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House Committee approves tax hikes, NASA Smartwatch App

An Alabama budget committee has approved a cigarette tax increase and other revenue bills as lawmakers try to fill a budget shortfall.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 8-6 for a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. The increase would raise $66 million annually.

The committee also voted for bills to raise the car rental tax from 1.5 to 2 percent, increase the car title fee from $15 to $28, and adjusts the business privilege tax so smaller businesses pay less and larger ones pay more.

Lawmakers for months have been at a stalemate over a projected $200 million general fund shortfall. The committee action was the first sign of budding agreement. However, the proposals face difficult floor and Senate votes ahead.

The House could vote on the tax bills Thursday.

More mass shootings occur in the United States than in any other country on Earth.

That’s the finding of a new study from the University of Alabama. 

Dr. Adam Lankford is a criminal justice professor at the Tuscaloosa campus. His report strongly links mass shootings with the number of guns that are owned. That figure is ninety firearms for every one U.S. hundred residents. Lankford adds that thirty-one percent of the world’s mass shootings occur in the United States…

“The great thing about how well our law enforcement responds to these incidents actually on average a public mass shooter in the United States ends up killing fewer victims than a public mass shooter in other countries.”

Lankford’s study also says American law enforcement is the best in the world at responding to mass shooting events. His work has been recently cited in publications such as the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post following the most recent shooting in Virginia.

NASA is looking for a smartwatch app that’s out of this world. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the design contest could help work being done in Huntsville…

The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is the control center for science work being done aboard the International Space Station. NASA’s smartwatch app contest is supposed to help make sure that work is done on time. Contestants have until today to come up with an app design that tells astronauts what tasks are scheduled on a given day. It’s also supposed to have a timer to keep experiments from running long, as well as a function to say whether the space station has clear communications with mission control.

Space station crew members currently use tablets to keep track of their workload. NASA wants the same thing on the astronauts’ wrists.

The winner of the design contest gets a fifteen hundred dollar prize.

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