Associated Press

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Alabama lawmakers are expected to conclude the legislative session this week.

Legislators plan to adjourn Wednesday after a flurry of last-minute work. Lawmakers will put the final touches on the education budget. They could also vote on an ethics law exemption, juvenile justice reform and other bills.

An organization that preserves Civil War battlefields is looking for volunteers to help clean up historical sites across Alabama.

The Civil War Trust says volunteers will be working at more than 160 sites nationwide during its annual cleanup day on April 7.

In Alabama, Fort Morgan is on the list of places slated for work. The red-brick fort located at the tip of the Fort Morgan Peninsula played a key role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864.

A German automotive supplier has opened a new $46.3 million plant in central Alabama.

MöllerTech officials say the company will hire 222 employees at the new supply plant by the end of 2019. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held this week almost 16 months after the company announced it would build the plant in Bibb County.

The plant currently has 50 employees.

The supply plant is located next door to Mercedes-Benz's new Global Logistics Center at the Scott G. Davis Industrial Park. The automaker will also have an after-sales North American hub in the park.

Alabama lawmakers are advocating to keep daylight saving time year-round and stop changing clocks.

The Alabama Senate approved a resolution Thursday by Republican Sen. Rusty Glover to "forever put an end to the deadly, energy-wasting, productivity-killing, twice-yearly changing of time." It was co-sponsored by 24 of 35 members and now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives for a final vote.

A man convicted of killing his former boss at a traveling carnival nearly two decades ago was put to death last night after having dropped his appeals and asking courts to execute him.

50-year-old Michael Wayne Eggers died at 7:29 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection at a southwest Alabama prison. He was sentenced to death for the murder of his former employer Bennie Francis Murray in 2000. Prosecutors say Eggers admitted to strangling Murray during an argument.

Alabama lawmakers are set to hold public hearings this morning on proposals to allow some teachers to carry concealed handguns into schools.

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on the bill by Republican Representative Will Ainsworth this morning. The bill would allow public school teachers and administrators to carry a pistol on school property after undergoing police training.

Ainsworth's bill is one of a number of ideas introduced to make schools safer after the fatal shooting of 17 people at a Florida high school.

State lawmakers have approved an $85 million increase for Alabama’s prison system in an effort to comply with a federal court order to improve mental health care for inmates.

Yesterday, The House of Representatives approved $30 million for the Department of Corrections before September as well as a $55 million boost in next year's general fund budget.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled last year that mental health care in Alabama's prisons was "horrendously inadequate" and ordered the state to improve conditions.

Lawyers say a settlement is possible in the case of an Alabama inmate whose lethal injection was halted last month when the execution team could not find a usable vein.

Lawyers for both the state of Alabama and death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm wrote that they were in "serious settlement discussions." The filing did not elaborate, so it's unclear what a potential settlement may entail.

Hamm's attorney is seeking to block Alabama from attempting to execute him again.

Orange Beach oil
Julie Dermanksy

A massive grant from the RESTORE Act and the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council will help fund a variety of projects in southwest Alabama.

Fifty projects will be given funding for infrastructure, environmental restoration and economic development thanks to that $315 million grant. The biggest payouts include $56 million for road expansion projects in Baldwin County, $28 million for a new facility at the Port of Mobile, $27 million for projects affecting Aloe Bay on Dauphin Island and $21 million to redevelop the docks in Bayou La Batre.

A bill that passed the Alabama Senate yesterday would give payday loan customers longer to repay their loans.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, would give borrowers 30 days to repay a loan, instead of as little as 10 days in some cases. Orr says that change would give people a much better chance at paying off the loan. He says the change drops the effective yearly interest rate of payday loans from 450 percent APR down to 220 percent.

A north Alabama man pleaded guilty to terrorism charges yesterday, admitting he bought bomb-making materials and had hoped to conduct terrorist attacks.

In federal court in Birmingham, Aziz Sayyed, 23, of Huntsville, entered the guilty plea to charges that he sought to aid a foreign terrorist organization.

Huffman police
Brynn Anderson / AP

One of the largest schools in Birmingham is closed today after metal detectors and other security measures failed to prevent a 17-year-old student from being fatally shot and another wounded in an apparent accident.

Investigators are reviewing surveillance video and interviewing students and staff to try to figure out exactly what led to the shooting at Huffman High School yesterday at dismissal time.

Birmingham Interim Police Chief Orlando Wilson says “We consider it accidental until the investigation takes us elsewhere. We have a lot of unanswered questions.”

A lawyer representing an Alabama death row inmate whose lethal injection was recently halted after staffers could not connect an intravenous line says his client should not face a second date in the death chamber.

An attorney for Doyle Lee Hamm wrote in state court filings yesterday that Hamm had experienced "torture" during the failed attempt to execute him two weeks ago. Bernard Harcourt says attempting the procedure again would violate a constitutional ban on cruel punishment.

Hamm has severely compromised veins from a battle with lymphoma as well as past drug use.

More civil rights groups are challenging a federal judge's ruling that a law requiring Alabama voters to show a valid photo ID is not discriminatory.

Alabama has required voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls since 2014. The Alabama NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries sued over the law in 2015, arguing it disproportionately affects minorities.

twitter.com

Wilder survived a pummeling from Luis Ortiz, then knocked out the challenger in the 10th round Saturday night to retain his crown. Befitting the undefeated champion from Alabama, it was a wild affair for the final few rounds after Wilder gave Ortiz a solid lead.  

Even after Wilder knocked down Ortiz in the fifth round, the bout remained in the Cuban's favor.

Then, in the seventh, Wilder was dazed and confused by Ortiz's assault. Though he never hit the canvas, he stumbled to his corner when that round ended. The end seemed near.

rex-lumber.com

A $110 million lumber manufacturing facility will be built in southern Alabama. 

The Florida-based Rex Lumber Co. will build the state-of-the-art facility and create more than 110 jobs, Al.com reported.

Governor Kay Ivey says the plant called "Project Red Fox" will produce a minimum of 240 million board feet per year. The plant will be located in an unincorporated part of Pike County.

Work on the site will begin March 15.

University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is honoring its first black student by renaming part of campus in his honor.  

A statement from the school says the University Commons area will now be called the Wendell W. Gunn University Commons.

Gunn was the first black student to enter what was called Florence State College at the time. He graduated with a degree in chemistry and mathematics in 1965 and earned a master's of business administration from the University of Chicago in 1971.

State officials are looking to impose a work requirement on a small number of Medicaid recipients.

Governor Kay Ivey’s office says the state will seek permission from the federal government to make that change to its Medicaid program. The proposal will only impact able-bodied parents of children under 19 who qualify for Medicaid because their family income is at or below 18 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s about $247 a month for a family of two.

The city of Gardendale, Alabama has stopped its efforts to form its own school district after a federal appeals court ruled the mostly white city can’t legally separate from the mostly black Jefferson County School System.

Gardendale Mayor Stan Hogeland and City Schools Board of Education President Michael Hogue sent a letter to the Jefferson County Board of Education yesterday saying they will not appeal the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision, and will not seek to elevate the case to the Supreme Court.

A spokesman for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey says Ivey is willing to debate her opponents ahead of the June primary.  

 Brent Buchanan told The Associated Press Wednesday that the governor is "happy to discuss her record" in a debate.

Alabama state employees would see their first cost-of-living raise in a decade under a bill that passed the state Senate yesterday.

Senators voted nearly unanimously to approve a 3 percent pay raise for state employees. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for debate.

Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss says “This is a long time coming. That being said, we’ve had some difficult waters economically between then and now.”

State employees haven’t had a cost-of-living pay increase since 2008, although there have been merit-based raises issued since then.

The Alabama Senate has approved a bill aimed at allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed in schools and government buildings despite criticisms that it was an unconstitutional establishment of religion.  

 Senators voted 23-3 for the proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Alabama State House
AP

Alabama’s ethics law for public employees and state officials could see some changes soon.

State Senate President Del Marsh filed a bill late last week including several measures aimed at clarifying or in some cases strengthening the ethics law. However, the bill would also allow state legislators to create legal defense funds and would provide a lobbying exemption for “economic development professionals”, provisions that give current ethics officials pause.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in the case of a man sentenced to death for killing a Mobile police officer but who lawyers say can’t remember the 1985 murder.

The court took up Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison’s case yesterday. Madison had been scheduled to be executed in January, but the court stayed the execution to consider whether to take the case.

Madison’s attorneys argue strokes and dementia have left him unable understand why he’s facing the death penalty, or to remember killing Mobile police officer Julius Schulte.

ci.tuscaloosa.al.us / City of Tuscaloosa

City leaders in Tuscaloosa are focusing on encouraging more development on the city’s west side and in other parts of the community.

The Tuscaloosa News reports plans involve luring new investors and development to west Tuscaloosa as well as eastern and southern areas of the city that have been neglected or fallen from favor.

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced a bill aimed at getting more oversight for hundreds of faith-based day cares that currently go uninspected by the state.

Committee members voted unanimously yesterday in favor of the bill, described as a compromise between child welfare advocates and church centers. The measure has already passed the House and now moves to the Senate floor for debate.

Alabama Death Row
EJI

A federal judge has ruled that an Alabama inmate battling serious health issues does, in fact, have good enough veins to safely undergo a lethal injection.

U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre denied a request from Doyle Lee Hamm to block his execution, currently scheduled for tomorrow. Hamm and his attorney have argued that lethal injection would be unconstitutionally cruel in his case, as drug use along with lymphoma and hepatitis C have severely compromised Hamm's veins. His lawyer also argues it would be inhumane to execute someone already battling cancer.

The Alabama Senate has approved a state general fund budget that gives additional money to the state prison system.

That’s part of an effort to comply with a court order to overhaul the health and mental health care provided to inmates. Last summer, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the prison mental health system was “horrendously inadequate” and that changes had to be made.

Alabama officials say the state exported a record $21.7 billion in automobiles, chemicals and other goods last year.

The Tuscaloosa News reports the combined value of state goods and services shipped overseas last year jumped more than 6 percent over 2016. Alabama’s Department of Commerce says exports have increased by more than half over the last decade.

An agreement has been reached to move a minor league baseball team from the Alabama Gulf Coast to the Tennessee Valley.

BallCorps LLC announced that a lease, license and management agreement has been signed for the Mobile BayBears to move to Madison, Alabama. The team will continue to play at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile through the 2019 season, and will then move to a new $46 million, 7,000 seat ballpark in Madison for the 2020 season.

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