Alabama's unemployment compensation law has been changed so that retirement benefits will no longer affect monthly jobless benefits. Under previous policy, if an employee lost their job and withdrew funds from their pension plan or 401K, their unemployment benefits would be deducted by the amount withdrawn. The new law will no longer penalize individuals for taking money from their retirement account. State Representative Napolean Bracy of Prichard sponsored the bill. Governor Bentley has signed the bill. It will go into effect September 1st.
Officials say Alabama's unemployment rate is up to 6.1 percent. The May jobless rate released Friday increased from 5.8 percent in April. Shelby County has the state's lowest unemployment rate at 4.2 percent, the worst is in rural Wilcox County at 15.6 percent.
The U.S. Geological Survey has detected another small earthquake in western Alabama. USGS officials say a magnitude 2.1 tremor was reported early yesterday morning and the epicenter was west of Tuscaloosa, between Eutaw and Aliceville. Dr. Sandy Ebersole with the Geological Survey of Alabama says there have been 15 earthquakes in west Alabama since late November of last year. She says the tremors could be related to underground faults in that part of the state. Dr. Ebersole says her office has ruled out surface activity like quarry work or oil and gas production.
The National Weather Service is urging residents in central and south Alabama to exercise caution because of the extreme heat. Forecasters have issued a heat advisory for the cities of Tuskegee, Troy, Phenix City and Eufaula. The hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to produce heat index values exceeding 100 degrees. Alabama Power is offering tips how to keep your monthly power bill from soaring. Utility spokesman Mike Jordan says its crucial to keep cool air inside your residence. More energy saving tips can be found online at Alabamapower.com
Alabama residents are bracing for the summer months when power bills skyrocket. WVAS News talked with Alabama Power about ways to control the cost of cooling one's home. Spokesman Mike Jordan says ceiling fans are a good place to start. Other fans, like box fans or oscillating fans, placed in various rooms will also help move the air around. Jordan says changing out air filters each month and setting the thermostat at about 78 degrees are other power saving tactics. The company's website, Alabamapower.com has even more information on the topic.
The Montgomery County Commission has formally entered an agreement to help pay costs for the so-called Capital City Plume or contaminated groundwater in downtown Montgomery. At its Monday meeting, county commissioners agreed to join entities with the city, state and the Advertiser company to pay federal environmental regulators for expenses linked to studying the plume discovered in the early 1990s. Mayor Todd Strange previously said the downtown Alliance was formed to stay off EPA's Superfund list which would hamper economic development.
The descendants of Alabama Creeks forced to walk the Trail of Tears are urging Alabama's governor not to sign a gaming agreement with a tribe they say built a casino on sacred land. The Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma sent Gov. Robert Bentley a letter in June urging him never to sign a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Alabama residents who have been diagnosed with autism can apply to receive an identification card that can be used to better communicate with first responders and law enforcement officers during potentially stressful situations. A statement from the Alabama Department of Public Health on Thursday says the card explains to others that the person may have difficulty communicating or understanding directions. The billfold-size card also says the person may become agitated if touched.