Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

An Alabama inmate set to be executed next week is asking the governor to intervene because a judge imposed his death sentence over a jury's recommendation of life imprisonment.

Attorneys for Ronald Bert Smith wrote in a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley that the judge overrode the jury's will. The jury voted 7-5 in his case for life in prison.

Smith is currently scheduled to be executed Dec. 8 for the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says he isn’t looking for an appointment to Jeff Sessions’ senate seat. But he does plan to run for the office in a special election that may not be held until 2018.

Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions was recently tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as his Attorney General. That leaves a vacant seat that lots of Alabama politicians are clamoring to fill.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is looking for recommendations on who to appoint to U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions' seat.

The governor recently asked the 400-plus members of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee for their input on who should be appointed to fill Sessions' role, as he prepares for a likely spot as President-elect Donald Trump's U.S. Attorney General.

Bentley spokeswoman says Mason not returning to office

Nov 17, 2016

A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley says the governor's former political adviser — whose relationship with the governor became part of an impeachment probe is not returning to the administration.

Bentley spokeswoman Yasamie August issued the clarification today after Bentley became testy when a reporter asked if Rebekah Caldwell Mason was returning to the administration.

Bibb County Sheriff Keith Hannah was found dead at his office in the central Alabama town of Centreville yesterday.

District Attorney Michael Jackson says Hannah's body was discovered yesterday morning. He says it was located in a bathroom connected to Hannah's office at the sheriff's department.

Jackson says preliminary evidence indicates Hannah died of a gunshot wound, but there was no immediate indication of any foul play.

Bentley approached by people seeking Senate appointment

Nov 16, 2016

A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley says the administration has already been approached by "several" people seeking appointment to U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions' Senate seat if he takes a position in the incoming Trump administration.

Sessions has not taken a position with the President-Elect, but the mere possibility has set off a political chain reaction.

Governor Robert Bentley has awarded $1.6 million in grants to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities in Alabama.

The funds will be used to build or expand twelve trails across the state along with new equipment for trail maintenance and materials for trail safety education.

Jim Plott is a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. He says the trails have a significant impact on the state economy and people all over the southeastern United States.

'No Burn' order expanded to all Alabama counties

Nov 7, 2016

Gov. Robert Bentley has extended a "no burn order" to all Alabama counties because of wildfires fueled by dry conditions.

Bentley placed all 67 counties under a drought declaration today that prohibits outdoor burning. Previously, 46 counties were covered by the order.

The Alabama Forestry Commission says 1,421 wildfires have occurred in Alabama since the first of October. The fires have destroyed around 15,409 acres.

      

           Alabama was a popular destination for those seeking the presidency this year. Republicans and Democrats made it a point to visit the Yellowhammer State to try and keep it red or turn it blue. This of course means news coverage, which in turn, brings out cartoonists. If you follow sites like Al-dot-com you’ll see the work of one man in particular…

            “Never dreamed I’d get a job drawing editorial cartoons, political, I’m not really that political by nature, I just make fun of everything.”

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is offering to meet privately with members of an impeachment committee to answer any questions they have for him.

Bentley sent letters to members of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday asking for a Nov. 10 meeting in his office. The governor wants to have an open discussion and would try to answer all questions posed to him.

A panel of retired Alabama judges will be the ones to hear suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore's bid to return to the bench.

Yesterday, the current justices on the Alabama Supreme Court announced they will recuse themselves from hearing Moore's appeal because their impartiality might be questioned.

Attorney general's office clears Collier

Oct 20, 2016

A grand jury clears former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier of wrongdoing.

The attorney general's office announced today that a grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by Collier and is closing the investigation requested by Gov. Robert Bentley's administration.

Bentley fired Collier in March saying a review found possible misuse of funds. The findings were sent to the attorney general's office.

Race fans headed to Talladega Superspeedway this week may need to leave their lighters at home.

Talladega Superspeedway issued a burn ban for the race week that ends on October 24th. That comes on top of bans from Governor Robert Bentley and the State Forestry Commission.

The ban includes campfires, pit fires, bonfires, and the use of fireworks on Talladega grounds.

Grant Lynch is the chairman of Talladega Superspeedway. He says this isn’t the first time weather conditions have made for a change in plans.

Alabama Auditor Jim Zeigler is opposing a November ballot measure that clarifies the threshold to oust an impeached public official.

Amendment 6 specifies that a two-thirds vote of the Alabama Senate is required to remove an impeached public official.

Zeigler says the change would make it almost impossible to remove Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. Zeigler called it the "Get Out of Impeachment Free Card."

Prison Reform: Alabama's overcrowding problem

Oct 14, 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…

Wildfire
Brynn Anderson / AP

Weather conditions across the state have led to hundreds of fast-spreading wildfires, and the Governor has had enough.

Yesterday, Governor Bentley signed an emergency order banning all outside fires across 46 of Alabama’s counties due to the drought conditions. The declaration prohibits all campfires, bonfires, trash or debris fires or any other open burning in any of the specified counties.

Those in violation of the order can be fined up to $500 and sentenced to up to six months in jail, according to the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Wikimedia

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is fighting back as the legislative committee trying to impeach him is attempting to subpoena lots of documents from the governor’s administration.

On Monday, Bentley’s lawyer Ross Garber filed an objection with the House Judiciary Committee to subpoenas they had issued for various documents. Garber says the legislative committee does not have subpoena power and is seeking a large amount of documents that “go far beyond any legitimate inquiry”.

Gov. Bentley
Albert Cesare / Associated Press

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he can no longer vote for Donald Trump in the wake of the Republican presidential nominee's comments about women.

Bentley joined Alabama U.S. Representatives Martha Roby and Bradley Byrne yesterday calling for Trump to step aside from the presidential race. Trump is under fire for a leaked audio recording from 2005 in which he brags about groping and trying to seduce married women.

Alabama is answering a call for help from its neighbor to the Southeast.

Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit the Florida coast very soon. In anticipation of the damage, Florida made a request for state assistance from Alabama.

Governor Robert Bentley says Alabama will send an Emergency Operations Augmentation team to help the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Department of Justice
Wikimedia

The U.S. Department of Justice is opening an investigation into the conditions at Alabama’s state prisons.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley released a statement yesterday sharing the Justice Department’s letter, and saying he welcomes a federal investigation into the state’s prisons. Bentley says both he and the DoJ share a common goal of wanting to improve the safety of officers and inmates in Alabama’s prisons. He also says past meetings with DoJ officials resulted in major improvements at the state’s Tutwiler Prison for Women.

Report criticizes Collier for absenteeism, spending

Oct 6, 2016

An internal investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is criticizing its former chief's attendance and management.

Gov. Robert Bentley included the report in his filing with an impeachment committee last week. It was former agency head Spencer Collier's accusations that helped launched the impeachment probe against Bentley.

Bentley creates commission on gambling

Oct 3, 2016

Gov. Robert Bentley is creating a study commission on gambling.

The governor made the announcement Monday, a little more than a week after saying electronic bingo casinos were operating in the state illegally.

Bentley said Alabama Advisory Council on Gaming will assess the current state and local laws on gambling and practices in other states. The council will make recommendations to the governor and legislative leaders ahead of the 2017 legislative session.

Special counsel wants to subpoena documents from Bentley

Sep 27, 2016

The special counsel in the impeachment investigation against Gov. Robert Bentley is asking a House committee to subpoena documents from the governor and others after getting few voluntarily turned over.

Special counsel Jack Sharman told the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday that he had requested documents from Bentley and others but had "few or no documents" voluntarily produced.

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.

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.

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