The Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature will resume Tuesday. Though the only statutory requirement of our state legislature is to pass balanced budgets, there will be literally hundreds of bills considered and debated as our elected leadership moves through the session. It’s difficult for even the most seasoned legislator to remain focused on specific priorities, but I’d like to suggest ten things that Alabama legislators should seek to accomplish for those they represent in 2023.
1) Enact permanent tax cuts
Instead of a rebate check, cutting taxes would have a permanent positive impact. There are plenty of options: freeze or repeal the gas tax, repeal the state’s sales tax on groceries, eliminate overtime taxes, reduce the corporate income tax rate, reduce occupational taxes, and/or repeal the state business privilege tax. Government spending has recently increased by 36% in Alabama. We have a spending problem and still have a $2.7 billion surplus because we’re overtaxed. The legislature should reduce or eliminate the tax burden of the people.
2) Reform Public Education
Pass legislation that increases the ability of parents to have options regarding the education of their children. Charter schools, magnet schools, and tax-credit scholarship programs are all good; universal school choice is even better. Education savings accounts would allow parents to choose what is best for each of their children annually. Also, vote for the Transparency in Education Act to allow parents the ability to know what their children are being taught in Alabama public schools.
3) Reform Occupational Licensing
Occupational licensing imposes costs and onerous regulations and documentation without substantial societal benefit. Repealing the licensing of certain occupations is warranted. Substantial reforms are also needed to create a higher burden of proof for continuing governmental regulations and red tape for licensed occupations.
4) Hold the line on abortion
Reject any attempt to alter the 2018 Constitutional Amendment regarding abortion or weaken the 2019 Human Life Protection Act. Support legislation promoting adoption and other resources for mothers in Alabama.
5) Protect women’s sports
The legislature passed a bill in 2022 that banned students from participating in a gender-based sport inconsistent with their biological sex. That bill should be expanded to include students in institutes of higher education and other athletic events in the state.
6) Resist the urge to expand Medicaid
Despite what some proponents say, the state general fund would be negatively impacted by an expansion of services. In addition, increasing dependence on federal government and the negative ramifications on labor participation rates are reasons to reject expansion. Legislators should consider insurance exchanges or other reform measures and enact innovative ideas regarding the expansion of rural healthcare instead.
7) Eliminate Alabama’s Certificate of Need process and increase medical transparency
The CON process unjustly stifles competition, creates a false shortage of hospital beds, and prevents both transparency and cost savings for citizens/patients in Alabama. Alabama should stop picking winners and losers in healthcare and return to a free-market model.
8) Resist any expansion of gambling
Reject any bill that would legalize or expand casino style gambling in Alabama. Vote against any legislation that would establish a state-run lottery in Alabama. Gambling expands state bureaucracy, is regressive in nature, hurts the most vulnerable, invites corruption, and is a fiscal net negative.
9) Protect babies from marijuana use
The recent expansion of marijuana access in Alabama puts babies in utero at risk. Legislators should vote for Drug Free Babies legislation that requires women to prove they are not pregnant before using “medical” marijuana just as they are required to for other drugs that have been proven to increase chances of birth defects.
10) Curb governmental emergency power provisions and return accountability to the people
Vote to protect Alabamians from medical discrimination and vote to allow the legislature to intervene during long-term states of emergency. Support legislation allowing the legislature to call itself into special session, and vote to ensure that the State Health Officer is accountable to the people of the state.
These ten things aren’t the only topics that the Alabama Legislature should tackle this year, but if our leaders have a sincere desire to represent their constituents, this list would be a very good start. For almost 35 years, the Alabama Policy Institute has fought for good public policy solutions throughout the state of Alabama. API is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational and research organization committed to free markets, limited government, and strong families.