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Reed, South spearhead bill into law providing critical support for Alabama’s coal counties

MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay E. Ivey on Thursday signed into law HB 219. The legislation, sponsored by Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette), extends for a 10-year period the coal severance tax, which provides vital resources to local communities in Alabama mining communities.

Indeed, the bill will generate at least $2.5 million over the life of the extension for three counties within Reed’s district alone: Winston, Walker and Fayette. The $0.135 per ton severance tax was first enacted in 1971.

“The roots of coal mining run deep in our community, and the significance of this critical industry is on full display in the resources provided by this bill,” Reed said in a statement. “Coal is in the fiber of who I am. My wife’s grandfather was a coal miner. Her daddy was a coal miner. Both of my grandfathers were retired coal miners. And through this legislation, coal mining will continue to provide a great benefit to our community in the form of millions of dollars to Fayette, Winston and Walker Counties.”

Governmental, nonprofit and economic development entities across Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Marion and Jackson Counties also benefit — in varying levels — from the severance tax revenues. Overall, it generated more than $8 million from Fiscal Years 2016-2020. A portion of funds support the Alabama Mining Academy, as well as the Alabama State Docks Bulk Handling Facility Trust Fund.

“I was proud to be the sponsor of this legislation in the Senate, and I am excited to see the benefits it will bring to our area. This bill has received broad support from the coal mining industry, our local leaders and the people who call our community home,” Reed added. “There are many to thank for making this happen. To name a few, I would like to give a special thank you to Representative Kyle South for sponsoring this legislation in the House, as well as Representatives Proncey Robertson, Tracy Estes, Tim Wadsworth and Connie Rowe, and Senator Garlan Gudger. It was an honor to be a part of bringing these resources to Winston, Walker and Fayette counties.”

South also emphasized the bill’s importance to his district in West Alabama.

“This is a very important resource for our community and it has a significant economic impact in Fayette County,” he commented. “Reauthorizing this coal severance tax was a key priority of mine in the House, and I appreciate the support it has received from the coal industry, the people of Fayette County, and the local leaders who have aided in this effort. I look forward to seeing the benefits this legislation will provide the people of my district.”

Local elected officials praised legislators for accomplishing the extension through 2031.

“Coal is quite literally at the core of Walker County. The coal severance tax has been a key component of our economic development success for many years and has helped us grow and diversify our industrial base,” said Walker County Development Authority chairman Bob Reed. “The extension of this tax for a ten-year period will ensure our progress moving forward. We are grateful for the leadership and support of Senator Reed, Representative Rowe and Representative Wadsworth as well as the legislators that helped pass this key piece of legislation. Coal helped write our history and as a result of this legislation, it will continue to help form our future.”

Winston County Commission chairman Roger Hayes remarked, “The coal severance tax has been fundamental in helping us repair and restore our roads as they deteriorate over time. Our residents depend on this tax, and because of that, this extension has been a god send to us. We appreciate our legislature and Senator Reed for supporting the effort to get this bill active again. It is important to our community, and I look forward to using this funding to improve the quality of life of residents in Winston County.”

Fayette County Probate Judge Mike Freeman also weighed in.

“The coal severance tax benefits our county by providing funding for projects that we would not otherwise be able to fund,” he stated. “Many of these funds are reinvested back into our community to promote education as well as community-oriented and economic projects. I appreciate everyone who worked to bring this funding to our community.”

RELATED: Study: Alabama coal industry has nearly $3 billion impact; met coal reserves to last centuries

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