Alabama

Forecasters say heavy rainfall and some localized flooding are expected near the Alabama coast.

The National Weather Service says there is a high chance of rainfall starting Sunday afternoon and more through Tuesday. Officials say there is a high increase of rip currents near beaches.

Meteorologist Cody Lindsey says one of the coastal parts likely to be affected the most is Baldwin County. He says there is an 80 percent chance of rain with localized flooding of 2-4 inches near the coast.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says lawmakers encroached on the powers of the executive branch with budget bill language dictating how state agencies should spend money.

The governor is asking the Alabama Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of budget language giving state agencies limitations as they deal with funding reductions.

It’s one week to go before Alabama’s new state budget goes into effect. APR’s Pat Duggins reports, big cuts might be coming despite tax increases…

Alabama lawmakers cobbled together a spending and taxation package of about one hundred and sixty six million dollars. That’s short of the two hundred million dollar budgetary shortfall Governor Robert Bentley was predicting during the budget debate.

A new emergency air ambulance service will soon begin providing medical transportation in Dothan and its surrounding areas.

A formal announcement and aircraft display will be held Wednesday for Wiregrass Life Flight.

The ambulance helicopter will be based in Dothan. It will be able to respond to emergencies as far as 300 miles away.  However it will be primarily responsible for providing service to southeast Alabama, southwest Georgia and north Florida.

Governor signs General Fund Budget, Bayfest update

Sep 17, 2015
Alabama Governor's Office

Alabama has a general fund budget.

Governor Robert Bentley signed the budget in to law today.

The governor says the spending plan was not perfect but was a step in the right direction.

Lawmakers passed a $1.7 billion operating budget yesterday after months of negotiations over a budget shortfall. Legislators approved a 25-cent-per pack cigarette tax and a transfer of education funds to minimize cuts to state services.

Media outlets are asking a judge in Tuscaloosa to unseal the divorce case of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and first lady Dianne Bentley.

A motion filed today by a group of Alabama television stations and newspapers says the case was sealed last month following a hurried hearing held without notice to the public.

The motion says the divorce is newsworthy and a fair subject for reporting by the media. It says allowing the case to remain closed promotes the spread of rumors.

A Senate committee has approved a House-passed cigarette tax and other revenue bills as lawmakers press forward in trying to close a budget shortfall.

The Senate Finance and Taxation Committee approved the 25-cent cigarette tax after postponing a vote earlier in the day.

The committee also approved Medicaid provider taxes on pharmacies and nursing homes.

Committee Chairman Arthur Orr says negotiations are continuing and he did not know when the bills would be up for a Senate vote.

House Committee approves tax hikes, NASA Smartwatch App

Sep 9, 2015

An Alabama budget committee has approved a cigarette tax increase and other revenue bills as lawmakers try to fill a budget shortfall.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 8-6 for a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. The increase would raise $66 million annually.

The committee also voted for bills to raise the car rental tax from 1.5 to 2 percent, increase the car title fee from $15 to $28, and adjusts the business privilege tax so smaller businesses pay less and larger ones pay more.

Legislators are going to try for a third time to put together a state budget. Governor Robert Bentley has given lawmakers a wide berth when it comes to money making options to help the budget shortfall.

However, political commentator and columnist Steve Flowers thinks the short session will make things difficult.

Hubbard ethics case update, Special Session preview

Sep 7, 2015

A judge says indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard has been given a sufficient summary of the evidence against him.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker rejected a defense request Friday for a more definite statement from prosecutors of how they allege Hubbard broke the law.

Walker says the plain language of the indictment and prosecutors' court filings have provided adequate notice.

Hubbard faces 23 ethics charges accusing him of using his public offices to benefit his businesses.

Parker trial resumes, Labor Day Travel

Sep 4, 2015

The federal trial of an Alabama police officer recorded slamming an Indian grandfather to the ground is set to resume Tuesday morning.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala dismissed jurors hearing the case of Madison police officer Eric Parker for the day. 

Parker slammed 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel to the ground in February.  He says he defied orders and reached for his pockets while he responded to a call of a suspicious person. Patel has denied that through an interpreter.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is giving an open-ended call for next week's special session.  He says lawmakers can address any measure that would provide revenue to the state's ailing general fund budget.

The governor announced the items up for consideration in the special session. The governor wants a cigarette tax increase, the end of a state income tax deduction Alabama allows for FICA taxes paid and other budgetary changes.

Alabama Lawmakers are heading back to the hill after the long weekend. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

Governor Robert Bentley is calling a special session next week to try once again to pass a state budget.

The governor announced that he is bringing lawmakers back to Montgomery on September 8th.

The second special session is needed after the regular session and a first special session ended in a stalemate over proposed solutions to a projected general fund budget shortfall.

A Tuscaloosa County judge has sealed the divorce proceedings between Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and his estrange wife, Dianne.

Tuscaloosa County Circuit judge Elizabeth C. Hamner approved the motion by both parties this morning.

The court filing states only the parties, their attorneys, their attorneys’ office’s employees, experts retained by the parties, the Court and its employees, and the Circuit Clerk’s Office employees can access the record.

Judge seals Alabama governor's divorce file

Aug 31, 2015

A judge orders that Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's divorce case be sealed from public view. Tuscaloosa Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hamner issued the order today after the couple's attorneys jointly requested that the records be kept private. Lawyers told the judge that it would be in the best interest to keep the divorce records private. The request noted the governor's position as a prominent public office holder. Dianne Bentley filed for divorce on Friday, saying the couple's 50-year marriage had suffered an irretrievable breakdown.

Disease and suicide are claiming inmates on Alabama's death row faster than the executioner.

With Alabama's capital punishment mechanism on hold for more than two years because of legal challenges and a shortage of drugs for lethal injections, five of the state's death row inmates have died without ever seeing the inside of the execution chamber.

Prison officials say three inmates have died of natural causes since the state's last execution on July 25, 2013. Two others committed suicide by hanging themselves.

Samford University announces record-setting enrollment

Aug 30, 2015

Samford University has set records with the fall enrollment this year for students across undergraduate and graduate programs.

University officials announced Friday that there was an enrollment of 5,206. This is Samford's seventh consecutive record for fall enrollment, exceeding last year's mark of 4,933.

Samford President Andrew Westmoreland shared his excitement last week with employees about the start of the fall semester.

The school's fall enrollment figures include a record 826 first-year fulltime students.

Bentley's to divorce, Birmingham Sidewalk Film Festival

Aug 28, 2015

The first couple of Alabama is calling it quits.  First Lady Dianne Bentley has filed papers for divorce.  APR’s Pat Duggins has the details…

Governor Robert Bentley and his wife appeared together at the capitol today shortly before the news broke that Dianne Bentley filed papers to dissolve their marriage.

Mrs. Bentley says, in court documents, that there is a complete incompatibility of temperament that makes it impossible for the two to continue living together.

UPDATE: Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley has filed for divorce from Governor Robert Bentley, saying their 50-year marriage has suffered an "irretrievable breakdown." The complaint, filed Friday, says that attempts at reconciliation are futile and that the couple has been living apart since January. A lawyer for Dianne Bentley wrote that her client says "there is such a complete incompatibility of temperament that the parties can no longer live together." The complaint says the couple's personalities conflict. The Bentleys have been married since 1965 and have four adult sons.

Officials say closures of state parks are among the potential impacts of proposed budget cuts to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Department leaders and others met at Oak Mountain State Park today.  State Parks Director Greg Lein says additional cuts could be devastating and officials want lawmakers to preserve the department's funding. Lein says the parks system's emergency and reserve funds are depleted.

Voters in Athens have defeated a school tax proposal by a wide margin.

Residents rejected a 12-mill tax increase yesterday by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. They also turned down a proposed bond issue for school construction.

The new property tax would have funded capital projects worth more than $70 million for Athens city schools.

Superintendent Trey Holladay says the system now must find a different way to move ahead with school renovations and new buildings.

Federal judges want lawyers for black lawmakers to come up with their own map for redrawing Alabama's legislative districts.

The request came Tuesday in Montgomery during a hearing over the new voting lines.

Lawyers for black legislators contend Republicans illegally sorted voters by race when they drew new district lines.

The three-judge panel put tough questions to both sides during two hours of arguments.

More GOP Candidates visting Alabama, Voter Registration

Aug 24, 2015

The latest Alabama inmate seeking freedom from death row says the state is wrongly ignoring his claims of innocence while his health fails.

 Donnis Musgrove maintains the state is arguing about technicalities rather addressing legitimate concerns about his 1988 conviction and death sentence.

Musgrove was sentenced to die for the killing of Coy Eugene Barron in 1986. His attorneys maintain the prosecution falsified evidence.

During the next week nearly a third of the Republicans who want to be President will be in Alabama. 

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley endorsed Ohio’s Governor John Kasich earlier this week. Tonight the G-O-P front runner, businessman Donald Trump will be in Mobile where he is expected to draw a crowd of nearly thirty thousand.

Terry Lathan is the Chairwoman of the Alabama G-O-P. She says Alabama is a key to the South…

Six Hundred and fifty new jobs are coming to Tuscaloosa County.

Governor Robert Bentley announced that Samvardhana Motherson Group plans to build a new $150 million automotive supplier plant in the area.

The new 700,000 square foott facility in Tuscaloosa will produce painted bumpers, rocker panels, spoilers, interior door panels and other parts. This plant will supply Mercedes Benz U.S. International plant in Vance.

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.

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