Agencies tell Ala. lawmakers how they would use COVID-19 relief funds

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 7:23 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Legislators started their first day of the special session in a public hearing where they listened to various state agencies on what they would do if they were allocated money from the American Rescue Plan fund.

“People don’t stop having a mental health crisis because the pandemic is raging,” said Holly McCorkle with the Alabama Council for Behavioral Health Care. “Actually the crises get worse.”

From mental health care to public employee insurance, representatives from various state agencies pleaded their case as to why their department should be allocated a piece of the pie.

“The passage of the American Rescue Plan Act gives us an unprecedented opportunity to create long-term investments in our state,” said Robyn Hyden with Alabama Arise.

Broadband, health care, and water and sewer are the obvious priorities for the legislature.

“The driving force in the distribution of these funds will be a needs-based approach,” said Lance LeFleur, director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

“Rather than take the total number of nursing homes or the total number of nursing home beds, and divide that into whatever number was being appropriated, we did this on a need-based model,” said Brandon Farmer, president, and CEO of the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

That didn’t stop other industries from explaining why they also desperately need support.

“As we all know, tourism, hotels specifically, anyone in a tourist area except for the beaches or the lake, got really just devastated,” said Bob Parker, owner of a Dreamland BBQ franchise.

Lawmakers have said they’re trying to accomplish how they’ll divide up the funding in a bipartisan way, so lawmakers will have a better idea of how the money will be used as the session continues.

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