Rebuild Alabama Act passes Senate, heads to Ivey’s desk
MONTGOMERY — HB 2, the Rebuild Alabama Act, passed the Senate with no amendments by a 28-6 roll call vote Tuesday shortly after 1:00 p.m. and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey the same afternoon.
The bill overwhelmingly passed the House 84-20 on Friday.
HB 3, giving the Port Authority the necessary bonding authority pursuant to the Port of Mobile revenue in HB 2, passed the Senate 33-1 and also heads to Ivey’s desk.
The House will decide to concur with or go into a conference committee on HB 1 – which was made an exact companion bill to SB 2 and passed by the Senate earlier in the day – shortly after gaveling back in at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. This is the legislation increasing ALDOT accountability, oversight and transparency by overhauling the Joint Transportation Committee.
If the chambers are able to resolve and give final passage to HB 1 in time, Ivey will hold a signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon in the Old House Chamber for all three bills.
The regular session of the Alabama legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, March 19.
This is a breaking story and may be updated.
Update 1:50 p.m.:
Ivey will hold a signing ceremony at 3:30 p.m. in the Old House Chamber inside the State Capitol for the Rebuild Alabama Act. This is the same place she delivered her State of the State address when she declared, “Now is the time to Rebuild Alabama.”
Update 2:25 p.m.:
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) released the following statement:
Over the last ten years we have seen unprecedented growth in Alabama. Median income is up 20%, unemployment is at an all-time low. We have dramatically reduced the size of state government, we have over 6,000 fewer state employees today than we did eight years ago which equates to a 15% reduction. However, in this time, our infrastructure has lagged behind and every one agreed that something needed to be done.
This bill was passed the correct way. Over the past year my office alone has held over 30 open meetings with legislators, and all interested stakeholders. All voices were heard and nothing was rushed.
I want to thank the body for adopting strict oversight and accountability measures. Because of this, there is no doubt that going forward the money which is supposed to be used for infrastructure will be used for road, bridge and port improvements. As a fiscal conservative, it would have been impossible to support any type of revenue measure in the infrastructure package without the oversight and accountability laid out in this bill.
I thank the Senate for their support, Sen. Chambliss and Rep. Poole for their leadership on this issue and Governor Ivey for taking this issue head on. This infrastructure package will drive industry in Alabama for years to come and ensure that we continue the strong economic growth that we have enjoyed over the past few years by making sure that we are competitive on the world stage when it comes to recruiting jobs.
Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) released the following statement:
This plan will dramatically improve the safety of Alabama’s roads and bridges. In 2016, Alabama had the second highest rate of traffic fatalities in the nation. One in six Alabamians cross a structurally-deficient bridge on their daily commute — and that’s unacceptable, especially when 375,000 school kids are on a bus every day. Governor Ivey’s proposal will help us rebuild Alabama’s infrastructure and make travel safer for school buses, truck drivers, and families.
This is about improving quality of life for every single community in Alabama — every town and county in the state will benefit with additional resources for roads and bridges. As a fiscal conservative, I could only vote for Governor Ivey’s plan because there were provisions in the bill that not a single dime from this fund could be spent on benefits or salaries for DOT employees — this money is for infrastructure, and infrastructure alone.
Last year, the Port of Mobile was the export point for $2 billion worth of Alabama coal to the world’s markets, and coal accounts for 40% of the Port’s total exports. Cotton farmers, timber landowners, poultry farmers, and coal producers across the state will all benefit from improvements to the Port of Mobile.
The Senate sponsor of the Rebuild Alabama package, Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), stated, “Among our neighboring states, Alabama is dead last in funding for infrastructure, and that has started to affect our ability to compete for high-paying jobs with Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia. There are 16,000 bridges in Alabama, and over 7,000 of those are 50 years and older. That endangers our citizens and impairs our economic competitiveness. Every county in Alabama will see road projects go up within the next year or so with the funding from this plan — and that improved road system will make it easier to recruit new industries to Alabama.”
Update 2:50 p.m.
The House concurred with HB 1 and adjourned sine die. This means HB 1, HB 2 and HB 3 are all set to be signed by Ivey. The Senate will adjourn sine die shortly after 3:00 p.m., ending the special session.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn