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Grand Jury to Review Police Shooting, Alabama Officials Optimistic About Unemployment

Aaron Smith
Indicted Montgomery police officer Aaron Smith

An Alabama judge says there’s enough probable cause to let a grand jury review the case against a white police officer in Montgomery charged with fatally shooting a black man last month.

Officer Aaron Smith was arrested and charged with murder less than a week after police say he fatally shot 58-year-old Greg Gunn in February.

Gunn was killed outside a neighbor's house after Smith spotted him walking in a residential neighborhood shortly after 3 a.m. Police initially said Gunn had attacked Smith, but Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey says he found probable cause to charge the officer with murder.

The state's independent investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Alabama’s Department of Labor is hoping for more good news in the latest unemployment numbers. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the latest jobless figures are coming out shortly, and the state is crossing its fingers for more positive data.

The latest unemployment numbers for Alabama will reflect the number of people without jobs in February.

It’s January’s data that has the state Department of Labor feeling somewhat optimistic. Those numbers ticked down by one tenth of a percent. That’s considered good since seasonal work during the holidays was winding down and more people were entering the job market.

The number of people who did have a job in January was at just over two million. That’s the highest number of people earning a paycheck in Alabama since October 2008. State labor officials are hoping that trend continues.

Shelby County had the lowest unemployment rate for January at four point five percent. Wilcox was the highest at sixteen percent.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is extending the healthcare enrollment application period by a year. This is for veterans that have pending enrollment applications that are incomplete.

The National Enrollment Improvement team conducted a study and found that there are currently 545,000 living veterans whose healthcare applications are incomplete and in pending status.

Matthew Eitutis is the acting director for Veterans Health Administration member services. He tells us why the extension was granted.

“The healthcare application period was extended because the organization did not have very good record keeping and did not have a dependable process to make sure that the agency followed up on applications that were unable to lead to an enrollment decision.”

Veterans will be receiving a letter that will notify them that they are given the extended period to complete their healthcare application.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he will veto the general fund budget passed by the state legislature this week.

The governor said yesterday that the budget is unacceptable and lacks adequate funding for essential services like health care.

The spending plan is $85 million short of the amount Bentley says is needed to adequately fund the state's Medicaid program. He says the authorized funding level would also end the state's effort to shift to a managed care approach for Medicaid.

The governor also cited concerns about prison funding and how lawmakers are choosing to use oil spill settlement funds.

Bentley says he will officially veto the budget when lawmakers return from spring break on April 5.

Lawmakers can override Bentley's veto and enact the spending plan with a majority vote in both chambers of the legislature.

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