ACPP news releases

Senate committee vote for '30 days to pay' was a good first step on payday lending reform in Alabama

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in response to a Senate committee’s approval of a bill that would give Alabama borrowers 30 days to repay payday loans:

“Today’s Senate committee vote in favor of the ‘30 days to pay’ bill was a big win for consumers and communities across Alabama. This common-sense bill would ease financial pressure on struggling families and put payday loans on the same repayment cycle as other debts, such as mortgages, utilities and credit cards.

“This bill would help thousands of Alabamians avoid falling into a debt trap. By increasing the amount of time that borrowers have to repay, it effectively would cut the maximum annual percentage rate on payday loans in half, from 456 percent to about 220 percent. That would boost Alabama’s economy by reducing the amount of fees that are taken out of our communities every year to benefit out-of-state corporations.

“The ‘30 days to pay’ bill is simple but important legislation that would be good for consumers, good for our state’s economy and good for Alabama. We thank Senator Arthur Orr for sponsoring it, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee for approving it, and the many members of Alabama Arise and the Alliance for Responsible Lending in Alabama who came to the State House to promote it. We urge the Senate to pass this bill in a timely fashion, and for House members to do the same.”

White House's proposed cuts to nutrition, health care and housing would hurt struggling Alabamians

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in response to the release of the White House’s proposed 2019 federal budget:

“The White House’s budget proposal lays out a vision of a dark and troubling future for struggling families across Alabama. This plan would slash services like nutrition assistance, health care and affordable housing, making it even tougher for hard-working Alabamians struggling to make ends meet. Life would become harder for everyday families, even as big corporations and wealthy people would continue to enjoy the huge federal tax cuts that were just enacted.

“This budget plan would cut more than $200 billion over the next decade from SNAP assistance, which helps one in five Alabama families put food on the table. It would cost Alabama more than $140 million in federal funding for affordable housing next year, even as the state faces a shortage of more than 76,000 affordable and available homes for households with extremely low incomes. And it would cut hundreds of billions of dollars by 2028 from Medicaid, which provides health coverage for one in five Alabamians – almost all of whom are children, seniors, pregnant women, or people with disabilities.

“Public policies should make it easier, not harder, for working families to get ahead. This budget is a wake-up call about the legislative goals and values of this administration. It paints a bleak picture for our country’s future, and we can’t afford to allow that vision to become a reality. Alabama’s members of Congress should reject this misguided agenda and instead work to ensure that families have the resources and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.”

CHIP renewal is overdue good news for parents of 85,000 Alabama children on ALL Kids

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in response to the U.S. Senate’s vote to renew federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years:

“The parents of more than 85,000 children with ALL Kids coverage finally received some overdue good news today: Their kids aren’t about to lose health insurance. Congress’ agreement to renew CHIP funding for six years will allow ALL Kids to avoid an enrollment freeze and continue providing life-saving coverage for Alabama children.

“Families across Alabama deserve to breathe a sigh of relief, but it never should have come to this. CHIP funding deserved a quick, straightforward renewal before it expired nearly four months ago. Delaying the renewal and tying it to other important issues was unnecessary and irresponsible.

“A big untold story is the stress that Congress’ inaction placed on millions of hard-working parents across the country who lost the certainty that their children would be able to get the health care they needed. Instead of protecting children’s health coverage, congressional leaders spent month after month trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Then they focused on passing a tax bill that disproportionately benefited rich people and large corporations.

“CHIP, known as ALL Kids in Alabama, is a proven success story that played a big part in cutting our state’s uninsured rate for children from 20 percent to just 2.4 percent over the last two decades. Other states have seen similar improvements.

“Letting CHIP funding expire and remain in doubt for months was an attack on families. Congress should make sure this sad chapter can’t be repeated. It’s time to fund CHIP permanently and guarantee that all children can receive the health care they need to grow and thrive.”

2018 legislative update: Bill to ease burden of cash bail on low-income Alabamians clears Senate committee

A bill that would significantly ease the financial burden on low-income Alabamians accused of municipal violations won unanimous Senate committee approval Wednesday. SB 31, sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, would be a major step forward on criminal justice debt reform, which Arise members chose as one of our 2018 issue priorities. The bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee 10-0 and awaits a Senate vote.

Under current state law, municipal judges can jail people for many minor violations and misdemeanors pending trial unless they can afford a bond, which may cost hundreds of dollars. When the judges impose bonds, they are not required to ask if defendants are financially able to pay the bond that would allow them to leave jail and go home.

SB 31 would help reduce crowding at municipal jails across Alabama by removing cash bail requirements for people accused of many violations and misdemeanors when those people have not shown a reason to believe that they are a risk to public safety or that they will not show up for court. The bill would not change bond requirements for crimes related to domestic violence or drunken driving.

Many Alabamians live paycheck to paycheck and do not have hundreds of dollars available to spend on a bail bond. This bill would help protect families’ financial well-being by allowing low-income workers not to risk losing their jobs because they cannot bond out of jail after being charged with a minor offense. The measure also would save money for cities, which no longer would have to pay to house and feed people accused of minor crimes until their trials.

By Dev Wakeley, policy analyst. Posted Jan. 10, 2018.

Children's health care takes a back seat as Congress rushes to cut taxes for corporations, wealthy people

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in response to Congress’ passage of a tax bill that disproportionately benefits rich people and corporations:

“Congress’ misplaced priorities were on clear display today. Nearly 84,000 Alabama children are about to lose their ALL Kids coverage because lawmakers allowed federal funding for it to expire months ago. But instead of solving that problem, Congress hurried to create a new one by increasing the deficit to give huge tax cuts to big corporations and wealthy people.

“This tax plan is a massive giveaway to the rich at the expense of everyday Americans. Over time, it will raise taxes on tens of millions of families at low and middle incomes. It will increase health insurance premiums for millions of people and leave millions more uninsured in exchange for permanent tax cuts for big corporations. And it will drive up the federal deficit, setting the stage for calls to cut Medicare, Medicaid, education, food assistance and other vital services next year.

“Struggling families shouldnt have to pay for tax cuts for rich people. And tens of thousands of Alabama families cant afford for Congress to wait any longer to renew federal funding for the Childrens Health Insurance Program. Lawmakers across Alabama and across the country should commit now to renew CHIP funding before a single child loses coverage and to reject budget cuts that would make it harder for families to make ends meet.

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