Alabama Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper, and Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, outlined legislative priorities that the Senate plans to pursue as it resumes the legislative session. These priorities were agreed upon by Senate and House leadership and include efforts to support economic recovery, state agencies and Alabama’s military presence and veterans, as well as a concentrated effort to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to pass budgets.
“Heading into the first two weeks of the session, we in the Senate came to an agreement with House leadership on three priority pieces of legislation – a bill to protect groups from frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits, a bill to ensure federal COVID-relief dollars aren’t taxed by the state government and legislation to reauthorize important economic development incentives that expired last year,” Reed said. “I was happy to see all three of these critical topics pass both chambers of the legislature by significant margins.”
After pausing Senate business last week to review and modify COVID-19 protocols and look at ways to increase access for the public, the Senate returned Tuesday with several newly agreed upon priorities, Reed said.
“I look forward to hitting the ground running with my colleagues in the Senate and the House as we work together, in a bipartisan manner, to get results on these important issues for the state of Alabama,” Reed said.
Members in both the Senate and House showed up throughout the first two weeks of the legislative session determined to deliver impactful results to the people of Alabama, Scofield said.
“After last week’s break from session, our members are ready to return with the same attitude, committed to working with purpose and passing meaningful legislation to serve all Alabamians,” Scofield said.
Reed said that promoting Alabama’s economic recovery will be a priority for the remainder of the 2021 Legislative Session.
“The Alabama Innovation Commission, which I have the privilege of serving on with my colleague in the House, Chairman Bill Poole, has several important measures it is working on to continue its mission to strengthen and grow Alabama’s economy,” Reed said. “Additionally, the Senate will continue to do what it already has been doing since this session commenced at the beginning of the month: taking up and considering important bills related to economic development and economic recovery for our state. Now more than ever, efforts related to economic development will be absolutely critical for Alabamians as we recover from this pandemic and create an economy that works for Alabamians.”
Reed said that the Republican supermajority will also push state agency legislation.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, state agencies have had important, much-needed legislation delayed for nearly two years,” Reed said. “The Legislature will have a strong focus on moving these important bills so that our state agencies have the resources and tools they need to support the needs of Alabamians.”
Reed said that the Senate leadership also wanted to prioritize military and veterans affairs legislation.
“The military presence in Alabama is not only important to our national security, but it is important to our state’s economy as well,” Reed said. “There are five military bases in our state and over 60,000 veterans. The military produces an economic impact of $21 billion and has a total job impact of 210,564. The Senate has taken up and passed several bills to support the military servicemen and veterans who call our state home. The House is now working on these military and veterans bills that the Senate passed to ensure that Alabama’s critical military foundation is strengthened, and can remain competitive nationally in bringing valuable military services and resources to Alabama.”
Reed said that the Senate did not want to put the state budgets off to the last days of the session.
“The Legislature’s number one constitutional responsibility is to consider and pass budgets for our state,” Reed said. “Given the unusual nature of this year regarding COVID-19, there is an added sense of urgency to address these budgets quickly and efficiently. We are ready to get to work on our budgets so our state has the resources it needs to operate.”
Wednesday will be day eight of the 2021 Legislative Session. The Senate is expected to go into session at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Committees will meet during the day prior to the late afternoon session.