MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A $1 billion road construction plan stalled in the Alabama Senate for the second year because the sponsor couldn’t muster enough support Tuesday.
The sponsor, Democratic Sen. Lowell Barron of Fyffe, tried to cut off a 3-week-old filibuster on the bill, but he fell one vote short of the number needed for cloture. The vote was 20-11.
Barron also would have needed 21 votes to pass the bill if he had cut off debate.
Barron immediately pulled the bill from consideration and said he wouldn’t try to bring it up again in this election-year session unless some of its opponents switch sides.
“For all practical purposes, they’ve killed the bill for this session,” he said.
Barron tried to pass the same proposal in the 2009 legislative session, but fell two votes short.
His plan is a proposed constitutional amendment that would take $100 million per year for 10 years from a state savings account called the Alabama Trust Fund. The money would be used for road and bridge construction statewide.
Democrats mostly supported the vote to cut off debate, and Republicans mostly opposed it.
Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Birmingham, said Republicans had several amendments they wanted Barron to accept, but he refused. If Barron had agreed, Waggoner said he could have voted for the bill.
Waggoner and other Republicans said they were concerned that Barron’s plan would allow the Legislature to dictate which road projects get built each year with the $100 million. They wanted to amend the bill to make sure that didn’t happen.
Barron said the bill would create badly needed jobs, make Alabama’s highways more attractive to new industry, and replace some of the 1,400 bridges that can’t carry school buses.
The Senate’s presiding officer, Democratic Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., made a pitch for the bill shortly before the crucial vote.
“This is not politics. It’s important for the state and important for economic development,” Folsom said.
If Barron’s bill had passed in the Senate, it still would have needed approval in the House and passage by Alabama voters in a November referendum.
House Speaker Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia, said the House appeared evenly divided on the plan.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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