MONTGOMERY — A bill that would place more land next to the current Alabama State House under legislative control for possible construction of a new State House passed the Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 222, sponsored by State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville), would also give the Legislative Council "authority to contract with an appropriate party, including, but not limited to, the Retirement Systems of Alabama, to construct and maintain a building that, upon completion, would be designated as the Alabama State House."

The House passed the legislation on Tuesday.

"This does a couple of things. One is on the real estate it would be deeded by the Finance Department to the Legislative Council," Givhan said on the Senate floor on Thursday. "It would be expanded under the House's version to include the parking lot that lies to the north of our current building that we're in here today. The bill as originally passed by this body repealed certain statutes that we thought were deemed irrelevant by the Constitution, but, nonetheless that repeal was revoked I guess is the right way to put it and so those statutory provisions on how members are seated that's back in the law. Not being repealed by this SB 222. The third thing dealt with some language that was a concern over the Attorney General's records and how that had to be disclosed." 

A previous version of the bill would've repealed provisions relating to a contested election of a member of the legislature, but the repeal wasn't included in the final version. Freshman State Rep. David Cole (R-Madison) will be deposed in the Alabama State House on May 17 in a lawsuit alleging he didn't fulfill residency requirements to serve in the role. 

Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) told reporters on Thursday, "[The] idea of the Legislative Council asking for the Legislative Services Agency and the Secretary and the Clerk of the two chambers to investigate where we are related to the possibility a new State House was something that has been of interest to the Legislative Council for over a year."

"I think that's important just because we need to recognize the building that we're in is over 60 years old. We've got an enormous amount of money that's being spent to maintain this building," Reed said. "As you all are well-aware even with a lot of money being spent to maintain it, it's still not in very good condition for the people of Alabama that are coming here by the hundreds every week. That's a topic that will continue to be discussed."

The legislation also places the President Pro Tem of the Senate over the "budget, personnel, and any other statutory duties of the office of the Lieutenant Governor for the remainder of the term of office" if a "vacancy occurs in the office of the Lieutenant Governor for any reason."

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