Alabama legislators met briefly Tuesday amid the COVID-19 crisis to pass a joint resolution giving leadership authority to set meeting times during a state of emergency. The House of Representatives and Senate plan to reconvene April 28, if its safe to do so.
Safety precautions were taken for the 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. Kay 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,” Durdin said “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. At this point, we would anticipate agricultural and forestry funding being similar to current budget levels.”
Gov. Ivey’s current public health order prohibits non-work related gatherings of 10 or more people through April 17.