Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

Republicans in the Alabama House are backing off proposals to furlough state employees for two days and to suspend longevity bonuses for a year.

Both ideas were considered to help the General Fund budget. But Speaker Mike Hubbard says they aren't needed after a change to a cigarette tax bill.

The proposals drew criticisms from Democrats who say they're pleased to see the ideas dropped.

Republican lawmakers in Alabama’s House of Representatives have a new proposal to end the state's budget crisis.

Yesterday, House leaders announced a plan to fix the General Fund budget shortfall through a combination of cost-cutting, consolidation and new taxes. They plan to raise taxes on cigarettes and car rentals, cap paid state employee holidays and transfer revenue from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund.

The proposal would raise nearly $200 million in new revenue. That’s less than half the $541 million Gov. Robert Bentley wants to raise.

Republican lawmakers seem to be turning toward gambling to shore up Alabama’s General Fund Budget, but Gov. Robert Bentley says that won’t provide enough money to stave off deep cuts to law enforcement and other state agencies.

Bentley spoke to the Associated Press yesterday in Dothan. He says the drafts of lottery and casino legislation proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh would bring Las Vegas-style gambling to the state of Alabama, which he says is not the budget solution the state needs.

The U.S. Supreme Court began to hear arguments yesterday as to whether state bans on same-sex marriage are federally constitutional.

In Tuscaloosa, advocates gathered in the shadow of Denny Chimes at the University of Alabama for a candlelight vigil in support of gay marriage and gay rights in general.

Meredith Bagley is a communications professor at the University of Alabama and one of the organizers of last night's event. She explains why they chose a candlelight vigil.

Alabama’s Senate could be debating allowing medical marijuana in the state soon, since a Senate committee approved a comprehensive medical marijuana bill yesterday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4 to 3 to pass the measure. The bill was likely able to pass committee because three Republican senators failed to attend the meeting.

The legislation, if passed, would allow patients who suffer from 25 specific conditions to purchase a maximum of ten ounces of medical marijuana per month from a state-regulated dispensary.

Alabama parks scheduled to close next month will stay open a little while longer.

Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein on Wednesday said Gov. Robert Bentley has instructed him to delay closing four parks and two golf courses on May 1.

Earlier this month the park system announced plans to close as many as 15 of the state's 22 parks due to budget cuts.

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Gov. Robert Bentley is giving lawmakers what he calls an "unvarnished" view of the cuts to state government that will occur without new revenue.

The governor sent a memo to each member of the Alabama Legislature last night. That memo describes the emergency operation plans state agencies produced in response to a draft budget lawmakers have already reviewed.

The reductions on the table include the layoff of more than 1,000 state employees, including 600 court employees and 132 law enforcement officers.

Governor Robert Bentley says the state faces a “real crisis” with its budget. Bentley is now taking his fight to fill the state’s coffers to the streets.

The governor is continuing his tour of speaking engagements to rally support for his proposed $541 million tax proposal. He spoke at Guntersville State Park yesterday.

The singer who became famous for the song "When a Man Loves a Woman" died yesterday. Percy Sledge had a massive impact on what became known as the "Muscle Shoals sound".

Sledge walked into a recording studio in Alabama's Muscle Shoals region in 1966. In a few weeks, his signature song "When a Man Loves a Woman" would become the first of his five gold records.

Dick Cooper is the Curator of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. He says Sledge's legacy was defined when he was just 25 years old.

Baldwin County school officials plan to meet today to talk about the failure of a tax plan at the ballot box. That meeting will focus on what to do now.

The referendum was voted down March 31. It would have given the county an 8 mill property tax increase. Voters in Baldwin County also voted to end existing funding that gives Baldwin County 12 mills a year. Now, Baldwin County only has 8 mills total in education tax revenue, and needs to get to the state-mandated 10 mills.

Two Alabama economic development bills aimed at bringing new jobs to the state are another step closer to becoming law.

Alabama lawmakers passed legislation yesterday to revamp how the state offers economic incentives to companies.

The Alabama Jobs Act would create a pay-as-you-go model for tax abatements and other benefits offered to companies creating jobs or capital investment in the state. Alabama's present model offers those incentives upfront.

That bill is now headed to Governor Bentley's desk to be signed into law.

The voting is over regarding charter schools in Alabama. Now, the big question is how to implement these non-traditional schools and what happens next.

Governor Robert Bentley put Alabama in line with 42 other states by signing SB45 into law last month, allowing charter schools to operate. Perhaps the most asked question about these non-traditional schools is what exactly the difference is between them and a regular public school.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal met recently to discuss a long-running dispute over water.

The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case out of Florida that seeks to limit Georgia's water withdrawals from the Chattahoochee River. Alabama officials are also concerned about Georgia's water use. Residents and officials in both Alabama and Florida argue that Georgia withdraws too much of the river upstream, which impacts wildlife and industry downstream.

The current state legislation session is underway and one topic that seems to be getting a cold reception is Medicaid expansion. Governor Robert Bentley caused political shockwaves when he said he was at least open to the idea.

That guarded endorsement isn’t winning a lot of support in the state House and Senate.

But a proposal to insure more than 250-thousand Alabamians is not getting anywhere.

“We must take real steps to reverse the trouble health trends that have occurred in our state.”

A bill to establish charter schools in Alabama was signed into law yesterday by Governor Bentley.

The Alabama Legislature gave its final approval to the bill on Wednesday after several hours of contentious debate in the House of Representatives.

Republicans call the bill a session priority, saying that the schools will spark innovation and provide education choices for families.

Opponents argue the new schools will drain education resources and criticize the potential involvement of for-profit companies in certain school operations.

The Alabama Legislature has passed a bill to establish charter schools in the state.

The House of Representatives voted 58 to 41 to pass the bill after making a few changes. State senators voted 24 to 11 to adopt those changes. The bill now heads to Governor Bentley, who is expected to sign the measure into law after a legal review.

State Democrats have been especially critical of the bill. Nick Rose is the President of the Tuscaloosa Democratic Party. He outlined the party’s three main complaints with the charter school measure.

Lawmakers could give final approval very soon to legislation establishing charter schools in the state of Alabama.

The Alabama House of Representatives will debate a bill that would allow charter schools in the state this afternoon. That bill is expected to spark a filibuster from Democrats and other opposed lawmakers.

Charter schools are public schools that have freedom from the curriculum and regulation requirements placed on other public schools. Alabama is one of eight states without charter school legislation currently in place.

Experts on rare childhood diseases will be meeting in Birmingham today.

UAB and Children’s of Alabama are hosting a symposium on diseases that hit two hundred thousand or fewer patients a year. Those illnesses are considered rare. The symposium will be in commemoration of last month’s Rare Disease Day to raise awareness for rare diseases.

Dr. Bruce Korf is the chairman of the Department of Genetics at UAB. He says part of their mission is public outreach.

The City of Selma remembered the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” over the weekend. But today marks another milestone in the civil rights movement.

Saturday was the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in 1965. Today marks 50 years since the second march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge called Turnaround Tuesday. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led that protest himself, but turned back before state troopers could attack like they did just two days prior.

Selma city councilman Benny Lee Tucker was a teenager in 1965. He says he had a specific job during King’s march…

Governor Robert Bentley recently awarded several grants to help fund programs providing assistance to survivors of domestic abuse in Alabama.

The Department of Economic and Community Affairs says Bentley awarded nearly $40,000 to the Marion County Commission. That grant supports a program that helps prosecute domestic violence cases in both Marion and Winston Counties.

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Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency ahead of a weather system that's expected to bring freezing rain to part of the state.The National Weather Service says rain will change to freezing rain and sleet in northwest Alabama early Thursday morning.

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There’s been a new twist in Alabama’s same sex marriage controversy. No new marriage licenses for same-sex couples will be issued, at least for now.

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The 2015 legislative session starts tomorrow. All eyes are on Governor Robert Bentley and what’s expected to be a politically unpopular tax increase proposal. 

The big issue is likely a half billion dollar tax hike. Bentley announced his plan on Friday and his annual speech is likely his first big opportunity to sell it to what may be a skeptical Republican majority in the state house and senate.

Governor Robert Bentley will deliver his state of the state address tomorrow.

The big issue is will likely be a half billion dollar tax hike. Bentley announced his plan on Friday and his annual speech will be his first big opportunity to sell it to what may be a skeptical Republican majority in the state house and senate.

Four hundred million dollars of the proposed tax hike would come from raising taxes on cigarettes and new car purchases. A pack of cigarettes would go up by eighty two cents. Buying a new car would be taxed by two to four percent.

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Saying Alabama is in a budget crisis, Gov. Robert Bentley is asking legislators to approve $541 million tax increase.

Bentley on Friday unveiled proposals that include an 82.5-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase and raising the sales taxes on automobile purchases from 2 to 4 percent.

Bentley said he has been opposed to tax increases most of his life. However, he said "there is nothing more conservative" than the state getting its fiscal house in order.

The world is getting ready to remember the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma early next month. But another bit of Selma history is being remembered now.

100 years before the voting rights march and Bloody Sunday, the Battle of Selma took place during the Civil War. A historic marker was just unveiled at the corner of Highland and Summerfield Road.

In April of 1965, Union general James H. Wilson defeated the troops under Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. Wilson’s biographer, Edward Longacre, says Wilson was only 27 at the time.

Governor Robert Bentley is declaring a state of emergency ahead of a winter storm expected to bring snow, ice, and freezing rain to the region.

Thirty Alabama counties stretching from the Tennessee border to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa are under a winter storm warning from 9 AM until midnight today.

Tim Troutman is the lead forecaster at Huntsville’s National Weather Service. He says everyone in the warning area should prepare for a lot of snow.

Governor Robert Bentley will ask lawmakers to approve a $700 million tax and revenue package in the upcoming legislative session.

Bentley said Thursday he wasn't going to sugarcoat the state's budget situation. He said Alabama needs additional revenue to maintain services. Bentley also joked that it must be true if a Deep South Republican says raising taxes is the only option.

Bentley is expected to discuss the specifics of those new tax proposals in his State of the State address on the opening day of the legislative session, March 3.

Lawyers for House Speaker Mike Hubbard are now asking prosecutors to disclose any conversations they had with legislators. They are also looking for conversations with members of the executive branch about the case.

Defense lawyers filed a discovery motion Wednesday asking a judge to force prosecutors to disclose any calls with legislators or executive branch members. They also asked for any copies of conversations that might have been recorded.

Hubbard's lawyers had already asked prosecutors to disclose any media calls.

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Bringing new industry into your state is often an expensive undertaking, full of tax breaks and other financial incentives. But as APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports, Alabama may start looking for results before handing over any cash...

     Governor Bentley is looking at changing how the state of Alabama tries to lure new business and industry to the area.That’s what he told an audience today at the Economic Development Association convention in Montgomery.

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