2010 Alabama Legislative Session
By David Newton with Adam Snyder
The next Regular Session of the Alabama State Legislature begins on Tuesday, January 12, which is earlier than most years, but 2010 is an election year. Below are some comments on what we foresee during this session.
Again in 2010, we expect Conservation Alabama to help in lobbying the Alabama Legislature. Jeff Martin of Montgomery will be at the Alabama State House every day the legislature is in session. Adam Snyder of Birmingham will join Jeff as necessary. We certainly hope you will help. You can (if you haven’t already) start now by getting to know your state representative and your state senator. You can do this rather easily by making an appointment and meeting with them in your legislative districts. For contact information of all Alabama State Legislators, visit http://www.legislature.state.al.us/. You don’t really need a specific bill to discuss. You can just talk briefly about some of your legislative concerns. Also, as you know, the entire Alabama legislature will be voted on in 2010. You can be absolutely certain that all incumbents who are running again will be interested in talking with constituents. This is an opportunity you should not miss.
Some legislative measures we may see in 2010 include:
- The Alabama Family Farm Preservation Act (or “Hog Farm Bill”), which was not introduced in 2009, but was proposed as SB368 in 2008. You can read the text of that bill on the legislative website. Recall that the environmental community and many newspapers opposed this measure. We’ll oppose it again, if it shows up.
- Forever Wild is set to expire in 2012 and several groups are starting to work now to make sure its funding will continue long after 2012. We are not sure what the legislation will look like, but we’ll be working with The Nature Conservancy and other groups to ensure renewal of this state land acquisition program.
- Highway proponents sought $1 billion for roads in 2009 by proposing diverting funds from the Alabama Trust Fund to the construction of new roads. The environmental community opposed and defeated this proposal twice in 2009, because it would mean less money for Forever Wild and more environmental destruction from roads and sprawl. We anticipate such a proposal will be introduced again, and we intend to oppose it.
- Recently, the Alabama Permanent Joint Committee on Energy put forth its legislative agenda for 2010. Proposals include, but are not limited to, incentives for energy efficiency, revised building codes for the state, and a state sales tax holiday on Energy Star appliances. We anticipate supporting most, if not all, of the proposals of this committee.
- In 2009, quarry legislation was passed by a committee in the Alabama House of Representatives. This bill would have given local governments authority to approve or deny a quarry operation. We expect to support such a proposal again in 2010.
- We intend to locate a sponsor for a proposal to place a moratorium on new landfills in Alabama – so as to provide time to review Alabama’s landfill policies.
Those who sign up for Conservation Alabama’s weekly Hot List will receive updates (during the legislative session) on all the legislation we are following – from what happened in the past week to what is expected the next week. To sign up, visit http://www.conservationalabama.org/ and click on Action Center.
To be effective, democracy requires the participation of citizens. Certainly, the Sierra Club has a history of participation in the democratic process. As always, your help is appreciated.
(photo above:) Senator Wendell Mitchell (left) of Luverne and Representative Greg Wren of Montgomery, Co-chairs of the Alabama Permanent Joint Committee on Energy, preside at a recent meeting of the committee.