The 2022 legislative session completed Day Three on Tuesday, and as anticipated the session was then suspended in order to convene a special session of the legislature to allocate federal COVID relief funds (discussion below). The regular session is expected to resume on Tuesday, February 1, after the conclusion of the special session late next week. Details of the 2022 special session are provided below.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds to be Allocated
On Thursday, the House and Senate General Fund budget committees gave approval to HB1 and SB1, the companion bills that provide for the spending of about $772 million in federal ARPA money. The plan set out in the bills allocates funds from several ARPA sources, with spending primarily focused on broadband, water and sewer infrastructure, and health care. The legislation also creates the 14-member Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on American Rescue Plan Act State Funds. The oversight committee is consistent with the working arrangement struck in 2020 between the Ivey administration and legislative leaders during the allocation of the federal CARES Act funds.
The bills now under consideration outline the spending from the currently available, “first tranche”, of ARPA funds. A “second tranche” of ARPA funds are anticipated later this year – estimated at $1 billion – but the Governor and legislative leaders have agreed to wait on allocating those additional funds until they are received. Last fall, the state allocated some $400 million of the first tranche of ARPA funds for the construction of two new men’s prisons in Elmore and Escambia counties, and another $80 million went to compensate health care providers. The allocation of the balance of the first tranche are the subject of the special session, which is detailed in HB1 and SB1 as follows:
Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund:
• Up to $80 million to the Alabama Hospital Association and the Alabama Nursing Home Association for health care and related services.
• Up to $51 million to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for broadband improvements.
• Up to $225 million to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for water and sewer projects.
• Up to $79.5 million to the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, to reduce taxes on employers who pay into the system that provides unemployment benefits to Alabamians including record numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Up to $7.8 million for reimbursement of costs for the administration, auditing, and reporting requirements of the state and local fiscal recovery funds.
From the ARPA Revenue Replacement Funds:
• Up to $34 million to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for broadband improvements.
• Up to $5 million to the Alabama Department of Public Health, or any other health provider to facilitate telemedicine.
• Up to $36.8 million to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, or any other state entity of competent jurisdiction, health care association, or health care provider.
• Up to $30 million for assistance to rural hospitals.
• Up to $20 million for assistance to emergency response providers.
• Up to $11million for reimbursements of expenses of state inmates housed in county jails from March 3, 2021 to December 31, 2021.
From the ARPA Capital Projects Fund:
• $191.8 million to be delegated to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to be used for the delivery of broadband and related services.
The legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, January 25th to continue the Special Session.