Legislature moves good, bad bills before going on break

The legislature moved several environmentally related bills, both good and bad, last week before going on Spring Break.

Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, brought back up a revised bill to draw $1 billion from the Alabama Trust Fund for road and bridge construction. The previous version of the bill received five days of debate, but this version, with revisions to reflect some senators’ concerns, passed 25-10 after less than an hour of debate. Next, the bill goes to the House and if approved there and signed by the Governor, the constitutional amendment will be on the November ballot for citizens to approve or disapprove.

The hog farm bill received a favorable report in the House agriculture committee last Wednesday. After 10 years of trying, Alfa is just a House vote and Governor Bob Riley’s signature away from passing this legislation, which Alfa has dubbed the “Family Farm Preservation Act.”

Legislation that benefits the environment moved as well last week. Governor Riley signed into law revisions to the residential energy code and expanded the members and authority of the Alabama Energy and Residential Codes Board. The new law brings Alabama’s residential energy codes up to federal standards.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, to codify the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy, has passed both houses and awaits the governor’s signature. The committee will be charged with developing a statewide energy plan and recommending policy solutions to the governor and legislature for short-term and long-term energy needs.

When the legislature returns from Spring Break next week, they only have 10 business days they can meet until April 26. Both the General Fund and Education budgets have yet to be passed, and the House is expected to take these up next week.

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