Legislative Report – January 28, 2022

Volume 23 Number 3 – January 28, 2022

ARPA bill headed to Governor, special session wraps up 

The first Special Session of 2022 ended unceremoniously on Thursday morning with a bipartisan vote on the allocation of $772 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars in Alabama. The proposal was sponsored by Rep. Steve Clouse (R – Ozark) and Sen. Greg Albritton (R – Atmore) and the dollars are available immediately.

Lawmakers previously allocated large portions of these dollars from the first tranche to hospitals, nursing homes, and the state’s prison system. The plan lawmakers approved yesterday allocates the remaining funds of the first tranche as follows:

$443,343,362.50 from the ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Fund:

  • $80,000,000 to the Alabama Hospital Association and the Alabama Nursing Home Association for health care and related services
  • $51,000,000 to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Digital Expansion Division for broadband improvements
  • $225,000,000 to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for water and sewer projects
  • $79,500,000 to the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund 
  • $7,843,362.50 for reimbursement of costs for the administration, auditing, and reporting requirements of the state and local fiscal recovery funds

 

$136,796,346 from the ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Revenue Replacement Fund:

  • $34,000,000 to ADECA Digital Expansion Division for broadband improvements
  • $5,000,000 to facilitate the expansion of telemedicine
  • $36,796,346 to be used to support the delivery of health care and related services related to the coronavirus pandemic, including through assisted living facilities
    • Christie Strategy Group worked with the Governor’s office and legislative leadership to ensure that assisted living facilities were included in this round of disbursement. They have not been included in previous funding opportunities.
  • $30,000,000 for assistance to rural hospitals
  • $20,000,000 for assistance to emergency response providers
  • $11,000,000 for reimbursements of expenses of state inmates housed in county jails from March 3, 2021, to December 31, 2021

 

From the ARPA Capital Projects Fund:

  • $191,887,857 to be delegated to ADECA to be used for the delivery of broadband and related services

The $772 million allocated this week is only a portion of Alabama’s total ARPA allocation, which exceeds $2 billion. The state is due a second tranche of more than $1 billion in May. Those dollars are expected to be appropriated during a separate special session sometime this fall.

Judges maintain order for Alabama to draw new districts

A three-judge panel on Thursday refused to stay its decision that effectively orders Alabama to draw new congressional districts before the 2022 elections and to create a second district of which Black voters are a sizable portion of the population. “Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” the three-judge panel wrote in the 225-page ruling.

The case took place in Alabama’s Northern District, with the panel including Judges Stanley Marcus, Anna Manasco, and Terry Moorer. Marcus was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, while Manasco and Moorer were both appointed by former President Donald Trump.

The panel denied Alabama’s request to put a preliminary injunction on hold as the state appeals the decision. In a sometimes strongly worded ruling, the judges reiterated findings they believe show the current map likely violates the Voting Rights Act, and that demographic shifts merit the creation of a second district with a substantial number of minority voters.

Alabama is currently represented by one Black Democrat, Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7), elected from the state’s only majority-Black district. Approximately 27% of the state’s population is Black.

The ruling does not impact the January 28th qualifying deadline for state and county office candidates, but qualifying for Congressional candidates has been extended to February 11th.

Attorney General Steve Marshall is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Upcoming legislative schedule

The House of Representatives and Senate will reconvene the Regular Session on Tuesday, February 1, 2022.