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Top News Links: Thursday, March 17

Bentley threatens veto over freshly passed budget

The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a general fund budget that Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto over Medicaid funding. Representatives approved the spending bill on a 65-35 vote after a five-hour filibuster by black lawmakers. Democrats harshly criticized the proposed spending plan, which is $85 million short of the amount Bentley says is needed to adequately fund the state's Medicaid program. – AP/Daily Progress

Hospital Association protests lack of Medicaid funding

“The  General Fund Budget passed yesterday is $85 million short of the money needed to fund the current Medicaid program, a program that provides health care to almost 25 percent of the state’s population,” said Danne Howard, executive vice president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “With this level of funding Medicaid will have to make severe and unsustainable cuts that would limit access to care not only for Medicaid recipients, but for all Alabamians. In addition, delivery system reform in this environment would not be possible.” – Dothan First

California-based company gets I-59/20 work

Granite Construction Inc. has been awarded a $209 million contract by the Alabama Department of Transportation for the construction of the interchange at I-59/20 and I-65. The project includes new direct connector bridges to Birmingham’s downtown, widening of existing bridges to improve operations for connection to future phases, as well as replacement of crossover bridges and main lane pavement improvements. Construction is scheduled to begin in late spring and be completed by fall 2018. – News release

Army’s TRADOC reveals new priorities

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command has developed a list of eight capabilities that service leaders should prioritize in acquisition programs, a senior officer revealed Wednesday in Huntsville. “Our intention is … to focus force modernization on the Army’s most critical gaps,” said Maj. Gen. Robert “Bo” Dyess, deputy director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. The “Big Eight” are: future vertical lift; advanced protection; cross-domain fires; combat vehicles; robotics and autonomous systems; expeditionary mission command; cyber and electromagnetic warfare; and “soldier/team performance and overmatch.” – NationalDefenseMagazine.org

Spring break in full, profitable swing

It’s a busier than normal spring break along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. They started showing up last week and when they’re not on the beach, spring breakers are finding all sorts of ways to have fun. “This week has been pretty epic,” said Jeremy Tate, Hummingbird Ziplines. Hummingbird Ziplines in Gulf Shores has been slammed, taking up on average 12 crews a day on tours. – WBRC

Federal Reserve redesign efforts officially hailed

Renovations are under way on downtown Birmingham's historic Federal Reserve building, but it got made official Wednesday evening. Building architects, developers, contractors and other officials held a tile-breaking ceremony alongside Birmingham Mayor William Bell. The building renovations are being handled by Harbert Realty and Capstone Real Estate Investments, which purchased the 85,000-square-foot property in September 2014. – AL.com

Plastics recycler expanding to Alabama

Green Processing Co. Inc. is expanding into Alabama, a move driven by current customer demand to broaden its geographic reach. The Windsor, Ontario-based plastics recycler plans to add Birmingham to its three hometown sites and its single locations in Laredo, Texas, and Cleveland. – Plastics News

‘Growler Bill’ passes state Senate

SB211, aka the “Growler Bill,” passed the Alabama Senate Tuesday, by a vote of 23 to 4. If Governor Bentley signs the bill, it would go into effect on June 1. This bill will allow patrons of the states’ breweries to purchase up to 288 ounces of beer in a growler, per person, per day, from the brewery’s tap rooms. Additionally, the bill removes a stipulation that brewpubs could only open in counties that were wet prior to Prohibition. – Beer Street Journal

National Maritime Museum board names officers

It’s been more than 22 years since the Board of Trustees of the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico elected officers, but on Thursday, March 10, in a historic event for GulfQuest, Board Chairman E. B. Peebles passed the gavel and the Trustees unanimously elected new officers and an executive committee. Moving into the chairman’s role is Michael B. Lee. – News release

University of Mobile earns marketing awards

The University of Mobile earned top national marketing awards in the 31st Educational Advertising Awards, the largest educational advertising awards competition in the United States. The UMobile Marketing and Public Relations Office earned two Gold Awards and a Bronze Award for their work on a fundraising campaign, social media content site and a special video. – News release

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