Hog Farm bill on the move

Alfa and state senators capitalized on a tragedy last week to move the so-called “Family Farm Preservation Act” (SB61) further than it has been over the last decade.

Following an automobile accident that left the husband of SB61-sponsor Sen. Kim Benefield in a UAB trauma unit, Sens. Zeb Little and Harri Ann Smith rallied the Senate to passing the bill 30-0 by stating that was Benefield’s only request while being at her injured husband’s side.

The bill would protect all farms, in particular existing hog operations, from nuisance lawsuits. And it is moving quickly in the House. This week, the bill was scheduled for a vote in the House agriculture committee Wednesday before dozens of citizens requested a public hearing on the bill. Traditionally, committees don’t vote the same day a public hearing is held.

Following a public hearing last week on HB116 where diverse interests spoke out in support of having dedicated state funding for transit, the road builders, county commission association, and ALDOT promised to work with Rep. Pat Todd, the sponsor of the bill, to find a funding solution for public transit. She is taking them at their word and convening meetings of all interested parties to address transit funding needs.

Additionally, alternative modes of transit, such as walking trails, got a leg up last week. HB376, which would establish the Alabama Trails Commission to advance the development, interconnection, and use of trails throughout the state, passed the House 99-0 on 2/16. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cam Ward, is awaiting a committee assignment in the Senate.

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