Prison bill dead as time runs out on legislative session
A massive prison construction project pushed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley failed Wednesday, the final day of the legislative session.
Lawmakers ended the session at midnight before a scaled-back bill, that was an attempt at compromise, after the House failed to act.
Speaker Mike Hubbard said supporters did not have enough votes to cut off an inevitable filibuster so the bill was never brought up for consideration.
“I just got the feeling that a number of members were uncomfortable with it because it had changed so much,” Hubbard said after the session ended.
The bill earlier made two trips into a compromise committee, receiving approval both times. The first overhaul would have put four lawmakers on an advisory panel to oversee the issuance of $800-million dollars in bonds.
"We saved Alabama taxpayers $800-million and, really, $1.5-billion with the bond payback, said House Minority Leader Craig Ford who opposed the prison bill.
Under the plan proposed by Bentley, four new prisons would have been constructed and over a dozen current maximum security penitentiaries would have been close.
After the bill initially stalled in the Senate, the committee met yet again and agreed to cut the number of new prisons to three—including a women’s facility---and reduce funding to a maximum of $550-million.
That measure passed the Senate before stalling in the House.
There is speculation that a special session could be called later this year to deal with the prison issue though the governor hasn't commented at this time.
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