By Brandon Moseley
All four constitutionally mandated redistricting bills were approved by committees on Friday and appear poised for votes in their respective Houses of origin on Monday.
The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee gave a favorable report to Senate Bill 1, which, if passed, sets the new district boundaries for Alabama’s 35 State Senate districts.
SB 1 is sponsored by State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville), who chairs the Legislative Committee on Reapportionment along with State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile). It received a favorable report from the State Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee on a 12 to one vote.
SB 2 is also sponsored by Chairman McClendon. It reapportions and redistricts Alabama’s eight State Board of Education districts. It passed 11 to one.
The Committee had a round of applause afterward to thank McClendon for his work on redistricting.
“I am pretty optimistic about my Senators,” McClendon told the 1819 News. “What comes out of the House is up to the House.”
The redistricting plans for the 105-member Alabama House of Representatives and for Alabama’s seven congressional districts were introduced in the House. Those plans are being sponsored by Pringle. Both of the bills were given favorable reports by the House State Government Committee on Friday, while the Senate bills were in committee in the Senate.
There is some controversy in the House because incumbent State Rep. Charlotte Meadows’ (R-Montgomery) district, House District 74, was redrawn to create a new majority-minority district, making it extremely unlikely that Meadows, an outspoken conservative woman, will be reelected.
Sources have told the 1819 News that some members of the House are considering attempting to amend the House of Representatives redistricting bill to redraw House District 74 to make it more favorable to Meadows.
If the House passes both of its redistricting bills on the House floor on Monday, then HB 1 and HB 2 could be in a Senate committee as soon as Tuesday. If the Senate passes both SB 1 and SB 2 on the Senate floor on Monday, then both could be in a House committee by Tuesday. Favorable reports in committee on Tuesday in the other legislative body would mean that everything could be poised for final passage on Wednesday.
“My hope is that we will have the redistricting bills wrapped up by Wednesday,” McClendon said. “We still have to address the supplemental appropriation.”
The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee also gave a favorable report to Senate Bill 3, sponsored by State Sen, Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), who chairs the committee.
SB 3 appropriates $80 million of American Rescue Act funds to Alabama’s hospitals and nursing homes. According to a memorandum of understanding that is still being finalized, $40 million would go to the Alabama Hospital Association and $40 million to the Alabama Nursing Home Administration. The two trade associations would then be tasked with doling out the money to their members according to needs and other factors.
Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) expressed concerns that the large hospitals would get most of the money rather than the small rural hospitals.
“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” Singleton said.
SB 3 is also likely to be considered on the floor of the Alabama Senate on Monday.
At the same time that the House State Government Committee and Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee was meeting, the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee was meeting. That committee gave a favorable report to HB 3, which is the House version of SB 3.
HB 3 is sponsored by House Ways and Means Chairman Steve Clouse (R-Ozark).
At this time it appears that there will be no other bills seriously considered by the legislature during this special session.