The 2020 Alabama Legislative session is still under way, but lawmakers have not been spending much time in Montgomery due to the COVID-19 crisis. Plus, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide stay-at-home order a week ago. But, Alabama legislators did briefly meet back on March 31 to pass a joint resolution which gives leadership authority to set meeting times during a state of emergency, and both the House and Senate plan to reconvene April 28, if it is safe to do so.
According to the Alabama Farmers Federation, safety precautions were taken for that extraordinary meeting, including the Alabama Department of Public Health checking the temperatures of members before allowing them to enter and altered seating to comply with social distancing. Some lawmakers wore masks, while others waited in cars until needed for a quorum. A bipartisan group of 53 of 105 House members were present, as were 20 of 35 senators.
The Legislature is required by law to pass the Education Trust Fund and General Fund budgets prior to May 18, or Gov. Ivey would need to call a special session.
Alabama Farmers Federation External Affairs Department Director Matthew Durdin said he expects lawmakers to act quickly, if they’re able to reconvene this month.
“The priority will be passing the budgets. We’ve been told they will be ‘bare bones’ due to the unknown impact of the economic downturn and potential federal stimulus funding. The Legislature also will likely pass non-controversial local bills and legislation that has already passed either the House or Senate.” Durdin said “At this point, we would anticipate agricultural and forestry funding being similar to current budget levels.”