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Rep. Lomax: State House is the ‘people’s house’

It was reported this week that the state is considering building a State House on a 2.5-acre site in Montgomery. Some lawmakers believe it would cost less for new building than it would be to renovate the current one.

Recent assessments by the Alabama Department of Finance estimate it would cost more than $70 million to renovate the location that houses Alabama’s legislative branch of government.

Recently on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” State Rep. James Lomax (R-Huntsville) said a new State House would better serve the interests of the Legislature and Alabamians.

“It’s in disrepair, it’s not accessible to the public, it’s really not truly the people’s house and it was never designed to be, initially,” Lomax said. “You can hear where I stand on it based on that. I think there needs to be a new one.”

The Huntsville lawmaker said the poor conditions of the building are likely making lawmakers and visitors ill.

“What I can say is here in about 30 years you’re probably going to see ads similar to a billboard attorney saying ‘did you work in the State House 30 years ago? You may be owed compensation’,” he said. “Because I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s cases of mesothelioma coming out of that State House.”

Lomax thinks his colleagues in the legislature will need to do a good job explaining the issue to Alabamians in order to get public support for a new building.

“Yes, I hope they explain it to the public properly,” he said. “Because, if I’m sitting in the taxpayers’ shoes, I’m saying ‘is this where we want to spend our money?’ But it really is the people’s house. It’s not just for the legislators. It is so that the general public can get in there, they can be a part of the political process.”

He said a new State House would support allowing more Alabamians to visit the Legislature and contribute to the process of government.

“We have some committee rooms that wouldn’t fit more than 30 people, if we had a public hearing for instance,” he said. “And you know, on contentious large issues, you want to be able to have as many members of the public be a part of that process as possible.”

Senate Bill 222, which was approved Tuesday by the Senate, would give the Legislature complete control over city property right behind the current State House.

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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