MONTGOMERY, Ala (WIAT) — A wave of bipartisanship in Montgomery has helped lawmakers fast track legislation related to the pandemic and beyond.
After two weeks of being in session, Alabama lawmakers took quick action on bills to exempt Alabamians and businesses from paying state taxes on federal stimulus money, protecting businesses and other entities from frivolous lawsuits due to the pandemic and a massive economic stimulus package to recruit new businesses and create jobs.
“Especially in the midst of what we’ve gone through especially with the coronavirus. As we have dealt with the pandemic, we have all realized these have been difficult times. But we have good things to talk about in regard to Alabama’s economy,” said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper).
House Minority Leader, Rep. Anthony Daniels of Huntsville, spoke of how the passage of the legislation, especially the economic incentives bill, shows what lawmakers can do when they work across the aisle.
“It’s a very powerful piece of legislation that is going to set the foundation for tremendous long-term growth in Alabama,” Daniels said.
While those bills now head to the governor for her signature, a comprehensive gambling bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston, came up for debate on the Senate floor. The bill which ultimately will have to be approved by voters, would create a statewide education lottery and legalize full-blown casino gambling.
“Ultimately, at the end of the day whatever we do, the state of Alabama has to receive reasonable revenue, fair revenue and the citizens of this state have to know where those dollars are being spent and spent where the citizens want them spent,” Marsh said.
Marsh says he will spend the next week listening to suggestions from lawmakers and voters to make changes to the bill before bringing it up for a vote.
The Alabama Legislature will go on recess for a week before returning to Montgomery on Feb. 23.
Legislative leaders want to take the week off to review their COVID-19 safety protocols and test lawmakers again for any possible cases of the virus.