Category: Alabama Legislature

Border Wall Bill Advances

MONTGOMERY – A bill to allow Alabamians to donate some of their income tax return to the construction of a wall on the U.S. southern border by checking a box on their tax return documents could get a vote in the Alabama Senate this week.

Eight GOP members on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee voted in favor of the legislation from Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, on Tuesday. Two democrats, Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D- Birmingham, and Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma, voted against it. Read more.

GOP: Without New Money to Fund It, Medicaid Expansion Unlikely

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Democrats hope their support of Gov. Kay Ivey’s gas tax increase got them further on possible Medicaid expansion, but legislative leaders last week said expansion can’t happen without new money.

“There is no plan to feasibly make it work,” Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, said Friday. He’s chairman of the Senate General Fund committee.

Ivey met with many Democrats in the past two weeks as she drummed up support for the 10-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase that takes effect this fall. Democrats used those conversations to again push expansion, as they’ve done since 2012. This year, the calls for expansion seem louder, in part driven by the Alabama Hospital Association. Alabama is one of 14 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Thirteen Alabama hospitals, including seven rural ones, have closed since 2011. Another closure was announced last month. Read more.

Gas Tax Plan Could Get Final Approval Tuesday

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey’s gas tax and infrastructure proposal could get to her desk Tuesday if it clears the Alabama Senate. Senate leadership said there is a growing comfort level with the bill in the 35-member chamber. The bill would gradually raise the state’s tax on gasoline and diesel fuel by 10 cents a gallon over three years, with possible penny increases every other year after that, depending on inflation. Read more.

Gas Tax Bill Means Millions for Birmingham Area

Alabama’s more than 400 cities and towns currently share about $22 million a year from the statewide gas tax. They would get an additional $26 million a year under a proposed 10-cent-a-gallon increase.

Alabama’s counties now receive a combined $176.5 million; if House Bill 2 becomes law, they would receive an additional $80 million.

“It’s enormous,” said Greg Cochran, deputy director of the Alabama League of Municipalities, about the potential impact of the gas tax. Read more.

Local Gas Tax Payouts

Under House Bill 2, the gas tax increase bill, municipalities would receive an additional $26 million a year, bringing their total to $48.7 million. Counties would receive an additional $80 million, bringing their total to $256.4 million a year.

Here’s how much area counties would receive under the gas tax increase. Click here for the list of municipalities.

Jefferson Co.: $6.53 million         St. Clair Co.: $1.32 million
Shelby Co.: $2.41 million             Walker Co.: $1.13 million

Local Gas Tax Payouts

Under House Bill 2, the gas tax increase bill, municipalities would receive an additional $26 million a year, bringing their total to $48.7 million. Counties would receive an additional $80 million, bringing their total to $256.4 million a year.

Here’s how much area counties would receive under the gas tax increase. Click here for the list of municipalities.

Jefferson County: $6.53 million             St. Clair County: $1.32 million
Shelby County: $2.41 million                 Walker County: $1.13 million

Gas Tax Headed to Senate After Passing the House

The House of Representatives approved an increase Friday in gas taxes to fund infrastructure improvements, sending the bill to the Senate.

The proposed 10-cent-a-gallon increase is expected to generate more than $300 million a year. It’s being fast-tracked in a special session Gov. Kay Ivey called to consider the issue and could be approved by early next week.

Senate OKs Larger ATVs

Alabamians could have larger, heavier all-terrain and off-highway vehicles under a bill that cleared the Alabama Senate Friday.

“All the bill does is increase the weight allowed and the width of the wheel base, which at the end of the day makes the vehicles safer from flipping over,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. Orr said the bill was at the request of Polaris Industries. Its 1,700-employee factory is in Orr’s district in Limestone County. The popular Ranger side-by-side is made there.

The bill now goes to the House.

Ivey’s Release of Proposed Budgets on Hold as She Focuses Legislators on the Gas Tax

Details of Gov. Kay Ivey’s proposed 2020 General Fund and education budgets won’t be released until lawmakers dispense with her proposed gas-tax increase.

Traditionally, the budgets are made public the day after a governor’s State of the State address, which Ivey delivered Tuesday.

State law says the governor has until the second legislative day of a regular session to submit budgets to the Legislature. But that second day won’t happen for almost two weeks because the special session on the gas tax that began Wednesday has put the regular session on hold.

Daniel Sparkman, Ivey’s spokesman, said the budgets are important to the governor, but they won’t be presented until March 19, after lawmakers are finished dealing with the “task at hand.”

“During her State of the State address, Governor Ivey laid out her proposals for the 2020 budgets to the people of Alabama,” Sparkman said. “Though the budgets are important, right now the Legislature must focus on the task at hand, the Rebuild Alabama plan. This critical infrastructure legislation package is vital to improving public safety, economic development and quality of life in Alabama.” Read more.

PARCA Tackling Research on Alabama’s Prison Problems as Legislature Begins to Meet

The Alabama Legislature will face tough choices this year on solving problems of the state’s crowded, obsolete and under-funded prison system, and the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama is preparing a series of briefings to address “a system in crisis.”

PARCA, a non-profit organization that does nonpartisan research on issues facing state and local governments in Alabama, outlined problems that it said could lead to a federal takeover of the prisons system if they are not solved.

Gov. Kay Ivey has proposed the construction of three new men’s prisons at a cost of $950 million as one step toward dealing with the issues of crowding, health care and crumbling facilities. Read more.

Gas Tax Got First Vote Thursday

By Mary Sell and Caroline Beck, Alabama Daily News

The gas tax was passed by a House committee Thursday and is now heading to the full House for debate.

MONTGOMERY — The proposed 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase to fund infrastructure improvements is expected to get its first vote in committee Thursday morning.

A new version of Gov. Kay Ivey’s priority bill was filed Wednesday afternoon in the special session dedicated to the issue.

The tax is expected to generate more than $300 million a year. House Bill 2 increases the allocation for improvements at the Port of Mobile from the originally proposed $10.2 million a year to $11.7 million.

Some critics have raised strong objections to redirecting gas tax revenues toward the port. Expanding the port to take on greater capacity is a priority for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who last year secured federal matching dollars to deepen and widen the Mobile Bay shipping channel.

Several north Alabama lawmakers said they supported sending money to the port to improve and expand it.
“I am in favor of it, because it is critical to the entire state,” said Rep. Parker Moore, R-Decatur. Read more.