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Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

A lottery bill is heading to a critical vote in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Today’s vote could determine whether a proposed state lottery goes before Alabama voters later this year or if the bill dies in the special session.

House members will debate Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery. Bentley is seeking the first statewide referendum on the establishment of a lottery since voters rejected the idea in 1999.

Residents of a southwest Alabama town where five people were slain are trying to raise money to help the victims' families pay funeral expenses.

Authorities say 27-year-old Derrick Dearman of Leakesville, Mississippi killed five people at a house where his estranged girlfriend has sought refuge from him.  The bodies were found Saturday.

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 judge has scheduled a September hearing on motions filed in former House Speaker Mike Hubbard ethics case. APR’s Stan Ingold has more…

Former House Speaker Mike Hubbard is looking to overturn his criminal conviction.

Circuit Judge Jacob Walker scheduled a September second hearing on post-trial motions filed in the case. The judge did not elaborate. A jury convicted Hubbard on twelve state ethics law violations. Because of this, he was automatically removed from office after the felony conviction.

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.

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...

Authorities say extreme drought conditions are persisting in some Alabama counties. Alabama Public Radio’s Stan Ingold has more.

Severe and moderate drought conditions are still in place for larger parts of the state, along with summertime heat.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that the worst conditions are in the northeast corner of Alabama. Those are conditions classified as "extreme" drought. This part of the state includes sections of Madison, Jackson and DeKalb counties.

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.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is calling a special legislative session for a state lottery. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the details.

Bentley's office released a video yesterday saying he wants lawmakers to approve legislation that would let voters decide whether to green-light a constitutional amendment to allow a lottery.

Bentley says the time has come to find a permanent solution to fix some of the state’s financial issues.

Supporters of the family of a 19-year-old man shot and killed by a Mobile police officer last month are calling for criminal charges against the officer and governmental changes.

Police in Mobile say they will strictly enforce the city's open-container alcohol ordinance in the downtown entertainment district.

That means consuming alcoholic beverages outside of entertainment venues in downtown Mobile is about to get harder for tourist and local residents.

Mobile police say the outside consumption of alcoholic beverages will still be permitted but will come with conditions.

TEMPO data
NASA

NASA is inviting scientists to use data from a satellite set for launch around 2020.

The program is called Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, or TEMPO. It’s designed to look for pollution in the upper atmosphere. NASA is teaming with the University of Alabama in Huntsville for a workshop on how scientists can get data from the TEMPO satellite for their research.

Professor Michael Newchurch came up with the idea of having the application workshop at the university. He says he only expected twenty to thirty people to attend.

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.

Lawyers for Alabama abortion providers have asked a federal judge to block new state laws that ban abortion clinics near schools as well as a commonly-used second trimester abortion procedure.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson scheduled a telephone conference on the request for a temporary restraining order. Unless blocked by federal court, the new laws will go into effect August 1.

A lawyer for former House Speaker Mike Hubbard says prosecutors are seeking a "ridiculously extreme" prison sentence after Hubbard's conviction on ethics charges.

Defense lawyer Bill Baxley says the 18-year sentence prosecutors want is absurd.  The attorney general's office, in a court filing this week, says they want Hubbard to spend five years in prison and another 13 on supervised probation.

Prosecutors are also asking for Hubbard to pay $1.6 million in fines and restitution.

Hubbard trial
Todd J. Van Ernst / Opelika-Auburn News

As Mike Hubbard’s sentencing date approaches, prosecutors are recommending the former Alabama House Speaker should spend five years in a state prison for breaking the state ethics law.

Attorney General Luther Strange’s office filed a brief yesterday afternoon asking a judge to give Hubbard an 18-year split sentence. Hubbard would spend five years behind bars and the remaining 13 years under supervised probation.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler wants to join an ongoing lawsuit in an attempt to put a stop to Governor Robert Bentley’s spending of the BP settlement money.

The state is receiving billions of dollars after reaching a settlement with BP after the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Zeigler says the governor is acting as a “one man legislature…”

The U.S. Supreme Court says death-row prisoners must have "rational understanding" that they are about to be executed and why.  But a lawyer for an Alabama inmate say their client fails that test.

A lawyer for 65-year-old Vernon Madison told a panel of 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges today that stroke-induced dementia has made Madison unable to understand why the state plans to execute him. Madison was convicted in the 1985 killing of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte.

The Mobile Police Department has released additional information on an officer-involved shooting that occurred earlier this week.

Mobile Police Chief James Barber recently held a press conference where he identified the officer involved and talked through the incident. He says 18-year-old Michael Moore was driving a stolen vehicle with two passengers when he was pulled over by officer Harold Hurst Monday evening for making an erratic turn.

Myron Thompson
Alex AuBuchon / APR

A Mobile city councilman is in stable condition today after he was shot during a robbery in South Africa this weekend.

City Councilman C.J. Small owns and operates Small’s Mortuary and Cremation Services in Mobile. He was in Johannesburg attending the South African Funeral Director and Morticians Association Convention. At around noon Johannesburg time, the tour bus Small was riding was ambushed and several patrons were robbed. Small was shot in the face during the incident, and some other passengers were injured.

The Alabama Department of Education has restored funding to a reading program that educators feared was in danger at many public schools.

Earlier this week, superintendents were scrambling for funding to replace a $7.5 million cut to the Alabama Reading Initiative, which allows for reading coaches in public schools. The cuts were performance-based, and many schools with above-average reading scores were in danger of cutting out their Reading Initiative programs entirely.

The tug of war continues over the fate of Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison. An appellate court stopped tonight’s execution. That prompted the state of Alabama to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also involves part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial…

Crestmont kids animals
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Attorneys for death row inmate Vernon Madison will spend today looking for a last minute stay of execution. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also points out a part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial.

Vernon Madison is on Alabama’s death row after Mobile County Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae overrode the jury’s recommendation of life in prison. Alabama is the only state in the nation where a judge can do that.

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.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is not responding to the state auditor's order to testify before him.

Bentley issued the statement today, a day after State Auditor Jim Zeigler ordered Bentley to appear before him to answer questions about the use of state funds and his relationship with a former staffer.

Bentley says the appropriate legal process was through the Alabama Ethics Commission where Zeigler has already filed a complaint.  The governor said he is cooperating fully with the commission.

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.

The first Airbus produced by the company’s U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile is set to take the skies for the first time next week.

The Alabama-built A321 plane will take off from the Mobile Airport at 9:15 Monday morning barring any weather or other pre-flight test factors. The future JetBlue Airbus’s test flight is a normal step in aircraft production and takes place before the company gets the plane. 

Following the flight, the aircraft will go through a few more weeks of final delivery preparations.

A Montgomery judge says extra security is unnecessary in the case against a white police officer charged with fatally shooting a black man.

Officer Aaron Smith sat quietly between his two attorneys today as the court considered several motions.

Smith’s attorney Mickey McDermott filed a motion for extra security as a "necessary precaution" due to threats against Smith. But in court, the lawyer agreed with Judge Jimmy Pool that existing courthouse security was adequate.

Alabama jobless rate unchanged, Black Belt Region tourism

Mar 14, 2016

Alabama's unemployment rate remains unchanged even though the state added more than 8,000 jobs.

A statement from the governor's office released today says the state's unemployment rate for January was 6.2 percent, the same as the month before. Shelby County has Alabama's lowest jobless rate at 4.5 percent, and Clarke County is highest at 12.4 percent.

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