Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

An Alabama judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s plans to build a beachfront hotel with BP settlement money stemming from the 2010 oil spill.

Yesterday, Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin ruled Jim Zeigler had no authority to bring the lawsuit against Governor Robert Bentley in Zeigler’s official capacity as State Auditor.

The state of Alabama has been selected to take part in a national project to help combat the opioid epidemic across the country.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced earlier this week that the state will participate in a National Governors Association learning lab to address the opioid issue. The project aims to reduce the number of overdoses and deaths related to heroin and prescription opiates like fentanyl. Current data shows 78 people nationwide die of an opiate overdose every day.

VictoryLand Casino is expected to reopen today, more than three years after state authorities raided it and shut it down.

Owner Milton McGregor announced last month that VictoryLand would have a soft reopening on September 13. At that time, he said the bingo parlor would hire around 200 employees and would have around 500 electronic bingo machines for patrons. He says the casino plans to expand over the coming months.

Alabama State House
AP

State lawmakers have decided how to spend Alabama’s incoming BP settlement money from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday, state Senators voted 22-8 for a compromise plan to use the money for a mixture of paying down state debts, funding Medicaid and building roads in coastal Alabama counties.

The bill now moves to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature. The plan, if signed into law by the governor, will steer $400 million to repay state debt, $120 million to road projects and $120 million to the state’s Medicaid program.

A state legislative committee looking into the possibility of impeaching Gov. Robert Bentley has denied the governor’s requests to suspend their investigation.

House Judiciary Chairman Mike Jones says the impeachment probe is moving forward despite Bentley’s repeated pleas to the contrary.

The governor and his lawyers asked the committee to halt their investigation until lawmakers clarify their concerns. The request was accompanied by an Aug. 25 letter from the House Judiciary Committee's special counsel saying their concerns with the Governor had been well-publicized.

Prison Reform: Alabama's overcrowding problem

Sep 1, 2016

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Inmate riots, as well as allegations of mismanagement and corruption have pointed out plenty of problems. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out. Today, APR’s MacKenzie Bates hears from critics of Alabama’s prisons are run and how plans to fix things may just throw money at the problem…

Bentley appeals refugee lawsuit dismissal

Aug 30, 2016

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is appealing the dismissal of the state's lawsuit against the federal government over refugee placement.

Officials with the governor's office filed the appeal today with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Bentley asked a federal judge in January to block refugees from coming to the state unless federal officials provided a full background check and medical information on each refugee.

Lottery bill dies in Alabama Senate

Aug 26, 2016

Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery has failed in the Alabama Senate.

Senators voted 23-7 to reject changes the House of Representatives made to the bill today. Sen. Jim McClendon, the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is "dead" for the session.

Senate support for the bill crumbled after Democrats said they could no longer support it. Democrats objected to House language that prohibited electronic lottery terminals, arguing that guaranteed the Poarch Band of Creek Indians a monopoly on gambling machines.

Lyric and Alabama Theaters
Joe de Sciose

The Alabama House of Representatives approved Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery last night by an extremely tight margin.

Representatives voted 64-35 for the bill late last night, barely clearing the 63 votes required to clear the 105-seat House. The vote came after 10 hours of back-and-forth debate and two vote attempts.

Lottery supporters cheered in the House as newly-elected Speaker Mac McCutcheon announced the bill's eventual success.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

A lottery bill is heading to a critical vote in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Today’s vote could determine whether a proposed state lottery goes before Alabama voters later this year or if the bill dies in the special session.

House members will debate Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery. Bentley is seeking the first statewide referendum on the establishment of a lottery since voters rejected the idea in 1999.

A legislative committee will hold a public hearing later today on a lottery bill that narrowly passed the state Senate last week.

The House of Representatives Economic Development and Tourism Committee will hold a hearing this afternoon on the proposal to amend the state’s constitution to establish a state lottery. Senators approved the bill Friday on a 21 to 12 vote.

Alabama State House
AP

The Alabama House of Representatives will take up debate on a lottery proposal championed by Governor Robert Bentley after it narrowly passed the Senate last week.

The bill would put the establishment of an Alabama lottery to the voters for the first time since 1999. The House Tourism Committee could hear the bill tomorrow.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
AP

A proposal to establish a state lottery is heading to the House of Representatives as Senators were finally able to break their gridlock and narrowly pass a measure.

This bill, backed by Governor Robert Bentley, would put the idea of creating a state lottery to the first public vote since 1999. This bill does not allow for any electronic gambling terminals like the measure proposed by Sen. Jim McClendon. It merely establishes a lottery, with the vast majority of revenue going to the state's General Fund.

Two dueling lottery bills both stalled in the state Senate yesterday amid deep disagreements over how to enact the proposal.

Alabama senators debated both bills for several hours before finally giving up and moving on to other legislation. One, backed by Governor Robert Bentley, would simply establish a state lottery and use the proceeds to shore up the state’s general fund. The other, backed by Senator Jim McClendon, would also allow for electronic slot machine-type games at the state’s four dog tracks.

Alabama’s Legislature is once again scrambling to find additional funding in a special session.

Governor Robert Bentley reconvened the House and Senate in order to find new revenue for Medicaid, infrastructure, and state debt repayment. One of the most popular approaches seems to be constitutional amendment to establish a state lottery to direct revenue into Alabama’s General Fund budget. Several legislators are pushing their own versions of lottery bills, many of which include other forms of gambling as well.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama’s Senate and House of Representatives are back in Montgomery once again to try and find a solution to the state’s budget woes.

Governor Robert Bentley called the special session of the state’s legislature to find funding for Medicaid, infrastructure and state debt repayment. One of the most popular plans is to amend the state constitution to set up a lottery, with revenue directed into Alabama’s ailing General Fund.

The Alabama House and Senate are set to gather in special session today.

Governor Robert Bentley wants lawmakers to consider a constitutional amendment to create a state lottery. If the legislature says yes, then state voters will get to vote up or down on the idea in November. The Governor wants the money to go the general fund to help pay for Medicaid.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says lawmakers will have questions and suggestions.

With all of the wet weather along the Gulf Coast, The National Weather service is issuing a Flash Flood Watch in that area for the next few days. 

The flood watch is effect for some areas until Saturday morning.  It stretches along the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

The NWS says periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected through Friday across portions of coastal southwest Alabama.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley visited two Tuscaloosa mental health facilities yesterday. He wants to stress the need for Medicaid funding in the state.

The Governor visited the Arc of Tuscaloosa County and Indian Rivers Mental Health Clinic. Both facilities help individuals with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities. And both organizations depend heavily on Medicaid funding in order to provide services. Bentley is advocating for an increase of at least $85 million in Medicaid funding to stave off cuts.

Roy Moore
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is headed to trial next month.

The nine members of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary decided yesterday’s hearing wasn’t enough to address the ethics charges against Chief Justice Moore. The Chief Justice is accused of abusing his power as chief justice to promote an agenda against same-sex marriage. The Judicial Inquiry Commission says Moore encouraged the state’s probate judges to defy a U.S. Supreme Court decision that had already legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed constitutional amendment authorizing a state lottery would send proceeds from ticket sales to the state's general fund.

The proposal says any proceeds from the lottery after expenses and prizes would go to the general fund for "ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the state."

Some have said the money should be directed specifically toward education.

16th Street Baptist Church bombing
AP

Thomas Blanton was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences for the 1963 16th Street church bombing that killed four girls and injured another. He is eligible for parole today. APR student reporter Katie Willem has more.

At the age of 78, Blanton will have his first parole hearing after fifteen years in prison. While the attack happened in 1963, Blanton was not arrested until 2001. He was convicted for four counts of murder after the case was reopened.

Governor Bentley has set a date for the special session of the legislature. They will discuss proposals for creating a state lottery.  APR Student Reporter, Katie Willem has more...

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is calling a special legislative session for a state lottery. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the details.

Bentley's office released a video yesterday saying he wants lawmakers to approve legislation that would let voters decide whether to green-light a constitutional amendment to allow a lottery.

Bentley says the time has come to find a permanent solution to fix some of the state’s financial issues.

Governor Robert Bentley is calling for a special session of the state legislature.  He wants to focus on Alabama's financial woes and says the focus of the session will be on passing legislation to allow Alabamians to vote on a state lottery. The Governor released the video below this morning...

Democratic National Convention
Wikimedia

Alabama lawmakers are currently being polled about support for lottery legislation as Governor Robert Bentley contemplates calling a special session on Medicaid funding.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says legislative leaders are gauging interest from state legislators. Marsh says the discussions come as Governor Bentley contemplates calling a special session that could include a lottery bill.

Alabama lawmakers are currently being polled about support for lottery legislation as Governor Robert Bentley contemplates calling a special session on Medicaid funding.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says legislative leaders are gauging interest from state legislators. Marsh says the discussions come as Bentley contemplates calling a special session that could include a lottery bill.

Authorities say a Jefferson County man who had been a longtime suspect in his wife's disappearance recently confessed to her killing and led police to her remains.

Records show 43-year-old Joseph Poe III was arrested Friday on unrelated charges. On Saturday, Chief Deputy Randy Christian says Poe told Tarrant police he needed to talk to a detective concerning Paula Anne Worcester's disappearance.

Stephanie Azar
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

Alabama’s Medicaid program has announced its first real-world impact of the state budget cuts.

The program announced yesterday that it would no longer offer enhanced reimbursement payments for primary care doctors starting next month. The enhanced payments, commonly referred to as the “primary care bump”, brought Medicaid reimbursement up to the level offered by Medicare for certain health providers. It was designed to get more doctors to accept and treat Medicaid patients.

The federal government is looking to dismiss Alabama's lawsuit over refugee placement after a similar lawsuit failed in Texas.

A lawyer for the federal government filed a notice of the Texas decision with the court last month in the ongoing request to dismiss the Alabama case. Both Texas and Alabama sued the federal government in an attempt to prevent refugees from being resettled in the states.

Last month, a federal judge threw out the Texas lawsuit, ruling that the state had no authority over resettlements, which are handled entirely by the federal government.

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