Minimum Wage Bill May See House Vote, Alabama Names Failing Schools

Feb 15, 2016

Alabama State Capitol
Credit Wikimedia

State lawmakers may vote today on a measure that would block cities from setting local minimum wages.

Last week, the Birmingham City Council voted to expedite the effective date of a planned minimum wage increase to March 1. Republican state Rep. David Faulkner of Mountain Brook filed a bill that would mandate uniform minimum wages in Alabama and void any local wage ordinances.

Alabama has no state minimum wage and uses the federal wage floor of $7.25.

Advocates for low-income workers say local governments are better suited to handle local wage regulations.

Proponents of the bill argue higher wages mean higher costs for employers and consumers and reduced job opportunities for low-wage workers.

City officials in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa say they’re considering a vote to raise the minimum wage in their cities.

Schools across Alabama are still stinging from the news that the Alabama Department of Education is listing them as failing.

The final list included 76 schools earning a grade of “F” in the eyes of the state.

The department used different criteria for determining failing schools this year. The state only looked at last year’s reading and math scores on the ACT Aspire test. That led to ten more schools than last year being included on the failing list.

Dr. Clarence Sutton is the principal of Tuscaloosa’s Central High School, included on this year’s failing schools list. He says the school has made a lot of improvements that aren’t being considered.

“In 2007-2008, our graduation rate was 50%. Now we’re up to 82%. We have one of the first dual enrollment programs where the kids receive scholarships. ACT scores are increased. And just to see those improvements and see that not being considered is disappointing.”

The Mobile County and Montgomery County school systems each had a dozen schools on this year’s failing list. 21 schools in the Birmingham area were considered failing.

An Alabama researcher is behind a new study examining risk factors for stroke.

The report says African Americans are nearly three times more likely to have a stroke at the age of 45 than white people. That imbalance decreases over time until disappearing by age 85. The study also says in risk of a second stroke, race makes less difference.

Dr. George Howard is the lead author of the report. He also teaches at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He says the study focused on Alabama and surrounding states.

“Our goal was to get half [our test patients] coming from what’s called the stroke belt states which are North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.”

Dr. Howard says the biggest risk factors contributing to strokes are smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The study will be published tomorrow in the journal Neurology.