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Top News Links: Thursday, August 6

Alabama House approves deep Medicaid cut

The Alabama House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly approved a deep cut to the state's Medicaid program as lawmakers continue to deadlock on a solution to the budget shortfall. The budget cut came out of frustration over the stalemate and is largely seen as a way to build pressure on lawmakers to find some sort of compromise. But opponents called it a dangerous gamble with the health care of the state's most vulnerable people. – AP/ENewsCourier

House passes bill to remove earmarks for 2017

The Alabama House Wednesday passed a bill removing earmarks from 30 state agencies and revenue streams in the General Fund, giving lawmakers more room to prioritize during the budgeting process. The bill, HB46 passed on a wide bipartisan vote of 83-13, and will go into effect during the 2017 fiscal year, meaning it won’t immediately address the General Fund’s budget shortfall. – Yellowhammer

Our long national nightmare is over

Blue Bell can begin production and sales of cream immediately at its Sylacauga plant. Jim McVay, director of health promotion and chronic disease for the Alabama Department of Public Health, confirmed Wednesday that the embattled creamery has no restrictions on sales or production following extensive and satisfactory cleanup efforts and product testing at the Alabama plant. – Chron.com

What led to phone outage in Southeast?

Cell phone customers of all four major carriers had no service Tuesday afternoon and into the evening in parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Service was restored Tuesday night. Outages of that size are rare, and the fact that Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all went down makes the event less commonplace. Telephone networks typically have redundancies in place that limit the impact of massive outages. – Money

Laclede Group revenue up 13.9 percent

Laclede Group issued its earnings results on Wednesday. The company reported $0.25 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.16 by $0.09, MarketBeat reports. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.44 earnings per share. The firm earned $275.20 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $345.84 million. The firm’s revenue was up 13.9% on a year-over-year basis. – Dakota Financial News

Identities get stolen, even in jail

When an Alabama man dreamed up a way to make a little money on the side, he went straight to a captive audience: the prisoners in the Troy city jail. Devon Tucker, a former jailer, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy and one count of aggravated identity theft in a scheme involving nearly 150 individuals. Over the course of a year, Tucker stole the personal identification from those individuals being processed into the jail. – Forbes

Work begins on massive feed mill

Dale County residents can now say they are the home of the largest poultry feed mill in the United States. Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship joined state and local officials and Wayne Farms corporate leadership in breaking ground Wednesday on the 170-acres that will house Wayne Farms Ozark Mill. Located in Dale County, the new facility will employ approximately 88 people. The new feed mill completion date is tentatively set for the beginning of 2017. – Southeast Sun

Williamson named new president of AHA

The Alabama Hospital Association has named State Health Officer Dr. Donald E. Williamson as its next president. Williamson will start the job in November. He replaces Mike Horsley, who is retiring. Williamson has served as the state health officer of the Alabama Department of Public Health since 1992. He will continue in that role until he transitions to AHA. – Birmingham News

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