It is all done now, but in the span of a week and a half, or five legislative days, the Alabama Legislature spent more than $1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

On Thursday, the legislation was passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey later that day.

Out of 140 members (105 in the House and 35 in the Senate), only five voted against the bill — State Sens. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) and April Weaver (R-Brierfield) in the Senate and State Reps. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) and Ben Harrison (R-Elkmont) in the House.

Despite voting for the measure, State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) acknowledged the process had its shortcomings during an appearance on "Rightside Radio" on Friday.

"[I] don't like the process of it not going through and being appropriated, all of it, through the legislators," he said to "Rightside Radio" host Phil Williams. "Obviously, you've been there before, Phil, and you've seen how the regular budget is being put together by the Governor. Then, she sends it over, and we can massage that and change things as we see fit.

Gudger said the legislation earned his vote because some of those federal dollars would be spent in his State Senate.

He also noted the "rumors" about the pressure tactics applied to get the House's passage.

"There are definitely rumors swirling throughout the state house, especially coming from the House — things that we heard people say," Gudger added. "I'm not sure if that was the case or not. Obviously, in the Senate, so I was on the top floor. But I was feeling like there was being rushed, and we needed to get it in or out. The good thing about it — at the end of the day, when the dust settled, we did pay off a lot of debt with the Alabama Trust Fund. It was nice. I like doing that. I think if you have debt, you want to pay that off first before you go spending money somewhere else. We did that, and when we came back, like I said, a lot of the money like I said, I was able to send it back through my district. So, I was OK with the bill in the end. If somebody tells you they're going to spend a billion dollars within five days, that makes me a little leary."

Earlier in the special session, Gudger attempted to advance legislation that would have protected people's access to their family members in the hospital, including during public health emergencies. That, according to the Cullman County Republican, prevented him from a thorough examination of the legislation.

"At the same time, I was trying to pass my bill, and I was using that same special session for leverage on my bill because I think it is very important to all Alabamians, and from my bill going forward, I had to focus day and night to get it to the point where it is now. So, I didn't have as much time looking into the ARPA funds as deep as I wanted to. I was trying to focus on the visitation rights for everyone in Alabama."

Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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