State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) filed the appropriations bill that would authorize the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of American Rescue Plan Act funds.

House Bill One will be considered in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee, which is chaired by Clouse. If the bill receives a favorable report in some form, it can then be considered by the full House of Representatives when the legislature returns on Tuesday for Day Three of the first 2022 special session.

According to the synopsis, “This bill makes supplemental appropriations from the American Rescue Plan Act – Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund, the American Rescue Plan Act - Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Revenue Replacement Fund, and the American Rescue Plan Act - Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022.”

The bill appropriates “$443,343,362.50 in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act - Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund to the Department of Finance for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022, to be used to as follows:”

-                Up to $80 million in payments to hospitals and nursing homes to compensate them for their losses due to COVID. They also received $80 million in the Second 2022 Special Session.

-                 Up to $51 million to be used to support the improvement and expansion of broadband network access to the citizens of Alabama. These funds may be delegated through memoranda of agreement to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs' (ADECA) Alabama Digital Expansion Division.

-                Up to $225 million to improve access to clean water to the citizens of Alabama through investments in water and sewer infrastructure projects. These funds may be delegated through memoranda of agreement to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). ADEM shall utilize the funds to create a grant program with up to $120 million to water and sewer systems for emergency or high need projects previously identified for participation in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund or the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Up to $100 million shall be used to provide matching grants to public water and sewer systems for water or sewer infrastructure projects. Up to $5,000,000 shall be provided as grants to install clustered decentralized wastewater system demonstrations utilizations utilizing a collection system known as Septic Tank Effluent Pump (STEP) or other demonstration systems in the Alabama Black Belt areas of low population density, rural poverty, and/or soils with poor perc characteristics, where there is a finding of discharge of raw sewage onto the ground due to the utilization of straight pipes, failing septic systems, or similar circumstances.

-                Up to $79,500,000 shall be allocated to the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, with the intent to reduce rates on businesses in 2022. This contribution also returns the balance in the fund to a balance close to January 2 27, 2020.

-                Up to $7,843,362.50 for reimbursement of costs for the administration, auditing, and reporting requirements of the state and local fiscal recovery funds.

The legislation also appropriates $136,796,346 in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act - Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Revenue Replacement Fund to the Department of Finance for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022, to be used as follows:

-                Up to $34,000,000 to be used to support the improvement and expansion of broadband network access to the citizens of Alabama. These funds may be delegated through memoranda of agreement to ADECA’s Alabama Digital Expansion Division.

-                Up to $5,000,000 shall be used to facilitate the expansion and use of telemedicine. The Department of Finance may delegate these funds through memorandum of agreement to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), or any other health care association or health care provider.

-                Up to $36,796,346 to be used to support the delivery of health care and related services to citizens of Alabama related to the coronavirus pandemic, including through assisted living facilities. These funds may be delegated through memoranda of agreement with ADPH, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, or any other state entity of competent jurisdiction, health care association or health care provider.

-                Up to $30,000,000 for assistance to rural hospitals. For the purposes of this appropriation, a rural hospital is one so designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Funds shall be allocated as grants to eligible hospitals based on the number of beds reflected on the Certificate of Need held by each hospital.

-                Up to $20,000,000 for assistance to emergency response providers, including ambulance/EMS service providers, rescue squad organizations, volunteer fire departments, and 911 boards. The volunteer fire departments would get $10 million and other emergency response providers would get $10 million.

- Reimbursement to counties for state inmates housed in county jails from March 3, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021.

The bill also appropriates $22 $191,887,857 in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act - Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund to the Department of Finance for FY2022 to be used for the delivery of broadband and related services to citizens of Alabama related to the coronavirus pandemic and to enable investment in capital assets providing necessary technology infrastructure for work, education, and access to critical services. The Department of Finance through memoranda of agreement to ADECA Digital Expansion Division.

The Director of Finance shall obtain majority approval by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the chair of each budget committee of the Legislature to re-allocate funds.

Thursday will be day two of the first 2022 special session.

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