Guide to the Issues: 2018 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

On Election Day, the people of Alabama will have the chance to cast their votes for a number of federal and state officials. In addition, voters will decide whether several proposed amendments should be added to the Alabama Constitution. Proposed constitutional amendments can be confusing. Voters need an understanding of each amendment to confidently cast their ballots. The purpose of this guide is to explain the statewide constitutional amendments in plain language to help voters make informed decisions.

Private Certification as an Alternative to Occupational Licensing

Evidence from Teacher Quality in North Carolina From the Mercatus Center at George Mason University "Supporters of occupational licensing often argue that the practice has two notable benefits: first, licensing can convey information about the quality of services to consumers, and second, it can raise the earnings of individuals with licenses, encouraging them to develop their human capital. But these benefits of occupational licensing come with steep costs for society, such as restricting employment opportunities for potential workers, reducing choice…

Cutting the Competition?: The Effects of Licensing Barbers in Alabama

This paper, published by the Mackinac Institute, estimates the effects of Alabama’s reintroduction of barbering licensing requirements on the receipts and growth of barber shops in the state. It contains state-level comparisons of barber and beauty shops in Alabama, as well as comparing these Alabama statistics to that of nearby bordering states. In addition, I compare data from Alabama border counties to data from contiguous counties in Georgia and Florida. The results of this analysis show that after barber licensing…

The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Alabama

An occupational license is essentially a government permission slip to do certain work. In Alabama, before one can become a hair braider, cosmetologist, shampooer, massage therapist, auctioneer, pest control worker, and so on, one must first jump through a variety of hoops—attending classes, taking exams, and paying costly initial and recurring fees—mostly set at the state level and throughout the course of one's career. Alabama licenses a total of 151 occupations, covering over 432,000 Alabama workers, which represents over 21…

Guide to the Issues: Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)

An education savings account is an individual student bank account, established by state law, which holds some or all of the public funds that would normally be allocated for the education of the participating student. Generally, the student must meet certain qualifications and the parent or guardian of the student must sign a contract with the state promising to use the funds only for approved activities such as private school tuition, textbooks, tutoring, etc. An authority designated by the state…

Guide to the Issues: Charter Schools in Alabama

While the state of Alabama has seen incremental reform in the realm of public education in recent years, one major component of the national education reform movement has remained elusive. Despite rapid and often successful growth nationwide over the last twenty-five years, Alabama has been slow to embrace charter schools. One of the reasons for this reluctance may be a fundamental misunderstanding by lawmakers and the public of the nature of charter schools. Just like traditional public schools, charter schools are…

Guide to the Issues: Tax Credits in Alabama

Tax credits, at both the federal and state levels, directly offset an individual or business’ tax bill for the year. Tax credits are often part of a package deal when it comes to policymaking: tax deductions, tax incentives, and tax “breaks” are all closely associated with tax credits. It is often counterintuitive to think that lowering the tax burden of a business or individual through tax credits is a bad thing; however, as research shows, tax credits (or, on a…

Guide to the Issues: Free Speech on Campus in Alabama

Free speech is a constitutionally protected right for all Americans—and those attending colleges and universities are no exception. The Supreme Court has held that “speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.” Harmful and threatening speech has no place at an institution of higher learning. Students and faculty alike should feel as though they are safe to express their ideas, but this does not mean that they are safe from other’s ideas, however uncomfortable…

Guide to the Issues: Abortion in Alabama

Since the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973, abortion has been legal in the United States.1 While the federal government has legalized abortion, in Alabama, a majority of citizens do not agree with abortion due to the consequences of the procedure physically, emotionally, and mentally for the mother and the immorality of killing a defenseless child.2 Abortion has been a key issue throughout the nation as well as in Alabama, and learning the background of this issue can help…

API Federal Dependency Polling Results

In late October, the Alabama Policy Institute commissioned a poll to determine Republican voter opinions about Alabama’s financial readiness and the degree to which Alabama is reliant on funding from the federal government. The survey of 750 Alabama Republican Primary voters indicated that many are concerned with the level of influence the federal government has over Alabama. Furthermore, they overwhelmingly support specific reforms that would curb the federal government’s influence. Among the highlights of the poll: ·         64% of those…