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Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 2/16/24

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

Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.

A plan to allow a lottery, casinos, and legal sports betting in Alabama passed a crucial test Thursday when the Alabama House of Representatives approved a proposed constitutional amendment and a companion bill. AL.com reports the House approved the amendment by a vote of 70-32. The constitutional amendment will need approval by voters to authorize the expansion of legal gambling. The legislation now moves to the Senate. If this year’s plan clears the Legislature, it would be on the ballot in November.

Alabama legislators are one step closer to removing the state’s sales tax on baby supplies and feminine hygiene products. The items listed in a new bill include baby formula, bottles, wipes, breast milk pumping equipment, diapers, maternity clothing, and menstrual hygiene products. WHNT TV reports the Alabama Senate Finance and Taxation Committee unanimously voted to send the bill to the Senate floor this week. If passed by the Alabama House, Senate, and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, the law would go into effect October 1.

Alabama companies exported goods and services worth over $27.4 billion in 2023, a new annual record. Exports in 2023 rose 6% from the previous year, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. Commerce data shows exports in 2023 included shipments of vehicles, aerospace parts, minerals and metals. Business Alabama reports the top five destinations for Alabama exports last year were Germany, Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea.

The Milken Institute has named the Rocket City as Alabama’s best performing large city. It ranked no. 16 overall, with Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Boise City, Idaho claiming the top three spots respectively. The Milken Institute releases annual data about the nation’s best performing cities. Several factors are considered including: broadband internet coverage, community resilience, housing affordability, gross domestic product growth, job growth and wage growth. The Huntsville Blast reports Huntsville was the only city in Alabama to make the top one hundred.

Billboard Magazine has released its list of top venues for the year. Orion Amphitheater was named the Top East Coast Amphitheater in 2024. The venue, designed The Venue Group, has seen a rise in big-name acts. Along with world-class artists, the Orion hosts several local events throughout the year. WHNT TV reports the Rocket City Reading Fest hosted by the Huntsville Madison County Public Library is set for March 10. There will also be an arts event featuring local Black artists on February 24.

Arts Huntsville, in partnership with the City of Huntsville and District 4 Council Member Bill Kling, is announcing the first public art open calls of 2024 for three green spaces within the city. This opportunity seeks artistic visions to transform Archer Park, Rose Park, and John Hunt Park inviting residents to connect with art in their everyday lives. Detailed project descriptions, submission requirements, and deadlines can be found at www.artshuntsville.org.