Birmingham City Council Highlights 2.28.23
Here are a few of the legislative highlights from Tuesday’s Birmingham City Council meeting, in case you missed it.
On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council passed a pair of resolutions allowing for the city to enter into a settlement agreement intended to resolve class action litigation brought by states and municipalities against pharmaceutical providers who’ve contributed to the proliferation of opioid abuse.
Tuesday’s vote is a necessary step in allowing for the City of Birmingham to join as a political subdivision of the settlement. No funds have been transferred and will eventually be allocated by additional agreements between state and local partners.
“I’m glad that my colleagues and I on the Birmingham City Council are able to provide some form of relief to the families who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic that has gripped the country in recent years,” Council President Wardine Alexander said. “Today’s vote is the first step in a long process to begin to heal our communities and families that have lost loved ones and whose lives have been explicitly harmed by prescription drug addiction. It is my sincere hope that these settlements will begin to change the way we see prescription drug addiction as well as reshape our strategies to address this issue moving forward.”
The Birmingham City Council unanimously approved the 2023 Legislative Agenda, which outlines priorities that the City of Birmingham would like to see addressed during this year’s legislative session in Montgomery.
Those issues include, but are not limited to automated photographic traffic enforcement system, exhibition driving bill, bill to cap employee liability, amending the AL Competitive Bid Law to add computers, programs, software applications, and automobile parts, the enhancement of fines for littering and dumping, amending the AL Land Bank Act to allow municipalities to acquire tax delinquent properties in certain instances, administrative warrants to support code enforcement, foreclosure authority for municipal liens and the addition of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the City of Birmingham.
As Chair of the Birmingham City Council’s Governmental Affairs Committee, Councilor Clinton Woods has led efforts to support a statewide bill that would authorize any Class 1 municipality to adopt an ordinance authorizing automated traffic enforcement measures.
“Something we hear a lot of, as elected officials, are complaints around speeding through neighborhoods and communities. This is becoming a major public safety concern and something we are looking to address,” Councilor Clinton Woods said. “This [legislation] could be a game changer, when you look at people running stop signs, traffic lights, passing in the middle lane.”
According to the bill (which is expected to be considered during the next legislative session in Montgomery) the drivers who violate traffic safety laws would face a civil penalty in the form of a fine.
States, counties, and cities across the country have implemented Automated Traffic Enforcement by contracting with 3rd party vendors to provide turnkey service at no cost to the public entity.
“The initial equipment cost is covered and the company, whoever that may be, will recoup the cost after the fines are collected,” Woods said. “We have the ability to set the limit; the goal would be to only ticket drivers going more than 10 mph over the speed limit. Speeding is a concern citywide and the use of this technology will aid in making our roadways safer. It is time that we approach this issue in a more efficient way instead of only having police to come out with radar guns.”
Emphasis should be placed on school zones, hospital zones, construction zones, & areas with a higher than average number of traffic accident occurrences.
Many other cities across the country and Alabama already have similar programs in place including: Center Point, Midfield, Montgomery, Mobile and others.
Cities and states that have put automated speed enforcement systems in place have seen major reductions in the number of accidents and traffic fatalities. Portland Oregon, for example, reported a 53% reduction in vehicle related deaths after implementing a similar program.