Alabama House approves prison plan using virus funds

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers are heading toward swift approval of a prison construction package that would tap $400 million of the state’s pandemic relief funds to help pay for building three new lockups.

The House of Representatives voted 74-26 for the $1.3 billion construction plan and 75-25 to use $400 million from the American Rescue Plan.

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement following the passage of the bill.

Addressing our decades-long prison infrastructure challenges is not easy, but sometimes, doing the right thing and the hard thing are one in the same. This is not a victory lap because there is more legislative work to be done this week; this is the halfway point for the prison construction bills. I am extremely proud of the members of the Alabama House of Representatives for their hard work and support. Chairman Steve Clouse has proven instrumental in crafting the bills, moving them through committee and carrying them on the floor. The work done today will help lead to solutions that will greatly benefit all Alabamians for decades to come. I offer my sincerest thanks to the members, and I continue to offer any resource needed in the next few days to get this across the finish line.

Gov. Kay Ivey

The plan to use pandemic funds drew sharp criticism from some Democrats, including the state’s lone Democratic congresswoman.

Ivey has argued that it’s an appropriate expenditure because the American Rescue Plan says states can use some of the money to replace revenue lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

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