FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 30, 2022
For More Information: Kelly Marshall | 205-322- | [email protected]
REPRESENTATIVE NEIL RAFFERTY INTRODUCES HJR 199: A BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION TO CREATE INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT STUDY COMMISSION
BIRMINGHAM, Ala – On March 29th, Representative Neil Rafferty (D-54), with strong bipartisan support, introduced House Joint Resolution (HJR) 199, to create the INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT STUDY COMMISSION. The resolution calls for the creation of a study commission to ensure that the funding coming into the state from the bipartisan federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act gets to the communities who need it the most.
“We are at the precipice of a huge opportunity for the future health, quality of life, and prosperity of all Alabamians and communities if we ensure the largest investment in our nation’s infrastructure in nearly a century is handled properly and with guidance from our communities we serve,” Representative Neil Rafferty (D-54) said. “It is a historic moment to make much-needed repairs to roads and bridges, connect overlooked Alabamians to high speed internet, ensure that all rural and urban communities have proper sanitation systems and clean drinking water, build out world-class electric vehicle charging stations and much more.”
The Alabama Rivers Alliance (ARA), Hometown Action (HA), and other partner organizations call on state leaders to support the creation of this study commission to make the best use of these unprecedented dollars and make sure they will be disseminated equitably and according to the the President’s Justice40 initiative that seeks to make sure 40 percent of all federal investments benefit disadvantaged and under resourced communities.
Wastewater challenges plaguing our most impoverished region, the Black Belt, and many other areas across the state have recently made headlines in the New York Times and have been featured on 60 Minutes. ARA and Southern Exposure also made a film about some of the impacts in Alabama, Wastewater: A Tale of Two Cities.
“It is no secret that Alabama has many communities that are suffering from under-investment, neglect and racial discrimination in their infrastructure systems,” Cindy Lowry, executive director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance, said. “Straight piping and failing sewer infrastructure impacts public health as well as the health of nearby rivers and streams. We have already heard from communities who are finding it challenging to apply for funding through some of our existing programs. This resolution shows that our state leaders are committed to being proactive in removing any barriers to accessing these funds.”
According to the resolution, “The commission shall study and make recommendations for infrastructure projects in underserved and disadvantaged communities in the state.” The historic funding amounts and the volume of programs and agencies these funds will flow through, along with the need to ensure disadvantaged communities get the investment they deserve, mean that a coordinated statewide approach in the form of a study commission accountable to the Legislature, the Governor, and the people of Alabama, is necessary.
“Establishing a committee to study and make recommendations about Alabama’s use of federal infrastructure allocations is an important step towards ensuring our state’s disadvantaged communities receive thoughtful investments to address local needs, especially our rural areas,” Kathleen Kirkpatrick, Strategic Initiatives Director with Hometown Action, said. “With intentional collaboration among critical state agencies, Alabama will be able to optimize the use of funds available by evaluating intersections of community infrastructure needs such as the inherent relationships between health, housing, environmental, and economic justice.”
To read the full resolution, please click here. In short, the resolution states:
- This is a historic investment in our state’s infrastructure
- These funds will flow through many existing state programs
- A study commission will be created to ensure that at least 40% of funds are distributed as required to disadvantaged communities
- The study commission will work to identify these underserved and disadvantaged communities and identify assistance where needed to access federal funding
- Underserved and disadvantaged communities will have a voice on the Committee.
- A publicly available report will be issued to the Governor and Legislature regarding the work of the commission
# # #
About the Alabama Rivers Alliance
Alabama Rivers Alliance is a statewide network of groups working to protect and restore all of Alabama’s water resources through building partnerships, empowering citizens, and advocating for sound water policy and its enforcement. For more information, please visit www.alabamarivers.org
About Hometown Action
Hometown Action envisions inclusive, revitalized, and sustainable communities built through multiracial working class organizing and leadership development at the local and state level to create opportunities for all people to thrive. For more information, please visit www.hometownaction.org