Monday, March 13, 2023
2023 Legislative Update: Regular Session - Week One and ARPA Special Session
The 2023 regular legislative session kicked off on Tuesday. This is the first of four regular legislative sessions for the members of the Alabama House of Representatives and State Senators elected in November. This is also the first legislative session for more than one-fourth of the current Alabama lawmakers. With the exception of a spring break the legislature is expected to meet weekly through the second week of June.
State of the State
Tuesday night Governor Kay Ivey delivered the State of the State address to a joint session of the Alabama Legislature. In her comments, the Governor urged the Alabama Legislature to pay off the balance owed to the Alabama Trust Fund from the approximately $1B left of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The Governor also advised lawmakers that she wanted to see the balance of the ARPA funds used to fund water and sewer projects, broadband infrastructure, pandemic-related healthcare as well as reimbursing the State for other pandemic-related and administrative expenses.
The Governor also made it clear that children and education will remain to be the top priorities of her administration. She emphasized the importance of providing funding for classrooms in the most challenged areas of the State, addressing specific needs for each school and providing crucial resources to disadvantaged school systems. Additionally, the Governor wants Alabama to be the state of choice for teachers and proposed a 2% pay raise immediately and additional raises to come to make starting salaries the highest in the Southeast by the end of her term.
The Governor also provided lawmakers her vision for improving economic development, safety, and healthcare.
As expected Governor Ivey called a Special Session of the Alabama Legislature and tasked legislators to come up with a plan to spend the remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Legislators will have some latitude on the spending but Governor Ivey was clear in her message to them. “This is not free money and we must invest these one-time funds wisely,” Ivey said.
In response, legislators moved quickly and introduced two bills which include funding for hospitals, nursing homes, broadband expansion, water and sewer projects, mental health services, veterans programs, clinical research, telemedicine, and other pandemic-related programs. It is expected that the legislation finalizing the spending will be completed next week.
Both chambers of the Alabama Legislature were gaveled in on Tuesday to start the regular legislative session for 2023. Legislators got off to a fast start with approximately 175 bills being introduced which include pre-filed bills. Based on the early filings we can plan to see lawmakers advance education reforms, tax cuts, school choice, election and voting reforms, eliminating taxes on groceries, and criminal penalty enhancements to name a few.
Despite the high level of enthusiasm to get to work legislators will have to wait until the special session concludes. It is expected that legislators will reconvene the regular legislative session on March 21st.
Less Red Tape
If you do business with the State of Alabama or need anything from a State agency, it will be easier going forward. On Wednesday Governor Ivey signed Executive Order 735. The Order places a moratorium on the discretion of any agency to implement any new rules and directs that each agency reduce current rules by 25%. The Governor’s plan to make dealing with state agencies easier has three phases. Initially, all agencies must provide the Executive Office with a complete inventory of all current rules. Next, each agency must develop a plan to reduce its rules. Lastly, each agency must implement the modified rules. Ivey’s three-phased plan is expected to be completed by March of 2025.
This Client Alert is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information in this Client Alert is not intended to create and does not create an attorney-client relationship.