Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives now have a roadmap for the 2023 Legislative Session, although many of their proposals seem dead on arrival in the face of Alabama’s Republican supermajority.
The agenda, which Alabama House Democrats titled the “Plan for Prosperity,” includes big swings such as eliminating the state tax on groceries and on overtime, repealing the state’s 2019 abortion law that went into effect last year, and repealing the state’s permitless carry bill that the Republican majority passed just last session.
The agenda does have some broader goals that Democrats may be able to find ground with Republicans on, such as attracting and recruiting “the best teachers” and promoting entrepreneurship.
As Alabama continues to hold out on Medicaid expansion, Democrats hope to expand healthcare access for Alabamians.
“It may not be called Medicaid expansion. We don’t care what it’s called. It can be called KayCare. It doesn’t matter to us,” said House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville. “What we want to do is we want to be able to serve, provide health care and access to health care to the working poor.”
One section of the agenda focuses on changes to voting laws including guaranteed absentee voting, early voting, and automatic voter registration at the age of 18. Many of these ideas have met opposition from Republicans, who claim such proposals negatively impact election integrity and security.
The agenda also promotes the increased funding of public education as opposed to talks of “school choice” that would send public funds to private institutions.
The Democrats will also seek measures to reform the criminal justice system, including the pardons and paroles board, prisons and sentencing.
“The Pardons and Parole Board must be dramatically reimagined and reformed with a focus on clear guidelines, transparency and accountability,” said Phillip Ensler, D-Montgomery.
Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has already re-filed his bill from the previous session that would provide accountability for the board and question why it has deviated from its own guidelines in almost 9 out of 10 cases.
Democrats are also promoting legislation that would allow for the compassionate early release of terminally ill inmates who no longer pose a threat to society. They have help across the aisle there, as Rep. Jim Hill, R-Moody, has also called for such legislation, noting the money it could save the state on healthcare costs.
The House will gavel in at noon Tuesday to begin the 2023 Legislative Session.