Montgomery, AL – After years of talking about modernizing Alabama's 111-year-old Constitution, the Legislature is going to let voters decide in November if they want to revise the portions regulating corporations and banks.
Republican Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood worked for six years to get the two articles approved by the entire Legislature. He finally succeeded this week. The next step is a statewide referendum on the general election ballot Nov. 6.
New Orleans, LA – A federal judge in New Orleans has preliminarily approved a proposed class-action settlement that would resolve billions of dollars in claims against BP over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling Wednesday allows the settlement process to proceed, but he will hold a ``fairness hearing'' later this year before deciding whether to give his final approval.
Montgomery, AL – The Alabama Senate has voted to count some overtime pay toward the pensions for Alabama's public employees.
The Senate rewrote a House-passed bill to allow public employees to include overtime pay that's up to 20 percent of their regular pay. The bill passed 33-0 Wednesday and now must return to the House for review of the Senate's changes.
Boston, MA – Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is slamming Alabama and Arizona over their tough immigration policies.
The Boston Globe (http://bo.st/IsVl0x ) reports that in a speech earlier this week at Tufts University, Patrick said the actions of states on the issue have been ham-fisted, self-defeating and even racist. He also calls much of the debate over immigration reform hysterical and poisonous.
Montgomery, AL – Two bills aimed at making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion have passed an Alabama House committee. A public hearing was held in a Senate committee, but no vote was taken on another bill that is seen as a step toward banning abortion all together
The House Health committee approved on a voice vote Wednesday a bill to allow the state to opt out of providing health insurance for abortions under provisions of the new federal health care law. The committee also approved a bill that establishes new rules for abortion clinics.
Atlanta, GA – The federal appeals court in Atlanta is considering a challenge from environmental groups seeking to block Shell from drilling 10 new deepwater wells off the coast of Alabama, one of the first drilling approvals since the disastrous 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.
Attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center and other groups Wednesday told the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that federal regulators ``rubber-stamped'' Shell's plans.
Montgomery, AL – The Alabama Supreme Court paved the way for the city of Pritchard to move forward with a nearly 3-year-old filing for bankruptcy.
The ruling released on Friday says cities don't need to have bond debt in order to declare bankruptcy. That means Pritchard's filing can move forward, but also paves the way for Jefferson County's largest-in-history municipal bankruptcy.
Montgomery, AL – The Alabama House has passed a bill that would establish a comprehensive system to grade the performance of schools and school systems.
The bill by Republican Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur passed the House late Thursday 89-5. It now goes to the Senate.
Collins said the ratings would give parents a way of knowing how their children's schools are performing. She said the ratings would by based on a data-based assessment of school performance. Schools would be given a grade of A, B, C, D or F just like students receive on their report cards.
Montgomery, AL – Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has urged a Louisiana federal judge to set a trial date to hear claims of lost revenue by Alabama and Louisiana because of the massive BP oil spill.
Strange said Friday that setting a trial date would put pressure on BP and other companies responsible for the spill. Strange has said that keeping pressure on BP would encourage the oil company to begin serious discussions toward a settlement.
Montgomery, AL – The winner of Alabama's Republican presidential primary, Rick Santorum, hasn't released his 22 Alabama delegates to support another candidate. But delegates say they expect to unite behind Mitt Romney if he locks up the GOP nomination.
Delegates said they don't want the party to get divided and lose sight of beating Democratic President Barack Obama in November.
Delegate Kenny Dean of Birmingham, who was Santorum's grass-roots coordinator in Alabama, said the most important thing is removing Obama from the White House.
Montgomery, AL – Alabama's unemployment rate has fallen for the eighth straight month to 7.3 percent for March.
That's down from a revised rate of 7.5 percent in February and a high of 10.0 percent in July. The state Department of Industrial Relations reports that the last time Alabama's unemployment rate was this low was December 2008. Alabama's rate was also below the national figure of 8.2 percent.
State Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said initial claims for unemployment have fallen to pre-recession levels.