An Alabama lawmaker filed a bill Monday to reorganize the Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee.
The committee reviews the long-term plans and budget for the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, Monday filed a bill to authorize the reorganization of the committee.
“There has been much discussion about the upcoming session and, specifically, funding for infrastructure,” Chambliss said. “I support this effort to invest in our future, but I also want to make sure that we put effective accountability measures in place.”
Chambliss said the Joint Transportation Committee has been lax in its oversight role, and he said the bill will correct that — holding the Legislature accountable for doing its job.
“Appropriation and oversight are two of the primary responsibilities of the Alabama Legislature,” Chambliss said.
For the past nine years, GOP lawmakers — at the request of the Govs. Robert Bentley and Kay Ivey — have moved more than $300 million out of funds earmarked for road and bridge repairs and deposited it into an account that covers the costs of the state court system.
The number amounts to nearly $500 million since 2004.
The bill specifies the committee will meet a minimum of four times per year. Members will be automatically removed for lack of attendance.
“How can we build subject knowledge and educate ourselves and the public regarding critical transportation issues unless we solidify a public forum that ensures transparency, accountability and oversight and that every taxpayer dollar is being allocated properly to achieve maximum return on investment?” said Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa. “This bill goes a long way toward correcting that.”
The Alabama Republican Executive Committee voted Saturday for a resolution urging the legislature not to pass a fuel tax increase.
Poole is expected to introduce the bill to increase the state fuel taxes to fund an ambitious road and infrastructure plan.
The state tax on gasoline and diesel fuels would likely increase by 12 cents from 18 cents a gallon to 30 cents a gallon.
Eight cents of the increase in fuel taxes would go to the Alabama Department of Transportation. Three cents would go to counties and one cent a gallon would be divided among Alabama’s hundreds of towns and cities.
The executive committee voted 61 percent to 39 percent in favor of the resolution urging the Legislature not to vote for a fuel tax increase.
Chambliss worked closely with Poole and Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, to write up the bill.
Singleton said he welcomes Chambliss’ legislation as something both sides of the aisle could support.
“Accountability is a bipartisan issue, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that our transportation dollars are spent wisely and efficiently,” Singleton said. “Infrastructure is important to our future and we must make the most of every dollar.”