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Top News Links: Friday, May 29

Special session likely after revenue bill stalls

It's been a taxing spring for the Alabama Legislature. It will be a special summer. An extra session appeared to be all but certain Thursday after the Legislature failed to pass a major revenue bill for the General Fund, ending a contentious, nearly three-month debate over how -- and if -- to use new revenues to address a $200 million shortfall in the budget. – Montgomery Advertiser

House bill would lessen reliance on nursing homes

The Alabama House has passed a bill that would establish integrated care networks to allow more Medicaid recipients to stay in their homes instead of nursing homes. The House on Thursday passed the bill 98-0. The Senate unanimously passed the legislation earlier this month. Republican state Sen. Greg Reed says the legislation could cut Medicaid costs by $1.5 billion over a decade. – AP/TribTown

Korens Inc. bringing hundreds of jobs to Alex City

An auto parts manufacturer is bringing new industry and jobs to Tallapoosa County, signaling continued growth in a part of the state that continues to rebound economically. Korens Inc., a South Korean company, has set its sights on Alexander City for expansion. Officials say Korens will create 200 jobs by the end of 2019 and 400 positions by the end of 2021. – AP/WSFA

Birmingham Coal & Coke files for Chapter 11

Birmingham Coal & Coke Co., an Alabama producer and subsidiary of CanAm Coal, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, adding to the string of troubles for the Appalachian coal industry. Alberta, Canada-based CanAm said in a statement that during the financial restructuring, Birmingham "will operate its businesses, continue customer shipments, continue to honor its obligations to its landowners and will continue to pay its employees in the normal course." Birmingham Coal & Coke operates the Gooden Creek, Old Union, Bear Creek and Knight surface thermal coal mines in Alabama. – Platts.com

Farmers worry about EPA’s new water rules

Alabama farmers worry the Environmental Protection Agency’s finalized Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule released Wednesday could greatly increase regulation of agriculture under the Clean Water Act. While legal experts are still reviewing the final rule, farm groups say EPA’s past efforts to broaden its jurisdiction are cause for concern. “Since releasing the proposed WOTUS rule in April 2014, EPA has used taxpayer money to aggressively promote its plan to regulate virtually every stream and wetland under the Clean Water Act,” says Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. – Dothan First

Landegger sentenced to two months in prison

George Landegger made millions of dollars and built a paper mill empire that extended into rural Alabama. His career will end with prison and a fine, punishment that is insufficient in the view of prosecutors. A federal judge in New York earlier this month sentenced Landegger, 78, to two months in prison, followed by a year of supervised release, with the first six months under home confinement. A federal judge also fined him $30,000 and ordered him to pay $71,824 owed to the government. – AL.com

Southern Light helping to wire Huntsville

A Southern Light executive says the company plans to spend "north of $10 million" creating a new high-speed, fiber-optic communications network in Huntsville for commercial users. At Thursday night's City Council meeting, Chief Operating Officer Eric Daniels said Southern Light is already hiring and training people who will be involved in deploying the Huntsville network. The Mobile-based cable company will eventually have about 30 employees in the Rocket City, he said. – AL.com

Photographers now told their work is taxable

Two years ago, Birmingham-based commercial photographer Liesa Cole was contacted by the Alabama Revenue Department and ordered to pay six years’ worth of back sales taxes. The problem, however, is that commercial photography is a profession that has been exempt from sales taxes in Alabama because they provide a service, not a taxable good, according to Cole, who owns and operates Omni Studios in Birmingham. – Weld

Byrne tours Wood Products Inc.

Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne visited Bay Wood Products Inc. in Baldwin County on Wednesday. The 20-acre site is located on County Road 64, just south of Interstate 10 near the Wilcox Community and is part of the $11.5 billion wooden pallet and container industry in the United States and worldwide. (Editor’s note: Bay Wood Products was the cover story for May’s edition of Business Alabama.) – Gulf Coast News Today

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