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Governor vetoes TVA bill
Riley says DeKalb legislation was ‘purely for political purposes’

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

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley fired a shot toward some Tennessee Valley lawmakers’ TVA in-lieu-of-
tax bills when he vetoed
DeKalb County’s bill Thursday.

But later that day, Riley had not acted one way or the other on similar bills for Morgan and Lawrence counties.

A separate bill to help finance a new Morgan County industrial park, however, doesn’t face the veto pen.

Riley said the DeKalb bill was “purely for political purposes.”

The DeKalb bill is one of several local bills that would direct how a 3 percent increase in Tennessee Valley Authority funds to TVA-served counties would be spent.

Some would give control of the funds to a county’s legislative delegation.

Others, including the one for Morgan County, would use a more complex formula.

Reps. Bill Dukes, D-Decatur, and Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, both said they hope that the Morgan County bill, which passed the state Legislature on Thursday, is specific enough to avoid a veto.

More in question is the Lawrence County bill by Rep. Jody Letson, D-Hillsboro, which has received strong criticism from elected officials in Lawrence County, who accuse the county’s legislative delegation of attempting to divert the money into a “slush fund.”

That criticism has not
subsided despite changes Letson made to the local legislation.

Letson amended the bill to remove language giving set percentages of the TVA funds to the legislative districts of himself and Sens. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, and Zeb Little, D-Cullman. But a provision establishing a community development commission remains.

Dukes’ bill, meanwhile, would give 60 percent of the 3 percent revenue increase to county and municipal governments and 40 toward establishing a local legislative office.

Dukes said his bill also requires that the new revenue be audited annually.

In a prepared statement, Riley defended his veto of the DeKalb County bill.

“This proposed legislation attempts to establish a fund which could be used purely for political purposes by members of the Community Development Commission,” Riley said.

“The appropriate expenditure of these funds should be under the authority and control of local governmental officials who can most appropriately prioritize local needs.”

Grantland’s bill

A less controversial bill, by Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, passed the Legislature on Thursday and went to the governor, who is expected to sign it.

Grantland’s bill would divert part of current TVA in-lieu-of-tax revenue from servicing bonds for Mallard Fox Creek Industrial Park to paying for bonds for a proposed industrial park on Interstate 65 near Hartselle.

The bonds for Mallard Fox Creek will be retired this year.

One other area bill that passed Thursday is one by Rep. Henry White, D-Athens. The bill, now on its way to Riley’s desk, would assess a $75 one-time supervision fee in Limestone County juvenile court cases to be used for county juvenile court programs.

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