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What Alabamians need to know about the latest activity on Goat Hill — March 30, 2021

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature on Tuesday will convene for the 17th day of its 2021 regular session.

This will be the first day back after the legislature’s annual spring break, which lasted one week this year.

During that brief hiatus, Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) reiterated just how busy this session has been thus far. There can be a maximum of 30 legislative days in the session.

Since the session began on February 2, the Senate has passed a total of 149 bills and processed the confirmations of 86 nominees.

“The broad range of bills the Senate has swiftly taken up and considered include topics ranging from economic development and job incentives, support for state agencies, supporting the military and veterans, passing budgets and many other important priorities for our state,” Reed began in a statement.

“This has been an unprecedented year, and due to complications from COVID-19, the Senate came into session in February with a backlog of important bills that have been delayed by the pandemic,” he noted. “Despite the uphill battle we faced due to coronavirus, the Senate has come together in a bipartisan manner, and has communicated and worked together with the unified purpose of getting as many results as we can for the people of our state.”

The Republican reiterated, “At the beginning of the session, the Senate, working with the House and governor, agreed on three priority pieces of legislation to help our state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic: legislation to shield individuals and groups from frivolous COVID-related lawsuits, legislation to ensure stimulus payments and resources from the federal government were not taxed by the state government, and legislation to spur economic developments and generate job growth through reauthorizing crucial job incentive programs. In the first two weeks of session, we were able to work together and send legislation to the Governor’s desk to address all three of these important topics.”

Reed also stressed that those first two weeks were “just the beginning of our efforts.”

“This is also the first legislative session in my tenure in the Senate that we’ve passed the budgets out of the house of origin prior to the spring break,” he outlined. “Just last week, the Senate took up and passed the $7.67 billion Education Trust Fund budget, the largest in our state’s history, which will provide a 2% across the board pay raise for teachers, support workers, and transportation workers. This budget also aims to address the need for certified math and science teachers across the state by creating a new salary structure to help attract and retain certified STEM teachers in Alabama by increasing their pay upfront. Passing the largest education budget in the history of the state of Alabama in and of itself would be a very significant accomplishment. But the idea that we’ve done that, on the heels of a global pandemic, is extraordinary.”

“I thank our budget committee Chairmen Orr and Albritton for all of their diligent efforts to accomplish their ambitious goals on this year’s budgets,” the senate president pro tempore stressed.

Even more impressively, the productivity of this year’s session has come during the first days of Reed becoming pro tem.

“I’ve been the President Pro Tem of this body now for seven weeks, and honestly, I could not be more pleased with the way things have gone. I think it has been very deliberative. I think it has been very focused. I think it has been very efficient. We’ve had a lot of debate, but at the same time, we as a Senate have worked together in a collaborative way to deliver results that are important to the people of Alabama. As we continue to move through this legislative session, we will maintain that results-driven spirit of delivering accomplishments for Alabamians,” Reed concluded.

There are no standing committee meetings scheduled for Tuesday; a Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee will, however, meet to consider Sen. Tom Whatley’s (R-Auburn) SB 277.

The House is scheduled to gavel in at 1:00 p.m., while the Senate gets in at 2:00 p.m.

Livestreams are available for certain committee rooms and both chambers here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn