House Majority Leader Addresses Infrastructure, Says Big Issues Remain in Session

House Majority Leader Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter today said the Legislature will eventually renew its attempt to pass infrastructure investment legislation sooner rather than later.

“It’s disappointing we didn’t get it approved,” Rep. Ledbetter said of an infrastructure investment bill that was introduced and favorably reported from committee but was stalled on the House floor.

Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, spoke to the Business Council of Alabama’s Tuesday briefing, which is held Tuesday mornings during regular sessions and featuring legislative leaders. He also discussed the big issues remaining in the session, including the budgets, prison reform, and reapportionment.

Today’s briefing was sponsored by Michelin North America, an international company employing 2,000 men and women in Alabama with tire manufacturing plants in Dothan and Tuscaloosa.

Leesa Owens, Michelin North America’s director of communications, introduced Rep. Ledbetter.

Rep. Ledbetter is a small businessman who was elected to the House in 2014 and is the first freshman House member to be chosen majority leader. He may be a newcomer to the House but not to politics, having served as mayor and a city council member in Rainsville.

Ledbetter addressed HB 487, the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure-supported bill that was introduced to update Alabama’s 25-year-old road and bridge tax law and provide much needed new revenue for road and bridge construction and maintenance.

The bill was pulled from contention and while House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, declared it dead this session, Rep. Ledbetter said the Legislature must at some point address the issue.

“There’s a time down the road we will have to get it done,” Rep. Ledbetter said.

Another bill Rep. Ledbetter said is important to Alabama is the BCA-supported SB 253 by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville.

SB 253 would amend the Alabama Renewal Act and provide income tax credits to businesses that purchase, construct, or install qualified broadband telecommunications network facilities in Alabama. It passed the Senate and was assigned to the House Ways and Means Education Committee.

Broadband infrastructure is important to Alabama, Rep. Ledbetter said. “That’s going to be a positive for the whole state, especially rural Alabama,” he said.

Rep. Ledbetter’s bill, HB 181, would eliminate state property tax on small businesses which have tangible personal property of $20,000 or less in value, such as a pickup truck and equipment.

“If you have less than $20,000 you’re probably spending more than (the tax) on your accountant,” Rep. Ledbetter said, not to mention the Alabama Department of Revenue spending more than the tax to be collected in administering it.

On other issues, Rep. Ledbetter said his “fear” is the Legislature will be called into extraordinary session to deal with legislative reapportionment, which has been made necessary by a federal court ruling on a dozen state legislative districts.