State leaders plan to address education, broadband, and prisons

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- Gov. Kay Ivey and state lawmakers gave a preview of the issues they might address when the legislative session begins Feb. 4.

Prisons, healthcare and education will be at the top of mind for all of them.

“But if we’re going to improve the quality of life, our citizens, we’ve got to up the game on the education side," said President Pro Tem Del Marsh.

Alabama lawmakers pointed to the state’s low test scores. The state was ranked last in math NAEP scores. Some lawmakers agreed with the suggestion to put more math and reading coaches.

“One of the areas that I certainly applaud the administration for focusing on is getting math coaches to really help improve instruction," said Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville.

Both republicans and democrats rallied around more mental health care access in schools.

“The children in the school system could have an opportunity to see someone and talk to someone about an issue that may be going on in their life and where their families live," said Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville.

Rural Alabama is struggling to offer health care resources. Lawmakers are looking at ways to bring more doctors and nurse practitioners to those areas.

“If we’re going to have a robust workforce, we have to have a healthy workforce," said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro.

With a federal lawsuit looming over the state, addressing the state’s prison violence is at the top of the list.

“It is absolutely imperative that we in the state of Alabama, solve our prison problem because if we download, the Department of Justice will come in and take over control the legislature control our funds, probably turn loose a bunch of folks," said Gov. Kay Ivey.

Talks of a lottery and gaming in the state are expected this session. McCutcheon said they welcome discussions with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and local gaming groups. He said leadership had not settled on any one piece of legislation regarding the issue.

The governor plans to release specific legislation details at her State of the State address Tuesday, Feb. 4.

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