Ala. lawmakers anticipate special session on American Rescue Plan funds

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 5:23 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2022 at 6:51 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Legislators expect there to be a special session on how to spend the state’s remaining American Rescue Plan funds that would take place before the end of the month.

A special session during a regular legislative session isn’t unheard of, but lawmakers are dealing with a tricky timeline to try and allocate the American Rescue Plan funds.

Lawmakers must be in session to distribute funds, so the $580 million left from round one will be complete before the session is up to meet the federal deadline of summer 2022, because then, round two of the ARPA funds come.

Due to the Alabama constitution, during the second and third years of the quadrennium, the legislative session starts in February. This year, which is the fourth year, they start in January. And during the first year, which will be 2023, legislators won’t start work until March.

“Which means that’s a long time to have that $1 billion sitting in the bank,” said Sen. Greg Albritton. “Frankly, waiting for awhile and seeing how this turns out may not be such a bad idea. Just to allow that money to sit there and figure out how other monies have dispersed and such before we started trying to appropriate.”

Albritton says this is a very unusual aspect for the Legislature to be caught in.

Still, Rep. Steve Clouse has some ideas on what could be included in the governor’s call for a special session.

“I think broadband will be a feature, the water and sewer projects of hospitals and nursing homes again will probably be in the package,” said Clouse. “Dealing with the unemployment trust fund. That fund took a big hit back in March of ‘20 when so many people lost their jobs due to the COVID and businesses being shut down.”

Gov. Kay Ivey’s communication director, Gina Maiola, provided this statement: “The governor wants allocating the ARPA funds to be an early priority for the Legislature. She has stressed time and again that we need to invest this one-time money, not just casually spend it. Governor Ivey will continue having conversations with the Legislature who is ultimately tasked with allocating these funds. The sooner these dollars reach the people of our state, the better.”

There is no confirmation of the special session from the governor.

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