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The Alabama Senate has approved an education budget that would fund a one-time bonus of one percent for public school employees and add 250 teachers in middle schools. Governor Robert Bentley has recommended a 2 percent cost of living raise for teachers, but budget committee chairman Senator Trip Pittman says that's not affordable. The governor also disagreed with the 10 million dollar cut to Alabama State University's funding. Alabama State University President Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd calls the budget slash an attack on students, faculty and staff. The $5.9 billion dollar budget now goes to the House.
The Alabama Senate has approved open meetings legislation sought by the Alabama Press Association and Governor Robert Bentley. The Senate voted 25-1 Thursday for the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster. Ward says Alabama's open meetings law has been gutted by three rulings from the Alabama Supreme Court, and the bill approved by the Senate restores many provisions of the law.
Legislation providing for the display of the Ten Commandments in Alabama's public buildings is getting closer to clearing the Legislation. The legislation would provide for the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools and public buildings when combined with other documents.
Murder Suspect Dies
A prosecutor says the death of a defendant who faced a murder charge in the 20-year-old killing of a business owner will not affect the prosecution of the other three suspects. The Andalusia Star-News reports that 57-year-old Sheila Ellison Brooks died of natural causes over the weekend. She was being held in the Covington County Jail since her indictment on murder and robbery charges in December. District Attorney Walt Merrell said her death will not affect the strength of the evidence in the case, as she had not cooperated with investigators. The three surviving defendants face murder and other charges in the May 1994 killing of James "Nibby" Barton. He was found dead behind the counter of his convenience store. A cold case task force reopened the case in February 2013.