The city of Spanish Fort has two districts, and thanks to legislation passed this session, one of them will expand.

The districts are the Eastern Shore Centre District and the Spanish Fort Town Center District. Businesses in those districts pay license fees for infrastructure improvements. The money has always been used for buildings, road work, lighting and other needs.

Since infrastructure in the Eastern Shore Centre District was paid off, Mayor Michael McMillan said the city wanted the money collected for to be used to expand the district. State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) sponsored Senate Bill 327 to change the language of the law to allow for land purchases with those funds.

"Because the way the law was written prior, it had a slight tweak so that it would allow them to use the license fees to acquire more land to expand the district," McMillan explained. "The way it was originally in place, you couldn't do that."

McMillan said baseball fields could be built in the new part of the Eastern Shore Centre District. He said he is thankful lawmakers approved the measure after some claimed gambling legislation was getting in the way of lawmakers agreeing.

"You know how that last day or two of the session is and this had nothing to do with gambling," McMillan said. "It really was a minor tweak but it was caught up in that whirlwind called the legislators."

State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) sponsored the House version of the bill. He said although there was some tension between Elliott, who voted "no" on the gambling legislation, and the sponsor of gambling legislation, State Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City), he believes things were blown out of proportion.

"I think the bill passed 89 to nothing," Simpson told 1819 News. "I don't think politics got into it. I think there was just a personality issue, but at the end of the day, I really think it's kind of being overblown a little bit."

"I think this was just more of a personality class between Blackshear and Elliott," he continued. "It was not a 'Chris Elliott voted no, so I'm going try to kill his bill' thing. It wasn't that bad at all."

The full bill can be read below.

SB327 by Erica Thomas on Scribd

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