President Pro Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper, and Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, made the following statements to recognize the body’s legislative accomplishments to date and outline the priorities for Senate Republicans in what remains of the 2022 legislative session.
“At the halfway point of the session, there is no doubt that my colleagues have already made a positive impact on their districts and our entire state for years to come. I am proud of the tireless work, collaborative dialogue, and commitment that our members have made thus far, and the result has been a productive session that has seen our members defend our conservative values, stand up for the American Dream, and grow opportunities for every Alabamian,” Reed said. “Whether it be investing in rural health care, expanding high-speed broadband internet access, strengthening Alabama’s military and extended defense communities, improving mental health resources, or providing commonsense tax cuts to small businesses and families, the members of the Senate have been fighting for Alabama’s future every single day. While I applaud my colleagues for a successful first half of the session, I also know that our work is far from finished. We look forward to continuing to stand strong for Alabamians’ freedoms and create an environment in which every community in Alabama can thrive.”
“I am extremely satisfied with the issues that the Senate Republican Caucus chose to focus on during the first half of the legislative session, and I appreciate the perseverant effort and long hours that our Caucus members dedicated to bettering the lives of Alabamians in every community across the state,” Scofield said. “The bills we passed in the Senate will impact our people in a very significant way. Senate Republicans have pushed legislation to accelerate and modify broadband expansion, provide relief to struggling small businesses, enhance Alabama’s military-friendly environment, and deliver tax cuts to hardworking Alabama families.
“I echo the sentiments of the Pro Tem by saying there is certainly much work left to be done, and I look forward to collaborating with my fellow Republican colleagues to tackle our remaining priorities from protecting our Second Amendment rights to improving education,” Scofield said. “I am confident that there will be a handful of additional accomplishments to celebrate when the session concludes if we continue to work together in an effective manner.”
Key pieces of legislation include:
- American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding: The legislature made a $772 million investment in communities across the state that will impact Alabamians for generations to come. This piece of legislation appropriates funds made possible by ARPA, passed by U.S. Congress in 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, for health care, broadband, infrastructure, the unemployment insurance trust fund, telemedicine, rural hospitals, county reimbursements, and volunteer fire departments/EMS.
- Broadband expansion legislation: Leaders in Alabama continue to work together to address the lack of high-speed internet access across the state. The Senate passed three bills that modify Alabama’s broadband expansion process including a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow a state, county, or municipality to grant federal award funds or any other source of funding designated for broadband infrastructure to any public or private entity for the purpose of providing or expanding broadband infrastructure.
- Tax cuts and exemptions: The Senate passed several bills to keep money in the pockets of Alabamians. Among these bills is an exemption for working Alabama families from an $87.7 million state income tax on certain expanded tax credits included in federal Covid-19 relief which was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey. Additional Senate-passed legislation allows $6,000 of taxable retirement income to be exempt from state income tax for individuals who are 65 years of age or older and provides tax cuts for low income Alabamians and retirees.
- Small business assistance: Small businesses took a major hit over the last two years, and the pandemic substantially hindered growth and job creation for these enterprises. Lawmakers have made a great effort throughout that time to provide these businesses with the much-needed relief they deserve. The Small Business Relief and Revitalization Act passed by the Senate provides several significant relief provisions for Alabama taxpayers, small businesses, and farmers.
- Historic General Fund: The Senate-passed General Fund is the largest in the state’s history. Totaling $2.70 billion, the budget repays borrowed funds to the Alabama Trust Fund in full and ahead of schedule, increases funding for mental health including two additional crisis diversion centers, provides for a cost-of-living adjustment for state employees, and sends money back to Alabama taxpayers.
- Military bills: A key mission of the Senate during recent years has been to provide ample support for Alabama’s extended defense, aerospace, and intelligence communities. The legislature passed a package of bills to ensure Alabama remains the nation’s most attractive and friendliest state for active duty military, their families, and veterans.
- Alabama Airport Economic and Infrastructure Program: Passed by the Senate, this program functions as a grant program under the Alabama Department of Transportation and helps fund and pay debt service for improvements to general aviation and commercial service airports and funds efforts to grow and expand commercial air service across Alabama.