Today the Alabama Policy Institute (API) released to the public and submitted to Governor Ivey and to the Governor’s Special Task Force the “RESTORE Alabama Plan.” The plan, Responsible Efficient Solutions to Open and Revive the Economy (RESTORE) advocates six major points of policy which must be addressed to help Alabama recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. API is asking Governor Ivey to call a special Legislative Session and to include API’s RESTORE Alabama Plan in her formal call.
“It is clear that there will likely be a special session – and in fact there should be,” commented API President Caleb Crosby. “In releasing the RESTORE Plan, we are asking Governor Ivey to not just call a special session, but to tailor her “Call” meet the broad needs of Alabamians as we slowly crawl toward normalcy in our everyday lives and with the economy. If these policies are enacted, Alabama will be positioned in the best manner possible for a full recovery post coronavirus.”
The six planks of the RESTORE Alabama Plan are as follows:
First, API calls for the enactment of a bill sponsored previously by Senator Arthur Orr that would protect businesses, churches, non-profits, and others from frivolous and costly lawsuits related to the coronavirus. Without such legislation it is to be expected that a host of lawsuits will be filed that will only serve to further ravage Alabamians who are just now putting the pieces of the private sector back together.
Second, the RESTORE Plan asks the governor to include in her special session call legislation which restructures how quarantines are handled and clarifies that the burden must be shared by both the legislative and executive branches of government. To be sure, the Governor’s office must be able to declare a state of emergency if and when needed. But no Governor should be required to carry that burden alone. And looking at the mess ongoing in other states we must also be aware that future Alabama Governors might be less judicious than Governor Ivey and therefore certain checks and balances should be emplaced.
Third, budget amendments should be passed, to both budgets, which allow appropriations to blanket the state in full access to broadband internet. To the extent possible state leaders should use one-time federal monies from the CARES Act and supplement that as needed with funds from Alabama’s rainy-day trust fund. This pandemic as made it clear that our state’s internet connectivity is woefully inadequate and improved access to online telemedicine and educational opportunities is a must.
Fourth, pointing to the Governor’s recent “temporary” suspension of restrictive licensure regulations and rules on the establishment of healthcare services. The Governor should call upon the legislature to enact her timely and appropriate current suspension of licensures and CON requirements for the next 12 months to ensure that we get fully past this current crisis.
Fifth, businesses need confidence in order to start rehiring; state legislators must return to the debate on the renewal of the Alabama Jobs Act to incentivize the growth of existing business and the recruitment of new employers to the State. As we come out of the coronavirus shutdown this legislation must, by necessity, also include incentives to small businesses who have suffered losses to invest in their own infrastructure and to hire/rehire from Alabama’s great labor pool. Additionally, this legislation should ensure no business in Alabama is taxed for receiving federal monies due to the coronavirus.
Sixth, the pandemic has shown us that the state’s education system must be flexible and nimble; recent school closures should be used as a catalyst to providing education freedom which allows education savings accounts for any child who is in a failing school and wants to change schools. Education tax dollars are for the education of a child, not to feed a failing system. This is a fair and equitable solution to a problem that is not going away without game-changing action.
“The RESTORE Plan is bold, ambitious, and exactly what our state needs,” said Phil Williams a former State Senator and API’s Director of Policy Strategy. Williams also represents API as a member of the Governor’s Special Task Force. “Everything we have laid out will help Alabama families, Alabama businesses, will improve Alabamians’ lives, will strengthen private enterprise, and will give our children the chance at a brighter future.”
“The elected leaders of this State have a duty to their citizens in the broadest sense,” added API Chief Operations Officer Carl Jones. “In detailing the RESTORE Plan, we are giving the Governor and the legislature the benefit of API’s thirty years of policy research and advocacy and trusting them to act swiftly to rectify the damage done by months of economic shutdown.”
A copy of the report released to the Governor and her Task Force is available here.