Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

      State lawmakers return from spring break Tuesday to a full plate of issues. State budgets, prison construction and action on the proposed impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley are among the matters set to be decided before the session ends in late May.   

   The State House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to end Alabama's practice that allows a judge to impose a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. Alabama is the last state to still allow a judge to override a jury's sentencing recommendation in capital murder cases. 

A vote on whether lawmakers will impeach Alabama Governor Robert Bentley could come sooner than you think.

The top lawyer in a legislative investigation of Gov. Bentley has indicated that lawmakers are speeding to a decision on whether to impeach him over a sex scandal involving a former aide.

Special counsel Jack Sharman issued a memo to the governor's lawyers describing a tentative schedule that would decide Bentley's fate quickly. Sharman provided that memo to The Associated Press yesterday.

A state general fund budget has passed committee, and it looks like state employees won’t be getting a raise after all.

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee approved a lean general fund budget yesterday. It gives level funding to most state agencies and removes a proposed pay raise for state employees. Lawmakers say the state can’t afford it.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley had proposed a 4 percent pay raise for state workers.

After a several-month hiatus, the House Judiciary Committee is once again meeting to discuss the possible impeachment of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.

The committee is scheduled to meet later this morning to discuss a procedural question related to the probe. It is the first meeting since the investigation was put on hold by outgoing Attorney General Luther Strange in November.

The committee is tasked with making a recommendation to the full House of Representatives on whether there are grounds to impeach Governor Bentley.

Alabama's state auditor is suing Governor Robert Bentley over his appointment of Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Jim Zeigler filed suit in Montgomery County on Sunday claiming Bentley is wrong in waiting until 2018 to hold an election for the position.

State contracts for the high-profile lawyers on both sides of an impeachment investigation are being extended amid the possibility of the probe resuming.   

 The Legislative Contract Review Committee approved the contracts this week.

St. Clair Prison
Equal Justice Initiative

The lawmaker sponsoring Gov. Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction plan says the bill will most likely be scaled down before heading to a committee vote next week.

Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster says the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote next Tuesday on a smaller version. He says senators are currently working out the bill's specifics.

Bentley was seeking to build four new prisons. Ward says the new proposal will still be substantial.

Draper inmates
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

The state Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a plan to build four new, massive prisons in Alabama this afternoon.

The bill would authorize Alabama’s Department of Corrections to build three massive new men’s prisons and a new women’s prison, and would close over a dozen of the state’s existing prison facilities.

It would be financed by an $800 million bond issue that would leave the state paying $50 million a year for thirty years. Supporters including Governor Robert Bentley say the new prisons would save about that much money in operating costs.

Yet another inmate has been killed at a state prison near Montgomery.

An Alabama Department of Corrections statement says 36-year-old DeMarko Quinta Carlisle was stabbed to death during an altercation at Elmore Correctional Facility yesterday. The agency has a suspect, but officials aren't releasing that prisoner's name. They say the motive isn't known.

Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville says he’s considering running for governor of Alabama next year.

The 62-year-old Arkansas native tells the Associated Press that he's discussing his options with potential backers. Tuberville says he's awaiting poll results that will gauge public support.

Tuberville coached at Auburn from 1999 to 2008 before finishing his career at Texas Tech and Cincinnati. He's among the most successful coaches in Auburn history, but spent part of his tenure at odds with the school's most powerful boosters.

Governor Robert Bentley has created a task force that will investigate removing the 4-percent sales tax from groceries.  

The governor signed an executive order Tuesday to create the Grocery Tax Task Force. He says removing the tax on groceries could save consumers up to $400 million every year.

The task force will deliver its recommendations to the governor by June 1.

Bentley first mentioned the idea in his annual State of the State address, but some legislators have long advocated for removing the tax as a way to help the working class.

Exports of Alabama-made products totaled well over $20 billion last year, according to Governor Robert Bentley.

The Tuscaloosa News reports that’s a new record high for exports in the state. The previous record was $19.6 billion in 2012.

prison overcrowding
Equal Justice Initiative

Prison officials in Alabama are investing the beating death of an inmate who was attacked by other prisoners late last week — the second deadly attack on a state prisoner within a 24 hour span.

In the most recent case, the Alabama Department of Corrections says 41-year-old David Sanders was found badly beaten and unresponsive in a dorm of the Elmore Correctional Facility on Thursday.

Sanders was flown to a Montgomery hospital, where he died of his injuries on Saturday.

Authorities say four inmates are suspected in the death.

The state is providing volunteer fire departments with more than $68,000 in grants to help cover the cost of fighting wildfires that raged across Alabama last fall. 

Governor Robert Bentley's office says grants of as much as $2,500 each will go to a total of 40 departments in 21 counties.

The money will reimburse costs related to equipment, tools, and supplies. It will also pay for the costs of starting and stopping firefighting operations.

State Auditor Questions Legality of Senate Vote

Feb 16, 2017

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's plans for an election to replace Alabama U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions are drawing widespread criticism.

Bentley wants to schedule the election for November 2018. Jeff Sessions vacated the seat when he was appointed as US Attorney General. State election law says if the vacancy occurs within sixty days, four months, or a longer amount of time from the regular election, the vote must be held "forthwith". The 2018 regular election is twenty-one months away.

New State Attorney General Steve Marshall will recuse himself from an investigation of Governor Robert Bentley, the man who appointed him to the job last week.  

The announcement Wednesday is confirmation that the attorney general's office is conducting an investigation related to Bentley.

Marshall, after being sworn in Monday, said he would recuse from any direct investigation involving Bentley. Marshall appointed former Montgomery County district attorney Ellen Brooks to oversee the probe.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has announced the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions won’t be held until next year.

Governor Bentley’s office issued a news release yesterday saying a special primary election would be held June 5, 2018, with a primary runoff taking place July 17 if necessary. The special general election will be held on November 6, 2018. Those dates coordinate exactly with the 2018 General Election.

Steve Marshall AG
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

Steve Marshall was sworn in as Alabama's new attorney general yesterday.

Marshall took the oath of office yesterday afternoon in Montgomery. Late last week, Gov. Robert Bentley named Marshall, the long-time district attorney of Marshall County, to the position. It had been vacant since Bentley appointed former Attorney General Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate.

At his swearing-in, Marshall said fighting public corruption and combating human trafficking would be among his top priorities.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has appointed the state’s Attorney General Luther Strange to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.

Sessions was confirmed yesterday as the 84th Attorney General of the United States, leaving a vacancy for Alabama’s representation in the Senate. Strange will begin serving in the Senate immediately and will hold the position until a special election is held during next year’s general elections. The winner of that election will serve the remainder of Sessions’ term, which ends in 2020.

Alabama lawmakers are back in Montgomery today to begin the 2017 legislative session.

One major priority will be redrawing legislative districts, after federal courts ruled the boundaries of 12 Alabama voting districts relied too heavily on race. Federal judges say they want new lines in place for next year’s elections, so lawmakers will need to work quickly to get a new legislative map in place.

A lawyer for Governor Robert Bentley is denying that his campaign fund violated the law by paying legal fees for a former aide with whom Bentley was accused of having an affair.  

Bentley attorney William Athanas says the roughly $9,000 payment for legal fees of Rebekah Mason was consistent with state law. He says that's because it involved work she performed as Bentley's senior political adviser.

Governor Robert Bentley is naming six finalists for the U.S. Senate seat now held by attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions.  

Bentley's list includes U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt of Haleyville and the pro tem of the State Senate, Del Marsh of Anniston.

Others include State Attorney General Luther Strange; Bentley appointee Jim Byard; state Representative Connie Rowe of Jasper; and former state legislator Perry Hooper Jr. of Montgomery.

Embattled Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has been forced to empty his leftover campaign funds to pay legal bills as he fights an impeachment push and fallout from a scandal.

Bentley filed his campaign finance report yesterday. The report shows the governor's campaign paid more than $320,000 in legal bills last year.

Spencer Collier
ALEA

Former Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier now has a new job title: Police Chief of Selma.

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton announced the appointment yesterday. He released a statement saying Collier's "expertise in law enforcement will benefit our city and help move us forward."

Collier and Melton served together in the House of Representatives. Collier is also a former state homeland security director and a former Alabama state trooper.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has approved a $5,000 reward to help find the person responsible for killing a mother and her daughter with cerebral palsy in a house fire in Selma last month.

Fire officials determined the blaze that killed 44-year-old Katrina Moore and her 20-year-old daughter Coleman Moore on December 8 was intentionally set after lab results tested positive for arson.

Five people were in the house when the blaze started. Coleman Moore was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire. Katrina Moore later died at a hospital.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler is asking the House Judiciary Committee to restart an impeachment probe of Governor Robert Bentley.    Zeigler sent a  letter to House Judiciary Chairman Mike Jones on New Year's Day asking the committee to resume the investigation.   

The committee announced November third that it was suspending proceedings at the request of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.  Strange said his office was pursuing "related work.'

Jeff Sessions
Ross D. Franklin / AP

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has finished another round of interviews for the U.S. Senate seat now held by attorney general-designee Jeff Sessions.

Bentley's office says he interviewed six more candidates, including state Attorney General Luther Strange, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby and U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer. The governor also interviewed businessman Tim James, state Sen. Greg Reed of Jasper and state Sen. Phil Williams of Rainbow City.

Tom Surtees, who served both as Alabama's Revenue and Labor commissioner, has died.

The governor's office says Surtees died Friday after fighting cancer. He was 66.   

Surtees was appointed head of the Revenue Department in 2004 by then-Gov. Bob Riley. He later became commissioner of the Department of Industrial Relations, which became the Department of Labor in 2012.

Surtees retired from the state in 2014. Governor Robert Bentley is calling him a leader and a dedicated public servant.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is planning to call a special legislative session on prisons in the New Year.

Bentley says the special session will be isolated within next year’s regular legislative session as a way to compel lawmakers to focus on building new prisons.

The governor discussed his plans for the special session yesterday, but did not release any details on the package of bills he wants lawmakers to discuss.

Alabama's prisons are badly overcrowded. Bentley asked legislators to fund the construction of new prisons this year, but the legislation failed.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently turned over lots of documents to a committee investigating the possibility of his impeachment. But he says those documents will not be made available to the public.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Governor said the materials "will not be made public at this time." Several news organizations had requested copies of the documents given to the Alabama House Judiciary Committee.

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