published Monday, October 7th, 2013

Alabama lawmakers spent $2 million on renovations

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama lawmakers have spent more than $2 million to make renovations at the State House in the past three years.

Some lawmakers told The Montgomery Advertiser most of the expenses were related to routine maintenance of an aging building. Parts of the costs include a cooling system, flooring and a new roof.

Clerk of the House, Jeff Woodard, told the newspaper some of the leaks in the roof were linked to bullet holes that pockmarked the structure -- especially around New Year's -- when people gathered in downtown fire their guns into the air.

Woodard says the new roof is tougher and a bullet may pierce an outside layer, but won't travel through the whole thing and cause a leak.

The officer of the clerk of the House spent nearly $37,000 to replace carpet with vinyl tile that looks like marble. Lawmakers have also invested in new furniture and creating new meeting spaces.

Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard says State House renovations have been done efficiently, and chairman of the Legislative Building Authority, Sen. Cam Ward, says none of the work done to the building was extravagant.

The Legislative Building Authority is a panel of six lawmakers who are appointed by the speaker and Senate president pro tem.

"I think it is much more presentable and workable and accessible to the public," Hubbard said. "It's not a lot of money."

The Legislature isn't going to spend $200 million or more to construct a new building and would rather use the money to make gradual repairs, Hubbard said.

This summer, Hubbard reimbursed the state for more than $2,500 to pay for two large, fake trees that were purchased during the course of the renovations.

Hubbard said he was donating the trees to the state in 2011 and thought he paid for them out of pocket when the company supplying them actually billed the state instead. In mid-August, he wrote a personal check to cover the cost.

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