- 1 Updates
- 2 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 3 Elected Officials
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Obamacare / ACA
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- 11 Housing / Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections /Worker's Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
- 02/02/2017: A federal court found that Alabama state legislators violated the Constitution by redrawing 12 districts to reduce the strength of the black vote in 2012. The state has been ordered to correct the district map before the 2018 primaries.
- 1/24/2017: The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of Alabama's death penalty. The complainant, Thomas D. Arthur, was sentenced to death by a judge after the third jury to hear his case voted 11-1 for death; convictions in two previous trials were overturned. Although a verdict of guilt must be unanimous, a recommendation of death does not have to be. The sentencing appears to violate the Supreme Court ruling in Hurst v. Florida that requires the final finding of fact to come from a jury. The court rejected a similar appeal in December 2016.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Alabama lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- SB 161 would establish automatic voter registration.
- HB 50 would restrict police use of deadly force to only be used in response to the threat of death or serious physical injury. Existing state law allows deadly force to be used to make felony arrests, whether or not such a threat exists.
- HB 54 Requires police to undergo 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training to learn how to interact with people who have mental illness.
Harmful bills proposed by Alabama lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- No harmful bills identified
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
- Governor Robert J. Bentley
- Sectary of State, John Merrill
- Speaker of the House, Mac McCutheon
Key Upcoming Elections
- 67th State House District Elections April 18th
- Governor Elections in 2018- Republican with term limit
- Birmingham Mayor Election on August 22, 2017 - Filing deadline July 7th 
- Birmingham City Council Election on August 22, 2017 - Filing deadline July 7th 
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 189,000 people in Alabama (or 3.9% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 357,000 people (or 7.3% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/22/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) This is because with a full repeal, premiums will not increase the way they would under a partial repeal, since insurance companies will be able to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions and won't be required to provide essential health benefits. Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities. The reason that so few people stand to lose coverage in Alabama is because the state government, for political reasons, did not take the free money offered to it by the federal government to help expand Medicaid to more of its low-income citizens. This decision also disproportionately disadvantaged Black citizens.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender rating, women in Alabama paid up to 53% more for the same coverage as men; an ACA repeal is likely to bring back that coverage gap.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 28,000 jobs could be lost in Alabama. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay Strategy, Young Adults in Alabama Could Pay $922 More in 2018.
- 94 people have been killed by police in the state of Alabama from the years 2013 through 2016.
- 39% of the people killed by police were black.
- Black people are 1.5 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.
- Birmingham is the state's largest city, with the highest rate of police killings per capita.
- In 2013, Alabama had 162,226 immigrants, making up 3.4% of the population.
- There are estimated to be 65,000 undocumented immigrants in Alabama, making up 1.3% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Alabama does not allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers' licenses.
- Alabama bars undocumented immigrants from attending public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012 President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for people who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In Alabama, 6,796 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- 2.8% of K-12 students in Alabama had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in Alabama made up 1.8% of the labor workforce in 2014.
- If all undocumented workers were removed from Alabama, the state would lose $2.6 billion in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $118.1 million in state and local taxes in Alabama in 2012.
- Alabama state law allows police to check immigration status based on “reasonable suspicion.”
- Tuskegee is the only city in Alabama with a policy limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.
- From 2013 to 2014, Alabama ranked in the bottom 20% of states for refugee resettlement, with less than 6 refugees per 100,000 residents.
In 2016, Alabama was one of 14 states that enacted new voting restrictions in the form of a law requiring a photo ID to vote. Alabama is one of several states that introduced legislation to allow automatic voter registration, but the bills died in committee.
- In 2014 Alabama incarcerated 46,346 individuals: 30,766 in prison and 15,580 in jail.
- The probation population included 50,698 individuals, and 7,884 individuals were on parole.
- 16.6% of the prison population was serving life sentences, 4.7% of which were life without parole.
- While white imprisonment rates per 100,000 individuals was 425, black imprisonment rates were 1,417 per 100,000.
- 7.62% of the population is disenfranchised due to felony convictions, but of the African American population 15.11% are disenfranchised.
- Alabama corrections expenditures totaled $611 million in 2014.
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- Alabama residents facing a tax increase under Trump’s plan: 
- Households: 126,000
- Adults and children: 392,000
- Children: 228,000
- In 2015, an average of 417,943 households and 889,380 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) benefits in a given month in Alabama. In 2011, approximately 19% of the population of Alabama was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) benefits. The average monthly benefit per Alabama household was $261 per household and $121 per person in 2016. 
- In 2016, an average of 25,772 households, including 11,239 families and 20,315 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month.  The average monthly benefit for a single-parent with three children residing in Alabama was $215 per month in 2014.  Average benefits in Alabama have fallen in value by 14% since 1996. 
- In 2016, an average of 31,905 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month. 
- In 2015, there were 9,004 aged Social Security recipients totalling $2,344,000, which averages out to $260.33 per person.
Housing / Infrastructure
- 128,800 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Alabama had 41 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Alabama, there were 4,111 homeless people in 2016, making up 0.75% of the total national homeless population.
- Of the homeless population, there were 356 families, 373 veterans, 226 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 420 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Alabama received $539 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Alabama, more than 96,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Alabama households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly, or disabled people.
- Alabama’s infrastructure received a score of C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- This study gave the state “good” scores for aviation, energy, port, and rail infrastructure but identified transit, roads, and inland waterways as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 22.4% of Alabama’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 25% of Alabama’s roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $141 per motorist in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs each year.
- According to Governor Robert J. Bentley (R), increased broadband access is a major infrastructure goal for Alabama.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Alabama has two Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, two centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health-provider-shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 482,500 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were nine abortion providers in Alabama in 2015.
- In 2014, 14.6 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Alabama had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There is a 48-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Abortion is prohibited at 20 weeks except in cases of life or health endangerment.
- Medication abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited.
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
Women and Wages
- In Alabama, 18.3% of women live in poverty, which is approximately 5% over the national average, which stands at 13.4%. Single mothers make up 47.7%, while women aged 65 and older make up 11.9%. These figures are above the national averages, which are 36.5% and 10.3%, respectively.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.76, which is four cents below the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.57 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.47 for every dollar made by white men. Both figures are below the national averages, which are $0.63 and $0.54, respectively.
Domestic Violence in Alabama
- In 2013, 16% of violent offenses were domestic violence incidents.
- In 15% of these offenses, a firearm was used.
- In Alabama in 2013, 24 domestic violence victims were killed.
- In 2013, there were 2,872 domestic violence aggravated assaults and 32,587 domestic violence simple assaults in Alabama.
- In half of the domestic violence homicides, a firearm was used.
Religious Freedom Law
Religious Freedom laws were first introduced in response to the 1990 Employment Division v. Smith Supreme Court decision, in which the Court ruled against Oregon drug rehab counsellors who had used peyote (a prohibited drug) in a Native American ceremony. This decision was highly unpopular as many argued that it trampled Native Americans’ rights, and in response Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993 to ensure that all laws infringing on people’s rights would have to conform to very strict standards (the government would have to prove that very important goals were at stake, that the law was narrowly tailored to serve those interests, and that there was no good way to accomplish these goals except to infringe on people’s rights). The 1997 City of Boerne v. Flores Supreme Court decision struck down the RFRA, arguing that it was federal overreach and could no longer apply to state or local law. Some states then enacted their own versions of the RFRA to compensate for the lack of federal law, but these laws were largely dormant and very few cases were argued under them during the 2000s. However, after the legalization of same-sex marriage through the Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court decision in June 2015, conservative states began passing these laws as a way to allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals by saying that people should be able to refuse service to same-sex couples, in particular for services related to their wedding, if it contradicts their religious beliefs. Alabama passed a religious freedom amendment  in 1998. 
Alabama lacks non-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, foster care, insurance, credit, and jury selection.
Alabama also lacks non-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in parenting, laws including second parent adoption, surrogacy, foster care, parental presumption for same-sex couples, consent to inseminate, and de facto parent recognition.
Hate crime laws
Alabama also does not include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group and doesn't have required reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Alabama does not have laws protecting youth, such as transgender inclusion in sports, protection from conversion therapy, laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homeless, LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education laws, or LGBTQ+-inclusive juvenile justice policies.
Alabama does have laws that create inequality in age of consent for same-sex couples and that restrict inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools.
Health and Safety Laws
Alabama does not have non-discrimination laws protecting the health and safety of its LGBTQ+ citizens, including non-discrimination protections in the ACA exchanges, a ban on insurance exclusions for trans health care, trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees, gender marker change on identification documents, health data collection, or gender neutral single occupancy restrooms.
Alabama does have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in ensuring their health and safety, such as sodomy laws and laws that criminalize HIV/AIDS.
- Alabama is ranked 42nd in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $5,031 per student.
- As of 2013, Alabama ranked 38th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $47,949 per year.
- 88% of students in Alabama attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private-school families having on average a 71% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 0% of total public school enrollment.
- Alabama's overall graduation rate is 86%, which is slightly above the national average. By subgroup, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 88%
- Latino: 85%
- Black: 84%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 91%
- American Indian: 88%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 82%
- Limited English Proficient: 67%
- Students with Disabilities: 64%
Consumer Protections /Worker's Rights
As of December 2016, the Alabama unemployment rate stands at 6.2%.
- Alabama has no state minimum wage, so the minimum wage in the state is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
- Alabama has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Alabama has no state law for paid family leave.
- Alabama is a state with an at-will exemption. At-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason, with no adverse legal consequences.
- Alabama does not support a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (joining the National Guard or performing jury duty), and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Alabama does allow for implied contract exemptions. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor or handbooks, policies, or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime, or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Alabama does support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted this in different ways, including requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- About 70% of Alabama’s electricity generation is from fossil fuels.
- Alabama has 13 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 1.6 percent of Alabama’s land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Black and Asian or Pacific Islander populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—of 80 and 76—compared to an overall index of 72 and a White index of 68. 
- In 2012, Native American adults in Alabama were most likely to have asthma (12.2%), compared to 8.0% overall and 7.7% of the White population.
- The environmental agency in Alabama is the Department of Environmental Management.
- Alabama does not have a Climate Action Plan.
- Alabama does not have Renewable and Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards.
- Alabama has the fourth-highest percentage of disabled people in America: 16.7% of Alabama's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- Alabamans with disabilities have the fourth-lowest employment rate in the country, at 27.9%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in Alabama have a 71% employment rate.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811]
- Approximately 19.1% of eligible voters in Alabama have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.71%.
- In 2013-14, the number of people with disabilities living the community in Alabama rose 2.5%, while the national average fell 0.5%.[Comparison of 2014 and 2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- Of adults with disabilities in Alabama, 31.2% live in poverty, as opposed to 15.9% of non-disabled adults.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 52.5%, as opposed to 31.0% for non-disabled children.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130)
- In Alabama, 6.7% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%.[Calculation based on 2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Olmstead, Independent Living, and Community Integration
Environmental and Environmental-Justice Advocacy and Organizing Groups
- Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club
- Alabama Rivers Alliance
- Alabama Environmental Council
State and Local Disability Rights Organizations
- Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (University of Alabama)
- DRR Birmingham (Disability Rights and Resources), 1418 Sixth Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203
- DRR Alabaster, 120 Plaza Circle, Suite C, P.O. Box 2048, Alabaster, AL 35007
- DRR Jasper, 300 Birmingham Avenue, P.O. Box 434, Jasper, AL 35502
- Independent Living Center (ILC) of Mobile, 5301 Moffett Road, Suite 110, Mobile, AL 36618
- Montgomery ILC, 345 Molton Street, Montgomery, AL 36104, Email: [email protected]