11 months ago

Rebuild Alabama bill puts state on cutting edge of electric vehicle infrastructure

MONTGOMERY — HB 2, known as the Rebuild Alabama bill, includes provisions that would put the Yellowhammer State at the forefront of the nation’s transition to electric vehicles.

At Thursday’s House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee meeting, a representative from an out-of-state environmental group admitted that they want battery electric vehicle (BEV) drivers to only pay somewhere between $75-100 annually. This is less than what the average non-EV driver pays now in fuel taxes, even without the proposed increase in HB 2.

If HB 2 passes and is signed into law, the average non-EV driver would pay over $150 annually between current fuel taxes and the proposed Rebuild Alabama increase.

While it is noteworthy in and of itself that some environmentalists are complaining that drivers of EVs would have to pay a fair rate similar to what the average non-EV driver in the state does, perhaps lost in the conversation is the benefits in HB 2 for EV drivers alone.

As it stands, the lack of EV charging stations in Alabama is a major impediment to their expanded use.

Under a program that would be established by Rebuild Alabama, a portion of the fees paid by owners of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) would accelerate the deployment of EV charging station infrastructure across the state and alleviate consumer “range anxiety” about access to charging facilities.

The bill proposes that BEV drivers pay $200 and PHEV drivers pay $100 annually. While most of these fees will go towards the normal road and bridge revenue similarly funded by Rebuild Alabama fuel taxes, some of the funds collected for EVs will be distributed for use in the construction and maintenance of a modern-day public road and highway system.

This means that the state will dedicate 25 percent of the collected EV funds to support an EV infrastructure grant program that will provide funding to municipalities, counties, universities and other public institutions to pay for a portion of the costs of developing EV charging station infrastructure.

There is a sunset provision to the charging station infrastructure aspect of these fees, as the funds specifically being collected to pay for this EV infrastructure grant program will no longer be collected by the state after BEVs and PHEVs reach a 4 percent market share of motor vehicle registrations in Alabama.

Being out front on the EV funding issue and expanding charging infrastructure statewide will pay dividends going forward for all of Alabama, according to Rebuild Alabama proponents.

A standard EV charging station costs approximately $10,000 with installation, and fast charging EV stations cost approximately $125,000. Through this innovative program, Alabama will accelerate the expansion of EV charging stations across the Yellowhammer State and be on the cutting edge of EV expansion.

State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) told reporters Thursday that this is made even more important given the focus of Alabama-based auto manufacturers on the growth of EVs, including Mercedes-Benz.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 mins ago

Huntsville International named nation’s best small airport

Huntsville International Airport on Friday was announced as the USA Today Readers’ Choice Best Small Airport of 2020.

A panel of experts picked the top 20 small airports in the United States to contend for this honor, and voting members of the public from around the United States chose Huntsville International as the nation’s best.

“We are ecstatic that Huntsville International Airport has been chosen by voters as North America’s best small airport for USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice awards,” Rick Tucker, CEO of Huntsville International Airport, said in a statement. “We are so grateful to our community for supporting HSV by voting. We share this honor with them and will continue to work hard to provide North Alabama and Southern Tennessee residents with even more great options at their local airport.”

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Yellowhammer News previously reported that the USA Today experts described Huntsville International as “small and easy to navigate, with an onsite hotel and a nice range of food and beverage options for an airport of its size.”

“Delta, American, United, Silver Airways and Frontier all fly into this small Alabama airport with nonstop service to 10 major destinations across the country,” they advised.

RELATED: Huntsville’s economic future is tied to our airport’s success

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Alabama workforce development program recognized as one of nation’s best, will now mentor other states

The National Governor’s Association on Thursday announced Alabama would be among a choice group of states that will mentor other states in work-based learning practices.

“Alabama is excited to participate as a mentor state in the third phase of the NGA’s work-based learning Policy Academy due to the remarkable results of our participation in Phase II of the Policy Academy,” said Governor Kay Ivey.

The five other mentor states in the program are Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington.

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The type of programs that will be worked on between Alabama and other states align with Ivey’s Success Plus initiative. Success Plus is a comprehensive effort to get Alabamians whatever post-high school education they need to be prepared for the workforce, no matter if that is a four-year degree, two-year degree or professional certification.

The specific aspects of Sucess Plus in which Alabama will mentor other states are the work-based learning such as apprenticeships and internships.

“This selection by the National Governors Association is a solid indication of Alabama’s commitment to increasing the state’s labor participation rate through the AlabamaWorks initiative,” said Ed Castile, deputy secretary for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Across the state, we are working with business and industry to expand our efforts in preparing a well-trained, high-skilled, quality workforce,” he added.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

3 hours ago

How you can meet Jalen Hurts, other Senior Bowl players on Friday

MOBILE — With the Senior Bowl only one day away, Friday will feature a trio of free events for fans to attend in downtown Mobile.

These events follow the Senior Bowl Summit, which occurred Thursday night and was presented by Alabama Power Company and Regions Bank.

The first event for fans on Friday will be the Senior Bowl Experience, presented by Alabama Power. Hosted at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center, this 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. CT event will feature a bevy of games and activities for all ages.

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The Senior Bowl Experience will also include “Meet the Players,” presented by Coca-Cola.

“Tackle the obstacle course, time your 40yd dash, dance with NFL cheerleaders, take your picture with college mascots, and meet your favorite college all-stars from across the country at the Senior Bowl Experience inside the Mobile Convention Center,” the Senior Bowl wrote about the event.

The Senior Bowl stated that their clear bag policy will be in effect for the Senior Bowl Experience.

Following the Senior Bowl Experience will be the Senior Bowl Street Party and inaugural Mardi Gras Player Parade, presented by Wind Creek Casino and Austal USA. At 6:30 p.m., the parade will begin in front of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel. You can view the route here.

“Downtown bars and restaurants will provide specials and craft cocktails reflecting Senior Bowl Week,” the Senior Bowl outlined. “Local High School Bands will lead our players (in their college jerseys), college mascots, local dignitaries, NFL cheerleaders, as we throw candy, beads, and footballs to the crowd.”

Finally, when the the Senior Bowl Street Party and inaugural Mardi Gras Player Parade ends at Cathedral Square, a free concert featuring The Revivalists will begin.

You can still get tickets for Saturday’s game, which is at 1:30 p.m. CT, here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

7 Things: Trump loves Alabama, impeachment limps along, driver in Rod Bramblett’s death indicted for manslaughter and more …

7. Some seem to want paroles sped up

  • After it was found that the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles was not following its own rules, pardons were stopped and then slowed. Now, some lawmakers seem to want that process to speed up, but the current leader doesn’t seem so keen on that idea, even though it isn’t his role.
  • When Director Charlie Graddick spoke to lawmakers Thursday, Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) questioned the policy changes and the slowdown in paroles.

6. Alabama teen kills three family members and then goes to school

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  • Landon Hudson Durham, a 16-year-old high school student, has been charged with capital murder in the stabbing deaths of his mother and his own two 13-year-old twin brothers before going to school as if nothing happened.
  • The bodies were found on Tuesday by a family member, but Durham wasn’t found until Wednesday morning after a member of law enforcement saw him walking on a state road. He was taken into custody without incident.

5. Free stuff for everyone doesn’t appeal to everyone

  • U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has made headlines multiple times for her plan to cancel student debt up to $50,000 for those making less than $100,000 per year if she’s elected president, but she was recently confronted by a voter for her plan that would cause a lot of students to get “screwed.”
  • The voter described how his daughter is currently in college, and that she doesn’t have student loans because he saved up to pay for her college and he asked if he’d get a refund, but Warren replied, “Of course not.” The father then said, “So you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save any money and those of us who did the right thing get screwed?”

4. Trump’s pro-life coalition

  • Friday, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is planning to reveal a pro-life coalition. The “Pro-Life Voices for Trump” will be led by Marjorie Dannenfelser, who stated, “From appointing pro-life judges to defunding Planned Parenthood, President Trump’s track record demonstrates he’s the most pro-life President in history.”
  • Trump is aiming to make the pro-life movement a huge issue in his campaign as another way to rally voters and encourage people to vote in the 2020 election, focusing on his changes to the courts that could clear the way to overturn Roe v. Wade.

3. Teen in Bramblett case has been indicted

  • Johnston Edward Taylor, 16, has been indicted for manslaughter by a Lee County judge for the wreck that killed the Voice of the Auburn Tigers Rod Bramblett and his wife, Paula.
  • Taylor’s bond in the case was previously revoked after two additional speeding tickets and one for reckless driving. His arraignment is scheduled for January 31; his trial is set to start on May 4.

2. No one is watching impeachment — everyone is already decided

  • As the boring and unwatched impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate continues, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has brought even more absurd comments to the spotlight by claiming that President Donald Trump’s conduct “puts even President Nixon to shame.”
  • Even as the theatrical histrionics continue on the floor of the Senate, it is becoming increasingly clear that there will be no witness or documents added to the trial and that it will probably be over some time next week.

1. Trump vague about Alabama’s U.S. Senate race

  • President Donald Trump tweeted out polling stats from the Alabama Farmers Federation, which showed former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions leading at 35%, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville at 31%, U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) at 12%, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore at 8% and State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) at 1%.
  • While the polling data is about two months old, Trump added in the tweet, “I LOVE ALABAMA!” Sessions’ campaign manager Jon Jones said that this shows “Republican voters in Alabama solidly back Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate race.”

5 hours ago

State Rep. Terri Collins: Why I am endorsing Bradley Byrne for Senate

After considering all the candidates, I am endorsing Bradley Byrne in the Republican Primary for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat.

Over the years, I’ve worked with Bradley on a number of issues important to our state. I’ve also been able to get to know him on a more personal level, and he is exactly the type of person we need to represent us in the Senate.

Bradley is the Christian, conservative fighter that we need in Washington to protect our Alabama values. There are a number of very troubling issues right now that really strike at the core about what it means to be an American, and we need a strong senator like Bradley Byrne who will have our back and not back down from the fight.

Bradley has been under attack recently by the Democrats for speaking out and standing up for his faith and what he knows is right. I commend Bradley for not backing down when the going gets tough.

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This past legislative session, Alabama was in the national spotlight for standing up for what a majority of Alabamians know to be true: life starts at conception. I was proud to sponsor the Human Life Protection Act, which sets up a Supreme Court challenge to Roe v. Wade and recognizes the sanctity of life. I appreciated Bradley’s support and encouragement as we went through the fight to pass the bill.

It was a fight, but Alabamians don’t back down from a challenge when the going gets tough. We fight for what we know is right. As a sixth-generation Alabamian, I know Bradley has that fighting spirit in his blood. We need Bradley in the Senate to fight for our rights, fight for the sanctity of life and to get us back to the foundational values that have made America so great.

Bradley has also been standing up for life in Congress. He is a pro-life champion who has consistently voted to protect the unborn, defund Planned Parenthood and make sure that all human life is protected. Bradley has a 100% record with National Right to Life and an A rating from Susan B. Anthony List, a leading pro-life organization.

Bradley and I want the same things for this state. We want Alabama to be a prosperous place to live, work and raise a family. Bradley understands and knows how to get the job done. On day one, he will be ready to go to work for Alabama, and I know he will serve our state well for many years.

I’ve seen Bradley go through fights before – just as we were in a fight over the pro-life bill last year – and I can say that no one is better prepared for the fight in the Senate than Bradley.

So, I encourage everyone to join me in voting for pro-life champion Byrne for U.S. Senate. He is the Christian, conservative fighter that will make Alabama proud.

Terri Collins is a state representative from Decatur