Alabama News Roundup May 20

By: AP
By: AP

SUSPICIOUS FIRES
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Firefighters have put out three overnight fires, the latest in a rash of blazes at abandoned buildings in Birmingham.
The Birmingham News reports that firefighters responded to a call around 1 a.m. Saturday for a fire at an abandoned apartment building. They were summoned to put out two more fires later in the morning.
Those fires at the most recent reported in an outbreak of blazes since Thursday that fire investigators say may be the work of an arsonist. Six of the fires were set at abandoned buildings.

UCONN-LEWIS
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Civil rights leader and veteran U.S. Rep. John Lewis is being honored at the University of Connecticut's law school.
Lewis will receive an honorary law degree before delivering the commencement address before about 240 students and their families at the law school on Sunday.
Lewis, a 13-term congressman from Georgia, was one of the 13 original freedom riders and helped organize the 1963 March on Washington. He had his skull fractured while leading protesters in a march in Selma, Alabama in 1965.
He was first elected to Congress in 1986.
Lewis will be joined at the graduation ceremony by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy who also will speak.

TREE ACCIDENT
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- A man has been seriously injured in a 40-foot fall from a tree in the Huntsville area.
Authorities said the 42-year-old was cutting a tree at a job site when the accident happened Friday in southeast Huntsville.
The Huntsville Times reports that the man was taken to a local hospital for critical injuries.

WELCOME SIGN
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says his Foundation for Moral Law is ready to defend the DeKalb County town of Sylvania over a demand it remove Bible verses from welcome signs at the entrances to town.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has threatened to take the north Alabama town to court if the signs are not removed. They include words from Ephesians "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism."
Moore told the Fort Payne Times-Journal the sign does not violate the Constitution and that the town is being "bullied" by the group.
Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Patrick Elliott said Moore and Sylvania officials have misinterpreted the Constitution. He said the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment to mean government bodies "can't affiliate themselves with any religion."

BANK CLOSURES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators have seized a small bank in Alabama, bringing to 24 the number of U.S. banks that have failed so far this year.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday that it closed Alabama Trust Bank NA in Sylacauga.
The bank had about $51.6 million in assets and $45.1 million in deposits as of March 31.
Southern States Bank, based in Anniston, Ala., agreed to take over the deposits and essentially all the assets of the failed bank, which had one branch.
The FDIC estimates that failure of Alabama Trust Bank NA will cost the insurance fund $8.9 million.
The lender is the first FDIC-insured institution to fail this year in Alabama.

MEDICAID CUTS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama state officials have outlined cuts to Medicaid that have comes as a result of lower than expected state revenue.
The cuts include a 10 percent reduction to payments for certain providers, including doctors, dentists, x-rays, medical equipment and maternity primary contractors.
While state officials say benefits to children won't change, some adult benefits will. Medicaid will only cover routine eye exams once every three years instead of once every two, and the state is ending coverage of eyeglasses as a benefit.
The cuts also mean Medicaid will only cover one brand-name drug per month. Generic drugs and over-the-counter medicines will still be covered.
Medicaid will no longer cover cough and cold drugs for all recipients, though certain over-the-counter drugs are still covered.
The changes go into effect June 1.
Alabama Medicaid chief Dr. Donald Williamson says the cuts will continue into the next budget year. Williamson says the $603 million budget that the Legislature provided for the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1 is the minimum the program would live with.
He says the reductions assume that the program will be able to find additional savings in the next fiscal year.

COURT-DEATH OF FETUS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that a group of DeKalb County doctors can be sued for causing the death of an unborn child. The court overruled a lower court ruling that found the fetus was not viable.
The ruling, released Friday and written by Justice Tom Parker, noted that Alabama and some other states have laws allowing a person to be charged in the death of a fetus. It also noted a previous ruling of the court found that the fetus is a separate entity and not just a part of the woman's body. The ruling came in Amy Hamilton's suit against Isbell Medical Group.
In a concurring opinion, Parker wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortions, does not conflict with Friday's decision.

IMMIGRATION
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Gov. Robert Bentley has signed legislation making revisions in Alabama's immigration law, even though he didn't like all of it.
Bentley also said Friday he has changed his mind and won't push for additional revisions to the law in the Legislature's special session.
The Legislature passed revisions to the immigration law on the last night of its regular session Wednesday. Bentley supported most of the changes, but he objected to one requiring the state to create a public database of illegal immigrants who end up in Alabama courts.
He originally wanted that changed in the Legislature's special session that began Thursday, but he didn't get anyone to sponsor his bill. He said Friday the Legislature has no appetite for more changes at this time.


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