Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

Governor Robert Bentley has testified under oath in the ethics trial of the Alabama house speaker. Bentley says he remembers meeting with Mike Hubbard to discuss what he described as economic development projects.   

Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Hubbard was being paid up to $12,000 a month to illegally lobby the governor on behalf of his business clients - a municipal gas company and a maker of plastic cups.

The former state law enforcement chief who accused Governor Robert Bentley of having an affair with an adviser has been questioned by federal investigators about the governor's administration.

Kenny Mendelsohn, an attorney representing former state law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier, revealed yesterday that the questioning occurred. But he refused to elaborate on what questions investigators asked.

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The speaker of Alabama's House goes on trial later this week facing a barrage of ethics charges.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges stemming from accusations that he used his posts as speaker and state GOP party chairman to steer business to his companies.

Hubbard has maintained his innocence. 

Opening statements are expected Tuesday in what's become a season of scandal in Alabama.

hubbard trial
Brynn Anderson / AP

A jury has been chosen, and Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial will begin next week.

Hubbard is facing nearly two dozen felony ethics charges accusing him of using his position as Speaker and past position as chairman of Alabama’s Republican Party for personal gain for himself and his businesses. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Hubbard has pleaded not guilty and maintains he didn’t do anything illegal.

Advocates for people infected with the virus that causes AIDS are meeting in Huntsville starting today. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the group wants to stop laws making the spread of HIV a crime.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the southern U.S. ground zero for the highest number of patients with HIV or full-blown AIDS.

Organizers of the “HIV Is Not a Crime” conference say that’s why brought their event to Alabama. They want to fight state laws like the one that Alabama almost passed last year.

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Alabama Astrobiotics

Alabama’s state preschool program has been named the best in the country for ten years running.

The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks pre-kindergarten programs across the country each year based on quality. For the tenth year in a row, the institute named Alabama’s state-funded First Class Pre-K program the nation’s best. Alabama met or exceeded all of the institute’s quality benchmarks examining things like student-to-teacher ratios and educator qualifications.

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Governor Robert Bentley's longtime spokeswoman is resigning next month.

Communications director Jennifer Ardis says that she wanted a change after nearly 10 years in the governor's office, six with Bentley and four with Gov. Bob Riley.           

Ardis will take over June 16 as the director of communications and external affairs for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Ardis said she was interested in new challenges and a change of pace after a decade in the governor's officer.

Crestmont kids animals
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Attorneys for death row inmate Vernon Madison will spend today looking for a last minute stay of execution. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also points out a part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial.

Vernon Madison is on Alabama’s death row after Mobile County Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae overrode the jury’s recommendation of life in prison. Alabama is the only state in the nation where a judge can do that.

A lockdown has been lifted at one Alabama prison where inmates had been refusing to work. At another facility, the strike is still on.

Alabama Department of Corrections officials say they’ve taken Elmore Correctional Facility off lockdown. Spokesman Bob Horton says about 80 percent of the 300 inmates who were striking at that facility have begun reporting to their assigned jobs again.

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.

Alabama Supreme Court
Chris Pruitt / Wikimedia

An Alabama judicial regulatory body will decide whether Roy Moore should be removed as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court.

Moore faces removal from the bench over his effort to block same-sex marriage from coming to Alabama despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed ethics charges against Moore late last week, accusing him of abusing his authority and failing to respect the judiciary.

 State lawmakers ended the 2016 session with three big items of unfinished business: the oil spill settlement division; Medicaid funding and prison construction. 

Governor Robert Bentley recently said he's considering calling a special session later this year for another try.

The governor's $800 million prison construction plan was the centerpiece of his agenda, but didn't get approved by lawmakers.

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…

Alabama State House
AP

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction bill failed to pass on the final night of the legislative session yesterday.

Lawmakers ended the session at midnight last night before a scaled-back version of the bill received a vote in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers attempted to craft a last-minute compromise in their effort to clear the bill through both chambers of the legislature yesterday.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has signed HB61, also known as Leni's Law.  The law will make medical cannabidiol available to Alabamians.

Bentley says "As a physician, I believe it is extremely important to give patients with a chronic or debilitating disease the option to consider every possible option for treatment.”

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Today is the last day of the 2016 legislative session, and the last chance for lawmakers to decide the fate of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction proposal.

A conference committee will meet later today to try and reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Bentley is seeking to borrow $800 million to build three new prisons for men — housing up to 4,000 inmates each — and one new women's prison. Most existing state prison facilities would close.

Officials with the Alabama Department of Corrections say two of the state’s prisons are on lockdown after inmates began refusing to complete assigned jobs.

A statement from the department says inmates at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore and the Elmore Correctional Facility first refused to help staff prepare breakfast on Sunday, then failed to report to assigned jobs on Monday.

Alabama State Capitol
Stan Ingold / APR

Alabama lawmakers are beginning the final two days of the legislative session with some major decisions before them.

Governor Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction plan, proposed payday lending regulations and a division of oil spill settlement funds are among the top issues that will be decided. Lawmakers return to Montgomery Tuesday.   

 A proposed split of the oil spill settlement money is facing critical votes this week. The Senate will consider a House-passed plan to use the money to pay state debts and for road projects in coastal Alabama

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is due to testify before State Auditor Jim Zeigler later this morning regarding potential misuse of state funds, but Ziegler says he doubts Bentley will show up.

Zeigler says the state auditor has the authority to call any state official to testify under oath if there are suspicions that state money is being misused. Late last month, he ordered the governor to address several areas including the use of BP settlement money and records related to his relationship with former staffer Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

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.

Lawmakers will reconvene in Montgomery today for the final five days of the current legislative session, with a lot of work left to do.

Dozens of high-profile bills will be considered this week. One issue still in the air is Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s $800 million bond issue that would close most of the existing state prison facilities in favor of four new large prisons. The bill has cleared the Senate but still faces a floor vote in the House.

Alabama is getting ready to observe the fifth anniversary of the 2011 tornado outbreak. And, for the past two months, weather researchers from across the country have converged on Alabama to study tornadoes.

It’s all part of VORTEX-SE, a massive federally-funded research project digging into the nuances of how severe weather behaves in the South. Meteorologists suspect there are differences in how tornadoes form and possibly how they behave compared to other parts of the country.

Former Alabama law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier is suing Governor Robert Bentley for wrongful termination and defamation.

Collier was fired for allegedly misusing state funds, according to Gov. Bentley and interim Alabama Law Enforcement Agency head Stan Stabler. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is currently reviewing that accusation. Collier had been placed on medical leave by the governor about a month prior for what was described as an upcoming back surgery.

UAB Hospital
UAB

Alabama lawmakers plan to hold hearings on the state's Medicaid program tomorrow.

The House and Senate general fund budget committees have scheduled a joint meeting tomorrow to discuss funding options for the government health care program that covers approximately a million Alabamians.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard says lawmakers plan to question Medicaid officials about the agency's finances and costs.

Alabama legislators say they need more information on an unprecedented process before they can move forward with articles of impeachment against embattled Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.

Articles of impeachment filed Tuesday are on hold as legislators work to set up a new committee to vet the process. The committee could have subpoena power to hear testimony on allegations against Bentley.

Ed Henry
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser / AP

An Alabama lawmaker is following through on his threat to file an impeachment resolution against Governor Robert Bentley. APR’s MacKenzie Bates reports this move is in the wake of a scandal involving one of the governor's top aides, who has since resigned.

Hartselle Republican Rep. Ed Henry introduced the resolution yesterday. The action comes after Bentley admitted that he made inappropriate remarks to the former aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. However, Bentley denied suggestions that the two had an affair.

Much of Alabama was hit by storms and severe weather last night, and at least two tornadoes touched down in various parts of the state.

Eldridge, Alabama was reportedly hit by a tornado around 8 p.m. last night according to Walker County Emergency Management director Harry Markham. There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.

Limestone County Emergency Management director Rita White says a second tornado hit near Ardmore about an hour before. There have been no reports of damage or injuries associated with that tornado either.

A top political aide to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is stepping down. Rebekah Mason’s departure follows an admission by Bentley that he made inappropriate remarks. The governor denies the two ever had an affair.

Mason announced her resignation in a statement sent by the governor's office. She says she would no longer be his senior political adviser and would no longer be paid by his campaign fund.

The family of a soldier killed in a 2010 Fort Rucker helicopter accident has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with two companies.

The Dothan Eagle reports Rolls-Royce Corporation, the company responsible for inspecting the helicopter, will pay $8 million to the family of 38-year-old Jeremy Clark. Clark was an instructor pilot who died in the Dec. 14, 2010 crash. A student pilot was also injured. Helicopter maintenance company L-3 Communications also agreed to pay $500,000.

The Supreme Court is refusing to intervene in the case of an Alabama man who is facing execution for throwing four children off a bridge to their deaths.

The justices did not comment Monday in rejecting an appeal from Lam Luong. He argued that pretrial publicity prevented him from having a fair trial.

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