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Tennessee Valley News Update - Week in Review May 19, 2023

 Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley
Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley

A bill to extend the statute of limitations for people who have been sexually abused as children could start moving after the bill’s sponsor threatened to stall legislation on the Senate floor. Sen. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove said an unnamed insurance company had been holding up the bill. Under current law, victims must file a suit by the time they turn 25 years old. The Alabama Reflector reports Coleman’s bill would extend the statute of limitations from six years to 36 years after a victim has turned 19 years old. The bill, which is retroactive, allows victims under 55 years old to file civil action against their alleged abuser. The bill provides a two-year window for extending the statute of limitations for people to file their civil claims.

A bill to allow some inmates serving a sentence of life without parole to apply for a new sentence won approval this week in the Alabama House of Representatives. To be eligible, inmates must have served at least 23 years in prison and could not have committed a homicide, sex offense, or any crime that caused a serious physical injury. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa, says about 300 inmates would be eligible. AL.com reports they would apply to the trial court where they were convicted for a new sentence.

The 2023-2024 U.S. News & World Report’s rankings are in and Huntsville is near the top of the list. In the newest report, Huntsville was listed as the second-best place to live in the United States with Green Bay, WI. taking first. The primary reasons listed were the city’s thriving job market, low cost of living and high quality of life. WAFF TV reports other assets highlighted were Huntsville’s diverse economy, excellent education institutions and community.

Huntsville added nearly 3,300 people from July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022. That’s according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. That adds up to about nine new people per day moving to town. AL.com reports Huntsville is now home to roughly 222,000 people, and it’s the only city in Alabama with more than 200,000 residents, as the state’s three other large cities continue to shrink. Montgomery, the second largest city in Alabama, lost about 1,500 people, while Birmingham - long the most populous in the state until the 2020 Census moved it down the list - lost about 900 people from 2021 to 2022.

Governor Kay Ivey announced Friday that April was a record low for unemployment in the state of Alabama. The April 2023 unemployment rate came in at 2.2% which represents 51,462 unemployed persons, a new record low. WHNT TV reports Madison and Athens were among the state’s lowest unemployment rates by city. Madison’s unemployment rate is 1.2% with Athens reporting a rate of 1.4%. Decatur’s unemployment rate is 1.5%, with Huntsville reporting1.6%.

Officials celebrated the topping out, or the placement of the final beam on top of the structure, of Huntsville’s new city hall building. WHNT TV reports the 7-story structure, which will also have a parking deck, should be finished in early 2024.