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Alabama Arise unveils 2023 roadmap for change in Alabama

The top priorities continue to be Medicaid expansion and eliminating the state grocery tax.

The logo of Alabama Arise

Expanding Medicaid and ending the state sales tax on groceries will remain top goals on Alabama Arise’s 2023 legislative agenda.

Arise is an Alabama nonprofit with a mission to shape policy to improve the lives of people living in poverty.

More than 400 members voted on Arise’s issue priorities in recent days after the organization’s annual meeting Saturday. The seven issues chosen were:

  • Adequate budgets for human services like education, health care and child care, including Medicaid expansion to make health coverage affordable for all Alabamians.
  • Tax reform, including untaxing groceries and capping the state’s upside-down deduction for federal income taxes.
  • Voting rights, including automatic universal voter registration, removal of barriers to voting rights restoration for disenfranchised Alabamians, and other policies to protect and expand multiracial democracy in the state.
  • Criminal justice reform, including retroactive application of state sentencing guidelines and repeal of the Habitual Felony Offender Act.
  • Death penalty reform, including a law to require juries to be unanimous in any decision to impose a death sentence.
  • Public transportation to empower Alabamians with low incomes to stay connected to work, school, health care and their communities.
  • Payday and title lending reform to protect consumers from getting trapped in debt.

“Arise believes in dignity, equity and justice for everyone,” Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden said. “Our 2023 issue priorities reflect the need to work together to break down policy barriers that keep people in poverty, and that disproportionately harm Black and Hispanic Alabamians. We must build a healthier, more just and more inclusive future for our state.”

The roadmap looks practically identical to maps from the past couple of years, as many of these priorities have not been addressed by the Alabama Legislature. 

Alabama is one of only 12 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid to cover adults with low incomes. But an Alabama Arise poll earlier this year found that 71.5 percent support Medicaid expansion, including 65.8 percent of Republican voters.

“Medicaid expansion would boost our economy and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Alabamians,” Hyden said. “It’s time for Gov. Kay Ivey and lawmakers to say yes to the generous federal incentives for Medicaid expansion. Making this crucial investment in Alabamians’ well-being now will make our state better for decades to come.”

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Alabama has been notoriously stubborn to expand Medicaid in recent years, as Republicans have bristled at accepting the federal dollars, arguing it puts the state on the hook should the federal funding dry up.

“Medicaid expansion would boost our economy and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Alabamians,” Hyden said. “It’s time for Gov. Kay Ivey and lawmakers to say yes to the generous federal incentives for Medicaid expansion. Making this crucial investment in Alabamians’ well-being now will make our state better for decades to come.”

Arise has also prioritized eliminating the grocery tax for several years, proposing that the revenue be replaced by capping the state income tax deduction for federal income taxes (FIT).

“By untaxing groceries and capping the FIT deduction, lawmakers can make Alabama’s tax system more just and equitable,” Hyden said. “This plan would empower more families to keep food on the table while also protecting funding for our public schools. The Legislature should seize this opportunity to make life better for every Alabamian.”

Death penalty reform has also been on the organization’s platform for years, but the death penalty has drawn extra attention this year in Alabama after two executions in recent months involved issues for prison officials to set an IV.

Alan Miller, set to be executed in September, even survived his execution as officials could not set his IV before the clock struck midnight.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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