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Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 3-22-2024

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 new Alabama law banning diversity, equity and inclusion offices, programming and training in public colleges and other state agencies will go into effect this fall. Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB129, known as the “divisive concepts” bill, into law this week. The law will become effective Oct. 1st. AL.com reports the law bans any program that “advocates for a divisive concept.” It also would prohibit higher education institutions from allowing individuals to use a restroom that is different from their sex as assigned at birth. In a message to students and faculty Tuesday evening, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John IV and presidents of the System’s three campuses said leadership and legal counsel are working to determine what actions the colleges will need to take to ensure their programs are in compliance with the law.

Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law a bill that Republicans say would prevent fraud in absentee voting. AL.com reports Democrats and some advocacy groups say it will criminalize work that helps the elderly, disabled, and incarcerated people cast their ballots. The bill says the new law takes effect immediately. But Secretary of State Wes Allen said it will not be in effect for the April 16 primary runoff or upcoming special elections. He said it will be in effect for the general election in November. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, noted that the law does not prohibit voters who are disabled, blind, or cannot read or write from receiving help from a person of their choice. That is protected by the federal Voting Rights Act.

For the first time, Alabama has released a plan to dramatically cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next 25 years. The plan includes more solar power with battery storage, energy-efficiency building retrofits, recycling upgrades, electric vehicles for municipal fleets and buses, and a carbon capture and storage plan to trap emissions from smokestacks and pump them underground. AL.com reports the Alabama Department of Environmental Management submitted the Preliminary Climate Action Plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month. Now the state must wait to see which projects can get federal funding.

The owners and managers of a luxury apartment complex in downtown Huntsville are the subject of a newly-filed class-action lawsuit. City Centre Residential LLC and Willow Bridge Inc. own Eclipse Residences located near Big Spring Park. WAFF TV reports they are accused of negligence, recklessness and breach of contract. The lawsuit, filed this week, claims maintenance issues such as false fire alarms, flooding and extensive water shut-off have plagued tenants for months with little being done to address them. The lawsuit claims none of the managers or owners live at the apartment.

Huntsville’s new major music festival will happen sooner than expected. WHNT TV reports the Huntsville City Council approved an agreement last October with C3 Presents to bring a music festival to John Hunt Park. At the time, the city said the festival would likely be coming in 2025, but during a Huntsville Music Office event Tuesday, it was announced the festival is now planned for September of 2024. Organizers said the lineup will be announced in April, along with the festival’s name and exact dates.

Tickets are now on sale for Huntsville’s Panoply Arts Festival. In addition to music from local talent, the three day event will also feature an art marketplace, STEAM interactives, craft beer and wine, local food trucks, face painting, fireworks and much more. This year’s festival will be held at Big Spring Park on April 26-28. More information is at https://www.artshuntsville.org/