66.4 F
63.2 F
64.3 F
58.9 F

Legislature passes $1.06 billion ARPA package

The special session called by Gov. Kay Ivey to appropriate the final portion of federal pandemic relief funds concluded Thursday with passage by both houses.

The Senate passed the bill 30-3 Thursday morning, after adding two amendments. It was sent back to the House and passed there.

The $1.06 billion package went to Ivey for her signature.

“I commend the Alabama Legislature for, once again, answering the call to invest these one-time funds wisely to make improvements in Alabamians’ quality of life, including water, sewer and broadband expansion projects, as well as health care,” she said. “Alabama can now look to a future of greater promise thanks to the steps we have taken this week to invest these funds wisely.” 

A number of senators highlighted how their priorities differ slightly from the final package. Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) said he wanted to see more money going toward reimbursement for the Public Education Employees Health Insurance Plan.

“You know my concerns about this particular bill in that it does not fully fund the PEEHIP expense that was directly related to COVID,” Orr said. “But, other than that, good job.”

The spending measures first outlined by the bill have remained consistent, with the largest portions being shared between healthcare and infrastructure.

All throughout the process, lawmakers have said the funds are an opportunity to double-down on what’s worked for the state in recent years. Broadband is a good example of that, Senate Majority Leader Scofield (R-Guntersville) said.

“We have the infrastructure in place, with the Alabama Digital Expansion Authority, and the broadband division at ADECA, to be able to handle this money and get it out to field to help our providers hook up more people,” Scofield said. “We do not have to reinvent the wheel there.” 

Shortly after, the revised bill landed back on the house floor for concurrence, ultimately leading to a 96-0 vote.

“Spending it on waste water, and mental health and nursing homes and hospitals and veterans homes,” Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter said. “I think it’s a big deal for the state.”

The Legislature opens its regular session next week.

Don’t miss out!  Subscribe today to have Alabama’s leading headlines delivered to your inbox.