The Alabama Legislature will begin its annual Regular Session on Tuesday, Feb. 2. The annual Session is limited by law to 30 session days within a 105 calendar day period so the Session must conclude by May 17, 2021. Generally, the Legislature meets in Session on Tuesday and Thursday of each week with Wednesday as the major day for committee meetings.
This Session portends to be challenging and different because of the virus. The Alabama State House presents challenges to handling a large group of legislators, the public and lobbyists. The Senate and the House have both instituted virus protection programs that are still being developed as this note is prepared. Members and visitors to the State House will have their temperature taken upon arrival. Additionally, the Senate will require a temperature check for anyone coming to the Senate floor for a meeting with a member of the Senate.
The House will spread out the 105 members, with some on the House floor, others in the balcony and in overflow rooms on the 6th floor which are generally utilized by the public, lobbyists and staff. House members are being provided iPads so that they may vote from their remote locations in the balcony or overflow rooms without coming to the House floor.
In the Senate, an appointment to meet with a Senator must be made and the public and lobbyists are to be relegated to a room on the third floor to await the time for being called to the Senate. In the House, there will be several meeting rooms on the first floor for House members to meet with the public and lobbyists.
It is expected that the Legislature will meet for two weeks at the beginning of the session and then recess for some period of time with the goal of allowing more members and staff to receive vaccinations and also assess any additional safety procedures that need to be enacted during the remainder of the Session.
The bottom line is that we should all expect changes, a different schedule and a different way of conducting business with our Legislators. Beginning next week, the Senate and the House will hold joint budget hearings to hear from state agencies.
There have been 147 bills, 43 in the Senate and 104 in the House, pre-filed as of this date. The first week of the Session will see a couple of hundred more, and I will report on the significant or noteworthy ones in my first week report.