The Valley Labor Report
Alabama Arise Previews Legislative Priorities, Legislative Action Best Practices
Updated On: Mar 17, 2023

The legislative process is pretty opaque to a lot of folks - Alabama Arise works to help Alabamians see through the noise and focus their attention most effectively.

By JANE HUANG Published on March 17, 2023

n March 6, Alabama Arise, a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for ordinary Alabamians, held a virtual meeting to cover the legislative priorities selected by its members, and educate people on the legislative process and how to bring their concerns to their legislators. Thirty-seven new legislators will be entering the state legislature this session, which they say represents a rare opportunity to push for new programs.

The organization listed the following as their top priorities for the session:

- Tax reform: Currently, Alabamians pay a sales tax rate of 4% on everything, including groceries. Alabama Arise will be pushing for a repeal of sales taxes on groceries, which they say would represent saving the cost of approximately two weeks of groceries per household. To prevent cuts to the education portion of the state budget, Alabama Arise will push for replacing the lost tax revenue by removing the federal tax deduction for higher-income families. 

- Expanding Medicaid: While Medicaid currently covers households making less than $373/month, and families making more than $2072 can afford to buy insurance if their employers don't provide it, families in the middle of that income range make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to get their own insurance. Expanding Medicaid would help families that fall into this coverage gap, create jobs in the healthcare industry, and keep rural hospitals open.

- Voting rights: Alabama Arise supports automatic voter registration, voting rights restoration, early voting, no excuses absentee voting, and the use of voting machines over paper. Disability advocates favor voting machines as they can be easier to use for disabled people.

- Criminal justice reform: Alabamans can lose their driver's licenses if they get into too much debt, which could cause them to lose their job if they can no longer drive to work, thus depriving them of the means to work.

You can find the full list of Arise’s priorities online.

The rest of the meeting covered the basics of the legislative cycle, when it is most effective to contact a legislator, and which legislators would be most effective to contact at each point in a bill's lifecycle. 

A bill is typically initiated by a legislator, who has a legislative agency write most of it, but it can come from the community as well. Once written, a bill is assigned to a committee, which may or may not decide to have a hearing for the bill. The committee then votes on whether to bring the bill to the state legislature as a whole, where it must receive votes from a majority of the representatives in each chamber of the legislature, and then finally, receive a signature from the governor. 

Constituents can call or write their legislators to pressure them to write bills for the issues they care about, or they can discourage them from writing bills that would counter their interests. Once a bill has been written, constituents can slow its progression through the legislative process by calling a public hearing, which can be done by contacting the clerk of the relevant committee. If a bill does make it into the committee hearing, it's best to contact the specific committee members hearing the bill to either urge them to let the bill proceed to a vote, or to kill the bill. If the bill makes it out of the committee, the pool of legislators it makes sense to pressure expands to all possible legislators, not just the ones that wrote the bill, or were on the committee.

Alabama Arise will be holding two upcoming days of action: 

March 21 will be holding a Lobby Day to push for Medicaid expansion, where people in the coverage gap will tell their stories, and more training will be available on pressuring lawmakers. Register here: 

April 11 will be a Legislative Day where constituents can meet their representatives. The focus of the conversation will likely be on the case for expanding Medicaid, untaxing groceries, and funding public transit. Register here: 

To remain informed on legislative activity, constituents can watch video streams at, which is run by the League of Women Voters.

Jane Huang is a contributing writer for The Valley Labor Report.

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