Politics & Government

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Republican and Democratic strategists tell NPR that most of the estimated $4 billion to be spent by the campaigns, political action committees and others on the 2012 presidential race will make no difference in the outcome.

President Obama and his campaign are being "dishonest" when they attack his record as a business executive, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said this morning on Fox & Friends as a new week on the presidential campaign trail began where the last one left off.

Nearly Half of Alabama Declared Drought Emergency

Jul 13, 2012
picture of dry river bed
taigasylvan / Flickr.com

The U.S. secretary of agriculture has declared a drought emergency in about half of Alabama's counties.

Gov. Robert Bentley and state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said the declaration by Secretary Thomas Vilsack makes farmers in 33 counties eligible for low-interest federal loans.

Uzbek Man Gets More Than 15 years For Obama Threat

Jul 13, 2012

A federal judge in Alabama has sentenced a man from Uzbekistan to more than 15 years in prison for plotting to kill President Barack Obama.

U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon imposed the term Friday on Ulugbek Kodirov (OO'-legh-bek KAH'-duh-rahv). He faced up to 30 years in prison.

A defense lawyer argued the 22-year-old Kodirov has accepted responsibility for his actions and is trying to straighten out his life.

Feds want Alabama to repay $5.1 million

Jul 12, 2012
U.S. Forest Service / Wikipedia Commons

The U.S. Forest Service says it will soon send the Alabama Forestry Commission a bill for $5.1 million due to unsubstantiated spending from a federal grant.

The notice was contained in a letter from the service's chief financial officer, Thelma Strong, to State Forester Linda Casey. Strong said the state has not adequately addressed unsupported costs.

Casey says the federal government is misunderstanding Alabama's accounting procedures for the grant, and her agency doesn't owe anything.

Fake Pot Is A Real Problem For Regulators

Jul 12, 2012

This week, President Obama signed a law banning synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. Dozens of states and local governments have already tried to outlaw fake marijuana, which has been blamed for hundreds of emergency room visits and a handful of fatalities.

But the bans have proved largely ineffective, and there are fears that the federal law won't be any different.

Synthetic marijuana looks a bit like dried grass clippings. It's readily available on the Internet and in convenience stores and smoke shops, where it's sold as herbal incense or potpourri.

Troopers: 9 died on roads during holiday period

Jul 11, 2012

Alabama State Troopers say they investigated 386 traffic accidents resulting in 161 injuries and nine deaths during the Fourth of July holiday period.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety reported the numbers for the 120-hour Fourth of July holiday period from July 4 to July 8.

Officials say that because the same holiday in 2011 fell on a Monday and meant a long weekend for many travelers, it's difficult to compare those numbers with 2011 totals.

Mobile leaders reject smoking ban

Jul 10, 2012
khawkins04 / Flickr

Mobile City Council members are rejecting a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

The proposal received only four of the five votes it needed to pass on Tuesday.

The Mobile County Health Department has been trying to persuade cities to ban smoking in public places. The agency is promoting such ordinances with the help of a $2.25 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ala. House Democrats to fight districts in DC

Jul 10, 2012
Alabama Reapportionment Office / State of Alabama

Democrats in the Alabama House have decided to fight new legislative districts in Washington rather than in the state.

House Minority Leader Craig Ford of Gadsden said House Democrats have consulted with their attorneys and decided not to challenge the districts in state court. Instead, they will take their battle to the U.S. Justice Department. The Voting Rights Act requires the Justice Department to approve the new districts before they can be used in the legislative elections in 2014.

When Does An App Need FDA's Blessing?

Jul 10, 2012

Bernard Farrell obsesses over every bite he eats, every minute of exercise he gets, and everything that stresses him out. And, more than anything else, Farrell obsesses over his blood sugar.

He has to. Farrell, 55, has Type 1 diabetes.

"Pretty much everything affects our blood sugar," says Farrell, of Littleton, Mass.

There were 3.6 million jobs open and ready to be filled in May if the right candidates came along, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning.

That was up from 3.4 million in April, was the second-most for any month so far this year and was up 16 percent from the 3.1 million in May 2011.

The latest fundraising numbers are in for the two presidential campaigns, and the amounts are eye-popping. President Obama and the Democratic Party raised $71 million, which is an enormous haul. But it was dwarfed by Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee, which together raised $106 million in the month of June.

Feds: 11 years should punish Ala. casino bribery

Jul 9, 2012

Federal prosecutors are recommending that Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley spend nearly 11 years in prison for offering millions of dollars in bribes to Alabama legislators.

They're also suggesting that Gilley's lobbyist, Jarrod Massey, spend slightly more than 11 years behind bars for his role in the case.

Prosecutors filed their recommendations Monday with U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson. He's scheduled to sentence the two July 16, along with former state Rep. Terry Spicer of Elba.

Number of Alabamians on food stamps growing again

Jul 9, 2012
ajmexico / Flickr

Nearly one in five Alabama residents is getting food stamps, and the number is growing again after declining for a few months.

The number of Alabamians on food stamps peaked at 916,000 in December and then began declining slightly each month. It reached a low of 902,000 people in April.

Then, in May, the number rose to nearly 907,000 people on food stamps. That's the equivalent of 19 percent of Alabama's residents.

The increase coincided with Alabama's unemployment rate going up in May after declining for several months.

Former Ala. governor tries again on trial request

Jul 9, 2012
By Mike Disharoon / Wikimedia Commons

The attorney for Don Siegelman is asking a federal judge to set aside his order denying the former Alabama governor a new trial.

Siegelman attorney Peter Sissman filed the request Monday with U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller in Montgomery. The attorney wants a delay so he can have more time to try to get documents about former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary.

Canary was the chief federal prosecutor in Montgomery during the case, but she stepped aside. Siegelman's side contends she still had some involvement.

Thousands of people still awaiting tax refunds

Jul 9, 2012

State officials say more than 25,000 individuals or married couples who are owed income tax refunds still haven't gotten them.

The state has paid more than a million personal income tax refunds so far this fiscal year.

Revenue Department spokeswoman Carla Snellgrove said state officials have sent personal income tax refunds totaling $480.8 million to 1,042,192 individuals or couples from Oct. 1 through Friday. The state's 2012 fiscal year started Oct. 1.

Video surveillance added at Alabama Statehouse

Jul 9, 2012
black indoor surveillance camera
psammy / Wikimedia Commons

Legislative committee rooms at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery are getting video surveillance equipment.

The Alabama Department of Homeland Security announced it has awarded a grant of $72,836 to perform the work. Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier is a former legislator. He says the investment will protect legislators, staff and visitors to the Statehouse.

Officials say the equipment is being added in space previously used by the state attorney general that has now been converted to meeting rooms for legislative committees.

Setting the stage for more election-year debate over taxes and economic policy, President Obama this morning challenged Republicans to support a plan to extend for one year — but only for families earning less than $250,000 annually — the so-called Bush tax cuts.

Republicans want the tax cuts, which expire at the end of 2012, to continue for everyone. Obama says it's time for wealthier taxpayers to pay more because that will help narrow future budget deficits.

The Nation: The Public Wants Public Sector Jobs

Jul 9, 2012

Bryce Covert is the Editor of the Roosevelt Institute's New Deal 2.0 blog and a writer for The Nation.

It's no secret anymore (particularly since Obama's The-Private-Sector-Is-Doing-Fine-Gate) that there have been huge numbers of government worker layoffs during the recovery. Many are rightly pointing out that this is only making the jobs crisis worse. But what's behind those losses?

There's been lots of talk about how the Supreme Court's landmark decision to uphold the health care law could affect the federal Medicaid program and President Obama's political standing. But days after the historic ruling, lawyers say they're still teasing out the consequences for other key areas of the law — including civil rights.

At first blush, it might seem odd that a case about the Affordable Care Act would send civil rights experts scrambling back to their law books.

The Nation: Threats In The Health Care Ruling

Jul 2, 2012

Aziz Huq is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and previously litigated national security cases at the Brennan Center for Justice

Some Alabama boards not following immigration law

Jun 28, 2012

Some state regulatory boards aren't abiding by a requirement in Alabama's new immigration law that they check the legal residency of people getting licenses to do business in the state.

The state Examiners of Public Accounts issued reports saying the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board and the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission have ``not taken action to comply with state law that requires its licensees to be either United States citizens or lawfully present in the United States.''

Governor Bentley disappointed with health care ruling

Jun 28, 2012

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is ``deeply disappointed'' with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding much of the federal health care legislation.

Bentley issued a statement shortly after the Supreme Court's health care ruling was announced saying that the health care act created more regulation and bureaucracy.

Bentley calls the health care act the worst legislation to come out of Congress. He says the legislation must be repealed.

Interactive: Inside The Health Care Ruling

Jun 28, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Affordable Care Act. Use this interactive to see key portions of the ruling.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A federal agency says it has the legal authority to give Georgia more water from a disputed reservoir, though it has not made a final decision on how much to release.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in documents released Tuesday that it has the legal ability to give metro Atlanta communities access to 705 million gallons of water per day from Lake Lanier on the Chattahoochee River to meet needs through 2030.

That reservoir is the focus of a long-running legal dispute between Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

Gov. Robert Bentley picks new mental health leader

Jun 26, 2012

The governor has picked Jim Reddoch to take over as mental health commissioner when Zelia Baugh steps down at the end of the week.

Baugh joined Gov. Robert Bentley's Cabinet in January 2011. She said Tuesday she is leaving because her family needs most of her attention now.

Attorneys say a $64 million court judgment against VictoryLand casino in Macon County and its owner, Milton McGregor, won't be affected by the Macon County sheriff being dropped from the litigation.

Lucky Palace and 15 charities sued VictoryLand, McGregor and Sheriff David Warren, alleging they worked together to keep a second casino from being built in the central Alabama county to compete with VictoryLand. A jury in May returned a $64 million verdict against McGregor and VictoryLand. It ruled the sheriff misinterpreted the county's rules for electronic bingo.

Romney Outraises Obama In May

Jun 22, 2012



And with no primary opponent to worry about, President Obama's campaign had nearly a full year's head start for fundraising over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But as NPR's S.V. Date reports, the president's advantage is rapidly disappearing.

Auburn Toomer's Corner poisoning trial delayed

Jun 21, 2012
Toomer's Corner in Auburn Alabama
hz536n/George Thomas / Flickr

A judge is delaying the trial of an Alabama fan accused of poisoning Auburn's cherished Toomer's Corner oak trees.

Defense attorneys for Harvey Updyke have asked the judge to move the trial to a different location. Judge Jacob Walker said Thursday that he would set a hearing date to consider the request.

Siegelman to face resentencing hearing Aug. 3

Jun 21, 2012

Authorities have set a date for the resentencing of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

Siegelman is scheduled to appear in federal court for the resentencing on Aug. 3 in Montgomery. He is out of prison on an appeal bond after his 2006 bribery conviction.

The U.S. Supreme Court this month rejected Siegelman's latest appeal.