Senate Expected to Pass General Fund Budget, SKYWARN Class Tonight in Russellville

Mar 22, 2016

Alabama lawmakers are expected to give their final approval to the General Fund budget later today. That will set up an expected veto by Gov. Robert Bentley over what he calls inadequate Medicaid funding.

Governor Bentley says the spending plan in its current form is unacceptable and he plans to veto it. The budget is $85 million short of the amount Bentley and state Medicaid commissioner Stephanie Azar say is needed to adequately fund the state's Medicaid program.

Senate budget chairman Trip Pittman says the Senate is expected to pass the budget today. The measure has already cleared the House. Pittman says lawmakers just don't have a way to provide the additional Medicaid funding. He says he hopes to continue the discussions about possible solutions.

If Bentley vetoes the budget, lawmakers can override his objection with a majority vote of both chambers to enact the spending plan. Last year, it took multiple special sessions for the legislature and the governor to agree on how to address a $200 million shortfall in the state spending plan.

Citizens will train to spot tornados today at a SKYWARN Spotters class.

The Franklin County Emergency Management Agency is teaming up with the National Weather Service to host the free workshop.

Residents will then be able to help local authorities and emergency workers in case of a tornado by relaying information from various parts of the area.

Jody Hitt is the director of the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency. He says interest in weather safety has increased since the tornados in April 2011.

“Everybody had the theory of ‘Oh it ain’t gonna happen here.’ Well, 2011 they were proved wrong. And everybody is now saying ‘It can happen here’ and getting more involved and being weather-aware when something does come along.”

The workshop will take place in Russellville at the A.W. Todd Center from 6:30 to 8:30 this evening.

It’s officially spring, but it doesn’t quite feel like it in Alabama this morning.

Temperatures last night and this morning are below freezing throughout much of north and central Alabama.

Kurt Webber is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Huntsville. He says it’s not unusual to have a freeze at this time of year.

“The average last freeze for really most of our areas is either the very end of March, the last few days of March, or the first week of April. Sometimes going into the second week of April in some of our Tennessee counties.”

Webber says morning freezes can cause damage to fragile plants. The record last freeze for Birmingham came in late April in 1986.