Members of the Birmingham City Council, school board, transit authority, water works board and the Mayor have prepared a unified Birmingham legislative agenda to present to state lawmakers for the upcoming 2014 session of the Alabama Legislature.
A special called Administration Committee Meeting was held last week with Mayor Bell to discuss all the issues the city would like addressed in the session beginning January 14.
A second working session with the Jefferson County delegation is scheduled on Thursday, January 9, at the Birmingham Crossplex, to present the combined agenda.
“All of us need to work together for the best interest of the city and we need to develop a better working relationship with our local legislative delegation,” said Council President Johnathan Austin. “Birmingham is the economic engine of the state. We need to do everything we can to ensure its long-term success and sustainability. We do that by not only passing local laws and ordinances but by also working with our local state representatives.”
The agenda being proposed by the city includes various items supporting or opposing state legislation that would affect economic development, payday lending, education, EPA regulations, mass transit and the water works board. State lawmakers have already prefiled several bills that could impact Birmingham.
The city supports state legislation for tax credits and incentives that encourage business development, neighborhood revitalization and job creation, and further regulation of the payday lending and title pawn industry. The city has done all it can locally to restrict the proliferation of such businesses. The city supports environmental protection legislation concerning the issuance or renewal of permits, the restriction of single serve wine, beer, drug paraphernalia and explicit materials near the front entrance of convenience stores, and increased funding for mass transit.
The city also supports legislation that would provide flexibility in local education budget priorities and facilitate partnerships between k-12 and post-secondary institutions. However, a request for the state to amend the Alabama Accountability Act is being suggested so that funds are not reduced for schools categorized as failing.