Nick Saban

The Alabama House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday to approve an education budget that gives teachers their first pay raise in several years.

The spending plan would give a 4 percent raise to teachers making less than $75,000 annually, and a 2 percent raise to all other teachers in the state.

All 105 state representatives approved the budget, sending it to the Alabama Senate for consideration.

In 2013, lawmakers approved a 2 percent pay raise for teachers, but that was offset by increases in benefit costs. The last raise before that came in 2007.

Workers in the Tuscaloosa area could see their wages go up soon.

Mayor Walt Maddox and the city council plan to consider an ordinance that would hike the local minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The proposal prompted a march down University Boulevard to City Hall on Martin Luther King Day. The group called for economic justice and a higher minimum working wage.

Deidre Stalnaker is the Communications Director for the City of Tuscaloosa. She says she’s not entirely sure what impact the move will have on area businesses.

Christopher Brooks
Alabama Department of Corrections

The state of Alabama executed Christopher Brooks last night for the 1992 rape and murder of Deann Campbell.

The execution was the state’s first in more than two years and the first to be carried out in Alabama using the controversial new sedative midazolam. Some say midazolam carries a high risk of botched executions, and there is currently a pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s lethal injection procedure.

But Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn says last night’s execution went “exactly as planned”.

“Saban: The Making of a Coach”           

Author: Monte Burke

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 324

Price: $27.00 (Hardcover)

There is a good case to be made for not writing biographies until the subject is dead. Feelings are inevitably hurt. The subject’s family and friends may learn things they don’t need to know.

The federal government is charging a major Hyundai automotive supplier in Selma for threatening to fire employees and close the plant to keep workers from unionizing.

Lear Corporation is a Fortune 500 company that owns a car seat manufacturing plant in Selma. National Labor Relations Board regulators accused the company of intimidating employees for trying to unionize. Workers say one of their main complaints is stagnant wages; many employees have been with Lear for decades and still make little more than $10 an hour.

University Blvd
Mackenzie Bates / APR

Alabama fans in Tuscaloosa are celebrating the Crimson Tide’s 45-40 win over Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship. APR’s MacKenzie Bates takes us to campus where the partying held strong long after the final whistle.

Alabama fans piled out on to University Boulevard right outside of the Tuscaloosa campus to cheer as the Crimson Tide won the program’s 16th National Championship.

Tight end O.J. Howard had five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 9:48 left in the game

Alabama has become the second state to sue the U.S. government over refugee resettlement. 

Governor Robert Bentley field the lawsuit today accusing the Obama administration of failing to consult with states on placement of those who have fled their home countries.

Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again suggesting that gay marriage is illegal in Alabama, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Moore issued an administrative order yesterday advising probate judges not to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He says the state Supreme Court never lifted its directive from March advising judges to abide by the Alabama constitution.

Thousands of workers who had lost their retirement benefits in the wake of Walter Energy’s bankruptcy will soon be getting them back.

The Birmingham Business Journal reports that federal agency Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will be taking over paying benefits for more than 2700 current and future retirees of Hoover-based Walter Energy.

The agency is stepping in as Walter plans to sell the majority of its assets. The company has had a hard time finding buyers, and any potential buyers say they won’t take over the pension plan.

The National Weather Service in Mobile will be sending out assessment teams tomorrow following a day of rough weather along the gulf coast. 

Forecasters say residents of Baldwin and Escambia counties were among those dealing with seventeen tornado warnings stretching from Mississippi to Florida.

Alabama had the most with ten.

Alabama is drying out and cleaning up from tornadoes that hit Christmas night. Flooding is also a concern as the state heads toward the New Year’s holiday.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-0 tornado hit Tuscaloosa County Friday afternoon with winds of seventy five miles per hour. Two hours later, a confirmed EF-2 twister touched down in suburban Birmingham. That storm is confirmed to have damaged more than 70 structures, from minor damage to total destruction.

More than 100 religious group leaders are pleading to Alabama’s governor to soften his stance on the state accepting Syrian refugees. 

Pastors sent a letter to Governor Robert Bentley’s office in Montgomery, saying faith includes a requirement to welcome strangers and love neighbors.

The letter was signed by dozens of moderate clergy members and other religious leaders from around the state. It was initiated by Greater Birmingham Ministries, an ecumenical organization in the state's largest city.

beachfront mansion
Jay Reeves / AP

Alabama is using a chunk of BP settlement money to renovate a beachfront governor's mansion that's been abandoned on the Gulf Coast for nearly two decades.

Work began earlier this month near Gulf Shores to fix the 7,500-square-foot gubernatorial mansion that was never repaired after Hurricane Danny badly damaged the home in 1997.

A spokeswoman for Governor Robert Bentley says no taxpayer money is being used in the project. She says BP grant money remaining from the 2010 oil spill is being used to cover the cost, estimated at as much as $1.8 million.

Henry Heisman

Dec 13, 2015

History was made in New York City this past weekend for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Junior running back Derrick Henry became the second player in the school’s history to win college football’s highest individual award.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates files this report on Henry, whose name may always be followed by the words Heisman Trophy winner…

Farmers from all across Alabama are meeting in Montgomery today.

The state capital is hosting the ninety-fourth Alabama Farmers Federation Annual gathering. The group meets every year to elect leaders, recognize volunteers, and discuss agricultural issues. This year over one-thousand two hundred farmers will be in attendance.

Mary Johnson is the director of news services for the federation. She says awards will be given out to both members and volunteers who played a major role in agriculture…

Time is running out if you want to speak out about the settlement from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Residents have until the end of the day today to express their concerns over the deal between BP, the Gulf States and the federal government. The goal of the settlement is a dollar for dollar restoration of the damage done by the spill.

Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden says all accounts will be taken into full consideration.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in Alabama today to mark the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Clinton will be speaking at 11 a.m. this morning at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery. The church was pastored by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the boycott.

Clinton’s speech falls on the anniversary of Rosa Parks' arrest for refusing to give her bus seat to a white passenger on December 1, 1955. Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of Montgomery buses to protest segregated seating.

The Alabama state report card on its infrastructure will be released in December by the American Society of Civil Engineering. APR student reporter Taylor Swinney has more.

The United States as a whole has not graded well over the years, coming in with an overall D+ in the American Society of Civil Engineering's last report in 2013.

Andrew Herrmann is the former President of ASCE. He says Alabama citizens pay more a year to drive on roads and bridges that are not in good condition.

A new survey shows the majority of U.S. military veterans aren’t happy with the treatment they get after their service. The Disabled Veterans Pulse Survey found that only 1 in 5 veterans think the government treats them well.

Less than half believe they receive the benefits and support they were promised. Dan Clare is the National Director of Communications for the group Disabled American Veterans. He says many veterans out repeat their service.

Demonstrators emptied liquor bottles outside the Alabama Capitol to protest the closing of driver's license offices in Black Belt counties.

Selma state senator Hank Sanders told the Montgomery Advertiser that state agencies are leaving money-losing liquor stores open in the impoverished areas while closing rural driver's license offices.

The crowd chanted "Give us the ballot, not just the bottle" during the Monday protest.

The event was one of several demonstrations over the closures.

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.

Unemployment in Alabama is down slightly and wages are higher than it’s been in seven years. A-P-R student reporter Nia Craig has more on the state's employment rates…

 

Employment has increased by 7,200 jobs. According to the governor’s office the state’s jobless rate for October was 5.9 percent. This is one-tenth of a point from 6 percent in September.

 

The government sector has gained more than half of these jobs. There were also increases in the professional and business services area, plus the trade and transportation sector.

 

Elliott Spillers
Pete Pajor / Crimson White

Students at the University of Alabama repeated a list of demands for more diversity on the Tuscaloosa campus.

A student march started at Malone-Hood Plaza and ended at Gorgas Library, where the students' eleven goals were restated. The group “We Are Done UA” wants a safe space for students of color, a diversity class for freshmen, and a way to report hate crimes and sexual abuse on campus, among other things.

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley is putting his rhetoric against Syrian refugees settling in the state into action.

The governor has directed state agencies to try to block the relocation of any Syrian refugees in Alabama.

Bentley signed an executive order Monday after announcing his opposition to Syrian refugees settling in Alabama over the weekend. The order directs state agencies to use all "lawful means" to prevent the resettlement of refugees.

Governor Robert Bentley has announced he won’t allow any Syrian refugees to relocate to Alabama.

Bentley released a statement Sunday saying, "After full consideration of this weekend's attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way."

Tommy Bice
timesdaily.com

Alabama Department of Education Superintendent Tommy Bice says he will propose raising teacher salaries over the next three years.

Bice said yesterday his department would recommend raising teachers' salaries 5 percent in fiscal year 2017, which begins next October.

The state government will have the final word on public school spending next year. According to the department, the raise would cost $160 million.

Bice says he will seek additional raises in 2018 and 2019, with the goal of bringing teacher salaries in line with inflation.

Three Tuscaloosa Police officers are on paid leave following a videotaped incident that went viral on the internet. According to APR’s Pat Duggins, even Police Chief Steven Anderson admits he was disturbed by it.

The graphic video shot from inside a Tuscaloosa apartment shows local police officers pushing their way inside, and pulling two University of Alabama students out. A Taser and a nightstick are used as the officers forcibly subdue and arrest the young man and woman. Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson says the images left him with some questions.

Three Tuscaloosa Police officers are on paid leave following a videotaped incident that went viral on the internet. APR’s Pat Duggins says Police Chief Steven Anderson admits even he was disturbed by it…

The graphic video shot from inside a Tuscaloosa apartment shows local police officers pushing their way inside, and pulling two University of Alabama students out.

Alabama has reopened most rural driver license offices for one day each month.

The offices began reopening this week on a limited basis following national backlash over a plan to close them permanently.

In September, The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced plans to close 31 offices where state workers had given driving tests one day per week.

The agency said the closures were necessary because of budget cuts. Critics said the closures created a hardship for rural residents and only saved the state $100,000 a year in travel costs.

Alabama red snapper fishermen say they’re feeling caught between state and federal regulators.

New numbers from Washington for the amount of snapper caught this year differs from the total from the state. The Federal Marine Recreational Information Program says Alabama anglers caught just over two million pounds of red snapper. Alabama regulators put that number at just over a million pounds. 

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