What to expect during 2020 Ala. Legislative Session

What Alabamians expect from legislative session

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It's that time of the year again when state lawmakers will spend several months balancing the budgets and passing legislation.

State lawmakers will gavel into session at noon Tuesday and Gov. Kay Ivey will give her state of the state address later that evening.

Here are a few items lawmakers plan to discuss in 2020:

Budgets

The main point of the legislative session is to pass the General Fund budget and Education Trust Fund budget.

The general fund budget pays for items including Medicaid, the Alabama Department of Corrections, and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to list a few.

LSA Deputy Director Kirk Fulford said Jan. 28 that both of Alabama's budgets are in good shape. Fulford said the economy and low unemployment numbers have led to strong budgets.

Prisons

Last April, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue the state because of its prison conditions. The DOJ's letter and report said the state violated the eighth amendment of the Constitution for failing to protect inmates from violence.

Since that report, the state has been in dire need of solving the issue to avoid a federal takeover. Some state lawmakers plan to file legislation for sentencing reform, workforce development and accountability over the ADOC.

Both Republican and Democratic leadership have said it is time to tackle the issue.

Gaming

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon has said he anticipates gambling discussions during the sessions.

One lawmaker has already announced a lottery proposal to fund education, however, the speaker said other gaming issues need to be resolved before considering a lottery.

McCutcheon said he welcomes conversation with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians regarding their plan to provide revenue for the state.

Other local gaming issues still exist as well. There are questions surrounding local charity bingo and bingo machines.

Mental Health

Some state lawmakers have said it is time to tackle mental health in the state.

During budget hearings earlier this year, some lawmakers wanted to place mental health crisis centers across the state. These facilities would be locations where law enforcement could send an individual for treatment, instead of putting that individual in jail.

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey asked lawmakers for money to put more mental health professionals in schools as well.

The Governor will provide her State of the State Address Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. While there she will lay out her agenda for 2020.

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