House Minority Leader Daniels: Ivey and House, Senate leadership ‘committed’ to work with Dems on Medicaid expansion, lottery
HUNTSVILLE – Monday night, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) and Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) hosted a town hall listening session at the St. Mark Baptist Church.
During his opening remarks, Daniels, who voted for the Rebuild Alabama Act, which addresses the state’s infrastructure needs, in addition to raising fuel taxes, explained his “yes” vote and said it was part of a give-and-take necessary to legislate from the minority.
Daniels said in exchange for working with Gov. Kay Ivey and the House and Senate leadership on the infrastructure bill, he got a commitment from them to look at Democratic Party priorities, which included Medicaid expansion, a lottery and the elimination of the state portion of the grocery tax.
“Some of the things you may not see is that you’ll probably see some news reports about is the governor committed to, and the House and Senate leadership agreed to work with us on priorities that we have as Democrats,” Daniels said in his opening remarks. “And some of those priorities include Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, a lottery, remove the tax off of groceries. Those are the things that they committed to working with us on.”
Daniels explained the difficulties of legislating from a minority, when Republicans had a supermajority, and that compromise was a necessity to get a seat at the table. He also pointed to recent public comments made by Ivey, noting that she did not rule out the possibility of Medicaid expansion.
“In politics, you only have your word,” Daniels explained to the audience gathered in the sanctuary of the St. Mark Baptist Church. “If you look at the press conference that she did, she did not rule out expanding Medicaid, or looking at some source of supporting a form of expansion in the state of Alabama.”
“There are other pieces of legislation the governor will need help with, so the only thing you can do is go off a person’s word,” he added. “You know, and oftentimes I’ve told members of the caucus this: I don’t care what happened in the past. It doesn’t matter to me. I wasn’t around at the time. But if someone gives you their word, I’ve always been taught to take them at their word until they prove otherwise.”
Following the event, Daniels told Yellowhammer News in an interview how it was necessary for Democrats to cooperate to some degree with Republicans in Montgomery for the good of the caucus and the entire state.
“Here’s what I would say on the Medicaid expansion piece – it would have to come to the legislative council,” Daniels explained. “So, it is not something that necessarily has to come through the full body. And so, I’m on the legislative council. We talked about a number of issues that are priorities to us, and the issues are not just priorities to the Democratic caucus. These are Alabama priorities. So, it’s beyond just Democratic priorities.”
“But you have the conversation – you think about voting ‘no,’” he added. “You get in there for four years, and you can’t deliver anything. But at least you’re getting a commitment to be able to have some discussion about the priorities and the issues that are a priority for your community.”