The Alabama Legislature has given final approval to sweeping changes to sentencing and probation standards on an effort to relieve crowding in state prisons. The Alabama House passed the bill on a 100-5 vote Thursday. The state Senate went along with House changes. The bill now goes to Governor Robert Bentley for his signature. The bill aims to steer low-level offenders away from prison and creates a new Class D of felony. It also seek to increase supervision of former inmates.
The historic Webber building, renaming Holcombe Street and a proposed moratorium on package stores were among the hot button issues addressed at Tuesday's city council meeting. Mayor Todd Strange says the city has sold the crumbling Webber building for one dollar. Meanwhile, members of the Bernard Whitehurst family say they will not give up on efforts to rename Holcombe Street located near the downtown district. Stacy Whitehurst said it would mean a lot to the family.
The Republican leader of the Alabama Senate says he will introduce legislation to authorize a lottery and casino gambling in the state. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said that is is time to let the people of Alabama make a decision on gambling. Marsh said Alabama is in a dire fiscal situation and the state needs additional revenue. Marsh said Alabama sends money every year across state lines to casinos and lotteries in other states.
Governor Robert Bentley is using blunt language to describe a looming budget crisis facing Alabama. Bentley addressed the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Monday at the Embassy Suites Hotel. He said gambling is not the solution to the state budget problems and would not provide enough money to stave off double-digit cuts to law enforcement and other state agencies. Bentley's push to solve a budget shortfall have been repeated by state law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier who said he could find himself in a position to close 13 trooper posts and layoff 99 troopers.
A joint operation between the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Probation Office for the Middle District was carried out last week to verify that all federally supervised sex offenders were living at their registered addressed. Operation Nighthawk conducted checks on 36 registered sex offenders in the area. Deputy Marshal M. Dante Gordon says all but one was in compliance. Gordon says it's the first time the two agencies have partnered for such an operation. He says all involved considered it a resounding success.
The 29 members of the Alabama Senate have been given copies of draft legislation that would allow a lottery and multiple casinos at the state's four greyhound tracks. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh gave his colleagues a copy of the bill Thursday to take home to study over the weekend. The proposal would create a state lottery and allow casinos with table games and slot machines at the four dog tracks. The bill also urges Governor Bentley to seek a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, the tribe operates casinos in Montgomery, Wetumpka and Atmore.
A state senator is proposing to take Alabama out of the marriage license business as the state and nation grapple with gay marriage. The Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday approved a bill by Republican Greg Albritton of Conecuh County that would do away with current state marriage licenses issued by probate judges. Instead, couples would take a contract witnessed by a couple's pastor, attorney or other witness and record the document at the court.
A deadly wreck Tuesday morning on Interstate 85 North claimed the life of a Prattville man. Police said 26-year-old Ryan Smith was killed when the car he was driving left the interstate and crashed into a ravine near the railroad tracks. The crash occurred near the Chantilly Parkway Exit ramp at about 8:20 Tuesday morning. Accident investigators are working to determine the cause of the crash.
Officials from several state agencies are planning to meet this week to discuss concerns over illegal drug use in the state. Officials say the group is scheduled to meet Wednesday morning at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montgomery. The meeting comes after public health officials said that hospitals throughout the state have reported more than 400 people between March 15th and April 20th experiencing symptoms linked to the use of synthetic marijuana, known as "spice."
Tuesday is a potential watershed moment for gay and lesbian couples. After rapid changes that have made same-sex marriage legal in all but 14 states, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over making it the law of the land. Governor Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange have urged the high court to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage.