Back for more

The Alabama State Legislature returns to Montgomery this week to kick off the last session of the quadrennium. This year’s environmentally related legislation that was filed before the session began brings nothing new, but some important bills are back for more this year.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Energy has a package of bills, ranging from a legislative office on energy, to research and grant development, to “idle reduction technology” to help reduce emissions from larger vehicles.

Most notably, HB125 expands the “back-to-school” sales tax holiday to include Energy Star appliances of $1,500 or less. Additionally, HB126 establishes an income tax credit for the installation of energy efficient equipment in one’s home or business. Rep. Greg Wren, who serves as co-chair of the energy committee, sponsored both of these bills.

Additionally, Rep. Cam Ward and Rep. Mac McCutcheon have reintroduced HB70, which establishes a five-member commission to oversee the Alabama Department of Transportation. Ward has introduced this bill several years in attempt to get more transparency and accountability in decision-making at ALDOT.

On the subject of roads, Sen. Lowell Barron introduced his promised $1 billion-for-roads bill – SB121. However, Barron’s colleagues across the aisle have beaten him to the punch. Senators Steve French, Jabo Waggoner, and Del Marsh have introduced SB2, their own version of Alabama’s road stimulus bill.

While Senate Democrats proposal would remove $100 million a year for 10 years from the Alabama Trust Fund for new road construction, the Republican version seeks $125 million for eight years. Both proposals would take money from the state savings account to spread statewide for new roads, with a minimal amount earmarked for maintenance and repair.

Neither bill provides funding for public transportation.

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