By Paul DeMarco
BIRMINGHAM — This week the Alabama Legislature is back in session after a long break due to the pandemic.
There was a question if lawmakers would even return to Montgomery to complete unfinished business for the 2020 regular session.
However, legislative leadership decided they would reconvene to take up the two state budgets and local bills. However, we will see if there is other legislation also taken up by the representatives and senators.
Not everyone has been in agreement with the move to return at this time and consider the budgets. With the loss of millions of dollars to state coffers, there has been a real concern with voting on budgets now that would accurately reflect the true economic impact of the pandemic. The education budget in particular has been hit hard by the loss jobs and business shut down.
The concern critics have had with returning now is that most believe it will be necessary to call a special session later this summer when the picture on tax revenue for the state is more clear. Yet, Republican chairmen of the budget committees feel it is necessary to pass budgets now with appropriations that may be conditional on how much money may end up in the state coffers.
The surprise was Democratic legislators announced they would not even participate in the session because they did not believe it was either necessary and was dangerous due to the coronavirus.
Republicans have a supermajority in both the House of Representatives and Senate and thus, enough to pass the budgets and bills.
Yet, with the limitations on the public and press to the statehouse due to the pandemic, the public needs to pay close attention to what lawmakers will be passing in Montgomery, in the last days of this session.
Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives