WVAS Local

Woman Charged with Raping Teenage Boy

Apr 22, 2016

A 32-year-old Tuscaloosa woman is charged with the rape of a 14-year-old boy.  The mother of the boy reported the sexual assault to Tuscaloosa police Friday, said Lt. Teena Richardson.  The department's Juvenile Division took over the investigation, and found the rape took place over a month in the 3400 block of E. University Boulevard at the victim's home.  Heather Ann Klopp is charged with second-degree rape.  She is being held in the Tuscaloosa County Jail with bond set at $30,000.  Richardson said the investigation is ongoing, and more charges could be filed.  

No Response from Governor in State Auditor's Order

Apr 22, 2016

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is not responding to the state auditor's order to testify before him.  Bentley issued the statement Friday, a day after State Auditor Jim Zeigler said he was ordering Bentley to appear before him to answer questions about the use of state funds and his relationship with a former staffer.  Bentley said the appropriate legal process was through the Alabama Ethics Commission where Zeigler has already filed a complaint.  The governor said he is cooperating fully with the commission.  

2016 Alabama Book Festival

Apr 22, 2016

The Alabama Book Festival takes place this weekend in Montgomery.  More than 50 authors will be on hand at Old Alabama Town for book signings, readings and workshops.  Among those is Ross Howell Jr.  His novel "Forsaken" tells the story of a Virginia teenager who was executed in 1912 for the murder of her employer.  Howell was recently a guest on the WVAS Perspectives talk show.  Hours for the book festival are Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  A full list of events and times is available at alabamabookfestival.org. 

Proposed Prison Project Clears Committee

Apr 22, 2016

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed $800 million prison construction project cleared a major hurdle Thursday, after a committee approved the bill along with a proposed $13 increase in auto title fees as a funding source.  The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee voted 7-4 for a revised bill authorizing an $800 million bond issue to build four new prisons, three regional mega-prisons for men and a new women's prison, and close most existing state facilities.  The vote came after approval of a separate bill to raise auto title fees.

State Auditor Seeks Governor's Testimony

Apr 22, 2016

State Auditor Jim Zeigler says he is ordering Gov. Robert Bentley to testify before him about state funds and if they were used to facilitate a relationship with a former top staffer.  It is unclear if the state auditor, who has often clashed with Bentley has any power to enforce such an order.  The governor's office did not have an immediate response.  Zeigler, citing a section of state code that allows him to get testimony regarding state accounts, Thursday ordered Bentley to appear before him on May 2nd.

House Budget Committee Considers Funding Source

Apr 20, 2016

A House budget committee has delayed action on a bill to use part of the state's BP money for road projects.  Committee members voted Wednesday to carry  over the proposed constitutional amendment.  The bill would have steered the largest share of projects to coastal counties.  Proponents say that would help the region hit hardest and pay for needed infrastructure across the state.  Opponents argued the money should pay back money previously borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund, a state savings account from offshore drilling royalties.

Lawmakers Delay Vote on Prison Proposal

Apr 20, 2016

The budget committee in the Alabama House Wednesday discussed but took no vote on Gov. Robert Bentley's plant to borrow $800 million to build four new state prisons and close most existing prisons.  The committee will take up the bill again at a meeting Thursday.  The plan calls for the state to issue bonds and pay off the debt with savings from consolidating most of the existing prisons.  Most of the projected savings would come from reducing staff size through attrition, reducing overtime costs and reducing inmate health care costs by consolidating care facilities.  

States Consider Opting Out of Food Stamps Ban

Apr 19, 2016

As states look to reduce spending on prison and deal with overcrowded conditions, many are opting out of a federal law that bans convicted drug felons from ever receiving food stamps.  Texas and Alabama lawmakers recently changed their laws to allow food stamps to former drug felons, and Georgia is moving toward a similar change.  The idea is to help ex-offenders stay out of prison, where they would run up a big bill for taxpayers.  

Former ALEA Secretary Files Lawsuit

Apr 19, 2016

Ousted Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier has filed a lawsuit against Governor Robert Bentley, the governor's former top aide Rebekah Mason and the current ALEA Secretary Stan Stabler.  Mason's consulting company RCM Communications is also named in the suit.  The suit claims wrongful termination, reckless conduct and invasion of privacy among other things.  Collier has alleged that he was punished by Bentley because he refused to lie to the state attorney general's office about prosecutorial misconduct in the ethics case of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Pediatricians Detail Possible Medicaid Cuts

Apr 19, 2016

Health providers are bracing for potential cuts to the Alabama's Medicaid Agency.  A group of pediatricians held a conference call Tuesday about the impact of the $85 million shortfall.  Dr. Tracy Tindle with Children's Medical Group in Birmingham says her small office would be forced to downsize.  State lawmakers will hold hearing this week on the state's Medicaid program.  

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