HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Despite a number of pressing issues in the current Alabama legislative session, the pending gas tax increase is all anyone wanted to talk about Monday night. Representative Laura Hall and House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels held a listening session to talk directly with taxpayers.
Dozens packed St. Mark Baptist Church to voice their concerns and get their questions answered.
Hall and Daniels took questions from a wide range of topics from healthcare to education to, of course, the gas tax.
Many people questioned why they supported the bill. While the pair shared many reasons, one they had in common was written support for small and minority businesses.
“The opportunity to ensure that minority vendors would have an opportunity to provide services to the state of Alabama," answered Rep. Hall (D19). "So, when I say minorities I’m talking about African-Americans. Not only can their companies come to the state of Alabama, if we don’t have them, but we want to make sure Alabamians have first choice in providing jobs for the people in the state.”
Hall says she wants to make sure that black-owned business not only have a fair chance at bidding, but at winning as well.
Daniels stated his purposing for supporting the bill was clear...because people wanted him too.
“I think that when you look at the number of county commissioners around the state, and even here locally, where they are encouraging us to support this tax – the gas tax because they have a lot of road work and construction that needs to be done in their area as well," said Rep. Daniels (D53). "So, it was pressure from local elected officials from this community and around the state and other individuals. Having people send you a note when they hit a pothole – those type of things and the lack of infrastructure.”
Another big concern for those in attendance was accountability. Much like some Alabama lawmakers, they’re worried the money will stay in South Alabama, specifically Mobile.
Both Hall and Daniels say there is oversight in place.
“Well each part of the bill has cities, counties, small municipalities part of a formula. So, it impacts the entire state. Whether you’re a small city, large city or a county," said Hall.
“I understand why people are frustrated because they don’t see the tax dollars coming back. Also, if we keep things the way the are...the potholes, the different things that you see will continue to get worse," said Daniels. “As we grow as a community, we also need to be able to leverage some of that money for federal funds to focus on our public transportation. So, we’re focusing on all transportation - not just our cars, our individual vehicles.”
Daniels says if he did not believe proper and adequate oversight was in place he would not have supported the bill.