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Top News Links: Wednesday, Feb. 8

Lawmakers return to work, general fund a top priority

The general fund budget and Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction bill will be the first two priorities in the Alabama Senate this year, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh told ABC 33/40. State lawmakers returned to Montgomery Tuesday for the 2017 legislative session. – ABC3340

Bentley calls for potential removal of groceries sales tax

Gov. Robert Bentley advocated expansion of prekindergarten and his plan to overhaul the state's prison system during his State of the State address last night. The governor stressed the need to address entrenched poverty and said he would create a task force to study removal of the sales tax on groceries. – AL.com

Alabama 9th in ranking of potential trade war losers

The border between the U.S. and Mexico may soon expand into a 40-ft.-high, 1,000-mi.-long concrete barrier separating us from them. On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to immediately begin erecting a border wall. Meanwhile, a Wallet Hub survey puts Alabama 9th in states most vulnerable to the negative impacts of a trade war. – Wallet Hub

Hyundai prototype reveals big style changes for Santa Fe

Big styling changes are headed to Hyundai’s crossovers, according to new spy photos. Photographers caught a prototype of Hyundai’s next-gen Santa Fe undergoing cold-weather testing in Sweden. Hidden under the camouflage is a preview of what to expect when the midsize crossover debuts in 2018 as a 2019 model. – Automotive News

Spot of Tea owner organizes new Segway tours

After taking a Segway tour in Washington, D.C., a couple of years ago, Mobile restaurateur Tony Moore decided that riding a Segway was "the most fun I've ever had standing up." And it wasn't as difficult as he'd expected it to be. His son, who is autistic, "had a blast." – AL.com

Social media protesters escape lawsuit damage

The owner of a landfill in a small Alabama city has dropped a defamation lawsuit filed against residents who used social media to voice their opposition to the disposing of coal ash at the site. The American Civil Liberties Union, which defended the landfill opponents in Unionville, announced Tuesday that a settlement had been reached in U.S. District Court. – WAFF

Shipt innovator sells investment property

A Homewood office building has been sold for $1.62 million. The 40,000-square-foot building at 85 Bagby Drive has been sold to a Florida investor. The sale closed in December. Bill Smith, a local investor who is also the CEO of Shipt, bought the building called the University Building in September of 2013, when it had 40 percent occupancy. – AL.com

New air, missile defense command system’s reliability questioned

In a report from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester, the command and control portion of the Army's future Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense System (AIAMD), the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS), is "neither mature nor stable." The IBCS system is designed by Northrop Grumman, and is a major focus of the company's Huntsville work. – WAAY

Lake Martin Innovation Center launched in Alex City

Entrepreneurs, startups, remote workers and business professionals have a new place to call home with the recent launch of the Lake Martin Innovation Center in Alexander City. The 17,000-square-foot facility will function as a business incubator, complete with office suites, high-speed fiber internet and co-working space. – News release

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