Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper, said Monday that in the first 16 days of the 2021 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature, the Senate has passed 149 bills and approved 86 nominees.
“The broad range of bills the Senate has swiftly taken up and considered include topics ranging from economic development and job incentives, support for state agencies, supporting the military and veterans, passing budgets and many other important priorities for our state," Reed said in a statement.
This has been "an unprecedented year," he said. Due to complications from COVID-19, the Senate came into session in February with a backlog of important bills that have been delayed by the pandemic.
Reed said, “Despite the uphill battle we faced due to coronavirus, the Senate has come together in a bipartisan manner, and has communicated and worked together with the unified purpose of getting as many results as we can for the people of our state."
He said the Senate, working with the House and Gov. Kay Ivey, agreed at the start of the session on legislation to help the state in the wake of the pandemic. They included legislation to shield individuals and groups from frivolous COVID-related lawsuits, legislation to ensure stimulus payments and resources from the federal government were not taxed by the state government, and legislation to spur economic developments and generate job growth through reauthorizing crucial job incentive programs.
“In the first two weeks of session, we were able to work together and send legislation to the governor’s desk to address all three of these important topics," Reed said.
He said, “While I’m glad the Senate was able to quickly pass legislation on those three priorities, that was just the beginning of our efforts. Since the legislative session convened on Feb. 2, the Senate has passed a total of 149 pieces of legislation, including bills to support our state agencies so they can operate effectively on behalf of the people of our state, bills to support Alabama’s military service members and veterans, budgets and many other important priorities.
“This is also the first legislative session in my tenure in the Senate that we've passed the budgets out of the house of origin prior to the spring break. Just last week, the Senate took up and passed the $7.67 billion Education Trust Fund budget, the largest in our state’s history, which will provide a 2 percent across-the-board pay raise for teachers, support workers, and transportation workers. This budget also aims to address the need for certified math and science teachers across the state by creating a new salary structure to help attract and retain certified STEM teachers in Alabama by increasing their pay upfront.
“Passing the largest education budget in the history of the state of Alabama in and of itself would be a very significant accomplishment. But the idea that we've done that, on the heels of a global pandemic, is extraordinary.
He thanked Senate education budget committee Chairmen Arthur Orr and Senate General Fund budget committee chairman Greg Albritton for all of their "diligent efforts to accomplish their ambitious goals" on this year’s budgets.
“I've been the president pro tem of this body now for seven weeks, and honestly, I could not be more pleased with the way things have gone," Reed said. "I think it has been very deliberative. I think it has been very focused. I think it has been very efficient. We've had a lot of debate, but at the same time, we as a Senate have worked together in a collaborative way to deliver results that are important to the people of Alabama. As we continue to move through this legislative session, we will maintain that results-driven spirit of delivering accomplishments for Alabamians."