U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Wilson Lock
Dailynetworks / Wikimedia

Alabama lawmakers are getting closer to a budget agreement after lots of activity in both chambers yesterday.

The Alabama Senate made a few revisions to the 25 cent per pack cigarette tax increase proposal before passing it 21-13. The House voted 52-42 to accept those changes.

Lawmakers also struck a compromise on transferring money from the education budget to the general fund. The House had approved a $50 million transfer, while senators wanted to transfer twice that. A conference committee approved a measure that will shift $80 million between the two budgets.

A state lawmaker wants to make sure that faith-based adoption agencies have the right to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

Republican Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa introduced the bill last week specifying groups that could refuse to participate in adoptions and foster care placements that violate their religious beliefs.

The bill would also prohibit the state of Alabama from refusing to license, or renew a contract with, the groups for refusing services to people on religious grounds.

Press-Register/Mike Kittrell

State officials are criticizing a plan that would limit lock usage on the Alabama and Chattahoochee rivers.

Citing budget cuts and low river traffic, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said starting Oct. 7 it will allow commercial boats to transit the locks if boat operators make an appointment 72 hours in advance. The locks allow boats to bypass dams that obstruct river travel.

Recreational boats can use the locks only if the locks are being used for another purpose.