Dozens of Bills in Limbo as Session Winds Down

May 9, 2017

   Legislators today begin the final six days of the regular session that will determine the fate of dozens of bills.     One of the more prominent pieces of legislation outlines new legislative districts. Federal judges ordered the state to redraw lines before the 2018 election after ruling the districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered along racial lines. Black lawmakers say the updated maps contain very few changes. Lawmakers are also bringing back up the prison construction plan.

 The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into a fatal shooting in Phenix City that involved a police officer. A release from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency states that the incident happened yesterday afternoon just before 5 o’clock in the vicinity of 12th place and 11th Avenue. It’s being reported that the shooting came at the end of a vehicular pursuit between police and a suspect.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating an outbreak associated with a college baseball tournament in Montgomery. At this time, reports estimate that 25 to 30 individuals have experienced gastrointestinal illness that includes the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and lethargy. Some ill persons have visited various emergency rooms in the area. No food items or water sources have been implicated yet, and there are no known organisms associated with the outbreak.

 Alabama State University officials yesterday lauded the Alabama Attorney General’s actions to end an audit of ASU nearly five years after its inception. Acting Attorney General Chris McCool announced the closure of the case Tuesday. His statement says a special grand jury heard from dozens of witnesses and experts analyzed financial records and no indictments were returned. Interim President of ASU Dr. Leon Wilson says the university has been vindicated.

State Education Budget Nears Passage

May 4, 2017

   The State Education Budget is close to final passage. A unanimous vote from the House of Representatives yesterday sends it back to the Senate. The 6.4 billion dollar spending plan would keep state schools mostly funded at the same levels as last year, though some increases would be seen for K-12 schools. It includes money to hire an additional 152 teachers in fourth thru sixth grades. The budget previously stalled in the Senate when a legislator filibustered the plan, saying it needed more money for grade schools. 

   A legislative committee has approved new legislative districts over the objections of black Democrats who argued it continues racial gerrymandering to maintain Republican dominance. The House Constitution, Campaigns and Election Committee voted Tuesday to send the plan to the House floor. Lawmakers must redo the map after federal judges ruled lawmakers had improperly made race a predominant factor when drawing boundaries.

   A juvenile has been taken into custody in connection with the fatal shooting of a Montgomery middle school student from yesterday. In a written statement, police say the male suspect was charged with murder. The victim has now been identified as 14 year old Jaquerria Timmons. According to the release, Timmons was shot in the chest after a handgun was introduced into a group of students about a block from Bellingrath Middle School in the 34-hundred block of South Court Street. Police say the gun came from someone who does not attend Bellingrath.

Alabama State University hosted its third annual “I Love ASU – Sting A Thon” over the weekend at the ASU Dunn-Oliver Acadome. Numerous local musicians performed for the crowd of hundreds who came out to support ASU despite the rain.

ASU President, Dr. Leon Wilson says the ‘Sting A Thon’ gives people the opportunity to show their support and give back to the University. ASU’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Zillah Fluker said ASU has existed this long because of the Marion Nine, who founded the University in 1867.

   Storms moving through the Deep South yesterday left damage in southeastern Alabama and west central Georgia after flooding caused a death in North Carolina earlier in the week. In Alabama, Pike County Emergency Management personnel report trees on top of houses and a mobile home off its foundation along U.S. 29 between Troy and the Banks community. Some minor structural damage was reported in Montgomery County along with fallen trees. At one point around 5-thousand people were without power in the area.

A wealth of positive discourse and information dissemination took place at last night’s town hall meeting and block party in front of Sidney Lanier High School. Panelists tackled the subject of violence in the Montgomery community and how to combat it. Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey says an increase in positive role models would help. Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham advised parents to take advantage of the programs that are available. He says summer youth camps are currently taking applications.