State Senator Steve Livingston and the rest of the Jackson County Legislative Delegation return to Montgomery this week to kick off the 2020 legislative session. Livingston previewed some of the hot topic issues on the state and local levels this year.
Livingston said state prison reform and gambling legislation are going to be the top issues for this year’s legislative session. He said there is more urgency for prisons in 2020. Last year, the United States Department of Justice condemned the state for high levels of inmate violence and death and threatened a federal lawsuit.
On the gaming front, Alabama may take up a lottery again and they have more to consider with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians offering a gaming compact that could be worth millions to state coffers. Livingston said a lottery could see more come into the state from citizens that reside in counties on or near state lines.
He said those people could stop buying lottery tickets in neighboring states, as well as buy gasoline, groceries and other things in Alabama. He said they will see some sort of gaming package in the 2020 legislative session.
Livingston said mental health will also be a big issue at this legislative session. He said there have been four recommendations, with one of those being something in schools. He said if they can catch mental health problems early, that could also help with the state’s prison issue.
Livingston also said they want to add another 50 state troopers. He said there are not enough cars on the road, and we needed more for safety sake.
On the local level, the main issue is Jackson County’s financial problem. Livingston said the legislative delegation have continued to meet with the Jackson County Commission. He said they have discussed more ideas of what they can or cannot do.
He said there are some ideas they have not heard before. Livingston said the two sides have to get back together and see what the commission wants to do and if that’s something the delegation would be interested in pursuing.
Other than that issue, Livingston said there are some cleanup bills on legislation. He said there will probably be some other things that come up this session.