Much like the legislative tactic used to pass the 2019 Rebuild Alabama Act that included a controversial gasoline tax increase, a special session is being planned to start at the beginning of the 2023 regular session on March 7 to allocate more than $1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act money.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in 2021.
Sources familiar with the plan told 1819 News that Gov. Kay Ivey's call for a special session would likely occur soon after her State of the State address.
Following his election to the speakership in January, House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said a special session to address ARPA funds was likely.
Thus far, very few specifics have been offered on how the legislature intends to spend the ARPA funds. However, 1819 News has also learned the proposal under consideration is an abbreviated piece of legislation that would give broad discretion to Ivey and the agencies in the executive branch.
In January 2022, Ivey called a special session to appropriate the first round of funds to appropriate the first round of funds in the middle of the regular session. Lawmakers approved $772 million in appropriations, $400 million of which went toward constructing new prisons. Legislators have yet to allocate $1.06 billion in the second round of ARPA funds.
A special session at the beginning of a new quadrennium harkens back to the events of 2019, which were fraught with controversy over a proposed gas tax that eventually passed.
In March 2019, Ivey called a special session shortly after delivering her State of the State address for lawmakers to vote on a three-bill package that included increasing fuel taxes to raise an additional $300 million a year.
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