The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month in a case that challenges two provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, State Attorney General Luther Strange recently filed a legal brief supporting a lawsuit brought by the Shelby County Commission. Strange said Alabama has a new generation of leaders and they do not discriminate against minorities participating in the elections process. Shelby County wants the high court to throw out sections of the Voting Rights Act that requires Alabama to get federal approval before making any changes to state and county election laws. Justices are scheduled to hear arguments on February 27th.
Fire Fatalities Investigated
The State Fire Marshall's Office is investigating fire fatalities in Pike and Houston counties. Authorities in Pike County say an elderly man died Monday night when fire raced through his home in the Hamilton Crossroads community. The victim was identified as 82-year-old Floyd Senn.
The State Fire Marshal is also investigating a deadly fire in Dothan that left two children dead, a 4-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl died when fire gutted their residence off Highway 84 West. Three adults were injured.
Security at Alabama schools will be discussed by members of the House and Senate Education Policy committees today. The hearing will include Alabama Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier and state schools Superintendent Tommy Bice. Officials have said they expect various ideas for protecting students and teachers from school shootings will be discussed and possible legislation proposed. Today's meeting was scheduled after the recent school shootings in Connecticut.
A report issued in October by an independent research group found that the ranges of return for Alabama's three utilities were "well above" the national average. That report added fuel to Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn's belief that the financial returns of the companies may be too high. His spokesperson, David Rountree says Dunn will push for a formal review of the rate of return on equity the PSC set for Alabama Power, Alabama Gas and Mobile Gas decades ago. Rountree says Dunn has tried to reach out to PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh to discuss his proposal to no avail. Cavanaugh opposes a formal review and wants to continue with informational meetings between commissioners and the utilities. She says those sessions would be open to the public. But Rountree notes those type meetings aren't formally recorded.