The Senate is considering legislation to prevent a global helium shortage from worsening in October. That's when one huge supply of helium in the U.S. is set to terminate. The House overwhelmingly passed its own bill last month to keep the Federal Helium Program going.
That was a relief to industries that can't get along without helium. The gas is used in MRI machines, semiconductors, aerospace equipment, lasers and of course balloons.
Updated at 9:29 pm ET--- Former South Carolina Republican governor Mark Sanford easily beat Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to regain the House seat he once held.
For Sanford, the victory in the strongly Republican 1st Congressional District was sure to be widely viewed as a personal redemption. Sanford left the governor's mansion in 2009 after an extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman who is now his fiancee led to the breakup of his marriage.
An Alabama House committee has passed a bill that will allow school systems to hire trained resource officers to provide security in their schools and for the school system to pay for the cost of training and hiring the officers.
The director of Alabama's Department of Homeland Security, Spencer Collier, said it's a way of insuring that Alabama student are safe when at school.
"To get people trained as police officers is the best way to make sure schools are safe," Collier said.
The Alabama Legislature is closer to providing money to repair and rebuild public schools hit by tornadoes in 2011 and 2012.
The Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee voted unanimously Tuesday for a bill that would allow the state to sell $30 million in bonds. Of that, $15 million would go to Murphy High School in Mobile, which was hit by a tornado in December.
Three schools in the Tuscaloosa area would benefit, with $3 million for Alberta City Elementary and $2.5 million each for University Place Elementary and Holt Elementary. They were hit on April 27, 2011.
Alabama lawmakers are one step from letting voters decide, at least in theory, whether to make it harder for government to adopt restrictions on firearms.
A proposed constitutional amendment would apply a judicial standard called strict scrutiny to any limits on possessing weapons. The proposal cleared a Senate committee Tuesday. It must pass the full Senate before it goes on a statewide ballot.
The Alabama Legislature is one step away from passing a bill that would make sure private schools and non-failing public schools don't have to take students who want to transfer from failing public schools.
The bill making transfers optional won approval in the House last week and in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. The bill by Republican Rep. Jim Carns of Mountain Brook now goes to the Senate for what could be a final vote.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. It's no secret that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has struggled with his weight. However, it was a secret when Christie had weight loss surgery on his stomach earlier this year. The governor confirmed today that he had an operation. Christie insists the decision was motivated by his family, not politics.
That big immigration bill working its way through the Senate would let in lots more highly skilled workers on temporary visas. But there's a catch.
The bill says all employers who want to hire workers on these H-1B visas:
... would be required to advertise on an Internet website maintained by the Department of Labor and offer the job to any U.S. worker who applies and is equally or better qualified than the immigrants ... sought...
Six coastal governors have called on Washington to open up more waters to offshore drilling and to make permitting a quicker, more efficient process.
The governors of Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Alaska spoke Monday at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. Officials from Louisiana and Virginia also spoke.
They say a federal moratorium on offshore drilling after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and permitting requirements put in place after that, have made it difficult for companies to develop resources.
The president of the Heritage Foundation is former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. He was among the most influential Republicans as a senator, and now leads one of the most prominent conservative think tanks. And he's on the line.
Senator, welcome to the program.
JIM DEMINT: Well, good morning David and Steve. It's great to be with you.