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Forecast for Legislators' Final Week of Session, Mitchell Cancer Institute Building New Center

Mitchell Cancer Institute
University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute

Lawmakers will reconvene in Montgomery today for the final five days of the current legislative session, with a lot of work left to do.

Dozens of high-profile bills will be considered this week. One issue still in the air is Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s $800 million bond issue that would close most of the existing state prison facilities in favor of four new large prisons. The bill has cleared the Senate but still faces a floor vote in the House.

House members could also vote today to create an investigatory committee tasked with examining the merits of impeaching Gov. Bentley. The governor has admitted making inappropriate and sexually-charged comments to a former staffer, but denies accusations of an affair.

A measure to raise the state’s gasoline tax 6 cents a gallon in order to fund road and bridge construction has not yet cleared the Legislature.

Lawmakers will also decide on putting a state lottery to a referendum vote, continuing to offer tax credits for restoring historic buildings, replacing marriage licenses with contracts, and adding restrictions on the payday loan industry, among several other bills.

The University of South Alabama’s Mitchell Cancer Institute is breaking ground today on its new cancer treatment facility in Fairhope.

MCI is the only academic cancer institute in the state. The new facilities will help move towards their goal of becoming a National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Michael Finan is the director of the Mitchell Cancer Institute. He says the new facility will allow for better clinical trial access as required by the NCI.

“We’ve had great success in that area. We enrolled approximately nineteen percent of new cancer patients in clinical trials and our minority enrollment, which is another thing the National Cancer Institute looks at, is over thirty-five percent which is really a leader in the entire nation as far as minority enrollment.”

The groundbreaking ceremony is open to the public and Dr. Finan invites cancer survivors to celebrate the progress.

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of when a series of tornadoes ripped through much of western and central Alabama. One of the areas hit hardest was the small town of Phil Campbell in northwest Alabama.

Merrell Potter is the town’s police chief. He says the reality of everything has happened is still setting in.

“It takes time for it to really set in; and I believe we’ve accepted that fact that some things are gone and it’s not going to be back. One thing that it is has done is give us an opportunity to grow in other areas, take chances on things probably years ago they wouldn’t have.”

Potter says there are signs that the town is growing. More about Phil Campbell's recovery and other stories in our 8-part series on the April 2011 tornado super outbreak is available elsewhere on our website.

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