To find an answer to that important question—over the course of the new session of the Alabama legislature—turn to Green Space. Adam Snyder, executive director of Conservation Alabama, will provide us with regular updates on the status of key bills. The following is Snyder’s first report:
The Alabama State Legislature returns to Montgomery this week to kick off the last session of the quadrennium. This year’s environmentally related legislation that was filed before the session began brings nothing new, but some important bills are back this year.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Energy has a package of bills, ranging from a legislative office on energy, to research and grant development, to “idle reduction technology” to help reduce emissions from larger vehicles.
Most notably, HB125 expands the “back-to-school” sales tax holiday to include Energy Star appliances of $1,500 or less. Additionally, HB126 establishes an income tax credit for the installation of energy-efficient equipment in one’s home or business. Rep. Greg Wren, who serves as co-chair of the energy committee, sponsored both of these bills.
Additionally, Rep. Cam Ward and Rep. Mac McCutcheon have reintroduced HB70, which establishes a five-member commission to oversee the Alabama Department of Transportation. Ward has introduced this bill for several years in an attempt to create greater transparency and accountability in decision-making at ALDOT.
On the subject of roads, Sen. Lowell Barron, a Democrat, has introduced his promised $1 billion-for-roads bill, SB121. However, Barron’s colleagues across the aisle have beaten him to the punch. Republican Senators Steve French, Jabo Waggoner and Del Marsh have introduced SB2, their own version of Alabama’s road stimulus bill.
While the proposal by Senate Democrats would remove $100 million a year for 10 years from the Alabama Trust Fund for new road construction, the Republican version seeks $125 million per year for eight years. Both proposals would take money from the state savings account to pay for new roads statewide, with a minimal amount earmarked for maintenance and repair. Neither bill provides funding for public transportation.