College board bill stalls, lawmakers' "attack on women" and UA filmmaker headed to Cannes

May 1, 2015

University of Alabama student filmmaker Michael Thomas

A bill to create a new independent governing board for Alabama's two-year college system has hit a stumbling block in the Senate.

Yesterday, the state Senate delayed a vote on a bill to remove the junior college system from the oversight of the state Board of Education after one senator raised several objections to the current version.

The state school board is fighting the legislation and, in March, they unanimously approved a resolution opposing the measure.

Republican bill sponsor Trip Pittman tried pushing the proposal through for final approval, but fellow Republican Paul Bussman said there were too many changes made in the version passed by the Alabama House last week.

Bussman also says it would be dangerous to allow a governor-appointed board to operate for one year before requiring Senate approval of its members.

Women’s rights groups are voicing concerns as the state legislature reconvenes.

Planned Parenthood is among them. That organization is calling three recent house bills an attack on women.

Nikema Williams is the Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast. She says this has been going on for a few years.

“Politicians in Montgomery, as they have done in recent years, are not holding out any stops in making sure that, no matter the circumstances, that women do not have access to the care they need in the state of Alabama.”

One of the bills Williams is concerned about is House Bill 405. It’s also known as the Abortion Ban Bill. That bill would outlaw abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, often as early as 4 to 6 weeks. Williams says that window can often close before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.

A movie by a student at the University of Alabama will soon be screened at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

University of Alabama film student Michael Thomas will soon see his work shown during this month’s Cannes Film Festival along the French Riviera. His short film, titled Traces, is about a boy looking for his mother following a storm. The film can be viewed online here.

Thomas originally created the movie for the UA Film Fest on the Tuscaloosa campus, where it won a jury award. Thomas plans to continue his studies at UCLA after graduating from the University of Alabama.

A second group of young Alabama filmmakers is hoping for their chance next year. Tashina Southard and Keith Sims won this month’s International 48 hour film project in Huntsville. Their film, titled Match, will compete in Los Angeles next year for a possible slot at Cannes in 2016.

Alabama has an official folk dance and 40 other official state symbols. Now the state is poised to have an official crustacean.

Alabama’s House of Representatives passed legislation last night to name the brown shrimp as the official crustacean of Alabama.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, already passed the Senate earlier in the session and will now head to Gov. Bentley’s desk for signing.

Louisiana, Maryland and Oregon are the only three states to have official crustaceans. The Seafood Association of Alabama says brown shrimp account for more than half of the domestic catch in the state.

The bill passed nearly unanimously, House Minority Leader Craig Ford cast the only “no” vote.

Lawmakers are also considering adding two more state symbols this session: the queen honey bee as the state's agricultural insect, and the Lane Cake as the state's official dessert.