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Top News Links: Thursday, Dec. 4

State lawmaker now has Apple blessing

Alabama Rep. Patricia Todd is moving ahead with plans to name an anti-discrimination act after Apple CEO Tim Cook. And now, she's got the blessings of the tech giant itself. – AL.com

Lack of money makes us big spenders

Mississippians and Alabamians are the biggest spenders in the U.S., but it’s not on luxuries.  The two states are the only in the union that apply full sales tax to unprepared food. Five states fully tax unprepared food, but offer some relief for low-income families. Thirty-one states exempt it from taxes completely. Data included in a WalletHub study released last week says residents pay more for food and health care, adjusted for cost of living and income, than elsewhere. – Clarion Ledger

Alabama among states suing Obama

Alabama and 16 other states filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging President Obama's order on immigration. As congressional Republicans seek ways to block the president, a coalition led by Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott went the legal route to stop the Obama administration from protecting up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. – USA Today

Governor visits renewable energy project

Momentum for a renewable fuels start-up company along Mobile Bay in Daphne continued Wednesday with a visit from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and the announcement of a $3.2 million federal grant for its continued research in Baldwin County. – AL.com

Huntsville laser sniffs out toxic gases

Scientists have developed a way to sniff out tiny amounts of toxic gases—a whiff of nerve gas, for example, or a hint of a chemical spill—from up to one kilometer away.
Their approach works by blasting a cloud of gas with two beams at once. One of the beams was developed at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center near Huntsville, where researchers devised a one-of-a-kind infrared laser manufactured by STI Optronics. – Phys.org

Alfred ‘Buddy’ Mitchell dies at 66

Alfred Henry "Buddy" Mitchell, a former state finance director and former Auburn University official, died Tuesday night at his Montgomery home. He was 66. His brother, Doug Mitchell, said he apparently had a heart attack. Mitchell served in Gov. George C. Wallace's last administration, spending the final year as state finance director. – AP/ABC3340.com

ALDOT streamlining continues with new posting

A familiar face has been chosen to run the new Tuscumbia Area Office of the Alabama Department of Transportation’s new Northern Region. Mark Dale, maintenance engineer for the Transportation Department’s old Second Division, was named the area operations engineer. TimesDaily

Regions Insurance opens Dallas office

Regions Insurance, an affiliate of Regions Bank, announced on Tuesday it has opened a Dallas office. Regions Insurance has existing offices in Waco and Texarkana. The new Dallas office is part of continuing efforts by Regions Insurance to expand its coverage and capabilities throughout the Southeast and Texas. – Insurance Journal

AISA, AAIS announce merger

The Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) and the Alabama Association of Independent Schools (AAIS) announced Dec. 3 they have completed an agreement to merge. Following the final approval by each of the governing bodies in the fall of 2014, the merged organization will operate as the Alabama Independent School Association. – Southeast Sun

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