MONTGOMERY — Members of the Legislative Council approved a resolution to begin negotiating a lease agreement for a new State House with the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) on Tuesday.

On September 22, 2022, the Legislative Council adopted a resolution directing the Secretary of the Council, the Secretary of the Senate, and the Clerk of the House to begin discussions with the Retirement Systems of Alabama regarding potential costs and options for new or relocated legislative facilities for review and consideration by the Council.

On April 25, the Secretary for the Council executed an inter-agency agreement with RSA to conduct a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to solicit proposals from architectural/engineering firms for consulting, development, design, cost estimating, testing, and related services to study the design and potential construction of a new facility to serve as the Alabama State House. RSA conducted an RFP process and awarded a contract. Pursuant to that contract, testing of potential sites has begun, as has an initial space and architectural study.

According to Legislative Council Secretary Othni Lathram, RSA proposed that the process move forward pursuant to an agreement between RSA and the Council pursuant to a lease agreement that would amortize the costs of construction over a 25-year agreement at a rate of 8%. The 8% cost "would compensate RSA for its roles of building management, general contractor, and cost of financing," according to a report by Lathram; Patrick Harris, Secretary of the Senate; and John Treadwell, Clerk of the House; sent to the Legislative Council.

A five-person legislative delegation made up of Lathram, State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville), State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile), Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), and House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) would negotiate a lease for a new State House under those terms with the RSA.

The Legislative Council would then vote on the lease agreement.

"I think we need to be prepared on this path to have that meeting fairly soon," Lathram said at the meeting. "(RSA CEO Dr. David) Bronner is very anxious to try to get to terms on a lease. I have an expectation that we're going to work on those details immediately following this meeting and you know hopefully within a very short order of a couple of weeks we'd be in a position to put a lease back before this body."

The potential cost of the project wasn't mentioned in the report.

"We are not at a point where costs can be projected," Givhan told 1819 News on Tuesday.

Legislation was passed into law in the 2023 regular session to place more land next to the current Alabama State House under legislative control for the possible construction of a new State House. The new law gives 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."

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