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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.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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