• 66°

Boothe looks ahead to 2018 legislative session

As the new legislative session approaches for the Alabama House and Senate, Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Pike, said he expects the same old issues to remain the topics of focus.

With 2018 also being an election year for the legislature, Boothe said he expects a quick session.

“From what I see and hear from colleagues around the state, a lot want to get back to politicking,” Boothe said. “I expect this session to be over by March.”

Issues such as what to do with the prison system, Medicaid and the budget will likely be at the forefront once again, Boothe said.

The legislature heavily discussed changes to the prison system last year. With Kay Ivey taking over for Robert Bentley as governor, the legislature has gone back to the drawing board and Boothe said he believes there is still a long way to go.

“It’s not an issue that is going to be solved overnight,” Boothe said. “I don’t know what we’ll do on the prison system if anything. I haven’t seen a plan palatable to everybody.”

Boothe said he expects the budget to be the main focus and that lawmakers will complete it sooner than normal. He also said Medicaid will continue to be an issue until it is addressed.

“The cost keeps going up and if you raise costs and don’t raise taxes, that money has to come from other sources,” Boothe said. At some point some changes are going to have to be done to Medicaid. You can’t let it govern itself or it will eventually eat up your entire budget in the general fund.”

Despite his expectation for a short session, Boothe said there shouldn’t be any problem pushing through a local bill authorizing the Pike County Commission to hold a direct vote or referendum on Sunday alcohol sales.

“I don’t anticipate there would be any problem getting that bill passed,” Boothe said.  “I’ve looked over the bill but haven’t gotten a chance to sit down with Sen. (Jimmy) Holley (R-Pike) about it. It will be ready when we go to session on January 9.”

The bill as written would give the commission authority to either hold a referendum or make a decision among commissioners and does not have any parameters attached to it. Boothe and Holley could make changes to the request or the commission could add parameters after getting authority.