Morning news update - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Morning news update

Bob Riley pressures Jeffco lawmakers towards financial solution

Governor Bob Riley says Jefferson County lawmakers appear closer to finding solution to the county's budget crisis. He says only lawmakers can do it now. Riley met with lawmakers Saturday, seeking an update on negotiations for an occupational tax compromise. It seems some personal lobbying by Governor Riley may be helping bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats over how to reinstate Jefferson County's occupational tax. The governor met privately Saturday with four senators and representatives in Birmingham. Democratic State Representative John Rogers was not there, but did talk to the Governor on Monday. Rogers says one potential compromise plan would include licensed professionals in the tax, but lower the tax rate from .5 to .35. The compromise might also call for a countywide referendum to give voters the final say on whether the tax stays or goes. Rogers has said he would not support any plan that leaves licensed professionals like doctors and lawyers out of the tax. Republican Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner says he is open to working something out because the county's financial picture is getting worse by the day. No one is making any promises yet, but both lawmakers said they feel a sense of urgency because of the county's dire financial picture and the personal lobbying efforts by Governor Riley. The delegation is scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss the occupational tax issue more. The Governor has said he would call a special session to re-instate the tax if the House and Senate delegations can agree on a compromise ahead of time.

Case continues between Jeffco Sheriff and Commission

A court hearing resumes later this morning concerning the county commission's cuts of Sheriff Mike Hale's budget. Hale is expected to testify today. On Monday, the county's Finance Director, Travis Hulsey, took the stand. He said that the sheriff's office can operate without the five million dollars the county needs to cut from the department's budget. Sheriff Mike Hale argues the cut would mean the loss of 155 deputies. He says the narcotics division would be shut down. The sheriff's attorney says that would lead to a crisis in the county.

Second day of confirmation hearings for Sotomayor

Another round of confirmation hearings comes today for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Today, Senate Republicans plan to confront Sotomayor with her own words taken from speeches dating back 15 years. On Monday, Sotomayor took to the stand saying the law, not her personal and professional experiences, has driven her rulings as a judge. With that comment she was addressing concerns raised by Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and others who say she might let her own empathy and opinions drive her rulings.

Katopodis denied bond

Longtime Birmingham Politician John Katopodis will remain behind bars. A judge has denied bond for Katopodis, saying his attorneys did not prove he was not a flight risk or a threat to the community. Katopodis was convicted of 97 counts of mail and wire fraud for spending money belonging to a charity. He is scheduled to be sentenced October 28th.

AL Attorney General ready to assist in Gabe Watson trial in Australia

Alabama Attorney General Troy King says he is ready to assist in the next Australian hearing for Gabe Watson. King sent Australian prosecutors an outline for use in a hearing scheduled for July 17th. Queensland's Attorney General appealed Watson's one-year sentence saying it was inadequate. Watson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in his wife Tina's death. She drowned during a scuba diving trip on the couple's honeymoon in 2003.

Fairfield murder suspect to be extradited

A suspect in the murder of a Fairfield jewelry store owner will be extradited from Virginia to Alabama on July 22nd. Edward Morsby was captured in Virginia a day after Lee Duong was killed inside his store. Police say Morsby and Perry Cauthen, Jr. robbed Duong and then shot and killed him. Both suspects face criminal murder charges.  

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