The Alabama Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on Thursday approved a bill by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, that places new oversight of the Alabama Department of Transportation.
The State Legislature is heading into day three Friday of a special session that Gov. Kay Ivey called to address her Rebuild Alabama plan for increased infrastructure funding.
The House Transportation Utilities and Infrastructure Committee moved that funding bill forward on Thursday.
Senate Bill 2 requires that the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), ALDOT’s long-range plan of road and bridge projects in Alabama, be constantly available on ALDOT’s website, along with any updates of the STIP plan.
“This bill dramatically increases oversight and accountability for the Department of Transportation,” Chambliss said. “Governor Ivey has put forward her Rebuild Alabama plan for modernizing Alabama’s infrastructure, and I support her proposal. At the same time, the Legislature is tasked with making sure tax dollars are being spent in a transparent, efficient, and accountable manner.”
Senate Bill 2 re-organizes the Alabama Legislative Joint Transportation Committee, which has responsibility for reviewing the long-term plans and budget for the Department of Transportation. Chambliss’ plan specifies that the Joint Transportation Committee will meet four times per year at the Statehouse, and mandates that members will be automatically removed if they miss two meetings in a calendar year.
“Accountability is an important piece of Governor Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama plan,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said. “We still have work to do, but I believe that at the end of the day we will have a piece of legislation that holds ALDOT accountable for the work they do and the money they spend.
This measure of oversight must be approved to show the taxpayers how money is been used to improve roads and bridges in Alabama. I want to thank the Transportation Committee for their work on this important piece of legislation.”
Chambliss said that he was careful not to cross the line into direct day-to-day oversight of ALDOT because that is the constitutional role of the governor’s office; but that his bill came as close to that line as he could get it without crossing that line.
Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, welcomed Chambliss’ legislation as something both sides of the aisle could support.“
“Accountability is a bi-partisan 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.”
The committee also gave a favorable report to SB3 by Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Enterprise, which outlaws the use of golf carts and slower moving vehicles from using the public roadways. The bill would not apply to Baldwin County, where using golf carts on roads is protected by the Alabama Constitution.
The committee approved a bill by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, requiring the registration of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and other off-road vehicles, SB1.
The three bills could be before the Senate as early as today.