The Alabama Policy Institute staff made a list and we’re checking it twice as we think back on 2017 and what was “naughty” or “nice.” What made your list this year?

Nice: The legislature passed four pro-life bills this year…
This year, the legislature passed four bills each that aim at protecting the sanctity of life, plus a bill that legalizes midwifery in Alabama.  The pro-life bills included a ban on assisted suicide, a provision that ensures the right-of-conscience of health-care providers, a bill that allows adoption agencies to operate and place children under faith-based policies, and a constitutional amendment affirming the right to life of unborn children. It is great to know that our lawmakers are unafraid to stand up for individuals’ rights and the right to life.

Naughty: But the legislature did not pass the changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, which would have broadened access to school choice for more of Alabama’s schoolchildren.
Amendments to the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) would have expanded the pool of donors and donations to the AAA, thus enhancing opportunities for children to have school choice who otherwise would have none. In 2016, donations to the AAA dropped from $25.8 million to $19.9 million.* If the system is not funded, schoolchildren will be forced to return to the failing schools they left. These amendments addressed the funding problem, but unfortunately, they did not pass. We’ll try again next time!

Nice: Alabama has a female governor! 
Governor Kay Ivey has faithfully served our state in many different capacities over the course of her career. Now, she’s Alabama’s top-ranking government official. Among other things in her first year, Governor Ivey has met with President Trump to discuss infrastructure, dissolved several Bentley-era task forces, and unveiled a gubernatorial initiative called “Strong Start, Strong Finish,” which focuses on early childhood education, computer science in middle and high school, and workforce preparedness. You go, Gov.

Naughty: Unfortunately, the events leading up to her appointment were not the best. 
I really don’t want to relive the saga of former Governor Robert Bentley and I don’t think that you do either. He used state resources on activities related to his alleged affair. He reportedly asked Alabama’s top cop about arresting his own wife for recording his phone calls. According to testimonials, he threatened state employees. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Alabamians have so much to be proud of, but this whole ordeal was particularly embarrassing.

Nice: In a recent survey, Alabama ranks fourth in the nation in charitable donations.
According to a survey by WalletHub, Alabama is fourth behind a three-way tie of Utah, Georgia, and Wyoming in highest percentage of income donated to charitable causes. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise in a state as conservative as Alabama. The truth is that government aid does not compare to the abilities of individuals who give to private charity. I’m proud to live in a state where people realize the importance of giving.

Naughty: The events leading up to the resignation of Superintendent Michael Sentance were an actual debacle… (And even naughtier were several of the school board members)
Michael Sentance was hired as the State Superintendent of Education in August 2016. Almost immediately, his tenure was surrounded by controversy, at no fault of his own. While Sentance came to his job with an abundance of fresh ideas from his time working in education in Massachusetts (which ranks 46 places higher than Alabama in overall education) members of the state school board seemingly felt threatened. For months, rumors swirled about the school board taking steps to fire him. In September, he resigned from his post. The search for a new superintendent begins again. When will we put Alabama students above politics?

Naughty: But Sentance’s resignation pales in comparison to the fiasco of the U.S. Senate Special Election.
This election was one of the ugliest in recent Alabama history. Friends turned into enemies, and you couldn’t turn on the TV or radio without having to endure political ads. In the general election, 21,000 voters were so disgusted with their choice of candidates, they showed up to vote but did not cast a ballot for either one. The Alabama Secretary of State’s office estimates that between $10 million to $15 million were spent to hold the special election, and over $10 million were spent by the two candidates in the general election. In a state as charitable as Alabama, imagine how much could have been done for others with all that money.

Nice: Over the last year, Alabama has added a net of 30,000 jobs. 
In the most up-to-date numbers from October 2017, Alabama added 29,400 jobs to its economy since January 2017.  Even better news, is the unemployment rate is the lowest on record at 3.8%. According to the latest numbers from U.S. News and World Report, Alabama ranks seventh in the nation in poverty. You know what’s a guaranteed way to pull people out of poverty? Having a job. Way to go, Alabama.

From the API team, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!