Wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour are expected across much of the state today. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this evening for much of central and northern Alabama. Forecasters say sustained winds of 24 miles per hour or higher can make driving difficult, particularly for high-profile vehicles.
National Weather Service meteorologists say widespread showers and thunderstorms will affect central Alabama today and tonight. Locally heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding. Forecasters say flooding will continue on a few south central Alabama rivers. Also, a cold front will move through central Alabama early Tuesday.
Though he has some misgivings, Governor Robert Bentley signed the education budget for the next fiscal year Friday. He and legislative leaders had disagreed over whether enough money was available for a 2 percent teacher pay raise. Bentley says now was not the time to call a special session. If Bentley had vetoed the spending plan, he would have had to call legislators back to Montgomery to pass a new budget. The governor promised to continue to push for a raise saying he will monitor revenue growth and might call a special session later in the year.
Alabama has new laws on the books today dealing with welfare benefits. Thursday, Governor Bentley signed four bills that includes a measure that requires people applying for benefits to first apply for three jobs before becoming eligible. The new law also states that people who quit a job or refuse to accept a job are ineligible for welfare assistance. Approximately 19,000 households in Alabama receive monthly benefits.
U.S. Attorney George Beck and other law enforcement officials announced what they believe to be the dismantlement of a major drug trafficking operation within the Alabama Prison system. The drug sting resulted in multiple arrests and a seizure of about 30 pounds of narcotics. Special agent Clay Morris, with the Drug Enforcement Administration credits the success of this case to cooperation amongst law enforcement. Authorities say more arrests are expected in this case.
A federal agency says drivers will get the slightest of breaks on gasoline prices this summer. The Energy Department said the national average prices is forecast to fall, but by just a penny to $3.57 per gallon between this month and September. The months when Americans do most of their driving. According to Triple A Alabama today, the national average price for regular is $3.61 a gallon, by comparison, the statewide average price for regular is $ 3.51 per gallon.
The State Board of Education approved the rollout of a new ACT Assessment system for Alabama schools called ACT Aspire. The first-of-its kind system begins at the third grade level and evaluates students annually to determine the appropriate post-secondary career path. State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice said this new system has been years in the making. The new system eliminates the Alabama High School Graduation exam, the ARMT and ARMT Plus tests.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Alabama Accountability Act. Federal Judge Keith Watkins issued a ruling Tuesday siding with state officials who were sued by attorneys for eight public schools students. The judge rejected the students' equal protection argument. The Alabama Accountability Act was passed by the Legislature in 2013. It provides tax credits to parents who move their children from failing public schools to private or public schools. A separate lawsuit challenging the law is still pending in Montgomery County Circuit Court. That suit was filed by the
Governor Robert Bentley and other state officials are asking the Council of State Governments Justice Center for help in improving the state's troubled prison system. The group is a national nonprofit organization that provides advice to government policy makers. Bentley sent a letter on Feb. 26th to the group requesting assistance through the group's Justice Reinvention Initiative. The group sends teams of analysts to examine a state's criminal justice system and make recommendations.
A day after torrential rainfall fell across much of Alabama, emergency management officials have been warning residents about flooding. Several rivers, creeks and streams have begun or are expected to spill their banks through Friday. Flood warnings continue for the Alabama rivers near Millers Ferry Dam and near Claiborne Dam. High waters will also impact the Tombigbee and Chattahoochee rivers. Autauga County, EMA Director Ernie Bagget has urged residents living near the Alabama River to evacuate.