Senator Cam Ward

Gulf Coast officials are worried that their communities won't get their fair share of Alabama's $2.3 billion portion of the BP oil spill settlement.

Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft says members of the Gulf Coast Recovery Council have some unanswered questions about the settlement.

The plan would give the council control over $599 million, but about half of that spending would still require federal approval.

A federal judge says Alabama counties must abide by court decisions allowing gay marriage. APR’s Stan Ingold reports U.S. District Judge Callie Granade issued an order updating a previous ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Judge Granade says state probate judges can't discriminate against gay couples because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled gay marriage is legal everywhere. But her order doesn't affect counties that have stopped issuing all marriage licenses.

The judge had put previous decisions on hold to allow time for the justices to rule.

Alabama’s state prisons were built to hold 13,000 inmates. They currently house over 25,000.

That makes Alabama prisons among the most crowded in the nation, and state politicians fear the crowding may soon bring federal intervention to the troubled prison system.

In an effort to relieve some of the overcrowding, lawmakers approved changes to sentencing and probation standards this spring as well as a bond issue for additional prison beds. The changes include the creation of a lower level felony class and the planned hiring of 100 additional probation officers.

The Alabama Senate will start debating some sweeping changes to the state's prison system today.

Republican Senator Cam Ward is bringing the bill to the Senate floor, which would change sentencing and probation standards to try and reduce prison overcrowding.

The proposed legislation is based on a year of study by the state prison reform task force. One of the main changes is the creation of a new Class D felony level, which will keep low-level, non-violent offenders out of prison entirely.

President Barack Obama will be in Birmingham this afternoon to talk about the economy.

The President will be speaking at Lawson State Community College on consumer protection issues and the contrast between his vision for the American middle class and Republican efforts to undermine that vision.

According to a White House press release, Congressional Republicans are continuing to roll back progress toward a safer financial system and stronger economy, encouraging the types of abuses that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

Lawmakers could give final approval very soon to legislation establishing charter schools in the state of Alabama.

The Alabama House of Representatives will debate a bill that would allow charter schools in the state this afternoon. That bill is expected to spark a filibuster from Democrats and other opposed lawmakers.

Charter schools are public schools that have freedom from the curriculum and regulation requirements placed on other public schools. Alabama is one of eight states without charter school legislation currently in place.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals all but ensured gay marriage in Alabama yesterday.

The court announced that they will not act on any appeals until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on same-sex marriage nationally.

In Alabama, that means judges can begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Monday, assuming the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't issue a stay before then.


     A state task force will weigh options this month for how to relieve severe overcrowding in Alabama prisons.

Committee members say the ideas will likely include sentencing changes, building new facilities to house inmates and increased resources for probation and parole.

Prison Reform Task Force Chairman Cam Ward says he hopes to have legislation ready in February.

State Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster will be in Washington on July 15 to speak to a congressional subcommittee about making changes in prisons.

Ward is chairman of Alabama's new Prison Reform Task Force. The House Judiciary Committee's crime subcommittee invited him to speak at a hearing on prison reform, and Ward accepted.

The Governor's Office

Gov. Robert Bentley has announced an attempt to overhaul the state's severely overcrowded prison system.

Bentley said Tuesday the state's prisons are filled to nearly twice their collective capacity. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a partnership between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Department of Justice, will examine the system and suggest reforms.

The review comes after a series of stark criticisms. The Department of Justice has called conditions unconstitutional at Alabama's only prison for women.

The Governor's Office

Gov. Robert Bentley says he's against switching back to the electric chair to resume executions in Alabama.

Speaking in Shelby County on Monday, Bentley said he's personally opposed to the idea of resuming electrocutions.

A key legislator on prison issues, state Sen. Cam Ward, says giving up the state's current method of lethal injection involves too many legal hurdles.

The state attorney general's office says executions are at a standstill because the prison system has run out of one of the three drugs used in its lethal injection system.

Two Republican legislators have the backing of Gov. Robert Bentley in pursuing a bill to strengthen Alabama's open meetings law.

The bill introduced by Rep. Mike Hill of Columbiana and Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster says Alabama's Open Meetings Act applies to the Legislature, legislative committees, and committees and subcommittees of governmental bodies that exchange information among a quorum of members.

Republican state Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster and Republican Rep. Jack Williams of Vestavia Hills say they will seek re-election to the Legislature rather than running for the 6th Congressional District.

Ward and Williams were among several Alabama politicians who said they were considering the 6th District race after Republican incumbent Spencer Bachus of Birmingham announced Monday that he would not seek re-election next year.

Ward and Williams said Wednesday they were honored by the encouragement they received, but now is not the time to go to Washington.

Possible U.S. House candidates are coming forward following Rep. Spencer Bachus' decision against seeking re-election for Alabama's 6th District congressional seat.

Republican state Sen. Slade Blackwell of Mountain Brooks says he is considering the opportunity to run for the position, and his final decision will be based on his family.

Walker County minister Stan Cooke says people are encouraging him to switch from the GOP lieutenant governor's race to a House campaign. But he is leaning toward staying with the lieutenant governor's campaign.

Campaign to Elect Cam Ward

Alabama lawmakers have passed bills that would make it easier to criminally charge people who abuse, neglect or financially exploit the elderly.

The sponsors say they expect the governor to sign one of the bills into law once the two slightly different versions are reconciled.

The Senate sponsor, Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster, says only one word in the measure that passed the Senate is different from the House-passed version sponsored by Republican Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood.