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Top News Links: Thursday, May 7

Tax hike bills race through Legislature

In an unusually fast-moving meeting, the House Ways and Means General Fund committee Wednesday approved several tax increases and consolidations aimed at addressing a deficit in the state's troubled General Fund budget. Most of the legislation passed on voice vote with little debate. However, committee Democrats strongly criticized a bill that would impose two furlough days on state employees. – Montgomery Advertiser

Cities end deal with private probation firm

Add two more to the list of cities and towns in Alabama that are moving local probation services in-house. The Trussville city council voted last week to end its contract with a private probation company, and the Thorsby town council did the same Monday. The decisions follow on the heels of the Clanton city council's vote to terminate its contract with Judicial Correction Services – a relationship that prompted a lawsuit claiming poor residents were being extorted and threatened. – AL.com

Polaris selects contractor, design team

T.W. Frierson Contractor Inc. and Design Constructors Inc., both headquartered in Nashville, have announced they have been selected as the design/build team for the $48 million Polaris Industries Inc. manufacturing plant in the Huntsville area. – Nashville Post

Mom might be happier if she moved north

Just ahead of Mother's Day, the analysts at financial website, Wallet Hub rated the 50 states and the District of Columbia on how friendly they are to working mothers. Alabama ranked 48th, Louisiana was at the bottom, while the top three states for working mothers are Vermont, Minnesota and Wisconsin. – Wallet Hub/CNN

Simply Fashion, Dots going out of business

Simply Fashion and Dots stores nationwide are closing, and going-out-of-business sales are starting Thursday. Simply Fashion, a discount retailer of women's clothing, accessories and footwear, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month. The privately held company currently runs about 243 stores under the Simply Fashion and Dots names. Simply Fashion, which was founded in 1987, is based in Birmingham. – AP/AL.com

Urban Cookhouse to keep Birmingham fresh

Fresh fruits, veggies and market goods are on the way. Birmingham's Urban Cookhouse will be doing its part to ensure fresh produce is never too far out of reach this summer by setting up Farmer's Markets in the cities of Birmingham and Homewood. – AL.com

McGladrey joins forces with SRHW

McGladrey LLP, a nationwide provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, has joined forces with Sellers Richardson Holman & West LLP, a Birmingham-based firm that was a member of the McGladrey Alliance. – News release

Intermark Group acquires DynaMedia

Birmingham-based Intermark Group has acquired DynaMedia of America Inc., a Tampa, Fla.-based advertising agency specializing in retail and tier two and three automotive marketing. With this acquisition, DynaMedia will now have the capabilities to operate on a larger stage, while enhancing Intermark’s automotive and retail division. – News release

Speakers added to cybersecurity conference

Attila Marosi and Winn Schwartau are new speakers joining the TakeDownCon Rocket City lineup this year, as organizers expect to have an even larger turnout than for past events. The EC-Council Foundation is bringing this globally recognized cybersecurity conference to Huntsville for the third year in partnership with Dynetics, the premier sponsor and host. The event will be held July 20-21, along with a pre-conference training academy July 16-19, in the Dynetics Solutions Complex at 1004 Explorer Blvd. in Cummings Research Park. – News release

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