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Top News Links: Tuesday, Dec. 9

Bentley draws fire from anti-tax group

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the country’s leading anti-tax group, on Monday criticized Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley for proposing the elimination of certain state income tax deductions as a solution for the state’s budget woes. – Yellowhammer

GP invests $6M to increase capacity

Georgia-Pacific has announced an investment of about $6 million at its Thorsby engineered lumber operations to expand production capacity of laminated veneer lumber. Improvements include upgrading the press system's lay-up line and veneer sheet feeders, as well as increasing overall veneer dryer capacity and efficiency. Completion is expected by the second quarter of 2015. – PRNewsWire

Highest court says BP settlement final

The Supreme Court is leaving in place BP's multibillion-dollar settlement with lawyers for businesses and residents over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The justices did not comment Monday in rejecting the London-based oil giant's arguments that lower courts misinterpreted settlement terms and put BP on the hook to pay inflated and bogus claims by businesses. The court's decision makes the economic and property damage settlement final. – CBS

FreightCar to expand in Shoals

FreightCar America Inc. has announced plans to expand its operations in northwest Alabama, saying it will bring 150 to 200 more jobs into the facility it shares with Navistar Corp. FreightCar executives say they intend to add a rail car production line as part of a $10 million investment at Barton Riverfront Industrial Park in Colbert County. – AP/Moulton Advertiser

Bill Armistead won’t keep ALGOP chair

In an email to the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee, ALGOP Chairman Bill Armistead broke the news that he will not seek a third term. Armistead’s announcement will spark a chairmanship race that will culminate in the election of a new chairman on Feb. 21, 2015, the day after the ALGOP’s winter dinner featuring keynote speaker Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). – Yellowhammer

Lawmakers ponder multiemployer pension cuts

Negotiations by lawmakers to allow for reduced benefits for retirees covered by multiemployer pension plans could result in a cut in monthly retirement checks for up to 1 million employees. Lawmakers are considering allowing companies to reduce benefits to retirees in order to shore up several large struggling multiemployer plans and the federal program that backs them, an Associated Press story reported. – AL.com

UM Leadership Banquet to feature Carson

The University of Mobile will bring emeritus professor of neurosurgery and conservative motivational speaker Benjamin S. Carson Sr., M.D., to Mobile for the 10th annual University of Mobile Leadership Banquet on April 30, 2015. The annual University of Mobile Leadership Banquet raises financial support for the UMobile Fund. – News release

Potlatch completes $384M lumber buy

Potlatch Corporation has closed the previously announced purchase of approximately 201,000 acres of timberlands in Alabama and Mississippi from affiliates of Resource Management Service, LLC for $384 million. The timberland acquisition was financed using cash and $310 million of new long-term debt. Moody's confirmed its Baa3 investment grade debt rating with a stable outlook earlier this week. – Lesprom.com

Eufaula road widening a federal case

Eufaula officials have filed a federal lawsuit to try stopping a highway through the city's historic district from being widened to four lanes.  Mayor Jack Tibbs says the city filed the suit Monday in Montgomery with the help of the Eufaula Heritage Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and others. The opponents say the widening will damage the historic charm of the mansions that line the two-lane road.  – AP/The Republic

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