2022 Code of Alabama
Title 37 - Public Utilities and Public Transportation.
Chapter 15 - Notification of Excavation or Demolition Operations.
Section 37-15-10.1 - Underground Damage Prevention Authority.

Universal Citation: AL Code § 37-15-10.1 (2022)

Section 37-15-10.1

Underground Damage Prevention Authority.

(a) The Underground Damage Prevention Authority is created for the purpose of enforcing this chapter and for reviewing penalty provisions and the adequacy of the enforcement process. It is the intent of the Legislature that the authority and its enforcement activities not be funded by appropriations from the state budget.

(b) The authority shall utilize the services of the Alabama Public Service Commission to provide administrative support for the authority, subject to the concurrence by the authority board. The Public Service Commission shall charge the expenses associated with the administrative duties of the authority back to the authority, subject to the concurrence of the authority board. The administrative support provided by the Alabama Public Service Commission to the authority is in an administrative capacity only and nothing in this chapter shall expand the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission in any way.

(c) The authority shall be composed of a board of underground facility protection stakeholders. The board shall be composed of one subject matter expert representative from each of the following stakeholders and all board appointments shall be made by March 31, 2020, as follows:

(1) Alabama Attorney General's Office.

(2) Alabama Public Service Commission - gas pipeline safety.

(3) Alabama Department of Transportation.

(4) Alabama county engineers.

(5) Cable television industry.

(6) Electric utility industry.

(7) Municipal utility operator industry.

(8) Natural gas distribution industry.

(9) One-Call Notification System.

(10) Professional excavator industry.

(11) Professional road builder industry.

(12) Professional land surveyor industry.

(13) Telecommunications industry.

(14) Transmission pipeline industry.

(15) Utility facility locating industry.

(16) Water utility industry.

(17) Wastewater industry.

(d) The Governor shall appoint the stakeholder representatives selected from qualified persons as provided in subsection (c) with the exception of the stakeholder representatives from the Alabama Attorney General's office, the Alabama Public Service Commission - gas pipeline safety, and the Alabama Department of Transportation, who shall be appointed by the head of the respective agency. The initial authority board shall be appointed with staggered terms as determined by the Governor. After the initial appointment, each stakeholder representative shall serve a term of three years or until a replacement is appointed, whichever occurs later. No person shall be appointed for more than two full consecutive terms with the exception of the stakeholder representatives from the Alabama Attorney General's office, the Alabama Public Service Commission - gas pipeline safety, the Alabama Department of Transportation, and the One-Call Notification System.

(e) Membership of the authority board shall be inclusive and reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state.

(f) The board shall elect an executive committee made up of five representatives from the authority board as provided in this section excluding those entities representing a state agency, who will be responsible for levying civil penalties and taking actions as described in Section 37-15-10, this section, and Section 37-15-10.2.

(g) Members of the authority board and executive committee may participate in a meeting of the board or committee by means of telephone conference, video conference, or similar communications equipment by means of which all persons participating in the meeting may hear each other at the same time and members of the public may simultaneously listen to the meeting. Participation by such means shall constitute presence in person at a meeting for all purposes.

(h) The board may do all of the following:

(1) Adopt rules to conduct the affairs of the authority.

(2) Make and enter into contracts.

(3) Enter into an interagency agreement with the Attorney General's office to serve as legal counsel. The Attorney General shall be compensated at a rate not to exceed the normal hourly rate authorized by the Governor for legal services contracts. The authority shall also reimburse the Attorney General for any expenses incurred in providing legal representation.

(4) Oversee the development of or contract for the development and administration of the designated training program.

(5) Evaluate and revise the enforcement program process and penalty structure by adopting rules if the current structure does not meet the purpose and intent of this chapter or federal law.

(i) No member of the board, individually or jointly, shall be civilly liable for acts within the scope of his or her duties as a board member which are made in good faith and are absent unreasonable, wanton, willful, intentional conduct or a violation of federal law.

(j) The members of the board shall serve without compensation.

(k) Nothing in this chapter shall grant the authority jurisdiction over damage to utilities located above the ground.

(l) Board members shall not participate in any enforcement action decisions pertaining to the entity they represent.

(Act 2019-407, §2; Act 2021-273, §1.)

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