Alabama

Alabama's unemployment rate is on the decline.

A statement issued Friday by the governor's office says Alabama's July unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, down three-tenths of a percent from June. It's also below the jobless rate of a year ago.

State unemployment is still well above the U.S. rate of 4.9 percent. But the Labor Department says the July rate represents the fewest number of unemployed people in Alabama since 2008.

The state has added almost 28,000 jobs in the last year.

The Alabama Senate has begun debate on a revamped lottery bill that would allow electronic gambling machines in more locations.  Senators expect to vote sometime this evening.

The bill was altered to allow electronic lottery terminals, which can resemble slot machines and video poker games, in Lowndes and Houston counties, in addition to four state dog tracks.

A Senate committee approves dueling lottery bills as lawmakers try to strike a compromise on gambling.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee pushed the bills through this afternoon. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says the bills were a work in progress and he wanted a vehicle for negotiations on the Senate floor.

Alabama lawmakers head into special session today.

The main topic of discussion will be Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed constitutional amendment creating a state lottery. If the House and Senate agree, then voters would get the final say in November. Bentley wants lotto revenue to go to the general fund with an eye on funding Medicaid.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says it’s a last-ditch effort by the governor to raise money…

Alabama is joining eleven other states today to ask a federal judge to block the implementation of a federal directive on bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas is considering a preliminary injunction that would keep the new directive from being enforced. That means schools across the country wouldn’t have to worry about complying for now.

The Alabama Board of Education has named the state’s new superintendent.  APR Student Reporter Jalen Drummond has the details…

Michael Sentance of Massachusetts will be the Alabama Public School’s top official.  Sentance won the position by a narrow margin with five votes after board members voted on candidates for several rounds. 

With all of the wet weather along the Gulf Coast, The National Weather service is issuing a Flash Flood Watch in that area for the next few days. 

The flood watch is effect for some areas until Saturday morning.  It stretches along the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

The NWS says periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected through Friday across portions of coastal southwest Alabama.

Latest on Moore hearing, Hubbard seeks new trial

Aug 9, 2016

The fate of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is still up in the air. APR’s Alex AuBuchon was in Montgomery for yesterday’s hearing. He files this report.

The dozens of Roy Moore supporters that packed the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building yesterday will be pleased to learn the Chief Justice hasn’t been thrown out of office -- just yet.

The fate of Alabama’s embattled Chief Justice now rests with the Court of the Judiciary. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has the latest from Montgomery.

Supporters of Chief Justice Roy Moore and gay rights advocates packed the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building this afternoon.

The state Court of the Judiciary heard oral arguments this afternoon in a case that could result in Moore’s removal from office.

2011 Tornadoes: A Forecaster's nightmare

Aug 6, 2016

The April 2011 tornado outbreak caused widespread destruction, costing lives and billions of dollars in damage.  Local TV weathercasters helped spread the word on where tornadoes were and where they’re going. But what happens when the weatherman becomes a victim of the severe weather while he’s on the air? APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the story of one forecaster where on April 27th, 2011, the saying the story hits close to home takes on a whole new meaning.

Ask anyone in the TV news business, and they’ll tell you people tune in mostly for the weather.

Fairfield's fiscal future

Aug 6, 2016

It's been more than four months since the Wal-Mart store in Fairfield closed its doors, leaving many people to find goods and services elsewhere. City Leaders are scrambling to not only plug holes in the city's budget but create more economic opportunities to people that have lost their jobs.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates traveled to Fairfield to find out what’s next…

It’s a quiet morning on Gary Avenue in downtown Fairfield.  The Magic City Grille is open for breakfast and Beauty Land Cosmetics is opening its doors for business. 

Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed constitutional amendment authorizing a state lottery would send proceeds from ticket sales to the state's general fund.

The proposal says any proceeds from the lottery after expenses and prizes would go to the general fund for "ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the state."

Some have said the money should be directed specifically toward education.

Embattled Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was scheduled to appear in federal court today to try and have his ethics charges dismissed.

But U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton abruptly canceled the hearing yesterday afternoon, saying his eventual decision would be based solely on legal documents.

What's next for Mike Hubbard?

Aug 4, 2016
MacKenzie Bates/APR

The former Alabama House Speaker was convicted on more than half of the 23 felony ethics charges against him on Friday in a Lee County courtroom.  He has no job, no title, and will be sentenced next month.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates was there during the tense hours between final arguments and the verdict…

The final living culprit behind the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was denied parole this morning.

The parole board briefly deliberated and denied 78-year-old Thomas Blanton early release.  Blanton was convicted and sentenced to four life sentences in 2001 for his role in the bombing that killed four girls and injured another. 

Newly released documents show Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore urged fellow justices to action after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Court papers filed today show Moore asking the other justices to clarify the state's position in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

The documents show Moore cites Kentucky court clerk and gay-marriage opponent Kim Davis in claiming that Christians who oppose same-sex weddings could be forced to give up their public jobs.

Gov. Robert Bentley's support of a referendum on a state lottery comes six years after he criticized gambling as a detriment to society.

The governor has consistently supported the people's right to vote on gambling. However, in his 2010 campaign, Bentley opposed all gambling because it preyed upon those who could least afford to lose money.

Governor Bentley has set a date for the special session of the legislature. They will discuss proposals for creating a state lottery.  APR Student Reporter, Katie Willem has more...

Governor Robert Bentley says the only option left for the state for government funding is a lottery.  A-P-R’s student reporter Meagan Mowery has more…

Governor Bentley once said state lotteries are outdated but now he is changing his tune.

On Wednesday Bentley announced plans for a special session to focus on bringing a state lottery to Alabama.

Lawmakers are heading back to Montgomery for a special session on a state lottery.

Governor Robert Bentley made the announcement this morning in a video urging legislators to approve the measure and allow Alabamians to vote on the issue.

Bentley says he believes voters in the state will make the right decision if lawmakers approve the constitutional amendment for a state lottery…

The state auditor has re-filed a lawsuit against Gov. Robert Bentley's effort to build a hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park.

Auditor Jim Zeigler and state Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, both frequent critics of the governor, filed the lawsuit today in Montgomery court. The filing comes four days after a judge dismissed a similar suit filed by the former conservation director for lack of standing.

The lawsuit challenges the state's use of oil spill funds on the project.

The Alabama Supreme Court is holding an impeachment trial to determine whether a sheriff should be removed from office on grand jury charges of corruption and neglect of duty.

Sumter County Sheriff Tyrone Clark Sr. is being tried in the same Supreme Court chambers where justices normally hear appellate cases. His charges are not criminal; the penalty would be removal from office.

Clark is accused of allowing an inmate held on drug trafficking charges to leave jail, return with contraband and avoid being searched.

Alabama's unemployment rate remains unchanged from a month before.

The Alabama Department of Labor announced the jobless rate for June on Friday.

The number is the same as May at six percent.  It represents 130,439 unemployed people in Alabama. The state says June employment actually rose by almost 34,000 people, but the gain wasn't enough to lower the unemployment number.

Weather forecasters say conditions are going to be downright brutal for the next few days.  Central Alabama is expected to be under the influence of a subtropical ridge.  That could means temperatures approaching triple digits in some parts of the state starting today.

John DeBlock is with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He says those temperatures don’t even include the heat index, which is how humidity makes it feel outside…

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is still considering a special session on Medicaid funding but has not made a final decision.

The governor says Medicaid needed at least an additional $15 million in order to have adequate funding in the next fiscal year. Bentley adds he expects to announce a decision soon.

Lawmakers budgeted $700 million for the state Medicaid program. Bentley said $785 million was needed to maintain the program.

The Republican National Convention is underway in Cleveland Ohio and members of the Alabama GOP are set to cast their ballots.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump will be formally introduced as the Republican choice for president and will be joined by several key speakers. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions spoke last night.

Alabama GOP Chairwoman Terry Lathan says that the state is expected to be represented by fifty delegates and hopes to show that conservative policy is needed back in the White House…

A University of Alabama official confirms that a man who killed three law enforcement officers this past weekend was a student at the Tuscaloosa Campus.

UA Spokesman Chris Bryant says Baton Rouge gunman Gavin Eugene Long attended the University of Alabama for one semester in the spring of 2012.

The 29-year-old Long was a former Marine from Kansas City, Missouri.  He opened fire killing three police officers and wounded three others.  Long was killed at the scene.

NASA is building a new satellite to study air pollution and scientists are gathering in Huntsville to learn how to use it.

A workshop for new air quality monitoring technology is being held at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The air sniffing satellite is called TEMPO and its set for launch around 2020. A conference is a way for scientists on the TEMPO project to answer questions that general users may have about the data and workings of the satellite.

State prosecutors are opposing former House Speaker Mike Hubbard's request to have the sheriff investigate if there was misconduct by the jury that convicted him on ethics charges.

The attorney general's office in a response filed yesterday saying Hubbard is seeking an "unfettered fishing expedition into the deliberations of the jury."

A Lee County jury convicted Hubbard of 12 felony ethics violations. A judge sentenced to Hubbard to four years in a state prison and another eight on probation.

A committee probing the possible impeachment of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is hiring special counsel to lead the investigation.  The House Judiciary Committee will meet Friday to discuss and approve the appointment.

The committee is looking into whether there are grounds to impeach the Republican governor in the wake of a sex-tinged scandal involving a former top aide.

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