MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — Alabama lawmakers are approaching the remaining days of the legislative session as Tuesday marks day 21 out of 30 meeting days.
Lawmakers started off on a bipartisan note, unanimously approving mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl dealers. It’s the first bill Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law this session.
“The legislature was behind the times with the drug use that was going on. Now, we just caught up to date with the dealers and what they’re using,” Rep. Matt Simpson (R- Daphne) said after the bill’s passage.
The bipartisanship likely ends there though. A bill changing the state’s correctional incentive rules for inmates, dubbed by Republicans the Deputy Brad Johnson Act, received pushback from Democrats over concerns it will worsen prison overcrowding.
“Can you imagine a facility overcrowded, no resources, no rehabilitation, everything you’ve done is ignored by the parole board and you have no hope?” Rep. Chris England (D- Tuscaloosa) said during a debate over the bill, which ultimately passed.
Ivey signed that into law, too, as well as a package of economic incentive bills she calls the “Game Plan,” aiming to draw businesses to the state.
Bills still working their way through the state house address school choice and a grocery tax cut.
Political analyst Steve Flowers predicts the final few days, however, will be dominated by how to spend the state’s budget surpluses.
He says he thinks the House may even do away with the $100 rebates the Senate approved in the Education Trust Fund budget in an attempt to save for an economic downturn.
“It’s much, much harder when you’ve got too much money, which is this year, than when you have very little, cause everyone’s fighting over that extra money,” Flowers said.
Flowers says the biggest surprise this session is the push by Republicans to cut the state’s grocery tax over time.
“I think it’s going to pass. They’ve reduced it. It’s not the full doing away with it. But I think that one may get through. Everything’s up in the air now,” Flowers said.
Another big topic that has not popped up this session is legislation that would put the question of the lottery up to the voters.