Next week, Tuscaloosa businessman and county board of education authority State Representative John Merrill plans to announce that he will run for Alabama secretary of state in 2014, according to Following his announcement in the County Commission chambers Tuesday morning, Merrill will make three other appearances to announce his candidacy.

In state news, Alabama schools superintendent Tommy Bice said during a work session of the Alabama Board of Education yesterday that he's confident in the comprehensive safety plan for the state's schools.

Speaking of safety plans, today, Vice President Joe Biden is headed to Virginia, where he plans a roundtable discussion with experts who worked on gun safety following the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech. Virginia lawmakers have been debating a bill to require that private sellers conduct criminal background checks at gun shows.

In entertainment news, Britain's Data Regulator has fined Sony almost $400,000 for having insufficient security measures to prevent the April 2011 cyberattack on its PlayStation Network, which compromised millions of users' personal information.