Mayor wants St. Clair County represented on water board
by Will Heath
Feb 15, 2014 | 1138 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ST. CLAIR COUNTY — According to Moody Mayor Joe Lee, the city sold its water system to the Birmingham Water Works Board in 1991.

On Wednesday, Lee says he will be in Montgomery seeking a seat on the Water Works Board. Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, said a piece of legislation he authored, which will require the board to appoint representatives from outside entities that purchase water from Birmingham, will be the subject of a public hearing Wednesday.

Lee said he plans to be at the public hearing to voice his support.

“I feel like, if water’s going to be served in St. Clair County, we should have representation on the board to help decide where the line’s going to be run and who we’re going to serve,” he said. “We don’t have representation at this point, so we don’t have any control over what our rates are for our citizens, as well.”

McClendon said Birmingham sells water to systems in other counties as well, including Shelby, Blount and Walker.

“If you control the infrastructure, you control the community,” he said. “You control the growth. You control the opportunities that community has in the future. I don’t feel comfortable with another city that has a say-so over our decisions and wishes and needs in St. Clair County.”

McClendon said he expects legislators from Birmingham to oppose the bill.

“The fact is, it is a regional system,” McClendon said. “It supplies water to a region. Not just to Birmingham, but also to Blount County, St. Clair County, Shelby County … and none of those counties have representation. This bill basically says that any county that is served will have a seat on that board.”

Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, lauded legislation in which the private sector will provide scholarships to any student participating in dual enrollment programs that provide workforce development.

“I think that one piece of legislation will impact more lives for the people of Alabama than any single piece of legislation,” Butler said. “So many people who wouldn’t have the opportunity to do dual enrollment, with these scholarships will have that opportunity.

“It’s a huge win, and the taxpayers didn’t have to fund it.”

Another bill related to education will allow school systems to count students as transfers if they leave public school to take online courses from an accredited institution.

“Kids that drop out of school that go online to an accredited school will be considered a transfer student, not a dropout,” said Rep. Dickie Drake, R-Leeds. “You’d think that’d be a simple bill, but it took a lot of time in the House. I don’t know how much of an effect this will have on the state education, but Alabama’s already on the bottom rung of education, so this will help our dropout numbers.”

Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, helped pass legislation that deals with what he called “counterfeit air bags.” Wood, who worked in car maintenance, said the bill criminalizes installation of the faulty equipment, and makes it a felony if one is responsible for an injury.

“If anyone is injured or killed, then it’s a Class C felony,” Wood said. “If you put one in there and 6 months later you find out I put a faulty one in there, it’s a misdemeanor. But if you get hurt or killed, it’s a big time charge.”

Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, said he is still pushing for further Second Amendment protections for Alabamians. Beason sponsored an omnibus bill in 2013 related to gun possession and ownership, and said he wants to continue that course.

“Most importantly, it would allow you to have your pistol in your car without having to pay for a permit,” Beason said. “My understanding is, we’re the only Southern state that requires that.

“My position is, you ought not have to pay for your Second Amendment right. I don’t believe having your pistol in your car counts as concealed.”

Attempts to reach Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, were unsuccessful at press time.

Contact Will Heath at wheath@thestclairtimes.com.