The legislature wrapped up its business for the 2020 regular legislative session Saturday, but Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, predicted that there would be a special session.
“Yes, there will be a special session. There are a lot of needs that will come forth,” McCutcheon said when asked by reporters.
A key issue is what to do with nearly $1.8 billion in federal funds that Congress appropriated to the state to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Both McCutcheon and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said that they needed more guidance from federal authorities on how to use the money.
“It will be hard for us to rush into a special session because we need clear guidelines from Washington in how these moneys can be spent,” McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon was asked about a list of projects prepared by Marsh and other state leaders, denounced as a “Wish list” by Gov. Kay Ivey (R). The list contained a $200 million new Statehouse.
“It is a question mark if it would even fit into this,” McCutcheon replied. “There are probably going to several lists.”
“The liability issue risk for small business, schools and hospitals” opening up with the ever-present COVID-19 was cited by McCutcheon as another issue that the legislature needed to address.
McCutcheon also cited the mental health issue and the retired judge issue as matter, “We would like to see those come back up.” “There were so many important issues that we were working on.”
McCutcheon said that what was addressed in a special session as well as when the session would be is up to Gov. Ivey.
“In no way do I want to get out in front of the governor,” McCutcheon said.
“She has been very good to work with us,” McCutcheon said of Gov. Ivey. “She had done a good job. She has held the line and not caved in to pressure.”
McCutcheon thought that the reopening of the economy would work; but warned that “businesses and the management of these businesses” need to comply with social distancing. “If people will use common sense.”
“At some point in time family members need to do an assessment,” to protect vulnerable members of the family from going out McCutcheon said.
“I have got with Representative Rod Scott,” McCutcheon said. “He has done a great job. He is minority leader on the House Ways and Means Education Committee. We are grateful that he is here and are thankful for his leadership.”
“It has been a bipartisan effort with the minority members that were coming and going,” McCutcheon said.
“It was an honor to be here,” said Scott (D-Fairfield). “It always is. We fulfilled our duty constitutionally.”
“I would love for my colleagues to be here to participate in the special session,” Scott said.
The legislature passed the largest state general fund (SGF) and education trust fund budgets in history.
McCutcheon also thanked House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).
Ledbetter credited “Conservative budgeting” for the state’s strong fiscal position and ability to weather the coronavirus storm.
“There had to be no cuts and we actually added a little money back,” Ledbetter said of the budgets.
McCutcheon acknowledged that there were some issues with social distancing in the existing Statehouse and acknowledged that the legislature had discussed moving to another facility for the special session so that that the public could participate while still protecting the members and the public.
McCutcheon said that no members had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, though the virus has killed Rep. Dexter Grimsley’s sister.