(WKRG, MOBILE, ALABAMA)
Lawmakers from Mobile and Baldwin counties are optimistic a special session of the legislature could mean millions of dollars to the coast. When it comes to the BP disaster–lawmakers from Southwest Alabama agree it was coastal catastrophe.
“We’re the part of Alabama that had oil hit the coast,” said State Senator Bill Hightower. South Alabama lawmakers came fairly close to redirecting a large chunk of the BP settlement during the 2016 session back to the Gulf Coast.
“I’ve never seen our local delegation more united we made a gallant effort to try to bring that money home and we were disappointed when we didn’t and we look forward to trying again,” said Clarke. Southwest Alabama lawmakers had a united front on the issue in 2016. They stood up to what was turning into a north-south divide in the state–until the funding bill was compromised to death. Hightower said he began with a vast majority of the BP settlement going to the coast and was willing to negotiate.
“I’ve started with 439 million, I’ve come down to 260 and the last bill had 191 million then the final compromise was going to be 20 million, we’ve got to do better than that,” said Hightower. Where they start in the negotiation might depend on when they start. Hightower said he’s been assured by the governor that a BP settlement bill will be part of a special session if or when it’s called. Both sides of the aisle are ready to cut a better deal.
“We’re reasonable, we don’t mind sharing but we do deserve it because Mobile, Baldwin took most of the hit,” said State Representative Adline Clarke. If the matter isn’t settled in 2016 Mobile and Baldwin lawmakers intend on bringing it back in the 2017 session.
“I think this issue will keep coming back until it’s resolved,” said State Representative Chris Pringle. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley hasn’t said if he’ll call for a special session, but it seems likely. A massive prison reform package died in the legislature and it was one of Bentley’s top agenda items this year.