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Top News Links: Friday, Sept. 18

Mercedes-Benz going the $1.3B extra mile

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International unveiled plans Thursday for the largest industrial expansion in Tuscaloosa County’s history — an almost $1.3 billion addition to its automotive assembly complex there. The German automaker will build a third vehicle body shop covering about 1.4 million square feet to accommodate the demand for Mercedes' sport utility vehicles, said Jason Hoff, MBUSI president and CEO. When the expansion is completed, “the plant will span one mile end-to-end,” Hoff said. – Tuscaloosa News

Bentley signs $1.7B operating budget

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has signed the state's general fund budget.  Bentley signed the bill Thursday morning. The governor said the spending plan was not perfect but was a step in the right direction. The Alabama Legislature approved the $1.7 billion operating budget Wednesday night. – ABC 3340

Freshman lawmaker says reform talk was overdue

Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, is defending his vote for a cigarette tax increase and other revenue measures in the Statehouse this week. Several Republicans voted against those bills Tuesday, saying that they wanted budget reform instead. But Melson, a first-year lawmaker, said that those who wanted reform should have done it when the General Fund was being supported by one-time revenues, which run out in 2016. – Decatur Daily

ADOR challenges Quill sales tax decision

The Alabama Department of Revenue has challenged the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, which established a physical presence test for sales tax nexus. On Sept. 9, the Alabama Department of Revenue proposed “Requirements for Certain Out-of-State Sellers Making Significant Sales into Alabama,” which would require out-of-state sellers to collect use tax from Alabama customers if they have substantial economic presence here. – Accounting Today

The Top 5 towns where homes sell quickly

If you're selling a home in Fairfield, it'll happen a lot faster than it would in other area cities. Fairfield ranks as the No. 1 place in Alabama where it is easiest to sell a home, according to recent data from SmartAsset. Fairfield is followed by Montevallo at 59.9 days, Saraland at 68.4 days, Alabaster at 72.7 days and Theodore (Mobile County) at 74.1 days to round out the top 5. – BizJournals.com

Black business owners attend Huntsville expo

Black business owners from around north Alabama took notes from a keynote speaker at the expo hosted by the North Alabama African American Chamber of Commerce. "The event is all about exposure and education," explained NAAACC president Jerry Mitchell.  We want to expose the businesses to the community, and each other, so they can do business with each other." – WHNT

Tim Cook talks about coming out on Late Show

To the Late Show With Stephen Colbert writer who came up with the following question for Apple CEO Tim Cook on last night’s show: well done. “You yourself came out as gay recently,” Stephen begins. “Was that an upgrade or just a feature that had not been turned on before?” There’s a serious question behind a cleverly worded joke for Cook, who grew up in Alabama. – Queerty.com

Chicken proprietor runs afoul of prosecutors

Federal prosecutors say a former executive of a Louisiana-based chain of Popeyes restaurants with franchises in Alabama has been indicted on embezzlement charges. The indictment alleges that 45-year-old William Ros, of Cortez, Florida, bought a $225,000 race car using some of the nearly $1 million he embezzled when he had store managers send him and his girlfriend bundles of cash. – AP/NewsTribune

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