MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WDHN) — The 2022 Alabama Legislative Session is set to be a busy one as we enter into a midterm election year, as well as with multiple topics likely to come before lawmakers in Montgomery.
With the Omicron variant still ever-present across the state and country, legislators are already deciding on how to spend COVID relief funds, which total more than $500 million.
Political analyst Steve Flowers says a special session to decide how to spend those funds is likely.
“There are federal people that sent the money would like it to go to things like broadband expansion, hospitals, sewers, and water systems,” Flowers said. “Big-ticket items you have a chance to pay for it this one time with this extra money. They may have a special session within the regular session to address the money, separately.”
Relief funds will likely find their way to improving infrastructure, and more across Alabama with the republican super-majority, however, another topic that has the potential to bring money into the state also has the potential to end up on the November ballot: gambling.
Flowers say there could be potential for the bill to be voted on by state lawmakers, especially if Governor Ivey puts her support behind the long-disputed topic.
“It almost would take the governor to get behind it in a special session, I think if she did, it could pass,” Flowers said. “It still may pass to get to the ballot anyway.”
One of the newest and arguably most contested issues will be concealed carry permits on firearms. Flowers says legislators may have policy ideas on permits, but sheriffs across the state may stand in opposition to them.
“The sheriff’s and the law enforcement people in the state are adamantly opposed to that bill and sheriffs are pretty popular in their county,” Flowers said. “And they may come out and say ‘we can’t have this because of all the murder in the state.’ So it may not pass as easily as some might think, because both Democratic and Republican sheriffs are against it.
Regardless of how policy and bills are voted on in this session, both lawmakers and Alabama voters will have many policy choices to make.