Bentley of having an affair with an adviser, filed the lawsuit today in Montgomery.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include the governor and the former adviser, Rebekah Mason.

The Alabama Education Association has  a new executive director.

AEA spokeswoman Amy Marlowe says Brenda Pike will start her new position on May 16. Pike serves as the executive director of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Pike received her master's degree from the University of Tennessee, and a doctorate of education from the University of Memphis. She worked for 12 years as a classroom teacher before joining the staff of the Tennessee Education Association.

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