MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Hundreds of county officials and state leaders are at the Association of County Commissions of Alabama Conference in Montgomery to advocate for policies in the next session.
During a panel previewing the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers said allocating another round of American Rescue Plan Act money, as well as billions of dollars in state budget surpluses, is going to be a priority.
“It’s a lot of money. The challenge on where to put what really should be seen as one-time money, within the federal guidelines, is going to be the challenge,” Sen. Chris Elliot (R- Fairhope) said.
The panel also predicts a lottery bill will be proposed once again. Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D- Birmingham) says it would bring in much-needed money for the state.
“I really wish personally we would make a decision, put it to bed, put it to the vote of the citizens and let’s move on, so we can have a steady stream of revenues,” Coleman-Madison said.
Counties could also soon be reimbursed for lost revenue due to the new permitless carry law. It doesn’t take effect until January, but some sheriffs have already reported less revenue.
Rep. A.J. McCampbell (D- Livingston) says he’d support a bill reimbursing counties for both this year and next year.
“A lot of people didn’t read the effective date. They just thought, ‘Well, I don’t need a permit,’ so they’re running around here without a permit and haven’t paid the fee,” McCampbell said.
Lawmakers also noted this next session is the first year of a new quadrennium. That means lots of new members with likely lots of new bills.
“When we start a new quadrennium with new people it’s always how many bills can we kill, not how many can we pass,” Rep. Reed Ingram (R- Elmore, Montgomery Counties) said.
The conference goes until Thursday when leaders from all 67 counties will vote on a statewide platform, telling lawmakers what they want to see out of the next session.
Some of the priorities include broadband expansion funding, reimbursement for lost pistol permit revenue and higher pay for poll workers.