Community asks lawmaker what's happening in the capitol

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ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WTVY) -- A break in the legislative session Monday in Montgomery gave state representatives a chance to spend time in their districts getting feedback from constituents.

Coffee County business and community leaders took advantage of that at the annual legislative lunch at the Coffee County Farmer's Market.

Abortion, the gas tax, and the lottery bill were just some of the hot topics discussed.

"Highway 167 is a dangerous stretch of road," said State Rep. Rhett Marques.

Marques says this two lane road needs to expand to four lanes to keep up with hurricane evacuations and work commuters.

"You never want to take advantage of a disaster but sometimes disasters show needs," said Marques.

Marques says it's a matter of safety.

"There’s no doubt that there's a need for more hurricane evacuation routes - not just to let people out, but to get emergency personnel in," said Marques.

That project would be funded by the 10% gas tax increase passed by the legislature in March.

Another issue discussed - mental health - something Peggy Contreras is very concerned about.

"Is there something in place to address the mental issues that we are having in our correctional facilities and how do we move forward and what are the plans to address those issues?" asked Contreras.

Marques says the overcrowding of prisons and lack of mental health facilities has caused issues and is a major problem, but the solution likely won't come during this session.

Contreras says events like this are important to the community.

"A lot of people don't have the ability to go to Montgomery and to attend these sessions and meetings but for them to actually come here and allow our voices to be heard was a great opportunity," said Contreras.

Also discussed was the four percent teacher pay raise, and when Marques was asked about retiring teachers, he said they are still working on that.