Alabama Arise meeting publicly Saturday to set legislative agenda

2021 aims included grocery tax, voting rights, sentencing reform

By Allison Marlow
Managing Editor
allisonm@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 9/23/22

A trip to the grocery store for Jane is painful. 

The Bay Minette grandmother cares for her four grandchildren. She works as a waitress, when she can, left to the mercy of babysitters who …

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Alabama Arise meeting publicly Saturday to set legislative agenda

2021 aims included grocery tax, voting rights, sentencing reform

Posted

A trip to the grocery store for Jane is painful. 

The Bay Minette grandmother cares for her four grandchildren. She works as a waitress, when she can, left to the mercy of babysitters who come and go without much notice.

Each week, her grocery list is short. It is a list about survival, not desires. 

“I look at how much I can make out of what. It’s not, ‘what do we want to have.’ It’s not the best nutritional value. It’s what can I feel them of decent quality,” says Jane, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy. 

Each meal in her home is limited to $5 total, for five people.

Legislation earlier this year proposed dropping Alabama’s grocery tax, meaning families would save an additional $1,000 a year. It would mean Jane could afford more food. It would mean her grandchildren would not go to school hungry.

Alabama Arise, a state-wide organization whose focus is on improving public policy in Alabama, led the fight to rid residents of the tax burden, one that exists in only three states across the U.S. It’s passage would put more money in the pockets of every Alabama resident.

Four different legislators introduced bills last session to nix the tax and replace its revenue for the education trust fund budget, an amount of nearly $452 million. 

All four bills failed to make it to a vote of the general membership. 

But advocates haven’t stopped fighting.

Tomorrow, Alabama Arise will hold its annual meeting where members will vote on what issues they will fight for in the upcoming legislative session. 

“What has made us stand out from many of the organizations doing public policy work is that we are member-led and member-driven,” said Chris Sanders, communications director for Alabama Arise. 

“We don’t have staff sitting in an office in Montgomery deciding what we work on,” he said. “Our folks all across the state are making assessments of what is going on in our communities, and they say, ‘this is important to us’.

“That authenticity and community connection is built into our founding structure and it has served us well.”

Nonprofits and organizations across the state often work hand-in-hand with Alabama Arise to push for social and economic issues to be addressed by the state legislature. 

In 2021, the group’s members named sentencing reform, voting rights expansion and untaxing groceries as three of their seven issues to focus on for the year. 

Alabama Arise will host its annual meeting Saturday, Sept. 24, both in-person and online from 10 a.m. to noon to discuss issues that will be the group’s focus in the upcoming legislative session. To register to attend visit alarise.org/annualmeeting2022

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