ADEM, Northern Beltline, Clean Power, State Parks: Alabama Environmental Issues in 2016

Major decisions affecting environmental concerns in Alabama this year will be made in the courts and in the Legislature. Up in the air are questions about environmental regulation in Alabama, construction of the Northern Beltline in Jefferson County, the future of the state parks and the future of coal-fired power production here and across the country, among other issues. Here’s a rundown of some of the stories to keep an eye on in 2016.

Birmingham’s Economy 2016: Three Views

2016 could be a very good year for business expansion and employment in the Birmingham area, except ….

That’s a bottom line from conversations with people who have fingers on the economic pulse of the area: Andreas Rauterkus, Associate Professor in University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business; Devon Laney, President and CEO of Innovation Depot, and Art Carden, Associate Professor of Economics, Brock School of Business at Samford University.

On their lists of 2016 stories-that-matter on the local economy:

You’re going to the doctor more. That’s a good thing.
Healthcare and financial services are dependable pillars of the Birmingham economy, and 2016 should be a good year for those enterprises, Dr. Rauterkus says. Local unemployment is down from recession levels, and that helps healthcare. “People go to the doctor more,” he explains. In financial services, most Birmingham-area businesses have little international exposure which means

Education Issues to Follow in 2016

Keep your eyes on Montgomery advises Trisha Powell Crain, executive director of Alabama School Connection and contributor to BirminghamWatch. The governor, Alabama legislature and education officials face a full plate of decisions that affect classrooms throughout the state. Among important items, Crain says, are:

The RAISE Act

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Sen. Del Marsh. Photo, Office of President Pro Tem.

RAISE (Rewarding Advance in Instruction and Student Excellence Act) is still a draft proposal, not filed as a bill. It affects teacher evaluation, teacher pay and teacher tenure. An element in the draft calls for rating teacher effectiveness partly by student test scores. Del Marsh, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem, has circulated the draft to traditional players in setting education policy, including the Alabama Association of School Boards and the Alabama Education Association. This update last week is from Brian Lyman of the Montgomery Advertiser : Tenure bill greeted cautiously, raises some concerns

Education Trust Fund allocations

More dollars, millions more, are available to be budgeted for 2016-2017 than were allocated for the current fiscal year. The big question: What agencies and missions will get the new money?