The regular sesson of the Alabama Legislature began yesterday with the same budget problems facing it as a year ago. That is an indication that little was done about solving those problems during the past year.
This week is National School Choice Week. Fittingly, it comes the week before the Alabama Legislature goes back into session and resumes the process of dismantling public education in the state.
A hand-drawn map hanging on the wall of the Leader office drew the attention of several members of the current Leadership Alabama class during the group’s annual visit last Thursday. The map is a birds-eye view of downtown Roanoke, with each building labeled with the business that existed there in 1960.
Alabama State Troopers investigated 25 traffic deaths throughout the state during their designated holiday enforcement period from midnight, Dec. 18 to midnight, Jan. 1. This compares with 19 traffic fatalities over the same period one year ago.
A Roanoke resident called the office over the holidays to let us know he had been contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS over alleged back taxes owed. Judge Lewis Hamner immediately recognized this as a scam and wanted to warn others not to fall for it if they were contacted as he was.
New Year’s resolutions. They are not something we required to make, but the beginning of a new year just has the feeling of a rebirth––a(nother) starting point for self improvement in areas in which we may feel we are lacking.
With the news dominated by a presidential campaign that began far too early, the Christmas message of Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men seems like an ancient wish long outdated.
We understand the desire to save money and increase efficiency, which are among the reasons given for consolidating three multi-campus community colleges into one.
A study from The University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS) shows crashes go up for young drivers in Alabama from October through December, with the end-of-year holidays being an especially dangerous time.
Every year as the end-of-year holidays roll around, scammers renew their efforts to take unfair advantage of those who either may be in a giving mood or just simply let their guards down during the bustle of the season.
During the 2014 Thanksgiving travel period there were six motor vehicle fatalities statewide. It’s a heavy travel time with the potential for increased traffic accidents.
Last week, with an executive order, Gov. Robert Bentley reversed course and took the Attorney General’s Office out of the gambling enforcement business. Four years earlier he had disbanded a gambling task force put together by former governor Bob Riley and turned the primary responsibility for cracking down on gambling over to Attorney General Luther Strange.
A series of meetings held around a nine-county region a while back promised regional cooperation in order to recruit industry and help improve the economic situation in all of the counties. It must have been a hard sell, or else the funding for the effort dried up, because we have heard nothing about it over the past year or so.
The death of a 5-year-old Macon County boy who was run over by a school bus Monday morning is a tragic reminder for trick-or-treaters and motorists here to exercise caution this Saturday. Bissiah Hedges was killed at about 6:30 a.m. when he stopped to pick up a notebook and bag of candy at the right rear of the bus. The driver, who never saw him, drove off and a back tire ran over the child.
Last week, we speculated on the 2016 U.S. Senate races. However, the most pressing political event on the radar is next year's presidential contest. It will be an interesting and protracted campaign. In fact, it has been ongoing for well over a year.
The stray and unwanted animals roaming our streets has been much like the weather: everyone complains about it but no one has been able to do anything about it.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), Lyme disease has been diagnosed in seven Alabama counties. Randolph is not currently among them, but we sit squarely between two of them: Chambers and Calhoun. It is important that we be aware of the symtoms and take action to lessen the chance we contract this disease.
There has been some good news locally in recent weeks. News about grants to local institutions has been reported in the past three issues of the paper.
We all wonder why the cost of healthcare and treatment for various afflictions has risen faster and higher than almost anything else. One example was front and center last week.
In a second costly special session of the Alabama Legislature, lawmakers finally approved a General Fund budget after two previous failed attempts. What they came up with is still far short of what is needed to adequately provide for the health, safety and welfare of Alabama’s citizens.
Why, we’ll never know, but certain bogus Internet “warnings” continue to be recirculated as if they are real and urgent. One that keeps making the rounds every few years concerns acting quickly to register your cell phone on the “Do Not Call Registry,” number provided. This undoubtedly is getting traction this time around because telemarketers increasingly are reaching cell phone numbers.
For the third time the Alabama Legislature will try to pass a budget that will fund state government operations after failing miserably in previous efforts. A major reason is an unwillingness by the Republican-led body to consider a proposal to close the budget shortfall put forward by their Republican governor.
Republicans came to power in Alabama after decades of Democratic rule, promising to put the politics of the past behind them, to pass strong ethics laws, and to govern the state effectively. It sounded good.
In earlier years, occasionally, a local government body would stretch or exceed the limits of Alabama’s Open Meetings Act (OMA), unsually through their excessive use of “executive sessions” (closed meetings). This happened despite the law’s very clear restrictions on why an open meeting could be closed on rare occasions.
The Alabama Legislature has demonstrated that it is incapable of passing a workable budget, but it is capable of finding new and creative ways to embarrass us. State Sen. Paul Sanford, Republican of Huntsville, has created a gofundme.com online account that asks the general public to contribute to the state’s cash-strapped General Fund.
We could get a little bit of a reprieve later this week from the high-90 temperatures we have been experiencing, but forecasters say they expect higher-than-normal temperatures to return by this weekend. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for earlier this week for parts of northern Alabama and all of central and south Alabama.
It’s been a long time coming, but last week the state announced a settlement in the 2010 BP oil spill. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and cost all of the Gulf states much in money and environmental damage.
An advertisement on page 4B of this issue by the Alabama Department of Public Health reminds us that vaccines are required for school, which is closer than it seems it should be.
Alabamians of all ages will celebrate this Independence Day weekend with fireworks, parades and parties at home and on the water. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) urges everyone to remember safety is key when traveling Alabama’s roadways and waterways as Fourth of July activities often involve alcohol and may result in traffic or boating crashes, injuries and fatalities.
There is little doubt that Alabama’s general fund budget, which includes virtually everything except education, is broke, without enough funding to operate at previous years’ levels. Unless a solution is found quickly, Alabamians will feel the effects in the coming year.
Hot weather is now here for real, with a predicted high of 97 degrees today and highs somewhere in the 90s each day through Sunday and beyond. Unfortunately, the hot weather brings with it reports of children dying due to overheating in cars. Since 1998 in the United States an average of 37 children each year die this way, making heatstroke the second leading cause of death behind car crashes among those 14 and younger.
The agreement between Tanner Medical Center and the Randolph County Commission, Randolph County Health Care Authority, and Wedowee Health Care Authority to build and operate a hospital in Randolph County, supported in part by tax revenue, has been discussed and argued by many. Relatively few, however, have seen and read the actual agreement.
Each year in July the county's rabies control officer, veterinarian Paul McMurray, travels the county over a two-week period to make it convenient for county residents to have their pets vaccinated. In light of recent reports of rabies in east Alabama, anyone whose dog or cat is not up to date on a rabies vaccination should not wait until July.
We are accustomed to seeing rankings showing Alabama among the worst states in terms of the health of its citizens. We are among the very worst in conditions like strokes and hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Other than Gov. Bentley, no one in state government has put forth a reasonable plan to fund state government.
Now that summer weather is here, it's time to focus again on the dangers of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
The question of whether Alabama should have a state lottery and legalize gambling has pretty much been answered along political party lines in the past, with Republicans generally opposed and Democrats in favor.
We elect our representatives to the Alabama Legislature to represent our interests and competently manage state government for our benefit. The looming cuts in highway safety, mental health services, courts, prisons and nearly every other necessary function of state government would indicate they have let us down.
Gov. Robert Bentley has created the Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force to consider ways to improve the delivery of health care in Alabama. The 38-member group led by state Health Officer Dr. Don
Even when consumers use due diligence and read terms and conditions, there is no guarantee that they will get an accurate picture of the real cost of free or discounted services offered by some businesses, according to Better Business Bureau.
Gov. Robert Bentley is traveling the state this week to promote his plan to raise taxes to help shrink a $700-million deficit in the state's General Fund budget, which pays for such things as public safety, health care for the poor and elderly, and highway and bridge construction and repair. He'll have a tough sale, especially with his fellow Republicans who control the legislature. Most ran on a pledge of "no new taxes," just as Bentley himself did when running for his first term as governor.
As the 2015 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature gets started, there are many important issues facing our lawmakers. We don’t envy them. Most of us do not appreciate or understand the challenges they face regarding budgets, prisons, health care, and other essential services we have come to expect from state government.
How to come up with a good local healthcare system is getting deserved attention right now, for quality of life of those who live here and for luring new businesses to improve our economy. As we focus on solving this problem, we should not take for granted what we do have going for us that may be lacking in other areas. That's our good public schools.
An email this week from the publisher of the Clark County Democrat in Grove Hill served as a reminder of the law of unintended consequences.
The 'kicking the can' column below describes some of the shortfalls in the state's General Fund budget that will have to be addressed when the legislature convenes next week. For too long too little has been done about an impending financial crisis, and now the state is out of options.
According to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) 17 of Alabama's 67 counties still don't have a four-lane route to an interstate, some-thing that companies almost always look for when deciding where to locate.
When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant a stay of U.S. District Judge Callie Granade's ruling that Alabama's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, it made Alabama the 37th state where same sex marriage is legal. Many court observers also feel it is a strong indication of how the Supreme Court will rule when it hears a case in June that will have implications for the remaining states.
Many of us had measles as children and survived. Nonetheless, measles is the most deadly of all childhood rash and fever illnesses. And it's one of the most easily spread.
When the Alabama Legislature next goes into session, it will face some tough issues that will require some hard financial choices. The state's $1.8 billion general fund budget, which funds nearly all government functions except education, is short hundreds of millions, and the federal stimulus money that allowed state lawmakers to avoid dealing with the funding crisis is gone. Decision time is here.