The Associated Press

Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard has pleaded not guilty to ethics charges that he used his public offices to enrich himself.

Hubbard entered the plea in a Friday court filing. He also waived a Thursday arraignment that would have been his first courtroom appearance.

The defense is asking the attorney general's office to produce a wide range of material, including witness statements. Defense lawyer Mark White said he will also seek hearings regarding the proceedings of the grand jury that indicted Hubbard.

easternct.edu

A new national study says Alabama has the lowest rate in the South for children without health care coverage.

A study by the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University says 4.3 percent of Alabama's children didn't have health coverage in 2013. Other Southern states ranged from slightly more than 5 percent to 11 percent. The national average was 7.1 percent. Alabama ranked 10th best among the states.

The study found that Alabama had nearly 11,000 fewer uninsured children in 2013 than in 2011.

apr

Tuscaloosa city officials say the economic benefit of the University of Alabama's home football games far outweigh the cost the city spends on staff overtime during game weekends.

Mayor Walt Maddox said Thursday that more than 400 city employees work overtime Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays on home game weekends. Maddox says the city spends roughly $750,000 each season to cover the cost.

Maddox says each of the school's home games has a roughly $17 million to $18 million impact on the city's economy.

  Some Tuscaloosa residents are upset after finding out last month they're being charged an extra fee for paying water, sewer and trash collection bills online.

The Tuscaloosa News reports new fees charge customers $2.95 for paying online with a credit card and $1 for using debit cards. The fees kicked in Oct. 1 at the same time water and sewer rates increased 3 percent.

The Tuscaloosa City Council approved the fees to offset revenue lost to convenience charges by credit card processors. Officials say cities such as Birmingham and Montgomery charge similar fees.

  Records show Huntsville city schools paid a former FBI agent to oversee security measures that included monitoring students' social media accounts.

Al.com reports documents it obtained from an open records request show 14 students were expelled in the last school as a result of security consultants watching their social media accounts. Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison said he's concerned that 12 of those expelled students were black.

  Ethics charges against House Speaker Mike Hubbard are becoming a campaign issue in the partisan battle for seats in the Alabama Legislature.

The Southern Progress Action Fund, an Arkansas group with deep Democratic Party ties, has begun airing ads featuring Hubbard's mug shot and urging voters to unseat incumbent Republicans.

Hubbard called the ads an attempt by an outside liberal group to influence Alabama elections.

The Alabama Legislature is almost certainly to remain majority Republican, but Democrats are seeking to regain some seats in swing districts.

Dave Martin / Associated Press

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman will remain in prison while he appeals his conviction.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said the former governor must remain incarcerated while judges consider his request for a new trial. Al.com reports the hearing was scheduled to start in July. It's now expected to happen early next year.

Siegelman's attorneys said the prosecution was marred by judicial mistakes and politics.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

A seven-year, $49 million project is starting in some of Alabama's poorest counties to try to raise the high school graduation rate and get more students in college.

Gov. Robert Bentley said the GEAR UP Alabama program is critical to changing the mostly rural counties across central Alabama that traditionally have more poverty than the rest of the state.

blog.al.com

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he plans to use any leftover campaign funds to benefit the state.

Bentley said Friday he will set up a charitable organization to receive his leftover funds and then distribute them to projects. He said no projects are definite, but one group he would like to help is foster children.

Bentley did something similar with his inaugural fund in 2011. He raised $1.6 million in donations to pay for his inauguration and had more than $300,000 left. He donated that to the state General Fund to support state agencies during a lean budget year.

Bundle up for the Weekend!

Oct 31, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Forecasters say a cold front is expected to bring frost and freezing temperatures to much of the state. The National Weather Service in Birmingham is projecting that wind chill values will plunge into the 20s in parts of Alabama by late this weekend. Wind Chill, commonly used to describe how cold it feels, is the combined effect of low temperature and wind. For Halloween night on Friday, forecasters expect mostly dry weather for trick-or-treaters. They say temperatures around 10 p.m.

legislature.state.al.us

Jurors have found Republican Rep. Barry Moore of Enterprise not guilty of charges of perjury and giving false information.

Prosecutors had accused Republican Rep. Barry Moore of lying to a grand jury about comments he made to his 2014 primary opponent.

Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis said Moore told his 2014 primary opponent that the house speaker would withhold economic development funds unless he withdrew from the race. Moore later denied relaying the threat when he testified to grand jury.

blog.al.com

Alabama's health officer says his staff has monitored three people who traveled to Alabama from west African countries with Ebola outbreaks, and there have been no problems.

Dr. Don Williamson and Gov. Robert Bentley provided an update Thursday on Alabama's preparations for Ebola.

Lee Haywood / Flickr

If state Sen. Rusty Glover has his way, Sunday will be the last time Alabama residents turn back the clock one hour to standard time.

The Republican legislator from Semmes has no opposition in Tuesday's general election, and he is already making plans to introduce a daylight savings bill in the 2015 legislative session. It would keep Alabama on daylight savings time year-round once people make the switch in March 2015.

Jurors have begun deliberations in the perjury trial of an Enterprise lawmaker.

Prosecutors in closing arguments on Wednesday described Rep. Barry Moore as a scheming liar, while defense lawyers said he was being unfairly accused.

Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis says Moore tried to bully his primary opponent to get out of the race by saying the House speaker would withhold economic development funds for a project in their district. Davis said Moore then lied about it before a grand jury.

Wikimedia Commons

Jefferson County's medical examiner says there have been 100 heroin-related deaths in the county this year, surpassing 58 that were recorded in 2013.

Al.com reports Chief Medical Examiner Gregory Davis is asking the Jefferson County Commission for a 2 percent funding increase to help cover autopsy costs and renew a contract with UAB to provide toxicology services. A committee approved his request and the full commission is expected to vote on it Wednesday.

Prosecutors in the perjury trial of Republican Rep. Barry Moore played tape recordings of Moore and his primary opponent discussing if state funds would be in jeopardy if he ran against Moore.

On one tape Tuesday, former primary candidate Josh Pipkin asked Moore if the Enterprise area would lose state money for a jobs projects if he stayed in the race.

City officials in Mobile say its email system is functioning after a shutdown they blame on a cyber-attack.

Al.com reports that the six-day shutdown started on Tuesday afternoon.

City officials say anyone who sent an email to city employees or departments last week, including police and fire, should resend those messages.

City spokesman George Talbot says no citizen's private information was compromised during the attack. He says authorities are investigating.

District 6 Race for Congress heats up

Oct 26, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The 6th District contest between Republican Gary Palmer and Democrat Mark Lester highlights Alabama's congressional races this year. Palmer and Lester are vying to replace the longest-serving member of Alabama's U.S. House delegation, Rep. Spencer Bachus. But Palmer is considered a heavy favorite in the overwhelmingly GOP district. Congressional incumbents elsewhere in Alabama face poorly funded challengers or don't have any opposition on Nov. 4.

The Dalai Lama visits Alabama

Oct 25, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Dalai Lama is in Birmingham this weekend, where he is expected to speak to thousands of people during appearances at a university, a baseball stadium and a theater. The Tibetan spiritual leader greeted supporters Saturday outside a downtown hotel at the start of his visit to the United States. WBMA-TV aired video of the Dalai Lama greeting supporters, who wore white scarves in hopes that he would bless them. Tibetan monks prepared sacred art in honor of the visit. The visit also drew about 250 protesters downtown, Al.com reported.

Alabama VA Chief Fired

Oct 25, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired the director of the central Alabama VA. The department announced on Oct. 6 that it was beginning the process of terminating James Talton as director of the Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System. It announced Friday that he had been officially removed after allegations of neglect of duty were substantiated. He still has an appeal available, but he's off the payroll. U.S. Rep. Martha Roby of Montgomery says those who presided over misconduct and negligence in the Central Alabama VA must be held accountable.

council of state governments

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has been arrested on felony ethics charges. Acting Attorney General Van Davis says a grand jury in Lee County indicted Hubbard on 23 charges accusing him of misusing his office as speaker and his previous office as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. Hubbard was processed Monday afternoon at the Lee County Jail.

bcjubilee.org

Organizers of events marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march say it will celebrate what happened in 1965 and energize people to address challenges to voting today.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference President Charles Steele, state Sen. Hank Sanders and others announced Wednesday that Selma's annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee will be expanded for the 50th anniversary in March. It will include a re-enactment of the 50-mile march from Selma to the state Capitol in Montgomery.

Alabama Department of Corrections

A federal lawsuit claims corruption and poor management are to blame for deaths and violence at St. Clair prison in Springville.

The Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative filed suit Monday seeking changes at the prison, which holds more than 1,200 men and is badly overcrowded.

Corrections officials haven't responded to a message seeking comment.

The lawsuit says six people have been killed at St. Clair in the last 36 months, and stabbings and assaults are commonplace.

al.com

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive will retire next summer after 13 years leading the league and plans to begin treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer.

The 74-year-old Slive says his retirement will take effect July 31.

Slive took over the SEC in 2002 and it has become the nation's top football conference. The SEC had a string of seven consecutive BCS titles.

al.com

Alabama's race for governor is heating up with Republican incumbent Robert Bentley releasing his first ad that focuses on his opponent.

Bentley's campaign posted an ad on social media Monday describing how Parker Griffith was elected to Congress as a Democrat, switched to the Republican Party and lost, and then switched back to the Democratic Party to run for governor.

The 30-second ad asks, "If Parker Griffith doesn't know who he is or what he stands for, how can we trust him to lead Alabama?"

Press-Register file/John David Mercer

A former Mobile County commissioner who was sentenced to two years in jail on perjury and harassment charges has been released.

Al.com reports 51-year-old Stephen Nodine was released Monday morning. Nodine was charged in the death of his 45-year-old ex-girlfriend Angel Downs but a jury deadlocked on murder charges.

Nodine was instead sentenced on a perjury charge for lying about being able to afford an attorney, harassing Downs and an ethics charge linked to his use of a county-issued truck.

Nodine has maintained that he was not involved in Downs' death.

istockphoto

Researchers say despite prison overcrowding concerns, fewer Alabama inmates are being paroled and prisoners are spending more time behind bars before being released on parole.

Council of State Governments research manager Andy Barbee tells the Montgomery Advertiser that the average length of an inmate's prison term before parole release has increased from 30 months in 2009 to 43 months in 2014. Barbee says the number of eligible inmates being released has also fallen from about 42 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in 2013.

al.com

A new national study says Alabama ranks 14th in the nation for money spent so far on television advertising during the 2014 elections.

The study by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity says candidates in Alabama had aired more than 30,000 TV ads through Oct. 6 that cost an estimated $10 million. That's about $2.80 per eligible voter.

The report says $2.6 million has been spent in the governor's race, with Republican incumbent Robert Bentley accounting for $2.1 million of that.

Florida Atlantic University

Alabama has agreed not to enforce a provision of the state's controversial immigration law that required the state to publish a list of people known to be unlawfully in the country.

Lawyers say they have reached a settlement agreement in the lawsuit challenging what critics called a "scarlet letter list."

The 2012 law required the state to publish a list of people living in the state illegally who have been arrested.

defenseimagery.mil. / Wikimedia Commons

The Veterans Administration has started termination of a second official at its troubled medical centers in central Alabama.

Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson announced Friday that termination proceedings had begun against Dr. Cliff Robinson, who was put on paid administrative leave in August from his position as chief of staff at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System.

Gibson announced Monday that termination proceedings had begun against James Talton, who was also placed on leave in August from his position as director of the Central Alabama VA.

Pages