“It is not enough to be compassionate—you must act.” A simple yet provocative truth spoken by The Dalai Lama. A truth we embrace at The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

Thank you for not only supporting, but taking this important and intentional journey into public policy and systems change. It yielded meaningful results and will ultimately strengthen our philanthropic outcomes.

As you know, the 2019 regular session of the Alabama Legislature ended earlier this month and I’m thrilled to report that our collective voices were heard in Montgomery.

You showed up and spoke out.

You travelled to Montgomery for Capitol Heels, our inaugural advocacy day, you educated with lawmakers, and you helped us strategically move the needle on our 2019 Agenda for Women.

Because of you, The Women’s Fund was able to secure the following policy victories in the 2019 session:

But our work didn’t stop there. The Women’s Fund maintained a solid presence at the Alabama State House and monitored over 40 pieces of legislation with potential impact on women’s economic opportunity. Enjoy the detailed recap below.

I hope you’re proud of what we accomplished together and that you remain optimistic about the work ahead to truly clear the path for women.

Thank you for trusting us to be the voice for women and may you continue to act boldly to accelerate economic opportunity for women and by extension all Alabamians.


The Capitol Heels Report: Legislative Session Recap

Priority: Ensure a Gender-Inclusive Workforce

Equal Pay Legislation
The Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act (House Bill 225 substitute), introduced by Rep. Adline Clarke (D-Mobile) and co-sponsored by Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile), prohibits businesses from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of another sex or race for equal work, unless there are reasons such as seniority, a merit system or productivity quotas to account for the difference.

HB 225 passed unanimously through all legislative phases in both the House and the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey on June 11.

Thank you to each and every person advocated on this issue and called Gov. Ivey urging her to sign the bill.

HB 225 ensures individuals have a private right of action (the ability to bring a lawsuit) at the state level in addition to the federal level and prohibits employers from retaliating against job applicants for not providing their salary history. Equal pay legislation has been introduced in three previous legislative sessions, but failed to move until this year.

Women-Focused Appropriation
For the first time, The Women’s Fund was able to secure public funding to support its successful pilot program that provides a pathway to an in-demand certification within Alabama’s Community College system. This funding will allow The Women’s Fund to scale the program to positively impact more women across Alabama. This appropriation was included in the Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget. You can learn more about our philanthropy here.

Priority: Expand Affordable Health Care

Medicaid Expansion
Unfortunately, the budget does not include funding for Medicaid Expansion. Medicaid Expansion would have provided health insurance for more than 300,000 Alabama adults with low incomes—more than half of whom are women. The net cost to the state would be $164 million in the first year and approximately $25 million per year thereafter.

Health care access remains a top priority for The Women’s Fund and we will continue working to make Medicaid expansion a reality.

Priority: Elevate Quality Child Care

Throughout the summer and fall, together with a core group of champions in the legislature, we are reviewing the most effective options to elevate and expand quality child care, including family-forward tax incentives package for Alabama. We are currently evaluating similar results in other states.

The Women’s Fund expects that tax credits that incentivize families to choose quality child care, businesses to support access to quality child care, and providers to certify that they provide quality child care will increase both the availability and affordability of quality child care across the state.

Stay tuned for updates over the next six months.

Other Notable Legislation That Passed

Gas Tax
The gas tax increase was approved during a special session called by Gov. Ivey. The 10-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase will fund road and bridge construction. The tax will be phased in over three years beginning with a six-cent increase on September 1, 2019.

Alabama Incentives Modernization (AIM) Act
The AIM Act is an incentive plan (in the form of tax credits) for companies that bring at least 10 new jobs to a county— rural or urban—that meet two criteria: sluggish job growth and a declining population. The measure creates specific incentives for technology companies and eliminates the tax on capital gains for investors and employees of technology companies that move to Alabama. The capital gains tax exemption only occurs if the investors reinvest the funds in other Alabama companies for the next five years.

CHIP
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health coverage for more than 173,000 Alabama children through ALL Kids and Medicaid. Lawmakers transferred ALL Kids to the Education Budget for 2020 to help balance the General Fund (GF) budget; however, Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) the House GF Budget Committee Chairman said ALL Kids will move back to the GF in 2021. To be able to use the available federal matching money, the CHIP program will need $98 million more from the state in 2021 than it currently receives.

Abortion Ban
The abortion ban makes it a felony to perform an abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger. It is anticipated that it will be blocked by the courts. A lawsuit has been filed challenging the ban.

State School Board
Alabama voters will decide next year whether they want to abolish the elected state school board and replace it with a nine-member commission. Members would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Alabama Senate.

Pay Raises for Teachers
Teachers and other public school employees will receive a 4% pay raise. State employees will receive a 2% raise. Lawmakers also voted to raise the pay for correctional officers as the state faces a federal court order to add officers.

Broadband Access
The governor signed into law two bills aimed at expanding broadband access across the state. One bill expands an existing grant program for broadband providers in rural communities. Another allows electricity providers to use existing infrastructure to provide broadband services.

 

Thank you for being a voice for women. Be sure to follow us on social media for timely updates on advocacy and all of our philanthropic and research priorities.

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