Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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For years, the Alabama Agriculture Department's Weights and Measures Division has been responsible for testing and inspecting the calibration of measuring devices in the state, including fuel pumps.
But Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan admits it hasn't been going so well.
"See today, when we do an inspection. We are still doing it with pencil and paper," McMillan said.
As we investigated last year, a lot of pumps have expired inspections. McMillan says budget cuts has reduced the number of inspectors to 5.
"We just guess-timate that there are about 100,000 filling stations in Alabama. We don't know where those are. We don't know how many gas stations are associated with them or any of that simple information that we need to be able to monitor the overall program. So we think this is the answer to that," McMillan said.
The proposed "Registered Service Agent Act" (SB261) would require licensed inspectors to submit inspection reports to a central database accessible to the agriculture department.
McMillan says this will help staff keep track of the number of pumps and make sure annual inspections are up-to-date. Retailers would share responsibility and consumers would be protected.
"What we are thinking is those technicians would have 24-48 hours to enter that into our database once they've done an inspection," McMillan said.
Senator Beasley has already introduced the bill in the State Senate and representative Paul Lee will introduce it in the house.
A second bill (SB 247 and HB 342) will transfer the Alabama Farmers Market Authority to the Alabama Department of Agriculture, consolidating two state agencies into one, saving state dollars.
That bill has already been introduced into both the Senate and House.
McMillan says the department has already seen a 30-percent cut. A sequestration would cut another 10 % in grant money.