There was some movement on environmental policy in week two of the Alabama legislature's current session.
Guest blogger Adam Snyder, an environmental lobbyist, offers the following wrap-up and analysis of recent green-related activity in the Alabama legislature. As tax incentives and job creation bills drove the agenda for the Alabama legislature in week two of the current session (which began Feb. 7), environmental policy took a back seat, but there was some movement.Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) introduced the Senate companion to the House sales-tax holiday on Energy Star appliances. Both SB304 and HB267 would add energy-efficient appliances to the back-to-school statewide sales tax holiday in early August. Both bills are awaiting committee action in their respective houses, but none are planned this week. During the first week of the session, Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) introduced two bills that would provide new revenue for transit. First is HB108, which is just for Jefferson County and would assess an additional fee on car tag renewals. The second bill, HB109, is a statewide bill that would assess the full four-cent state sales tax on cars, motorboats and travel trailers. Currently, those items are only assessed at two cents on the dollar. A bill that would have limited publicly operated recycling programs in the state met a quick demise. Rep. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville) proposed legislation that would prohibit local governments from operating a commercial recycling operation if two or more private entities already served the area. After a significant backlash from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and local governments, Greer said the bill would not move forward as drafted. More than a third of the House had signed on as co-sponsors, but at least one representative, Rep. Dexter Grimsley (D-Newville), has askedto be removed as a co-sponsor. Two bills with environmental implications are moving quickly in the Senate. First is SB153, which would provide a $10,000 tax incentive to farmers who install irrigation systems or create reservoirs on their land. SB153 has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House Ways and Means Education Committee. The Alabama Rivers Alliance, who has been advocating for a statewide water plan, has come out in opposition to this bill. The second bill moving quickly in the Senate is the Alabama Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which would allocate one penny of gas tax into a special fund to build roads and highways. That legislation could be voted on by the full Senate this week. Snyder’s updates are also posted on the Alabama Conservationist blog at conservationalabama.wordpress.com. You can find a detailed summary of all eco-related bills in Conservation Alabama’s Hot List at www.conservationalabama.org.