Price, Wood update Republican Club on state legislature

Published 7:07 am Tuesday, March 23, 2021

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VALLEY — State Senator Randy Price and State Representative Debbie Wood gave updates of the current legislative session to members of the Chambers County Republican Club on Thursday. The club was holding its monthly meeting at Terri’s Mill Village Cafe.

Price said the Senate on Thursday passed the largest education budget in state history. He said that the $7.6 billion spending plan had some additional money for the Wadley and Valley campuses of Southern Union State Community College and that he was pleased to have it included.

He said he was also pleased that the Senate had approved some money to build storm shelters in especially vulnerable places of the state.

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Price said that one of the principal topics being discussed involved gambling legislation. He said that a straight lottery could generate somewhere between $150 million and $200 million a year for the state and that a gaming package would bring in somewhere between $700 and $800 million a year.

“A lot of that money would be dedicated to broadband, and that’s something we need in Alabama,” he said.”We just need some kind of funding mechanism for it.”

Price has said that he favors putting such issues to a vote of the people.

He said that he supports a medical marijuana bill that’s being discussed. It would be prescribed to people who have very serious illnesses such as cancer and children who have serious medical issues. Two doctors would have to sign off on it, and the program would be tightly administered by UAB.

“I think it’s good legislation,” he said.

Price said that the Alabama House had passed a general fund budget and the Senate would be taking it up.

“Some federal covid relief money will be coming our way,” he said. “We will see that it’s allocated the right way.”

“I had a real battle with covid this past year,” he said. “I want to thank all of you for your prayers and your expressions of support while we were dealing with it.”

Price was in the hospital at East Alabama Medical Center for six weeks and spent two more weeks in the Acute Rehab Unit at EAMC-Lanier.

“I want all of you to know that you have a very fine hospital right down the road here in Valley,” Price said. “I could not walk when I got there, and the entire staff was so good to me. The physical therapists are great. They helped me so much. They told me that covid affects different people in different ways and that they have to treat every patient differently.”

He drew some congratulatory applause when he said that he and his wife, Olene, would be celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary in the coming week.

Wood had a long day in Montgomery on Thursday and was a little late arriving to the 6:30 p.m. meeting at Terri’s.

She said there had been much discussion on bills with little or no bipartisan support. Such issues usually rile up emotions, and that was happening on Thursday. Such was the case with proposed bills in how possible riots were dealt with and what should be allowed in the way of policing it.

Wood said the House approved a gender-related sports bill, saying that participants in sporting events were limited to participating in the gender of one’s birth.

“There was some filibustering going on today,” she said. “This gave legislators the chance to talk about what’s good in our state and what’s not so good. We try every day to pass good legislation. What we approved today now goes to the Senate.”

Wood expected the legislature to ban curbside voting, which was passed on Friday.

“We want everyone’s vote to count,” she said. “Absentee voting will still be fine, but we don’t want cars pulling up and dropping off ballots.”

Wood said she was confident that Exton’s Law would be well received. This would ban discrimination on someone getting a needed organ transplant based on their physical appearance. It’s named for Exton Black, a young boy in the Beulah community who suffers from Down Syndrome.

“I didn’t see my mother for the last 23 days of her life,” Wood said. “This is something we need to address, and I am carrying the bill on the House side. If you are in a hospital setting, and they are suiting up doctors, nurses and even the people who are cleaning the floor, you can suit up a family member too. There needs to be a way a family member can be with their loved one in an end-of-life crisis.”

Wood said that she’s grateful she, Price and State Representative Bob Fincher work well together. They comprise Chambers County’s legislative delegation. It’s not that way with every local delegation.

“I saw a House member cuss out his senator today,” she said. “It was crazy.”

Wood said she went to Montgomery to get things done that need to be done.

“I didn’t go to do nothing,” she said. “If I am going to be doing nothing, I’d rather be at home.”