Tennessee Valley News Update - Week in Review May 26, 2023
The Madison County district attorney’s office announced Wednesday it will seek the death penalty for Juan Robert Laws. He is the suspect in the fatal shooting of Huntsville police officer Garrett Crumby. District Attorney Rob Broussard confirmed to AL.com that the decision had been made to pursue the highest penalty for Laws, whose case was turned over to a grand jury yesterday following a preliminary hearing. Following the hearing, Madison County District Judge Linda Coats ruled there was sufficient evidence for a grand jury to consider an indictment. Bruce Gardner, one of Laws’ court-appointed attorneys, says he expects it would be at least a year before a grand jury hears the case. If convicted, Laws would face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Alabama lawmakers met into the early hours of Friday morning to reach an agreement on a record $3 billion General Fund budget. The plan would increase spending for prisons, Medicaid, public health, mental health, law enforcement, and other non-education state agencies. The budget also includes money for a 2% cost of living adjustment for state employees. The Legislature gave final approval after a conference committee worked out differences between the House and Senate versions. The plan is for the calls for a 6% increase in spending over the fiscal year which begins October 1st. The House had approved the budget a month ago. The Senate passed the budget on a vote of 28-3, sending it to Gov. Kay Ivey, who can sign it into law.
A bill to cut Alabama’s sales tax on food moved closer to becoming law this week after winning approval in the Alabama House of Representatives. The bill would cut the 4% tax to 3% on Sept. 1 of this year. On Sept. 1, 2025, the tax would drop to 2%. The reduction to 2% in 2025 would be delayed if projected growth in revenues to the Education Trust Fund are less than 2% in fiscal year 2025. AL.com reports that when fully implemented, the tax is expected to save Alabama taxpayers about $300 million a year. The bill passed by a vote of 103-0. It moves to the Senate. All 35 senators signed on as sponsors or co-sponsors to a similar bill.
A Huntsville area real estate group no longer plans to build an apartment complex at the corner of Four Mile Post Road and Garth Road in the Jones Valley area. Peter Lowe III with G.W. Jones & Sons Real Estate Investment Company told WHNT TV the project is “not going forward”. Lowe said hearing the feedback from the community definitely weighed on their decision to scrap the project. In February, the Huntsville Planning Commission voted 5 to 4 to advance plans for an 11-building apartment development to be built on 41 acres of land owned by the company. The land is adjacent to the Lendon development, which is a single-family home community with plans for further development.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is asking people to be prepared and stay safe if they plan on riding a boat on Memorial Day weekend. Chad Dyer, with the ALEA Marine Patrol Division, told WHNT TV that they expect hundreds of boats on the Tennessee River for Memorial Day. He says boaters should check fire extinguishers on their boats, make sure they have enough life jackets, and make sure boat lights are working. He adds they will have more officers patrolling the water throughout the three-day weekend and no one should drive a boat while drinking.
The Cotton Row Run is set for this Monday. The Run has been the premiere Memorial Day running event in the South. Runners pass through a living memorial flag line that commemorates Fallen Warriors whose family members live in North Alabama. Proceeds from the race benefit Gold Star Families, Snowball Express, Gold Star Moms, and other charities in the community. The 10 K race begins at 7, the 5 K at nine and the 1 mile race begins at 10. The routes run through Huntsville’s Downtown, Blossomwood and Five Points neighborhoods. More information is at cottonrowruns.com.