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Top News Links: Wednesday, August 5

Gambling bill clears big hurdle

Gambling legislation cleared its first hurdle in the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday. The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee voted 6-2 for the proposal to hold a referendum on creating a state lottery and allowing Las Vegas-style casinos at four existing dog tracks. The plan is being pushed by powerful Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. Marsh said he believes Alabamians should be allowed to vote on the extension of legalized gambling. – Montgomery Advertiser

Auburn to support Korean auto research

Auburn University and The Korea Institute of Technology signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday to formalize joint research efforts to support the Korean automotive industry. The agreement will enact research efforts at Auburn's faculty and labs with local companies supported by KITECH. – AL.com

Ways & Means shoots down cigarette tax hike

A legislative committee has voted down a proposed hike in Alabama’s cigarette tax, killing a major proposal for filling a shortfall in the state’s operating budget. The Ways and Means General Fund Committee narrowly rejected the cigarette tax increase by an 8-7 vote Tuesday. – WHNT

Streaming tax dies a quiet death

Recently, a coalition of legislators and advocacy groups prevented the Alabama Department Revenue from imposing sales tax on streaming content.  The Department proposed to amend Administrative Code Rule 810-6-5-.09 to include “digital transmissions.” The business community, led by the Business Council of Alabama and Alabama Cable Telecommunications Association, voiced their concerns to the Legislature, which instructed the department to “withdraw the proposed regulation for further analysis and discussion of the issue with the state Legislature.” – JDSupra

Vulcan earnings up 36 cents a share

Vulcan Materials Co., a Birmingham-based producer of construction materials, earned $48 million, or 36 cents per share, on $895 million in total revenue in the quarter ended June 30, the company announced today. The earnings - up about 5 percent from the same quarter last year - would have been higher were it not for extremely wet weather in most of Vulcan's major markets, President and CEO Tom Hill said in a statement. – AL.com

State ranks poorly for student-loan borrowers

A new report suggests more than 11 percent of all student debt is currently in default with Alabama faring worse than other states. Student-loan borrowers will fare better in states that produce a combination of lower college-related debt levels, stronger economies and higher incomes, according to a new analysis by WalletHub. Alabama runs 44th in that pack. – WalletHub

Strong dollar widening U.S. trade deficit

The trade deficit in the U.S. widened in June as the strong dollar lifted imports and hobbled exports, representing a hurdle for economic growth. The gap grew by 7.1 percent to $43.8 billion, the largest in three months, Commerce Department figures showed Wednesday in Washington. – Bloomberg

Gulf Shores’ business park now an AdvantageSite

After a more than a year of hard work getting all the right paperwork and permissions and requirements, Gulf Shores’ Business and Aviation Park has been named an Alabama AdvantageSite. The designation is issued by the Education Development Partnership of Alabama. The 78-acre park is near the Jack Edwards National Airport and is owned by the Airport Authority. Getting the designation is a big step toward getting a variety of businesses in the city. – Gulf Coast News Today

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