Fit to be qualified

Nearly eight years ago, two members of the Alabama Environmental Management Commission were sued after firing ADEM Director Jim Warr. The suit claimed Pat Byington and Scott Phillips did not meet the qualifications to serve on the commission.

Ultimately, both commissioners overcame the politically motivated lawsuits, but the questionable language remains in state code. That could change if legislation recently introduced by Rep. Jack Williams, R-Birmingham passes. The bill not only addresses the qualifications for these two positions, but it also makes the qualification language consistent for all positions of the seven-member commission. Additionally, the legislation will limit commissioners to two full six-year terms, down from the possible 18 years of service commissioners could have now.

In other matters, the transportation infrastructure bank is one vote away from going to the governor for his signature or veto. The proposal would set aside gas tax and truck licensing fees to support highway and public transit capital projects. The full House could vote on the bill this week.

Another bill that would provide tax incentives for agriculture irrigation systems received a favorable report from the House Ways and Means Education Committee last week. The full House could vote on the bill this week. The bill is not expected to receive much resistance in the Senate as a similar bill has already passed that Chamber.

Due to the primaries, the Legislature won’t go into session as they usually do on Tuesday, but instead will meet Wednesday, along with the regular slate of committee meetings that day.

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

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