Tennessee Valley News Update - Week in Review April 21, 2023
Gun violence is the leading cause of death among children in Alabama. That’s acc ording to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AL.com reviewed recent data after four people died and 32 people were injured during a mass shooting at a birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama. Two people killed were high school students. From 2018-2020, firearms were the second-leading cause of death forchildren in Alabama behind car crashes. In 2020, 38 children died from firearms in Alabama. In 2021, the number of accidental and intentional deaths from firearms jumped to 80. Nationwide, Alabama had the fourth highest death rate by firearm for all age groups, behind Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico.
Four bills to update and expand the tax credits and other incentives that Alabama uses to recruit industry and develop industrial sites have won final approval in the Alabama Legislature. AL.com reports Governor Kay Ivey signed the bills, called the Game Plan, into law at a ceremony at the Capitol this week. One of the bills will renew and expand the Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act. The Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy Act, or SEEDS Act, will provide grants to promote the development of industry-ready sites. A law called the Innovation and Small Business Act is intended to promote the development of technology companies. The final new law will require the Alabama Department of Commerce to publish on its website the incentives paid to companies that have project agreements with the state.
Alabama lawmakers have moved forward with a bill that would make it a felony for people to help someone fill out an absentee ballot. AL.com reports the bill passed out of a House elections committee Wednesday with a vote of 9-3. The bill would make it a Class C felony for people to distribute, order, request, collect, complete, obtain, or deliver an absentee ballot or application on behalf of another person, with a few exceptions. It would also make it a Class B felony to pay a third party to assist. Community advocates held a news conference after the hearing, where they said the passage of the bill would violate both the Voting Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the bill is signed in to law, opponents say they plan to protest it in court.
Work on a $65 million project that includes the construction of a suspension pedestrian bridge over Memorial Parkway will begin sometime next spring. That’s according to Shane Davis, the city’s director of urban and economic development. Davis told the Downtown Redevelopment Authority last week the project will take about 30 months to complete. AL.com reports that in addition to the Skybridge, the project also includes
transforming Pinhook Creek from what Davis calls “an ugly ditch” into a linear River Walk Park.
Arts Huntsville is seeking volunteers for the 2023 Panoply Arts Festival, to be held in downtown Huntsville April 28, 29 and April 30. Panoply Arts Festival requires over 1,000 volunteers to bring arts, music and more to the community in Big Spring Park. Volunteer shifts vary in length and are available in every area of the park. The minimum age to volunteer is 14 years old with an adult present. Volunteers will gain free admission to
the festival. Individuals can sign up to volunteer at artshuntsville.org. Groups interested in volunteering together can email Patrice Johnson at Patrice@artshuntsville.org to coordinate.