Top Headlines: New 2020 laws, New factory for Marengo County

Wave of new laws to take effect in 2020: Electric cars, data privacy & more
The New Year will bring new charges for some owners of electric vehicles, as an increasing number of states seek to plug in to fresh revenue sources to offset forgone gas taxes. In Hawaii, the charge will be $50. In Kansas, $100. In Alabama and Ohio, $200. New or higher registration fees go into effect Wednesday for electric vehicle owners in at least eight states. – CNBC

New wood pellet factory announced for Marengo County
A $100 million wood pellet factory will be built in Demopolis, company officials announced Friday. The plant will be located on the Tombigbee River so that the pellets can be loaded into barges and shipped to the state Port of Mobile for export. Tuscaloosa-based Westervelt is partnering with Canadian Pinnacle Renewable Energy to build the new facility in Marengo County. – AL Political Reporter

Two University of Alabama grads make Forbes’ most powerful women list
Two University of Alabama graduates have made Forbes’ 2019 list of the world’s 100 most powerful women. Marillyn Hewson is number 10 and Vicki Hollub is 47. Hewson serves as chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp. This year marks the second consecutive year she has appeared in the top 10 of Forbes’ annual list. Hollub is president and CEO of Occidental Petroleum, the first woman CEO of a major U.S. oil and gas company when she assumed the role in 2016. – News release

Ascend plans $175 million expansion in Decatur
Ascend Performance Materials is planning a $175 million expansion of its Decatur manufacturing plant. The company, which has been in Morgan County for more than 50 years, will add 10 “high-end” manufacturing jobs to its 400-plus workforce as a result of the expansion. The project will create about 150 construction jobs. MasTec Power Corp. was selected to serve as prime contractor. Construction should begin in the second quarter of 2020, with completion in late 2021. The expansion will construct energy cogeneration units, which the company says will reduce emissions by more than 60 percent at the facility. –

Notable new companies, expansions and jobs announced in Huntsville in 2019
Here are the major new companies, expansions and jobs announced in Huntsville, Ala., in 2019, as collected by the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Dozens of smaller businesses from restaurants and coffee shops to clothing stores and startups also started or grew in the city during the year, but those are a story for another day. These are the bigger developments whose announcements suggest they will be hiring in 2020 and beyond. –

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Mobile tries to decide whether to derail Amtrak return
City leaders in Mobile, Alabama, are preparing to decide a key issue in restoring passenger train service along the northern Gulf Coast. Council members are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to commit as much as $3 million over three years to operate Amtrak trains through the city. – Fox10TV

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