Huntsville

Alabama’s latest unemployment numbers remain unchanged from this time last year. APR’s student reporter, Katie Willem, has more…

The newest jobless figures from the Alabama Department of Labor are for May. The State’s unemployment rate stands at 6.1 percent, which is unchanged compared to the month before, or May of 2015. 

The state is less than twenty-five thousand jobs away from having two million people at work around the state.  This is the highest number the state economy has supported in the last twenty years. 

Advocates for people infected with the virus that causes AIDS are meeting in Huntsville starting today. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the group wants to stop laws making the spread of HIV a crime.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the southern U.S. ground zero for the highest number of patients with HIV or full-blown AIDS.

Organizers of the “HIV Is Not a Crime” conference say that’s why brought their event to Alabama. They want to fight state laws like the one that Alabama almost passed last year.

Lawyers for an Alabama death row inmate are asking a federal court to stop his execution next week, saying he is incompetent because of mental illness, strokes and dementia.

Attorneys for 65-year-old Vernon Madison filed the emergency stay request Wednesday in federal court in Mobile.

Madison is scheduled to get a lethal injection May 12. He was convicted in the 1985 slaying of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte.

Lawmakers have left Montgomery after the Legislative Session ended Thursday morning.  The House and Senate could not agree on a wide range of issues like how to use the BP Settlement Money and the Prison Construction Bill.

Craig Ford is the Alabama House Minority Leader.  The Gadsden Democrat says a plan to fully fund Medicaid by allowing Alabamians to vote on a gaming bill should have been approved…

Alabama State House
AP

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction bill failed to pass on the final night of the legislative session yesterday.

Lawmakers ended the session at midnight last night before a scaled-back version of the bill received a vote in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers attempted to craft a last-minute compromise in their effort to clear the bill through both chambers of the legislature yesterday.

UTC engine
United Technologies Corporation

Today is the last day of the 2016 legislative session, and the last chance for lawmakers to decide the fate of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction proposal.

A conference committee will meet later today to try and reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Bentley is seeking to borrow $800 million to build three new prisons for men — housing up to 4,000 inmates each — and one new women's prison. Most existing state prison facilities would close.

Lawmakers are continuing to disagree over how much of the state's oil spill settlement funds should go to road projects and how much to the Gulf coast.

The roadblock threatened to doom legislation doling out the settlement dollars.

A Senate budget committee was scheduled to vote today on legislation to use $191 million for coastal road projects and $450 million for state debt repayment.

Officials with the Alabama Department of Corrections say two of the state’s prisons are on lockdown after inmates began refusing to complete assigned jobs.

A statement from the department says inmates at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore and the Elmore Correctional Facility first refused to help staff prepare breakfast on Sunday, then failed to report to assigned jobs on Monday.

SWIRLL
Alex AuBuchon / APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking back at the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011. The storms impacted homeowners and businesses, and you’ve heard from many of them during our coverage.

Now we’ll look ahead. For the past two months, dozens of scientists have been conducting groundbreaking research on tornadoes and severe weather right here in Alabama.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the impact that research could have on meteorologists' understanding of severe weather and forecasters’ ability to predict it.

A top political aide to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is stepping down. Rebekah Mason’s departure follows an admission by Bentley that he made inappropriate remarks. The governor denies the two ever had an affair.

Mason announced her resignation in a statement sent by the governor's office. She says she would no longer be his senior political adviser and would no longer be paid by his campaign fund.

The metro area of Huntsville led Alabama's population growth last year according to census data from July 2014 to July 2015.

The Rocket City added more than 4,000 people over a one-year span, the most in the state. That pushed the city to just under 445,000 residents.

According to the data, Baldwin County added almost as many new residents as Huntsville with 3,996. That marked a 2 percent growth in the one-year span, the fastest rate of growth in the state.

European aircraft maker Airbus says the inaugural test flight of its first airplane made in the United States was a success.

The A321 passenger jet took off this morning from the company's new plant in Mobile.

The three-hour flight over the Gulf of Mexico included a series of maneuvers and tests of all the airplane's operating systems.

VORTEX
NOAA

Dozens of the country’s top meteorologists are gathering in north Alabama for a massive research project focused on severe storms and tornadoes.

It’s called the Verification of Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment, or VORTEX Southeast. The program hopes to allow researchers to better understand how the climate and environment in the Southeast affects how tornadoes form and how strong they get. Scientists also want to improve their ability to forecast these storms.

The Alabama Senate has passed a Constitutional amendment reinforcing Alabama's position as a so-called "right-to-work" state. APR’s Stan Ingold has more.

Senators passed the amendment 25 votes to 9. Alabama voters will now have the chance to approve the amendment at the ballot box in November.

Right-to-work states prohibit companies from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Alabama law already has the prohibition, but Republicans say adding the amendment to the state Constitution will give businesses additional assurances.

A judge is delaying the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard for two weeks until mid-April.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker rules that he will push back the trial until April 11 after the defense appeals some of his pre-trial decisions to the Alabama Supreme Court.

Hubbard was scheduled to go to trial March 28 on felony charges of using his office for personal financial gain.

The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a bare-bones General Fund budget that Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto over inadequate Medicaid funding.

Representatives approved the spending bill on a 65-35 vote yesterday after a five-hour filibuster by black lawmakers. Democrats harshly criticized the proposed spending plan, which comes up $85 million short of the amount Bentley says is needed to adequately fund Medicaid.

Montgomery Rep. John Knight says Medicaid provides medical care to 1 million vulnerable Alabamians and has few programs to trim.

The heat is on across Alabama and records are falling as unseasonably warm air blankets the region.

The National Weather Service says Montgomery broke a 43-year-old record by reaching 89 degrees. Birmingham topped in at 88 degrees on Tuesday, breaking the 4-year-old record by four degrees.

To the east, Anniston also set a new high temperature record at 84 degrees.

Federal labor officials are suing an international automotive supplier and managers of the company’s plant in Selma. They claim the company retaliated against employees who raised concerns over dangerous working conditions and inadequate benefits.

According to a complaint filed late last week, three employees at Lear Corporation's Renosol Seating plant in Selma complained to federal labor officials two years ago that they'd been exposed to a chemical that caused health problems and were treated unfairly when they were transferred to another facility.

A Huntsville school district's plan to use students' social media posts to justify disciplinary action or expulsion raises serious First Amendment concerns, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.

Last week, the Huntsville City Schools system updated its safety guidelines to allow the superintendent to monitor students' public social media accounts if they have a history of violence or gang activity, or if their behavior endangers students and employees.

A Jefferson County judge has ruled Alabama’s method of imposing the death penalty unconstitutional.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tracie Todd sided with defense attorneys who argued that Alabama’s death penalty statute was extremely similar to Florida’s, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s law was unconstitutional in January.

In death penalty cases in Alabama and Florida, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final decision. It’s not uncommon for Alabama judges to overrule a jury suggestion of life in prison and impose the death penalty.

Voter turnout in the state looks "extraordinarily high," pointing to a projected turnout as high as 60 to 70 percent in one county.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says there were a few minor hiccups around the state as polls opened this morning, but nothing that directly affected voting or voter participation.

The state of Alabama is taking part in Super Tuesday and the SEC primary election today, and some of the ballots being counted this year are a little special.

The Alabama Secretary of State’s office teamed up with America’s armed services to make Alabama the first state in the country to accept online votes from military members deployed overseas. Election officials tested the system out with Montgomery’s municipal election last year and they say it’s ready for Super Tuesday.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says voting for deployed soldiers used to be a hassle.

Huntsville city leaders have announced that Google is bringing high-speed fiber optic Internet and television service to the area.

Mayor Tommy Battle and Google representatives and others made the announcement today at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Battle expects faster Internet speeds to boost the local workforce and help provide more opportunities for residents to work from home.

Alabama State Capitol
Wikimedia

State lawmakers may vote today on a measure that would block cities from setting local minimum wages.

Last week, the Birmingham City Council voted to expedite the effective date of a planned minimum wage increase to March 1. Republican state Rep. David Faulkner of Mountain Brook filed a bill that would mandate uniform minimum wages in Alabama and void any local wage ordinances.

Alabama has no state minimum wage and uses the federal wage floor of $7.25.

Advocates for low-income workers say local governments are better suited to handle local wage regulations.

Ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft are getting the green light to operate in the City of Huntsville.

The Huntsville City Council approved two ordinances last night to allow the companies to begin service in the Rocket City.  The first requires the businesses to seek council approval for a license.  The other sets the fees for the licenses.

Birmingham recently approved the use of ride-sharing companies.  Mobile and Montgomery also have Uber.   

Some parts of Alabama can expect to see one-to-two-inches of snow tonight and into early Saturday morning.

The National Weather service has issued a winter weather advisory for parts of Alabama until six-am on Saturday.

Candy Sumlin is the emergency management officer for Huntsville-Madison County, Alabama. She says the worst weather is expected to hit later in the day…

A federal judge has denied an Alabama death row inmate's emergency motion for a stay of execution.

Chief U.S. District Judge William Keith Watkins issued an order denying Christopher Brooks' request yesterday.

Brooks is scheduled to be put to death Jan. 21 for the rape and bludgeoning death of Deann Campbell more than 20 years ago. The execution would be Alabama's first in more than two years.

Alabama’s embattled Department of Corrections is now being criticized for housing youth inmates in adult facilities.

41 youth offenders are currently locked up alongside adult inmates at corrections facilities in Alabama. That’s according to a report released earlier this month by the Campaign for Youth Justice, a national advocacy organization.

Carmen Daugherty is the policy director for the Campaign for Youth Justice. She says housing youth inmates alongside adults contributes to those youths landing back in prison in the future.

Alabama death row
EJI

The Alabama Supreme Court has refused to stop an execution scheduled for next month.

In a unanimous decision yesterday, justices refused inmate Christopher Brooks' request to stop his execution. A federal judge is expected to rule soon on Brooks' request for a stay.

Brooks is scheduled to be put to death Jan. 21 for the rape and murder of Deann Campbell more than 20 years ago. The execution would be Alabama's first in more than two years.

Downtown Rescue Mission
NASA

The city of Huntsville is working to make the holiday season special for local families.

Every year the Downtown Rescue Mission helps the homeless and families in need during the Thanksgiving holidays. The Mission provides Thanksgiving boxes filled with items to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. The boxes include a frozen turkey, stuffing, yams, a fruit cocktail and rolls.

Tonia Beverly is the Director of Events and Business Partnership at the Downtown Rescue Mission. She says that these packages give families something to be thankful for during the holidays.

Pages