Lawmakers set to tackle big issues in Montgomery

The new year brings a fresh agenda for the Alabama Legislature as lawmakers return to Montgomery with a major focus will be deciding where to direct the infusion of resources eligible to state and local governments through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help turn the tide of the pandemic and set the stage for a strong recovery.

“This week we kicked off the 2022 Legislative Session and everything is off to a good start,” said Alabama House Majority Leader Dist. 24 State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville.

“Leadership has been meeting with the Governor this week to put together a comprehensive plan to address the appropriation of the ARPA Funds that have been allocated to Alabama by the federal government.”

Ledbetter expects lawmakers to be called into a Special Legislative Session as early as next week “in order for the legislature to begin working towards allocating these dollars to help with small businesses, water and sewer issues in our cities, rural hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and broadband expansion. There is a lot to tackle in a short period of time, but we are working together to make sure we are addressing the needs of our state.”

Cities can use ARPA funds to invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers and otherwise address the negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When approving the measure in March 2021, Congress determined that $195.3 billion is to be allocated to the States, $65.1 billion to counties, and $45.6 billion is earmarked for “metropolitan cities”. Alabama is set to receive $2.1 billion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. DeKalb County stands to gain $13.8 million.

Alabama received the first half of its $2.12 billion allotment in June. The state has $580 million remaining after steering $80 million to hospitals and nursing homes and $400 million to a controversial prison construction plan. Lawmakers are discussing whether to steer some money to state parks.

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