Birmingham, Ala. – Today (Thursday, June 18, 2020) the Alabama Policy Institute (API) released the results of a statewide poll conducted by nationally recognized polling company Cygnal. The poll gauged likely voters’ opinions on whether Alabama Governor Kay Ivey should call a special legislative session. It also asked voters if they supported each of the six planks of API’s RESTORE (Responsible Efficient Solutions To Open and Revive Economy) Plan, which suggests to the governor six specific topics to include in her call for a special session. According to the poll, 70.8% of Alabamians want the governor to call a special session related to the COVID-19 pandemic, while only 9.3% oppose a special session.
“The polling is clear. The people of Alabama want a special session to address COVID-19 related issues,” commented API President Caleb Crosby. “The governor and the members of the Legislature should come together with a plan to serve the people of this great state in a special legislative session. The people have spoken. They want it to happen.”
Each of the six proposals that make up API’s RESTORE Alabama Plan received the support of at least 65% of respondents. Allowing children in failing schools to attend another school, often called school choice, was the favorite of voters with 80.1% support; this was followed closely by the renewing of the Alabama Jobs Act and ensuring that coronavirus relief funds are not taxed by the state, which received the support of 77.8% of poll-takers.
According to API, the RESTORE Alabama Plan is needed because the regular legislative session was truncated, causing numerous coronavirus-related issues to not be addressed. Additionally, the virus-related economic shutdown has both exposed and created needs that require urgent attention to ensure a strong economic recovery.
First, the shutdown made clear the need for school choice and access to broadband internet. For students and parents concerned about their health and the quality of their education in the upcoming school year, especially as the pandemic continues into winter, this is a pressing issue.
There also must be a change in how state leadership handles emergencies so that both the governor and the legislature share responsibility for public emergency mandates. This is an immediate need that cannot wait until 2021, especially in light of the predicted second wave of COVID-19 this fall. Legal protections from frivolous lawsuits for business owners, churches, non-profits, and healthcare workers, among others, must also be passed as soon as possible to limit further economic damage from costly legal fees.
A special session is also needed to appropriately handle funds received by the state from the federal CARES Act, which must be spent by the state by the end of the year–before the next regular session. There also needs to be legislative action to ensure that businesses and families are not taxed by the state for any money received from the federal CARES Act. This, as well, is a time-sensitive issue. Finally, because of the lack of action in the regular session, an important economic development policy, created by the Alabama Jobs Act, will sunset this year unless there is a special session. Alabama cannot afford for this policy to end.
According to API, the organization’s investment in the poll demonstrated what many across the state already knew–that the timeliness and relevance of the RESTORE Alabama Plan offers a widely-supported framework for a coronavirus-related special session.
“Alabamians from every walk of life support the much-needed common-sense solutions that are included in the RESTORE Alabama Plan,” said Phil Williams, API’s Director of Policy Strategy and a former state senator. “From job growth to tax relief, education reform, easier access to medical care, and protection from frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits, the people of this great state are asking for help from their elected officials as they come through the pandemic. That help should not wait. A special session of the legislature is needed.”
The full results of the poll and a polling memo are available here.
The RESTORE Alabama Plan is available here.
The Alabama Policy Institute is Alabama’s leading non-partisan educational and policy non-profit dedicated to the ideals of free markets, limited government, and strong families. Learn more at AlabamaPolicy.org.