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Consumer Price Index bill passes, Blue Bell agreement with State Health Department

An Alabama House budget committee has approved a bill that would let state agencies increase fees to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index.

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee today approved one of the few revenue ideas that has gotten traction this session.

The Senate-passed bill would let a state agency increase fees every five years. The change could not exceed an increase of two percent per year.

Committee Chairman Steve Clouse says lawmakers do not know how much the proposal would raise because they don't know how many agencies would raise fees.

Meanwhile, Legislators are struggling to put together a general fund budget that is projected to have a $200 million shortfall next fiscal year.

Blue Bell Creameries has been thorough in their response after listeria in their products caused multiple illnesses and deaths. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on an agreement between Blue Bell and Alabama’s Department of Public Health…

Blue Bell Creameries recently entered a voluntary agreement with the Alabama Department of Public Health in the wake of their listeria contamination.

The agreement will require Blue Bell to inform the state immediately whenever there is a positive test result for listeria in any of its products or ingredients.

This is similar to agreements Blue Bell entered last month with regulatory agencies in Texas and Oklahoma. The company has plants in each of the three states.

The agreements follow Blue Bell’s failure to inform federal or state health officials of repeated findings of listeria at its Oklahoma plant dating back to 2013.

The new agreements will notify the state of positive listeria tests and also give state agencies full access to testing processes and results.

Baldwin County is the 12th fastest growing area in the country. That’s according to U.S.  Census Data released in late March.  With more than 200-thousand people living in cities such as Daphne, Fairhope, Gulf Shores and many others, it’s creating a traffic jam inside schools.

At Gulf Shores Elementary, a school filled with more than one-thousand students, portables are set up outside the main campus.  Third Grade teacher Christie Whitehead says commuting from her classroom to other areas inside the school is taking away from instructional time…

“We lose about 45 minutes of instructional time each day commuting from the library, it’s all the way in the front part of the campus.   And just going to the restroom, water, the lunchroom, P.E.”

The Baldwin County School System proposed a tax referendum that could have raised one-billion dollars for the school system to help get rid of the portables but voters shot it down. 

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