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Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 4-5-2024

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.

The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries, the League of Women Voters of Alabama and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program are challenging a new law that makes it a crime to receive payment or pay someone to distribute or collect absentee ballot applications. The lawsuit says the new law is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Alabama lawmakers passed SB1, a bill that Republicans said would stop ballot harvesting, the distribution and collection of absentee ballot applications by third parties to influence elections. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill on March 20. AL.com reports Secretary of State Wes Allen says it will be in effect for the general election in November.

For the first time in four weeks, Alabama lawmakers took official action on proposed lottery and gambling legislation on Thursday. AL.com reports The House of Representatives voted to non-concur with the version of the two-bill plan passed by the Senate on March 7. That sends the bills to a conference committee, where three representatives and three senators will try to reach a compromise that could win approval by both chambers. If that happens, voters would have the final say on whether to approve the constitutional amendment required to approve a lottery or other gambling.

The Alabama House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require makers of cellphones and tablets to equip the devices with a filter to block pornography that would be activated when used by a minor. The bill says that beginning on Jan. 1, 2026, all smartphones and tablets activated in the state must contain a filter, determine the age of the user during activation and account set-up, and set the filter to “on” for minor users. The devices must include the capability to deactivate and reactivate the filter with a password. AL.com reports the bill passed by a vote of 98-0. It now moves to the Senate.

Alabama led the country in passenger vehicle exports last year, shipping out more than $11 billion in cars. According to World Institute of Strategic Economic Trade, an international trade data and statistics provider, Alabama surpassed South Carolina, the second highest vehicle exporter, by more than $1 billion. AL.com reports he bulk of transportation equipment comes from vehicle equipment made throughout the state from Mercedes Benz outside of Tuscaloosa, to Hyundai in Montgomery, Mazda Toyota in Huntsville and Honda in Lincoln. According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, passenger vehicles are the top export category for the state.

The Madison County Public Safety Career Fair will be held Saturday, April 6, from 2-6 p.m. at Butler Green at Campus No. 805 on Clinton Ave. In addition to Huntsville Police Department and Huntsville Fire & Rescue, recruiters from Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, HEMSI, Madison Police Department, Madison Fire & Rescue, Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Huntsville Police Dispatch will be available to discuss career opportunities.

The Rocket City Regional – Alabama's annual For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition is going on Friday and Saturday at the Von Braun Center South Hall. FIRST Robotics is a global robotics competition for students in grades 9-12. Teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, and build and program industrial-sized robots to play a difficult field game against competitors. This event is free for the public.

Future Technologies & Enabling Plasma Processes, the UAH Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research and NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe are teaming up to mark the solar eclipse on Monday. They’ll offer a solar viewing tent and Galileoscopes with sun funnels and solar viewers. The program at Charger Union on the UAH campus is free and open to the public. It runs from noon to 3 p.m. Peak coverage for the campus is expected to be at 2:01 p.m.