The Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature is upon us. 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 2024.
1. Unleash Educational Freedom
School Choice initiatives increase the ability of parents to have true freedom to choose among many options for the education of their children. Charter schools, magnet schools, and tax-credit scholarship programs are all good; universal school choice is better. Education savings accounts would allow parents to choose what is best for each of their children annually. Also, consider legislation directing transparency in education so that parents know what their children are being taught in Alabama public schools.
2. 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.
3. Resist any expansion of gambling
Reject the legalization or expansion of casino style gambling in Alabama. Legislation that would establish a state-run lottery in Alabama and/or create sports betting or legalize digital gambling is a bad idea. Gambling expands state bureaucracy, is regressive in nature, hurts the most vulnerable, invites corruption, and is a fiscal net negative.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Curb governmental emergency power provisions and return accountability to the people
Alabamians deserve protection from medical discrimination and vote to allow the legislature to intervene during long-term states of emergency. In addition, the legislature should have the ability to call itself into special session, and the State Health Officer should be accountable to the people of the state.
7. Election Integrity
Alabama citizen’s right to vote in a free and fair election is a basic civil right. Protecting the integrity of elections is the basis of defending many other rights that the citizens of this state and all Americans depend on. The legislature should enact legislation that will protect the integrity of our elections. The preparation of elections should be professional, impartial, and transparent at all levels. The legitimacy of government is dependent on public confidence in electoral and political processes.
8. Cap Property Tax
While Alabama’s state property tax rates are low, county, and municipal rates vary widely across the state, leaving some citizens to be impacted by increases in property valuations much more than others. Lawmakers should consider implementing an assessment cap to make property tax increases more predictable and lessen the tax burden of Alabama’s homeowners.
9. Women’s Bill of Rights
The state of Alabama has a compelling interest to prevent unjust discrimination and maintain safety, privacy, and fairness for both sexes. The codification of the definition of men, women, girls, and boys is necessary to protect female spaces, allow girls and women to flourish, and affirm the truth.
10. Protect Kids from Harm
There is no shortage of reasons to help protect our kids from intentional indoctrination or exposure to age-inappropriate information. Prohibiting sexually explicit performances in public, protecting minors from explicit library material, ending DEI programs in state agencies and higher education, and internet protection of minors are all worthy and necessary goals.
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. The Alabama Policy Institute is celebrating our 35th year of fighting 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.