Alabama

The owner of two north Alabama pharmacies is facing a multi-million dollar fine. A-P-R Student reporter Taylor Swinney has more…

Federal authorities say Rodney Dalton Logan of Muscle Shoals owns the pharmacies and will pay a $2.5 million penalty after agreeing to plead guilty to obstructing an audit involving Medicare funds.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and other federal officials on Thursday announced the plea agreement involving the 63-year-old Logan, who was also the lead pharmacist at both locations.

The state is looking to pay for outside legal counsel to represent Governor Robert Bentley and his Law Enforcement Chief. A-P-R student reporter Katie Willem has more…

The state will pay up to two hundred thousand dollars to represent Gov. Robert Bentley and his law enforcement chief in a wrongful termination lawsuit.        The legal action is being brought forward by the governor's fired secretary of law enforcement.

Workers in the Tuscaloosa area spent their holiday weekend dealing with a massive sewage spill that could pose a serious threat to area waterways.

Officials with the city of Northport say four pump stations were forced to close Saturday in order to perform emergency repairs on the main sewer pipeline. Those stations overflowed, leaking an unknown amount of raw sewage into three area creeks and the Black Warrior River.

Alabama has agreed to make changes at state prisons to accommodate inmates with disabilities.

A federal judge gave a preliminary approval to a lawsuit settlement agreement between inmates and the state prison system last month. The state will have 32 months from final approval to make sure disabled inmates can access education programs and other facilities.

The claims are part of a broader lawsuit over prison medical care.

A lawyer for former House Speaker Mike Hubbard says prosecutors are seeking a "ridiculously extreme" prison sentence after Hubbard's conviction on ethics charges.

Defense lawyer Bill Baxley says the 18-year sentence prosecutors want is absurd.  The attorney general's office, in a court filing this week, says they want Hubbard to spend five years in prison and another 13 on supervised probation.

Prosecutors are also asking for Hubbard to pay $1.6 million in fines and restitution.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab will benefit from a multi-million dollar settlement with a Norwegian shipping company.

DSD Shipping Company was found guilty of dumping thousands of gallons of harmful bilge into the Gulf of Mexico.

Helene Hassell is the Executive Director for the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. She says the money from the settlement will be put to good use…

State Auditor Jim Zeigler wants to join an ongoing lawsuit in an attempt to put a stop to Governor Robert Bentley’s spending of the BP settlement money.

The state is receiving billions of dollars after reaching a settlement with BP after the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Zeigler says the governor is acting as a “one man legislature…”

Gov. Robert Bentley asks the FBI for assistance after finding that several state workers in the finance department had unauthorized access to Alabama's criminal justice database.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency released letters today showing that Bentley also dismissed the state's chief information officer and placed another finance official on administrative leave.

Alabama Department of Public Health officials say a new law allows people and businesses to keep epinephrine injectors on hand in case of an allergic reaction.

A new state law allows people and organizations including camps, child care centers, restaurants and others to keep single-dose epinephrine auto-injectors on hand.  It’s in case someone has an allergic reaction because of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is often caused by insect stings, foods and medication.

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is asking a state judicial panel to dismiss ethics charges against him. Moore says he never told probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples.

Moore is accused of violating judicial ethics with a 2016 administrative order.  It came six months after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage.

His lawyers say the order only noted correctly that a state court injunction to refuse same-sex marriage licenses had not been lifted.

Alabama’s latest unemployment numbers remain unchanged from this time last year. APR’s student reporter, Katie Willem, has more…

The newest jobless figures from the Alabama Department of Labor are for May. The State’s unemployment rate stands at 6.1 percent, which is unchanged compared to the month before, or May of 2015. 

The state is less than twenty-five thousand jobs away from having two million people at work around the state.  This is the highest number the state economy has supported in the last twenty years. 

A committee of lawmakers opened impeachment hearings against Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, beginning a probe on whether there are grounds to remove the two-term Republican from office.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Jones opened the hearings Wednesday by noting the seriousness of the committee's task.

Twenty-three representatives in April signed impeachment article accusing Bentley of corruption and neglect of duty. The articles were filed after Bentley admitted making sexually-charged remarks to a top aide.

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard's fate will soon be in the hands of a jury.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers have begun closing arguments this afternoon in Hubbard's ethics trial. They are expected to finish Friday morning.

The arguments will cap nearly three weeks of trial that included testimony from the current and past governor. Hubbard testified in his own defense, rebutting assertions that the contracts and investments his companies stemmed from his political sway.

A federal judge is permanently barring Alabama from enforcing state laws to block gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade of Mobile issued the order today in litigation that followed the U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized same-sex weddings nationwide.

Elkhart Truth

Remarks got heated today in the ethics case of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard

Former Alabama Governor Rob Riley and prosecutor Matt Hart exchanged barbs after Hart stopped Riley from elaborating at length on his answers.

Riley accused Hart of asking Questions without context when Hart asked if he had ever warned Hubbard about overstepping the state ethics law.

The former governor testifies that he and Hubbard often talked about Hubbard’s difficult financial situation.

The president of an education curriculum company says that he paid Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard $7,500 a month to open doors with legislative leaders across the country — but not in Alabama.

Edgenuity President Michael Humphrey testified that he thought Hubbard could get him meetings with legislative leaders in other states, given his background as a legislator and someone familiar with college sports.

The unofficial start of the summer travel season means more cars on the road today.

The American Automobile Association expected thirty eight million motorists to drive at least fifty miles from home over Memorial Day. Today means a lot of those return trips, making for crowded conditions on Alabama’s roads and highways.

Triple-A spokesman Clay Ingram says the end of a vacation can lead to a list of concerns as people get behind the wheel to come home…

First week of Hubbard trial concludes

May 29, 2016

The first week of testimony in the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard concluded with a peek at the business dealings of the influential Republican.

Hubbard's former chief of staff testified Wednesday that Hubbard didn't tell him about two consulting contracts.

Prosecutors also presented evidence about Alabama Republican Party work that was subcontracted back to Hubbard's media companies when he was party chairman.

Alabama legalizing to-go beer from breweries

May 28, 2016

A new law will loosen Alabama's alcohol laws to let craft breweries sell to-go beer directly to consumers.

Alabama's 25 or so brewers have been selling beer in retail stores for several years. But they could only sell draft beer by the glass to customers who visited a brewery.

A law that was approved this year and takes effect Wednesday will let the breweries sell six packs, large bottles and other containers of beer directly to consumers.

Alabama was previously the only state that banned such sales.

Authorities urge extreme caution on state's waterways

May 28, 2016

Authorities are urging boaters to take extreme caution on the Alabama waterways during the busy Memorial Day weekend.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's Marine Patrol Division assistant commander Mark Fuller says they are urging caution to boaters because alcohol and lack of lighting are common factors in accidents and fatalities.

Fuller says marine patrol officers usually work on a probable cause basis when it comes to boating under the influence.

The Alabama Supreme Court is voiding its earlier decision not to recognize a lesbian couple's adoption that was carried out in another state.

The opinion announced today falls into line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in March.  It says the Alabama court erred in declaring the adoption held in Georgia invalid.

State Medicaid officials say they opposed Medicaid language temporarily inserted in the 2013 budget that could have benefited a client of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar testified today that Medicaid officials were caught off guard by language added in the House.  It would have set requirements for any pharmacy benefit manager the state might hire.

Hubbard trial continues, Alabama Voting App rolls out

May 25, 2016

The former chief of staff for the Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has testified in the ethics trial of his former boss.

Josh Blades testified today that he was upset and concerned about "legal implications" after learning that language added to a 2013 budget bill could have benefited one of Hubbard's clients.

Blades said he learned later that a group that would get the work was paying Hubbard through a consulting contract. The language was stripped in conference committee.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley files a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier.

Bentley's attorneys say in the motion filed today that claims Collier makes in his complaint are vague and should be dismissed or clarified.

Bentley fired Collier in March and said an internal review found possible misuse of state funds within the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Alabama's unemployment rate is down slightly to 6.1 percent.

Wage and salary employment increased by 16,500 jobs in April, with the largest number of jobs coming in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. The professional and business services sector added another 3,500 jobs.

The state's jobless rate remains well above the national rate of 5 percent, however.

Alabama unemployment is worst in Wilcox County at 12.8 percent. Shelby County has the state's lowest job rate at 4 percent.

The Alabama Department of Education has restored funding to a reading program that educators feared was in danger at many public schools.

Earlier this week, superintendents were scrambling for funding to replace a $7.5 million cut to the Alabama Reading Initiative, which allows for reading coaches in public schools. The cuts were performance-based, and many schools with above-average reading scores were in danger of cutting out their Reading Initiative programs entirely.

Jury selection is ongoing in the trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

About 100 of the 140 Lee County residents were on hand as the selection process began in Opelika. 

Republican Speaker Mike Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges of using his political position for personal gain back in October 2014. Hubbard has maintained his innocence throughout the indictments. 

Hubbard faces removal from office if he’s convicted.

The tug of war continues over the fate of Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison. An appellate court stopped tonight’s execution. That prompted the state of Alabama to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also involves part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial…

Lawyers for the state of Alabama are asking an appellate court to allow the execution of a death row inmate this week.

Vernon Madison is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday night for the 1985 murder of Mobile police office Julius Schulte.

The state attorney general's office told the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday that a lower court decided correctly that Madison is mentally competent and can be executed.

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.

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