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Top News Links: Tuesday, Jan. 24

Push on to fund road improvements this session

A proposal to hike Alabama’s gas tax to improve roads is expected to be a hot topic at the Alabama Legislative session next month. In December, the Alabama County Commission Association voted to support a three-cent per gallon fuel increase to fund county road repairs statewide. The proposed $1.2 billion statewide bond issue is called ATRIP II. – WTVY

Raytheon wins $235M contract for missiles in Huntsville

The U.S. Navy has awarded defense contractor Raytheon a $235 million contract to build the SM-6 missile in Huntsville, the company said in a Monday release.  The SM-6 is a multi-mission missile, that can target aircraft, missiles and other ships. The missile is mounted on Aegis cruisers and destroyers. The missile is assembled in a facility on Redstone Arsenal. Delivery will begin in 2018. – WAAY

GulfQuest to reopen with new exhibit Feb. 18

GulfQuest will reopen its doors on Feb. 18, with new operating hours, lower ticket prices and free parking. Beginning Feb. 22, GulfQuest will operate on a four-day schedule - Wednesdays through Saturdays. The museum, shuttered since Nov. 7 after only being opened for 13 months, will reopen with a new shipwreck-themed attraction called "SHIPWRECKS! Pirates and Treasure." – AL.com

Ruling upends Legislature’s latest unconstitutional districts

It's back to the drawing board for the Alabama Legislature. A federal court ruled that 12 of Alabama's legislative districts were unconstitutional, citing an improper use of race in their composition. The three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined the use of the districts in future elections but stopped short of intervening in the drawing of new districts. – Tribune News Service

Now comes hard part: sorting out a new NAFTA

President Donald Trump put neighboring Canada and Mexico on notice: He’s determined to wring out more favorable terms from NAFTA. Now comes the hard part of reworking a trade deal that’s framed relations for more than two decades. Trump’s plan to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement was received in Mexico with a call to protect tariff-free trading, while in Canada officials seemed more worried about avoiding unintentional damage to the economy as the U.S. targets Mexico. – Automotive News

Meyer Foundation boosts Southern Research

Birmingham’s Robert R. Meyer Foundation is supporting Southern Research’s Drug Discovery program with a $500,000 gift that aims to accelerate efforts to find new treatments for unmet medical conditions and rare and neglected diseases. The contribution renews close ties between the Birmingham-based nonprofit research organization and a charitable trust that became an important backer of its scientific work more than 60 years ago. – News release

Judge blocks proposed merger of Humana, Aetna

A federal judge has ruled against the proposed acquisition of the health insurance company Humana by its larger rival, Aetna. The decision is a victory for former President Obama's Justice Department, which sued Aetna last year to block the $34 billion merger, NPR's Yuki Noguchi reported. The suit alleged that the merger would hurt competition in the health care market, leading to higher prices for consumers and fewer services for Medicare patients. – Alabama Public Radio

Lawyers theorize on Trump immigration changes

While it remains to be seen just how many of his promises he’ll be able to fulfill, legal and political experts agree that President Trump and the Republican Congress have an opportunity to effectuate a dramatic reshaping of immigration law and policy in the U.S. – ABA Journal

CAE wins second flight training contract

A new contract to provide helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker in southeast Alabama has been awarded to the same company that will begin fixed-wing flight training for the Army at the Dothan Regional Airport in a few weeks. The Dothan Eagle reports CAE USA announced the full contract to provide rotary-wing flight training will be more than $50 million for the transition period and first year. – APR

Tractor Supply looking for FFA projects to fund

Tractor Supply Company, the largest rural lifestyle retail store chain in the United States, will soon be awarding Grants for Growing — starting at $500 — to qualifying Future Farmers of America chapters. Submissions are due by Monday, Feb. 13. – Military-technologies.net 

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