Aug. 10 is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot, which you can do on the Secretary of State’s website.
ADEM Drops Civil Rights Complaint Policy. It Might Cost Alabama Millions (AL.com)
Some Governors Speaking Out on Border Policy, Withdrawing National Guard (Decatur Daily)
'There's a Better Way to Do This': Walt Maddox Says He's Against Separating Families at Border (AL.com)
AP Explains: US Has Split up Families Throughout Its History (Associated Press)
JeffCo BOE Resolution Calls for Member's Resignation After 'Racist' Facebook Posts (AL.com)
At Least 3 Withdraw From Business Council of Alabama (Associated Press)
Trump Campaign Manager: Time to Fire the Attorney General (NBC News)
Alabama Balks at Funding for Restored Coastal Amtrak Service (Associated Press)
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, has introduced a bill that would require a federal agency to show how much states such as Alabama have left on the table by refusing to expand Medicaid.
The Smart Choices Act would mandate that the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, or MACPAC, annually publish reports showing how much states receive under expanded Medicaid. In particular, the reports would show how much the states that refused expansion under the Affordable Care Act would have gotten if they had joined the program. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to provide the neighboring town of Mulga with one of the city’s surplus fire trucks, in a move the council referred to as “a great example of regional cooperation.”
Mulga Mayor Keith Varner said the deal happened as a result of discussions he and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin had looking for ways to implement a “big-brother, little-brother” relationship between the two municipalities. Read more.
After more than six months of searching, Birmingham has a new police chief.
Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Monday that Patrick D. Smith has been appointed as the city’s new law enforcement head, succeeding A.C. Roper, who announced his retirement in November. Read more.
Alabama students showed progress in most measures during the four years the state used the ACT Aspire standardized tests for students in the grades 3-8 and 10, according to a report by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
The state began using the ACT Aspire suite of tests in the 2013-2014 school year. It was administered for the final time in 2017.
The PARCA report, released this week, said gains by Alabama students on the Aspire tests were strongest in math. There were modest gains in reading proficiency for grades 3-6, but results were mixed for grades 7, 8 and 10, the report said.
The report includes results of students’ scores statewide, by school systems and in comparison to national averages.
When Target bought Birmingham-based Shipt, the online grocery delivery service last year, it drew attention to the city’s tech startup scene. Local entrepreneurs got another chance in the spotlight this week. AOL co-founder Steve Case brought his Rise of the Rest tour to the Magic City Wednesday.
The tour is an effort to highlight startup communities that aren’t in tech hotbeds such as San Francisco and New York. Case spoke with WBHM’s Andrew Yeager. Read more and listen to the interview.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the first memorial in America dedicated to remembering victims of lynchings and other racial violence, opens Thursday in Montgomery. The Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based legal advocacy group that has developed the memorial and a museum, is expecting thousands of visitors this weekend to the memorial, the museum and a slate of events set around the opening. Events include a summit, during which national figures such as former Vice President Al Gore will speak, and a Friday night concert. Read more.
State Rep. Jack Williams, Lobbyist Marty Connors and California Health Care Provider Indicted on Public Corruption Charges
Updated – State Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, and lobbyist Martin J. “Marty” Connors of Alabaster have been indicted on public-corruption charges, U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr. of Montgomery announced Tuesday.
The two, along with G. Ford Gilbert of Carmichael, California, are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and honest services fraud. Gilbert also is charged with wire fraud, health care fraud and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.
The alleged scheme involved efforts to require Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama to cover medical services provided by a company owned by Gilbert, Franklin said.
Williams in a statement released Tuesday said he had done nothing wrong and expected to be found innocent. He said he would continue to run for a seat on the Jefferson County Commission. Efforts to reach Connors for comment were unsuccessful. Read more.
Issues That Matter
The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama has launched Alabama Priorities, an initiative to identify and address the most important issues to Alabama voters.
PARCA surveyed voters, asking them to rank issues affecting the state this year. The council intends to publish a series of policy briefs on each of the top 10 issues, according to a PARCA statement. See the top 10 issues selected here.
NewsMatch 2017 raised more than $4.8 million from individual donors and a coalition of foundations to support more than 100 local and investigative nonprofit news organizations, including Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism, which publishes BirminghamWatch.
According to a report from the Institute for Nonprofit News, this makes NewsMatch 2017 the largest-ever grassroots fundraising campaign to support local nonprofit and investigative news.
More than 80 individual donors supported AIIJ/BirminghamWatch during the October-December campaign, the highest number in the organization’s two-year history. These local contributors gave more than $20,000 that is being matched by national foundations to support the organization’s mission of public service journalism on the environment, education, the economy and government for Birmingham and Alabama. Read more.
The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama has found that Alabama high schools are sending more graduates out into the world and they are sending more students to college, but some of those students are taking a little bit of time out in the world before they head to campus.
In 2016, 63 percent of high school graduates enrolled in college in the year after they graduated from high school, according to PARCA. In 2014, that portion was 65 percent
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Electionland Wins Online Journalism Award
ProPublica and the Electionland coalition won an Online Journalism Award for planned news/events, announced at the Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet on Saturday.
A collaboration with a coalition of organizations, Electionland tracked voter experiences in the November 2016 election in real time, across thousands of polling sites.
BirminghamWatch participated in the project, monitoring and reporting on local polling places. Read more.
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