ABC of Alabama Legislative Update
As we begin preparing for a healthy 2019 for the constructing industry, we wanted to report on the big legislative issues that ABC is tracking that could impact your business next year. They are:
1. Alabama Infrastructure Funding
2. Prison Reform
Plans to introduce legislation that will provide much-needed funding for Alabama’s roads and bridges are already underway in Montgomery. Initial discussions indicate an increase to Alabama’s 18 cent-per-gallon gas tax and 19 cent-per-gallon diesel tax, both of which haven’t been increased since 1992, will be the method of funding which will provide the additional revenue.
The level of increase is still yet to be determined, but there is a strong sentiment in the Legislature to put together a funding package that adequately addresses the problem, as well as provides a long-term solution that addresses future transportation needs. This would be accomplished by indexing Alabama’s gas tax to some economic factor that reflects the growth of our nation’s economy. Indexing would allow Alabama’s road-user fee to adjust with the ebbs and flows of the economy.
While no one disputes the need for additional funding for roads and bridges in Alabama, challenges still remain and will need to be resolved in order to get this issue across the finish line. One of these challenges will be figuring out an agreeable distribution formula of the locally-dedicated revenue split between the county governments and the municipalities.
Expect to see much more information and discussion to occur on this issue once the new year is here and stakeholders begin ramping up efforts in preparation for the 2019 legislative session.
A statewide marketing campaign is already underway to help inform the public of the need to increase funding for our roads and bridges. This campaign is being led by Alabama’s business infrastructure coalition, the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure.
Governor Ivey continues to indicate that she plans to move forward with a plan to modernize Alabama’s outdated prison infrastructure. In early December, she announced that the Alabama Department of Corrections will enter into a contract with Hoar Program Management (HPM) to develop a long-range plan for the state’s prison system. HPM was previously engaged by the state to assess the prison system’s needs.
It has been reported that the Ivey Administration is contemplating three new regional men’s prisons that would cost approximately $500 to $900 million. While past efforts have included legislation that would authorize the state to issue debt to build the facilities, the forthcoming initiative will likely avoid the need for legislation. Instead, the approach would include contracting with private entities to finance and build the facilities and then lease them back to the state.
While a lot of focus is placed on local policies like the two noted above, it is important to note how fortunate we are to have Jim Cooper monitoring and reporting on the relevant Federal Legislation that may affect our industry. Jim plays a vital role for our members by engaging and educating our federal representatives on matters that are important to us. Due in part to the tremendous work that Jim does for ABC, the voice our members is being heard in Washington DC.
Our industry has been evolving over the years in a very positive way. A main reason this has occurred is because we choose to get involved with state policy and support candidates who have our states best interest at the front of every decisions. We are able to offer our support because of the diligence that Tim Hightower places on managing our PAC funds. By properly managing our PAC funds, we are able to support many like-minded candidates who make our state a better place to live and work. In fact, ABC is proud to report that 90% of the candidates we supported, won their respective races.
If you have a minute, please let Jim and Tim know how much their efforts and their hard work are appreciated. They really do make a positive difference for our industry.
On behalf of ABC, we hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Mark Mattox | Robins & Morton