Hundreds of Alabamians rushed to sign up before last night's deadline elapsed to apply for health insurance under the federal health care law. Jim Carnes, a policy analyst for the advocacy group Alabama Arise, said he is optimistic Alabama will get close to the federal government's original enrollment forecast. He said interest picked up in the closing weeks of enrollment as people learned more about the tax credits they could get. The federal government's original goal for Alabama was 82,000 enrollments through Monday. An unofficial federal report recently put Alabama's enrollment at 7
Alabama's attorney general says law enforcement agents have seized more than 1,000 gambling machines and cash from casinos in Green County. Luther Strange said in a news release that the seizures came as law enforcement agents served search warrants at four casinos. He said the action came in response to allegations of illegal gambling operations. The search warrants were served this Monday morning at Greenetrack and Greene Charity in Eutaw, Alabama, and at Frontier Bingo and River's Edge in Knoxville, Alabama. Strange says an investigation over the last several months led to the search
A string of shootings in Montgomery are under investigation. Three people are recovering from injuries in local hospitals. Montgomery Police said a man was shot Sunday night on Audubon Road, but the victim was found on Pocahonotas Road. No other information has been available.
Another shooting occurred Sunday afternoon on Early Street where an unnamed male was shot in the back. The victim's injury was described as serious.
Alabama's unemployment rate has risen to 6.4 percent. The state Department of Labor says the February rate is up from 6.1 percent in January, but it's below the same month last year, when the state measured 6.6 percent. Wilcox County recorded the state's highest unemployment rate at almost 17 percent while Shelby County's rate of 5.1 percent was the lowest among the 67 counties.
The Elmore County Sheriff's office said a fourth suspect is behind bars today charged in connection with two recent home invasion case. Sheriff's officials said 16-year-old Maurice Wilkes of Deatsville faces robbery and burglary charges for his alleged role in a home invasion that occurred March 20th in the Wallsboro Community. Wilkes is charged as an adult. His bond was set at $100,000. Three other suspects linked to the home invasion robberies were also arrested this week.
Among the bills still pending in the legislature when it returns from spring break next week is one that would allow drivers and passengers to have a loaded handgun in a vehicle without a permit. Law enforcement groups have lobbied against the bill, claiming it would endanger the lives of officers and the public. Executive Director of the Alabama Sheriff's Association Bobby Timmons disputes the argument that it's a Second Amendment issue. The bill's sponsor, Republican Scott Beason of Gardendale, says people shouldn't have to pay for permission to protect themselves.
New census information released at midnight shows that Alabama's population numbers increased a scant .3 from 2012 to 2013. In fact, the Census Bureau reports that more than half of the state's 67 counties lost population. The reports showed that a majority of Alabamians reside in large urban areas. Macon County recorded the largest decline in population at 3.4 percent. The census report showed that Russell County's population soared 3.2 percent and has one of the fastest growth rate in the state.
Alabama State University will play a prominent role for the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March. ASU has joined the city and county in coordinating events that will begin on March 7th, 2015. Mayor Todd Strange said the milestone event could attract as many as 50,000 visitors to the River Region.
A series of instructional audits conducted at several Montgomery Public Schools has found management programs, unusual personnel decisions and poor communications. State School Superintendent Tommy Bice and MPS Margaret Allen shared the information with reporters Thursday. The instructional audits were ordered after reports surfaced about improper grade changing. Dr. Bice said he's confident that MPS Superintendent Margaret Allen will correct all the issues cited in the audits.
The Alabama Senate has approved a bill to allow people to carry loaded handguns in their vehicles without getting a pistol permit. The bill by Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale cleared the Senate 20-7 last night and now goes to the House for consideration. Currently, people without a pistol permit can carry a handgun in their vehicles provided it is unloaded and out of reach. They need to buy a permit from a county sheriff to carry a loaded gun in their vehicles. Beason said citizens shouldn't have to buy a permit to protect themselves. The bill is opposed by the Alabama Sher