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Top News Links: Monday, March 23

Bentley in Birmingham to talk taxes

While legislators are on spring break this week, Governor Robert Bentley will take this time to travel across the state to provide a legislative update on important state issues. Governor Bentley will be in Birmingham today and he'll focus on his revenue proposal for the General Fund. – WAFF

Top Dem: Here’s why tax hike won’t fly

Alabama House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) said Sunday that Republican legislative leaders are rejecting Gov. Robert Bentley’s tax hike package because it includes bills that Democrats have been proposing for years. – Yellowhammer

Openness or free football tickets?

A state representative from Vestavia Hills introduced bills Thursday to nearly double the membership of University of Alabama Board of Trustees to offer greater representation among the system’s three campuses and require ethics training for all trustees of the state’s public colleges and universities. “I think we need this openness and transparency,” Rep. Jack D. Williams said. – Tuscaloosa News

Governor signs charter schools bill

Gov. Robert Bentley has signed into law the legislation to create charter schools in Alabama. Charter schools are publicly funded but operate outside of traditional rules and regulations. The bill will allow 10 start-up schools per year, chartered by nonprofit groups that can contract educational services to private businesses. State funding, and most local funding, will follow the students. – Decatur Daily

Officials: $85M Gulf Park project misunderstood

An $85 million project to build several improvements to Gulf State Park -- including a $56 million lodge and meeting space -- has drawn both vocal critics and ardent supporters since it was announced last year, but the project's executive director says many who criticize the project are making incorrect assumptions about what the finished product will be. – AL.com

Drummond competitor finding efficiencies

The Colombian coal-mining venture jointly owned by BHP Billiton Plc, Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc expects all of its operations to be profitable by year-end after cost-cutting and productivity measures. Cerrejon will continue renegotiating contracts with outsourced contractors and make sure machinery is being used as efficiently as possible amid a price slump, according to Chief Executive Officer Roberto Junguito. – Bloomberg

Dorsey Trailer announces 50 new jobs

A more than 100-year-old industry announced the addition of 50 new jobs at its Elba facility on Friday. Dorsey Trailer has been a part of the Wiregrass since 1911. The trailer manufacturer has seen its ups and downs over the years, but has continued to maintain its presence in Elba. – Dothan Eagle

It’s official: Birmingham ‘least gay’ city

After interviewing 374,325 randomly selected adults in all 50 states, researchers found that the most “gay” metropolitan areas were in the West, while the least gay were in the Midwest and South. In Birmingham, Alabama only 2.6% of adults identify as LGBT — the lowest percentage of any of the 50 largest US cities. – Business Insider

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