Legislature meets amid 'animosity' over COVID relief cash

Alabama lawmakers are meeting for the final day of the legislative session amid a continuing dispute with Gov. Kay Ivey over how to use the state’s $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds.

Posted: May 18, 2020 2:21 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala, (AP) — Alabama lawmakers meet Monday for the final day of the legislative session amid a continuing dispute with Gov. Kay Ivey over how to use the state’s $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds.

Lawmakers will decide whether to accept, or reject, Ivey’s executive amendment on a spending bill to broadly detail how all the COVID-19 funds should be used. The spending bill as passed by lawmakers had designated $200 million to the governor for the reimbursement of coronavirus-related expenditures with the rest to be decided later by lawmakers.

The Republican governor and Republican-controlled Legislature have been in a tug-of-war over the funds.

Senate Republicans plan to meet before lawmakers convene to discuss the matter, the Senate budget chairman said.

“There is a lot of animosity right now,” Republican Sen. Greg Albritton of Range said Monday morning. “It’s very tenuous right now. I don’t know which way it is going to go.”

Albritton said the House negotiated separately with the governor without the Senate.

Ivey has proposed appropriating the money into different categories, including up to $300 million to reimburse state agencies for coronavirus expenses; $250 million to local governments; $250 million for health care services; $300 million to support citizens, businesses and nonprofit and faith-based organizations; $300 million for technology and infrastructure related to remote learning; $200 million to the prison system and $10 million to the court system.

“Tension can be a good thing if you allow it to birth good ideas. ... My firm opinion remains that most members of the Legislature want to do the right thing while making certain this money helps the people of Alabama who have been harmed by this disease,” Ivey said in a statement last week.

The governor and legislators had a rare public disagreement over the funds.

Lawmakers contended it was their constitutional responsibility to make budgeting decisions and that it was better to have the entire 140-member Legislature decide how to use the money. Ivey publicly disclosed that she had seen a “wish list” suggesting that $200 million could be used to build a new Statehouse — an idea that legislative leaders say is now off the table.

The chairman of the budget committee in the House of Representatives said he will recommend that lawmakers accept the governor’s proposals.

“I think it looks pretty good,” Republican Rep. Steve Clouse of Ozark said last week of Ivey’s proposal. Clouse said it moves the money into different “buckets” for coronavirus-related expenditures.

As of Monday, more than 12,000 people in the state had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and about 480 people statewide had died.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 113876

Reported Deaths: 3238
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7894177
DeSoto693279
Harrison512983
Jackson450384
Rankin389486
Madison381293
Lee351479
Forrest300778
Jones289184
Washington256499
Lafayette248343
Lauderdale2437134
Lamar224238
Oktibbeha200854
Bolivar200477
Neshoba1842111
Lowndes178362
Panola169139
Leflore165887
Sunflower160949
Warren154355
Monroe148172
Pontotoc146119
Marshall141229
Lincoln138957
Pike138256
Copiah136936
Coahoma124936
Scott124929
Yazoo121733
Grenada121638
Simpson121249
Union117425
Tate116039
Leake114640
Holmes114460
Pearl River112959
Itawamba112225
Adams107343
Prentiss104819
Wayne100821
Alcorn98712
George97918
Covington97026
Marion94642
Tippah88922
Newton85627
Chickasaw84026
Tallahatchie84025
Winston83321
Hancock81628
Tishomingo80041
Attala79026
Clarke74351
Clay68421
Jasper67917
Walthall63827
Calhoun62212
Noxubee59617
Smith59116
Montgomery54323
Claiborne53716
Tunica52917
Yalobusha52614
Lawrence51214
Perry48723
Carroll48012
Greene47318
Stone46414
Humphreys42816
Amite42113
Quitman4196
Jefferson Davis40511
Webster37013
Wilkinson33720
Benton3335
Kemper32215
Sharkey28314
Jefferson27510
Franklin2403
Choctaw2056
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22988375
Mobile16788315
Tuscaloosa10235140
Montgomery9978197
Madison922894
Shelby727463
Baldwin661569
Lee651765
Marshall437249
Calhoun422461
Etowah421450
Morgan407135
Houston371734
DeKalb336029
Elmore317353
St. Clair289142
Limestone279730
Walker275593
Talladega263635
Cullman239925
Lauderdale218042
Jackson212515
Franklin203231
Autauga203030
Colbert198731
Russell19283
Blount191125
Dallas186327
Chilton185832
Coffee173211
Escambia172230
Covington171429
Dale166551
Chambers134343
Clarke133617
Pike132713
Tallapoosa131387
Marion107129
Barbour10129
Butler100240
Marengo100222
Winston91913
Geneva8617
Lawrence83732
Pickens83618
Bibb82514
Randolph82016
Hale75830
Clay73612
Washington73412
Cherokee73114
Lowndes70428
Monroe64510
Henry6436
Bullock63917
Crenshaw60330
Perry5856
Fayette56913
Wilcox56412
Conecuh56013
Cleburne5518
Macon53020
Lamar4745
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
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