Here’s a look at what to expect in the 2017 legislative session.
The 2017 Alabama Legislative Session convenes on Tuesday, Feb. 7, and when it does, a gas tax will be proposed.
In early December, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama voted to support a 3 cent per gallon gasoline and diesel tax. The tax proposal—approved unanimously by commissioners from all 67 counties in the state—would fund a $1.2 billion bond issue to pay for improvement, resurfacing, and upgrading Alabama roads and bridges. The last gas tax increase was in 1992.
In the past, NFIB/AL members have been split on whether to support a gas tax. A 2015 member survey found that 44.55 percent supported tolls/taxes to fund construction and major reconstruction of highways and bridges in the state, while 41.58 percent voted no and 13.37 percent were undecided.
What else will be dealt with this session? Mac McCutcheon, speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, outlined several priorities when addressing the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments last month. One is a holdover from last year: dealing with the state’s problem with overcrowded prisons and whether to spend $800 million to build four new prisons—legislation proposing as such failed in 2016. A special session within the regular session may be called to deal with the prison issue, Governor Bentley recently announced.
Speaker McCutcheon also noted plans to get a handle on state finances. He has appointed a legislative committee to review how much federal money comes to Alabama, how many earmarks and tax breaks exist, and the status of every state agency’s finances.