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Senate panel advances steel mill incentives

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Tax break legislation designed to lure a huge steel mill to southwest Alabama needs only a vote in the state Senate to become official. But when that will happen depends on a political party standoff in the Senate.

A House-passed bill containing the tax breaks won approval from the Senate Economic Expansion and Trade Committee 5-0 Tuesday.

The committee's vote would normally send the bill to the Senate, but the Senate was shut down by stalling tactics Tuesday afternoon.

German steelmaker Thys-senKrupp AG is expected to decide in mid-May whether to build a 2,700-employee mill about 25 miles north of Mobile or at a location between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.

Sen. Pat Lindsey, who could end up with the plant in his district, predicted the bill will pass overwhelmingly when it comes up for a vote in the Senate.

Explosives, testified that the five — Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; Bonnell Hughes, 57; Randall Garrett Cole, 22; and James Ray McElroy, 20 — planned an attack on Mexicans in Remlap, a small town just north of Birmingham, and actually went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20, but he provided no other details.

Nesmith said Dillard told a confidential informant that the group, which calls itself the Alabama Free Militia, viewed government agents as "the enemy" and had a standing order to open fire if anyone saw government agents approaching.

Armstrong said bond was denied Dillard because he already was a fugitive after failing to report for probation on a weapons case out of Mobile.

The judge approved a $10,000 bond for the sixth defendant, 30-year-old Michael Wayne Bobo, at a later hearing. Bobo, who was kept in custody at least until Wednesday, was charged with being a drug user in possession of a firearm. The other five were charged with conspiring to make a firearm.

ATF agent Larry Alt testified that investigators who searched Bobo's home found two rooms loaded with guns and possible explosives components, including fireworks, ball bearings, primers, mouse traps, light bulbs and fertilizer. The man lived in two upstairs rooms in his parents' home in Trusville, Alt testified.

Bobby Bobo, the defendant's father, said he "knew about some of the things, and I was concerned."

But he said he was less worried after a relative in the Army looked at the cache and said there was nothing illegal.

Testimony showed that agents had secretly made recordings of the younger Bobo meeting with Dillard and McElroy in April and talking about illegal immigrants, anti-government leanings and weapons. But there was no direct mention of Bobo being in the Free Militia, evidence showed.

Attorneys for the five did not directly address the charges during the hearing.

In questioning Nesmith, however, they did attempt to show that their clients were not directly linked to all of the weapons seized.

Authorities said agents during the raids last week recovered 130 homemade hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun and 2,500 rounds of ammunition in the raids.

A lawyer for Dillard, Scott Boudreaux, has said the case had been overblown by authorities. He said his client began stockpiling items partly because of the scare of the Y2K computer glitch in 2000.

The six appeared in court as DeKalb County sheriff's deputies and federal agents searching for explosives returned to a rural area in Northeast Alabama near Collinsville, where authorities arrested some of the militia members last week and seized weapons.

Stanna Guice, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's department, said authorities received information that explosives could be hidden in a cave in the area, so officers on foot and on horseback converged in a field and worked outward to search for any possible cache.

ATF agent David Hyche said specialists were being brought in to assist with the search because of the size of the cave.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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