By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama House of Representatives reconvened at 4:30 pm on Wednesday following a day of important committee meetings. The special Wednesday night session allowed the legislators to leave a day early for their mid-session spring holiday. The House did pass two important bills that originated in the Alabama Senate.
Representative Christopher John England (D) from Tuscaloosa said on Facebook, “House has adjourned until 1 PM on Tuesday April 2. Lucky for you, the Legislature will be not be in session at all next week. The house passed SB66 and SB192 tonight.”
Senate Bill 66 makes it a crime to improperly interfere, meddle with or make an unwarranted alteration to the property of a utility and makes it a crime to “Threatens an individual with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument with the intent to obstruct the operation of a utility. This subdivision only applies if the individual is working under the procedures and within the scope of his or her duties as an employee of the utility and has properly identified himself or herself when asked by stating his or her name, employer, and purpose of work.” SB 66 was sponsored by Senator Greg Reed (R) from Jasper.
Senate Bill 192 was sponsored by Senator Paul Bussman (R) from Cullman and was cosponsored by Senators Dick Brewbaker (R) from Montgomery, Bryan Taylor (R) from Prattville, Marc Keahey (D) from Grove Hill, Vivian Figures (D) from Mobile, Linda Coleman (D) from Birmingham, and Priscilla Dunn (D) from Bessemer.
SB 192 creates a fund for the state to provide matching funds to poor counties and municipalities so that they can participate in state road building grant programs. The bill limits, “the borrowing authority of the corporation to be not more than $25 million in aggregate principal amount of bonds of the corporation outstanding at any time for the purpose of financing the state’s share of the cost of constructing roads, bridges, and related improvements and to provide matching funds otherwise to be paid by counties or municipalities for local roadway, bridge, and related improvement projects awarded through the Rural Assistance Match Program and administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation.’
Since the passage of his ATRIP initiative in March 2012 Governor Robert Bentley has announced a total of 439 road and bridge projects that are financed with GARVEE bonds. ATRIP is the largest road and bridge improvement program in Alabama’s history.
Governor Bentley said in a written statement recently, “Everyone benefits from ATRIP. We’re improving public safety by replacing old bridges and repairing and widening outdated roads. ATRIP also helps create jobs. When companies build new facilities, they look for areas with good roads and bridges. ATRIP is giving them what they need. The more companies that build and expand in Alabama, the more jobs we’re able to create.”
61 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received ATRIP funding for various road and bridge projects. SB 192 should allow Alabama’s remaining six counties to participate in ATRIP. Those counties are: Fayette, Hale, Lawrence, Marengo, Wilcox and Winston.
Both bills have been passed by the Senate and are expected to be signed by Gov. Bentley