Alabama finishes a busy first half of legislative session

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MONTGOMERY, Ala (WIAT) – The 2021 legislative session is at the halfway mark in Alabama.  But just how have lawmakers accomplished? 

Despite safety and health protocols brought on by the pandemic, lawmakers have been on a fast track for getting legislation passed. 

From economic incentives for businesses to COVID-19 liability protection and tax relief, several bills have already been sent to the governor to be signed into law. 

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the way it’s gone,” Republican Senate Pro-Tem Greg Reed of Jasper said. “I think it’s been very deliberative, very focused, very efficient.”

While Reed is pleased with the work lawmakers have done so far, CBS 42 wanted to know what grade our political analyst Steve Flowers, a former state lawmaker himself, gives legislators. 

“You may be surprised to hear me say this but give them a ‘B’,” Flowers said.

Flowers says he’s impressed with how well lawmakers have pushed through legislation but being fast isn’t always what’s best. 

“Sometimes it’s a better session the less legislation you pass. You don’t have to pass every bill that put in the hopper,” Flowers said.

But it’s the general fund and education budgets that have likely been most surprising to lawmakers and analysts.   

“In my tenure it’s the first time i can remember having the budgets out of the house of origin prior to the spring break,” Senator Reed said. 

In fact, the senate’s education trust fund budget is a record $7.6 billion and includes a pay raise for educators. 

“This group has done a better job than in the old days,” Flowers said. “They are letting everybody see it, massage and they have gotten them out of committee the first half of the year.  That’s how I really judge a session, can they pass the basic stuff, the budgets.”

Lawmakers are taking next week off for their spring break.  They’ll return to the statehouse on March 30.

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