Category: General

Briarwood Presbyterian Church Police Department Bill Moves Forward in Legislature

Briarwood Presbyterian Church may soon join the ranks of the Vatican and Washington National Cathedral as a religious institution with its own police department.

Critics of the bill to allow Briarwood to establish its own police department say the move is unconstitutional. But Briarwood representatives cite the increasing rate of mass shootings at churches, schools and commercial venues as reasons for bringing police officers on staff.

Since the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee approved the legislation April 19, the Alabama House of Representatives is likely to vote this next week on whether to allow the Vestavia Hills church to establish its own police department. Read more.

PARCA Survey: Most Alabamians Say State Officials Don’t Care What They Think

The divide between state government and its people is wide, and there’s no bridge in sight.

In a recent survey conducted by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, more than two-thirds of those surveyed said state government officials don’t care what they think, and slightly less than two-thirds said they feel they have no say in what government does. Read more.

Bentley Resigns Amid Scandal; Kay Ivey to Become Governor

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has officially resigned from office and Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey will be sworn in to take his place at 6 p.m.

The governor in a speech shortly after 5 p.m. said, “The time has come for me to look for new ways to serve the great people of our state. I’ve decided it’s time to step down as governor.”

Bentley said that although he would be leaving his office today, his administration would be working with Kay Ivey’s administration to provide any assistance needed for a smooth transition.

“Thank you, goodbye, and I love this state from the bottom of my heart,” Bentley concluded.

Operation Reveille: Sounding a New Day for Once-Homeless Veterans

Jimmy Moore’s hometown is Bessemer but for three years, the U.S. Air Force veteran’s home was his 2007 Ford Explorer.

Moore, a 1974 McAdory High School grad, worried that his possessions might be stolen when he was homeless. He feared someone might stab him to take what he had.

“You were always having to be awake, 24-7, sleep lightly,” the 61-year-old said, “trying to figure out where you’re going next.”

But Moore can rest easy. He doesn’t fear for his safety or his possessions. He has a roof over his head, thanks to Operation Reveille, a one-day one-stop-shop that took chronically homeless veterans off the street and into their own homes. Read more.

New West End Clinic Takes Health Care to the People, Jefferson County Commissioner Says

March 23, 2017 – Sandra Little Brown called Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting at Cahaba Medical Center “a crying moment.”

The District 7 Jefferson County Commission member said she had to defend herself against false claims that she had voted to end in-patient care at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.

“We went through so much stress with the closing of in-patient care at Cooper Green,” Brown said during Thursday’s commission meeting. “So many people were against us. Now the people can say, ‘They took lemons and made lemonade.’”
Brown said she has worked since in-patient care at Cooper Green ended to create a hub-and-spoke system to take healthcare closer to where many people live.

Read more.

Alabama Supreme Court Clears the Way for Jefferson County to Refinance School Bonds

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens summed up an Alabama Supreme Court ruling during a press conference Friday afternoon.

“What’s it mean? It means it’s a great day for the citizens of Jefferson County, for all citizens of Jefferson County,” he said. “It enables Jefferson County to proceed in refinancing the county school tax warrants that is guaranteed by the 1 cent county sales tax.”

Commissioners sought a state law revising that county sales tax law so they could refinance the warrants at a lower price and divide the remaining money from the tax more broadly. A circuit judge struck down that law, but Friday the Alabama Supreme Court upheld it. Read more.

Historic Tax Credit Returns to the Legislature With Widespread Support – in Theory

The newly renovated Pizitz Building sits on 19th Street North in downtown Birmingham, its pristine, wedding cake white façade belying its 94 years.

It’s the latest among dozens of historic downtown Birmingham buildings that have been renovated in recent years. But many more of them haven’t been. They stand nearby, vacant or sparsely populated, with fading signs and sagging woodwork.

Three such buildings in Birmingham – a total of seven from around the state – are on a list at the Alabama Historic Commission, waiting to see whether the Legislature will renew tax credits for historic renovation.

The tax credit expired last year because of concerns about the cost of the program to the state. But bills to overhaul and reinstate the tax credit program have pulled much more support this year – at least in theory.

The tax credit this year has 87 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 29 co-sponsors in the Senate. “It’s huge for Birmingham,’’ said Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, who introduced the bill in the Senate this year. Read more.

Birmingham Council Clears Way to Become First Alabama City With a Healthy Food Incentive Program

The Birmingham City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday to make Birmingham the first Alabama city with a Healthy Food Incentive Program, but not before a nearly hour-long debate with members of the city’s law department.

The program will cost $2 million, which will be allocated from the city’s general fund budget for fiscal 2018, and it is slated to begin Aug. 1. Essentially, the ordinance would allow qualified recipients to receive a food incentive card to be used toward the purchase of eligible foods at participating stores. The cards would have a value of up to $150 annually and take the form of either a debit card or voucher.

Before the vote, Councilor Lashunda Scales objected to the city’s law department having “gone week to week discussing the same thing,” referring to changes in the language and the proposed launch date of the program.

“We make plenty of time for economic development. When do we make the time to help the poor people?” Scales asked.
Read more

Heavy Turnout Spurs Long Lines but No Major Problems at the Polls

A contentious presidential race drove heavy turnout at the polls Tuesday, causing long lines at some polling places and periodic glitches with voting machines and routines.

As of late Tuesday night, almost 1.9 million ballots had been tallied, with 60 of 67 counties having reported their results, according to the Alabama Secretary of State’s website. But the state had slightly higher turnout in 2008 and 2012. Almost 2.1 million people voted in each of those years.

A surge in voter registration teased election officials with the prospect of record voter turnout, but it was not to be.

Still, turnout was heavy Tuesday, and people from across the state reported having to stand in line for three hours or more to cast their ballots. Read more.