July 30 Morning Newscast

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July 30, 2012 Morning Edition News

Starting Wednesday, texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving will be illegal in Alabama, with violators facing fines and possibly higher insurance rates. Republican Rep. Jim McClendon of Springville persuaded lawmakers to make Alabama the 38th state to ban the practice. The state Department of Public Safety reports that distraction from an electronic communication device caused more than 1,200 accidents in Alabama in 2010 and claimed five lives.

Birmingham officials say the city is uncovering violations after banning indoor smoking in public places. The new ordinance makes it illegal to smoke inside public establishments such as restaurants and bars. Smokers can light up if they move outside at least seven feet away from the building. City councilor Johnathan Austin tells WBMA-TV that officials have sent letters to a half-dozen restaurants and bars accused of not complying. Businesses caught violating the law can be fined and multiple violations can result in the loss of a business license.

Tuscaloosa County’s circuit judges and prosecutors say they’re withdrawing from sex abuse cases brought against the county’s former corrections director. Dan Boisot is charged with sodomy, sexual abuse and extortion in cases involving four alleged victims. He has yet to be arraigned in the case. The Tuscaloosa News reports that all four county judges and the district attorney’s office have now recused themselves from all proceedings involving Boisot, with whom they had a close working relationship. Walker County Circuit Judge Hoyt Elliot has been assigned to the case.

Wildlife officials are considering changing state rules that limit the catch of largemouth and Alabama spotted bass. Currently, the law only allows 13-15 inch catches. But officials are considering allowing fisherman to take “pan-size” fish less than 13 inches long and bass longer than 15 inches. The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries has been surveying fisherman at Smith Lake to determine the health and size of the largemouth and Alabama spotted bass population at the reservoir. They’ll present those survey results today.

A Birmingham native who had a half century long career in western and science fiction movies and television has died. R.G. Armstrong attended Howard College – now known as Samford University – before transferring to the University of North Carolina, where he earned a master of fine arts degree. In a 1975 interview with the Birmingham News Armstrong said, “Back then, coming from the steel mills like I did, you didn’t admit you wanted to be a writer. If you did, you were considered a sissy.” Armstrong’s acting career included television roles in Maverick, Bonanza and Gunsmoke as well as The Andy Griffith Show, The Fantasy Island, and Charlie’s Angels. His movies included El Dorado with John Wayne, Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger and he played Pruneface in 1990’s “Dick Tracy”. R.G. Armstrong was 95 when he died at his Studio City, California home on Friday.