Jobs agenda dominates Week 2

As tax incentives and jobs creation bills drove the legislative agenda in Week 2, environmental policy took a back seat. But there was some movement on the environment.

Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster introduced the Senate companion to the House sales tax holiday on Energy Star appliances. Both SB304 and HB267 would add energy-efficient appliances to the back-to-school statewide sales tax holiday in early August. Both bills are awaiting committee action in their respective houses, but none are planned this week.

During the first week of the session, Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham introduced two bills that would provide new revenue for transit. First is HB108 that is just for Jefferson County and would assess an additional fee on car tag renewals. The second bill, HB109, is a statewide bill which would assess the full four cent state sales tax on cars, motorboats and travel trailers. Currently, those items are only assessed two cents on the dollar.

A bill that would have limited publicly operated recycling programs in the state met a quick demise. Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville proposed legislation that would prohibit local governments from operating a commercial recycling operation if two or more private entities already served the area. After a significant backlash from ADEM and local governments, Greer said the bill would not move forward as drafted. More than a third of the House had signed on as co-sponsors, but at least one representative, Rep. Dexter Grimsley, D-Newville, has requested to be removed as a co-sponsor.

Two bills with environmental implications are moving quickly in the Senate. First is SB153, which would provide a $10,000 tax incentive to farmers who install irrigation systems or create reservoirs on their land. It has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House Ways and Means Education Committee. The Alabama Rivers Alliance, who has been advocating for a statewide water plan, has come out in opposition to this bill.

The second bill moving quickly in the Senate is the Alabama Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which would allocate one penny of gas tax into a special fund to build roads and highways. That legislation could be voted on by the full Senate this week.

You can follow legislation related to the environment each week on Conservation Alabama’s Hot List at conservationalabama.org.

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