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Top News Links: Friday, Aug. 19

One gambling bill dead, another still alive

Gov. Robert Bentley's lottery bill heads to a possible Alabama Senate floor vote on Friday after senators rejected a broader plan to allow electronic gambling machines at multiple locations around the state. The governor, in a news conference outside the Alabama Capitol, urged lawmakers to approve the bill and put the idea of creating a lottery to the first statewide vote since 1999. – AP/BayTown Sun

Official floats plan to reopen Searcy Hospital

During a town hall meeting in Spanish Fort this week, Alabama Mental Health Commissioner Jim Perdue met with elected officials and other mental health leaders where he talked about his proposal to reopen Searcy Hospital. When the hospital in Mount Vernon closed in 2012, an estimated 390 people their jobs and patients were forced to find relocate to smaller residential facilities. – WPMI

House OKs plan on BP oil money paying off debt

The Alabama House of Representatives approved a plan Wednesday to use the state's oil spill settlement money to pay back money borrowed during a past budget shortfall and for road projects in coastal counties. House members approved the compromise bill on an 88-10 vote, sending it to the Alabama Senate for consideration. – AP/Penn Energy

Target spending millions to add single-stall bathrooms

Target said it is adding single-stall restrooms at all its stores where they are currently not available. The move comes after months of controversy – and a dip in revenue – following the company's announcement it would allow shoppers and employees to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity as opposed to the one they were born with. – AL.com

Two Alabama accounting firms to merge Jan. 1 

Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith on Thursday announced a merger with Himmelwright, Huguley & Boles, an Auburn-Opelika CPA firm.  The merger will take place Jan. 1, bringing the combined entity to a total of 140 employees. The firms will consolidate under the name Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith LLC. – News release

Pondering Donald Trump’s odd Russian connections

Donald Trump's campaign chairman was a key player in multimillion-dollar business propositions with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs — one of them a close Putin ally with alleged ties to organized crime — which foreign policy experts say raises questions about the pro-Russian bent of the Trump candidacy. – NBC

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