By Will Whatley, Alabama Daily News
The Alabama Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy met Thursday morning to discuss and pass an accountability bill pertaining to the pending gas tax legislation that will be put before the upper chamber later in the special session.
Sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R – Prattville), Senate Bill 2 seeks to allay some concerns of the gas tax that legislators and constituents have alike by requiring the Alabama Department of Transportation to give routine reports on planning and budgeting to the committee. It also requires that ALDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program always be posted to the department’s website. The program, known as STIP, is ALDOT’s long-range plan of road and bridge projects in the state.
“This bill dramatically increases oversight and accountability for the Department of Transportation,” said Chambliss. “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.”
The bill also states that the committee will meet four times a year and requires committee members to attend at least two meetings per year to continue participation on the committee.
According to Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R – Anniston), accountability is a vital part of Governor Ivey’s infrastructure plan.
“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,” said Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R – Anniston). “This measure of oversight must be approved to show the taxpayers how money is being used to improve roads and bridges in Alabama.”
The committee also gave favorable reports to two other bills – one by Sen. Jimmy Holley (R – Enterprise) concerning the use of public highways by slow-moving motor vehicles such as golf carts, and one by Sen. Arthur Orr (R – Decatur) regarding the registration of off-road recreational and all-terrain vehicles.
The full Senate will convene tomorrow at 1 p.m. to discuss Chambliss’s bill.