2014 Legislative Session begins with wind energy under attack

ImageThe Alabama Legislature has completed six legislative days in the first two weeks of the 2014 session. Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) have been sticking to an expedited schedule in hopes of ending the session on April 9th, cutting the session several weeks short, but still meeting the maximum of 30 legislative days.

It didn’t take long for Speaker Hubbard and the Republican majority in the House to pass their priority legislation for the year. The agenda, consisting of eight House bills and one Senate bill, is dubbed the “Commonsense Conservative Agenda.”  The House has passed the eight bills originating in its chamber – four the first week, and the remaining four this past week. The legislation is expected to pass quickly in the Senate too and mainly deals with tax breaks for small business.

One bill we are following closely is SB12, the Alabama Wind Energy Conversion Act, by Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City).  Don’t let the name fool you.  As written, with its many restrictions, the bill would in all likelihood prevent wind energy from ever happening in the state of Alabama. There will be a public hearing on the bill next week in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee.

Other conservation bills to watch include SB9 (Sen. Gerald Allen – Tuscaloosa) maintaining a safe passing distance for bicycles, adding to complete streets; SB 20 (Sen. Billy Beasley – Clayton), which establishes an Alabama drought assessment and planning team; HB292 (Rep. Allan Baker – Brewton) dealing with solid waste landfills and how they are approved; and HB 274 (Reps. Gaston, McMillan, Clarke and Melton), which allows transfer and increases the amount of historic tax credits available to making older, more walkable communities more vibrant.

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

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