Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

Vanderbilt University

Two Alabama schools are among the finalists for an award given by the ACT organization to recognize schools and people that excel at preparing students for college and careers.

The Iowa-based testing group says Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa among four finalists for an award honoring schools for career preparedness.

Spain Park High School in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover is among four finalists for an award honoring schools that prepare students for the transition to college or careers.

Alabama School Readiness Alliance

Alabama's voluntary pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds gets high marks in a new national report.

The National Institute for Early Education Research says Alabama is one of only four states with pre-kindergarten programs that meet all the institute's quality standards. But the report says access is very limited in Alabama, with only 6 percent of 4-year-olds being served during the 2012-2013 school year.

The National Weather Service is confirming that a small tornado hit south Alabama over the weekend.

A preliminary damage report says an EF1 tornado with winds as strong as 110 mph struck Geneva County on Saturday.

The twister left a path of damage that's more than 2 miles long and 100 yards wide.

Two homes were damaged and the storm knocked down trees, but no one was injured.

politico.com

Governor Robert Bentley is taking his Road to Economic Recovery Tour to Dothan.

The governor announced he will visit Blue Plate West around lunch time Monday. Then he tours Dothan High School and Panhandle Converters.

He is scheduled to participate in a small business discussion at 3:30 p.m.

Bentley's tour of Alabama towns usually involves visit to a restaurant and businesses, as well as a discussion with civic leaders and business people.

The Republican race for state auditor features four candidates seeking to replace Republican Sam Shaw.

There's former Public Service Commission member Jim Zeigler of Mobile, who calls himself "Mr. 49 Percent" because he's lost so many close races.

There's also retired Shelby County businessman Dale Peterson, who became an Internet sensation in 2010 with his video where he carried a gun and promised to run the thugs out of Montgomery.

Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

A Southern heritage group is defending Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage.

The Alabama-based League of the South is planning a protest for Friday morning in Montgomery outside the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is trying to overturn the ban.

A statement from the president of the league, Michael Hill, says the liberal legal organization supports overturning what he calls "the building block of our civilization."

The Southern Poverty Law Center is representing a gay man who filed suit seeking to overturn Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage.

Associated Press

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says the state has been approved for more federal disaster assistance to help five counties recover from severe storms in late April.

Bentley says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized residents of Blount, DeKalb, Etowah, Mobile and Tuscaloosa to apply for individual assistance, which could range from money for temporary housing to home repairs and assistance with medical bills.

Bentley says loans may also be available to homeowners through the U.S. Small Business administration for expenses that aren't covered by insurance.

Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

Two Alabama women have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force the state to recognize their out-of-state marriage so they can both be legal parents to their 8-year-old son.

The suit filed Wednesday contends that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize such marriages from other states violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs, Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, have been a couple for more than 14 years and have lived in Mobile since 2001. They traveled to California in 2008 to be married.

Alabama Scenic River Trail

The Alabama Scenic River Trail has added 200 miles of waterway.

The executive director of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, Jim Felder, says the new segment is the Alabama portion of the Tallapoosa River. He says the new segment includes 13 primitive campsites donated by Alabama Power and four portages allowing people to walk canoes or kayaks around the four Alabama Power dams on the river.

An experienced paddler, 66-year-old Harold Banks of Dadeville, says the Tallapoosa River offers views of bald eagles, deer, turkey and otters in abundance.

Alabama Broadcasters Association

Norman Lumpkin, who helped bring diversity to television news in Alabama, has died.

A spokesman for Ross-Clayton Funeral Home in Montgomery confirmed that Lumpkin died Tuesday morning.

Lumpkin worked for radio stations in Montgomery and Indianapolis, Indiana, before being hired by WSFA-TV in Montgomery in 1969 as the first African-American TV reporter in the capital city.

Alabama House of Representatives

House Speaker Mike Hubbard is praising the U.S. Supreme Court decision that says prayers at the opening of town council meetings don't violate the Constitution.

Hubbard filed a friend of the court brief in the case that was decided by the Supreme Court 5-4 on Monday. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the prayers used by the town council in Greece, New York, are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions.

The state is extending deadlines for some vehicle owners because of the severe weather that hit Alabama this week.

The Department of Revenue says the April deadlines for vehicle registrations, renewals, transfers and tax payments are being pushed back to May 16 in places where county offices closed because of the storms.

Emergency managers are reporting damage from tornadoes or other severe storms in 31 of Alabama's 67 counties.

A statement from the agency says vehicle owners won't face penalties or interest in those counties as long as they meet the new deadline.

legislature.state.al.us

A state legislator from southeast Alabama is under arrest on felony perjury charges.

The attorney general's office says Republican Rep. Barry Moore of Enterprise is charged with two counts of perjury. He's also charged with two counts of making false statements.

Davis was arrested Thursday. A statement from the attorney general's office says the charges are linked to a continuing investigation of possible public corruption.

Jav Reeves/Associated Press

For many, it's difficult to understand Foster Noone's sexual identity. The 17-year-old uses the labels of bisexual, trans and gender neutral all at once.

A photography exhibition opening at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on Wednesday night seeks to put a face on such young people while exploring the difficult dynamics of family acceptance of their identities in the Deep South.

cleanenergyresourceteams.org

The U.S. Department of Education has honored three Alabama schools for going green.

F.E. Burleson Elementary School in Hartselle, Brock's Gap Intermediate School in Hoover and Homewood Middle School were among the Green Ribbon Schools announced Tuesday. Officials say 48 schools and nine districts were recognized.

The award is given to schools that are reducing their environmental impact and utility costs, promoting health for students and staff and encouraging students to learn about the environment.

http://nc.as.ua.edu

A new book tells the story of decades of chemical pollution in the east Alabama city of Anniston.

Written by University of Alabama researcher Ellen Griffith Spears, "Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution and Justice in an All-American Town" traces the history of the toxic chemical in the city.

The book details how the production of the chemical polychlorinated biphenyls led to Anniston being once listed among the most toxic towns in America.

lutherstrange.com

The state attorney general's office is asking an appeals court to keep a former senator from presenting evidence at trial about how other candidates have spent their campaign funds.

Attorney General Luther Strange's staff argues that a DeKalb County judge ruled incorrectly that former Sen. Lowell Barron could introduce evidence about how other candidates, including the attorney general, customarily spend campaign funds.

The state of Alabama is seeking federal aid following last week's flooding across central Alabama.

The state said Thursday it is asking the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide assistance in a seven-county region around Birmingham.

If approved, residents and business owners would be eligible for low-interest disaster loans in the counties of Bibb, Blount, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and Walker.

Former longtime secretary of the Alabama state Senate, McDowell Lee, has died at the age of 89.

His daughter Margaret Cunningham says Lee died Thursday afternoon after a brief illness at his home in Auburn.

Lee served as a secretary of the state senate for 47 years before retiring in 2010. Lee was the nation's longest serving legislative secretary at the time of his retirement.

Lee was renowned for his knowledge of Alabama's legislative procedures and Cunningham says he was a third generation civil servant for the state of Alabama.

Alabama Education Association

The state teachers' organization is fighting private school tax credits in court and the architect of the tax credits at the ballot box.

The Alabama Education Association's political action committee filed a campaign finance report showing the largest donation it gave in March was $50,000 to Democratic state Senate candidate Taylor Stewart of Anniston. Stewart is opposing Republican Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston, who was the chief architect of the Alabama Accountability Act.

whitehouse.gov

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited a western Alabama bus manufacturing plant as part of a national tour to highlight the importance of infrastructure investments.

AL.com reports Anthony Foxx toured the North American Bus Indus

tries plant in Anniston Wednesday to try drumming up support for a national infrastructure plan President Barack Obama plans to send to Congress.

Kate Mercer/Press-Register

Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area. Earlier Tuesday, the Coast Guard issued a directive transitioning the cleanup to a phase in which Coast Guard teams, BP cleanup crews and equipment will be pre-positioned to respond to new reports of oil as needed. BP said in a news release that the Coast Guard's directive ended patrols of the final three miles of affected shoreline in Louisiana.

http://governor.alabama.gov / Office of the Governor

Gov. Robert Bentley's tax return shows he's still not receiving any income from being governor, but he and his wife reported an adjusted gross income of nearly $373,000 for 2013. About $233,000 of that came from Bentley selling his interest in the building where his medical practice was located in Tuscaloosa. Much of the remainder was from IRA distributions and Social Security. The governor and first lady paid more than $81,000 in taxes. They also donated more than $15,000 to charities. Bentley has been releasing his tax returns every year since he ran for governor in 2010.

Most of the Democrats seeking the top offices in Alabama are scheduled to be in Huntsville for a political event Thursday. The event is being called "Hot Dogs and Yellow Dogs." Organizer and host Pam Miles says it will include gubernatorial candidates Parker Griffith and Kevin Bass, lieutenant governor candidate James Fields, attorney general candidate Joe Hubbard, state auditor candidate Miranda Joseph, and agriculture commissioner candidate Doug Smith. They are seeking offices currently held by Republicans. A dozen legislative candidates are also scheduled to attend the event Thursday.

Ed Reinke/AP

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is scheduled to be in Alabama next week. Palin will speak at an event organized by the Baldwin County Republican Party on April 25 at the Wharf in Orange Beach. The former Alaska governor last visited Baldwin County on May 3, 2011, when she delivered a speech to the Exceptional Foundation. Palin has pursued a career as a political commentator, public speaker and author since running with John McCain in 2008.

www.politico.com

A crowded field of seven candidates is running in the GOP primary for Alabama's 6th Congressional District. The 6th Congressional District is strongly Republican, but political observers say it encompasses a diversity of GOP voices, from a strong business community to active tea party groups. The seat is open after Rep. Spencer Bachus decided not to seek re-election. Gardendale Sen. Scott Beason, Harbert Management Corp. vice president Will Brooke, Homewood Rep.

Judge Rules in Favor of Indian Casinos in Alabama

Apr 14, 2014
Poarch Band of Creek Indians

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state which challenged the rights of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to operate three casinos in Alabama.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins ruled Friday that the state has no authority to prohibit the activity on Indian lands.

commons.wikimedia.org

Attorneys for a group of poor Alabama schoolchildren and their parents are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to considering scrapping Alabama's property tax system.

The group maintains in a petition filed with the court that Alabama's property tax system is unfair to minority students.

The Alabama Legislature's 2014 session has come to a close. The House and Senate wrapped up their session about 7:30 p.m. Thursday after passing the state education budget. Numerous bills died on the last night, including one rewriting Alabama's open meetings law and another keeping secret the companies that supply drugs for lethal injections. Other dead bills included legislation protecting spay-neuter clinics and one banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The session ended earlier than normal. The Legislature usually goes to nearly midnight on its last meeting day.

Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

The mother of an accident victim is now involved in a federal lawsuit filed by his same-sex partner, who is trying to overturn Alabama's ban on gay marriage. A federal judge in Montgomery says Pat Fancher can intervene in a lawsuit filed after the death of 53-year-old David Fancher. Fancher's longtime partner, Paul Hard, sued in December. The two men were legally married in Massachusetts, but Alabama law doesn't recognize same-sex marriages. Hard's lawsuit asks a court to strike down Alabama laws banning same-sex unions.

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