Category: Alabama Legislature
MONTGOMERY — A bill that would allow electric utility companies to offer high-speed internet to rural communities by way of their existing power networks cleared the Alabama Legislature Wednesday and now goes to the governor for her signature.
Supporters say House Bill 400 would alleviate the cost of running new fiber lines to rural areas by allowing utilities such as Alabama Power Co., the Tennessee Valley Authority and regional electric cooperatives to piggyback their existing networks with high-speed cable lines.
State officials have questions about a campaign finance report filed this month by former Alabama House Majority Leader Micky Hammon, who spent three months in federal prison last year for using campaign money on personal expenses.
On April 2, Hammon turned in late his 2017 campaign finance report, a document required of public officials that details spending from their campaign funds. The report lists one expenditure: $52,533 to Hammon in January 2017. Under the explanation of expense section of the form, “to be determined” was typed.
“That’s a problem,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told Alabama Daily News when asked about the report. He said his office would reach out to Hammon.
Hugh Evans, general counsel for the Secretary of State, said he is attempting to speak with Hammon’s attorney.
“I don’t know what the story is, but you can’t use campaign funds for your personal use,” Evans said. Read more.
Alabama county and municipal leaders will push the Alabama Legislature this year to approve a statewide gasoline tax increase to fund road improvements, but they disagree about how any new money should be split among local governments.
The distribution of funds is one of several possible sticking points for the gas tax legislation that is expected to be a major issue of the 2019 legislative session.
While many lawmakers recognize the need for the first gas-tax increase since 1992, some also want more “skin in the game” from the majority of counties that haven’t enacted their own gas taxes to fund their local road needs.
Meanwhile, there is the issue of the transfer of existing money from the gas tax to other state agencies. More than $63 million of existing money from the tax is pulled from the Alabama Department of Transportation each year and transferred to other agencies.