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API at Rotary: Alabama reform needed for upward mobility

The Boaz Rotary Club welcomed representatives from the Alabama Policy Institute to its Oct. 17 meeting to discuss some of the organization’s 2019 priority issues that they said were chosen to help low-income Alabamians achieve upward economic mobility.

“We did some research and compared our state to others and found something disturbing,” said API Senior Fellow Rachel Blackmon Bryars in her speech to the group. “If you are born poor in Alabama, you are highly unlikely to break out of the cycle of poverty. …We believe that just shouldn’t be and we’re committed to helping change that.”

LISTEN (15 min speech, 15 min Q & A):

Bryars said that reforms in education, criminal justice, occupational licensing, civil asset forfeiture, and other key areas are necessary to help people cut through state government red tape to earn better livings and provide better educations for their children.

The Birmingham-based Alabama Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education “think tank” that provides research, support and advice to members of the Alabama Legislature and works with leaders and organizations to brainstorm policy solutions for challenges facing the state.

“I feel that, as citizens of Alabama, we are fortunate to have an organization like the Alabama Policy Institute,” said Boaz Rotary Club member Ronny Dobbins.

Dobbins said that as a member of the Rotary Club for more than 18 years, he has observed that the guiding principles for both organizations are similar because “both organizations exist with the goal to better the society in which we live.”

State Representative Kerry Rich (R-Albertville) attended the meeting and said he has followed the Institute’s work for many years, noting the role U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Alabama) had in its foundation and growth.

“I have to say I agree with probably 90 percent of what [API] puts out,” Rich told the group. “Sometimes I don’t, but most of the time I do.”

To learn more about the Boaz Rotary Club, visit their Facebook page. Meetings are held every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Snead State Community College cafeteria.

More information about the Alabama Policy Institute may be found at alabamapolicy.org.

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