The upper chamber of the Alabama Legislature has approved a nearly six billion dollar Education budget, the state Senate voted 33 to nothing Tuesday afternoon to send the school spending plan to the Alabama House. Legislators are still grappling with the financially-ailing General fund budget and are considering deep cuts to state agencies. A key GOP lawmaker who chairs a Senate Budget committee, Arthur Orr of Decatur told a gathering at the Statehouse Tuesday to make their concerns known to legislators.
The Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey, police and Fire Department officials are sounding the alarm about synthetic marijuana or what is commonly called spice. D.A. Daryl Bailey said spice use is on the rise in Montgomery. He said between last Thursday and Monday, Montgomery Fire Medics responded to 41 cases of young people getting sick after smoking or eating spice. Authorities said four Montgomery students had to be treated after using spice Monday.
Police say the 24-year-old woman who was shot at a small-town Alabama doctor's office has died, and the gunman was her husband. Jemison police chief Shane Fulmer says the couple lived near the doctor's office and had a dispute Monday morning. The 26-year-old man was found at his home with a gunshot wound to his head, was taken to the hospital and was expected to be charged.
New technology to block calls and text messages to cellphones soon will be installed at state prisons. Steve Brown, the agency's chief of staff, said a "managed access" system will be installed for Draper, Elmore and Staton prisons, all are located in Elmore County. State Corrections officials have asked the Legislature for additional funds to install similar systems at Bibb, Donaldson, Fountain and St. Clair prisons. Authorities say inmate use cell phones to conduct scams on the public, extort money from relatives and coordinate drug drops at prisons.
Governor Robert Bentley says he will veto any state budget that includes the "draconian" cuts that would be required without tax increases. Bentley in a Friday speech continues to press for public support for his $541 million dollar tax proposal for lawmakers. The $1.8 billion general fund is expected to have roughly $290 million dollars shortfall next year. A draft budget outlines deep cuts of between 11 and 16 percent for most state agencies. Bentley also says he won't fight a new bill to create an Alabama lottery but says it's not a solution for the state.
Alabama State Troopers have joined a nation wide effort to crack down on drivers who text while driving. The campaign is called U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Public Safety Director, Colonel John Richardson said troopers will utilize traditional and new strategies to crack down on texting while driving. The campaign starts Friday and runs through Thursday. Under Alabama's texting law, drivers face a $25 fine for the first citation, with fines jumping to $50 for a second violation and $75 for a third citation.
Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives says the time has come for Alabama to consider legalized gambling as a revenue source. House Democrats announced a legislative agenda Wednesday that includes creating a state lottery and urging the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says Alabama will face severe cuts in state services if legislators refuse to raise taxes. The governor described the potential budget cuts during a speech Wednesday. Bentley says Alabama could see the closure of state parks, reductions in mental health services, longer courthouse lines, a possible release of state inmates and other consequences. So far, lawmakers have shown little excitement for Bentley's proposed $541 million tax package.
A bill proposed in the Alabama Legislature could end up banning most abortions if approved. Republican Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur has proposed legislation to prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Collins says if the end of life is defined by the absence of a heartbeat, it makes sense to her to define the beginning of life with the start of a heartbeat. A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood says the bill would ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before a woman might know she's pregnant.
Wetumpka Police were called to the scene of a fatal crash on Highway 231 Monday. WSFA is reporting that four vehicles collided when a vehicle veered off the southbound side into the northbound lanes. One person was pronounced dead at the scene near Blue Ridge Road. Three others were taken to a local hospital. No word on the extent of their injuries. Traffic on the northbound side of 231 was closed for nearly three hours due to the accident.