Senate spends two weeks on road bill

One might say there is a roadblock in the Alabama State Senate.

For five of the total 30 days the legislature meets, the Senate has been debating SB121. The Democrats’ plan to take $100 million a year for 10 years from the Alabama Trust Fund to build roads and bridges has met with resistance from Republicans, who incidentally have a plan of their own (SB2).

Each side of the aisle has expressed concern over the amount of funds being taken out of the Trust Fund, our state savings account (which currently has about $2.7 billion). They have had differences of opinion over who is better suited to administer the money – the bureaucracy of ALDOT or earmarks from the legislature.

While the debate has kept the bill from moving forward, what’s missing from the discussion is of note. There have been no proposed amendments to invest some of the funds into public transit and alternative modes of transportation. Additionally, with thousands of Alabama’s roads and bridges needing billions of dollars of repairs, there have been no amendments to increase the minimum amount (currently at 25 percent) of the funding required to be spent on maintenance and repair.

In other news, the Senate agriculture committee passed the hog farm bill (SB61), with an amendment. In an apparent attempt to appease citizen groups who have killed this bill for eight years, the committee exempted hog farm operations from being immune to nuisance lawsuits. However, the exemption only applies to hog farms that are opened or expanded after the act becomes law. The amendment does nothing but grandfather in current hog farm operations, several of which have been known to be bad actors, degrading the quality of life of rural Alabamians.

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