September 17 News

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September 17, 2012, Morning News


Thousands of people turned out of the inaugural Trucks by the Tracks food and music festival at Birmingham’s Railroad Park yesterday. The event was meant to celebrate the city’s growing food truck movement, but those mobile restaurants could face a major set-back this week. Tomorrow, the Birmingham City Council will consider an ordinance that would forbid them from parking within a block of an existing restaurant and limit the hours they can operate. It would also authorize an annual fee for food truck operators. Some of those food truck owners tell the Birmingham News that if the fees and other restrictions go into effect they will move outside the city limits. Owners of some brick-and-mortar restaurants downtown have complained the food trucks hurt their business.

Governor Robert Bentley says he’s optimistic Alabama voters will approve a constitutional amendment tomorrow to take $437 million out of a state trust fund to prevent cutbacks in state services. The constitutional amendment is supported by a broad assortment of associations, and they’ve worked hard to get a good turnout by people who are directly affected by the issue. Some legislators and tea party groups have spoken out against it. A new political action committee headed by two Montgomery businessmen has run radio ads against it, but proponents have raised far more money for their campaign.

Taxpayers did not pick up the tab for any travel by Alabama legislators during the summer convention season, a change from recent years that reflects the state’s ongoing budget troubles. The speaker of the House and the lieutenant governor didn’t approve any trips at taxpayer expense, but House Speaker Mike Hubbard says his office worked to find scholarships for several legislators to help cover part of their costs. Overall, attendance by Alabama legislators was down from past years, when the state picked up the tab.

The woman who admitted shooting six coworkers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, killing three, could receive royalties from the university for an invention that’s expected to start generating revenue soon. Amy Bishop and her husband, Jim Anderson, invented a cell incubator that has been developed for sale by InQ Biosciences. UAH owns the patent, but Bishop and Anderson are in line for part of the royalties. UAH spokesman Ray Garner tells The Huntsville Times it’s too soon to know if the university will be writing checks to Bishop and Anderson because they are being sued by some of the victims and their families. Attorneys say if the victims win those suits, they could go after any assets the couple has.

School officials in Piedmont want the federal government to keep paying for a grant providing home Internet service for its students. The grant expires in February and school superintendent Matt Akin tells the The Anniston Star making sure every child has Internet access is critical to making sure students have the same opportunities, regardless of how much money their parents make. Akin met last week with officials at the Federal Communications Commission and the state’s Congressional delegation to make a case for continuing the funding. It was guaranteed for one year.

The lake at the center of the tri-state water war between Alabama, Georgia and Florida is showing signs of the dry weather. Lake Lanier supplies most of the drinking water to metro Atlanta. It’s is more than nine feet below the full pool level, and the Army Corps of Engineers predicts it will drop another half foot by October 12. The weather has been mostly dry lately, and the rains that fell during the summer didn’t fall in the right places to fill the popular lake. The U.S. Drought Monitor says the area is experiencing moderate to severe drought.