Plans for a new state house are moving forward

Montgomery, Ala. (WSFA) -- Plans to build a new state house are no longer just in the talking stage. The possibility of a new state house has been talked about for more than a dozen years, but now something is actually being done.

Legislators and staff say the present building is too old. They complain the hallways and meeting room are much too small for the elected officials, staff, and the public.

State lawmakers also say the build up of mold all over the building keeps them constantly sick, and the ventilation and electrical systems are all outdated.

Legislative staff members say they're paying about $40,000 a month to the finance department for maintenance and upkeep of the present state house.

According to administrative assistant Don Ladner, the legislature is also paying about $800,000 for utilities and he thinks it will be much cheaper in a new building.

That's why bills have been introduced in the house and the senate to start the process of building a new one right behind the State Capitol on Union Street.

Governor Bob Riley, however, thinks this is not the right time. "When we're asking people to cut back. When we're asking every agency to take a reduction. When we're under a hiring freeze, at least in my opinion, this makes no sense to start talking about building a couple hundred million dollar new state house," said Governor Riley.

The sponsor of the bill in the senate is Roger Bedford, a Democrat from Russellville.  In the house, it's the Democrat from Roanoke, Richard Laird.

Laird is also head of the committee that will lead this effort and he says he has a plan that will work.

The legislative building committee will ask David Bronner with the Retirement Systems of Alabama to build the new state house.

The legislature will then lease the building from RSA until it can sell the bonds to pay back RSA.