Alabama Arise members have chosen the following issues as policy priorities for 2020. The first two are permanent priorities. The remaining five reflect this year’s member voting. The Arise board also may approve action on other emerging issues during the year. To view our full 2020 issue priorities brochure, click here or click the Download button above.
Adequate state budgets
Everyone deserves a chance to get ahead in life, and public investments in education, health care and child care help people do just that. Adequate state funding for Medicaid and other services is vital to remove barriers to opportunity for struggling Alabamians. Arise will make the case for Medicaid expansion and other public investments and oppose harmful cuts to vital services.
It’s hard for Alabamians with low incomes to make ends meet when they’re taxed deeper into poverty. These families pay twice as big a share of their incomes in state and local taxes as top earners do. And Alabama is one of three states with no tax break on groceries. Arise will seek to untax groceries and rebalance our upside-down tax system.
Criminal justice debt reform
High cash bail, court fees and fines take a heavy toll on many families in poverty. And civil asset forfeiture allows police to seize property from people who have not been convicted of a crime – or even charged. Arise will support policies to prevent abuses of civil asset forfeiture and reduce the burden that court fees and fines place on Alabamians with low incomes.
Death penalty reform
Capital punishment is literally a life-or-death issue. Arise will support several reforms of Alabama’s death penalty process, including more indigent defense funding, a moratorium on executions, and laws to bring the state in line with federal rulings regarding juveniles and people with intellectual disabilities. Arise will urge greater transparency and reforms to Alabama’s death penalty laws.
Payday/title lending reform
When low wages fail to cover the cost of living, many desperate borrowers turn to payday or auto title loans. But with Alabama law allowing annual percentage rates of up to 456% for payday loans and 300% for title loans, these loans leave far too many families and communities trapped in deep debt. Arise will pursue tighter state and federal regulations on payday and title lending and other high-cost loans in Alabama.
Alabama provides no state funding for public transportation, and its shortage of transit options keeps many people from meeting basic needs. State investment in public transit would create jobs and increase mobility and opportunity for many seniors, people with disabilities, and people who can’t afford cars. Arise will seek dedicated state revenue for the Public Transportation Trust Fund, as well as legislation to allow Alabamians to make voluntary contributions to the fund through their tax refunds.
Voting is the most fundamental way people can make their voices heard in the democratic process. Alabama could expand participation by streamlining voting rights restoration for people disenfranchised after a conviction. The state also could follow Georgia’s lead by automatically registering eligible people to vote when they apply for a driver’s license or interact in other ways with public agencies. Arise will back efforts to remove barriers to voting rights restoration and to adopt automatic universal voter registration.