Here are some top priorities for state lawmakers in 2019
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama’s lawmakers want to try and tackle some of the state’s longstanding issues when session begins in March.
A top issue among Republicans and Democrats is more money for roads, bridges, ports and waterways.
“As the economy continues to grow we’re going to need to meet the demands of a growing infrastructure need so that we can make sure our economy continues to move in the right direction," said Sen. Greg Reed, R-District 5.
There has been discussion surrounding whether to raise the gas tax, which has not changed since 1992.
“We need to figure out a plan that is going to work for Alabama,” said Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Madison County.
Another top issue is prisons. The Alabama Department of Corrections is facing several federal lawsuits for its overcrowded and understaffed prisons.
“We’ve allocated additional resources in the last budget to deal with that. There’s going to be additional issues we’re going to have to manage related to prisons,” Reed said.
Democrats want to focus on criminal justice reform.
“Reducing recidivism," Daniels said. "Making sure there’s not a revolving door and making sure we’re using corrections to correct.”
Health care is another topic echoed among lawmakers. Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-DeKalb County, wants to look into rural hospitals and access to health care.
“We’ve already had some that shut down and a lot of folks in rural counties are concerned about that,” Ledbetter said.
Democrats continue to push for medicaid expansion; a priority they have had for years.
“Looking at making sure that we’re not leaving some 300,000 individuals in this state behind,” Daniels said. “Making sure that we are focused on doing things that are going to keep those hospitals open, especially in a lot of our rural communities.”
Lawmakers said they do expect to hear discussions about a lottery.
“The big question is not do the people of Alabama want to vote on a lottery, but what does that lottery look like?” Reed said.
The legislative session will begin in March of 2019.
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