Alabama

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.

Time is running out for the Alabama Legislature to work out a general fund budget. 

State agency heads told members of the Senate budget committee yesterday that proposed cuts will close circuit clerk offices, slash Medicaid services and send state prisons into a danger zone of crowding and violence.

Chairman Arthur Orr says there are close to $150 million in revenue generating bills under discussion that could reduce the cuts if they win legislative approval.

House delays votes on tax bills, UAB Alzheimer's study

May 12, 2015

The Alabama House is expected to delay votes on a series of tax bills aimed at solving the state's general fund shortfall.

The House rules committee today proposed a new agenda instead of a number of GOP-backed bills that had divided some members of the party.

The package would raise less than a third of the $541 million requested by Gov. Robert Bentley in a separate tax package.  The largest plank of the revenue plan is a 25-cents-per-pack cigarette tax increase.

Michelle Obama comments, Alabama Launchpad competition

May 11, 2015

Forecasters say scattered strong thunderstorms are possible across northern Alabama, with the potential that some could become severe.

The National Weather Service says the main threats from Monday's storms will be damaging winds of up to 60 mph, large hail and frequent lightning.

Forecasters expect the storms to develop Monday afternoon and evening ahead of a slow-moving cold front.

The state of Alabama is suing over a plan it says will harm water quality by holding water in a Georgia lake for recreational use.

Gov. Robert Bentley's administration says the suit asks a judge to block the U.S. Corps of Engineers from implementing a new water control plan for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basin.

The lawsuit claims the plan will keep water in Lake Allatoona northwest of Atlanta to help boaters and other recreational users in the fall.

Red Snapper Season, Alabama High School Cycling League

May 4, 2015

Charter fishermen in Alabama are gearing up for a longer than usual red snapper season.

Thanks to a recent decision from NOAA’s Fisheries Division, recreational fishermen and commercial charter fishermen have separate seasons this year. Private anglers will only be allowed to fish in federal waters for ten days starting June 1. Charter captains' season will run 44 days, from June 1 to mid-July. Last year, both groups were lumped together for a nine day season.

Athens "Spring Fling" nets suspected drug dealers

May 3, 2015

Authorities say 17 suspects are facing a total of 26 charges following a drug bust in Athens.

The Athens News Courier reports the arrests were made Friday as part of the Athens Police Department's "Spring Fling 2015" operation.

Athens police Chief Floyd Johnson said the operation was carried out with investigators from the Limestone County Sheriff's Office. They say officers worked in two different waves to conduct the operation, which netted marijuana, crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia and $2,000 in cash.

Bentley meets with Cullman County Chamber of Commerce

Apr 27, 2015

CULLMAN—Governor Robert Bentley on Monday met with members of the Cullman County Chamber of Commerce to discuss the current budget crisis in the General Fund and the impact to Cullman County if the Legislature’s severe cuts are enacted.

The State of Alabama is remembering the Tornado outbreak that happened on this day four years ago.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates sat down with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox who describes the experience in just two words…

Avery Johnson: "I'm Your Guy"

Apr 13, 2015

The University of Alabama’s new basketball coach is into his first full week on the job.  UA Athletics Director Bill Battle named Avery Johnson their new head coach last Wednesday at the Mal Moore Athletic Facility.  He replaces Anthony Grant, who was fired after six seasons on the job.  Johnson was the 2006 NBA Coach of the Year with the Dallas Mavericks and also coached the Brooklyn Nets.  Johnson's biggest challenge is working at a school where football is king.

While the University of Alabama Athletic programs are known for championships.

Multiple outlets are reporting the University of Alabama has found its new men’s basketball coach.

ESPN and CBS Sports report that  Avery Johnson has agreed in principle to be the next head coach of the Crimson Tide program.

Johnson, who spent the past several years as an analyst for ESPN, previously coached in the NBA with Dallas, New Jersey/Brooklyn.

The University of Alabama has yet to confirm the hire of Johnson.  He is set to replace Anthony Grant, who was fired after six seasons as the head coach of the men’s basketball program.

Severe weather impacts Northern Alabama

Apr 4, 2015

Forecasters say severe thunderstorms may have also produced tornadoes in parts of northern Alabama and southern Tennessee.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Madison and Jackson counties in Alabama, and south Lincoln County, Tennessee on Friday night.

Madison County Emergency Management Agency operations coordinator Jim Pockrus says authorities were told of downed trees shortly after the tornado warning had expired.

Alabama state agencies could see funding cuts of 11.5 percent or higher next fiscal year unless lawmakers find additional money.

Members of the legislative General Fund committees on Wednesday distributed copies of a rough draft of a budget without additional revenue.

House General Fund budget chairman Rep. Steve Clouse said the results were "bleak."

criminal-defense-network.com

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers are trying to shield the identities of companies that provide the state with execution drugs, but even without it, the Alabama Department of Corrections releases little information about the process of putting a person the death.

The prison system declined to release the suppliers and other information about the process of execution. The Associated Press requested information about drug purchases, as well as the execution protocol, including the procedures to make sure an inmate is unconscious.

jurismagazine.com

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.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new program of the National Governors Association aimed at stopping prescription drug abuse is meeting in Montgomery. Gov. Robert Bentley is co-chairman of the NGA's Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy, and he will address its opening session Monday in Montgomery. The academy is spending a year looking at how to reduce prescription drug abuse in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia.

ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) — Many state licensing boards have not yet complied with a requirement in Alabama's immigration law to verify the status of legal immigrants by using a federal database. A state official tracking compliance told The Anniston Star that few, if any, of the state's dozens of professional licensing board have been cleared to use the federal government's Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. The law requires them to use the system to verify that legal status. John Norris of the Examiners of Public Accounts says the applications are filed with the U.S.

Microsoft

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A driver's chances of being hit by an uninsured motorist in Alabama may go down after Jan. 1. That is when a new system will start verifying within a few seconds whether a motorist is abiding by Alabama's law requiring liability insurance. County license plate offices will verify insurance information when issuing or renewing car tags. Police will do it when they stop cars for traffic offenses. And the state Revenue Department will do random computer checks.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Department of Revenue is trying to streamline the process for state residents to file taxes and apply for licenses. Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee said Friday making more services available online will speed up the process, cut costs and make the filing and application process easier. . Magee said the new effort includes moving the majority of the remaining business taxes to online. The department sent out notices in June advising residents of plans to move to more electronic filing.

Microsoft

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new U.S. Census report shows the poverty rate in Alabama is mostly unchanged but has gone down some over the last year, while the median income in the state has gone up. The report released Wednesday shows Alabama 42nd among the 50 states in median household income. The census report found Alabama's median household income to be $42,590 compared to the national median household income of $50,054. The U.S. Census Bureau also reported the state was making some progress in the fight on poverty, The Census report showed the poverty rate in Alabama was 15.49 percent.

The National Guard / Flickr

Flags are flying at half-staff at Alabama's Capitol, and people are pausing statewide to remember victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks 11 years after they occurred. Birmingham fire stations displayed their fire engines with the lights on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. Police in Decatur took time to salute people killed in the attacks. Students at Saint Pius X Catholic School in Mobile are giving out patriotic ribbons on the anniversary. Many people sent tweets about being in school in Tuscaloosa or stuck in traffic in Birmingham when they learned of the attacks.

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