Alabama Arise’s administrative advocacy: Big wins in the policy margins

Unlike legislative advocacy, administrative advocacy is an aspect of Alabama Arise’s work we don’t talk about often. Yet that’s where some of our biggest policy wins happen.

State agencies and leaders can accomplish some important policy changes via rule changes. Sometimes legislators pass policies with good intentions, but administrative barriers and red tape stop them from being fully effective. Our members and constituents often help identify barriers to remove.

Given the nature of Alabama politics, it’s strategically important at times to keep some changes under the radar. But in recent years, administrative action has led to big steps forward on some top Arise priorities:

  • Streamlining the process to access Medicaid, SNAP food assistance and TANF income assistance.
  • Creating more openings for Medicaid home- and community-based long-term care services.
  • Expanding the emergency flexibility of Medicaid and SNAP to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic via emergency waivers, and expanding the types of support available to TANF participants.
  • Stopping onerous Medicaid work penalty proposals.
  • Advocating for transparency and equitable distribution of federal COVID-19 relief funding.

As we see new opportunities to expand and shore up the social safety net this year, a portion of our policy advocacy work will continue to be this type of behind-the-scenes administrative analysis and advocacy.

One example we’re working on now: pushing the Alabama Housing Finance Authority to distribute federal rental assistance more quickly. We’re also working with local advocates to streamline how city and county aid gets out into communities.

If you see a way programs aren’t being implemented effectively in your community, let us know! We’re continuing to expand our ability to track and support this type of advocacy. And we’re looking for new ways to engage more directly impacted people in our feedback to state agencies and decision-makers.