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Top News Links: Monday, August 3

Special session resumes in Montgomery

Alabama lawmakers are heading back to work this week. They’re expecting to wrap up the special session called by Governor Bentley last month. Nine days is all lawmakers have to pass a budget before the end of the special session. Lawmakers are hoping they can find a workable solution between what the governor is asking for and what the state can handle. – WIAT

Walter Energy competitor also going bust

Just weeks after Birmingham's Walter Energy declared bankruptcy, one of its major competitors is preparing to do the same, according to a report from Bloomberg News. Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources could declare as soon as today, the report said. – AL.com

Walter Energy issues 545 potential layoff notices

Walter Energy said Friday it will eliminate 180 jobs at one of its mines and has issued potential layoff notices to 545 more workers.  The Birmingham-headquartered metallurgical coal producer has eliminated hundreds of jobs already this year as low prices have left the American coal industry reeling. – AL.com

Popular tax holiday costly to schools

For the 10th year in a row, Alabamians will get a break on sales tax when they purchase clothes, school supplies and computers this weekend. The back-to-school sales tax holiday does away with state sales tax and many county and municipal sales taxes. The weekend means about $7.7 million in lost sales tax revenue from the state’s Education Trust Fund, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. The sales tax holiday begins 12:01 a.m. Friday and ends midnight Sunday. – Decatur Daily

Sub-$2 a gallon gas predicted for Christmas

Call it an early holiday gift: Gas prices are dropping. Alabama motorists can expect to see their per-gallon prices plummet to $1.99 or less before Christmas, according to a GasBuddy.com forecast released last week. Nineteen other states are also most likely to see a decrease; this month is when those at-the-pump costs will start to drop. – Detroit Free Press

Opinion: Don’t combine Alabama’s dual budgets

Back in the 1940s, when the Alabama Legislature wanted to make permanent a state income tax after paying off Depression-era debts, voters approved the tax — but with stipulations. Even in those bygone days, the people of Alabama apparently had a healthy amount of skepticism about lawmakers’ handling of their money. So, when the income tax was made permanent, the money was earmarked for education. It couldn’t be used in the General Fund for other purposes. – Decatur Daily

Mobile gets out of history museum business

Major shifts at local arts organizations combined with increasingly lower financial support from City Hall has some leaders and observers uneasy about their future. The latest change will come this week when the History Museum of Mobile is turned over to a nonprofit board to control, ending an enduring battle with the mayor's office. "Concern" has been the word used by people who watched the city's year-long wrangling with the history museum's board. – AL.com

Virginia College showing off new welding facility

Virginia College in Mobile will host an open house for its new welding facility on Thursday, Aug. 6 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the facility located in Semmes at 4525 Schillinger Road N. The Mobile campus is the first Virginia College campus to offer the 44-week program in which classes began June 29. – News release

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