Senator Bobby Singleton and Rep. A. J. McCampbell hold Town Hall Meeting to discuss legislative issues

Senator Bobby Singleton and Representative A. J. McCampbell, who represent Greene County in the Alabama State Legislature held a Town Meeting on August 25 at the Eutaw Activity Center. The purpose of the Town Meeting was to share a report on the past 2021 legislative session and discuss upcoming issues and special sessions expected in the Fall. Representative Ralph Howard, who also represents Greene County was listed on the agenda but did not attend the meeting. About 100 people attended the meeting, many had on Greenetrack T-shirts. Representative McCampbell reported that, “Our Census numbers in Sumter and Greene counties were down from the 2010 Census, which means that the district boundaries may change. Rural areas have their populations shrinking while urban areas are growing.” McCampbell said that the State would be holding public hearings during the first weeks of September to give information about the redistricting process. He said he expected a special legislative session to be held in October or November to set district lines. “The current legislature is controlled 75% by Republicans to 25% for Democrats, which means that the Republicans will be drawing districts to maintain their super-majority and we will do what we can to achieve fair voting districts,” said McCampbell. McCampbell said there was a federal lawsuit against conditions in Alabama prisons which required the Governor and the State Legislature to act to build new prisons and rehabilitate others. Senator Singleton called the conditions in the prisons “inhumane” and said that if the state did not act to invest in new prisons, Federal Judge Myron Thompson might take over administration of the prisons. Singleton said he was pushing for more “drug courts” and “mental health courts” to provide treatment for people rather than incarceration and reduce prison populations. McCambell suggested that some geriatric prisoners should be released to home confinement, since that would be a cheaper way of handling their care, since it was expensive to maintain them in jail, when they were no longer a threat to society. McCampbell indicated that the Governor would likely call a special legislative session on the prison issue once a plan for financing prison expansion and rehabilitation had been developed. Both legislators said that the last session had produced the largest Education Budget of $7.7 billion and the largest General Fund Budget of $3.5 billion in the state’s history. Both warned that the law to holdback third grade students, who do not read at third grade level, is going to be a problem in Black Belt rural school systems. “Especially with COVID-19, so many of our students have lost ground. We have added funds for additional reading teachers in our rural schools but I am not sure that this will be enough,” said Singleton. Senator Singleton said, “I know many of you came to hear about the future of gaming in Greene County but because I have been sued by some of the bingo places in the county, my lawyers advised me not to talk about it. I am sorry that some people are trying to take away my voice in Montgomery, through these lawsuits.” Singleton said there was money for broadband, starting in rural areas and money for rural healthcare, maybe Medicaid Expansion, in the state lottery and gaming bills that were defeated in the last legislative session. He did not go further to address the future status of bingo in Greene County and ways in which the state, which would receive most of the revenues from the statewide plan, would assist Greene County agencies, municipalities and charities, currently receiving funds from the county’s Constitutional Amendment 743. The two legislators discussed other issues in the State Legislature that they had worked on to benefit Greene County residents. Other Greene County officials including Mayor Latasha Johnson of Eutaw, Mayor Charles McAlpine of the Town of Forkland, Phillis Belcher, Executive Director of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority and Dr. Carol P. Zippert, Chair of the Greene County Board of Education gave short reports on the work of their municipalities and county agencies.

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