Tag: Alabama

Cold front to arrive in Alabama on Monday

Scott YoungNews Editor

To those who dread the long and hot Alabama summers, relief may be on the way next week.

“If you’re tired of these hot temperatures, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel,” said the National Weather Service in Birmingham on Facebook. “Not a sure thing, but computer models starting to hint of a possible wx pattern change by week’s end.”

The National Weather Service said earlier this week that their computer models are indicating a cold front is set to pass through Alabama on Monday of next week, bringing with it much cooler air and a chance of showers.

“Cranky? Tired of the heat? Your time is coming; afternoon temperatures will be 20 degrees cooler next week,” said James Spann, an ABC 33/40 meterologist familiar to many Alabamians.

However, the high in Jacksonville is expected to remain in the upper 90’s for the remainder of the week, with temperatures dipping down in the 80’s over the weekend.

After the cold front passes, highs in Jacksonville next week are expected to be in the upper 70’s and low 80’s.

The cold front follows a week of record highs in the upper 90’s across the state of Alabama. Anniston reached a record high of 98 degrees on Monday, with the prior record being 94 degrees set in 1904.

Alabama lawmakers considering vaping ban

Scott Young, News Editor

After weeks of news stories on the negative impacts of vaping products, several states have passed laws banning their sale – and Alabama may follow.

Alabama State Rep. Shane Stringer told ABC 33/40 that he is considering legislation to ban e-cigarettes in the state until the Food and Drug Administration takes action on vaping.

“This has become an epidemic in the last year or two,” said Stringer. “We’ve got to have more regulation and more accountability to deal with these vapes and the vaping industry.”

Fourteen deaths related to vaping have been reported throughout the United States. The Centers for Disease Control is now saying that vaping products containing THC is playing a role in the outbreak of deaths.

Stringer plans to meet with state health leaders soon to discuss what should be included in that potential legislation.

State Sen. Bobby Singleton said that he is open to a potential ban on vaping if the research supports the idea.

“I want to hear something from UAB, and the national institute of health, let’s get some real numbers and see what’s happening with our children,” added Singleton.

The CDC has warned Americans against using e-cigarettes or vaping products and that anyone who chooses to buy the product should not buy it off the street.

“People need to understand that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to your health,” said Dr. Michael Blaha, director of clinical research at the John Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. “You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe.”

New Alabama road laws take effect Sept. 1

Scott Young, News Editor

Several new laws that will affect Alabama drivers are set to take effect on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Earlier this year, the Alabama legislature passed HB 212 that places a limit on how many miles someone can travel in the left lane of a highway without passing a vehicle.

Rep. Phillip Pettus, the state legislator who sponsored the bill, coined it as the “Anti-Road Rage Act”.

Pettus argues that the law is designed to prevent drivers from becoming angry or violent when stuck behind slower left-lane drivers, something he says is the cause of numerous accidents.

“Over the years, I noticed there’s a big problem with drivers who remain in the left lane,” said Pettus. “What it does is it impedes traffic and makes it unsafe for other drivers.”

The law limits drivers to one and a half miles in the left lane, with exceptions for inclement weather, left exits, traffic congestion and construction. A 60-day grace period will take place beginning Sept. 1. During the grace period, officers will issue warnings rather than tickets.

Concurrently, a new law regarding seat belts takes effect Sept. 1. Alabama’s current seat belt laws only apply to front seat passengers and children riding in the back seat, but beginning Sept. 1, all back seat passengers will be required to buckle up.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 14,955 lives in the United States were saved due to seat belt use.

Rob Schaffer, the Chief of Jacksonville State University Police Department, encourages students traveling around campus and beyond to fasten their seat belts.

“I applaud the passing of this law,” said Schaffer. “Wearing seat belts is one of the most important safety measures a driver or occupant of a vehicle can do. Seat belts can reduce serious injuries or fatalities in the event you’re involved in an accident. Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not as a replacement. So please buckle up and stay alert.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Stephens

Alabama gas tax to increase 6 cents on Sept. 1

Scott Young, News Editor

In March 2019, Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill that would implement a 10 cent gas tax increase over the next three years. The first increase, of six cents, is set to take effect Sept 1.

The Rebuild Alabama Act, introduced and signed by Ivey, was designed to fund the construction of new roads and bridges in Alabama. The funds are to be dispersed among state, county and local governments for “transportation infrastructure improvement, preservation and maintenance projects.”

“After 27 years of stagnation, adequate funding is imperative to fixing our many roads and bridges in dire need of repair,” said Governor Ivey, announcing her plan. “By increasing our investment in infrastructure, we are also making a direct investment in public safety, economic development, and the prosperity of our state.”

Ivey cites a University of Alabama Transportation Institute report to justify the gas tax increase, which says that 69 billion miles are driven on Alabama roads each year.

Of the entire gas tax increase, 66 percent goes to the state, 25 percent goes to the counties and eight percent goes to the cities. Another portion of the funds would be used to pay a bond that would be issued to finance improvements to the Mobile Bay shipping channel. 

 The Alabama Department of Transportation says it will generate $122 million in fiscal year 2020 from the gas tax.

Later incremental increases include two cents on Oct. 1, 2020 and another two cents on Oct. 1, 2021.