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Senate committee approves, amends ARPA funding package

After HB1’s expeditious passage in the house Tuesday, an amendment was added Wednesday by the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee.

Brought by Sen. Chris Elliot (R-Daphne) and agreed upon by the committee, it dictates a further specification of water and sewer allocations to include stormwater projects. 

The amendment stipulates that up to $200 million of the $400 million total allocation for water and sewer be used for stormwater projects. Of that amount, $100 million will be reserved for projects where local governments can match 35% of the cost. 

Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) was among one of three senators to abstain from the committee vote, but said the amendment is a step in the right direction.

“Stormwater drainage gives us another outlet to use those funds legitimately within the confines established by Congress and the (U.S.) Treasury,” he said. “So that was a big concern.”

The 35% match stipulation was agreed upon by senators who said they’d like to see ARPA water and sewer money benefit regions who can share in the cost of major infrastructure projects. 

“If you look at where the money has gone so far, it’s been systems that couldn’t contribute to anything,” Givhan said. “It was the idea of trying to get this around the state, let different systems be able to compete on it, and a focus on growing communities.”

Wednesday’s committee approval moves the package forward to the floor of the Senate for an expected vote today. Elliot’s amendment might not be the last. A number of senators have entertained the idea of making further amendments, including Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) and Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur).

If the Senate approves an amended form of the bill, it will return to the House for final approval. The regular session is expected to resume next Tuesday.

Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. Follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 for coverage of the 2023 Legislative Session.

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