The state Finance Taxation and General Fund Committee in a brief meeting Tuesday moved along new congressional and state House maps, as well as a bill to appropriate $80 million to state hospitals and nursing homes.
Committee members without discussion voted to give favorable reports to House Bill 3, which would appropriate $80 million of the state’s federal COVID-19 aid to hospitals and nursing homes. Members also approved without discussion the new state House map, sending both to the full Senate for consideration.
The new congressional map did stir some discussion among several committee members, however. Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, at first said he planned to introduce a substitute bill, but later said he would not do so while expressing concern about the process.
“Each of us on this committee should have been given the opportunity to say something about our congressional districts,” Allen said. “And I did not get an email nor letter or a phone call or a personal visit. Nothing from our attorney.”
Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, introduced a substitute bill he said would address his concerns over parts of the districts of U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, and U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Alabama, which the new map shows to have been switched between the two.
“No one has explained to me why they’re swapping these two districts,” Waggoner said.
“If this plan is passed it will be sued as violation of Voting Rights Act. There’s no question about it,” said committee member and co-chair of the Joint Reapportionment Committee Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, referring to Waggoner’s substitute bill. “There’s a strong possibility the court would change the view and say that this is not a Democratic, Republican issue. That it was racially motivated.”
McClendon moved to table the substitute and members voted quickly to do so, then voted to give a favorable report to the new congressional map.
Committee Chairman Sen. Greg Allbritton, R-Atmore, carried over Senate Bill 10, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, which would redraw congressional lines and include two majority-minority districts. The state’s current and proposed new maps contain one majority-minority district.