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Top News Links: Thursday, March 5

Plan on losing an arm? Move to Georgia

At the time of their accidents, Jeremy Lewis was 27, Josh Potter 25. The men lived within 75 miles of each other. Both were married with two children about the same age. Their injuries, suffered on the job at Southern industrial plants, were remarkably similar, too. Each man lost a portion of his left arm in a machinery accident. Lewis received just $45,000 in workers' compensation for the loss of his arm. Potter, who lives in Georgia, was awarded benefits that could surpass $740,000 over his lifetime. Lewis lives in Alabama, which has the nation's lowest workers' comp benefits for amputations. – Gizmado

Sue Bell Cobb writes of big money in high courts

“The money was important. In Alabama, you don’t get to mete out justice without spending millions of dollars. I had my money; my opponent had his. The race for dollars reached new heights when a poll showed that I had a real chance of winning despite being a Democrat and the underdog, leading my opponent and his supporters to significantly increase their fundraising. And I had to answer in the best way I could—by trying to raise more money—or risk falling woefully behind. The amounts are utterly obscene.” – Politico

State will get chance to defend RR fuel tax

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Alabama should have the chance to justify a fuel sales tax that it assesses on railroads but not on competitors in the trucking and barge industries. The justices ruled 7-2 against CSX Transportation Inc., which had challenged the state's assessment of a 4 percent sales tax whenever the company purchased diesel fuel. – ABC News

Bentley budgets flat as a pancake

Gov. Robert Bentley’s budget proposal would effectively level-fund most state agencies, using a proposed $541 million tax increase to fill an anticipated $290 million General Fund budget hole, pay off lingering debts, add teachers, fund prison reform and begin to settle an outstanding Medicaid payments issue with the federal government. – Montgomery Advertiser

Not surprising: Bankers hate losing exemptions

When Governor Bentley rolled out his $541 million tax increase proposal last week, he estimated that $1 million of that increase would come from eliminating the tax credit financial institutions receive against the Financial Institution Excise Tax (FIET). But while eliminating the FIET exemption is but a very small part of Bentley’s plan, banks around the state estimate that it will cost them — and ultimately their customers — far more than the relatively paltry sum the tax increase will bring into the General Fund. – Yellowhammer

Towns losing liquor, tax income

On Friday, Alabama's Supreme Court struck down the 2009 law that allowed small cities to conduct wet-dry referendums. This decision has put both Moulton and Town Creek into limbo about alcohol sales. In all, 35 Alabama towns have approved alcohol sales or have gone wet since the law was enacted. Now that revenue stream is in danger of drying up. – Moulton Advertiser

Kay Ivey preaches ‘Buying Alabama’s Best’

Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey encouraged the state on Wednesday to flip over products at the grocery store to ensure they are Alabama grown. At the annual "Buy Alabama's Best" campaign held at the Capital City Club, she said "Alabama's Best" represents firms headquartered in Alabama, or who make their products here. – Montgomery Advertiser

Olin resumes chlorine, salt production

Olin Corporation announced it is lifting the force majeure declared on February 10, 2015 for chlorine and chemically pure salt from its McIntosh, Alabama facility.  Normal production of chlorine and chemically pure salt from that plant has now resumed. – PR Newswire

Former employees claim Austal overcharges

A lawsuit accuses Austal USA of knowingly overbilling the the federal government for work while building ships for the military, misrepresenting the rank and work hours of employees to sustain defense contracts for its Mobile River shipyard. The claim is being lodged by five former employees who jointly filed suit as whistleblowers on behalf of the U.S. government. – AL.com

South Alabama metro named top 10

The Daphne-Fairhope-Foley metropolitan area has been named a top-10 metro area by Site Selection magazine. Atlanta-based Conway Data, publisher of Site Selection, ranked Baldwin County's tri-city metro among other areas with a population of less than 200,000 in the magazine's March 2015 online edition. – AL.com

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