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Top News Links: Thursday, Jan. 21

AEA calls halt to political contributions

The Alabama Education Association will halt direct political contributions while it pays off debts incurred in the 2014 state elections, officials said Wednesday. The once-powerful teachers' organization, for decades the engine of Democratic politics in Alabama, will focus on retiring a total of $4 million in loans taken out by AEA's political action committee. – Montgomery Advertiser

Legislature to consider updating alcohol laws

When the state legislature returns to regular session Feb. 2, it will be considering some small changes to laws regulating alcohol sales. For the better part of 2015, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Study Commission examined the state’s current laws governing alcohol production and distribution to determine if they were “competitive and consistent” with similar statutes in other states. Most breweries, wineries and distillers claim they currently aren’t. – Lagniappe

Montgomery getting state’s first IEP

Montgomery is getting an investment in connectivity that's a first for Alabama. Officials announced Wednesday a partnership to establish the Montgomery Cyber Connection, the state's first Internet Exchange. An Internet Exchange Point is a facility where Internet Service Providers and networks of proxy servers exchange Internet traffic.  The exchange will increase Internet speed in the River Region by storing content locally. – AL.com

Capital Growth Medvest opens Hoover FED

Capital Growth Medvest has completed Brookwood Medical Center’s new Freestanding Emergency Department in Hoover. The FED is one of the first of its kind for the state and will bring the citizens of north Shelby County and the surrounding area “hospital-level emergency services.” – News release

Obama’s gun actions reviewed by Shelby committee

Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday defended President Obama's executive actions on firearms before Republican lawmakers who challenged them as an unconstitutional power grab that will do little to curb gun violence. Lynch testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the Justice Department. The panel's Republican chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, has threatened to withhold funding for anything that infringes on the rights of gun owners. – Montgomery Advertiser

ADTRAN Q4 earnings down 38 percent from 2014

ADTRAN shares are trading lower Wednesday after the company's earnings report showed a significant decline in 2015 Q4 profits compared to 2014. The company reported $5.7 million in profits for the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to $9.3 million in 2014. Company leaders cautioned investors in October of "near term slowness" in the European market, but ADTRAN CEO Tom Stanton says there are positive indicators in the Huntsville company's earnings report because of sales in the United States. – WAAY

Gulf Coast Walmart Neighborhood Market sells for $11.2M

Marcus & Millichap, a leading commercial real estate investment services firm with offices throughout the United States and Canada, has arranged the sale of a 41,117-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market in Mobile. The $11.2 million sales price equates to $272 per square foot. – News release

Walter Energy’s end game still unfolding

Few stories in 2015 dominated the headlines like the financial collapse and subsequent bankruptcy filing of Walter Energy Inc. – which was the state's largest metallurgical coal producer. A complete sale of the company's assets was set in motion when the collective bargaining agreement with the unions was terminated, opening the door for the company's lenders to purchase the bulk of Walter's assets. – BizJournals.com

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