Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Opinion | Annual legislative session underway

They will come into session, pass the budgets, then go home to campaign. They may even adjourn early this year.

The entrance to the Alabama Statehouse on South Union Street.

The 2022 annual regular session of the legislature has begun. It began Jan. 11 and constitutionally can last three and one-half months, which would have it ending at the end of April.

This is the last year of the quadrennium and an election year. Therefore, the Legislature will not address any controversial or substantive issues. This has always been the case in Alabama politics. This rule will ring true this year as it has in past years. They will come into session, pass the budgets, then go home to campaign. They may even adjourn early this year, probably the first part of April.

It will be an easy year, budget wise. The General Fund and Special Education Trust Fund will again have growth in revenue. The economy is still percolating from the COVID recovery, especially because of the influx of federal dollars.

Alabama will have received over $4 billion from the Federal American Rescue Plan COVID relief money. Almost half has been earmarked and given to schools, counties and cities and will not be allocated by the Legislature.

The state received over $500 million in 2021.  Most of that, over $400 million, went to build new prisons, which was the most significant achievement last year.

There will be approximately $560 million of ARP money coming into Alabama for this year.  The Legislature will be able to play Santa Claus in an election year. The General Fund chairmen, Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, in the House and Greg Albritton, R-Escambia, in the Senate, are being lobbied heavily as might be expected.

They will be looking at several ways to disburse these federal dollars. The feds like the states to focus on rural broadband expansion, water and sewage projects, and hospitals and nursing homes. It will be a short and successful and non-controversial session.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Gov. Kay Ivey will miss her right arm, Jo Bonner. He has served as a quasi-governor for the past three years. Ivey and Bonner have a lifetime bond. They are both from Wilcox County, and like family. This remote rural black belt, southwest Alabama county has spawned Jeff Sessions, Kay Ivey, Judy Bonner and Jo Bonner. Jeff, Kay and Judy are all about the same age. Jo is about 15 years younger and like Kay’s little brother.  Kay has never not known Jo Bonner. He has been the most influential chief of staff to a governor in state history.  

In November 2021, it was announced that Jo Bonner will become president of the University of South Alabama. He will be the fourth president of the University of South Alabama, which is the third-largest university in the state. Jo Bonner is perfect for this position. His decade as a congressman from Mobile and his prowess as an economic developer and civic leader coupled with his winning personality will propel the university in Mobile to a regional educational and medical center for Alabama, Mississippi and Northwest Florida. He is revered in Washington. His political connections and persona will make the University of South Alabama a politically powerful institution.

The governor made a wise and prudent move to fill the void left by Jo Bonner’s departure from the governor’s office. She made her loyal, dedicated and extremely qualified ally, Liz Filmore, chief of staff. Liz had already been functioning as a quasi-chief of staff to Ivey and Bonner.  

A few months ago, Ivey adroitly convinced State Rep. Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa to become her finance director. Poole is immensely and uniquely qualified for finance director. He served over a decade in the House of Representatives. Eight of those years he chaired the Education Budget Committee and wrote the State Education budget.  He was and still is one of the most universally well-liked and respected legislators in the state.  Bill will remain finance director and Liz will be chief of staff. They will be part of what  Ivey will rely on as her leadership team.

The other two members of the four-person team will be Brooks McClendon and Nathan Lindsey, who will be elevated to deputy chief of staff.  Ivey along with Jo Bonner has run an exemplary Ship of State administratively.  

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at

More from APR


It began on a high note and ended positively. Why? There was plenty of money to spend.

Featured Opinion

HB372 is supposed to be about building a Statehouse. Instead, it forgives election corruption and hides state contracts.


A request for bids to build a new Statehouse was sent out by RSA on Monday.


The Alabama Legislature met for day eight, nine and 10 of its 2023 Legislative Session this past week.