Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

The Governor's Office

Gov. Robert Bentley has announced an attempt to overhaul the state's severely overcrowded prison system.

Bentley said Tuesday the state's prisons are filled to nearly twice their collective capacity. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a partnership between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Department of Justice, will examine the system and suggest reforms.

The review comes after a series of stark criticisms. The Department of Justice has called conditions unconstitutional at Alabama's only prison for women.

The Democratic nominee for governor, Parker Griffith, calls Republican incumbent Robert Bentley timid and irresponsible.

Griffith says he plans to focus his general election campaign on Bentley refusing to expand the state Medicaid program and not doing enough to increase jobs in the state.

Bentley said Wednesday he doesn't like negative campaigning, and he will focus his campaign on his records and his goals. He says politicians might not be very good candidates if they have to spend their time talking about how bad their opponents are.

The Associated Press

Alabama's Republican primary for governor features incumbent Robert Bentley taking on two poorly funded opponents. Two candidates are competing on the Democratic ticket.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner say state agencies are participating in an exercise to help state workers and law enforcement agencies prepare to respond to hurricanes.

Bentley and Faulkner said at a news conference in Montgomery Wednesday that the state conducts similar exercises every year, but one purpose this year is to make sure workers have not become complacent because there has not been a major hurricane in the last year or so.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has chosen two replacements to serve on the Alabama State University Board of Trustees.

Bentley nominated Elmore County Schools Superintendent Jeff Langham and Regions Bank Vice President Angela McKenzie to the board on Tuesday.

Langham and McKenzie will replace two of Bentley's appointments who were blocked by the Senate Confirmation Committee in April. Bentley had initially selected Macon County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Brooks and Tuscaloosa businessman Fitzgerald Washington for the posts.


A prison guard running against Gov. Robert Bentley says Alabama's prison system is at risk of a federal takeover because of severe overcrowding.

At a news conference Thursday in Montgomery, Stacy George said that if elected, he would create a second parole board like Gov. Bob Riley did to expedite the parole of non-violent inmates. George said he will ask the Legislature to repeal the habitual offender law that provides for longer sentences for repeat offenders and he will make the repeal retroactive. He says that could reduce the prison population by more than one-fourth.

Montgomery Business Journal / Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

Gov. Robert Bentley's chief of staff, David Perry, is leaving and is being replaced on an interim basis by former House Speaker Seth Hammett.

Bentley said Perry announced during a staff meeting Wednesday that he is leaving. His new job is with Protective Life insurance company in Birmingham. Perry began as Bentley's state finance director in 2011 and then moved up to chief of staff.

Alabama's governor is seeking federal assistance for five more Alabama counties that suffered damage from severe weather last week.

Gov. Robert Bentley says his administration submitted an application to the president on Tuesday for individual disaster assistance in DeKalb, Etowah, Blount, Tuscaloosa and Mobile counties.

The state is already receiving federal assistance for Limestone, Jefferson, Lee and Baldwin counties for the tornadoes and flooding that hit the state last week and claimed five lives.

Ryan Vasquez / APR News

Alabama's congressional delegation has written a letter to the president supporting the governor's request for an emergency declaration for Alabama.

Gov. Robert Bentley is seeking the declaration for severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that hit the state this week.

The letter from the congressional delegation urges approval of federal financial support for debris removal and emergency protective measures.

Bentley's request noted that at least 19 counties suffered damage and three people died in the severe weather.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency in response to a severe weather system that crossed the state.

Bentley said in a statement Monday evening that the declaration covers every county in Alabama, and that heavy damage has been reported in some areas that were in the path of a suspected tornado.

Bentley says all state agencies are ordered "to take necessary actions to respond to Alabama communities that need help."

The governor says 100 Alabama National Guard members are on stand-by and are ready to help in impacted areas if necessary.

Lloyd Gallman / Montgomery Advertiser

In the last few years the state has had to tighten its belt to rein in spending during some lean budget years. Alabama’s teachers have had to shoulder some of that burden with pay cuts and increased contributions to their pensions. Teachers received a two percent pay raise last year, their first since 2007. More raises were expected this year to help bring teacher pay back to pre-recession levels. Governor Robert Bentley took up the cause during his State of the State address...

Gov. Robert Bentley and other leaders have broken ground on a 52-mile road that will someday complete a perimeter highway around Alabama's largest metropolitan area.

A ceremony was held Monday to mark the first phase of work on the Northern Beltline.

Bentley approved the first construction stage in the fall, but the project is expected to take more than 25 years to complete. / Office of the Governor

Gov. Robert Bentley's tax return shows he's still not receiving any income from being governor, but he and his wife reported an adjusted gross income of nearly $373,000 for 2013. About $233,000 of that came from Bentley selling his interest in the building where his medical practice was located in Tuscaloosa. Much of the remainder was from IRA distributions and Social Security. The governor and first lady paid more than $81,000 in taxes. They also donated more than $15,000 to charities. Bentley has been releasing his tax returns every year since he ran for governor in 2010.

State of Alabama

  Gov. Robert Bentley won't make a quick decision on whether to sign the state's Education Trust Fund budget or force lawmakers back into a special session over the issue of a raise for education employees.

Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said Friday that there is no timeframe on when he will make a decision.

Bentley has until April 13 to sign the budget into law or it will die through a pocket veto.


Gov. Robert Bentley says he still hopes to get a 2 percent pay raise approved for public school employees.

Bentley said Monday that he's glad that he and legislative leaders agreed to increase funding for the education employees' health insurance program, and he says that should keep them from having to pay higher costs. But Bentley says he wants the Legislature to do more with three meeting days left in the legislative session.

The Associated Press

A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley says he's supportive of $250,000 added to the state General Fund budget for hiring a prison ombudsman in the governor's office.

Senate budget committee Chairman Arthur Orr added the money to the General Fund budget when his committee approved it on Wednesday. Orr says the ombudsman would start by focusing on complaints from inmates at Tutwiler Prison for women in Wetumpka. Some inmates at Tutwiler have complained about sexual abuse. Orr says the ombudsman would give the governor a direct line to what's going on in Tutwiler.

Gov. Robert Bentley may have no way to give education employees the 2 percent pay raise he has recommended.

Bentley recommended a 2 percent raise at the start of the legislative session. The Senate reduced Bentley's pay raise bill to a one-time bonus of 1 percent. That bill stalled in the House budget committee Wednesday. Bentley said Thursday he needs a pay raise bill of some type to amend the amount to 2 percent. He said he can't enact a raise by adding language to the state education budget.

Garry Knight / Flickr

Three candidates for governor are running on state lottery platforms.

Both Democratic candidates for governor, former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville and Fayette businessman Kevin Bass, are proposing a lottery to pay for college scholarships. One of the Republican candidates, former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George, is advocating a lottery to pay for scholarships and several other programs. / Office of the Governor

Alabama's Scenic River Trail will be getting signs alerting boaters to navigation obstacles, takeout points, and locations for food, gas and lodging.

Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded $80,000 in federal recreation funds for signs along the 2,500-mile trail of navigable rivers, streams and lakes.

The Scenic River Trail Association estimates the grant will help provide at least 200 signs. The association says the signs will encourage more recreational use of Alabama's waterways and increase opportunities for outfitters and merchants along the trail.

Former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith kicked off his Democratic campaign for governor by calling for the creation of a state lottery to fund college scholarships and an expansion of the state Medicaid program under the federal health care law. Griffith says a healthier, better educated Alabama will lead to more jobs. Griffith outlined his campaign agenda of jobs, education and health care in a letter posted on his new campaign website Wednesday. In interviews, he called Republican incumbent Robert Bentley timid for not expanding Medicaid. Griffith was elected to Congress as a Democrat.

Gov. Robert Bentley says two National Guard wreckers have been dispatched to Interstate 65 near Cullman to help clear jackknifed 18-wheelers that blocked northbound traffic.

The governor says one lesson learned from the Jan. 28 ice storm was to get National Guard wreckers organized early to pull stalled vehicles to the side of the road until the weather clears and the owners can reclaim them.

Alabama Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Harris says the state has brought in contractor crews to assist with snow removal across north Alabama counties.

Former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville is running for governor as a Democrat. Griffith turned in his qualifying papers at state party headquarters in Montgomery shortly before the deadline on Friday. Griffith served as a Democrat in the Alabama Senate and then was elected to Congress to represent part of north Alabama. After his election he switched to the Republican Party and lost a GOP primary bid to Mo Brooks, who now represents the 5th District. Griffith recently rejoined the Democratic Party.

The Governor's Office

Alabama's unemployment rate has dropped to 6.1 percent.

Gov. Robert Bentley says that's a five-year low. The last time Alabama has a rate at or below 6.1 percent was October 2008, when the rate was 5.9 percent.

The state Labor Department says December's rate of 6.1 percent compares to 6.2 percent in November and 6.8 percent a year ago. Alabama's rate is below the national average of 6.7 percent. Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby at 3.8 percent, Lee at 4.7 percent and St. Clair and Cullman at 4.8 percent.

Gov. Robert Bentley is proposing state budgets that would require most state agencies to get by next year with about the same amount they are receiving this year.

Bentley's proposals include increases for all levels of public education.

Bentley's office released his recommended budgets Tuesday, which is the second day of the Legislature's 2014 session.

Bentley's state General Fund budget for the next fiscal year would spend $1.8 billion. The biggest increase is $70 million is for Medicaid. Courts would get a small increase.

Alabama is launching a program called "State of Champions" to try to reduce the state's high infant mortality rate.

State Health Officer Don Williamson and Gov. Robert Bentley said Friday it will take time to reduce Alabama's rate, which is traditionally in the top three among states, but they are determined to do it.


A longshot Republican candidate for governor is campaigning again after being sidelined by illness.

Former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George said Thursday that he was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic on Oct. 2. The illness involves a low blood platelet count. It required lots of treatments to get his platelet count back to normal and end his fatigue. But George says he's back to running.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says Boeing used the state for leverage when it was shopping for potential plant sites during labor negotiations.

But Bentley said Wednesday that he believes the aircraft manufacturer really was interested in the Huntsville area as a new home for jetliner production. Bentley says putting together a proposal for the plant will help Alabama eventually.

Bentley made his remarks after a luncheon speech in Birmingham where he talked about the upcoming legislative session.

Senator Billy Beasley / Facebook

Democratic state Sen. Billy Beasley of Clayton is considering running for governor.

The four-term legislator says his campaign platform would include repealing Alabama's new private school tax credits and holding a statewide referendum on legalizing a state lottery.

Beasley says he's assessing support and will make a decision soon. The deadline for Democrats and Republicans to sign up is Feb. 7.

Alabama School Readiness Alliance

Advocates of early childhood education are expecting another expansion of the state's pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds, and they are waiting to see how much the governor will propose when the Legislature convenes Jan. 14.

Gov. Robert Bentley says he will recommend an increase, but he's not saying how much yet.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance, the Alabama Partnership for Children and others are seeking an increase of $12.8 million for the upcoming school year.

The Associated Press

Alabama's unemployment rate is once again down to a five-year low of 6.2 percent.

The governor's office said Friday that the state's jobless rate dropped two-tenths of a percent in November, down from October's revised rate of 6.4 percent.

The 6.2 percent rate matches a five-year low that was also achieved in July and August. It's also below the U.S. unemployment rate of 7 percent.

The November rate represents 132,381 people without jobs in Alabama, compared to 148,956 a year ago.