Senate President Pro Tem Sees Shortened but Productive 2018 Session

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said today that the 2018 regular legislative session will be short but productive and will set the stage for important education and infrastructure issues in 2019.

“I want to do everything I can to have a smooth session,” said Marsh, R-Anniston. “I promised an expedited session.”

Sen. Marsh spoke at the Business Council of Alabama’s Governmental Affairs Committee’s Tuesday briefing. A briefing is held each week during regular legislative sessions.

Next Tuesday’s scheduled briefing speaker is Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, chairman of the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee.

Cleo Washington, chief of legislative affairs for AT&T Alabama, which sponsored today’s briefing, introduced Sen. Marsh.

“It’s obvious he’s been great for business,” Washington said of Sen. Marsh, a businessman who employs about 100 people.

The 2018 legislative session is in its second week. Sen. Marsh and House Speaker McCutcheon, R-Huntsville, are working to shorten the session to allow legislators to campaign for the June party primaries.

Sen. Marsh said one of his goals is to set the stage for education and infrastructure improvements in 2019 based on work being done by commissions that are studying a seamless K-university-level education system and infrastructure improvements to roads and bridges.

“Our goal is to improve education in this state,” he said. “I’m optimistic about the plan for infrastructure that will be good for 20 years down the road.”

One infrastructure development that may be accomplished this year is SB 149, a rural broadband initiative sponsored by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville. It would encourage Internet connectivity in rural areas.

Sen. Marsh said that for the first time in “a long time,” it appears there will be sufficient funds available to create “two good budgets” this session. “We’re not taking any shortcuts, we’ll get two budgets done,” Sen. Marsh said.

Issues for the General Fund budget is what Congress will do with the federal-state Children’s Health Insurance Program and the need for a $30 million supplemental appropriation in the Department of Corrections’ current budget to address mental health issues outlined by a federal court.