MONTOGOMERY, Ala. – One month before Alabama lawmakers return to Montgomery state legislators said they are fully prepared for the upcoming session starting in January.
Lawmakers said it won’t take long to come up with the main agenda for the session.
Lawmakers are set to return to the state building on January 11 to start what was first believed will be a long legislative session, but with a short to-do list.
Despite their party, republican or democrat, or what side of the mountain in North Alabama they represent, every lawmaker seems to agree that the state is facing an infrastructure crisis.
The main topic? Broadband access in rural areas.
In November, President Biden signed a $1 trillion plan into law to fund infrastructure projects across the country and according to lawmakers, Alabama could see a large investment for improvement.
“I can’t express how important broadband is to our state’s economy. This touches everybody in their homes. It touches telemedicine, it touches education. Through the COVID pandemic, we saw how important it was to have broadband access for these kids that were at home,” noted Republican Alabama State Representative and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon.
“It will make us competitive nationally with any community across the country with providing the education necessary and the strongest foundation for our young people to be successful long-term,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels.
The house speaker said that the hold-up to improve broadband access in rural communities has always been the cost.
“If you’ve got five miles of roadway and you’ve got two residents within five miles, economically, when you look at the dollars and the business model, it’s almost too expensive to run to two homes over five miles,” McCutcheon explained. “That was a big hurdle. So, we had to find a way to get the infrastructure to these rural areas to where we could justify the expense.”
Lawmakers will also look forward to augmenting the state’s federal income tax deduction rate and will introduce a bill to build a beltway through Huntsville to ease traffic congestion in Madison County.