The Alabama Ethics Commission have released an opinion on  the idea of public employees being paid by outside sources.

Commissioners say the arrangements are presumed to be in conflict with the underlying principles of state ethics law. Commissioners say they will only approve such arrangements on a case-by case basis made through formal opinion requests.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton says the opinion process will bring the arrangements into the open and allow public scrutiny.

The fallout continues from Alabama’s new general fund budget. APR student reporter Taylor Swinney reports the fiscal year has just begun and the impact is now being felt…

Alabama’s Law Enforcement Agency says there will be fewer State troopers on the road to help out with major events like Mardi Gras and races at Talladega. The department is facing a budget cut of eleven million dollars.

A judge has set a hearing on House Speaker Mike Hubbard's claims of prosecutorial misconduct and argument that the ethics law is unconstitutional.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker says the hearing is on October 26.  Walker says for Hubbard to prevail, he must prove misconduct that substantially impacted a grand jury's decision to indict Hubbard.

Hubbard faces 23 ethics charges accusing him of using his public offices to benefit his businesses.

Former Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley says she's "doing fine" days after her divorce from Gov. Robert Bentley.

Dianne Bentley filed for divorce from the governor in late August, citing an irretrievable breakdown.  A judge officially ended their 50-year marriage Tuesday.

The former first lady says God is helping her, and expressed thanks for prayers. She says she still wants to represent the state "as a lady" even though she isn't first lady anymore.

Republican Representative Phil Williams of Huntsville says he is challenging Mike Hubbard to be speaker of the House, saying he, and others, believe the House needs fresh leadership.

A letter to house members come as several Republican legislators called for Hubbard to step down as he heads to trial on ethics charges.

Williams shares a sentiment that the House can't operate effectively with current leadership.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says it is pulling examiners out of 31 part-time satellite driver’s license offices because of budget cuts.

The agency made the announcement today. The examiners currently travel to the locations during some days of the week.

The agency said the change will save money on travel costs.

Secretary Spencer Collier says the impact on citizens will be lessened because of online renewals and other options.

Former Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley told a judge that she and her husband's "likes, dislikes and lifestyles" have become so different that it caused discord and arguments in their home.

Her sworn testimony was unsealed Tuesday with other documents in Gov. Robert Bentley's divorce.

Dianne Bentley said that she and the governor had become incompatible and that a divorce was in the best interest of their family.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is moving forward with plans to close some driver’s license offices across the state.

Bentley made the remarks today during a trip to Birmingham.

There are 33 possible driver’s license offices in the state that could close.  He will follow the recommendations by Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Director Spencer Collier.

In addition to the license offices, Bentley is expected to close some Alabama National Guard Armories and possibly some state parks. 

Alabama's Water War and Politics

Sep 28, 2015

All year long on Alabama Public Radio, we’re been looking at water. In other words, we’ve been examining the condition of our water supply and the health of our rivers.   Politics is playing a big role in the state of our water, not only in Alabama but some of the surrounding states.  This has led to a new approach to manage water and help people who been hurt in the water war.

It’s 5:30 in the morning at the East Point Working Waterfront in Apalachicola, Florida. 

State agencies reviewing impact of cuts, level funding

Sep 27, 2015

Many state departments will be making do with less money when the fiscal year begins on Thursday.

Yet some state agency chiefs are remaining silent on what, if any, program reductions will be required.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley says the governor and finance director are reviewing spending plans. She said they do not yet know of any specific impact on services and agencies.

Last week, lawmakers approved a general fund budget deal designed to shield critical state agencies.

Forecasters say heavy rainfall and some localized flooding are expected near the Alabama coast.

The National Weather Service says there is a high chance of rainfall starting Sunday afternoon and more through Tuesday. Officials say there is a high increase of rip currents near beaches.

Meteorologist Cody Lindsey says one of the coastal parts likely to be affected the most is Baldwin County. He says there is an 80 percent chance of rain with localized flooding of 2-4 inches near the coast.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says lawmakers encroached on the powers of the executive branch with budget bill language dictating how state agencies should spend money.

The governor is asking the Alabama Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of budget language giving state agencies limitations as they deal with funding reductions.

It’s one week to go before Alabama’s new state budget goes into effect. APR’s Pat Duggins reports, big cuts might be coming despite tax increases…

Alabama lawmakers cobbled together a spending and taxation package of about one hundred and sixty six million dollars. That’s short of the two hundred million dollar budgetary shortfall Governor Robert Bentley was predicting during the budget debate.

A new emergency air ambulance service will soon begin providing medical transportation in Dothan and its surrounding areas.

A formal announcement and aircraft display will be held Wednesday for Wiregrass Life Flight.

The ambulance helicopter will be based in Dothan. It will be able to respond to emergencies as far as 300 miles away.  However it will be primarily responsible for providing service to southeast Alabama, southwest Georgia and north Florida.

Governor signs General Fund Budget, Bayfest update

Sep 17, 2015
Alabama Governor's Office

Alabama has a general fund budget.

Governor Robert Bentley signed the budget in to law today.

The governor says the spending plan was not perfect but was a step in the right direction.

Lawmakers passed a $1.7 billion operating budget yesterday after months of negotiations over a budget shortfall. Legislators approved a 25-cent-per pack cigarette tax and a transfer of education funds to minimize cuts to state services.

Media outlets are asking a judge in Tuscaloosa to unseal the divorce case of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and first lady Dianne Bentley.

A motion filed today by a group of Alabama television stations and newspapers says the case was sealed last month following a hurried hearing held without notice to the public.

The motion says the divorce is newsworthy and a fair subject for reporting by the media. It says allowing the case to remain closed promotes the spread of rumors.

A Senate committee has approved a House-passed cigarette tax and other revenue bills as lawmakers press forward in trying to close a budget shortfall.

The Senate Finance and Taxation Committee approved the 25-cent cigarette tax after postponing a vote earlier in the day.

The committee also approved Medicaid provider taxes on pharmacies and nursing homes.

Committee Chairman Arthur Orr says negotiations are continuing and he did not know when the bills would be up for a Senate vote.

House Committee approves tax hikes, NASA Smartwatch App

Sep 9, 2015

An Alabama budget committee has approved a cigarette tax increase and other revenue bills as lawmakers try to fill a budget shortfall.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 8-6 for a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. The increase would raise $66 million annually.

The committee also voted for bills to raise the car rental tax from 1.5 to 2 percent, increase the car title fee from $15 to $28, and adjusts the business privilege tax so smaller businesses pay less and larger ones pay more.

Legislators are going to try for a third time to put together a state budget. Governor Robert Bentley has given lawmakers a wide berth when it comes to money making options to help the budget shortfall.

However, political commentator and columnist Steve Flowers thinks the short session will make things difficult.

Hubbard ethics case update, Special Session preview

Sep 7, 2015

A judge says indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard has been given a sufficient summary of the evidence against him.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker rejected a defense request Friday for a more definite statement from prosecutors of how they allege Hubbard broke the law.

Walker says the plain language of the indictment and prosecutors' court filings have provided adequate notice.

Hubbard faces 23 ethics charges accusing him of using his public offices to benefit his businesses.

Parker trial resumes, Labor Day Travel

Sep 4, 2015

The federal trial of an Alabama police officer recorded slamming an Indian grandfather to the ground is set to resume Tuesday morning.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala dismissed jurors hearing the case of Madison police officer Eric Parker for the day. 

Parker slammed 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel to the ground in February.  He says he defied orders and reached for his pockets while he responded to a call of a suspicious person. Patel has denied that through an interpreter.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is giving an open-ended call for next week's special session.  He says lawmakers can address any measure that would provide revenue to the state's ailing general fund budget.

The governor announced the items up for consideration in the special session. The governor wants a cigarette tax increase, the end of a state income tax deduction Alabama allows for FICA taxes paid and other budgetary changes.

Alabama Lawmakers are heading back to the hill after the long weekend. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

Governor Robert Bentley is calling a special session next week to try once again to pass a state budget.

The governor announced that he is bringing lawmakers back to Montgomery on September 8th.

The second special session is needed after the regular session and a first special session ended in a stalemate over proposed solutions to a projected general fund budget shortfall.

A Tuscaloosa County judge has sealed the divorce proceedings between Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and his estrange wife, Dianne.

Tuscaloosa County Circuit judge Elizabeth C. Hamner approved the motion by both parties this morning.

The court filing states only the parties, their attorneys, their attorneys’ office’s employees, experts retained by the parties, the Court and its employees, and the Circuit Clerk’s Office employees can access the record.

Judge seals Alabama governor's divorce file

Aug 31, 2015

A judge orders that Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's divorce case be sealed from public view. Tuscaloosa Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hamner issued the order today after the couple's attorneys jointly requested that the records be kept private. Lawyers told the judge that it would be in the best interest to keep the divorce records private. The request noted the governor's position as a prominent public office holder. Dianne Bentley filed for divorce on Friday, saying the couple's 50-year marriage had suffered an irretrievable breakdown.

Disease and suicide are claiming inmates on Alabama's death row faster than the executioner.

With Alabama's capital punishment mechanism on hold for more than two years because of legal challenges and a shortage of drugs for lethal injections, five of the state's death row inmates have died without ever seeing the inside of the execution chamber.

Prison officials say three inmates have died of natural causes since the state's last execution on July 25, 2013. Two others committed suicide by hanging themselves.

Samford University announces record-setting enrollment

Aug 30, 2015

Samford University has set records with the fall enrollment this year for students across undergraduate and graduate programs.

University officials announced Friday that there was an enrollment of 5,206. This is Samford's seventh consecutive record for fall enrollment, exceeding last year's mark of 4,933.

Samford President Andrew Westmoreland shared his excitement last week with employees about the start of the fall semester.

The school's fall enrollment figures include a record 826 first-year fulltime students.

Bentley's to divorce, Birmingham Sidewalk Film Festival

Aug 28, 2015

The first couple of Alabama is calling it quits.  First Lady Dianne Bentley has filed papers for divorce.  APR’s Pat Duggins has the details…

Governor Robert Bentley and his wife appeared together at the capitol today shortly before the news broke that Dianne Bentley filed papers to dissolve their marriage.

Mrs. Bentley says, in court documents, that there is a complete incompatibility of temperament that makes it impossible for the two to continue living together.

UPDATE: Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley has filed for divorce from Governor Robert Bentley, saying their 50-year marriage has suffered an "irretrievable breakdown." The complaint, filed Friday, says that attempts at reconciliation are futile and that the couple has been living apart since January. A lawyer for Dianne Bentley wrote that her client says "there is such a complete incompatibility of temperament that the parties can no longer live together." The complaint says the couple's personalities conflict. The Bentleys have been married since 1965 and have four adult sons.

Officials say closures of state parks are among the potential impacts of proposed budget cuts to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Department leaders and others met at Oak Mountain State Park today.  State Parks Director Greg Lein says additional cuts could be devastating and officials want lawmakers to preserve the department's funding. Lein says the parks system's emergency and reserve funds are depleted.