State Government

100-0 House vote sends IDA bill to Gov. Bentley

A savings incentive program for low-income Alabama workers -- one of Arise's 2011 priority issues -- is just one step away from becoming law. The Alabama House voted 100-0 on June 1 for SB 295, which would establish a statewide Individual Development Account (IDA) program in Alabama. The Senate passed the bill 24-3 last month. The proposal to help low-income workers build assets for economic stability now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature.

SB 295, sponsored by Sen. Priscilla Dunn, D-Bessemer, would allow the state to provide matching funds for up to $2,000 that low-income participants save to attend college or a job training program, buy a first home, or start a small business. Federal and state IDA matching funds would triple that $2,000 in savings to $6,000.

Read more about IDAs here.

Arise legislative update: Advocates assemble at State House to support interest rate caps for payday, title loans

A large coalition gathered Thursday at the State House in Montgomery to urge legislators to pass legislation limiting high-interest lending in Alabama, notably payday and auto title loans. The Alliance for Responsible Lending in Alabama made its debut, and several presenters spoke eloquently on the harms of predatory lending. This legislative update highlights the various proposals to rein in payday and title loans in Alabama.

Read ACPP policy analyst Stephen Stetson's legislative update here.

Arise legislative update: Committees OK military payday loan rate cap, TANF drug tests

Alabama would enforce a federal interest rate cap on payday loans to military families if a bill approved by a Senate committee Wednesday becomes law. Senate committees also signed off on a proposal to require drug tests for certain TANF applicants, a plan to sell bonds to buy K-12 career tech equipment, and a bill to increase the state income tax credit for rural doctors. This legislative update highlights committee action and debate on those measures.

Read ACPP policy analyst Chris Sanders' legislative update here.

Arise legislative update: Medicaid committee chairmen unveil report, but no bills yet

The Joint Legislative Committee on Medicaid Policy released a report on Medicaid reform Wednesday, but it did not unveil any legislation. This legislative update highlights the committee's four proposed goals for changing Medicaid in Alabama.

Read ACPP health policy analyst M.J. Ellington's legislative update here.

Arise legislative update: Needs of Medicaid, other human services are outpacing General Fund support

Alabama's health and human services likely can find enough budget cuts and one-time money to hobble through next year, but 2015 could be bleak without substantial funding increases, state officials said Wednesday during General Fund budget hearings in Montgomery. This legislative update highlights the FY 2014 budget needs of Medicaid, DHR, mental health and public health.

Read ACPP policy analyst Chris Sanders' legislative update here.

Examining Alabama's lifetime SNAP and TANF bans for people with felony drug convictions

How long should former drug felons who have completed their prison term continue to pay for their crime? Alabama is one of 10 states that still impose a lifetime ban on receipt of SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefits for anyone who has ever had a felony drug conviction, and one of 12 states with a similar ban on receipt of TANF (formerly known as welfare) benefits. The bans include no exceptions for people who have completed their sentences, complied with their probation terms, paid all their fines and penalties, and overcome their addictions.

This issue brief examines how many Alabamians may be affected by this lifetime ban and the potential financial and social effects of keeping it in place.

Good Government -- It's on Us!

Real accountability in government requires more than new laws and regulations. It requires leaders willing to raise public expectations for state government. And it requires public vigilance -- from the press, from advocacy and watchdog groups, and from ordinary voters -- to make sure those expectations are met. ACPP analyzes state taxes, budgets and accountability policies.

View our fact sheets and other reports on state budgets and accountability here.

Immigration law update

Alabama's 2011 anti-immigrant law, known as HB 56, is the harshest in the nation. Its restrictions on housing, employment and contracts target low-income immigrants. The leeway it gives law enforcement officers for checking immigration status opens the door to racial profiling. Some of its worst provisions -- such as those that criminalize many social services by public, nonprofit and faith-based caregivers -- have been put on hold by the courts in a series of ongoing legal challenges. Enforcing the law and defending its constitutionality will divert scarce state resources from essential services, as well as hinder overall economic activity and employment.

As a member of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, ACPP is working for repeal of HB 56. The repeal effort is widespread and fast-moving.

Find out about HB 658, the proposed 2012 revision of HB 56.

Watch the hard-hitting video series "Is this Alabama?"

Watch Greater Birmingham Ministries executive director Scott Douglas explain HB 56 to Stephen Colbert here. (Scott's segment appears just past the 15-minute mark.)

Attorney General Luther Strange's proposal for modifying HB 56

This ACPP fact sheet highlights major provisions of HB 56.

Use this Frequently Asked Questions paper by our coalition partner Alabama Appleseed to find out about the current legal status of particular sections.

Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers.

Legislative update -- Hearing highlights proposed ETF budget's school tax credits, teacher pay raise

Up to $70.5 million of Education Trust Fund (ETF) money could help subsidize private school tuition for some K-12 students next year under a proposed ETF budget that the House's education budget committee will consider this week. The committee held a public hearing on the $5.8 billion budget plan Tuesday morning and is expected to vote on it Wednesday afternoon.

Read more about the hearing here.

Medicaid, prison funding hinges on public vote under Alabama Legislature's General Fund budget

Medicaid, prisons and other public services would risk massive funding shortfalls next year if Alabama voters reject a proposed constitutional amendment, under a General Fund (GF) budget that the state Legislature passed late Wednesday night. The House voted 77-28 for the spending plan, while the Senate approved it 29-6.

Read budget update here.

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