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Top News Links: Wednesday, April 29

Poarch Creeks offer deficit-covering plan

Faced with the possibility that their casino profits could be slashed if legislation is passed that will allow gambling at four private casinos in Alabama, the Poarch Creeks have floated an offer to cover the state's $250 million budget shortfall this year in exchange for a compact with the state that would give the tribe exclusive gaming rights. That compact would also require the Poarch Creeks to pay the state a percentage of earnings each year. – Montgomery Advertiser

Regions fined $7.5 million for illegal charges

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has fined Regions Bank $7.5 million for illegally charging customers for overdraft protection. Regions Bank, which has branches across 16 states, mostly in the South, has already refunded $49 million in overdraft fees to its customers, the CFPB said Tuesday. The agency said the Birmingham-based bank will have to hire a consultant to determine if more customers are due refunds. – AP/ABC News

Alabama falls short on billionaires

In completing Forbes’ new listing of the richest people in every state, the magazine found six states, including Alabama, that lack billionaires. Alabama’s Garry Drummond falls just short with an estimated $980 million. Drummond, a coal mining tycoon, heads the business founded in 1935 by his father, who got his start by putting up three mules as collateral on a $300 bank loan. Today the Drummond Company operates mines in Alabama, as well as ones in Colombia. Its annual sales top $3 billion. While he’s still a few mules shy of making the World’s Billionaires list, Alabama’s low cost of living means he easily has the purchasing power of any of New York City’s bona fide billionaires. – Forbes

Flat tax proposal to get a hearing today

A state Senate committee today will hear about a proposal to do away with many income tax deductions and create a flat income tax, but a local senator has concerns about the bill’s impact on retirees. Senate Bill 409 from Sen. Bill Hightower, R-Mobile, would reduce the income tax rate on individuals from 5 percent to 2.75 percent. The corporate rate would drop from 6.5 percent to 4.59 percent, according to an early version of the legislation. – Decatur Daily

Former health clinic CFO pleads guilty in fraud

The former financial officer of two nonprofit health clinics in Alabama for the poor and homeless pleaded guilty today to multiple federal charges related to a scheme to defraud millions of dollars from the clinics and the federal government health agencies that provide most of their funding. Terri McGuire Mollica, 48, of Birmingham entered her plea before U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre. She is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 11. – Insurance News Net

Does HB326 aim to criminalize picketing?

Labeled the "Prohibition Against Employer Intimidation Act," HB326 is, at its heart, an anti-union piece of legislation, according to a news analysis by Montgomery reporter Josh Moon. Sponsored by 31 lawmakers, it is carefully worded in an effort to tiptoe around the obvious constitutional issues, but ultimately seeks to criminalize picketing. – Montgomery Advertiser

Proposed legislation aims to help app transit

Proposed legislation to place app-based transit companies under state authority is a heavy-handed approach that favors one company and undercuts the rights of municipalities to protect their own roads, Birmingham city officials say. Birmingham officials including Councilwoman Kim Rafferty will be at the State House Wednesday during a House hearing on the bill from Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills. – AL.com

Democrats urge Bentley to expand Medicaid

Democrats in the Alabama Senate are urging Gov. Robert Bentley to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The Alabama Senate on Tuesday approved a resolution saying that Democrats and the one independent member of the Alabama Senate support Medicaid expansion. Senators said Medicaid expansion would provide health care coverage to 300,000 Alabamians. TimesDaily‚Äč

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