AEA Teacher Insurance Hearing Today, Alabama-Based NASA Craft to Orbit Jupiter

Jun 28, 2016

An Alabama judge will hear arguments today in a dispute between the state’s teachers and their health insurance provider.

The Alabama Education Association is suing the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Program, or PEEHIP. Coinciding with a raise that Alabama’s lawmakers allocated to teachers earlier this year, the health insurance program announced it was dramatically increasing its premiums. The AEA argues those rate hikes were decided upon in a secret meeting that violated the state’s Open Meetings Act.

Officials with Retirement Systems of Alabama, the group that oversees PEEHIP, say that meeting was a work session monitored by counsel. They say work sessions are common and perfectly permissible under the Open Meetings Act.

Today’s hearing will be held at 9 AM before Montgomery County Circuit Judge Johnny Hardwick. Teachers’ raises are scheduled to take effect in the next few months. PEEHIP’s rate hikes will take effect in October.

What are your plans for the Fourth of July? If all goes well, a NASA space probe will be settling into orbit around the planet Jupiter. APR’s Pat Duggins has more on the mission being managed right here in Alabama.

The billion dollar Juno spacecraft is part of NASA’s New Horizons’ project, which is being managed at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

The 3500 pound robotic probe has three solar panels, each measuring nine feet long. Fully unfurled, Juno is the size of a basketball court. The spacecraft carries radiation detectors and a camera to gather data as Juno circles between Jupiter’s north and south poles.

Scientists hope to learn more about the storms that give the planet its striped appearance. Another objective is to find out how much water and oxygen is in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Juno will pressurize its engines today. If all goes well, it will enter orbit around the planet on Independence Day.

Governor Bentley has announced that the city of Elba is receiving hazard mitigation funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The money is for damages to local property from past flooding events in the area south of Montgomery.

Mickey Murdock is the mayor of Elba. He says they’re receiving nearly half of what was allocated to the state.

“The state would have 4.7 million dollars of mitigation money to provide for the whole state of Alabama, and because of the losses that were suffered in the city of Elba, two million dollars of that 4.7 will be allocated to the city of Elba.”

Severe flooding has been an issue for the city for nearly 100 years. After damage assessments, results showed that nearly 200 homes had been damaged or destroyed in December of 2015. The money awarded to the city will go towards helping affected residents relocate and buy new homes.