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Legislature passes $772M pandemic relief spending plan, concludes special session

MONTGOMERY— The special session of the Alabama Legislature concluded on Thursday after lawmakers passed a $772 million package allocating the state’s portion of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The bipartisan spending plan overwhelmingly passed both chambers absent any controversy. The Senate, which passed the House’s version of the bill, adopted the measure by a vote of 26-0 with one abstention.

In the lower chamber, the bill passed 100-1 with two abstentions. State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) was the only lawmaker to oppose the bill during its final vote.

Broadband expansion received the highest dollar amount in COVID-19 pandemic relief funding. Nearly 36% of ARPA funds, or roughly $276 million, will be utilized to deploy high-speed internet services to rural and underserved areas of the state.

The second-highest funding allocation will be geared toward water and sewer infrastructure projects. This category will receive $225 million, or just over 29% of overall funding.

Nearly 20% of all ARPA dollars will be directed toward health care providers and services. Funds totaling $151.7 million will be allocated to hospitals, nursing homes, telemedicine expansion and related services.

The Alabama Unemployment Trust Fund is set to receive $79.5 million, accounting for roughly 10% of pandemic relief dollars.

Emergency response services, including volunteer fire departments and other providers, will be allotted more than 2% of ARPA funds, totaling $20 million.

The state is set to reimburse county jails in the amount of $11 million for costs associated with inmate housing, which amounts to just over 1% of overall ARPA funds.

The final 1% of funds totaling more than $7.8 million will be appropriated to cover administrative costs incurred by state government for ARPA compliance reporting.

The state in the coming months will receive an additional $1.06 billion from a second round of ARPA funds.

With the special session now adjourned, the legislature will now return to its 2022 regular legislative session next Tuesday.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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