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Industrial park bill may die, among others, after Tuesday

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com ∑ (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Bills related to area projects have passed the state House and are in position to pass the Senate next week unless senators stall action again.

Tuesday is the drop-dead day for the Alabama Legislature. Unless bills that have already passed one chamber are working through the other by then, they are dead for the session.

Area legislators say Rep. Ronald Grantlandís bill is the most critical. Among other things, it would direct some Tennessee Valley Authority in-lieu-of-tax money to a proposed industrial park along Interstate 65 near Hartselle. The bill has passed the House and awaits a final vote in the Senate.

The TVA funds in question are currently used to pay off the bonds for Mallard Fox Creek Industrial Park. Those bonds will pay off in less than one year, said Grantland, D-Hartselle.

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, does not expect his identical bill to pass the Senate, where a deadlock had stopped all but a handful of bills until last week. But Orr said Grantlandís bill is likely to pass and become law. Grantland said he is working with Orr and Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little, D-Cullman, to help get Grantlandís version through the Senate.

Another bill that Grantland is sponsoring would provide another revenue source for economic development by expanding the territory of port authorities to include the entire county in which they are located.

Current law limits port authority jurisdiction to no more than 3 miles from the shoreline.

Grantlandís bill would enable port authorities to be involved in property development anywhere in their county. That would allow the Decatur-Morgan County Port Authority to play a role in the Hartselle industrial park, Grantland said. The bill has passed the House and cleared a Senate committee but awaits a final reading in the Senate.

An identical bill by Orr awaits final action in the Senate. Orr said he expects Grantlandís measure, which he also backs, will be the one that passes.

Rep. Bill Dukes, D-Decatur, also has a bill dealing with TVA in-lieu-of-tax revenue. His bill would specify that 40 percent of a 3 percent increase in TVA money to TVA-served counties would go for a staffed local Morgan County delegation office. He estimates the amount at $125,000 to $130,000. The remaining 60 percent of new revenue would Morgan County government entities.

Orr sponsored a Senate version of the bill, but will work to pass Dukesí House bill, which is closer to passage.

In other area legislation, Rep. Jody Letson, D-Hillsboro, sponsored two Lawrence County bills that have passed the House and await final Senate action. One bill would lower the sales and use tax on new cars. The other would specify the use of the countyís additional 3 percent TVA in-lieu-of-tax revenue.

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