Alabama and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Aug 19, 2015

What do Kermit The Frog, Alabama Coach Nick Saban, and Lady Gaga all have in common? Each of these celebrities stepped up to take what’s called the A-L-S ice bucket challenge. By August of last year, the internet based fundraising campaign for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease was credited with generating over one hundred million dollars for research and care. APR’s MacKenzie Bates headed to Huntsville to see how getting ice cold water dumped on your head is helping people with the disease…

Leesburg Mayor Dies, Alabama DOC Job Fair

Aug 13, 2015

Cherokee County officials say Leesburg Mayor Edward Mackey has died after a bulldozer accident.

Coroner Jeremy Deaton says Edward Mackey died around 10:30 this morning at his home in Leesburg. Deaton says Mackey was working near his shop repairing a bulldozer when the equipment engaged and trapped him underneath.

Mackey is a Leesburg native and in his third term as mayor.

The Alabama Department of Corrections is looking to fill more than two hundred jobs.

Alabama lawmakers ended a special session without a budget.

Lawmakers are leaving Montgomery after the special session hit a 30-day time limit without agreeing on taxes or cuts to address a budget shortfall.

The House voted down Senate-passed budget cuts yesterday by an overwhelming 92-2 vote.

Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to call lawmakers back for a second special session.

U.S. Coast Guard officials say they have suspended the search for a 30-year-old man in the waters near Dauphin Island.

Officials with Coast Guard say the search ended late last night.  Daniel Sewell had been missing from Fort Gaines since Wednesday afternoon.

Friends have said Sewell told them he planned to go swimming.

The search covered more than 480 square miles during 22 hours of continuous searching.

World War II veterans will have the chance to reunite tomorrow.

Cigarette Tax fails to pass committee, BP Money fund

Aug 4, 2015

A legislative committee has voted down a proposed hike in Alabama's cigarette tax.  The votes kills a major proposal for filling a shortfall in the state's operating budget.

The Ways and Means General Fund Committee narrowly rejected the cigarette tax increase by an 8-7 today.

The bill would have boosted cigarette taxes by 25 cents per pack.

The increase would raise $66 million in revenue. The state general fund is facing a shortfall of $200 million for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Alabama's rural hospitals in critical condition

Aug 2, 2015

Eight rural hospitals have closed in Alabama over the last 15 years and more closures are possible as rural hospitals struggle to stay open.

Voters in Randolph County will go to the polls Tuesday on a proposed one-cent sales tax to try to keep the doors of Wedowee Hospital open. The money will be used to support a bond issue to build a new facility that administrators hope will attract more patients.

A historic marker has been placed at the Alabama house where singer Nat "King" Cole was born.

Local media report the marker was unveiled Friday at the Montgomery home where Cole was born in 1919. It was placed by Alabama State University officials and the Nat King Cole Society.

The home has been moved from its original location and is now located on the Alabama State campus.

Protest marchers in Alabama on Sunday embarked on the second day of their planned 860-mile trek to Washington, D.C., as part of "America's Journey for Justice."

Sponsored by the NAACP, "America's Journey for Justice" is scheduled to cross through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia before reaching Washington, D.C., in mid-September.

The marchers are expected to cross into Georgia around Friday.

Lawyers for a death row inmate say Alabama should be forced to disclose more information about lethal injection procedures. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports, they’re concerned about the drugs used in the procedure.

Attorneys for inmate Tommy Arthur in a court filing say the state needs to disclose information including how the drugs are delivered, how inmate consciousness is monitored and the expiration dates of drugs in hand.

Governor Robert Bentley has released his tax and budget proposals ahead of next week's special session on a budget shortfall.

Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis says the state is at a critical point, and must either make cuts to state services or find new revenue.

The governor is seeking a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. He is also seeking to raise the business privilege tax on larger businesses while giving smaller ones a tax cut.

A federal judge says he will rule by Friday on a female prisoner's request for an abortion.

U.S. District Abdul Kallon made the comment after hearing arguments yesterday in a lawsuit filed by the woman.

The unnamed prisoner filed suit against Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton seeking a court order that would let her leave jail to travel to Huntsville for the procedure.

Governor Robert Bentley is in West Virginia today.  He’s highlighting the Gulf State Park Project as an innovative strategy for tourism and economic development at the Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association.

Governor Bentley is the vice-chair of NGA’s Economic Development and Commerce Committee.

Bentley presented Alabama’s plans for the Gulf State Park Project and highlighted its benefits for the state’s tourism industry.

Two more counties issuing Same-Sex Licenses

Jul 22, 2015

Two more Alabama counties say they will issue wedding licenses following the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.

Both Houston and Henry counties have refused to issue any licenses because of gay marriage.

But the Dothan Eagle reports that probate judges in both counties say they will now issue marriage licenses to anyone.

The change came at the end of a 25-day window in which the U.S. Supreme Court could have reconsidered its decision.

The Chairman of Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee says a drunken driving charge shouldn’t cost him his job.

State Senator Cam Ward says drinking alcohol and driving was a Huge mistake on his part.

The Alabaster Republican doesn’t believe he should quit either his senate seat or his industrial job with the city.  The reason is, Ward says he wasn’t working when he was stopped by police.

A Senate leader said earlier that he doesn't plan to strip Ward of the committee chairmanship.

The city of Anniston may be the latest community to remove the Confederate battle flag.

The City Council is set to vote on whether the stars and bars should be banned from all city owned property. After a work session last week, some council members felt banning the controversial battle flag would have a positive effect on the city.

Councilman *Seyram Selase says banning the Confederate flag shouldn’t be a debate of heritage or hate.

Alabama Unemployment steady, Harpersville Tomato Festive

Jul 17, 2015

Alabama's unemployment is remaining steady. But, it’s still above the national average.

State officials on Friday announced that the June jobless rate was 6.1 percent. That’s the same as it was in May. By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate in June was 5.3 percent.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has promised not to accept his salary until the state's unemployment rate drops to 5.2 percent.

Alabama wants to move forward with executions using lethal injection. The move comes following the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the use of a drug that Alabama plans to begin using in capitol punishment.

The state attorney general's office asked a federal judge in U.S. District Court Monday to dismiss a death row inmate's lawsuit. Tommy Arthur claims the sedative midazolam is ineffective.

Uber Staying in Mobile, Heat Advisory

Jul 14, 2015

Uber is staying in Mobile. 

The City Council voted unanimously to keep the vehicles for hire business at a meeting yesterday.  After almost one month of debating, Mobile’s City Council decided Uber can operate inside the city limits. The company has carried paying passengers inside the Port City since mid-June.

The Cab companies were not happy when Uber arrived. That’s because the car for hire service didn’t have to meet all city regulations that taxis do. 

Alabama Special Session begins, Pluto Stamp

Jul 13, 2015

Gov. Robert Bentley says lawmakers need to "step up and be leaders" as they begin a special session on the general fund budget.

The special session begins this afternoon. Bentley is asking lawmakers to approve $310 million in revenue to level fund state agencies to avoid deep cuts in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The Mobile City Council is removing the Confederate flag and other banners from the official seal of city government.

The current Mobile city seal displays flags from six nations that have governed Mobile since 1702: the Confederacy, France, Great Britain, Spain, the Republic of Alabama and the United States.  The council vote today means only the U.S. flag will remain on the seal.

New law cracks down on rural drag racing

Jul 5, 2015

A new law in Alabama is targeting both rural drag racers and observers.

Gov. Robert Bentley last month signed the new law stiffening the penalties for the offense.

Anyone convicted of drag racing on a public road will lose their driver's license for up to six months for a first offense. Repeat offenders could face longer suspensions, a $6,000 fine and a year of probation.

Bystanders will face $500 fines. Previously, those who just watched drag races faced no penalties.

Christian flag removed from Glencoe Police Department

Jul 5, 2015

City officials in Glencoe say they've removed a banner described as a Christian flag from its long-time place in front of the city's police department.

Glencoe Mayor Charles Gilchrist said Friday that the flag was removed recently following a threat of legal action from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The mostly white flag with a blue square and red cross in the upper left corner had flown over the police department since the 1990s.

Gov. Robert Bentley says removing four Confederate flags from the state Capitol was the "right thing to do."

The governor says Alabama needs to show the world that it is different than it was in 1963.

Bentley, in an interview with The Associated Press, says he stood behind his decision last week to remove the flags. He wanted to head off what he saw as growing controversy about the Confederate banners.

The chairman of the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee says he's seeking professional help after his arrest on a DUI charge.

Alabaster Republican Senator Cam Ward released a written statement this morning following his release from the Shelby County jail.  Ward says his failure at dealing with stress resulted in what he calls "incredibly reckless decisions."

A lawyer for gay couples across Alabama has asked a federal judge to force reluctant probate judges to issue marriage licenses. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

Shannon Minter is legal director of National Center for Lesbian Rights. She says every probate judge is now required to issue marriage licenses on an "equal basis."

The group wants the judges to comply with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marry.

First gay marriage licenses issued in Alabama

Jun 26, 2015

Some Alabama counties have started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

A supervisor in Mobile County's probate court, Russ Davidson, said the court issued its first same-sex marriage license to two women Friday after months of refusing to sell marriage licenses to anyone.

The issuance came within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage legal across the United States.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange released a statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize Gay Marriage across the country, including Alabama.

“Today the United States Supreme Court overturned centuries of tradition and the will of the citizens of a majority of the States in declaring that Alabama and the rest of the nation must legally recognize same-sex marriage ,” said Attorney General Strange.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley put the Yellowhammer State in the national spotlight today. The Governor ordered the removal of the four confederate flags from the Capitol Grounds.

Bentley knows the Confederate flag is a part of the state’s history. But, he says it is offensive to people in Alabama and the symbol is often associated with hate…

The City of Birmingham will be playing host to a prominent legal official tomorrow. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the Attorney General’s national tour stop.

Recently appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be visiting Birmingham tomorrow as part of a nationwide Community Policing Tour.

The descendants of Alabama Creeks forced to walk the Trail of Tears are urging Alabama's governor not to sign a gaming agreement with a tribe they say built a casino on sacred land.

The Muscogee** Nation of Oklahoma sent Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley a June letter urging him never to sign a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The Poarch Band built a hotel and bingo casino on tribal land in Wetumpka. The letter came after some legislators suggested a gambling compact as a revenue source for the state.