Tristate (Ala, Fla, Ga) News Dec 30: Vultures Like Everglades' Tourists' Cars

By: AP
By: AP

ATLANTA (AP) -- The new year in Georgia will bring changes to the state's tax code, but would-be abortion restrictions are on hold.
Lawmakers voted to ban abortions starting 20 weeks after fertilization. There are exceptions for pregnancies where a fetus is deemed unlikely to survive or when a pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother. But a Fulton County judge has put a temporary block on the law while she considers a constitutional challenge.
Parts of a tax overhaul will also take effect in the New Year. Starting Jan. 1, manufacturers will be exempt from paying the state sales tax on energy used to produce their goods. The agricultural industry will enjoy a similar tax break. The personal exemption for married couples filing jointly will rise from $5,400 to $7,400.

Ga. insurers to offer child-only policies in 2013
ATLANTA (AP) -- State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens has signed an order allowing insurance companies to begin selling individual policies for children next year.
Hudgens says people who are uninsured or whose employers do not offer coverage to dependents will be eligible to purchase the children's insurance policies.
He says legal guardians may also purchase the policies if they are insured by Medicare.
The open enrollment period runs from Jan. 1 through Jan. 31. Coverage for the plan is slated to begin March 1.

Fla. minimum wage workers to get 12-cent increase
MIAMI (AP) -- Florida's minimum wage earners are about to get a 12-cents-an-hour boost.
But experts say the increase won't help that many people and adds up to less than $5 a week.
Minimum wage in the Sunshine State will rise to $7.79 on Tuesday. Only about 210,000 out of 7.4 million employed workers Florida workers will benefit.
The increase likely will affect phone sales workers, drivers, housekeepers, toll collectors, security guards and many hourly wage workers in the hotel and restaurant industry.
Younger workers may feel the greatest impact. A University of Central Florida economist says workers under the age of 24 account for roughly half of all minimum-wage earners.
The National Employment Law Project estimates the increase will add $46.2 million to the state's gross domestic product.

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- Visitors to parts of Everglades National Park are getting tarps and bungee cords to make their vehicles less delectable to vultures.
Migrating vultures have developed a habit of ripping off windshield wipers, sunroof seals and other rubber and vinyl vehicle parts. Visitors to the park's Homestead and Flamingo entrances are loaned "anti-vulture kits" to protect their vehicles.
Park wildlife biologist Skip Snow tells The Miami Herald that the vultures are migrating as normal. It's just not clear why the birds are picking at parked cars and trucks. Park employees have tried to scare away the vultures, but nothing has worked.
Park Superintendent Dan Kimball says complaints about the vultures have declined since employees began distributing the tarps and bungee cords last year.

MIAMI (AP) -- The survivors of a 1972 jetliner crash in the Florida Everglades are trying to raise money for a memorial honoring its victims. Eastern Flight 401 from New York to Miami crashed Dec. 29, 1972. The cockpit crew had become distracted with a faulty landing gear light and didn't notice that the plane was descending into the Everglades. About 75 people survived, and 101 people died.
Forty years later, the surviving passengers and crew members say it's time for a permanent memorial to honor the dead. They tell the Sun Sentinel that they hope to raise $15,000 for a granite block inscribed with the victims' names.
About 40 crash survivors and their relatives planned to meet Saturday to mark the crash anniversary.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama Department of Homeland Security has released a video that instructs people on what to do in the event of a shooting like the one at an elementary school in Connecticut.Gov. Robert Bentley asked officials at the agency to develop a plan for dealing with such incidents.
A spokesman for the governor, Jeremy King, says the video was an old production by the Houston Police Department. It was released in Alabama with a short introduction by Spencer Collier, the director of the state Homeland Security agency.
The video depicts a shooting inside an office.
Other measures taken include additional training for law enforcement and continued use of a hotline and website where citizens can report suspicious people or situations.


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