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Lawmakers to negotiate construction of new State House

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday took another step toward construction of a new Alabama Statehouse by appointing a committee to negotiate a lease agreement.

A 20-member panel that consists of legislative leaders and appointed members voted to allow a committee to negotiate a lease for a building that would be constructed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. The panel will need to approve the lease agreement.

Lawmakers in the last session approved legislation to contract with the Retirement Systems of Alabama, or another entity, for the construction of a Statehouse that would be leased back to the Legislature. The proposed new building would be located in a parking lot behind the existing Statehouse. The Retirement Systems has built several office buildings in downtown Montgomery that are used by other state entities.

The negotiations are expected to be completed within a few weeks, members of the panel said.

The current building is plagued by mold and other problems and lacks adequate space for the public to attend meetings, according to lawmakers.

From the mid-1800s to 1985, Alabama lawmakers met at the Alabama Capitol, which also includes the governor’s office. Lawmakers in 1985 moved into the current building as a temporary meeting place when the Capitol was undergoing renovations. Lawmakers, who had offices in the new location, never moved back.

Alabama lawmakers in 2020 briefly discussed the possibility of using $200 million of federal pandemic relief funds to build a new statehouse, but the idea drew immediate backlash.

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