Goat Hill Report- March 13, 2019

The Alabama Legislature wrapped up the special session today after only five meeting days. This is the minimum number of days allowed by law to pass a bill. The session has been a whirlwind week from the call by Governor Ivey on Tuesday night. Going into the special session, the Legislative Leadership felt confident of the Rebuild Alabama package passing in the Senate, but the House was not a lock. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the 84-20 passage in the House and the 28-6 vote in the Senate. The package received strong support from Democrat and Republican members. To the casual observer, the process seemed relatively easy. However, getting the Rebuild Alabama package into law took hundreds of meetings by the leadership and hard work to achieve the great success. Not to mention, the first attempt to raise the gas tax was almost four years ago. Governor Ivey and House and Senate leadership should be commended for getting the bills across the finish line.

Quick and Dirty of the Rebuild Alabama Package

As highlighted in reports this week, the gas tax will increase $.06 this year, $.02 in 2020, and $.02 in 2021. There is also an index that will allow the tax to increase up to $.01 every two years. The leadership included the provision to hopefully avoid getting into the dire situation again. The index is based on the Highway Construction Cost Index.

The package also includes $150 million to help dredge the Port of Mobile. The Port of Mobile is Alabama’s port and dredging the channel will allow for larger ships to bring in and export more products.

Finally, the package includes an accountability bill. The accountability provision played a large part in the success of the entire package. All legislators recognized the need to better fund our roads and bridges, but some were uncomfortable with the tax without greater oversight.

Next week legislators will return to the regular session. Hopefully the spirit of cooperation will continue as legislators begin tackling the state’s budgets and the other important legislation. Also on the horizon is possible Medicare expansion and a lottery.

The legislature will return on March 19, 2019.

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